Ingram Blog

Strong Is the New Beautiful Excerpt

Vonn is an Olympic gold medal-winning alpine ski racer and a member of the U.S. Ski Team. The most successful American skier in history, she holds four overall World Cup titles and is one of only six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing. She is also the founder of the Lindsey Vonn Foundation. Toland is a longtime health and nutrition journalist and former professional track-and-field athlete. She is currently the food and nutrition director of Prevention magazine and has appeared regularly as a weight-loss expert for Fox News Channel.



My Life is My (Strong) Body

One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever skied is Cortina, Italy. When you’re at the top of the mountain where the World Cup is held, all you can see in every direction are peaks and sky, the steep edges of the Dolomites ringing the summit view as if the valleys below don’t even exist. Up there, you are closer to the stratosphere than you are to the earth, but there the earth is too, below you and all around you, pushing up rock and jagged snowy hills that seem so unconquerable—unconquerable to everyone but you, standing there on the top of the mountain with the world laid out before you.

That is where I stood—and how I felt—the morning after I tied the all-time record for the most World Cup wins ever by a female skier. It was daybreak, and the sky had blanched to a powdery blue, with just a few sun-rimmed clouds washing through the peaks and coloring the snow below a shimmery gold. I still had to race that day and I was on the hill so early to inspect the course, but I wasn’t concerned about the competition ahead. Instead, all I could think about was what I had just accomplished—tying a world record, something I had never thought possible—and all I had endured to stand at that place at that point in time. I was immensely relieved and proud, but most of all, I felt strong, physically and mentally, like I could do anything with my body and mind that I put my heart to.

I hadn’t always felt this way, though—so strong, so unstoppable, so on top of the world in more ways than one. Over the course of my career, there had been days, weeks, even months when I felt low, unsure of myself, worried about whether I would ski again, and even worried whether I was too muscular and big to fit into some American ideal of an athlete. I never doubted my ability per se, but getting strong and fit and feeling as good about my body as possible required a journey of sorts. But standing on my skis in Cortina on January 19, 2015—the same day I would go on to not just tie but break the all-time record for most World Cup wins ever—I knew it was a journey that had changed my life and body indelibly, for the better.

I wanted to write this book to share with you my journey and give you the inspiration, tips, and tools you need to change your life and body, too.

No matter who you are, what you do for your living, or what your body looks like now, you can get stronger, leaner, healthier, and happier, just as I have.

I’m not a coach, trainer, or nutritionist, but I am an Olympic athlete who’s tried nearly every exercise and diet there is, and I know what works and what doesn’t.

What I’ve learned, too, is that there’s more than one way of exercising and eating that can make you feel good about yourself and your body—and having more than one option is a fabulous thing. While plenty of diet and fitness “experts” will recommend only one way to eat or work out to lose weight or get healthy, I find restrictions to be extremely limiting. We all have different bodies, genetics, preferences, and lifestyles, and I believe that if you want to look and feel your best, you need options that will empower you, not rules that will make exercising and healthy eating that much more difficult.

Since I was young, my life has been about my body, as I’ve spent nearly all of the past three decades managing my energy, working on my strength, eating and exercising for optimal performance, and preventing and rehabbing the injuries that are as much a part of skiing as the cold and the snow. I’m constantly assessing how I feel, how my muscles look and respond, what exactly is going on in my body, and whether I’m eating the best foods and doing the most effective workouts I can to get to the top step of the Olympic podium.

What I’ve learned along the way is that no matter what kind of body type you have, making it your goal to get strong rather than to lose a bunch of weight, reach a certain number on the scale, or simply get skinny is a healthier, more sustainable, and ultimately more effective way to change your body—and change it for good. When you make your goal to get strong, you’re setting an intention to help your body become fitter and healthier, not just smaller or thinner. You agree to try new ways of eating and exercising that you can sustain for life—not just for a few weeks or months—as you find those foods and workouts that you actually enjoy, not just the ones you eat or suffer through because you want to lose weight.

When you work to get strong, you also agree to get mentally fit, building up your confidence in and out of the gym as you feel better about yourself. You stop doing the workouts you don’t like, you stop eating too little or those foods that don’t taste good, and you stop the body shaming, as you focus on feeling good about what you eat, how you exercise, and how you look and feel. Because getting strong doesn’t mean just getting lean, but trying to find personal purpose and empowerment, too. Because when you’re strong, you too can do anything you set your mind, body, and heart to. Trust me…

I know.

Book Title: Strong is the New Beautiful
Author: Lindsey Vonn with Sarah Toland
ISBN: 9780062400581 | $27.99 HC | Dey Street Books

Cover and excerpt from STRONG IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL by Lindsey Vonn with Sarah Toland. Text copyright (c) 2016 by Lindsey Vonn with Sarah Toland. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.