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June 22, 2021

Canadian High Performance Athlete Soren Meeuwisse builds awareness for RED-S Condition

A battle with RED-S

Soren Meeuwisse is an accomplished Canadian elite multi-sport athlete and her athletic journey in the worlds of both mountain biking and cross-country skiing is extensive at all levels of competition. Her sport journey has included competiting for the Canadian National Team from 2014-2018 racing World Cups and World Championships and being named the first head coach of the newly-formed Marauders nordic skiing program at the University of McMaster in June of 2019. 

Soren is also passionate about giving back to sport as a Fast and Female (F&F) ambassador and has hosted mulitple F&F events for young girls at her home mountain biking and cross-country skiing tracks at Hardwood Ski and Bike

While Soren was passionately giving her best self as a competitor and positive role model, she was also battling something called Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). This challenging physical condition is fairly prevalent, yet suprisingly unknown. RED-S refers to impaired physiological functioning as a result of low energy availability and can significantly impact moderately active people to elite athletes.  


(Photos courtesy of Soren Meeuwisse)


Much of of Soren's experience with RED-S happened during her high performance years and was exasperated by her development coach who promoted unhealthy training strategies.  Her own words describes things best:

"My development coach promoted restrictive eating, weight loss, commented on my body weight, and then I learned my lessons about RED-S the hard way. I was always trying to train more and eat less thinking that was what it took to be the best athlete I could be. I over-trained and starved my body of essential energy for vital organ and immunity functions. My RED-S recovery was long and non-linear because I didn’t get the help I needed, I didn’t take it seriously enough from the start, and I didn’t want to give up my world-class racing lifestyle."

Once she finally was able to let her body recover and heal, Soren actively chose to return to the world of high performance cycling and embraced a new role building greater awarness of RED-S and advocating for the importance of physical and mental wellness. 



The importance of storytelling 

Her efforts to advocate for greater awareness around RED-S began when a friend recommended that she reach out to a new international platform for female athletes called ShePower Sport. Based in London, UK, ShePower Sport was launched in 2019 by Yoko Dozono and Dr. Katharina Grimm and provides female athletes "a safe space to ask questions and tell one’s story to like-minded athletes across the globe, share success models, peer advice, and skills" (ShePower Sport site). 

Her collaborative efforts with ShePower Sport involved creating an article around her ongoing struggles with RED-S, and two indepth, informational videos on RED-S.  For Soren, this would be the first time she would publically share her story and experiences with RED-S.  Soren's ultimate goal is to advocate for increased RED-S awareness, prevention and recovery strategies for coaches, athletes, parents, and teammates.  SeeWhatSheCanDo is excited to support Soren's RED-S advocacy efforts and we're inspired by her strength to share her very personal battle with RED-S.  We invite you to learn more about what RED-S is all about and of Soren's struggles with RED-S.  

"My goal is to advocate for increased RED-S awareness, prevention and recovery strategies for coaches, athletes, parents, and teammates".


What is Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport



Soren's Story with RED-S



Explore more insights on personal wellness from SWSCD:

Beauty From Ashes: A Conversation About Body Image

Samra Zafar: Mental resilience during difficult times

Esther Kearney: Strategies to build mental strength

What's Your Life Theme Song? - Dr. Jennifer Bolt



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