Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin is in London now, ready to represent the U.S. in the Games. Naturally, she’s hoping to add to her medal count, which is currently at 11 — she was the most decorated female athlete at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. But it took extensive training — both in and out of the pool — to get where she is.
In fact, much of Coughlin’s training is done in the kitchen. The athlete told Fitness magazine that she mostly eats a vegetarian diet, which includes growing a lot of her own veggies.
“I mostly follow a nutritionally dense plant-based diet,” Coughlin told the NY Daily News. “I have an extensive garden where I grow vegetables. I also have citrus trees and raise five chickens for their eggs. When I do eat meat, I opt for lean proteins, like fish or chicken, but I’m mostly vegetarian. And I love to cook.”
Coughlin cites gazpacho and risotto as favorite vegetarian meals, but explains there’s a lot more to her fitness routine than a healthy diet.
In addition to swimming most days, her five-hour-per-day exercise routine also includes strength training and flexibility work.
“I usually spent about 50 percent of my time in the pool and 50 percent doing Pilates, yoga, in the weight room, or running. For Pilates, I do a combination of both mat work and the reformer. I also love the TRX suspension training system, which gives me a full-body workout using your own body weight. It’s awesome for small spaces, like hotel rooms, so I always bring it with me whenever I travel,” she says.
Here’s hoping all that hard work pays off in the coming weeks and she adds to that impressive medal count!