Olympic Gold Gymnast Shannon Miller touched on methods of success and post-retirement struggles at Lufkin's 12th Annual Women in Red luncheon.

Some of you may recall watching, perhaps with fingers crossed in anticipation as I did, when then teenage gymnast Shannon Miller stepped on that balance beam to perform for the USA in an effort to win gold for her country; a goal she'd held close for many years; a goal many told her she'd be unable to reach.

At one point, I was told I was too young, too old, not strong enough, too short, too tall... If you listen to everyone else, you will never win," Miller recalls

"This year marks the 20th anniversary since Shannon Miller led the 'Magnificent Seven'  to the U.S. Women's first ever team gold and first time for any American gymnast to capture gold on the balance beam," Jennifer Stevens, Director of Marketing for Woodland Heights Medical Center, informed the vast sea of  'Women in Red' at Pitser Garrison Civic Center.

Though not always an easy sacrifice, Miller recalled how she needed to give up many Saturday morning cartoons and other activities American children often indulge in to be free to pursue her dreams.

Competing in the Olympics as merely a child, Miller remains the single most decorated gymnast in American history, winning gold for the USA, only to find herself with a completed career and retired by the age of 19.

Sounds pretty awesome, right?! Well yes, most definitely; but what then?

Miller said she actually felt lost after leaving the challenging world she had thrived in at such a tender age.

"Gymnastics had always been my safety net, I had very specific goals and every single moment was planned out days, weeks and even months ahead, and then all of a sudden it stopped.

Surprisingly, Miller admitted she was still fairly shy at that time of her life. She tried out a few college classes and she ate - a lot, she said; eating herself up four pants sizes in a short time.

I had been used to burning so many more calories, so I had to start portion control. And I joined a gym. It felt so good to move my body again. I regained some confidence and took on some new skills, she continued. "I realized I was more than a gymnast. It would always be a part of me, but I was so much more. I was no longer training for Olympic Gold,  I was training for life and that's a whole lot more important."

"Women's Health became extremely important to me." If you're not healthy, you cannot be there for all those who depend on you," she added.

Some of the recommendations Miller recommended each of us can do included building a guilt-free rest or break time into one's day,  explaining this would make both us and our children happier. She issued a challenge to those attending that we each make one new goal towards improvement of our health; whether it be walking or adding an extra hour of sleep.

Our children need to see that we care for others, but they also need to see that we take care of ourselves," Miller said.

 

You dare to thrive; you do it now. Own your life and make sure you make your health a priority."

Miller's autobiography "It's Not About Perfect was also available for purchase.

CEO of Woodland Heights Kyle Swift opened the luncheon meeting and included some startling statistics such as the fact that currently "one in three women die from heart problems. That is one per minute."

Other luncheon activities included door prizes;  'Art with Heart' with a winner in each division; and the Fifth annual 'Poetry with a Purpose' contest in which Lufkin Middle School student Halley Hall won 1st place for a poem she wrote about her mom entitled "Heart of Gold"; Jordan Armstrong of Temple Intermediate won 2nd place; and Abigail Galvan of Temple Intermediate won 3rd place.