Olympics 2012: Q&A with Mia Hamm

Soccer fever is coming to the States again as the U.S. Women’s Team goes for the gold tomorrow against Japan. I recently had the chance to chat with one of the sport’s most famous players: retired superstar Mia Hamm. Goodyblogger and big soccer fan Taryn even managed to the crash the interview at our office for a pic with her hero (at right, with Mia). For her new project, the athlete and mom of three (5-year-old twins and a new baby boy) has teamed up with the Grain Foods Foundation to share her nutrition and fitness tips with families. Check out what she had to say:

 

What made you want to get involved with this project?

“I think being involved in something like this and sharing my experiences with families about eating healthy and the importance of grains and whole grains in your diet is a good thing. I’m four months postpartum, and I’m 40, so my body doesn’t respond as well as it used to. I could sit there and eat pasta all day long and not worry about it when I was younger, and now I really have to focus on making sure I set a good example for my kids. I make a lot of mistakes, too, and I’m constantly re-evaluating how I’m doing things and trying to be better every day, whether it’s as a mom or taking care of myself. This is a new stage of my life, and it’s been a big transition for me from pretty much working out for living every day to just trying to find ways to get myself where I want to be.”

Congratulations, by the way…you look great!

“I’ve got 15 to 20 more pounds to go so….”

Was losing weight harder the second time? Or was it the same?

“Second time is harder. I’m older, and I was dealing with postpartum injuries. I had a C-section, and I tried to start running way too soon. And my body was like, ‘No!’ so I had to stop. My daughter came by the other day, and she patted me on the stomach and was like, ‘Mom, your tummy is getting smaller.’ It’s so humbling.”

I think our readers will be happy to know that it’s hard for an Olympic champion as well.

“One who likes to eat, who likes her food!”

 

What would you suggest for new moms like yourself who maybe don’t really get the exercise they need because of other priorities?

“It’s hard, no doubt. One of the things that I’ve tried to do is exercise together as a family. When I was six months pregnant, we were at the park with my mom and my twin 4-year-olds at the time. We were playing ‘Duck, Duck, Goose’ while running around and my mom was trying to get off the ground and I was trying to get off the ground!  But really it’s about finding a way to make it a part of your day.”

Speaking of your kids…do you or husband (Nomar Garciaparra, a retired pro baseball player) try to nudge the girls into your old sports?

“No, not really. We’re letting them find their own thing. I think about what sports were for me at that age, and they were very social–whatever their friends are doing. We noticed one of our daughters tends to like ballet more because its non-confrontational. I think soccer was a little overwhelming for her, and she just seemed to be a lot more confident and more engaged in ballet because you didn’t have that ‘Go get the ball!’ She just loved being a princess.”

So the Olympics…. What lessons do you think kids can take away from watching them?

“There are so many. A lot of the times the stories they do are of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. These athletes are talented, but they’ve had to work extremely hard to get where they are today. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve learned through the course of my career and through meeting successful people is the consistent commitment to being better every single day. A lot of people are like, ‘I’m gonna be fitter!’ and they work out one day a week. The successful people find a way to do it every single day, and it’s not always easy.”

Besides soccer, is there any event you’re excited to share with your kids?

“I love watching gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. A lot of it is so intense in such a short period of time, like the sprints and the relays, and you’re like screaming at the TV.”

Being a mom now yourself, do you have more admiration for mom athletes?

“How they maintained the level of fitness that they did through their pregnancy and after their pregnancy and how they played at the highest level on as little of sleep as I knew they were getting at the time is amazing. For us [single soccer players], we’d get back from practice and could take a nap or go see a movie. But they were working two jobs. They went to training, and then when they got home, it was on. They’re amazing.”

Is there anything from your soccer training that you brought into motherhood?

“Really just trying to be as organized, patient, and flexible. It’s not always going to come out the way you planned, whether its feeding times or sleep schedules. So you have to be flexible and be able to deal with change. The other thing is for me is learning to really enjoy a moment. Like right now with my son, just really enjoying the time I have with him. Sometimes with our twins, I felt like it was a job because–they were premature–so you’re like I’ve got to do this for their health, gotta feed them now, gotta make sure they get this and that…. Now I’m trying to take advantage of just sitting with them and hearing them laugh.”

 

For more of our Olympic coverage, click here.

 

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