When we think of pro athletes, the words "competitive," "strong" and "fierce" often come to mind. And those all ring true for Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist in beach volleyball who has the third most all-time victories. But when we met her at an Almond Breeze event recently (she’s a spokesperson, and a fan of the unsweetened vanilla flavor), we left describing her with a new adjective: Zen. The 36-year-old mom of three just has it together and beams with determination and all-around positivity. So of course we had to learn her secrets. Here, she shares her strategies for improving mental well-being (which also happen to be great for the body) and tells how you can adopt them too.
Consider a different kind of exercise.
Jennings hits the sand four to five days a week for up to three hours a day and takes Pilates classes and lifts weights at least twice a week. But her workouts aren’t just physical—she also trains her brain. “I work it like it’s a muscle,” she says. Her go-to tool is SenseLabs’ Versus ($400 for the headset, $20/month for the program). After a diagnostic test, you’ll get activities to work on that improve whatever skills you need most, whether that’s decision making, stress management (Jennings’ focus) or reaction time. “I’ve learned different protocols, like taking a time-out and going to a quiet place or focusing on something and giving my mind a task to take away anxiety,” Jennings explains. “So now when I get nervous on the court or before a speech, I can lean on those skills.” Lumosity also provides more-budget-friendly virtual brain training, and Marbles: The Brain Store offers in-person games that challenge the mind.
Turn to social media.
We’re not talking about stalking your friends’ Facebook profiles. Pinterest works as an amazing source of inspiration for things like yummy yet healthy recipes, uplifting quotes or Jennings’ favorite: resistance exercises. “Strength training is so important,” she says. “It’s good for your bones and it’s so good for your mentality. It also helps with metabolism, so I just have fun with it.” Plus, switching up your routine not only stops your body from getting bored (read: tones you up so you feel confident), it also keeps your mind interested. Simply search for circuit or Tabata workouts or body-weight-only moves you can squeeze in at home. You can follow Jennings @kerriwjennings to see what moves she’s doing and what other mood-improving items she’s pinning.