Meet the Olympic Athlete Who Changed Gymnastics Forever

food and fitness diary Meet the Olympic Athlete Who Changed Gymnastics Forever

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Before Simone Biles became the poster girl for gymnastics, there was Nadia Comaneci. The Romanian gymnast shot to fame during the 1967 Olympics in Montreal when, at just 14 years old, she became the first person—man or woman—in modern Olympic gymnastics history to be awarded a perfect 10 during her routine on the uneven bars. She went on to earn six additional perfect scores of 10 at the games, and changed gymnastics forever.

With the world buzzing today about Team USA’s incredible performance in Rio, we reached out to the icon—who’s currently in Rio supporting the gymnasts—to learn a little more about her own Olympics experience, and the fitness and diet routine she follows today. Keep scrolling!

For breakfast I had:
I’ll normally have fresh-squeezed orange juice, one coffee a day in the morning with a little milk, yogurt, brown toast, turkey and a little bit of cheese. I’m European so I have protein in the morning! Occasionally I’ll have a boiled egg.

For lunch I had: 
A wrap—I like to use leftovers from dinner the night before to make a wrap. Usually it’s a combination of salmon, hummus, and cheese.

For dinner I had:
Mostly fish with hummus and salads. I eat all fish but tuna—I’m allergic to tuna!

Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci performing her perfect routine during the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. (Getty Images)

Today I snacked on:
Qivana bars.

I’d absolutely never eat:
Tuna, because I’m allergic. And french fries! I haven’t eaten them in 25 years.

Right now I’m working on:
I’m so excited to be here in the P&G Family Home during the Olympic Games, where brands are supporting athletes and their families throughout the games. I love the relationship I have with Tide PODS, which is celebrating the “Evolution of Power.” The video shows a true evolution—40 years since I made history, 20 years since Dominique Dawes made history, and now how everyone’s eyes are on Simone Biles here in Rio.

Before an Olympic event, I would prepare by:
I [didn’t] make any drastic changes. Everything, every part of your training, is planned so you reach your height of performance at the right time—at the Olympics. You can’t make drastic changes unless something drastic happens, and you definitely don’t want that!

My favorite workout is: 
I love a workout that fits well into my life. I like short, quick workouts that I can be consistent with, that I can do every day. In the morning is the best—get it out of the way and it makes you feel good. I do a maximum of 30 minutes that includes cardio—a little running and then the elliptical—plus stretching and light weights.

Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci performing a routine in 1979. (Getty Images)

My favorite healthy restaurant is:
We have a 10-year-old, so we always go to his favorite restaurants. I usually order fish wherever we go.

My go-to smoothie ingredients include:
I don’t usually make smoothies. I’m on the road all the time, and I don’t want to make something that I can’t take with me! I want to make and take things that are simple.

MORE: Exactly How Top Athletes Prepare for the Olympics

I begin my mornings by:
I go to the fridge and grab a juice and breakfast before I work out!

Each week I work out:
Every day. If I fly somewhere for 15 hours, the first thing I do at the hotel is go to the gym.

The three ingredients you’ll always find in my fridge are: 
Eggs, bread, milk.

My signature healthy dish is:
My husband’s favorite dish—an eggplant dip. It’s a Romanian recipe. You bake the eggplant, take the skin off, drain it, chop it, and mix it with olive oil. It’s delicious!

Nadia Comaneci competing in 1978. (Getty Images)

Nadia Comaneci competing in 1978. (Getty Images)

My favorite health app is:
Nadia’s Perfect 10 game, coming soon!

The most-played song on my workout playlist is:
“Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees.

The best part of my job is:
I love that I am able to connect with a lot of the young generation of gymnasts and help them get over barriers that they have when they learn a skill, or get over a fear of the balance beam—it always takes me back to when I was their age. I like sharing the personal experiences that I have with gymnastics that many people don’t to help the new, up-and-coming gymnasts. It definitely makes me feel good!