Nastia Liukin's attempted comeback may not have ended with a spot on Team USA, but she's not letting that derail her. The determined 22-year-old former gymnast has a lot on her plate, including a new partnership with Fisher-Price in which she's helping the company launch a "Fantastic Gymnastics Dora" doll that aims to inspire young gymnasts everywhere. We sat down with Liukin for a few minutes to talk fitness, gymnastics, and what's next!
SHAPE: When it comes to fitness or trying something new, what advice would you give someone who's feeling a little bit intimidated or as though she's not progressing fast enough?
Nastia Liukin (NL): First, I'd say it's really important to set goals for yourself. Not just a long-term goal like the Olympic games, but something that's short term, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Even if you're not a high-level gymnast, you have to figure out what works for you. If you want to run a mile, you have to work toward that. Success doesn't happen overnight. It's important to always keep trying--you know, sometimes I'm a little impatient, but you just have to keep trying every day.
SHAPE: If you had to narrow it down, what would you say is your No. 1 workout tip?
NL: My No. 1 workout tip would be to find something that you love and have a passion for. If you're making yourself do something you don't have a passion for, you're not going to have any success or fun in that.
SHAPE: Besides gymnastics, what do you do to stay fit?
NL: Besides gymnastics and running, I love Pilates. That's something I've been doing for the past few years. When I'm traveling I love doing things like pushups, squat jumps, and toe raises, you know, things I don't even need any equipment for.
SHAPE: How do you motivate yourself to work out on days you really don't want to?
NL: There are definitely days like that for me, where I just want to lie in bed and not train. But that's why I think it's really important to have goals for yourself, so you have something you can strive for on a dailiy basis. If you're able to achieve that goal, you really feel like you accomplished something at the end of the day.
SHAPE: What are some of the healthy foods you eat almost every day?
NL: I eat a lot of protein every day because it keeps you full and also helps you get through the day with enough energy. When I was training, I didn't eat as many carbs as I did proteins, but I also ate a lot of snacks like almonds or Special K bars, you know, easy things you can put in your bag. It's also important to hydrate to make sure you don't get dehydrated because that's when your energy level goes down.
SHAPE: Since you've stopped training, are there any specific ways your diet has changed?
NL: Not really. Whether I'm a gymnast or not, I've always been pretty healthy and have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle, and that's the way I hope to live the rest of my life. I try to eat organic and avoid processed foods, as well as drink a lot of water and exercise on a daily basis.
SHAPE: And how about unhealthy foods? Is there one you just won't give up?
NL: If I could have anything, I'd have frozen yogurt. I guess it's not that bad. It's a good alternative to ice cream!
SHAPE: What do you think of this year's gymnastics team?
NL: I feel like everybody says this every year, but I really feel like this is the strongest team that we've set out with. I think these girls are just so prepared both mentally and physically to take on the world. I think it's going to be a really exciting competition. Obviously, it comes down to that one night of team finals. In each event, three girls go up and all three scores count, so it's all about consistency and confidence. Whoever comes out the best is going to come out on top!
SHAPE: What's next for you? What do you have planned for the future?
NL: I will be headed to London as the athlete representative for the Federation of International Gymnastics, so I'll be doing some on-camera work as well. Then I'm going on a 40-city tour of gymnastics champions. So that will go from September 18 to November 18th from one coast to the other, and then I'll be moving to New York in January to go to NYU. I'm hoping to study sports management—that's the plan right now, but I guess we'll see what happens when I get there!