Swimming star Natalie Coughlin has become an inspiration to girls everywhere, and we were lucky enough to sit down with the 12-time Olympic medalist and ask her a few questions of our own. Natalie let us in on what her plans are once the Games are over, why she has a love-hate relationship with swimming, and whether or not the Olympic Village is really the big party we keep hearing about.
What do backyard chickens and 12 Olympic medals have in common? Natalie Coughlin, that's what. The gold medalist and world champion, who nabbed her latest medal during a relay on Saturday, may currently be occupied swimming for the USA in London, but back at home, she's cultivating a healthy interest in all things food-related. From growing vegetables in her own backyard in Lafayette, CA, to her highly effective method of kitchen organization, Natalie gives us the scoop on her experiences with food.
YumSugar: You raise chickens in your backyard and you consider yourself an urban farmer. What do you grow or produce yourself that you're most proud of?
Natalie Coughlin: The eggs are pretty easy. It's amazing how much food is produced by these little creatures. I just have to give them kitchen scraps, fruits and vegetables, and chicken feed, and they give us a ton of fresh eggs every day, which is pretty incredible. And then the fresh herbs and kale are kind of my mainstays. They grow very, very easily and I get tons of them from the yard.
YS: If you weren't in swimming, do you think you'd have a career in the food world?
Find out her answer and much more when you keep reading.
We've seen this year's group of Olympians flip, sprint, and leap to fame — awe inspiring to be sure — but mostly, we're curious to find out what fuels these superhuman athletes. While high-protein diets are (not too surprisingly) a resounding trend amongst the group, we were heartened to find that this year's crop of contenders involves some serious foodies. Read on to find out their top picks!
"Leading a healthy, active lifestyle is all about momentum. If I'm in the middle of training it's easy for me to keep that up. It gets tough when I'm on a break. I just try to start my day with a good breakfast and a quick walk, something simple that gets the day off on the right foot. The more I do that, the more I make healthy choices that reflect the good choices made earlier."
— Olympian swimmer Natalie Coughlin on how she stays on the healthy track. She shares with Fitness magazine that she tries to eat a mostly plant-based diet and even grows her own kale!
Being an Olympic veteran means three things: you're a world-class athlete, you're used to hectic schedules, and you know how to travel smart. So who better to ask about how to stay healthy while being on the go than a few famous Olympic athletes? Whether you're snacking at home or need something to grab and go, here are recommendations from veteran Olympians Natalie Coughlin, Mia Hamm, and Shawn Johnson.
When traveling: It's all about "making sure you plan ahead and bring stuff with you, whether it's trail mix or an [energy] bar," soccer star Mia tells us. Gymnast Shawn recommends KIND bars because they are all natural and come in "fun flavors such as almond and coconut and apple cinnamon and pecan. They're surprisingly good," she tells ESPNw. Swimmer Natalie loves making her own energy bars — get her dried plum energy bar recipe here.
At home or work: Natalie is more than just a decorated Olympic swimmer; she's also an avid home cook and gardener. Natalie shared with YumSugar one of her favorite healthy snacks for Spring: "I love just having a really good baguette with good, high-quality butter (just a tiny bit of butter) and fresh sliced radishes with salt on top," she recommends. Shawn is all about snacking on veggies as well: she pairs peppers with hummus for a crunchy, filling snack.
Read on for more snack ideas from these famous Olympians!
Swimming always makes a splash at the Summer games, and Natalie Coughlin did just that in Beijing by becoming the first American woman to win six medals in one Olympics. A serious foodie as well as a gold medalist, Natalie took time out of her intense schedule to talk about her plans for London and how cooking calms her.
Natalie's training day starts with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up, and she's at the pool by 5 a.m. for a Pilates warmup, two hours in the pool, followed by an hour and a half of weight lifting. Impressed not only by the early morning start, I was also curious about her predawn power breakfast. She told me Bircher muesli is her go-to breakfast, explaining that it's "a really delicious uncooked oat, soaked overnight in orange juice and orange zest with dried plums." (Get Natalie's muesli recipe here.)
But wait. There's more. Natalie works out twice most days. Her second go-round involves a pool workout before heading off to the weight room for power circuits. The day sounds exhausting to me, and Natalie assured me that she certainly sleeps well and is not much of a napper; her head hits the pillow around 10 p.m. most nights, with an occasional early night when needed.
Two-time Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin is legendary for her 100 meter backstroke, impossible to beat as part of the freestyle relay team, and one of Team USA's brightest hopes for this year's London games. We met up with her at a shoot for her new Pantene ad and discovered that Natalie's also quite the glamour puss when she's on dry land. "I'm a girlie girl when I have the chance," she said. "I love playing up my eyes, and after my Dancing With the Stars experience, I love doing false lashes."
When she's in a pool all day, however, there's no reason to wear makeup. "It’s just the last thing I want to think about," Natalie admits. "But I do use a lot of sunscreen." With so much chlorine exposure and time in the water, painfully dry skin is also an issue many swimmers face. "I have to moisturize every day," Natalie says, "and I dry brush at night, which I think is important."
As anyone who was ever on a neighborhood swim team can attest, though, a swimmer's biggest beauty challenge is always hair. Natalie is known for her long, healthy mane, and says she's avoided the chop by following a cardinal rule. "Always wet your hair before you get in the pool," Natalie advises. "If you can put conditioner in your hair before you get in that helps, too." Wetting your hair... so you can get it wet? Apparently not as weird as it sounds. "If you think about it, "Natalie explains, "your hair is very much like a sponge, so if it absorbs tap water, that’s much better than chlorinated water." Thanks to Natalie, next time we go for a dip, our strands will have taken the plunge beforehand.
Last season on Dancing With the Stars, we saw gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson win gold, and this year we're watching Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin compete on land.
She made it through the first week, dancing a salsa with Alec Mazo and wowed us last night with her quick step. Although busy dancing and rehearsing, Natalie took time out of her day to answer a few questions on topics ranging from Pilates to her opinion on the ban on high-tech swimsuits.
To learn what Natalie has to say, just read more
She may have made her athletic mark in the pool, but Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin also loves to run. She began running in college as part of her aerobic conditioning regimen. Once she graduated from UC Berkeley, she continued to run to help calm her energetic pooch — a border terrier. But running doesn't just calm her dog; it works for her, too.
"Yes. I've spent a lot of time planning my run the morning of my wedding. I know I'll need to work off my nerves. The problem is finding a route that won't let my fiancé see me."
Nice to see that this athlete included planning for exercise along with all the other wedding planning. Working out is a great way to calm pre-wedding nerves. If you can't get out to do cardio, carve out 20 minutes to do some calming yoga moves before getting ready.
Need more wedding inspiration? Check out all of the Sugar network's wedding coverage here.
Go team go! My obsession with the Olympics has not diminished this week, it's grown. I knew there had to be some style to such amazing events, and I found it. Who said uniforms were blah? Not I. Maybe Ralph Lauren's Opening Ceremony ones were, but how do you feel about the American male swimmers' red, white, and sexy all over swimsuits? Click on for sportif style and the aforementioned swimsuits . . .