Yup. We are still obsessing over the Olympics and pretty distraught that this is the last week we can ogle at athletes and tweet about table tennis. Soon our days will go back to watching Real Housewives marathons and while this is a secret addiction it just doesn’t compare to staring at a three week long fit-fest. Sigh.
But before we officially say goodbye to London 2012, we wanted to talk about the lessons we learned from the top athletes around the world. So while you can’t be glued to your television any more, you can be glued to the top healthy living tips Olympians shared during this year’s games.
1. Start the day off right and the rest will follow.
Natalie Coughlin, Olympic world champion swimmer, says “with a healthy breakfast, you’ll be much more likely to continue making healthy choices the rest of the day.” Starting your day on the right foot is a morning must! For those of you with a sweet tooth, try these dessert breakfasts. Don’t be a breakfast skipper!
2. Schedule your fitness plan and write your workout down.
Good old pen and paper prevails in the fitness world. Scheduling your workouts like you do a meeting is important, but if you want to grow from each and every time at the gym Heather O’Reilly from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team puts all workouts on paper. She says, “If I don’t bring a sheet with my workouts on it, I end up wasting time and not being as efficient.” Jot down your fitness plan and get extreme joy when you can cross everything off at the end of your workout regimen!
3. Set goals, both big and small.
Debbie Flood, Olympic rower, advises women to “come back to that goal when it gets hard! The more committed you can be towards your goal, the quicker you will see those improvements and benefits.” This may be the most important thing to remember when working out and dieting no matter how big or small your goals are.
4. Get a like-minded workout buddy.
Lauren Wenger, a current member of the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team, tells women the benefits of working out with a friend to motivate you to work harder. She states “when I see a teammate working hard, it pushes me that much more.” Plus working out with a friend doubles as social time too!
5. Diversify your fitness plan.
Although we all envision Olympic athletes training in their sport 24/7, there is more to their fitness routines than that. Olympic athletes try new things when exercising to be at their very best. For example, Olympic swimmer Janet Evans has been known to use a flex belt to tone her obliques and strengthen her core. And Wenger gives tons of credit to her time on the mat when she isn’t focusing on water polo. Training has to be progressive so bringing new exercises into the mix can bring you to the next level.
6. Tune out peer pressure.
This day in age it is very difficult to turn a blind eye to what celebrities and the like are doing in the healthy living circuit, but according to McKayla Maroney, Olympic gymnast, “it is very important to stay ‘in tune,’ with what your own body is trying to tell you. Don’t concern yourself with what others around you are eating or doing; keep your focus on yourself.”
7. Avoid portion distortion and eat like a champion.
Olympians know that their health and performance are due to what fuels their body: the right foods. April Ross, Olympic beach volleyball player, swears by a pecatarian diet but also has another healthy diet rule of thumb: “Portion control is KEY! And if you’re going to indulge, make sure it’s something you really, really want.” Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach!
8. Give focus to your warm-up.
Warm-ups are a key component to Olympic athlete’s fitness regimen because it prevents injuries that could ruin their career. Olympic runner Jenny Meadows does low-intensity movements where she gradually increases the rhythm of her stretches. Her warm-ups are more than just to get the muscles loose and ready. She says “a warm-up also helps you to feel energized and focus on your training.” Spend at least 15 minutes stretching to get in the zone!
9. Get your mind in the game.
As in most things in life, there are good days and there are bad days. On the less than stellar days Pete Reed, Olympic rower, reminds us that “Mental toughness, especially at the start, will put you on the right path.” When you are exercising and have a goal in mind like losing weight or winning a gold medal, Reed says to remember that your mind is in control of your body. Your mental approach should be bigger than your muscles. And I am okay with that!
10. Find what works for you.
Your routine is your own, no matter how quirky or weird it is. I know people that insist on carrying two water bottles even on short runs or wearing a certain brand for luck. As long as I can remember I have wanted to be a morning exerciser, but I am a night owl so I have learned that after work sweat sessions are what works for me. Christine Ohuruogu, gold medalist and Olympic runner, remarks “some people like to exercise in the morning, some in the evening—find out what works best for you.” Whether your habits are off schedule from your friends or cause a few strange glances at the gym, do what works best for you and #findyourgreatness!
11. Believe and you can achieve.
Though some of the top Olympic athletes were born with natural fitness abilities, world records aren’t broken by pure talent—they are broken by drive. Usain Bolt has had plenty of jaw dropping, out of this world races but says that he believes he can run faster. Note to self: name my first child with a name like Bolt!
What was your favorite Olympic moment? Have you learned any lessons from the world’s top athletes?
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Article assistance via Hadley.
Feature photo via