You probably recognize Shannon Miller from the photo on the left. She’s like the Michael Phelps of women’s gymnastics with a whopping seven Olympic medals. She brought home five medals from the 1992 Olympic games and then rocked the 1996 games in Atlanta. Remember her kick-ass gold medal victory on the balance beam? I sure do.
Now Shannon is grown up and has a child of her own. And over the summer launched a healthy lifestyle product line that includes Fit Pregnancy and Body After Baby DVDs, three Fitness-To-Go books, a pregnancy cookbook, and personal log books. (Look for more product details later this week!)
Shannon was kind enough to take time to answer questions about this venture—and gives us the straight scoop on fitness after baby!
- FBG: What inspired you to start this new line of healthy lifestyle products and books?
- SM: It was really my son, Rocco. I had toyed with the idea of writing easy “To-Go” style fitness books for years but never got around to it. When I found out I was pregnant I realized it was now or never. The fitness books grew into DVDs for Fit Pregnancy and Body After Baby, even a pregnancy cookbook! I was in creative mode and dealing with these issues myself. Now I am excited to provide a place for women to ask questions and get answers through my website and my weekly radio show. The best part is that Rocco is a big part of everything I do. I no longer think about exercise as just a way to fit into my jeans; now it’s about being healthy for him.
- FBG: Why was a focus on pregnancy and babies important to you?
- SM: It’s what I was, and I am, going through. My son is now one year old and every day is a learning experience. Pregnancy and motherhood really turn your world upside down. There are so many questions. It’s important that women stick together and communicate to help each other get through the challenges we are faced with every day.
- FBG: What were your favorite activities and workouts during your pregnancy?
- SM: I loved walking. My husband and I adopted a dog shortly after I found out I was pregnant so we took long walks each day. I also did workouts from my Fit Pregnancy video. I have such an extensive background in physical activity but had no idea what was appropriate for pregnancy. I used the creation of my video as a great way to research the issue and apply it personally. I am so glad I learned how to correctly work out my entire body—it sure came in handy!
- FBG: What pregnancy craving or food aversions stand out?
- SM: I had morning sickness 24/7 for about seven months so I had many more aversions than cravings. I couldn’t stand the thought of fish and for much of the time I couldn’t be in the same house as marinara sauce. As for cravings, I couldn’t eat enough oranges early on in the pregnancy and toward the end I turned to crab cakes. Very odd. Mostly I just ate A LOT. I would get up at 2 a.m. to have a grilled chicken and cheese “snack.”
- FBG: What was your favorite part of pregnancy? What was your least favorite part of pregnancy?
- SM: My least favorite part was the morning sickness. It was so bad for so long I wondered if I would ever feel good again. My favorite part was planning. I loved preparing the nursery while thinking about our little boy; wondering what kind of personality he would have. Would he like trucks or trains? Maybe music or football? Of course, I also enjoyed never having to holding my stomach in at dinner parties.
- FBG: What advice do you have to new moms for getting back into shape after pregnancy?
- SM: Don’t jump the gun. You will have time to get back in shape. Get clearance from your physician first and take time to be with your new baby. That being said, it’s also important to take care of YOU. It’s nonstop in those first few months so don’t hesitate to let others help you out. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of working out into each day. Walking is a great way to start but make sure to work your entire body. I like home workouts because I can fit it in during one of my son’s naps.
- FBG: How do you balance “me time” with the demands of motherhood?
- SM: As a mother I feel like I need to be superwoman. I think as women we place unrealistic standards on ourselves. My main goal is to set priorities and create a good balance that’s healthy for my family. That means that alongside motherhood and work, I schedule in some “me time” every day. It may be a 30-minute workout or an hour to sip a cup of tea and read a good book. Early on, I was hesitant to lean on others for help because I felt like I needed to do everything. But I learned it was healthier for me and my family to take some time to recharge.
- FBG: Training for the Olympics is no doubt grueling. How have you adjusted your workout mentality now that you’re no longer training for the Olympics? Was that a difficult adjustment?
- SM: The Olympics were quite some time ago for me so I’ve had plenty of years to adjust. That’s not to say it was easy. I went from 40-plus hours a week training to absolutely nothing. I had never worked out other than specific gymnastics training. Now I focus on getting at least 30-45 minutes of workout in four to five days a week. That includes cardio, flexibility and two to threedays of strength training.
- FBG: How has your diet changed post-Olympic training?
- SM: I was lucky that I lived and trained at home in Oklahoma. My parents made sure I was eating fairly healthy. I ate six full meals each day to keep my energy up. Now that I’m retired, I don’t burn the type of calories that I did while training. I still eat six times a day but those are smaller meals. I try to watch portion size but not limit the types of food I eat. I have a huge sweet tooth so it’s unreasonable to think that I’m going to give up chocolate … not going to happen.
- FBG: What does a typical workout week look like for you?
- SM: Since Rocco is on a schedule with naps, it makes it easier for me to know when to fit in a workout. Because my work schedule constantly changes, I tend to set my workout schedule on a weekly basis. I like to work out in the morning whenever possible. Once the day starts going, it’s difficult to find the time. I love the elliptical machine because I can multitask while working out. Of course, other times I just need to turn off the noise and go for a walk or jog. I also try to fit in at least one day of a fun activity like golf, swimming or biking. The goal is being active each day but getting at least 30-45 minutes of workout four to five days a week.
- FBG: There is so much pressure on female gymnasts. Did you or do you have any body image issues stemming from your time training? Any advice on how girls in gymnastics or ballet can avoid that?
- SM: I never had body image issues during gymnastics; those didn’t start until after I retired from the sport. Through gymnastics I learned how to fuel my body for success. I was also burning so many calories during workoutsthat I could eat most anything. After I retired I kept eating the same amount of calories but wasn’t working out. I went from being in top physical condition to being absolutely sedentary and gained more than four dresses sizes very quickly. It was depressing and embarrassing. After trying every diet out there, I realized that I had to focus on getting healthy not skinny. I think that’s why I have such a passion for women’s health and fitness. I want women to know that there is a healthy way to lose weight and stay fit.
- FBG: Your Shannon Miller Foundation helps to fight childhood obesity. How did childhood obesity become your cause?
- SM: I wanted to start a foundation and continue to give back. When I thought about what I was passionate about it became simple. My background and life experiences gave me a passion for health and fitness and, of course, I love children. It was stunning to read statistics on childhood obesity and I thought, this is an area where I truly feel I can lend a voice and make a difference.
- FBG: Any other thoughts or advice for our Fit Bottomed readers?
- SM: Love your blog! It’s great to see women who aren’t afraid to keep it real with Fit Bottomed Girls and Fit Bottomed Babies. Keep up the great work.
Thanks, Shannon, for sharing your thoughts on motherhood and fitness! It’s inspiring to hear how other busy moms stay healthy! Stay tuned for more Shannon Miller content later this week! —Erin