Tips from an Olympian: How to eat your way to a healthier, happier YOU

Alyssa Anderson is an Olympic gold medalist, a World University Games gold medalist, and a World Championship silver medalist.  She is a 16 time All-American from the University of Arizona. Photo via Amazing Almonds

I’m always asked how I maintain my figure post athletic career, and what I’ve found most important is finding a routine that works for you. Here’s what I’ve learned about what works for me—everyone is different, but in my humble opinion, these are certainly worth a try 🙂

Drink plenty of water and when you think you can’t drink anymore, fill ‘er up once more. One thing I learned as an elite athlete was the importance of staying hydrated. I rarely ever go places without a water bottle in hand. It flushes toxins, helps digestion, and is crucial to your workout recovery. If it gets boring, add your favorite fruit to kick it up a notch. Avoid dehydration and all the nasty side effects that follow—remember if you are thirsty you are already 2 to 3% dehydrated.

Don’t skip breakfast! I can honestly say I’ve never skipped a breakfast, not just because I know it’s an important jumpstart to my day, but also because it’s my favorite meal. I go through phases of what I like to eat in the morning, anything from granola parfaits to quickly prepared over-easy eggs.  It may just be me but fresh fruit added to anything is totally refreshing. Cereal, oatmeal, or pancakes..MAJOR UPGRADE! And it makes a big difference—did you know men who regularly skip breakfast have a 27 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack or fatal coronary disease, when compared to men who consume breakfast daily?

Strive for balance.  I always tell friends and fellow athletes that a balanced meal is the best meal. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite things—just be sure to eat them in moderation and not all at once. Chocolate is my weakness and my chocolate bar of choice hails from Trader Joes: Simply Lite in Dark Chocolate (You will always find one (or five) stashed in my cabinet. I break off a piece after dinner and that’s it, except for when I take two;))

Pump up the protein. Whether it’s chicken or almonds you decide to fuel up on, the body needs protein to develop muscle and support your active lifestyle. I like to mix up my dinners each week by switching between meat, fish, and starch. This way I am well rounded and rarely ever get bored! Here’s a link to a favorite dish.

Keep track.  This way you can look back and see what exactly you had during your day.  Take notes on your phone or iPad or try out the Misfit notebook.  The Misfit app also allows you to track what your daily diet looks like by storing the photos you take of your meals in an easy to see format. Either way, try keeping track of what you’re taking in.  You might realize that you had way more than you thought.

I hope these tidbits help you in your own journey. Remember that these opinions are my own and here to inspire you and guide you to a healthier, happier you!