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Award-Winning Recipes for Your Oscars Party

Written on February 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm , by

Every year a group of girlfriends and I get together to watch the Oscars. OK, let’s be honest: I have a bunch of girlfriends I get together with. The Oscars happen to be on, but it’s a great excuse to have a girl’s night out and enjoy some wine and great food.

All that aside, though, parties usually leave a lot to be desired in terms of healthy foods. To help keep overindulgence to a minimum, consider serving these dishes (or bringing them to pass!), so everyone can munch in between guessing the winners. After all, between the drinks and the food, those calories can add up quickly, and we want you to dream about donning those red-carpet dresses yourself.

Layered Cheese, Bean and Avocado Dip

You may be familiar with seven-layer dips.  They’re popular, but can add way too much fat and a crazy amount of calories.  This one, however, saves your waistline. First things first: swap traditional sour cream for cottage cheese – it’s a versatile, nutrient-rich ingredient (I like Daisy Brand’s low-fat variety, thanks to it’s small ingredient list and no additives, preservatives or thickeners). Now just follow the recipe below for a protein-packed appetizer to enjoy while watching the stars walk the red carpet.  Since protein boosts satiety, it won’t leave you starving. Now that’s a win-win.

Serves: 16 (5 tablespoons per serving)

Ingredients

  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 1 1/4 cups Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Layer  black beans on a 10-inch serving plate. Layer avocado over beans; drizzle with lime juice. Top with diced tomatoes. Stir cilantro, chili powder, cumin and lime peel into the cottage cheese; layer over tomatoes. If desired, sprinkle with a little additional chili powder, shredded lettuce, and shredded cheese. Serve with chips. For a heartier meal, add grilled chicken or ground beef.

Cos-MOHR-politan

What’s an awards show without some fun drinks? I found this creative, super-tasty recipe (that actually has some nutrients) that won’t totally dehydrate you and leave you with a hangover the next day, thanks to the electrolyte-replenishing coconut water. And at only 45-60 calories per serving, you can serve it straight or use it as a mixer for your party’s signature drink.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. blended scotch whisky
  • 2 oz. Vita Coco
  • 3 oz. Ginger Beer (or ginger ale)

Build ingredients directly into a rocks glass filled with ice and stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.

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Why Celebrities Shouldn’t Be Fitness Role Models

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Music Monday: What’s New with ‘The Voice,’ and the Alums We’re Totally Jamming Out To

Written on February 24, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

Finally. After a long season of basically no TV (I mean, the Bachelor was there to hold me over), and a slight delay due to the Olympics, my favorite shows are back from winter break. I’m a total sucker for reality TV – obviously, since I watch the Bachelor - so the show I’m most excited for would be The Voice (OK, OK, I’m also really stoked for Scandal and Nashville). Cheesy as it may be, I love discovering new artists along with the rest of America, and this group of coaches has a ton of on-screen chemistry. And I’m not just talking about Adam Levine and Blake Shelton (though their bromance is pretty epic) – Shakira and Usher are back in the spinning chairs for season six, and now that they’re no longer newbies, these two are coming out of their shells even more (Shakira even claimed Blake’s wife, Miranda Lambert, as her guest coach!). All of their personalities shine in a big way, and watching them bring out the best in young performers is as heart-warming as the steamy mug of caffeine-free tea I’ll be cupping while I snuggle into my couch and watch (yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old lady #judgmentfreezone).

But as a running-addict, the best part of The Voice is, in fact, finding new artists to add to my always-changing playlists. We all know I love country music, so Danielle Bradbery and The Swon Brothers are my jam, but I’ve also totally been digging Cassadee Pope and Will Champlin lately. Not one to keep good music all to myself, here are The Voice alums I’ve been sprinting, interval-ing and hill-climbing to these days. And if the weather is still terrible in your area, just hop on the treadmill Monday and Tuesday nights. The music will keep you entertained, and the coaches will make you laugh enough that you just might forget you’re running…maybe.

In other Voice news, there have been a lot of questions swirling around who will claim the red seats for season seven. The last few seasons have had a lot of back-and-forth, with an unprecedented switch between CeeLo Green and Christina Aguilera with Usher and Shakira. Last week though, CeeLo announced on Ellen that he definitely would not be returning to the show. If that’s the case, will Shakira permanently take his place (based on where the replacements sit), and Christina reclaim her chair, making it an even playing field of male and female coaches? Or maybe Usher will return on a permanent basis too, since the two currently come as a pair? Or perhaps producers will use the vacancy as a chance to bring in a revolving chair (yes, pun intended) of coaches, opening the door for even more celeb appearances. It’s up in the air right now – as far as we know – but tell me what you think. Sound off in the comments, or vote in the poll below on your favorite pairing.

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More on ‘The Biggest Loser’ Controvery: Season 11 Winner Olivia Ward Speaks Out

Written on February 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm , by

Ward posed with sister (and season 11 runner-up), Hannah Curlee, after her win in 2011.

Written by Olivia Ward

Sitting in the audience during NBC’s live The Biggest Loser finale is one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life…and I’ve done it four times. Not to mention I’ve actually had the awesome experience of being on stage and winning season 11. So  to say, “It’s not my first rodeo” is probably an understatement. Having been involved with the show for many years, I feel like I’ve seen it all…until recently. Of course, you know I’m talking about the live Season 15 finale, where 24-year-old Rachel Frederickson was crowned the winner at 105 pounds.

I will admit that when she walked out for the first time that night, there was a huge collective gasp from the audience. It was as if all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room in a single moment, and it wasn’t because everyone loved her dress (although it was stunning). I think, more than anything, nobody thought it was possible to see a contestant get that small. Having been an avid Loser viewer for years, I always expect people to have huge transformations, but this was very different.

My first thought: What happened? Having been through the same experience, I knew Rachel would be small in the end. We both started the show weighing around 260 pounds, and we both left the ranch – as a part of the final four – around 150 pounds. I ended my journey on The Biggest Loser at 132 pounds, which at five-foot-ten, was really, really small. But I was fully aware of that, and I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected to stay at such a low weight for long. Instead, I viewed it as my “prize fighting” weight. Why? I was training (and eating) for 8 to 10 hours a day, every day, for the seven weeks that led to my finale. I was essentially treating the finale like my job, and I was a professional athlete. It wasn’t meant to be sustained for the rest of my life. It was a conscious adult choice I made because I was in a game, and I wanted to win.

Now, back to Rachel. First of all, I personally have never spoken to her (although I can’t wait to meet her one day), but I do have a level of understanding that most don’t. I’ve stood on that scale and I’ve worn the weigh-in tank top. I know what kind of outside pressure you feel at the end to win, along with the self-induced pressure of wanting to win so badly yourself. To train day in and day out like an athlete, you have to have tunnel vision and be extremely focused – clearly, those are things Rachel is extremely familiar with. So if you want my opinion, I think that when it came down to making a choice to really widen the gap between her and the other competitors, she did. By 10 percent. And therein lies the rub. The gap never had to be that big. Now, I’m not shunning her – or defending her – but as someone who’s faced the same situation, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t (and didn’t) make the same decision Rachel did.

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Olympian Mogul Skier Hannah Kearney on Bouncing Back From a Setback

Written on February 20, 2014 at 7:02 pm , by

Kearney knows how to “trick” her way to the top. (Photo by Garth Hagar)

Three-time Olympian Hannah Kearney has come a long way. Although she’s always been a phenomenal mogul skier, she’s faced plenty of adversity – the 2006 Winter Games come to mind pretty quickly, when Kearney placed 22nd out of 30 competitors. But rather than letting that defeat her, the Vermont native learned from her mistakes, and spent the last six years rising to the top of her game. So much so, in fact, that she snatched the gold in the 2010 Games, and was projected to repeat in this year’s Games. Unfortunately, a mistake on the course during the medal round dropped her out of contention for the top spot. But she still came away a winner: with head held high, Kearney stood on the podium claiming bronze for the U.S. After so many setbacks, we caught up with the champion (because winning a bronze is still pretty badass) to find out more about bouncing back, and whether or not retirement is in her near future.
Tell us about your Sochi experience? How do you feel coming away with a bronze medal?

Sochi has exceed my expectations. The mogul course was challenging, yet fun to ski. I knew I was capable of winning a gold medal again – I have made sacrifices, trained hard and made mogul skiing my life for the past four years. Although I am proud to be a two-time Olympic medalist, and grateful I got to compete in the Games for a third time, I am disappointed that I made a large mistake in my final run.

But bronze is still amazing! And you’ve come such a long way since the 2006 Olympics. How did you stay motivated amidst such discouragement?

I viewed every setback – injuries; losses – as an opportunity to become a stronger mental competitor. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so when I was sidelined from training and competitions, I tried to make the most of the break by adopting a dog, putting up a Christmas tree for the first time, and watching more of my brother’s hockey games.

Anything specific you can credit to your rise to success?

There have been many factors. Opportunity, supportive parents, a community that valued winter recreation, and coaches and friends who believed in me when I was very young. And a little bit of luck.

So…will we see you in the next Games potentially? Or are you thinking about retirement?

It’s hard to answer that when I feel as strong as ever and very motivated by the feeling that I can ski better than I demonstrated at Sochi.

What’s next for you, then?

After completing the World Cup season in Japan, Norway and France, I will be finishing my freshman year at Dartmouth in the spring!

OK, time to spill some of your success secrets. What’s on your pump-you-up playlist?

My workout playlist is a mix of contemporary pop and hip-hop, classic rock and some folk music.

A little bit of everything. What about food? Any that really fuel your fire?

I eat Bear Naked granola when I need a quick snack to give me energy! Plus, I love that the granola has ingredients that I can see and recognize on the label. I’ll mix it into a Chobani yogurt for a hearty, balanced, natural snack for pre- and post-workout.When I need to grab-and-go, I’ll use Bear Naked’s single serving packs – I keep them in my workout bag and in my car.

You’re working with Bear Naked on the #OneUpIt challenge. How do you plan to “One Up” your game post-Sochi?

I’m in the process of planning my One Upping strategy. I feel strong and motivated, so I am not ready to retire. I will train this summer to add a more difficult trick to my repertoire.

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Everything You Need to Know About The Biggest Loser Controversy – Including ‘Extreme Weight Loss’ Trainer Chris Powell’s Opinion

Written on February 12, 2014 at 7:59 pm , by

Frederickson’s before and after photos (courtesy of NBC).

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’re aware of all the controversy that’s been swirling around The Biggest Loser season 15 finale and its winner, Rachel Frederickson. But if you’re not clued in to all the dirty details, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what’s been happening:

After competing on the show and being monitored closely for seven-and-a-half months, Frederickson went home (unmonitored and without trainers) for the final stretch before the finale, working to get down to her lowest weight and hopefully claim the $250,000 prize and title of the Biggest Loser. She shocked viewers; the audience; trainers Bob Harper, Jillian Michaels and Dolvett Quince; and host Alison Sweeney when she strutted a 0-2 sized figure and clocked in at a startling 105 pounds. At the start of the show, Frederickson weighed in at 260 pounds. With a 5’4″ frame, let’s do the math: this girl shed 155 pounds fast, and she brought her BMI (body mass index) down to 18, which places her in the underweight category – a first in the show’s history.

Now, we know by now that BMI is not the end-all, be-all for telling whether or not a person is healthy. There are many other factors at play, like muscle mass. Had she gone too far? Despite the media storm, NBC stands behind their latest champion, and when People magazine asked Frederickson point blank whether or not she had an eating disorder, she told them, “I am very, very healthy.”

That being said, when you’re training for six hours a day and only eating 1,600 calories per day like this contestant was, the cause for concern seems warranted (however, that does not justify mean, negative comments). After all, it was widely reported that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps chowed down a staggering 12,000 calories a day when training for the Beijing Olympics, and we all heard about how track-star-turned-bobsledder Lolo Jones consumes 9,000 daily calories to beef up for bobsledding. Even Olympic cyclists take in more than 3,300 calories, on average. Granted, Olympians aren’t trying to drop weight the way Frederickson was, but it’s the closest comparison we get when athletes are logging so many hours of exercise.

But before we all point fingers at the 24-year-old athlete (which she is, no question), let’s face the facts: The Biggest Loser is a competitive reality show, and Frederickson did exactly what she signed on to do: win a weight-loss show and bring home a life-changing amount of money. Whether she stays at the same weight or gains 20 pounds before the end of the week doesn’t matter – and with the amount of challenges she won throughout the season (4 out of 5 once they moved to singles, including the first-ever Loser sprint triathlon), we bet that played a strategic role. After all, we’ve heard time and time again how she’s always been an athlete and Loser helped her find that in herself again.  She knew that as long as she trained hard and got down low enough, she was bringing home the goods. Also, let’s not forget that her 105-pound weight isn’t set in stone – the show’s winners generally gain back a good amount of weight post-finale to settle into their natural healthy weight.

Click through to find out what Extreme Weight Loss trainer Chris Powell has to say!

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What’s Next for the Tone It Up Girls

Written on February 11, 2014 at 9:00 am , by

Photo by John Segesta.

Photo by John Segesta.

With so many fitness influencers on the web, it’s been fun to see the uber-popular Tone It Up girls, Katrina Hodgson and Karena Dawn, get the television spotlight for the past few weeks. Last Thursday was the final episode of Bravo’s reality TV series, Toned Up, which has followed the pair as they navigate both professional and personal challenges.

What’s next for the girls and what did they think of the reality TV experience? Find out:

FITNESS: How has your fan base changed since the show premiered?

TIU: It’s incredible how much the Tone It Up community has grown.  There are more women than ever getting together all over the globe for meet-ups, workouts and just making new friends.  The community welcomes each new member with open arms and we’re so grateful that we can make a positive impact in women’s lives.

FITNESS: What do you hope viewers took away from watching you run your business?

TIU: There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of Tone It Up; and on Bravo you just catch a glimpse.  We just hope that we can inspire other women to follow their dreams and do what their passionate about.

FITNESS: What has been your favorite part in general of this experience?

TIU: The entire experience has been a blast!  Since the start of Tone It Up we have been approached for TV, but nothing felt right.  Once Bravo came to us, we loved that we were able to show behind the scenes of our lives and how Tone It Up is run without having to quit our ‘day jobs’.

FITNESS: Now that the show is wrapping up, what’s next for you girls?

TIU: This year is huge for Tone It Up!  We’re gearing up to film and plan our 4th annual Bikini Series that launches in April.  It’s 8 weeks to get ready for summer!  We’re expanding our Perfect Fit product line with a multi-vitamin for women, coconut water and more flavors of bars.  Our new bikini line is releasing in March, our signature series of sunglasses with Oakley releases in June and we’ll be shooting a another self produced DVD series this summer.  We’re also having our first official Tone It Up Retreat in September!  We’re really excited about this, it’s a weekend of workouts, beach time, surfing, beach volleyball, music and fun with all our TIU Team! Hopefully we will have Season 2 to capture it all so everyone gets an inside look!

Music Monday: Your Super Bowl Party Playlist

Written on January 27, 2014 at 6:48 pm , by

It’s almost game time, guys! You know I’m talking about the Super Bowl – or should I say Puppy Bowl? – and while I love watching men battle it out in tight pants, my beloved Patriots are not in the game, so I’m not nearly as interested as I should be. And let’s be honest, whether we’re big football fans or not, the half-time show is one of the best parts of the game (along with the commercials, obvi). Add on the fact that Bruno Mars will be performing (after securing a big Grammy win for Best Pop Vocal Album, no less) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are making an appearance, and well, you basically won’t be able to tear my eyes from the TV screen.

So whether you’re planning a big party for the game, or just want to take a trip down memory lane, I recommend plugging into this playlist. We’ve gathered hit songs that were performed during the iconic halftime show in the past – including the always-infamous “Rock Your Body” by J.T. and J.J. – and sprinkled in a few tunes we hope Bruno and the Peppers (New band name? Maybe? OK, no…) grace us with on Sunday.

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Lolo Jones: Third Time’s the Charm for This Dual-Sport Olympian

Written on January 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm , by

Fun fact: Lolo loves her downtime. Mindy Project, New Girl and Orange Is The New Black are her top guilty pleasure picks. (Photo courtesy of Lolo Jones)

Track & Field World Champion Lolo Jones embraces defeat. In fact, it’s the driving force behind her success so far, she says, and what the athlete will most definitely draw from on her bobsledding road to redemption in the upcoming Games. That’s right: this week the 31-year-old was selected for the 2014 Olympic Bobsled Team, along with fellow track star Lauryn Williams. No wonder Jones’ mantra is, “A failure isn’t a failure if it prepares you for success tomorrow.”

The duo became the ninth and tenth Americans to ever compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, which—let’s face it—is pretty darn cool. Fingers crossed that the third time is the charm for Jones when it comes to the podium. The speedy all-star has certainly put in the work, gaining 30 pounds of muscle (thanks to a new routine and proper recovery with Twinlab CleanSeries performance protein products) for her new gig’s dangerous terrain.

“I transitioned to bobsled about a month after track season,” she told us while prepping for team trials. “I’m still training to be a fast and powerful sprinter, but the main difference is, as opposed to running a 100-meter or hurdle race, now I’m running maybe 40 to 50 meters before jumping in a bobsled.”

The shift to colder temps hasn’t had too much of an effect on Jones, though. In fact, she finds it more peaceful to work out during the winter and even embraces trudging through the snow (more than we can say for ourselves). “I feel like I’m pushing my body more than when it’s easy and beautiful out,” she admits. I guess we should bundle up and embrace the Polar Vortex then?

Three to five layers are key to keeping toasty, Jones says, as are wool socks. “They’re waterproof and keep your feet warm!” For slick and slushie days, she relies on Asics GEL-FujiSetsu G-TX sneaks, too. The athlete swears she isn’t superstitious, but she does pride herself in being well-organized—especially before a competition. Her warm gear is neatly laid out before bedtime to avoid adding to any jitters. “The last thing I need to do is wake up race day and look for this or that,” she says. “You’re already nervous enough, the last thing you want is that one missing thing to add extra nerves.”

So what has been her biggest career highlight to date? That’s a tough question, to say the least. “Anytime I put on Team USA and represent tons of people back home, it’s a huge honor,” she says. And we wish her nothing but the best of luck in sporting red, white and blue yet again in the coming weeks. You got this, girlfriend!

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5 New Things to Know About Jillian Michaels

Written on January 24, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

There’s no stopping Jillian Michaels this year. She’s kicking it up a notch—and you can, too—with Curves. (Mario Guzman)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

There’s no stopping Jillian Michaels in 2014. She’s prepping for the second leg of her Maximize Your Life motivational tour, working on a new project that could get her into the food market and launched her new partnership with Curves, the international fitness franchise focused on women. Last week I had the pleasure (yes, pleasure) of getting my booty kicked when previewing the new workout program with Michaels herself, and I ended up learning a little more about one of our most beloved trainers in the process.

Michaels’ partnership with Curves is the first time she’s been available in a brick-and-mortar gym. We know—crazy, right? From those at-home workout DVDs to episodes of The Biggest Loser, Michaels is coming to you in the gym. Now any woman training in one of the 3,000 Curves locations nationwide can see her on screen daily when sweating through her high-intensity circuit training workout. “It gives me access to thousands and thousands of women where I can literally affect a change in an environment I have yet to be in, which is really exciting,” says Michaels. “It’s everywhere, it’s affordable, there’s a coach there, it’s 30 minutes. It’s got all those factors, which is not an easy thing to do.”
The “trainer save” on the current season of The Biggest Loser was her ideaQuite a few changes have graced the famous weight loss reality show this season, from shortening episode airtime to one hour to removing the “yellow line” from the elimination process. But the “trainer save,” which allows each trainer to save one contestant from elimination, came from Michaels herself, and she shakes her head at how it turned out. “None of us got to use that thing the right way,” she says. “We all used it the first time; none of us had the ability to hold out and say no.” But she is hopeful about its potentially strategic role next season!
She tells her daughter kale helps Katy Perry “roar” so she’ll eat her veggies. The trainer admits that it’s probably not the best parenting method, but when her 3-year-old daughter isn’t cooperating with Michaels’ healthy eating requests, she turns to pop stars’ supposed habits for reinforcement. Since Lukensia loves Katy Perry and insists on listening to “Roar” constantly, she tells her, “She roars better with kale!” Seems like a pretty harmless—and successful—way to get a little girl to eat her greens, if you ask us.
Her weekly podcast is a must-listen for healthy living tips—and hilarious entertainment. If you want to add an extra dose of Michaels to your week without getting your booty kicked, pop in those ear buds and listen to The Jillian Michaels Show podcast. From “snappy fitness segments” to chats with callers as the self-proclaimed “Love Doctor” to tales of her latest parenting adventures, you’ll get to know Michaels on an entirely new level and appreciate her down-to-earth personality. Trust us, you’ll be laughing out loud at her and co-host Janice’s weekly antics.
She thinks every woman should have permission to be selfish. When we asked for a bit of motivational advice for FITNESS readers, she didn’t so much as hesitate to tell us to simply be awesome. “No one ever gives women the permission to just be awesome,” she says. “Be selfish, focus on you, don’t dumb yourself down for anybody else’s benefit, and go after your goals and your dreams. With no shame and no guilt, go out there and conquer the world.” If that doesn’t ignite a spark in you, we don’t know what will.

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How Gymnast Aly Raisman Stays Fit and Motivated During Her Off Season

Written on January 23, 2014 at 9:04 am , by

U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman sported bright pink and coral Reeboks during her ZQUICK video shoot last week. (Photo courtesy of Reebok)

Written by Alena Hall, editorial intern

With the Winter Olympics around the corner, we’re gearing up to cheer on Team USA—and so are some of our fave summer athletes like Aly Raisman! “I was just at the figure skating nationals where they pick the Olympic team, so I’m super excited to watch the girls compete,” says Raisman. “I’m also really looking forward to watching hockey.”

Rather than venturing to Sochi and cheering from the stands (that trip is expensive!), Raisman will be supporting her talented friends from the comfort of her own home, providing the perfect opportunity to keep up her own prep for the next time she’s in the spotlight. Back in September, Raisman resumed her training with two-a-day workouts where she focused on conditioning and floor events practice. “It feels great to be back,” she says. “It’s exhausting but I love it, so it’s definitely worth it.”

While the extensive training may wear her out, Raisman truly missed it during her traveling year off. Spending almost every night in a different hotel, she found it tough to squeeze in a 45-minute sweat session—that might be the norm for us, but this athlete is used to pushing her body for six to seven hours a day! Bouts of cardio and ab toning kept her sane though, and  she enjoyed “me” time during sprinting intervals on the treadmill while jamming to her favorite tunes. She also used creative bodyweight training to keep her arms and legs gymnast-strong.

Back at the grind, Raisman knows she has to fuel her body well to perform her best. “I love having Greek yogurt before a workout because it’s really light and has lots of protein,” she says. “After, I have a piece of fish or chicken with fruit or vegetables.”

She also thinks that, while she’s not superstitious, some strange habits are worth abiding by. “My coaches say that wearing black is bad luck. For competitions I am never allowed to wear a black leotard, use a black gym bag or wear black warm ups,” she says. “I guess I feel like black is bad luck too, since I have been with my coaches for almost ten years. I won’t even buy a black car!”

In the end, if there were one thing we could all learn from Raisman this year, it would be the power of a positive attitude. “I try to start every morning with a positive thought of an image of myself having a good workout,” she says. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.’ I always think about this when I’m at workout. If I feel nervous or anxious to compete, I always think of myself landing each skill and executing it really well.”

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