SALT LAKE CITY — Preparing for the Olympics takes an enormous amount of training and dedication. Take away the trainers and dietitians, and the task to stay healthy can become quite a challenge.
Retired Olympian Bill Schuffenhauer knows what it takes to be an Olympic athlete. In the 2002 Winter Games here in Salt Lake City, his team took home the silver medal for bobsled, and getting in tip-top shape meant having an entire team comprised of coaches, trainers and nutritionists available around the clock.
“I truly had to live my sport 24/7, nonstop. There’s not an option to not do that if you want to be successful,” Schuffenhauer said.
But after competing in the Olympics, Schuffenhauer had a nearly 40-pound weight gain, and he quickly realized it took a lot of work to stay healthy on his own.
“It wasn’t until somebody took a picture of me and said, ‘Wow, you don’t look anything like you used to,’ ” Schuffenhauer said.
To get back on track, Schuffenhauer ate small meals consistently throughout the day as opposed to eating three big meals, and made sure he ate a good breakfast.
“I’m not the biggest morning person in the world,” Schuffenhauer said. “So if I can get up and get a good breakfast, then it really helps me by the time I get into the office, and I have some energy. I can focus and be ready for the day.”
Teaching himself to live a healthy lifestyle was an unexpected challenge, even for a finely tuned Olympic athlete.
“Now in the transition of working out to stay healthy, it’s quite a bit different,” Schuffenhauer said. “It’s definitely quite a bit different now, so it’s not quite as intense.”
Schuffenhauer stays in shape by doing a variety of workouts, including cardio and weight training. But this time he has different goals in mind.
“I have to just take a big step back and say, ‘OK, your’e not competing for the Olympics, you’re just working out to stay healthy and fit.’ So now if I can only do 15 minutes of cardio, I don’t feel bad. At least I’ve actually gotten to the gym,” Schuffenhauer said.
But as he continued to eat well and exercise, he not only noticed a physical change, he noticed a change in confidence as well.
“The healthier I was, the more confident I felt about myself just as an individual.”