A six-time Olympic medalist and two-time U.S. gymnastics team captain, Aly Raisman has journeyed through the highest highs and the lowest lows throughout her sports career. Today, she is working to spread a message of health and being your best self. We caught up with her to talk food and fitness, and her new partnership with Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice.

You started gymnastics at age 2. What inspired you to stick to the sport? 

I loved gymnastics so much—that’s what ultimately inspired me. I just always wanted to be at the gym. I loved watching the 2004 Olympics as well. I was about 10 years old at the time, so I watched it, dreaming and hoping that one day I would be there, too. I actually told my mom in 2004, while watching the Games on TV, that I was going to be at the Olympics someday. That was the first moment my mom realized how serious I was about the sport and that I wanted to compete at the Olympics.

Was your mom, who was a gymnast, a big influence as you grew up in the sport?

My mom always supported me. She never pushed me to continue to do gymnastics. In my opinion, that is the coach’s job. She was always there for me, whether I was first or last.

Through all your years of training, what role has nutrition played? 

Nutrition is extremely important, whether you are training or not. Staying hydrated is so crucial. I compare my body to fueling up a gas tank in a car; you constantly have to provide your body with energy. There are so many different diets and nutrition tips out there today. My advice would be to listen to your body and do what works best for you.

See also Post-Workout Diet Strategy

Do you follow any particular diet, for example: plant-based, paleo, ketogenic?

I am trying to be more plant-based. I’ve learned you have to listen to your body and do what makes you feel good. What works for you may not work for someone else. What works for me may not work for someone else. We are all different.

Do you enjoy cooking? What are some of your favorite go-to meals?

I just started to love cooking. I enjoy making vegan spinach and artichoke dip; it is so healthy and tastes refreshing, because I add extra basil and mint leaves from our family garden. I also really love veggie burgers. I haven’t tried making a veggie burger from scratch, but I want to do so soon. My family has a pizza oven outside, so I am trying to master making a super-flat pizza. Cooking has been therapeutic and relaxing for me. Sometimes when I cook, I will play a guided meditation session on my phone; the combination is really soothing for me.

You’re an ambassador for Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice. Please share what you like best about the brand and why.

I love Cheribundi, because the product is healthy and soothing. It helps me recover, and I love drinking Cheribundi Sleep before bed. Having that routine is really important to me. Keeping a balanced diet and staying hydrated helps me get a better night’s sleep and feel more rested throughout the day. 

When you’re not training for gymnastics, what other activities do you enjoy?

Boxing, hiking, playing tennis (for fun), cycling, shopping, swimming, gardening, cooking.

If you could recommend three to five exercises or activities to busy people, what would they be?

Going for walks to enjoy the fresh air. Crunches. Going up and down on your tippy toes as many times as you can to feel the burn in your calves. Finding a workout that is fun for you or therapeutic is also important.

fierce Aly raisman
Read more about Aly and her journey as an elite gymnast and working to be her best self through the highs and lows of life in her book, Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything (Hachette, 2017)