Former Olympic Gold Medalist and Paradise Valley resident Misty Hyman spent many years training for excellence in swimming. She has parlayed that passion and motivation into a career and way of life for her and her family. She knows that fitness is essential, and fitting it into a busy lifestyle can make it attainable as well.
"As a junior in high school, I barely missed the Olympic Team in 1996 by three one-hundredths of a second. I am best known for winning the 200m butterfly in the Sydney Games in 2000," she says. "At the time, I was a junior at Stanford University, training about 20 to 25 hours per week. Our training was primarily swimming, but it also included yoga, Pilates, weight training, spinning and stretching. One of the biggest challenges for me was transitioning from my competitive swimming training and eating regimen to one suited for a more traditional lifestyle."
Being accustomed to the all-or-nothing mentality for so long left Misty thriving on extremes. It was what attributed to her success in the pool, but it prevented her from finding a balance.
"It took some time, but I have found that being 'obsessively moderate' about my eating and exercising helps me to keep a healthier balance. I don't do any extreme diets or exercising. I allow myself to enjoy holidays, treats and parties without over-indulging. My peaks and valleys aren't as big as they used to be. I no longer feel the need to be perfect in this area of my life, which is good because it would be impossible for me to be human in the best sense of the word and still be a perfect exerciser and eater."
Misty moved back to her hometown here in Paradise Valley after studying abroad for three years and has been a swimming coach and an inspirational speaker for the last 10 years. She is happily married and a proud mom of 1-year-old Vivian.
"My fitness routine currently includes moderate toning and muscle balancing, weight training twice a week, and I squeeze in a swim, run, yoga class or hike wherever I can. I try to be flexible because with a baby you can't always stick to a specific plan!"
As a swimming coach, Misty feels privileged to be able to pass on the knowledge she gained from her coaches and her Olympic experience.
"It gives me a platform to inspire and encourage others through public speaking. I consider it both an honor and an awesome responsibility."
Misty encourages others to take care of themselves and what is important to them. Having the energy to be the best wife, mom, coach and speaker she can be means feeling strong, able and pain-free. So, moderate, well-balanced exercise is of importance.
"I certainly don't train like an Olympian anymore! That would be exhausting and counterproductive. I train and eat moderately. I don't have a special diet or any kind of restrictions. Food plays a lot of roles in our lives as humans, not only as nourishment but also socially and emotionally. I acknowledge and honor that all those aspects of food are important. Within that, I try to make the best choices I can without trying to be perfect, because that is impossible.
Lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables and enough whole-grain carbs, with limitations on processed and sugary foods, are Misty's general standards.
And her mantra is simple: "I listen to my body the best I can. I have found that being kind to yourself is the best thing you can do."
"I don't think that being healthy requires great suffering. We are not at war with our bodies and our desires. If we treat our bodies well and we listen to them, it is my experience that our bodies will treat us well in return. It really is about mutual respect."