If you ever want to learn a thing or two about discipline, talk to an Olympian. Carmelita Jeter, a gold medalist, and world-renowned sprinter has been running professionally for more than 10 years, and in that time, she’s trained her body to be a powerful machine. So when I had the chance to interview her, I assumed she was going to be serious. You know, one of those play no games, “Track is life” kind of people. But in reality, the 36-year-old Los Angeles native was bubbly, down to earth, and confessed to an addiction of sorts to candy that I could absolutely relate to. Jelly Bellies and cupcakes with sprinkles to be specific. But with goals to reach and medals to grab this summer in Rio, Jeter knows how to dial it back on unhealthy foods while also allowing herself to indulge from time to time, an ability she explained in detail to me.
So we talked to her about what a week in the life is like for her regarding training for the XXXI Olympiad (her second), what an Olympian is allowed to eat, the newfound #StrongIsBeautiful movement, and more. And we learned a lot, including that she prefers stiletto pumps to her track shoes. Read more about the sprinter and become a fan–otherwise known as a member of #TeamJet.
MadameNoire: What does a week of training for the Olympics look like?
Carmelita Jeter: So Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, I’m in the weight room from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Then I drive to UCLA, which is where I train at. We start at 9 a.m., and I’m done around 11:30, 11:45 a.m. After that, I usually go this cryo machine, cryotherapy, and it’s basically like getting into a freezer. I get in it for two minutes, and it rejuvenates my body and helps my muscles relax. It’s basically taking an ice bath without the water. Then I head home to eat my lunch, take a shower and relax. My day is pretty much over at 12:30 p.m. So I’m up at 6 and done at 12:30, but it’s an intense six hours.
MN: Your abs are sick! What is your regimen, aside from sprinting and weight training, to stay in shape?
Jeter: I started doing pilates. I go to Platinum Pilates in Venice Beach. And Ky Evans is actually on that new show, Strong and I’m with him every Tuesday night at 8:30. He’s insane! He’s just a monster with the Pilates, and that’s really why my abs look the way they do.
MN: What kind of meal plan do you have to stick to so you can stay in tip-top shape?
Jeter: I am 36. So when you pass 33-ish, your body starts changing a little bit. I can easily pack on too much butt and thighs. So what I have to do is I have to change my food, so I’m eating all organic. I’m with NutriFit. And NutriFit brings my meals to me in the morning: They’ll bring me breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and a soup or salad with my dinner. And a dessert only twice a week. And this is how I stay lean. Because I love snacks and sweets. Oh my gosh, I love sweets. I love Jelly Bellies, I can’t get enough of candy, cupcakes with sprinkles. So I can only get one day to be guilty of eating what I like. And it can’t even be the whole day. It can only be one meal so I usually just do it on Sundays because I don’t train on Sundays so I feel like I can enjoy it more. So Monday through Saturday I eat very well. And then Sunday I kind of trick it up a little bit. Say, if I have a breakfast I really want, then the rest of the day I have to stay in the range of how I normally eat.
MN: I always wondered how professional athletes push themselves not to overindulge because it’s so hard for the rest of us.
Jeter: It’s about knowing what you want. If you really want to be good, you have to stick to the script. I know I can’t run well at a certain weight, so that’s what I keep in my head: “You know you can’t run if you’re too big.” So I have to tell myself these things because I like Chicago Style popcorn, that’s my go-to. I love sweets! I put sweets in their own category; they’re called my snacks. I just have to remind myself of what I want.
MN: You’ve always been very strong and curvy. What do you think of this burgeoning #StrongIsBeautiful movement?
Jeter: I think it’s about time. When I first hopped on the scene and I was running fast, I was very muscular. And it turned some people off per se. It always caused accusations with people saying, ‘”She’s so big, she’s so buff, she’s so strong, it’s not soft enough.” They want you to play this soft role, but that was never me. So I’m glad to see it’s embraced to be strong, and more women are doing CrossFit, and more women are like, “I’m going to the gym, I’m about to lift weights.” I love that women just want to be strong, not just mentally but also physically. And Serena Williams, her body is freaking amazing! And she’s showing with just her records and wins that this is what strong looks like. I love that it’s more embraced. It should be embraced. Run like a girl. Throw like a girl. Catch like a girl. Be buff like a girl. It’s exciting to see that it’s more of a movement now to be strong and to be curvy. Back in the day, nobody wanted a big butt. But now, all of a sudden, you turn around, and somebody has a big butt, and you’re like, “Where you get that from?” [laughs]
It’s definitely inspiring to see how the movement to be strong is relating to women, and that trickles down to young girls. They mimic everything we do. If we’re getting buff and strong and winning medals and not fitting into the stereotype of being a size 0 and very slim, then that shows them also that it’s okay to look like this. There are some girls who are just naturally muscular. They can’t help it. It’s in their genetics. It’s okay! It’s okay to be muscular. It’s okay to be buff.
MN: How does your training schedule, events, and travels impact your personal life?
Jeter: Your personal life is pretty much what you make it. I wouldn’t say it hinders it, but I’m definitely focused on what I want. Just like any businesswoman, I think of myself in the same way. I want to get to a certain level, and my determination is for me to get there. My personal life is probably not exactly what I would like it to be, and in my mom’s eyes, I should be married with three kids. But in my eyes, right now, it’s just not the time.
MN: I also heard that you’re quite the fashionista! What’s your go-to outfit when you’re off the track?
Jeter: My No. 1 go-to, when I’m not training, is a crisp white V-neck, some jeans, some heels and a blazer. That’s my go-to all day, every day. When you run so much, and you look a certain way all the time, you want to look different when you’re not running. When I’m not running I want to throw on some seven inches, you know? I want my jeans to fit right. I want my hair on point. I want to play a different role. I’m always the athlete in tights and running shoes, but when I want to get dressed up, I want to show out!
Follow Jeter on Twitter at @CarmelitaJeter and be sure to root for her come August!