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Amanda Beard’s Blog: Full of Thanks

11/28/2013 at 01:00 PM ET

Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Amanda Beard!

The seven-time Olympic medalist first appeared on the sports scene at the 1996 Atlanta games, walking away with her first gold for the medley relay and two silvers for the 100 and 200-meter breaststrokes — all at the age of 14.

Since then, the competitive swimmer scored a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and her first individual gold medal along with two silvers at the 2004 Athens games.

Beard, who is sponsored by Aqua Sphere, recently penned her memoir, In the Water They Can’t See You Cry.

She and her husband Sacha Brown married in May 2009 and are the proud parents of son Blaise Ray, 4, and daughter Doone Isla, 5 months.

Beard can be found online on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @AmandaRayBeard.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

Where did this year go?! It seems like just yesterday that it was June and we were welcoming Doone into our lives. Now we’re diving into the holiday season, have a little girl with a big personality, and have somewhat adjusted to life as a family of four.

One thing I’ve come to (or perhaps, have been forced to) embrace, is the fact that life is truly a juggling act. It’s all about multitasking and becoming a master at it! My day is full of taking care of our children, working out and running my business. Add to that a busy holiday season, and the day-to-day can seem nearly impossible at times.

Although training for Rio 2016 is a huge priority in my life, I’m still a mom (and unfortunately not a super hero, like my son), and can’t always make it to the gym or the pool. This is when the juggling act kicks in.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

On days like those, I pop Doone into her stroller, and make calls for work during a lengthy walk around my neighborhood. While it’s not always my ideal workout, I’ve learned that making fitness a priority — whether it’s a hardcore swim session or a simple power walk — is key to staying fit and sane during the holidays.

It’s true that time flies when you’re having fun, and to say that this year has been fun, exciting and blessed in so many ways, would be an understatement.

In lieu of the coming holidays, I asked Blaise what he’s thankful for. “I’m thankful for all of my toys!” he replied. Gotta love a 4-year-old!

What was meant to be an offhand question to chat with Blaise as we baked pies last weekend, actually got me thinking. If you ask me what I’m thankful for in my life right now, it’s an easy answer: my friends, family and especially my kids and husband.

However, if you had asked me at age 4, 14 or even 24 what I was thankful for, it would’ve also likely included something like: my toys! My wardrobe! My car! For that reason, I really can’t blame Blaise for his honest answer.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

As we get older and our lives change, our perspective incrementally changes too. Through the years, I’ve realized how blessed we are by the people in our lives and less by the things in our lives.

I wouldn’t be who I am (or where I am) without people like Sacha, who pushes and encourages me to think bigger and better every day; like Blaise and Doone, who challenge and inspire me, and think I’m totally awesome the way I am; and even my sponsors like Aqua Sphere, that believe in me as an athlete, and allow me to swim, compete and follow my dreams.

The clothes and car that I adored through my teens and 20s, in retrospect, were fun, but not essential to my life — and definitely didn’t deserve the attention I paid to them. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realize that material things make our lives big, but not full.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve grappled with the often-daunting feeling that most moms get, “Am I doing this right?” Teaching your kids things like swimming is pretty straightforward: you jump in the pool, you kick your feet, you move your arms and you’re swimming. However, teaching your kids things like sharing, kindness and thankfulness are a bit different. Oftentimes, these are the things that our kids learn from us, versus something we can teach them.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

For this reason, Sacha and I know that it’s our jobs to set the best examples for Blaise and Doone, and to constantly think critically about our actions so that our kids (hopefully) pick up our best habits and principles.

Here are some things we’re actively doing right now to set great examples for our kids to breed the principles that we value:

Staying active: Although our lives can get (very, very) crazy and hectic in our house, we make it a point to get active often. Blaise hangs out with me at the pool a lot and we take walks together as a family almost every day.

Trying new things: As I mentioned earlier, Blaise and I woke up last weekend with an itch to get creative in the kitchen. This is the first year during the holidays where Blaise has been old enough to really help out in the kitchen. He had a ton of fun adding ingredients to the bowl, stirring, and clapping his flour-crusted hands together. I love seeing how engaged he is when he’s learning something new.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

Creating traditions: After Thanksgiving dinner each year, we bust out Jenga or some cards to play Hearts. Even though we’re usually full and drowsy, we stay around the table because we know how much fun we have — and because we’ve done it every year since I can remember.

While the games themselves are trivial, the meaning behind them is what we love: the comfort, the closeness and the sense of belonging we feel each year when we start an old familiar game. Plus, it’s fun to get the competitive juices flowing!

Being thankful: Blaise, you deserve a little more credit from Mommy! When I asked him what he was thankful for, in addition to his toys, he also sweetly added that he’s thankful for his little sister, and that he hopes that she gets big soon so she can play. Aww.

Amanda Beard Blog Thanksgiving
Courtesy Amanda Beard

How are you staying fit this holiday season? What is your juggling act like? What are you thankful for this year?

Cheers,

– Amanda Beard

More from Amanda’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

  • Amanda Beard’s Blog: Meet My Family!
  • Video Flashback: Celebs Reveal Their Secret Olympic Dreams

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Showing 2 comments

kristin on

Wonderful blog. I cannot believe how much Doone looks like her momma. Wow!!! Both children are adorable.

Hopefully most people will be able to remember what tomorrow is really about, not black Friday shopping that has somehow turned into Thursday, but being thankful for all the things that you have been blessed with and getting to spend time with family and friends.

megan on

“In lieu of the coming holidays, I asked Blaise what he’s thankful for.”
that’s not what “in lieu” means….

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