This early summer heat wave is made all the warmer by the spreading Olympic fever everyone seems to be catching. It’s hard to resist excitement for the Olympic games and all things red, white, and blue as the Olympic trials wrapped up this weekend and we stare Fourth of July in the face. It’s about to get so patriotic in here!
As a kid, I can remember every two years trying to mimic the gymnasts in the summer and the ice skaters in the winter. My skills never developed beyond anything I’d be comfortable demonstrating in my living room, but they did inspire me to be an active kid. Every kid and adult who adopts even one new healthy habit as a result of the Olympics deserve a gold medal for caring for themselves.
Not sure which habit to change or introduce, we’ve found a few that make a great place to start.
1. Stay Active. These athletes didn’t rise to be amongst the very best in the world by refusing to miss their favorite TV shows and making up excuses for skipping a workout. It’s dedication day in and day out. You don’t have to be training for a worldwide stage, but you should be reminded that consistent, regular exercise will make you stronger and better at any sport you pursue.
2. Keep Snacking. Snacking on the right foods before and after a workout will not only give you the energy for your workout, but help you recover and prepare for the next one. The Olympic dietitians told us that a balance of carbs and protein at breakfast are a great start to the day, and that high-protein snacks like yogurt and smoothies after a training session keep the athletes fueled.
3. Indulge, a Little. The dietitians also told us that Olympic athletes are under a great deal of pressure from their performance to travel. So when you see them in a McDonald’s ad, it’s not uncommon for them to unwind once in a while with something like a Diet Coke or a chicken nugget. It’s certainly not all-the-time food for them, but it’s proof that you don’t have to completely cut yourself off from favorite treats.
4. Find a Support Team. Whether you lean on friends and family to encourage you to work out, eat right, and stick to your goals, or you enlist professionals like a trainer or nutritionist, be sure you’re armed with the right people. No race, nor gold medal, is ever won alone. You shouldn’t be any different!
5. Plant a Garden. Nothing is fresher than fruits and vegetables grown in your own backyard. That’s how Olympic Swimmer Natalie Coughlin ensures her diet stays clean and green when at home. You can try multiple raised beds or a few potted plants like tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries.
6. Listen to Your Body. You’d think an Olympian would know precisely how much food she’s eating, but Coughlin told us “I have no idea what my calorie intake is.” Instead, she listens to her body, adjusts per training, hunger, and other queues.
7. Don’t Skip Strength Training. We hear so much about cardio, which is terribly important, but on the days between running and heart-racing workouts be sure to hit the weights. Coughlin strength trains 2-3 days each week and likes the TRX system that you can use at home.
8. Try Something New. For Olympic Swimmer Janet Evans, that’s the Flex Belt. She admits that toning her obliques doesn’t come easily, which is key to her success in the water. She relies on the electronic muscle stimulating belt to help her tone those core muscles. While the belt may not be for you, it’s a good reminder to switch things up and find what works for you to meet your individual goals and needs.