Olympic gold medalist, author, Glamour Woman of the Year, and all-around sweetheart: Gabby Douglas is just about the most fantastico of ladies. We sat down with the 17-year-old (yep, go ahead and read that age again) to talk about juggling book-writing, training, touring, staying healthy, and keeping calm—all with a gold medal around her neck!
GLAMOUR: So what has life been like for you since the Olympics?
GABBY DOUGLAS: My life has definitely been crazy.... It’s like plane, plane, planes. After the Olympics it was go, go, go, and then I did the Kellogg’s tour where the Fierce Five and the other athletes toured together.
GLAMOUR: Do you and the Fierce Five still keep in touch? What’s that relationship like?
GABBY DOUGLAS: Yeah! Aly [Raisman] was on Dancing With the Stars [this week] and we all group-messaged “Good luck, Aly!” We group-message all the time, like “Hey what are you doing? I’m here, want to meet up?” The relationships at the Olympics were like friendships, but we were also competing against each other. It was fine for me and fine for the rest of the girls because we’re like a team and we mesh together, like sisters. We supported each other throughout. We went to camps with each other. We even grew up competing against one another before we knew each other.
GLAMOUR : Speaking of being on TV post-Olympics, you got to perform with Alicia Keys. How was that?
GABBY DOUGLAS: It was fun! A lot of people tweeted me and they said “You’re in ‘Girl on Fire’ with Alicia Keys and Nicki Minaj,” and I was like “No, I’m not.” And it just blew up.
GLAMOUR : People on Twitter knew before you?
GABBY DOUGLAS: Yeah! I didn’t really know, and then they reached out and said “Can Gabby perform onstage when Alicia and Nicki Minaj are singing?” and I was like “Yeah, sure!”
GLAMOUR: That’s awesome. So we have to ask, what was more nerve-wracking for you: getting ready to do the Olympics and do your routines, or going onstage with Nicki Minaj?
GABBY DOUGLAS: It’s a different kind of atmosphere, going to the Olympics and competing for USA, and then going onstage… I think the Olympics was more nerve-racking!
GLAMOUR: How do you deal with that kind of stress? You obviously have lots of people expecting big things from you. What stops you from freaking out?
GABBY DOUGLAS: Well, you can’t worry about who’s watching and “What if I mess up?” because if you do, you’ll mess up. My coaches and my support system—like my family and my host family—they just give me encouraging words, and I meditate on those. Coach [Liang] Chow has me do pressure sets, which means everyone in the gym comes and watches me and cheers really loud, so when I go to the competition, I’m used to that atmosphere. At the competition, Chow was like “Just perform, and have fun. Pretend like your teammates are right there judging you. You’re fine. Just take one of the perfect routines you’ve done in training and move it onto the competition floor. Go out there and have fun.”
GLAMOUR: You obviously have a crazy schedule between training, touring, and competing. What are your tips for healthy eating or staying fit on the go?
GABBY DOUGLAS: When I’m on the go-go-go, and there’s a lot of fast-food restaurants, it’s hard, but what’s very handy for me is that I carry a healthy snack in my bag and when I get hungry I just snack on that. I love Kellogg’s Crisp or snap peas, or Yopa! just came out with a new Greek yogurt that’s really portable. Whatever healthy stuff you like, just bring those on the road with you. I like Yopa! because you never get bored with it—it comes in a bunch of flavors, and then you can throw the granola into it.
GLAMOUR: So pack snacks ahead of time?
GABBY DOUGLAS: Yeah. We had breaks in the gym because we were practicing for so long, so it was like “OK, snack time!” We would be in there for four hours, and then I would get really hungry. It’s funny, because I was turning other people onto it—they’d be like “What’s that?” And I’d be like “It’s Greek yogurt!” They’d try it, and then I’d see everyone in the gym has them.
GLAMOUR: What do you struggle with when eat healthy food and avoid junk?
GABBY DOUGLAS: At first I was like “No, I don’t like vegetables.” But I tried them with balsamic vinaigrette, just dipping it in, and I loved them! Same with hummus with pretzels. Or like I was obsessed with eating blueberries out of the package, so why not make them even healthier and put them in Greek yogurt? I had to do a little bit at a time...baby steps!
GLAMOUR: Let's talk about the process for your book, Grace, Gold, Glory. What was it like to share your story in such a major way?
GABBY DOUGLAS: The whole process of writing Grace, Gold, Glory was really fun. I wrote it on the Kellogg’s tour with Michelle. She was amazing, and we had fun. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together, just talking, We were going back into my childhood memories and digging them up with my siblings and my family. I’ve had a lot of hardships. I wrote it because a lot of people wanted to know my story and there’s also a lot of incorrect information out there. What better way than to put it in my own words?
GLAMOUR: And did we hear right? You have a new book coming out?
GABBY DOUGLAS: It’s call Raising the Bar, and it’ll be out in April. It’s about what I’m doing now, like the after-the-Olympics whirlwind.
GLAMOUR: What's in the pipeline for you? Your career is just getting started—is there anything you're working toward in the next five or 10 years?
GABBY DOUGLAS: I definitely want to attend Rio 2016 and other Olympics—I’m sure that will be really exciting. But...I got bit by the acting bug! What also helped was doing a cameo in the Vampire Diaries. I got my feet a little wet. It was just like, wow, I want to do it. I love it.
GLAMOUR: So you’re going to be a gold-medal gymnast, a best-selling author, and an award-winning actress?
GABBY DOUGLAS: The sky’s the limit!
So, do you love Gabby—and her snack suggestions—as much as we do? (And, um, we're kind of stoked to try Yopa!.)
—Jackie Pober and Caitlin Van Horn