Q & A with Dara Torres: Post-Baby Weight Loss Workout & Gold Medal Fitness
Dara Torres has been to the Olympics five times, she's won twelve medals, and now, at the age of 42, she still competes with girls half her age and is one of the most celebrated swimmers of all time. On top of that she's also a mom and fitness celebrity who's got rockin' abs! Find out how Dara trained during her pregnancy, lost her post-baby weight, and how she balances it all.
MindBodyGreen: What was training like during pregnancy?
Dara Torres: I wouldn’t really call it training – just exercise. I was sick for at least 6 months with nausea and swimming was exercise to make me feel good. I didn’t have a specific training regimen.
MBG: How did you lose the post-baby weight?
DT: Exercising while I was pregnant helped to melt off the weight in two or three weeks following my daughter’s birth. I did lift weights a little bit, but the pre-birth exercise was most instrumental for losing weight after birth.
MBG: What was your diet and workout like?
DT: I ate comfortably and healthy. I didn’t use the excuse that I was eating for two. I gained 36 pounds eating sensibly.
MBG: What did you do differently for your body?
DT: I met with a trainer that specializes in personal training for pregnant women who, along with my doctor, determined my aerobic exercise limits. Once I knew my limits, I was able to work on my body in a way that was sensible for me and my daughter.
MBG: What’s the key to great abs?
DT: The secret to great abs is to incorporate core work into other exercises. My exercises are 90% core and balls.
MBG: What’s a typical training day for you now? How often do you workout and for how long?
DT: I do a 45 minute aerobic workout, followed by an hour to an hour and fifteen minute dry land strength training. I also meet for 30 to 45 minutes for knee rehabilitation. I have taken a year off from swimming.
MBG: How has this changed since your first Olympics?
I workout less, but take part in more innovative training styles in place of old-school training. My trainer Andy O’Brien’s approach to strength training made a world of difference after my first Olympics by helping me to strengthen the muscles around my joints, making them more stable while focusing on my core and realigning my skeleton. He designed five groups of three exercises that enabled me to train more efficiently. I have also discovered Ki-Hara, a series of resistance stretches developed by Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney of Innovative Body Solutions. I have become faster in the pool and I am more in balance with my skeleton, joints and muscles. In my book, Gold Medal Fitness, A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, I detail both my cardio and strength training workouts.
MBG: Do you need more recovery time?
DT: Yes, I need more recovery time as I get older. I had always believed that in order to be the best, I needed to work and train hard. Rest was synonymous with sleep and recovery. I have since learned the value of rest for both mental and physical acuity. My body needs recovery time in order for optimal performance and in order to avoid injury and build strength, my muscles need to rest. My bones, tendons and ligaments need to realign with those muscles so that they don’t become too tight or overstretched. The mental and emotional value of rest can’t be underestimated. Carving out additional "me time" and extra sleep are powerful training tools.
MBG: How do you incorporate stretching into your fitness routine?
DT: I use stretching as a recovery method from training, but not really a warm-up. Resistance stretching is most effective for me.
MBG: How do you balance being a mom and a fitness celebrity?
DT: Every parent is different. I look to other working parents as role models to figure out how to find balance because I didn’t know how to find it myself. I try to get my daughter involved in what I do. She comes to meets and watches me swim. She has been in the pool since she was 3 months old. She is very girly though. It would be great if she wants to be a swimmer one day, but I’ll be there for her whichever direction she chooses.
MBG: What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned from swimming?
DT: When I was a younger swimmer, I used to think that everything revolved around my success in the pool. I was only happy when I won and miserable when I lost. As I’ve gotten older and had a baby, what I realize is that being part of a team is always much more gratifying than winning an individual medal by myself.
MBG: What do you think are the keys to a successful relationship?
DT: I think communication and respect are the keys to a successful relationship, most definitely.
MBG: Favorite health food?
DT: Macadamia nuts
MBG: Any guilty food indulgences?
DT: Rice Krispie treats! Though I prefer to make them myself so I can make them more "marshmallow-y" than the store-bought kind.
MBG: What’s next for you?
DT: I’ve been traveling for book tours to promote my new book Gold Medal Fitness. My daughter and I will travel to Sun Valley, Idaho next month to vacation and spend some time with my mom. I will be deciding in the fall whether or not swimming will continue to be in our future.
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