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Sanya Richards-Ross on Fitness, Food, and Football


What is Sanya Richards-Ross doing after the Olympics? Making time for New York Fashion Week! Although the 27-year-old Olympic gold medalist has a lot on her plate, she made sure to clear time in her schedule to rub elbows backstage with the best of the best designers, models, and celebrities this week. In between shows, we managed to steal a few minutes with the Jamaican-born beauty and ask her about her training, favorite foods, and what she's most excited about this football season.

SHAPE: You're back home in the states from the Olympics! How does it feel?
Sanya Richards-Ross (SRR): It feels great. You know, I've wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist since I was nine years old, so I feel like I've finally accomplished my dream. To be back home and really soaking it in is something special.

SHAPE: Congratulations on your medals! Can you tell us a little bit about your training? How has it changed now that you're not training for the Olympics?
SSR: I go through phases of training. My fall training usually starts in October, so for the Games, I started training in October 2011. I do a lot of functional training and longer runs, but I don't start lifting weights yet. In January, I transition and start running on the track, and I'll start lifting weights. I'll also do a lot of core work and Pilates. My workouts tend to get more and more intense, and as we got closer to the Olympics, they got shorter and shorter, and then right before the Olympics, I was at my peak. But right now I'm totally off, so there's no running, lifting, nothing for the next six weeks, so that I can let my body recuperate, because you can't stay in peak condition forever. Your body needs a chance to rest.

SHAPE: What's your favorite exercise or move?
SRR: I love squats! They target all the muscles that I use when I'm getting off the blocks. I also really enjoy sun salutations in Pilates, because they really wake up my body and open up my hips. I also love to run. When I'm out there running, I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel at peace. Many times when I'm on the track, that's when I say my prayers, because I just feel so peaceful.

SHAPE: What about a move that you hate?
SRR: I have more of those than moves I do like! I hate pull-ups. As the year progresses, I like them more because my body adapts to them, but in the early season when I haven't trained for a while, I hate pull-ups. I hate dips, bench presses—any upper-body stuff. I can do squats and lunges easily, but I don't look forward to the upper-body work.

SHAPE: What's a typical day in your diet look like?
SRR: I try to watch my diet, but I don't obsess about it. I don't count calories. My parents don't eat red meat, so we only ever have chicken or fish. I love breakfast; it's my favorite meal of the day, and usually my biggest one. I'll have egg whites and a waffle, or cereal. For lunch I'll have a tuna sandwich on wheat bread or a grilled chicken salad, and for dinner, I'll have grilled chicken with rice. My dad cooks for me a lot during the season, so he'll sometimes make a vegetable soup with coconut milk, green peppers, broccoli, carrots, and peas, and we'll pour it over the rice or chicken and fish.

SHAPE: How about unhealthy indulgences? Do you have any that you just can't give up?
SRR: I love cheese pizza! I have a cheat meal every Saturday or Sunday, and I'll either have pizza or ice cream. I also love purple Skittles! I like the other colors, but purple is my favorite flavor.

SHAPE: What's the best healthy living advice anyone's ever given you?
SRR: Everything in moderation! I think sometimes we go through phases and we obsess over what's best, whether it's about eating, or fitness, or resting, and I think that if you can just do everything in moderation, I think that's the best.

SHAPE: What kind of advice would you give to people who are looking to get fit but don't know where to start?
SRR: I'd recommend that they find a friend. If you can find someone who's looking to work out, who's as serious about it as you are, and who can help keep you accountable, that will help a lot. You also have to find something that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, don't go for a run. Start out with a walk, or maybe go swimming or biking. Do something that you actually enjoy and look forward to doing and not something that you dread, because you'll probably quit really soon.

SHAPE: How do you psych yourself up before a big meet? How did you prevent your nerves from getting in the way of your performance at the Olympics?
SRR: I think the mental part is the biggest challenge. When I was at the Olympics, I had to psych myself down. Everything about it is so extreme. Everything's overwhelming. For me, what I did was dumb it down a bit so that it didn't freak me out. I had to remind myself that it's not like I was taking a new test I hadn't studied for.

SHAPE: What's on your workout playlist?
SRR: I listen to a lot of Jay-Z and Kanye. "Beez in the Trap" by Nicki Minaj is on there. I love Rihanna and Nicki Minja's song "Fly." That was one of the songs that really got me going this summer at the Games. I wanted to conquer, and all the words in that song really got me excited. I also listen to a lot of Beyonce and Rick Ross.

SHAPE: You and your husband are both athletes. How do the two of you balance your work lives with your personal lives?
SRR: We have to make time for each other. When we met in college we were both playing sports, and as our careers grew, we spent more time apart, which I think helped us grow through the process together. Now, we make time for each other. We set date nights, and we'll just enjoy each other's company so that we don't take our time together for granted. We love to watch movies, so sometimes what we'll do is go into our living room and watch two or three movies together. He also recently started to cook! So now we'll cook together, which is nice.

SHAPE: Football season is coming up! Besides your husband Aaron Ross, are there any teams or players you're rooting for?
SRR: I love the Giants. Even though we're not there anymore, we have a great relationship with the guys on the team. I love Tim Tebow's story, so I root for him. I also like Calvin Johnson; I think he's a great athlete. And Robert Griffin III! He trained with me at Baylor, so I'm just so happy for him because he's a great athlete and an even better person. I'll definitely be rooting for him and the Washington Redskins this season. I hope he has a great year. And of course, my hubby!

SHAPE: What's your favorite thing about being a football fan?
SRR: I love that it's anybody's game. No one expected the Giants to win the Super Bowl last year, and then they did. It's not always the team that looks best in the beginning. On any given Sunday, anybody can win.

SHAPE: So what's next for you? What projects do you have lined up for the future?
SRR: I have a lot! My sister and I own a salon together in Austin, Texas, and we just launched our own line of hair extensions. There's also a reality show in the works that I'm looking forward to. I work with my family, and I'm trying to balance my track career with my relationships, plus my husband wants a baby, and I'm not sure if I want to keep running...I think it'll be a great dynamic and filming should start soon!


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