hilary phelps


As I hope you know by now, I am all about the empowerment of women. We hear so much about what we women go through on a daily basis – juggling work and our personal lives – that I feel it’s so important to really support and encourage each other. You never know what someone else is going through until you ask them! I’ve made a point to start asking women around me how they are doing and what’s going on in their lives and really taking the time to listen. And I feel so fortunate that thanks to Natura Culina products I get to meet and talk to amazing women everyday! I am constantly inspired by you all and I now get the opportunity to share some of these conversations with you. I am so excited to introduce all my beauties to Hilary Phelps. She is an incredible athlete and a genuinely fun, driven woman who manages a crazy schedule with grace and poise. I wanted to find out some of her secrets to life and share them with you. Check out her healthy lifestyle blog at www.hilaryphelps.com! In the meantime, here she is!

Q. Your family is obviously very athletic. Where does this come from? Who were the influences?

A. I started swimming when I was 7 years old, because I wanted a “big trophy” from our summer league swim meet. We lived an hour from the pool, which meant my parents were doing a lot of driving. My sister and brother followed shortly after and the rest is history. All three of us are highly competitive and athletic. I received a full scholarship to the University of Richmond (Division I swimming program) and my sister was ranked 3rd in the world in the 200 butterfly when she was 14. Whitney placed 5th at the 1996 Olympic Trials in the 200 butterfly and was recently the first woman to cross the finish line in the Tough Mudder race. And, well, Michael has us all beat as the greatest swimmer of all time, and in my opinion, the greatest athlete in history. Let’s just say everything from Scrabble to volleyball gets pretty intense between the siblings! Our dad was a star football player who was invited to NFL camps and our mom competed in the high jump. While neither of them swam competitively, the athletic gene came honestly!

Q. Let’s talk about Ironman. What is Ironman about?

A. The Ironman is an ultra-triathlon that totals 140.6 miles – 2.4 mile swim, 112-bike and a 26.2 run, a full marathon, on the end. The race begins at 7am and each competitor has 17 hours in which to finish the race. The race also has cut off times for each leg. For example, if you don’t finish the swim in a certain amount of time, you are not allowed to go on to the bike portion of the race. With my strong swimming background, I was third out of the water for women, but fell WAY off that lead during the bike portion. My goal was to complete the race and finish under the 17 hour cut off. I came across the finish line a few minutes after 14 hours.

hilary phelps ironmanQ. When, where and was it always one of your goals to participate? Was it emotionally and physically difficult? What did you do to overcome? Do you plan another one?

A. The race was in Lake Placid, NY in 2010. No. I thought the Ironman race was “just for boys” but the opportunity presented itself and I took it. I had been out of swimming competition for 10 years, didn’t own a bike and hadn’t run more than 5-miles at one time before registering for the race. You could say I really jumped into it with both feet! The training was 8 months long but in hindsight I should have given myself more time. I spent a lot of time at the physical therapist and getting massage to help with training!

Obviously, the physical challenge of the Ironman was intense, but it doesn’t compare to the emotional and mental challenges that come up during the race. My mind was telling me to quit during the marathon portion, my body was so tired and I had been moving non-stop for 11 hours at this point. I talked to myself a lot during that race, told myself to smile — that would make everything better, and told myself that when I finished I would never have to run another mile again in my entire life. Clearly, that didn’t last, as I’ve run several other races since then, but it helped give me perspective. I also thought about a good friend who has had over 100 brain surgeries and was there to support me during the race. She’s one of the toughest people I know and thinking about her tenacity helped me to push through and finish.

I would do another one, but not for awhile. Training for an Ironman takes a lot of time and for eight months, I lived, breathed and thought about Ironman.

Q. On your website {www.HilaryPhelps.com} you talk frequently about goals. What, in your experience, is the best way to make and keep goals? What do you do when you lose track of your goals and how do you get back to them – do you make a lists, charts….?

A. Writing down my goals is the best way for me to keep track of them. A time line is also important. I live and die by a big calendar on my desk as well as a planner that I keep in my bag. I write down my workouts, project deadlines and milestones that I need to hit in order to achieve my goal. If I find the time line isn’t obtainable, I restructure and re-evaluate. Goals aren’t about perfection. What I mean by that is this: I’m not going to reach every goal, on every date and through the same process each and every time. For me, it’s about being flexible, patient and doing the best that I can do, each day.

Q. Tell me a little about your skincare regime. As an athlete, what ingredients do you look for and what is most important when taking care of your skin?

A. I wash my face and spray rosewater twice a day. I have a fondness for anything rose or lavender scented. I like natural ingredients in my skincare, although I do wear sunscreen religiously. I am that woman wearing a big hat and sitting under an umbrella on the beach, while covered in sunscreen.

Q. Do you have a favorite Natura Culina product and why is it your favorite.

A. Cherish Shea Butter and Cherish Perfume and the Rosewater Nourishing Facial Mist. The smell is calming, especially when I travel and the Shea Butter is creamy and feels great on my skin, in both the summer heat and the cold, dry of winter

Q. Let’s talk about food and skin. Do you think that what we put in our bodies is just as important as what we put on? Do you look at ingredients labels when shopping for skincare products?

A. 100%. I truly believe that the food I put into my body has a direct impact on my overall health, which includes my skin. Water is important for body function and skin health. I find that the better I eat, the better I feel and the better my skin looks.

Q. If we were to find you at a local farmers market, what would we find in your basket?

A. Ohh. I love farmers markets! It really depends on the season but right now you would find apples, carrots, local eggs, homemade local yogurt, kale, herbs and a fresh loaf of bread.

Q. When you find a minute, an hour, a day, all to yourself, what do you do?

A. That’s a tough question because I spend a lot of time with other people. My family lives close by and I have a niece and nephew that I adore so I tend to spend a lot of time with them. But, I just started Season 1 of “House of Cards” and have been catching at least one episode a day, usually before bed. I also really like to read and just finished my friend’s book called “The Price of Inheritance.” Farmers market, yoga, massage, binge watching Law & Order: SVU and nap would all be “musts” if I had the whole day to myself.

Q. What words of advice or inspirational quote would you pass on young girls today.

A. I think this quote by Dr. Seuss sums it up: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”

It’s taken me a long time to truly feel comfortable in my skin and at peace with being [alone] with myself (as opposed to with others all the time). Looking back, I wish I had the courage to just be me and not care what other[s] think or said. Although I know that’s definitely harder to take action upon than it is to simply say.

Another one is “Be the change you [wish] to see in the world” by Gandhi. Often when I’m irritated or in a bad mood, it helps to look at myself and ask “what can I change in this situation to make it better.” Sometimes it’s as simple as a change in perspective or a different way of looking at something and sometimes it’s heading out for a walk to clear my head. Either way, change begins with me.

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