Fitness Tips From Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Shannon Miller

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You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to stay in shape, but it doesn’t hurt to get fitness advice from one. Before heading to London where she will be covering the 2012 Summer Olympics for Yahoo Sports, Shannon Miller, one of the most decorated gymnasts in U.S. history, talked to NewBeauty and shared her insight on how to create and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Getting Started
When it comes to establishing a fitness routine, Miller says, “Do something you enjoy. If you’re not a morning person don’t tell yourself you’ll get up at 5 a.m. Just ‘tweak’ your lifestyle. Don’t try to change it overnight.” If finding the time to work out is the only thing standing between you and your skinny jeans, Miller says, “A little bit goes a long way. Start with 10-minute segments-10 minutes before work, a 10-minute walk at lunch and 10 minutes before/after dinner. Don’t feel guilty about taking time to focus on yourself.”

When You’re Expecting- and After
Staying fit during pregnancy is important for you and your baby, but working out doesn’t always seem like a great idea when you’re feeling tired, swollen or uncomfortable. During her pregnancy, Miller incorporated yoga, walking and light weights saying, “The easiest way to get back to your pre-baby shape is to maintain a prenatal fitness regimen.” Following the birth of her son, Miller relied on walking to get back in shape. “I would take my son out for a walk in the park for the duration of one nap each day-and I would return phone calls too. It helped me recharge for the long days-and nights. Add a few squats or lunges and you’ll be getting a pretty good workout.”

Getting the Family Involved

Exercise can be a great way to spend time with your family and get them involved in your fitness goals. Miller suggests taking a family walk after dinner to catch up on the day’s events and spend time together. She also shares her secret for getting the kids off the couch even when they’re watching television. “One of my favorites is ‘commercial contests.’ For each commercial break, instead of going to the kitchen, see who can do the most push-ups or squat jumps. Your kids will have a blast trying to beat you and you’ll be getting your exercise in for the day.”

Overcoming Setbacks
Sometimes life’s greatest challenges require you to channel your own inner Olympian, and that’s what Miller had to do after being diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2011. “I knew that fitness was the one thing I could control during the process and often with a cancer diagnosis, it’s the loss of control that’s most difficult. What I learned in my Olympic training was that when you fall, you get back up,” Miller says. So that’s just what she did. Throughout an aggressive chemotherapy regimen that often left her sick, Miller incorporated some exercise as often as she could. “My workout was often a five or ten-minute walk maybe with some light stretching or yoga. Just being active each day helped me get out of bed and focus my attention on recovery.”

Photo: Renee Parenteau

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