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Ask an Athlete: Boxer Mikaela Mayer dishes on diet, sparring, and skin care

Mikaela Mayer boxer athlete Olympic hopeful
“People ask me all the time when I’m turning pro, as if that’s the ultimate accomplishment. For me, winning gold at the Olympics is a more prestigious accomplishment than going pro,” says Mikaela Mayer. (Photo: Frances Iacuzzi)


At 17, Mikaela Mayer left modeling and stepped into the boxing ring. Now, at 22, the Los Angeles native, who says she once lacked purpose and passion and “wasn’t on track to finish high school,” is ranked No. 1 in the world.

Mayer’s trophy case includes belts from US National Championships and The Golden Gloves, and she attended the London Olympic Games in 2012 as an alternate. (It was the first Games to feature women’s boxing.) She’s currently training to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“My passion for my sport is what fuels me. I absolutely love what I’m doing and the path that I’m on. It’s painfully challenging, but the rewards are immensely gratifying. I wake up every morning with a dream and a purpose,” says Mayer.

So, what’s the workout, diet, and skin-care regimen of a woman whose work environment is more brutal than Wall Street? We found out.

1. What’s your daily workout like? Would we be able to hack it? When I’m training for a major tournament, my days are intense. A rough day starts with an interval running workout. We run eight 400-meter sprints on a track with a jog lap in-between, and the sprints have to be under 80 seconds. Three weeks of doing this and you can out-box your opponent for days! This is on top of a two-hour boxing workout, which includes bag work, mitts, shadow boxing, footwork drills, jump rope, core work, etc. Sparring is mixed in three or four times a week. In the evening, I’m back in the gym for strength and conditioning. For the past year I’ve been doing a lot of Olympic-style lifting, and I would recommend it to everyone. It’s made me so much stronger!

Mikaela Mayer 2
Advice for women who want to workout with a trainer at a local boxing gym: “Find someone you really enjoy working with and who doesn’t let you slack!” says Mikaela Mayer. (Photo: Frances Iacuzzi)

2. How focused are you on your diet and nutrition, and what do you eat? As I develop as an athlete, I’m learning a lot about my body and how it reacts to things. Bottom line is I feel so much better when I eat clean! It was hard to maintain at first, but I when I go into training camp I prepare my food on Sunday for the entire week, and it helps when everything is ready as soon as you’re done with your workout. I eat 5-6 full meals a day.

My last strength coach owned a CrossFit gym and really pushed the Paleo diet. Although I don’t follow it to a T, I’ve cut out simple carbs and started eating a ton of animal protein. Fish, steak, chicken, sausage, ground beef, etc. My favorite complex carb would have to be a sweet potato. They’re like candy to me, yet super healthy! I will cook about 12 of them at at a time, so I can just warm them up throughout the week.

I also eat lots of salads and veggies. Avocados are my favorite fat, and I can pretty much eat them with everything. I’ll usually just put a whole avocado on top of my steak, ground beef, or whatever the meat is I’m eating. But, like everyone, I do indulge every now and then. I love ice cream!

3. How do you take care of your skin, that is, besides icing it! This is a great question because I must put on anti-wrinkle cream three times a day. Just reinforcing my motto—”look good, feel good, do good!” I try to keep my hair healthy, skin moisturized, and nails polished—I take pride in my body. I’m currently using a great serum and moisturizer from Caudalie. —Melisse Gelula

For more information, connect with Mikaela on Facebook and Twitter