Since day 1, Olympians have been trained, coached and disciplined into a way of being that does one thing – prepare for peak performance. Their job is to optimize their own physiology. If Virgil is right, and the “greatest wealth is health”, then THIS is the 1% we should all be striving to follow…
Owaves went across the globe to recruit an inspiring list of both Summer and Winter Olympians, and gathered their top wellness tips and examined their day-plans. Here are some of our favorite lessons:
Lesson #1: Start on Blast
Even retired Olympians make a point to get out of bed and workout in the early hours. Our seven interviewees average at least 2 hours of exercise before noon.
8X USA National Track & Field Champion, 2X Olympian and now Assistant Coach at Louisiana State University, Khadevis Robinson quotes Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Khadevis also refers to another source of early AM inspiration:
As my college coach used to remind me on my way to multiple NCAA championships – if you get up before dawn and run 30 minutes, you’re already ahead of 90% of the world. Because most people don’t work out. So that’s all you have to do to start your day in the top 10%.
If you have trouble hitting the accelerator in the morning hours, Khadevis suggests:
- try listening to music – I have pre-set playlists on my iPod that never fail to stir me up for that first run of the day
- rationalize – if you don’t get it done in the AM, something else is bound to come up and make it harder to accomplish later in the day
- go to bed on time – I’m usually in bed by 9pm. You need those Zzz’s to perform
Lesson #2: Hydration is Key
As Dr. David Katz, president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine and head of prevention at Yale University, summarizes:
Water is the most plentiful substance in the body, accounting for about 60 percent of an adult’s body weight, and an essential part of the diet. Our bodies have no way to store water, so we need to constantly replenish the fluids we lose through sweat, breathing, urination, and other bodily functions. This means we should drink at least eight cups of water every day, more when the weather is hot or when we exercise or play sports.
Our top profiled athletes agree. Both Natasha Hastings, USA Track & Field Olympic Gold Medalist, and Adeline Gray, the women’s top-ranked female wrestler and front-runner for gold in Rio, list “staying hydrated” as their #1 wellness habit. In Natasha’s own words:
Drinking lots of water is my #1 wellness habit. It’s the basis for a healthy life inside and out. Without hydration almost everything else goes out the window.
Michellie Jones, Australian Triathlon Olympic Silver Medalist, also ranks hydration as #1 and offers the following tips for getting more water into your day:
Whenever you schedule Exercise into your day on Owaves, include a note that says “H2O” or “hydrate” as a reminder. Consider adding a 15 to 30 minute Nutrition segment immediately after your workout as well totally dedicated to replacing the fluids you have lost through sweating.
Lesson #3: Stay Focused
Even the best of us can get caught in unhealthy cycles, and this includes Olympic athletes. What gets these top-tier performers out of occasional ruts is re-focusing on their health, wellness and professional goals.
Both Adeline and Olympic Snowboarder Arielle Gold broke bad eating habits in the past by envisioning themselves at peak performance. To defeat the cravings for Oreos and candy, for example, Arielle explains:
My inspiration comes from my desire to be a better person and athlete. Although I go through phases of unhealthy eating, I always bring myself back by envisioning myself at peak performance, and knowing that eating healthy is just another stepping stone to get there.
Olympians are naturally very goal-oriented people. Athletes do not win gold medals by happenstance or mistake… Most athletes will perform a daily review of their performance goals and align the day’s activities accordingly. To ensure sustainable progress and prevent burnout towards achieving these epic goals, USA Swimming Olympic Bronze Medalist, Caroline Burckle recommends practicing self-compassion:
There have been times in my life where I’ve let stress get the best of me. I lost too much weight due to stress, deprived myself of happiness, and depleted my body. I used to beat myself up over things out of my control. I try not to do that anymore. My solution to the stressors of life is self-love. That and learning to say no. When I learned to say no, it changed my world.
Want to learn more? Check out how Olympians continue to re-define our physiological limits:
Owaves 101 is a blog series showcasing tips for work-life balance from fitness experts and successful professionals. Olympians, Ironmen, inspiring yoga teachers, physicians, and clinical dietitians, among others collaborate and share ideas in a common mission of leading healthier, fuller and more balanced lives.
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