08/03/2012 08:06 am ET Updated Aug 03, 2012

Amy Acuff, Olympic Jumper, Talks Post-Baby Training

Welcome to our "Like An Olympian" series. During the 2012 London Olympics, HuffPost Healthy Living will take a look at lifestyle and fitness lessons from competitors, coaches and former Olympians alike. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Olympic jumper Amy Acuff, who will join the U.S. Track Team in London.

How does your diet change when you are training? What are the major considerations you have in terms of balancing protein, fat and carb intake?

I need a lot of protein to repair my muscles after jumping. I usually have a blueberry smoothie after practice followed by chicken or beef. I make sure to get plenty of good fats from avocados, nuts and fish oil.

What's your favorite pre-training snack?

I usually have eggs and oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and then I head out to train.

What are your top tips for sleeping well during training and during competition?

I try to avoid intense mental activities or bright lights a few hours prior to going to sleep. I find that even the light from the computer screen can be disruptive right before bed.

How do you calm your nerves?

I'm very good at this! Just centering my energy when I use deep breathing techniques.

What tricks from your training do you think could apply to a non-athlete?

I think a non-athlete could benefit from learning to control adrenaline and stress by using deep breathing and visualization.

If you could only do one workout for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Sprinting, because it gets the job done quickly.

What made you decide to come out of retirement? Do you have different nutritional or training needs now than you did earlier in career? If so, what are they?

I didn't do anything for about a year after I had my daughter. Waking up every two hours at night to feed her didn't leave me feeling the urge to work out of my day. I started working out for general fitness and discovered that I had lost as much as I thought I had. As I gradually ramped things up I became curious about competing again and it just evolved from there.

I've been blessed with a very rapid metabolism. I've always had to snack between meals and will become ravenously hungry every three hours. Major irritability will ensue if I do not eat something. It also took me a long time to realize just how much protein I had to consume to keep my muscles healthy, as there is so much tissue breakdown with the jumping.

What advice do you have for non-Olympic moms who are looking to get back into shape -- what are some of the post-partum training tricks and tips you've picked up?

Short sprints of about 40 yards running up hills with a baby jogger was awesome. The baby liked it and you can completely blow yourself out in like ten minutes. Also, it's not as hard on your knees when you're heavier. Stretching first is a must.

As one of the athletes with the longest career at the Olympics, what do you know now that you didn't realize early on in your career?

There are a lot of distractions around the Olympic competition that you just don't get at World Championships. It is important to keep your routine and make your life as normal as possible in the days and weeks prior.