wellness theories

Snowboarder Jamie Anderson on Yoga and Algae

Jamie Anderson in 2014, with a dream catcher dangling from her earlobe.
Jamie Anderson in 2014, with a dream catcher dangling from her earlobe. Photo: Michael Tran/Getty Images

Jamie Anderson is nothing if not a trailblazer: After becoming a Winter X Games medalist at the tender age of 15, she won gold in the inaugural women’s Olympic slopestyle event at the 2014 Sochi Games, and last year, became the first woman to land a 1080, a.k.a. not wiping out after making three complete turns in the air. When she’s not flying over huge jumps and sliding on rails, she’s making her own ghee, studying Ayurvedic medicine, doing yoga on rocks, and skinny-dipping near glaciers. Anderson, 25, is from Lake Tahoe where she and her seven siblings grew up eating mostly vegetarian and were homeschooled so they could spend more time outside. Ahead of the 2016 Winter X Games, which run through Sunday in Aspen, she spoke to the Cut about essential oils, affirmations, and her boyfriend’s meat freezer.

How I start my day: I have a glass of alkaline water first thing. I don’t have the biggest appetite in the morning, which is kind of tough for me but I always start with a green drink called Tonic Alchemy. It’s a really amazing combination drink that has a lot of different superfoods and algae and Chinese herbs. Then I’ll use my infrared sauna, where I do my meditations and yoga, then shower. Around 10:30 or 11 I’ll make poached eggs and maybe some Brussels sprouts — kind of random, but delicious. Sometimes I’ll do bacon. I’ve been on a more fat/protein diet with fewer carbs and less saturated stuff, which has actually been feeling really good.

What I do with my trainer: I have a personal trainer that I’ve been working out with since I was about 17. I work out with him on and off, mostly in the fall. We do a lot of CrossFit–type of stuff and squats and rope stuff. I’ll do some weights but I prefer to use my own body weight so I can do it on the road. I incorporate a lot of handstands, and we’ll do standing jumps left and right to get my core balanced.

How I like to sweat outside the gym: I like to run and hike. I do some slack-lining, like balancing on the tightrope, which is really good for your entire body but I’ve noticed a lot of benefits in my feet and ankles. I love the paddle board. It’s just a really good way to recenter. Being on the water is really peaceful and you have to focus on your balance and holding yourself up. Doing a little bit of yoga under the sun on the water is really, really magical.

How it all helps my snowboarding: I don’t even know how I used to do it before. When you’re a kid you’re more like a ninja: You don’t really care and you’re more flexible. But as you get older, you really have to work harder to feel that way. That’s why yoga has been such a benefit to my snowboarding, because I feel so good in the air. I feel like I can crash and kind of roll out of it, or have a little bit more ease with the reality. If you’re tense, you’re a lot more likely to get hurt — and not look very cruise-y. I try to make it look fun and easy, kind of like a dance.

On eating wild game: I think food is everything; let food be our medicine. I do eat some meat, but I try to keep it as pure and local and humanely raised as possible. My boyfriend hunts and in the winter we mostly eat venison and different wild game, which I think is really the best way to do it. He has a freezer up in Whistler where we spend a lot of time. When I’m not eating as much meat, I’ll always try to have my salads with a lot of nuts and seeds to have healthy clean protein.

On traveling with her “goods”: We travel a lot so for me it’s trying to find the balance on the road. I usually always bring ghee on the road because that’s a really healthy oil or fat to cook with or you could use it on your skin if you need. I travel with a ton of stuff, my chia seeds, goji berries — my goods. I take that green drink, which comes in powder in a plastic jar.

On self-care: I’m around people all the time who are sick and have colds and I really give a lot of time and energy to myself. I take hours every day just doing self-care. I do a lot of oil massages and I make my own salt scrubs and I use a lot of essential oils.

How wellness has changed for me: Even though I grew up in a healthy, conscious home, I still was a teenager and liked fast food and all of that. When I was 17, I had a really bad snowboarding accident. I ruptured my spleen and spent a week in ICU. Just watching the body heal from that and learning about Chinese medicine then … that was the first time I did acupuncture and wanted to bring more energy into the spleen meridian because it plays such a big role in our immunity and health.

That’s what triggered my health kick. I was a little bit of an average high-schooler and I just wanted to get as healthy and strong as I could. I remember being so motivated to get into yoga, start eating clean, start being around healthy people, playing music, going on more hikes and adventures. I’m a quarter century this year, and gosh, I do all kinds of crazy stuff for my health.

On positive thinking: It’s really unbelievable how amazing our bodies are, especially when you can give yourself the proper food and nutrition, and more than anything, positive thoughts. I think the mind is one of the most powerful things. If you have a healthy mind, you can have a healthy body and life. But it takes a lot of practice because shit’s crazy nowadays.

My biggest wellness struggle is: I’m a Virgo so I like my stuff perfect. When I don’t perform at my perfect I can be hard on myself. I’m learning to be more easygoing.

I write on my mirrors good affirmations, whatever I want. When I was healing from a recent injury I wrote, “you’re beautiful, healthy, and strong.” I’ll write little things just to remind myself to be kind. I like to write notes on my fridge. I’ll write notes on my phone and put it as my phone background. I think we’re all pretty hard on ourselves and we’ve got to remember to give more grace. Sometimes we’re our own worst critics. I find that a lot being an athlete.

To me, wellness is: I want to feel my best so I can be my best self to everyone — my family, my friends, my fans, anyone looking up to me. It’s a full-time thing for all of us to feel good in life.

This interview has been condensed and edited.