Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman has been competing on the world stage since she was just 16 years old. For the past two games, she has served as captain for both the “Fierce Five” and “Final Five” U.S. women’s gymnastics teams. But the athlete says the years in between the world games are some of the busiest times for the 23-year-old — with 2017 being busier than most.
In November, she will release her very first memoir, “Fierce,” which details the years of hard work that has gone into being an Olympian. She also recently partnered with mattress retailer, Leesa, to highlight the importance of a good night’s sleep especially before a competition.
She opened up about her recent projects in a conversation with CBS News.
How do you unwind the night before competing on the world stage?
It’s hard because sometimes prior to falling asleep you have butterflies in your stomach, because you are only thinking about the competition. I tend to feel anxious. I just try to think about happy things — like being on the beach or hanging out with my friends. Anything that I can do that is routine always helps. That way, no matter where you are in the world you feel comforted and like you are safe.
Have you made a decision yet about competing at the 2020 Olympics?
I’m definitely thinking about it. I’m not training right now because I have a book coming up and it’s taking up all my time. It is a lot of work. I don’t have time to balance writing a book and training for the Olympics. So right now I’m just focusing on one.
What has it been like for you to write your first book?
It is very stressful. I am nervous for my book to come out. I’ve put so much work into it and it’s a side of me people haven’t really seen before. The book covers the time from when I started competing as a kid to where I am now -– I don’t leave much out. People will get to know more about some of the best and hardest moments of my life. I try to stay positive though and find the silver lining of things.
I think it’s important for people who tune into gymnastics every four years to realize I am human too. I struggle, and have had a lot of hard times in my life. We live in a world where your social media following justifies you as a person and I think it is ridiculous and absurd. I want people to know that my life is not perfect and that’s okay. The book very much shows my vulnerable side and I’m okay with that.
Were you at all reluctant to open up about your insecurities in this book?
I call my mom all the time and tell her how worried I am about the book. What she always tells me is that it is my life and I should be proud. I am passionate about working with the younger generation of women, and my mom reminds me of how important it is to be honest for those young girls. It is hard to be on social media sometimes because some people seem so perfect. What I’ve come to realize though, is that it’s not always real. My mom always tells me that if I can somehow help to change the idea that people need to be perfect, then that will be an important step. It is hard to share the hardest details about your personal life, but I want to get the message across that I truly am someone people can relate to.
Why was it so important for you to speak out about them now?
Many people lately have stopped me on the street and thanked me for speaking up about body positivity. I don’t feel like I have done as much as I could. It’s great to have people speak so kindly about me. It has just motivated me and made me want to speak up even more. Our society seems to think girls are the only ones who are insecure. I, though, feel like both girls and boys are insecure and so everyone deserves to be confident and happy and hopefully I can help in making that happen.
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Have you met anyone recently who has inspired you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
I met Selena Gomez really quickly a few years ago, but I wish I could meet her now. I would love to talk with her about “13 Reasons Why.” I also find Emma Watson to be incredibly inspiring. She is doing work that I would love to do in the near future. Michelle Obama was also so amazing. All these women are doing things that are bigger than themselves, and I want to be someone who can talk more about these issues to help other people.
When you decide to stop competing on the Olympic stage, what do you want to be known for?
My parents have always taught me that it’s more important to be a good person than it is to focus on where I am on the podium. I talk a lot about that in my book and I’m learning more about it now. It’s hard not to worry what people think but I’m now just trying to find ways to be happy and be the best version of myself.
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Source: CBS News – Entertainment