Gymnastics has always been mind boggling to me. How does any human body jump and flip and twist like that? How are all these athletes not walking around in full body casts? Aly Raisman is one such athlete. Her name is known all over the world, and while the 22-year-old has two gold medals and one bronze under her belt from the 2012 Summer Olympics, these Aly Raisman quotes show that even though she's an elite gymnast, she's still not that different from you and me. Of course, she's also got some absolutely incredible skills and she's headed to the 2016 Olympics in Rio shortly, so clearly she's got a little something that most of us don't — but she's relatable all the same.
Raisman's determination and dedication are honestly rather astounding. It can be assumed that gymnastics is her life, but the details still blow my mind: Almost eight hours of training a day, a nearly impeccable diet, more time in the gym than at home. It's really quite remarkable, and this journey that she started when she was just a little girl is nothing short of impressive.
She's no novice, and her age and experience level (she's considered the "old" one on the team!) mean she knows a thing or two that younger gymnasts might not. Personally, I'm very touched by her self-awareness and honesty; she carries such great ambition with her, while still understanding that she's not superhuman (although I kinda think she is).
Raisman has given countless interviews, but here are some of her words that stuck out to me most. They're both inspiring and relatable, and I can't wait to see what she's got in store for us in Rio.
1. "I like to do completely nothing."
That was what Raisman told People she prefers doing on her day off. OMG, we have something in common! Depending on the weather, she also likes to go on walks with her dog. (My dog will follow me back and forth to the refrigerator — does that count as a walk?...)
2. "I love food in general."
Once again talking to People, Raisman explained that while she's generally a very healthy eater, she thinks that allowing yourself to splurge is part of "living a normal, healthy, balanced diet." She loves dessert, "like cheesecake and chocolate cake. And cheeseburgers." Girl, me too.
3. "Sometimes I struggle a little bit with being confident."
She might be the champ on the floor, but even Raisman has her struggles with self-doubt. Still, though, she fights on: "To be honest, I always think about the fact that I am the reigning floor Olympic champion ... so when I go up there I just remind myself that no matter what happens I've already won, so I just have to go out there and enjoy it," she said in a video posted on The Wall Street Journal.
4. "I've been dreaming of it ever since I was a little girl."
This was Raisman's response when asked during an interview with nesn.com what representing the United States means to her. She's just a person who learned early on what she loves the most.
5. "I should be more proud of myself, but I'm such a perfectionist."
While chatting with ESPN, Raisman told the reporter that she has a hard time ever believing that she's good enough — and that frustrates her even more. "At the last Olympics I got two golds and a bronze, but I think more about the fact that I didn't medal in the All-Around than the fact that I did really well." You read that right, folks: Even Olympians have a hard time cutting themselves some slack.
6. "That's when I'm most comfortable: sweating in a gym, covered in chalk."
In the same ESPN interview, Raisman echoed a sentiment many of us can relate to. While I certainly feel pretty all dolled up, I also feel weird. And lot of my friends have said the same — that the gym feels more like home. It's all about where you feel confident and powerful.
7. "Sometimes if you’re too focused on yourself, it makes you overthink everything."
Raisman spoke with Boston Magazine about how she tunes out everything else happening in an arena when she's competing. "Well, we’re used to that. It’s worse when it’s one at a time, because it’s so quiet," she explained. Knowing how to get out of your own head — in sports, and life in general — is so crucial to a person's health and happiness.
8. "You can't always be the best. You have to remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes."
Spoken like a true champ! Even though she's a self-proclaimed perfectionist, Raisman reminded us in an interview with Seventeen that at some point, we all stumble. Even Olympic gold medalists.
9. "You can’t be successful in anything if you don’t truly love it or if you don’t have a passion for it. So just stay positive and have fun."
That was Raisman's advice for young gymnasts that she gave to Time Out New York. And did she hit the nail on the head or what? If you really want to go far in life, find what it is you love, and chase it. If your heart isn't in it, it's pointless.
10. "There's no favorites, and you have to earn your spot just like any other person.
Raisman spoke with Glamour about how in gymnastics, you're constantly having to prove yourself — what she did in the past almost doesn't matter anymore. That can be said of many things we pursue in life. One success doesn't mean you're set forever. You can never stop growing, learning, or climbing.
11. "There are multiple times during the week when I'm really tired and don't even want to get out of bed."
Raisman shared with The Improper Bostonian something that a lot of us know too well: the struggle of finding the motivation to even get out of bed. But all she has to do is think about her goals and representing her country with her team, and that's enough. Then there's her coaches: "When I feel like I can’t do it, or I keep falling, I just look to my coaches. They say, 'Even if you feel like you’re dying, nobody cares, so just go out and do it.'" All righty then!
12. "Gymnastics can be scary."
Uh, you think?! Raisman has said in many interviews that the bars terrify her, and they're definitely her biggest challenge. It was in this Q&A with NBC Olympics that she shared something most people don't know about that sport. Yes, even Olympians get scared.
13. "Sometimes, when you look through magazines or you see these beautiful models, it’s hard because you want to compare yourself to them."
But this is a slippery slope, and it's no different for athletes, whose bodies are unique and special in their own way (just like all bodies!). Raisman told BDCwire that although it took a little time, she learned to appreciate her body, instead of picking it apart.