At only 23, Massachusetts's own Aly Raisman has already had an accomplished career: Olympic gold medalist, captain of two U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics teams, and even a fourth-place finish on ABC's Dancing With The Stars. Now she can add "author" to the list, with the recent publication of her autobiography Fierce, which details her childhood and gymnastics career, and shares critical life lessons with young readers.
1. How did the idea to write a book come about? How did you find time to write it, given your workload and professional obligations? I have always wanted to write a book, and ever since I was a kid I kept a journal. My mom joked with me that maybe one day I would write a book. I spent months and months writing the book. It was a very long process, and at times empowering, but other times emotionally draining. The book is very honest, and I am so proud of it! 2. The subtitle of the book is "How Competing For Myself Changed Everything." When did you make that mental shift, and what difference did it make in your life? Before the 2016 Olympics, I felt a shift where I learned that there are more important things to life than winning. I realized that I was more than just a gymnast and that winning isn't everything. What is most important is being kind, working hard, being yourself, not comparing yourself to others, and being the best version of yourself. My brother Brett gave me great advice: You can only control what you can control, no more or no less, just do the best you can do. 3. You're a role model for many. What is something about yourself that would surprise your fans? Anytime I can get away from my phone, I make sure to not be on it. I feel that social media can stress me out at times. It is a great platform to connect with fans and learn more about things one is passionate about, but it can definitely take over our lives! I have learned that finding a balance is so important. 4. As someone who has gone from "mommy & me" classes to the Olympics, what is your advice for parents of gymnasts, both elite and recreational? Don't push your kids. Let your kids decide what their passions are. Coaches can push, parents should support! 5. You're a major advocate for body positivity. What is the most important message you want to impart to young women and men about their bodies? Look in the mirror and pick out things you love about yourself. Do not fall into the trap of picking yourself apart. Remember that your insecurities are what make you unique and different from others. If we were all the same and had "perfect" bodies, we would be so boring! Also, women do not have to be modest to be respected. I believe we are all entitled to wear what makes us feel confident and comfortable in our own skin. 6. How can young athletes best balance school, home, their sport, and friends? Always do school work right away, don't procrastinate. If a teacher gives you a week to write an essay, start it that night and space out your week so you don't leave it all till the last minute! That way you can put your best effort forward. Balance time with your family and friends, but also balance time for yourself. Me time is so important. Take a walk outside, take a nice hot bath, do breathing exercises, read a book, draw -- whatever it is, find something relaxing! 7. What do you like to do in your spare time? You've traveled around the world: What's your favorite place to visit? I love Australia. I am going back in February, and I can't wait! I love putting my phone away and being in the moment with family and friends. 8. You've performed solo on perhaps the most high-profile, worldwide stage possible. Did you battle nerves? How can anyone -- from a student giving a presentation in front of a class, to an athlete competing at a meet -- manage them and give it their all? I would say preparation is key. Work as hard as you can, give it your all, so by the time the day comes you feel prepared and confident. That way you can look back no matter what happens with no regrets.