Four top athletes share their winning secrets to healthy eating.

Mary Lou Retton

In 1984, gymnast Mary Lou Retton brought home five Olympic medals from the Summer Olympic Games—including the All Around Gold Medal, a first for an American woman. Now 40, this mother of four girls (ages 6, 8, 11 and 13) “eats just to be healthy.”

Q: Describe your exercise routine.
A: I do 45 minutes of cardio—the elliptical is my favorite—then 30 minutes of weights.

Q: How many calories would you say you consume in a day?
A: You know, I don’t count calories. I hate those charts because, at 4'9", I should probably weigh 37 pounds. I don’t weigh myself either. I go by my clothes, how they fit and feel and what I look like in the mirror. I hate to get targeted on a number, especially with four girls. We don’t use the words ‘skinny’ or ‘thin’ in the house. We use the words ‘healthy,’ ‘muscular’ and ‘strong’ and we discuss healthy eating.

Q: Favorite power breakfast?
A: Egg whites. If I eat protein, it holds me a little longer—egg whites and a whole-wheat bagel or toast hold me until lunch. And of course Wheaties. The breakfast of champions!

Q: What’s your typical dinner?
A: I really try to prepare balanced meals. We’ll do a lean piece of protein, a vegetable and a starch. I use a lot of EatingWell recipes; Poached Salmon with Creamy Piccata Sauce and Grilled Chicken Tenders with Cilantro Pesto are two of our favorites. But pasta is my staple food. I’m Italian and, growing up, every Sunday after church the whole, big, large, loud family would get together for a big pasta dinner. Now, I try to do whole-wheat pasta. There are some that look white now so I trick my kids.

Q: Best piece of nutrition advice you’ve ever gotten?
A: From my coach, Bela Karolyi: “Eat small portions, and everything in moderation.”

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner