Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Gymnast Shannon Miller Gives Advice to Moms

Shannon Miller is the most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history with 7 Olympic and 9 World Championship medals. Now mom to 2 1/2-month-old son Rocco, this 32-year-old former Olympian is trading in her passion for the balance beam to help new moms balance their lives with a series of fitness DVDs and a prenatal cookbook.

How is motherhood so far?

"Our son was born on October 28th at 7 lbs, 11 oz. It truly is a miracle how a baby changes your life. Things that seemed so important before take a back seat to Rocco’s smile.

Everyone tells you to nap when the baby naps……yeah right! You’re too busy doing a million other chores, working or just staring at him. It’s so important to take time for yourself or you’ll go crazy."

Was choosing a baby name easy for you two? Did you know you were having a boy?

"We call him Rocco to avoid confusion and because it’s so darn cute! He is actually named “John” after his father and his paternal great grandfather and “Rocco” after his other great grandfather. He’s a 5th generation Rocco!

Choosing a name was pretty difficult. With a name like Falconetti you’ve got to have something that rolls well. We narrowed it down to three names the night before we had him. We took one look at him after he was born and knew he was a Rocco."

Looking back, do you feel the pressures of the Olympics is too much for a young person? What was it like for you?

"Truly, I think it’s up to the individual. Children don’t always get enough credit for knowing what they want and going after it. Some children can absolutely handle it and others crumble under the pressure. It certainly helps to have a strong support system around you including parents, coaches, teachers and friends. And, above all, you have to love what you are doing. You cannot fake passion.

Did you workout during your pregnancy? Did you focus on working out, or were you happy to just 'let it all go' for once? I can imagine how hard it would be to keep up with your past gymnast body!

"I did workout while I was pregnant. In fact, I was so clueless as to what I should or shouldn’t do during pregnancy that I did a ton of research. I even ended up taping a “fit pregnancy” DVD to help other women maintain a fit pregnancy. I feel better, sleep better and have more energy when I work out. And it makes it so much easier for your body to bounce back after delivery. In addition, it actually helped with my morning sickness (24/7 for 6 months)."

How are you feeling postpartum? Have the 'baby blues' reared their ugly heads?

"By the end of week three I realized I absolutely had to leave the house. I needed some fresh air and sunlight just to maintain my sanity. I started taking daily walks with Rocco in his stroller and it was perfect! John and I also try to take date nights from time to time."

What did all your friends and family 'forget' to tell you about pregnancy and childbirth? Is there anything that surprised you during your experiences?

"No one can truly prepare you for the first day you arrive home with your new baby. The nurses are gone and you realize that you are now in charge. Talk about terrifying!

I got a lot of advice and stories. Many were horror stories about the delivery process. The one thing that surprised me the most was that the delivery ended up being the easiest part. I was induced due to gestational diabetes. It was such a calm and rather painless experience."

Are you breastfeeding? If so, how is that going?

"Yes, I knew I wanted to breastfeed if at all possible. So far, so good. Rocco is a great eater! My biggest issue is trying to drink enough water to help keep my milk up. I’ve also been trying to decrease dairy and nuts in case it causes him issues. Those are huge staples in my diet so that’s difficult."

If you could make one confession - either about your years as a world-class gymnast or as a new mom (or both!) - what would it be?

"Wow, I guess what most people don’t realize is that I am nowhere near as confident or self assured as I may seem. I was never the popular girl growing up. I didn’t know how to wear makeup or fix my hair. I was intimidated by everything, except being on the balance beam. Sometimes, you have to almost trick yourself into being self confident. I learned to fake confidence once I walked onto the floor mat in a competition and realized later that I actually felt more confident.

Being a new mom, everything is terrifying. You never feel like you have things figured out. So when I get overwhelmed I “fake” being self assured. When I’m calm my son is calm."

If you are working on any other project or with any charities, please feel free to discuss.

"I have been working on so many projects I am really excited about. I filmed two DVDs Shannon Miller’s Ultimate Fit Pregnancy and Shannon Miller’s Body After Baby.

I also wrote a prenatal cookbook with my friend, and chef, Jessica Bright.

I have two other fitness books coming out in the spring. One is a yoga book. The other is an abdominal/core book. I call these “To Go” books since they are small enough to fit in your purse or gym bag. You can take them with you for great exercises to get you trim and toned. It’s been busy but it was a great way to spend this year. I have found a passion for health and wellness for women and was able to dive in and finish some of these projects I’ve been working on for years.

In addition, we’ll be holding the 2nd Annual Shannon Miller Kids Marathon on May 1st in Jacksonville, Florida. The event raises awareness for childhood obesity, the focus of my foundation."