Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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They are Michael Phelps, Madison Kocian, Brooke Sweat, Katie Ledecky, Christen Press, Ryan Lochte and Laurie Hernandez. These seven Team USA Olympic athletes kill it in the pool, on uneven bars, on the gym floor, on the football field and in the sand. In the run up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, I was honored to be able to reach out to these Olympic athletes about healthy living tips for kids. It was incredible to either talk to them on the phone or through their publicists and get a feel for the amazing energy around the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
All their answers revolve, one way or another, around this question.
Kids, here’s solid advice from the best of the best.
Brooke Sweat, age 30, is an international beach volleyball player. Born in South Florida, Brooke grew up with three other siblings in a family playing sports all over Fort Myers. She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2008 with a degree in resort and hospitality management and lives in California.
For me, a big part of healthy living is keeping hydrated while playing beach volleyball. During the summer, it’s so great to play outside but you have to keep hydrated and drink lots of fluids. Kids overlook hydrating because they love to play, but they really need to replace these fluids. There’s tons of ways to get rehydrated. When going to the beach on a hot day, a smoothie is a perfect way to hydrate your body. With Smoothie Kings, we decided to get the word out about hydration smoothies. My favorite flavors include watermelon hydrator. It’s mixed with VitaCoco–which I love–so you can’t go wrong.
After a recent beach volleyball clinic with kids, I visited the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans with Smoothie King, and it was humbling to play ball with them. It really puts the biggest smile on their face and even if for a day, it meant so much to me. This beach volleyball clinic included all ages and had mostly beginners and the youngest players were 7 or 8 ages old. I got them moving around in the sand and we did a Q&A while they drunk their smoothies. Its a good way to combine beach volleyball with living a healthy lifestyle.
The smile says it all. I love this sport and the many people I’ve met along the way. Excited to be heading to Rio with @usaswimming @teamusa! Thanks to everyone for the support and cheers this week and over the past few years. Ready to rep the best country in the world! Go USA! PC: @mike2swim
A photo posted by Katie Ledecky (@kledecky) on
Katie Ledecky, age 19, is an American competition swimmer, Olympic gold medalist and nine-time world champion. She began swimming at the age of 6, influenced by her older brother, Michael, for a summer league swim team. She graduated from Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in 2015 and is involved with multiple charities, including Catholic Charities, Shepherd’s Table, Bikes for the World, and Wounded Warriors.
I started swimming when I was six years old with my older brother Michael who is nine. At the time, we joined a summer league swim team and we loved it right from the get-go. After that first summer, we joined a year-round swim team and I’ve been on the same swim team ever since. To parents who have a child into competitive sports, I just say to let their kids do what they have fun with. I played a number of different sports growing up and a number of different activities. My parents just let me do what I loved and they never pushed me into swimming. They never pushed me in any other sport. They just kind of gave me all the options and I really loved that.
As I got older, I kind of would pick some practice–basketball practice or soccer practice–and just sort of geared towards swimming. Eventually, I was not doing any of the other sports and was really just focusing on school and swimming. I think it’s good just to encourage your kid to do what they love and just kind of take a step back. Everyone smile and let them do what they enjoy doing.
A photo posted by Madison Kocian (@madison_kocian) on
Madison Kocian, age 19, began gymnastics at age 6 in 2003. She is an American artistic gymnast and is a 2015 world champion on uneven bars, as well as a two-time World Championships team member. In her spare time, she enjoys shopping and swimming and plans to study at UCLA in the fall of 2016. On July 10, 2016, she was named as a member of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team for the 2016 Olympics.
My parents, Thomas & Cindy, have been my biggest supporters throughout my gymnastics career. They put me in the sport at a young age, and they made the commitments to take me to the gym everyday. They will do anything to help me succeed and be happy.
My brother, Ty, is 15 and a sophomore at Jesuit Dallas. He plays baseball. He comes to most of my competitions to cheer me on, and I was very excited he was able to come watch me compete at the 2015 World Championships in Scotland! My family is the best!!
I’m blessed to have parents who are hard-working and genuine. Their work ethic has been very influential in my gymnastics career. I love the quote, “Dreams don’t work, unless you do.” This quote reflects the importance of working hard everyday in the gym to fulfil my dreams. Yes, they would be willing to help share my story.
While training I like to listen to something upbeat, like Pop music. I don’t have a favorite song that motivates me, but my go-to songs on a daily basis, outside of the gym, include Carrie Underwood and country music.
After a big competition, my parents will usually get me dessert because they know how disciplined I am with my healthy living habits. I try to relax my mind and body as much as I can on my off days because as soon as I’m back in the gym I’m focused on my next goal.
A typical training day consists of waking up at 6:35, getting ready for gym and eating breakfast. I usually leave my house at 7:15 for practice from 7:45-11:45. I come home for lunch and take a nap or just relax and watch TV. I leave my house at 2:25 to go back to practice from 3-6. I come home and make dinner on some nights, or my mom has dinner ready when I get home. I shower and hang out with my family. Each day I have a new goal, but I always try to keep moving forward and find the positive in each day.
I eat very healthy at home and I go to bed pretty early. I’ve always needed more sleep than some people. I make sure I get a good amount of protein and some carbs to give my body enough energy to have a productive workout. For breakfast, I have greek yogurt, a hard-boiled, and Special K protein cereal without milk. For lunch, I have turkey rollups, a cheese stick, an apple, some protein cereal without milk, and almonds. For dinner, I have a salad with a variety of vegetables and grilled fish or chicken on it.
A photo posted by Christen Press (@christenpress) on
Christen Press, age 27, is an American soccer forward and World Cup champion. While studying at Stanford University in Communications and Psychology, she set the all-time scoring record for the Cardinal (71 goals) and was named the recipient of the 2010 Hermann Trophy Award as the top college soccer player. As well as enjoying hiking and playing with her two dogs, she has volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles and played in Sweden. She plays for the United States women’s national soccer team.
I think being healthy is fun and cool. The best way for me to make healthy lifestyle choices is to get excited about it instead of thinking about it as a chore. This is the way I hope I can inspire my future child to be healthy and happy as well.
A photo posted by Michael Phelps (@m_phelps00) on
Michael Phelps, age 31, is an American competition swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 22 medals in three Olympiads. He became a father in May 2016 and started the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2008 to grow the sport of swimming and promote healthy lifestyles. Through his foundation, he developed a program that teaches children the importance of being active and healthy, with a focus on the sport of swimming. It also promotes the value of planning and goal-setting. He works with Path Finders for Autism, Boys and Girls Club of America and has also volunteered motivating students in the Baltimore area school system.
I think I was very very lucky that my mom never really, like, fully pushed me. I was able to kind of decide what I wanted to do on my own and I think that’s the reason that I still love it today and that I’m able to do the things that I’ve done. I didn’t feel that pressure from my parents and if my son wants to swim, great, but whatever makes him happy is what we’re looking forward the most to.
A photo posted by Laurie Hernandez (@lauriehernandez_) on
Lauren Hernandez, age 16, is an American artistic gymnast. She began gymnastics at age five and is the only first-year senior-level gymnast to be selected to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing and writing poetry.
Healthy living has always been part of my gymnastics career and both my coach and my family keep me grounded through this journey. Yes, I have overcome injuries in the sport of gymnastics but my teammates are a great support and they make me laugh and giggle until I can’t breathe. My motto in life is to enjoy and embrace every moment.
My athlete idol is Usain Bolt because he’s inhumanly fast! My greatest inspiration is my coach! In my gym bag, I must have these 5 things at all times: grips, tape, wrist guards, knee brace, and my calming peppermint oil.
My advice for young girls pursuing a dream is to never give up, no matter what!
Ryan Lochte, age 31, is an American competitive swimmer and an 11-time Olympic medalist. A Rochester, New York, native, he grew up with four siblings in Florida and learned how to swim at age five coached by both his parents. He graduated from the University of Florida, majoring in sport management, and qualified for his first Olympics in 2004. He is involved with the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and serves as a spokesperson for the Mac Crutchfield Foundation.
To kids, I would say just do what you love. What I mean is, it’s the greatest feeling–being able to do. I mean it’s not just me. You can ask anyone, a doctor, if they love doing it. You just have to find that passion, that love, that drive, and you just have to have fun. I mean, that’s what life is all about is having fun, enjoying the moment. Life is too short, you never know when it’s going to end so you have to embrace every moment that you get. I can’t say my swimming journey is over, I’m still enjoying it and I’m enjoying every moment that I have, so just enjoy and have fun.
If kids show an interest in swimming, it’s worth the effort finding them a swim team to join during the school year. Not only will they improve their swimming skills, but they will meet new friends. In the USA, check out www.SwimToday.org/SwimUnited to select a swim team in your area and in the UK, check out the ASA Competitive Swimming page to find local clubs.