My story of RED-S — Soren Meeuwisse

RED-S overshadowed my entire sports career

Soren Meeuwisse struggled with Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport or RED-S her entire sports career.

“I haven’t always been this healthy…” Watching this radiant, energetic, and lively young woman skiing the mountains of British Columbia, it is hard to believe the dark times she has been through.

At age 16, a coach suggested restricted eating and weight loss as the way to better her performance in cross-country mountain biking. With that goal in mind, she quickly developed an unhealthy relationship with food, eating, and her body. Soon, training more and more became an obsession.

She was permanently drained of energy, became sick easily, and eventually missed her periods. Oblivious to the seriousness of these signs and full of trust in her coach’s expertise, she ignored her symptoms and instead resorted to training harder. Initially, it seemed to work: she continued to compete at the national level and participated in World Cups.

RED-S is not a recipe for success

However, little did she know that what she thought would advance her career ultimately would put an end to it. “Year after year, I would dig myself deeper in a hole of energy deficiency…” When she finally reached out for help, there was none. She did not fit the patterns of what was then described as the Female Triad. The much broader picture of RED-S was not known at the time.

Watch her telling her deeply moving story. You might realize some themes and patterns that seem all too familiar, either in your own daily experience or when watching your training partner or teammates. “And then I hit a wall.” Soren does not want you to go through what she had. She had to retire from elite sports at a time when she could have been at her peak.

Learn about RED-S. Be aware of the signs. There are healthier and more effective ways to improve your performance. 

Soren Meeuwisse

I am a 23-year old recent university graduate traveling, skiing, and tree planting around British Columbia, Canada. From ages 17-21, I competed on the Cross-Country Mountain Bike Canadian National Team, travelling around the world racing and training, while I studied at McMaster University. While completing my Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree, I also competed in varsity sports for cross country running and Nordic skiing.

I transitioned from a focus on sport to academics and giving back. I became a coach, mentor, tutor, clinical research trial assistant, physiotherapist assistant volunteer, RED-S advocate, and event coordinator for Fast and Female, a charity that empowers young females through sport.  My plan is to return to school for medicine and global health as I’m motivated to find a career where I can collaborate cross-culturally to use physical activity as a tool for female empowerment, to uplift vulnerable populations, and to improve people’s physical, mental and social health. 

Links

Personal Stories of RED-S Experiences

RED-S websites and initiatives

Author:

  • Behind ShePower Sport are two sport medical professionals, Yoko Dozono and Katharina Grimm. With their combined global sporting background, some of which include Director of Medical affairs at Aspetar, member of Medicine & Science at World Anti-Doping Agency, heading the FIFA medical office, and an international level athlete, they are strong advocates for clean sports and female athletes’ health and rights.