Photo courtesy of Crystal Manning
U.S.A. Women’s Track and Field athlete Crystal Manning knows what it takes to start new health habits and make a lifestyle change.
Manning is currently ranked first in the nation and 12th in the world in triple jump, and she is training for the Olympic trials in June. She maintains a diet of fresh veggies and protein, and she trains three to four times a day depending on the week.
However, Manning hasn’t always followed a strict nutrition plan. In fact, she used to eat whatever she wanted, from fried chicken to oatmeal cream pies. One day, her coach at the University of Kansas threw away all her snacks and Manning realized it was time to free herself of her bad habits.
“When you want to change, you will do something to change,” she said.
Manning says the changes she made have benefited her immensely. She feels strong and has seen profound results in her athletics. She jumped 38.5-inches in vertical testing this year, a 6.5-inch increase from last year.
Manning’s road to success as a track and field athlete began when she was a freshman in high school in Dallas, Texas. She then went on to the University of Kansas and placed 8th overall in the Olympic trials her junior year. She says her mom helped her most to get to where she is today.
Manning shared her new lifestyle with her mom, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Manning told her mom what foods to eat and how to exercise and within a year her mom went from a size 10 to a size 3.
Manning firmly believes in the saying, “You will change when the pain to remain the same hurts more than the pain to change.” She says it gave her inspiration to commit to improving her habits.
Manning said women who start making health-conscious decisions and eating like she does will see results like her mom did. She advised to eat as little bread and sugar as possible and to eat sweet health bars, such as Luna and Odwalla bars, in place of desserts.
Manning also said it is critical for women to get enough sleep. “Sleep is the best recovery,” she said. Manning sleeps 12-13 hours before events.
Manning recognized that making these changes is far from easy.