12-time Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres has spent years of her life in the pool, or logging hours in at the gym, working to perfect her sport. But now, at 52, she’s appreciating a new phase of life. The retired competitive swimmer has been loving the chance to take a break from her own sport
12-time Olympic swimming medalist Dara Torres has spent years of her life in the pool, or logging hours in at the gym, working to perfect her sport. But now, at 52, she’s appreciating a new phase of life. The retired competitive swimmer has been loving the chance to take a break from her own sport and sit in the stands of her daughter Tessa’s high school lacrosse games to cheer her on. She also has found a new lust for fitness, looking at her gym time now as a medium for stress relief and keeping healthy as opposed to an intense step to get her to the next level.
At this point in her life, Torres is focusing on allowing her body to recoup through practices like getting a good night’s sleep and allowing her muscles to rest after all those years of pushing it hard in the pool. She’s found a love for CBD-based products to help her achieve these goals and was thus proud to hop on board as a Chief Wellness and Lifestyle Officer for CanniBrands.
Parade.com caught up with the athlete to discuss her current self-care routine and why, even though she’s retired, she has no plans to slow down anytime soon. “It’s just not in my nature!” she says.
A healthy outlook on food
I had an eating disorder in college and it took me a while to get over it and I really developed a fear of foods. And so my philosophy is to eat healthy, but if you have a craving for something, don’t deprive yourself; just have a little bit of it to help with the craving that you have. My philosophy is that if you are keeping yourself from eating certain things and not having what you want, you’re gonna want it more than you should. So that’s the biggest thing with me with diet. I try to eat my proteins every day and my fruits and vegetables. But I do have a sweet tooth. I can’t deny that. For some reason it gets worse when I travel. I’m out to dinner and I see someone having chocolate cake, I’ll ask for a piece, take a couple of bites, and then let everyone else have it. I just can’t cut out certain foods completely and be that restrictive after what I went through in college. I try to eat little meals throughout the entire day. So I always make sure that if I get hungry or need snacks, I will have macadamia nuts or avocados. I just try to eat healthy stuff but I’m not a saint. That’s for sure!
I try to get a workout in every day. Again, like I said, I used to have an eating disorder. So when I had that, I had to work out every day and was really kind of crazy about it. I’m not like that anymore. If I miss a workout, it’s OK. I’m not gonna get mad at myself or anything. I own a Bar Method studio in Massachusetts. I moved down to Florida so I try get up there as much as I can to help teach. But I really enjoy doing the Bar Method. It’s a very skilled and precise workout. It’s not like someone just shouts something at you and you do it. You have to set up every exercise to make sure everyone’s doing it correctly and then you give verbal corrections and hands-on corrections. And I like that because I’ve been to other workout facilities where they don’t help you and it seems like it’s like an injury waiting to happen. So that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to bind to the studios is because it was just such a great workout. I have a portable barre that I have in my house that I will use to do some exercises on that.
I also started doing a new workout called Solidcore. It is probably one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done—and that’s obviously post-training for the Olympics stuff. But it’s crazy hard! It’s on a Megaformer and you’re using mostly your core to do the workout. And it’s an incredible workout.
I try to do that three times a week. I get on the spin bike. I’ll do weights maybe once a week, if that. I’m just not into heavy weight lifting anymore. I’ve done it my whole life when I was training for the Olympics and it’s just not something that I like to do. And I find that these other exercises, even when you’re using body weight, you always seem to tone up. So I enjoy that. And I can’t run because of my knees, so spinning and swimming obviously are the really aerobic exercises that I could do. I try to swim with the kids on my old team, once a week, twice a week. A lot of times I’m traveling so I can’t. But try to do that every now and then.
But aside from working out, I try to keep active in general. Running around with my 13-year-old and taking her to lacrosse practices and school and doing all that stuff, it kinda keeps you young. You don’t really have time to take a breath. And I’m not the type to just sit around. I’m always, always going. I think it’s just healthy to not be one of those people who want to just sit around and make a point of keeping active, even if that means I’m just getting out or walking around the field while she’s playing lacrosse. I’m just a big believer in not making up excuses and there’s always time that you can find to just go do something that’s going to help you. Like, like I said, walking up the stairs in a building, walking around my daughter’s field at lacrosse or just whatever it is, you can always try to find time to do something.
A little CBD TLC
As I’m getting a little bit older, I find I don’t sleep as well. And I ran into Andy O’Brien, who was my strength and conditioning coach when I was training for [the] 2008 and 2012 [Olympics] and he told me about this CBD company called CaniBrands. And I was like, “Wait doesn’t that have THC and stuff in it?” And he was like, “No.” I find that when people know I’m a part of that company, that’s their first question and the biggest misconception: “Well isn’t there THC in it?” And I’m like, “No. It’s plant-based, vegan, healthy. It’s not bad.” So, he said, “If you’re having problems sleeping, I’m going to send you some sleep oil and you tell me what you think.” So he sent me their Can-i sleep. It was wonderful. It was one of those things where the oil takes a little bit while to absorb into your body. So if you take it about an hour before you want to go to sleep, it’s just one of those peaceful sleeps without having a hangover in the morning—like if you were to take like a sleeping pill something. And I was like, “Wow, this stuff’s great. Do they have anything else? Cause I just had surgery on my torn quad muscle and it hurts so bad.” It was maybe like six weeks post-op and I was in so much pain. And so he’s like, “Yeah. They have this other stuff called Can-i-mend?” So I started using it and I felt like it was really dulling the pain that I was having. I was like, “Wow this is great.”
It’s unfortunate that there’s a misconception about it because there is this fear of CBD, and it’s not like having marijuana with THC in it. And one of the reasons why I believe so much in it is Andy, my strength coach who introduced me to it, is one of the people that helps me with the formulations. And he has athletes that take the stuff and there’s no way he would ever be a part of anything but all natural products in it. So that’s how I got involved with CaniBrands.
Finding some “me time”
It’s funny people say, “What do you do when you have a little time to yourself?” I laugh and say, “My downtime as when I go to bed.” I think everyone has their own philosophy on how they can do a little self-help for themselves. For me, my self help is exercise. For other people, they may exercise and then take some downtime and meditate and stuff. That’s not who I am. I’m a visual person. I would maybe visualize my races and stuff a little bit, but I’m never the type to do the meditation because I feel like I just always have to keep going. I might even have a little ADD in me. I don’t know (laughs).
I like to have a little alone time with my daughter. So we try to do mother/daughter nights or a mother/daughter day. like on Friday we went and got mani-pedis together. And so I do like to do that stuff. During my alone time, sometimes I actually like to go out for a meal, by myself, grab a newspaper, sit in a corner and just have a nice lunch and read the newspaper or magazine. I’m not afraid to be alone and go do something like that.
I also love massages. My whole life, I’ve got gotten massages from all my training. When I didn’t make the 2012 team, I kinda just stopped. And I just started like a year ago getting them again like once a week. And I love them. Getting a massage is one of my favorite things to do.
I like to go and swim with my old team. There are a whole bunch of kids on there and my old coach lets me get in and swim with them. I don’t do it as often as I probably should because my daughter has a lot of lacrosse right after school, but I try to go once, maybe twice a week and I put some fins on. I get in the pool and just swim with them. It’s fun! It really is. I think they’re like, “This is cool.” And I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re so fast now. The younger they get, the faster they are.” So I think both the kids and I are kind of excited to be in the pool together.
The Olympics were great but it’s so nice to have the break. When I missed the team by nine-hundredths in 2012, I was almost relieved. And I see what my daughter does for lacrosse now and I see when I go to the pool and I don’t have to do every step of what the kids are doing. I have my fins on and I’m like, “Wait, I don’t have to do this whole set. I’m not training anymore.” And it’s just kinda nice to sit at the wall for a few minutes, talk to the coach until they’re done with that set, and then get back in with them. So I’m really glad I’m not training anymore. It’s nice to exercise just because I love the way it makes me feel. I love how it relieves stress. And I’m not doing it for any other reason than because it just makes me feel good.
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