'This is the day your life will surely change'
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Finding my inner athlete (she's in here somewhere)

I've been reading Dara Torres' latest book Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, which outlines a 5-week program to get in better shape.

OK, perhaps not Olympian shape but there are some great workouts, menus and strategies. The chapter that interested me most was Your Inner Athlete.

Shrinking Sisters is one of the stops on her blog tour to promote the book, and I was sent a copy of the book to check out (and I have two for you all as well).

I've always wanted to be somewhat of a jock. In high school I did join the swim team but I was woefully behind the rest of the team in skill. I aced the workout stuff but when we hit the pool I looked like a fool, so I removed myself from the team.

In college I was really into weight training, even taking a college class that met in the Florida Gator training room. We had a leg-press contest and I won. In my foggy memory I remember it being 300 pounds but I could be wrong. Hey, I definitely have the quads to do it.

I revisited my -- cough, cough -- athletic tendencies a couple weeks ago when I completed the Weight Watchers Walk It Day 5K. I finished in less than an hour, which felt great. And boy, was I competitive. Every time I'd see a walker larger than me, my goal was to outpace them. In my brain, that was showing the other walkers that "Hey, that fat chick can hustle!"

Goldmedalfitness OK, so back to the book. I liked Dara's 10 tips for mental strength:

  1. Keep your focus
  2. Stick to your routine
  3. Practice
  4. Do your best
  5. Manage the pressure
  6. Develop a strategy
  7. Be efficient with your energy
  8. If you feel tired, ill or injured, back off
  9. Create your own support team
  10. Relax and have fun

I did all of these while training for the 5K and during it. I hit the neighborhood track a few times a week and walked for an hour (at least until the weather got too oppressive), keeping it fun with good podcasts on the iPod (Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy!), and while I didn't have much of a support team per se, I did blog about getting ready for the race, and on the day of the race I buddied up with two women who I met up with at the end.

Lately I've been looking at getting the weight off and getting in better shape as an athletic endeavor. I'll be building my support team with the people and experts at Cleveland Clinic's Non-Surgical Weight Loss Program, which I'm starting next week (can't wait!). I'm not going to make myself nuts over the task -- I'm going to relax and have fun, by making sure that my meals are healthy and creative and my exercise is something really enjoyable (lately that's been Turbo Jam). 

The five-time Olympic swimming champion and mom outlines an eating plan with 35 days of meals and snack ideas, a great resistance stretching routine called Ki-Hara, strength exercises that can be done at the gym or at home, cardio recommendations and recovery and injury tips (hey, she's in her 40s, too!).

Interested in getting your own free copy of Gold Medal Fitness? I have two to give away.

All you need to do is leave a comment on why you want to find your inner athlete. I'll give you until the Fourth of July to comment, then we'll choose two winners.