Alex Morgan talks gender equality and staying zen under pressure

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Photo: Chobani

To say that soccer star Alex Morgan has had a crazy month would be an understatement.

Not only has she been gearing up for the Rio Olympics this August and prepping for her first game with the newly minted Orlando Pride on April 17, but she’s also rapidly found herself at the forefront of the gender equality movement. Backstory: on March 31, she and several of her U.S. National teammates filed a federal complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, arguing that they unfairly make about four times less money than the men’s team—despite bringing in about $20 million more in revenue.

“We felt like we owed it not only to ourselves to take a stand, but to our fans…especially the young girls who are watching our every move.”

While this particular combination of high-stakes happenings would have most of us clinging to our meditation pillows, Morgan is taking it all in stride. “Obviously it’s not easy to stand up for yourself and speak out about your employer,” she tells Well+Good. “But at the same time we did this together as a national team. We knew we were going to have our fans supporting us—plus, we have a voice that not a lot of women athletes have, so to be able to use that platform was important to us.”

Judging by the world’s overwhelmingly supportive response to the team’s plight, we’re clearly not the only ones feeling awe-struck by their chutzpah—and wanting to siphon off a little bit of it for ourselves.

We asked Alex Morgan how she stays calm and grounded when life throws her everything at once (like now!). Here are the four things she says bring her an instant hit of peace.

1. She relies on her tribe

Along with her husband, a fellow pro soccer player, Morgan says that her biggest sources of inspiration are her teammates. “It’s about having people around you that are as positive as you are,” she says. “[My teammates] are very busy as well, but we’re all fighting for the same thing. And ultimately we’re living our our dream of playing soccer every day… at the end of the day, busy is good!”

2. She keeps her greater purpose in mind 

The #EqualPlayEqualPay campaign isn’t just about adding more zeros to the women’s team’s bank accounts—Morgan stresses that they want to serve as an example for the women everywhere who are being discriminated against now, and in the future. “We felt like we owed it not only to ourselves [to take a stand], but to our fans… [especially] the young girls who are watching our every move,” she says. With an end goal like that, even the riskiest moves seem less scary.

3. She’s not too rigid about wellness

As a pro athlete, Morgan clearly knows her stuff when it comes to nutrition. She’s a fan of Chobani‘s non-GMO Greek yogurt, and was recently named an ambassador for the brand. But she’s also not one to bypass dessert when the mood strikes. “My husband and I like to reward ourselves with chocolate,” she says. “It gets my sweet tooth out of the way.” (Because nothing adds to your stress levels like sugar cravings.)

4. She doesn’t dwell on past upsets

Morgan’s supremely philosophical when it comes to handling disappointment. “I can’t control what’s already happened, but I can control what’s next,” she says. “As a forward, my job is to score goals, but there will be times when I’ll take 4, 5, 6 shots that don’t go to the back of the net. So for me, it’s forgetting about those bad shots and looking to the future… It’s easy to move forward knowing there can be something great ahead of you.”

Like, you know, leveling the entire playing field for working women everywhere.

Gender equality issues go beyond our paychecks—here are five things about the issue that Emma Watson wants you to know. And if you want to change the conversation, start with your workout tee

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