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10 Olympic Athletes' Daily Habits You Should Steal (That Don't Involve the Gym)

Tokyo Olympics 2020 came to an end earlier this month. It has offered hope and inspiration that the world can still come together to celebrate the human spirit despite all the challenges and hardship. It inspired us to find out more about the past and current champions, especially their habits that shape them to their success in sports.

Habits are helpful. Athletes at the Olympic level, without a doubt, take their habits and routines very seriously. We wanted to see what extra we might be doing to give ourselves a professional edge and make us feel productive on a daily basis. While we aren't going to start setting our alarms for 4:15 a.m. in order to squeeze more in and double the time of our workouts, we might be willing to try taking more regular breaks to give our exhausted minds a much-needed rest.

1. Get the Right Kind of Rest: Kassidy Cook, USA, Diving

Photo of Kassidy Cook from “American Star Watch: Kassidy Cook”

Routine Fun Fact

Cook takes an ice bath the day before competition to ensure her legs are fully rested and ready to go when she gets at the pool the next morning. (She also ensures that she has a manicure and pedicure.)

How You Can Apply These Habits

It is crucial to get enough sleep. You want your thoughts to be as rested as possible in order to achieve optimum production, just as Cook wants her legs to be fresh for the most essential dives. That involves paying attention to your health, getting enough sleep each night, and regularly unplugging from work.

2. Focus on the Nutrients: Novak Djokovic, Serbia, Tennis

Photo of Novac Djokovic from “Novak Djokovic - Inexplicable | Tribute (HD)”

Routine Fun Fact

Djokovic's morning ritual consists of a large cup of room temperature water, two tablespoons of honey, and a nutrient-rich breakfast consisting of muesli or oatmeal, nuts, seeds, fruit, coconut oil, and non-dairy milk or coconut water, in that order.

How You Can Apply These Habits

Djokivic's ritual is designed to set his physique for ultimate success. You can achieve the same thing by nourishing your body with whole, healthy foods and staying hydrated throughout the day.

3. Aim for High-Quality Sleep: Michael Phelps, USA, Swimming

Photo of Michael Phelps from “Michael Phelps’ Final London 2012 Race - Men’s 4 x 100m Medley | London 2012 Olympics”

Routine Fun Fact

Phelps' sleeping environment is one-of-a-kind. He sleeps in a special altitude chamber every night (yes, you read that correctly).

How You Can Apply These Habits

We're willing to guess that these contraptions aren't cheap (or even close), but there are other ways to get good sleep. Make your room as dark and cold as possible, keep technology away from the bed—or out of the room entirely—and try to sleep and wake up on the same schedule every day.

4. Visualize Goals: Carli Lloyd, USA, Soccer

Photo of Carli Lloyd from “Carli Lloyd: 2015 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year”

Routine Fun Fact

Lloyd is concentrating on one thing in particular these days: her mind. She spends time before each match picturing exactly what she wants to happen in that game. She scored three goals in the 2015 World Cup final. Do you have any idea what she did in the days leading up to the game? Imagined she would score four. Not bad odds, right?

How You Can Apply These Habits

Even if you aren't playing soccer in front of millions of people, you may still set goals for yourself, such as creating a good first impression in an interview, nailing that client presentation, or negotiating your compensation with your boss. Whatever it is, seeing yourself doing it beforehand can be quite beneficial.

5. Prioritize Sleep: Usain Bolt, Jamaica, Track and Field

Photo of Usain Bolt from “Usain Bolt beats Justin Gatlin 100m Final WC Beijing 2015”

Routine Fun Fact

What does it take to be the world's fastest human? Usain Bolt would know. While sprint training and consuming a healthy diet are vital, Bolt says that sleep is his top priority. Why? Because it's during those priceless hours that his body restores itself and builds on all the hard work he's put in all day.

How You Can Apply These Habits

We have a strong tendency to prioritize work. “Oh, I'll just stay up a few more hours to finish this,” or “I'll wake up extra early tomorrow to begin [insert project here].” And, while we may feel more productive in the short term, depriving ourselves of adequate sleep will harm us in the long run. Put sleep at the top of your to-do list.

6. Keep a Record: Eliud Kipchoge, Kenya, Running

Photo of Eliud Kipchoge from “Eliud Kipchoge runs 2nd fastest marathon of all time - London Marathon 2016”

Routine Fun Fact

Kipchoge, like other professional athletes, prioritizes sleep—he goes to bed at 9 p.m. and takes an hour nap every day—but that's not all the great runner does on a regular basis. Kipchoge has kept a training journal to keep track of all of his exercises and achievements, recording each run, each piece of the training puzzle, so that when it comes time to compete, he would be able to look back and “know he has done everything.”

How You Can Apply These Habits

Keep track of your achievements, professional goals, and victories, misses, failures, and successes. Take careful notes on everything from your five-year goals to the feedback you received at your last performance evaluation.

7. Possess Self-Confidence: Claressa Shields, USA, Boxing

Photo of Claressa Shields from “E60 Claressa Shields (E:60 FULL)”

Routine Fun Fact

Shields, who prides herself on being confident rather than arrogant, claims that this attribute drives her to work 10 times harder than her opponents in order to achieve her goals. She lets her family and friends know where her focus is before a huge argument.

How You Can Apply These Habits

Avoid straddling the line between confidence and arrogance, and have faith in yourself and your work. Imposter syndrome, as well as family members that don't comprehend your aspirations, have no place in your drive to accomplish. Learn to communicate effectively so that you are not easily distracted when an important work project falls into your lap.

8. Don’t Be All Serious All the Time: Simone Biles, USA, Gymnastics

Photo of Simone Biles from “Gymnast Simone Biles Aims to Make Olympic History”

Routine Fun Fact

Unlike her competitors, Biles has a more laid-back demeanor, even before a competition, and giggling comes naturally to her. Biles once requested some rest time from the coaches for herself and the team during the 2015 World Championships in Glasgow, and she was granted it.

How You Can Apply These Habits

Don't be too hard on yourself. Keep in mind that a life of work and no play can have a negative impact on your productivity. Give your mind a break from the hard thinking you're asking it to undertake for the majority of the workday by taking a walk around the park near your workplace or spending 15 minutes browsing magazines at the local pharmacy store.

9. Don't Worry, Be Happy: Katie Ledecky, USA, Swimming

Photo of Katie Ledecky from “Katie Ledecky, Olympic Swim 2016".

Routine Fun Fact

Ledecky looks to be in a good mood all of the time. She doesn't become agitated, and if worrying thoughts arise, she is able to push them aside so she can focus and complete the task at hand.

How You Can Apply These Habits

If your to-do list or major meetings with clients make you uneasy, try changing your mentality. Take a page from Ledecky's book and keep fear at arm's length: Consider something different, something that does not stress you out.

10. Never Skip Breakfast: Misty May-Treanor, USA, Volleyball

Photo of Misty May-Treanor from “Misty May Treanor”

Routine Fun Fact

May-Treanor had a certain word in mind. Breakfast. She eats in the morning, no matter how busy her day is, whether it's an egg scramble with veggies or a breakfast plate with bacon starring on a side roll.

How You Can Apply These Habits

Make breakfast a priority in your day. No matter how much you value those extra minutes pressed snooze each morning or how many times you've told yourself that skipping breakfast isn't a big deal, know this: If you want to start your day on the right foot and make healthy choices throughout the day (think increased energy and productivity), don't skip breakfast.

Olympic athletes are the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème—you get the idea. But just because you aren't competing in Rio doesn't mean a routine can't be beneficial to you.

Aside from being incredibly fit and goal-oriented, what these athletes have in common is that they've figured out what works best for them. For example, Djokovic's three-step morning regimen might be too much for you—water, honey, and that many ingredients in a breakfast? Oh, my goodness! Is it possible to take a bath in ice? Perhaps not for you. But a good routine entails more than just forcing yourself to do one thing. Making the most out of your days is about embracing habits that help you be your best self.

The goal is to build a regimen that prioritizes treating your body as best as possible, not to replicate exactly what any of these celebrities do. And, because everyone is different, your ritual may be unique as well.

Source: themuse (Abby Wolfe and Stacey Lastoe)

Paraphrased by: Joey Tai

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