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10 health tips from one of Canada’s fittest women

Whether you’re looking to shed the last 10 pounds or trying to run a marathon, this Olympian gives us her best tips regardless of fitness level

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Jessica Zelinka

NOV Wilson Canada

If you’re looking for workout inspiration, look no further than Canadian Olympian Jessica Zelinka. In the last two Olympic Games, Zelinka, who has a chiseled physique that puts many a Greek statue to shame, achieved three top-10 finishes in heptathlon (seven track and field events over two days) and hurdles.

When asked for her advice on how to get in great shape, what came mind was her three-year-old daughter: the fit tips she recommends for adults follow the same philosophies parents use to ensure they raise strong, healthy children. That said, considering her husband is fellow Olympian Nathaniel Miller (water polo), that must be one healthy household.

Read on for Zelinka’s top healthy living tips:

1. Eat your veggies
“We always try to eat them at every meal and at snack time,” she says making the good point that if you aren’t eating veggies for your snacks, then what it is you’re replacing them with? Probably something not-so-healthy.

2. Chew your food
“After having a baby, chewing my food is one thing I forgot to do,” Jessica said. “I stopped paying attention to what I was eating.” She relays the importance of slowing down, sitting at the table during regular meal times and in a social setting with family instead of in front of the TV. “Don’t drink your calories either,” she said advises.

3. Go outside and play
“It helps with digestion and gets you fresh air. It’s an easy thing to add into your routine.” Jessica is a big fan of after-meal walks too!

4. Self soothe
Go for a run, do pushups, play actively. Find a way to burn off that anxiety and stress in a way that makes you feel good.”

5. Schedule play time
“Set a time in your daily routine to exercise. Make sure nothing else is a distraction.” And don’t let other things interfere with your scheduled fitness time warns Jessica.

6. Live in the moment
When you’re working towards improved fitness, it’s important to focus on the task at hand. This is something that Jessica understands well from living a life of athletic competition, but it’s also good advice for the average person who wants to push physically and achieve a personal best. It’s about practicing mental and physical discipline to do your best.

7. Learn your numbers
“Focus on the numbers in your training program and know what you want to accomplish. Whether it is weight to be lifted, number of reps, seconds for holding a posture, speed for a race or distance run, it’s all important.” Those who track their progress in terms of improving physical performance have higher adherence rates for exercise.

8. Say you’re sorry
“Forgive yourself if you don’t meet your goals. Avoid the all or nothing mentality. Don’t feel guilty and just start again tomorrow.”

9. Stick to a routine
Routines for both adults and children, provide a sense of security and predictability that gives us a sense of control and confidence that we can not only manage our lives, but thrive!”

10. Take a time out
“When you feel overwhelmed, take a mental health break. Calm yourself down by taking some quiet time and focusing on your deep breathing.”

The average person will never compete in the Olympic Games, but this is solid advice to achieve our own personal bests whether it’s losing the last 10 pounds or finally signing up for that class you’ve always wanted to do.

Follow Jessica here: twitter.com/JessicaZelinka

James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary. He writes the syndicated column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for the Chicago Tribune and consults with clients on strategic planning for fitness and health. Get your free Metabolism Report here.