EP 25: Athletics, Nutrition, and Mental Health with Maria Flores

When personal struggles are overcome and leveraged for the benefit of others, it is a true victory and blessing. Joining us on the show today is Olympic gymnast Maria Ines Flores who trained at the well-known Bela Karolyi Gym alongside the likes of Mary Lou Retton back when she was a young girl at the peak of her athletic career. The conversation starts with Maria telling listeners about her life as a gymnast, highlighting her natural aptitude for sports and how her family and loved ones supported her and compromised a great deal for the sake of her promising athletic career. She talks about the strenuous training that, in retrospect, might have hampered her performance at the Olympics and when she finally decided to hang up her leotard for good. But that was the beginning of a difficult time for Maria who then struggled to fill the void that giving up gymnastics left, and how she battled to find her way forward without the passion that consumed more than six hours each day. But, years later, when her gymnast daughter also decided to quit the sport, it was as if she relived the same trauma and knew that she needed to get help to recover from the deep sense of loss that had laid dormant for a long time. After getting help from a neuro-linguistic therapist, she was finally free and able to say goodbye to gymnastics for good. Today, she helps other athletes overcome the same challenges she had, sharing her wisdom around competition, sacrifice, nutrition, balance, and more with people of all ages.   

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Get some background information about our guest and how she got started in gymnastics.
  • Hear about Maria’s sport-intensive schooldays and moving around to get the best coaching.
  • The incredible support Maria was getting from her parents, grandparents, coaches, and more.
  • Maria talks about the other sporty members of her family and her competitive children.
  • The importance of enjoying the sport and maintaining a healthy perspective on competition.
  • How training too hard for the Olympics jeopardized Maria’s performance as an athlete. 
  • Maria reflects on the sacrifices her family had to make for the sake of her athletic aspirations.
  • Why it is so important for athletes to find another hobby or interest other than their sport.
  • The difficult transition from intensive training to quitting and not knowing how to fill the void.
  • Maria shares how neuro-linguistic therapy helped her to grieve and let go of gymnastics.
  • How her body and relationship with food changed from her training days to after she quit.
  • Striking the balance between being over-restrictive and in control and completely letting go.
  • Maria’s passion for teaching and helping children, teens, and adults control their weight.
  • How she prepared herself for the work she does, including reading and doing courses. 
  • Focusing on making healthy choices rather than on diets that ignore individual needs.
  • Learn about the upcoming virtual summit for parents and the topics that will be covered.
  • Maria shares words of wisdom around the importance of mental health and a story of hope.

Tweetables:

“As competitive as we are, you have to be enjoying your sport, and if I see that my child doesn’t, they can quit that sport – that’s allowed.” — Maria Flores [0:08:37]

“We trained too hard. Looking back, I know that had I trained 15 or 20% less, I would have been a better athlete physically and suffered less mental burnout.” — Maria Flores [0:12:34]

“I really encourage athletes and parents of athletes and family members to help them find another thing simultaneously that they love. Whatever it is, a musical instrument, another hobby, because when you start to tie yourself and your entire identity around your sport, as in my case, and then it is not there, you are pretty lost.” — Maria Flores [0:19:09]

“I need to eat very often and I usually don’t have huge meals. The athletes need to eat very often; they need to do that. They are building muscle. And the growing athletes, you’ve got to work on them for three objectives: health, growth, and performance. You need to figure out the eating plan for each person.” — Maria Flores [0:48:23]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Maria Ines Flores on LinkedIn

Let’s Be Fit Today on Facebook

Let’s Be Fit Today on Instagram

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Mary Lou Retton

Simone Biles on Twitter

Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Raising Happy and Confident Children Summit

Christy Henrich Story

Sherry Burkhard

Mosaics of Mercy

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