If 2016 can be said to have a silver lining, it undoubtedly came back in August at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro—and, more specifically, with the US women’s gymnastics team’s spectacular performance, which united the country—celebrities and plebes alike—around the mind-boggling talent of five powerhouse girls. As a member of the Final Five, Aly Raisman has been taking a much-needed break since taking home three medals at the games—that is, until the end of next summer, when she’ll begin training for Tokyo 2020.
Of course, “break” in this case just means taking some time off from seven-hour days at the gym—not bumming around the house for month’s on end. The 22-year-old recently took a whirlwind trip to New York City, speaking at a panel event for Reebok’s #PerfectNever campaign alongside Gigi Hadid and Ruby Rose, visiting designer showrooms, and hitting a few red carpets. We caught up with her at the launch of Vera Wang’s new LOVE fashion jewelry collection for Zales—being a big fan of fashion, Raisman said it was “surreal” to have the designer know who she was (although, let’s be real: as a former competitive figure skater, Wang is definitely a devoted Olympics fan).
While the gymnast is in her off-season right now, she’s still focused on staying fit and on her game—and it’s this holistic, year-round approach that seems especially worth emulating during the holidays, when it’s practically a national pastime to eat your weight in cookies and, a week later, start a grueling exercise regimen you’ll inevitably quit within the month. Raisman’s philosophy, however, is a little more forgiving, and a lot easier to live by.
On dieting: “I think the worst thing that women can do is go on diets. As long as you eat healthy—I mean, I have carbs for every meal. I’ll have usually a bagel with avocado, egg, and cheese for breakfast, and then for lunch I’ll have either rice or some kind of bread, and then dinner again I’ll either have rice or bread with it. Because then when I have it, I don’t feel like I need to overeat it because I know that I’m having it everyday. Plus, whole grains are really healthy and good for you.” Need proof?
On snacking: “If I’m traveling, I love hummus, either with pretzels or carrots. I love almonds, I love fruit. I’m obsessed with avocado. I love chips and guacamole—that’s like my favorite thing. If I’m ever getting room service and they have that on the menu, I always get it with my meal.”
On workouts: “I enjoy boxing; I run a little bit; I’ll do the elliptical. I switch it up. I don’t do anything that crazy right now, because I just want to rest and heal my body. Since I’m traveling so much, I can’t workout that much because I feel like I’m still exhausted and haven’t fully recovered from this past summer yet. I’m taking it a little slow, but just being healthy and staying fit.”
On indulging over the holidays: “I think you should just embrace it. Enjoy life! If you’re eating dinner with your family and there’s dessert, go eat it. It’s the time where you’re with your loved ones, and it’s one piece of cake—or even a few pieces of cake. One piece of cake is not going to make or break the way that your pants fit. That’s not how it works. For some reason Americans think that eating dessert is the worst thing ever, but it’s okay to splurge. I think the worst thing you can do is obsess and tell yourself that you can’t eat something when you really want it. It’s all about finding balance in your life.”
And if anyone knows a thing or two about balance, it’s the girl who can do a perfect back handspring on a four-inch wide beam.