Dame Kelly Holmes: “The Ups and Downs Are Worth The Fight”

The double Olympic champion chats mindsets, me-time and dealing with adversity

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

“I always wake up with [what I call] PAT, which means positive attitude today. Recently, I’ve been doing live abs and core sessions on my Instagram, so that’s been just as motivational for me as much as it has for everybody following along.”

As you’ve got older, how has your perspective on fitness changed?

“I actually hate the thought of ageing, but I would say I’m generally a lot fitter this past year than I’ve been since retiring from full time athletics. Now, I view fitness as something to help prevent problems later on in life, as it’s important to keep your bones, muscles and joints in check.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“I would probably say to believe in yourself a bit more and not worry as much about the outcomes and if people thought you could or couldn’t. Plus, going through all the ups and downs is worth the fight in the end. I was the kid that was always outside the classroom too, so I’d say definitely listen more in school!”

There are so many highlights from your competitive career. Did you ever worry if the rest of your life would live up to that time?

“Yes. I started to think ‘what other big goals am I going to have?’, but sometimes it’s not about that and there ends up being lots of different interests that come along. Coming to terms with that was a big deal, as I had to change my mindset to what success means to me.”

What do you eat in a day?

“I’m a pescatarian, so I enjoy high-protein meals, such as fish or an egg white omelette. I’m quite a grazer, so I like to have things like cheese, grapes, rice crackers and nuts. I’m also a big believer in the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric, so I have that in tea and capsules.”

You’ve been really open and honest about your experience with mental health. How do you deal with adversity now?

“I had to deal with bouts of depression and everything that comes with having a big breakdown, and then my mum passed away. I think the last time I self-harmed was when I realised it wasn’t helping me and it certainly wasn’t going to bring her back. So, my advice is to take control by talking to your friends, exercising, doing something you enjoy, and changing it around to helping yourself.”

What would you say the biggest misjudgement people make about you?

“I think I’ve definitely connected with more people during [lockdown], so they’re seeing my personality more – I’m actually a bit mad! I love a good laugh and when I’m doing my live sessions on Instagram, it’s more personal and people start to see a different side to you. When you win two gold medals, a separation forms to make you seem like you’re different to other people; like you’re untouchable, but I’ll always try to push people to their absolute best in a way that makes them feel good and empowered.”

Follow Kelly on @damekellyholmes (Twitter and Instagram), @militaryinmotion and @damekellyholmestrust

Health & Wellbeing