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5 Olympic Moments with the U.S. Women’s Rowing Team

Written on August 15, 2012 at 10:05 am , by

From left to right: Meghan Musnicki, Erin Carfaro, Esther Lofgren and Mary Whipple showing off their gold medals!

Though the Games are over, we couldn’t pass up a chance to meet the nine women who made history by winning back-to-back Olympic gold in London this summer. They are 7-time World Champions and the first female team to accomplish a win at the 2008 and 2012 Games. Read below to hear all about a few of the ladies–Erin Cafaro, Mary Whipple (the boat coxswain), Esther Lofgren (who previously shared her rowing tips with us), and Meghan Musnicki. Side note: The girls brought their medals to the office and they are heavy! (Not to mention shiny!)

1) Tell us about your first “Holy sh*t, I’m an Olympian!” moment, in regards to the 2012 Games.

Meghan Musnicki: I didn’t get hit with that feeling until the Closing Ceremonies. They funneled us all from the Olympic Village down to the stadium. You walk down through the stadium and come out where the marathoners ran. All you see are these huge high walls and confetti streaming down and thousands of people screaming. That was definitely a “whoa” moment for me.

Even more so than the Opening Ceremonies?

MM: We actually didn’t go to the Opening Ceremonies because we raced the next day! We were in our satellite village, about 90 minutes from downtown London.

Esther Lofgren: When we went out for our first race was when it hit me. We had been there for over a week and had watched everything being built like the grandstands. So when we started warming up, it was such a cool feeling to finally be doing what we had all trained for.

Mary Whipple: Usually when we race not many people are watching, and sometimes only our parents are there! The first day when we were finishing our final practice the gates opened up and the crowds were insane. For finals it’s usually that way, but for the first day, never. That was so special, especially since rowing is so huge in London.

EL: It’s 8:30 a.m. and there are 30,000 people watching you, which is definitely not how it usually is! Read more

Live the Life You Want: The Push Girls Tell Us How

Written on August 10, 2012 at 10:37 am , by

Fellow Push Girls can always count on Chelsie Hill for a good laugh. (Photo courtesy of Greg Zook)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

With all the Olympic buzz amputee Oscar Pistorius has been getting lately, we were thrilled when we got the chance to chat with a few of the fierce, fit females that make up the Push Girls. They’re a group of women in wheelchairs who deal with life’s challenges while leading pretty normal lives, despite all being paralyzed from the waist down. The ladies show their journey (everything from trying to get pregnant to hopping back in the swimming pool) in the docu-series on the Sundance Channel, which airs Mondays at 10 p.m.

Two of the show’s cast members Auti Angel and Chelsie Hill are former dancers who had to get creative with their craft after car accidents left them immobile from the waist down. Read on to see how they stay motivated, including how they stay in shape, their favorite workouts and what they think about Pistorius’ trip to London.

What’s it like being on PUSH GIRLS?

Chelsie: At first it was surreal, but now it’s just a normal day. I’m so amazed at how it all came together, it’s really helped the people in wheelchairs. I got a letter recently from a viewer saying she just bought her first pair of high heels! Plus, it’s like I got four big sisters (I’m the youngest of the bunch). I feel so lucky to have a group of women who understand what you’re going through and can teach you a ton of things.

Auti: I’ve been in my chair for 20 years, and Chelsie was born a few months after my car accident. Seeing how comfortable she is on the show and in life is a reminder to us that we are doing the right thing, and shows us how far we’ve come.

You must have incredible upper body strength. How do you stay in shape?

Auti: I go to the gym on occasion. I have a punching bag in my backyard to keep my core fit, and I also use free weights. Plus, dancing has always kept me fit.

Chelsie: My upper body has gotten a lot stronger because I use mine much more than the average person. I constantly have to do cardio! Read more

#140Wednesdays: What’s Your Motivational Mantra?

Written on August 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm , by

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee! At the gym, that is. (Photo courtesy Alex Palombo)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

One of the best things about working out is testing your limits and challenging your body in new ways. Sure, it’s not fun in the moment to exert every muscle to its max, but nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment once you’re done. Sometimes a mantra can help get you there, like a little reminder that you are one tough chick and the end is in sight.

We asked our Twitter followers what kind of motivational mantras help them get to the finish line, and were surprised by their intense dedication! We’re definitely picking up a few tips when we need that extra push.

@lov513: The fact that I know when I get past my comfort zone, I’m accomplishing something unbelievable!

@interfaithsis: The mind wants to quit but the body can move on!

@FatBottomSlim: Just keep going. It worked for the biggest test of my limits at the @NYCTRIATHLON and ever since.

@PattieP: COME ON! Attack, attack, attack!

@jessikneeland: I place an imaginary crowd of people around me who are all INCREDIBLY impressed with what I’m doing. “OMG she’s soooo strong!”

@thebendigirl: Breathe in positive, breathe out negative.

@FITNESSMarianne: One step at a time!

More from FITNESS: Olympians Share Their Motivational Mantras

#140Wednesdays: What Motivates You to Sweat?

Written on July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm , by

Start sweating–you owe it to yourself. (Photo courtesy Cheyenne Ellis)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Let’s be honest –working out can be a challenge.

Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves why we love to sweat, and we’re all motivated by different things. For some, it’s that feeling you get when you’ve put in hard work or when you notice you’re getting stronger. For others, it might be the desire to get Brooke Burke-style abs or more energy during the day.

According a recent poll conducted by Eventbrite, 30 percent of women that participate in endurance events are motivated by weight loss. Even more (34 percent) do it for charity. But we’re not all saints! A quarter of women believe that training for a marathon would make them better in bed, and 40 percent believe they’d be more attractive. As for mental benefits, over half of respondents think that running is more effective than therapy.

We posed the question to our Twitter followers to see what brings them to the gym or the track, day in day out. What motivates you?

@LinzFredetPtrsn: Setting a good example for my kids and having the energy to keep up with them!

@jellingson: Honoring my mom’s love to run!

@kerigans: Health!

@aliciabordonaro: It’s that feeling you get after a workout…a huge sense of #accomplishment and #satisfaction.

@Trishquit: To be healthy and keep my blood pressure in check!

Monday Motivators: Olympians’ Favorite Quotes to Get Pumped Up

Written on July 23, 2012 at 10:00 am , by

Gymnast Aly Raisman shows off the Ralph Lauren 2012 London Olympic Collection. (Photo courtesy of Ralph Lauren)

It’s basically Christmas here at the FITNESS offices–without the snow. Or presents. But instead of going gaga over gifts we’re bubbling with excitement about being just days away from the 2012 London Olympics. Want to see how the athletes are mentally prepping? In the spirit of the Games, we asked some of the top competitors what motivational quote they live by on behalf of Ralph Lauren’s London 2012 Olympic Collection. See what gets them fired up and keep a mental queue for when your workouts get tough this week.

Diana Lopez (Taekwondo):  “I got the height, the reach, the weight, the physique, the speed, the courage, the stamina, and the natural ability that’s going to make me great. Putting it another way, to beat me you got to be greater than great.” – Muhammad Ali

Heather Mitts (Soccer): “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before hard work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”– Vince Lombardi

Jennifer Kessy (Beach Volleyball): “Rule #76: No excuses, play like a champion!” – Wedding Crashers

Aly Raisman (Gymnastics): “Believe deep down in your heart that you are destined to do great things.”

April Ross (Beach Volleyball): “The journey is better than the inn.” – John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach

 More from FITNESS: Healthy Eating Secrets and Workout Tips from Olympic Athletes

Title IX Talk at the Olympic Trials: What the Athletes Are Thankful For

Written on July 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm , by

Thank you Title IX for letting us run. (Photo courtesy Laura Doss)

Written by Lindsey Emery, freelance writer

It’s hard to imagine growing up in a world where you couldn’t run as far or as fast as you wanted. But before June 23, 1972, when Title IX was created, women were nowhere near being placed on an equal playing field with men in sports, and people seriously thought that if you were a girl you couldn’t safely complete a mile, let alone 13.1 or 26.2. Some people even thought your uterus might drop out if you did—true story.

Though Title IX’s birthday has passed, we got the chance to catch up with some of the fastest, strongest, most competitive women at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, OR, to see how it has changed their lives for the better.

Thank you Title IX for never making us choose. “I entered high school in 1971, and we didn’t have a girls’ cross country or track team. We had a track club, and the longest distance women could race at the time was 800 meters (1/2 mile),” says running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson, 55, who won a gold medal in the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon in 1984, just 28 years ago. “By my junior and senior year, women could run the mile, but if they did, they couldn’t participate in any other events, for fear they might overexert themselves.”

“I can’t even imagine what that must have been like,” says Alissa McKaig, 26, who placed 8th in the Olympic Marathon Trials and 11th in the 10,000-meter Trials. “We grew up in a time when you were supposed to be active. In fact, I wasn’t willing to choose between soccer and running in high school, so I did both. I would compete in a track meet, and then go play a soccer game—that never would’ve happened before Title IX.”

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Bestselling Author Emily Giffin Talks About Staying Motivated Mentally and Physically

Written on July 15, 2012 at 10:56 am , by

A good sweat session helps Giffin keep writer's block at bay. (Photo courtesy Micahel A. Schwarz)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Emily Giffin has literally done it all. Though she started her adult life as a high-powered attorney in New York City, she made the tough decision to leave her hectic and unfulfilling job and headed to London to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a full-time writer. As the bestselling author of five novels (you have her to thank for the Something Borrowed series) and a proud mother of three, there’s no doubt that Giffin has accomplished what she set out to do. So how does she find the time to keep her mind sharp, her body in shape and her family happy? Below she shares with us her tricks to writing, working out and balancing everything else on her plate.

Much like exercising, writing takes serious motivation. How do you stay mentally motivated to keep writing books?

Fear of deadlines usually works the best. But I also try to remind myself that I’m doing what I love—and that’s it’s wonderful that I can write for a living. I do the same with exercise. When I think of how horrible it would be to have a bad injury or otherwise unable to run, I’m suddenly in the mood to go for a quick 3-mile jog. And finally, my readers keep me motivated. It really helps when I log on Facebook and see all these girls saying how much they are looking forward to my next book. I truly appreciate that kind of encouragement.

How do you like to stay in shape? Does working out ever help you brainstorm new ideas for books you’re working on?

I aim for five workouts a week, but I usually only make four happen. I work out with a trainer once a week. Then I take a circuit class twice a week. The fourth workout is random, depending on what I’m in the mood for—either a run, a spin class or yoga.  And yes, I think exercise is critical to my writing. I think physical, mental and emotional wellness is so interconnected, and I really need that time away from the computer to recharge.

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The Reve Project: Six Women Get Ready to Tackle the Tour de France

Written on June 26, 2012 at 11:00 am , by

Powilson (third in line) rides with her teammates. (Photo Michael Robertson/VeloDramatic)

Before the boys hop on their bikes Saturday, June 30 to compete in the 2012 Tour de France, six women will already be completing the course a day before them. Enter the Reve Project, a group of six women ranging from mothers to business owners who are riding the 2,162 mile route to help raise funds for Bikes Belong, the largest cycling advocacy group in the U.S. to get more women involved in the sport. We got the chance to chat with teammate Kate Powlison on her training, diet and nerves leading up to race day.

What is the goal of the Reve Project?

The basic goal is to inspire women to ride bikes more often. We figure by riding the Tour de France together and covering every mile of a highly male dominated sport, we can prove that women can do it too.

What made you decide on the Tour de France? Why not another shorter event?

The Tour de France is one of the most visible events for cycling. When you ask the average person about the sport, it’s the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong that usually comes to mind first. So it’s a perfect platform to reach a large amount of women. It’s a way to show women who perhaps used to ride and stopped or have never even hopped on a bike before that it’s not too late to get started.

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Boxer Marlen Esparza Trains Hard to Represent US in Olympics

Written on June 26, 2012 at 7:00 am , by

You'll definitely want to keep your eyes on Esparza during the Olympics. (Photo courtesy Sports Illustrated)

Marlen Esparza was only 11 when she first stepped into a boxing gym, and it took her days to convince trainer Rudy Silva to allow her to participate in his group workouts. After watching her throw some sloppy but passionate punches at a bag and seeing what Rudy describes as a “spark,” he allowed her to join his sessions with advanced boys.

But that spark doesn’t mean Rudy welcomed her with open arms. “I tried to push her really, really hard,” recalled Rudy during a recent interview at Nike’s campus in Oregon. “I would push the groups really hard, mainly because I wanted her to just quit. After a while, some of my guys started quitting. She just kept showing me every day that she was there to stay and this is what she wanted to do.” Eleven years later, Rudy is still her trainer and Marlen’s tenacity paid off. Not only has she won six national titles, winning her first at age 16, but she was also the first woman to qualify for the US Olympic boxing team.

This honor is not lost on Marlen. In a quick interview in Houston she told us, “To be the first woman to qualify for the Olympics is everything to me. People say to me, ‘Boxing is not who you are; it’s what you do.’ But to me, it’s who I am. I’ve never felt this good in my entire life, ever.”

The road to qualifying wasn’t straightforward, though. The announcement that women’s boxing would be included in the London games also included the news that four weight classes would be combined. Rudy explained, “At the time that they announced the 112 flyweight class, the weight classes that were going to merge into 112 were 106, 110, 114, and 119. Those four weight classes had to compete at 112.” Until the International Olympic announcement, Marlen had fought in the 106-pound weight class. “I had to gain weight,” Marlen told us. “In 2010 I started competing at the 112 Olympic weight class and figuring out who was gonna make it to the games. I was fighting girls down from weighing 119. It was intense. Luckily, I beat them all.”

Keep reading to learn details of how the young boxer eats and trains.

More From FitSugar:

5 Things You Should Discuss With Your New Personal Trainer
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Get Ripped While Running: 470-Calorie Burning and Toning Workout

Pro Cyclist Georgia Gould’s Top 5 Tips That Got Her to the Olympics

Written on June 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm , by

Gould finished 8th in the Beijing Olympics, which was only her second year of pro racing. (Photo courtesy of LunaChix Pro Team)

If you were going to put a label on mountain biker Georgia Gould, well rounded would definitely be the term. Between playing the banjo, raising two chickens, tending to her beehive and representing the U.S. in the London Olympics as part of the LUNA Pro Team this summer, she’s got a lot on her plate! To keep her eye on the gold and make sure she can reach her goals, Gould shared with us her five diet, fitness and time saving tips that have helped her along the way. Read on below to see how they’ve helped her make it to the Games.

1. Go hard on your hard days and easy on your easy days. Take recovery as seriously as you take training.

2. Anything is better than nothing. We lead busy lives and often it can seem hard to fit in a workout. Don’t scrap the whole idea of a workout if you are short on time. Instead, head outside for a walk. Again, anything is better than nothing!

3. Chop stuff! Cooking healthy is easy, but it can be time consuming. When you are short on time or tired we tend to grab whatever is fast, not necessarily the healthiest. When you do have some free time, chop up extra veggies and fruit and store them in the fridge so making a healthy stir-fry, pasta sauce or salad will be much easier. Have some nuts on hand too, they are a great snack when you need something quick.

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