For me, my go-to stress relief is swimming. Who needs noise canceling headphones when it’s just the sound of water rushing by your ears lap after lap?
My love for swimming took me all the way to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where I competed for the United States as part of the Women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay. We ended up winning a Gold Medal in London, a moment that changed my life forever.
People often ask me what I took away from all the years of training that led up to that moment. It’s funny because that hardware is something I often tend to forget about, because what stands out most to me looking back are all the habits formed and lessons learned from my time as a competitive swimmer. Now, I aim to inspire others to live active and healthy lives—something Misfit is doing everyday with Shine.
Here are five things that have helped mold me into a stronger, healthier, and more successful athlete. They’re broadly applicable though, so hopefully you can apply them to any area of your life where you want to improve.
1. Make it a habit. It’s so important to create good habits when you are trying to produce lasting results. Get in the habit of working out before work. I really believe it’s as great for our bodies as it is for our minds. So set the alarm and make it a habit to not hit snooze.
2. Write it down. You don’t have to share it with anyone. But what’s important is that you had the courage to take pen to paper and write your goal down. Whatever it may be, big or small, you’ve taken it from the recesses of your mind to the neon sticky note on your mirror. Refer back to this when you start to forget about why you are setting that alarm clock in the morning.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Can’t tell you how many times I heard that phrase during my swimming career. No progress was ever made when I worked out comfortably and without intention. I’m not saying to go out and run 50 miles right away, but do that extra push-up you don’t think you can handle. Step outside your comfort zone and you’ll be amazed at what you find.
4. Doubt your doubts. Try that for a change. You’d be amazed how much we talk ourselves out of things that didn’t even need thinking about to begin with.
5. Treat your body like that Bugatti. I doubt you’d find that car fueling up with garbage. Neither should you. Healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts throughout the day paired with three balanced meals is how I’ve maintained a healthy diet during my career.
Whether you prefer to walk, SoulCycle, samba, or swim your way to a healthier lifestyle, we all have our personal favorite workout that somehow makes exercise a little less scary and a whole lot more enjoyable. So make sure you’re doing what you love. Try to remember that exercise is a time during your day that you can unplug from the stresses of your hectic life to focus on you and your body.