“Gold Medal Fitness” by Dara Torres

Cari-Fit.com was chosen for this week’s stop on Dara Torres’ blog tour!

Dara Torres is an Olympic athlete (to say the least) who just released her new book: Gold Medal Fitness. You probably most recently remember her from the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing, where at the age of 41 was the oldest swimmer to ever earn a place on the US Olympic team and is the first US swimmer to compete in FIVE Olympic Games. Not only did she rightly earn her spot on the 2008 team, but she brought home three silver medals! I watched all of her races and couldn’t help but cheer for her and hope for her success! Was it because she was the “underdog” and I felt sorry for her? Not quite! She is an amazing swimmer and put some of the 20-year olds to shame not just with her swimming but also her chiseled physique! Don’t you remember that six-pack on the cover of Time Magazine?? She has proven that age is just a number and it’s never too late to get back in the game. She admits that it’s not easy to be an Olympic athlete in your 40’s and your training does have to change. In her new book, she talks about adjusting her training and workout style: “…in the last several years, as I ‘ve faced the reality of being an older athlete, I’ve learned that I just can’t train as much as I did in my twenties without repercussions.” she says.  But, this doesn’t mean that she has low expectations for herself or uses her age as an excuse. I think she is setting a great example for athletes of all ages, but especially women who feel that they are too old or have too many other distractions or priorities like their career or family (Dara is a mom).

In her book, she shares a comprehensiveve 5-week plan to get your own body in gold medal shape (well almost)! You may not end up with those abs, but you will be one step closer.  I like many things about the book including her diet plan that is very well rounded, healthy and doable as well as her sample workout routine (I’ve already stolen some of her ab exercises to use in my classes!). The book is great for beginners because she covers things like stretching, cardio, setting goals and other topics that are very important when you first start and will also help you to understand your body and prevent injuries, regardless of how old you are. But, the book isn’t just for beginners. It’s pretty cool to get workout tips and advice from an Olympic athlete! I like her meal suggestions, her workouts and hearing her opinion on different forms of cardio.  She also gives personal accounts of of things she’s tried and how it effected her performance. You can learn from her mistakes and what didn’t work for her as well as what did.  The book is great for athletes (or wannabes) for any age. But, you will be especially connected to the book if you are at a point in your life, career or fitness journey where you feel that you’ve hit a wall. Maybe you feel too old, too overwhelmed to change your routine, discouraged from an injury or are just bored with your workouts. It’s never too late to try something new or get back in the game and rediscover an old passion.  There are so many people out there that think they are too old to workout or take up running, swimming or another sport and it’s SO not true.

“I had always believed that working hard and training hard was the only way to be the best. But, I would soon learn that not only was this not true, but it was also self-defeating. I needed to learn how to rest.”

I was asked to specifically review Chapter 7:“Recovery – They Key to Your Performance”. I believe that all of the chapters in the book are key, but this one in particular is super important. Even if you have your workouts down to a science and have never had any injuries at all, it’s still very important to allow your body time to recover. It really is a huge part of health and fitness and your body will respond better if you are allowed a little recovery time each week. Now, this isn’t an excuse to only workout 3 times a week because you feel the other 4 days you need to recover and sit on the couch! What she is saying is you need to listen to your body and if you feel pain, soreness or are just plain tired…take some time off. Maybe that’s just a day or maybe it’s a week if you’ve been going non-stop. Everybody is different, but listen to your body. As she says in the book, resting helps you mentally and emotionally, not just physically. Sometimes this means resting from workouts but doing something else to have fun or give your mind a break from worry or stresses. When we don’t take time to rest, we are at greater risk of injuries. Dara covers some of the most common injuries in the book such as hamstring tears, ankle sprains and IT band tightness. It’s true…almost everyone I know that works out on a regular basis (including myself) has experienced one or more of these injuries at some point and it’s usually a result of over-training and not resting enough. Dara also covers two other important topics: Hydration and Refueling Your Body. When my clients tell me that they aren’t feeling good or they start looking faint or sick halfway through the workout…my first 2 questions are “How much water did you drink today?” and then “When was the last time you ate?”. What we put into our bodies makes a big impact on our performance. I like that she discusses the importance of carbs, since so many people think they are the enemy. Carbs are essential for muscle and brain performance and give use the true fuel we need. She ties up the chapter with a good recovery plan (including getting enough sleep) and also the importance of getting some TLC in the form of a massage every now and then.

I’ll end with this advice from Dara, which I think is key to health and fitness: “The first step is to take your fitness seriously. Have fun, for sure. But make a commitment to yourself….There are things in your life you can give up when you make fitness a priority.”

*Visit her site at DaraTorres.com and you can also buy the book on Amazon.com.

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