We are so happy we got the chance to catch up with Mallory Weggemann, Paralympic swimmer, who spoke to HollywoodLife exclusively about all things Olympics, Rio, her injury, and all of her amazing health and fitness tips. Mallory is superwoman and her advice is so inspirational, it might make you cry.
Mallory Weggemann, 27, is a Paralympic swimmer, who unfortunately, had a tragic spinal cord injury and she explained exactly how it happened. “On January 21, 2008, I went in to receive what was to be my 3rd and final epidural injection to help treat back pain that I had been battling, unfortunately I walked into the clinic that day and I never walked out. Just two months shy from my 19th birthday I was trying to navigate through all the uncertainties that my injury brought, while trying to still find a way to move forward with my life. I went to the clinic that morning planning on returning home later that afternoon and head back to class the following morning, unfortunately, I returned home nearly 6 weeks later completely bound to a wheelchair and learning to live life as a spinal cord injury.”
It breaks our heart to pieces that this tragedy had to occur to Mallory, but she explained how she deals with the unfortunate situation. “When I am in the pool swimming I allow myself to let go of all the noise that is around me, whether it is a good or bad day, none of that matters when I am in the pool and looking down at that black line. When I am in the water I am thinking about how my body feels in the water, how to make myself more efficient with each stoke, how the water feels, when I am in the water my thoughts, my fears, my uncertainties, my worries… they all vanish, it is just me, the water and the black line. It is one of the most peaceful places on this earth for me, the pool is my sanctuary. It is where I find strength, healing, hope… it is the one place that has been a constant in my life amongst all the adversities life has brought, it is the water that brings me back to life each time.”
Mallory is such a focused athlete, and she works out in other ways, besides the pool. “I lift in the weight room with my personal trainers, the dry-land training I do in the weight room plays a big role in my performance in the pool. Given my paralysis we focus all of our training my core and upper body, working shoulder strength and mobility, core stabilizing and strength. We get creative in the weight room and I really believe that has built in a whole new level of strength for me that ties directly into my swimming in the pool.”
As for Mallory’s everyday diet and nutrition plan, “My daily diet is fairly healthy. In the mornings I will either have a smoothie, yogurt bowl with fruit, seeds and honey, somedays I make eggs, it depends on my training day, some days it is a two-part breakfast as I will drink a shake throughout my workout for extra energy. By the time we get to lunch, I have most likely finished my swimming and weights and my body is ready to re fuel. For lunch I will do a shake and salad with grilled chicken, or some days I do a grilled chicken sandwich with a side salad or some form of protein and brown rice with veggies. I typically have an afternoon snack, which again varies, maybe some fruit or hummus and veggies. Then dinner I try to fuel myself with a good carb source, either brown rice, brown rice noodles or sweet potatoes and then some form of protein, most frequently chicken and veggies. Most days I have a little sweet to end the day as I love chocolate, here I will treat myself with a few Hershey’s nuggets or kisses!” Hershey’s is actually an official sponsor of the games — watch this inspirational video they did with Mallory!
Mallory left us with a few final notes about the advice she has for kids or adults with a disability who want to be athletes. “You can do anything you set your mind to! The other day while I was training a young boy walked by and said to his mom, “Mom you can still swim even if you are in a wheelchair?” My favorite part of this was knowing that I am part of a movement, the Paralympic movement, that is constantly breaking down barriers of what our society thinks is possible for those who live with “disability.” That young boy was exposed to the idea that we ALL are capable of whatever we set our mind to, next time he sees someone that maybe looks a little “different” I hope he remembers seeing my chair sitting by the side of the pool and seeing me swimming back and forth. So for individuals with disabilities who want to be athletes I say go for it! Break the mold our society has, prove that disability doesn’t mean you are physically incapable, prove that you can do whatever you set your mind to and allow yourself to excel!”
How amazing is that? We are so inspired and motivated by Mallory and the fact that she has pushed herself to such incredible limits is so unbelievably amazing. What do you guys think of Mallory’s advice? Are you as moved by her advice as we are?