How To Love Life (And Yourself), According To Olympic Sprinter Natasha Hastings
Natasha Hastings has overcome career disappointments and self-doubt to win two Olympic gold medals. The Under Armour athlete gives advice for making it big.
Rule your life like Natasha Hastings
A two-time Olympic gold medalist with a handful of World Championship gold medals to her name, Natasha Hastings has an impressive career. Yet the sprinter, who races in the women’s 400 m and 4×400 m relay, has also had to overcome her share of setbacks – like not qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games after winning a gold medal in 2008.
At the launch for Under Armour’s “Unlike Any” campaign, in which five female athletes (Hastings, Misty Copeland, Jessie Graff, Alison Desir and Zoe Zhang) are celebrated for being uniquely fierce, she told me five crucial lessons she’s learned to improve her mindset and become a winner.
Natasha Hastings wisdom: Accept your body
Learning to appreciate your appearance is crucial for confidence, especially with a career where your body is scrutinized. Self-doubt shouldn’t be a relentless part of the equation.
“In my event, I’m considered a big girl,” says Hastings. “If I ‘look’ at weights, I put on muscle mass.”
She credits her mom for helping her accept and appreciate her own unique physique. “She always found a way to tell me, ‘You’re OK the way you are and I love you just the way you are.’”
Though Hastings sometimes wishes she had bigger boobs or hips to fill out her dresses, she’s learned to accept her body type because she’s “done some effing incredible things not being the norm.”
Natasha Hastings wisdom: Wear your war paint.
Hastings is known for her style both on and off the track. Even when competing, she wears jewellery, statement hairstyles and a full face of makeup – including red lipstick.
In the spoken-word poem that’s recited in Hastings’ Under Armour video campaign, poet Dominique Christina calls it her “red lipstick war paint,” a turn of phrase that gave Hastings chills the first time she heard it. “If I’m going to go out there, I need to feel good and feel empowered,” she says. “It’s all about look good, feel good and go out there and do good… in whatever it is that you do.”
P.S. She also swears by Sweat Cosmetics Mineral Foundation (not yet available in Canada). “I’m in the sun all the time,” she says. “The foundation has SPF in it, so that’s great for protecting my skin. Brown girls need SPF, too.”
Check this out: 10 Ways To Melt-Proof Your Makeup Routine
Natasha Hastings wisdom: Find your alter ego.
For Hastings, hair and makeup aren’t just tools for feeling good. They also help her get into character—that of a warrior diva, which is the nickname her sports psychologist gave her.
To Hastings, that translates into being a lioness. “My sign is Leo,” she says. “And when I step out on the track I go into that space to be powerful—to be an animal. When that gun goes off, I’m free to be me. Lioness, warrior diva: I’m a force to be reckoned with.”
Natasha Hastings wisdom: Believe you’re worthy.
Hastings works consistently with her sports psychologist to improve her performance on the track – and her life away from it.
“We work on everything,” she says. “And worthiness is the underlying thing for me. That I’m worthy of anything I desire.”
She remembers the first time her counselor asked what she wanted out of life, and Hastings was embarrassed to say “a gold medal.” In order to find herself on the winner’s podium, she had to learn to be unapologetic about her deepest wishes and accept that she can achieve the things that she wants.
Natasha Hastings wisdom: Be careful how you speak to yourself.
One of Hastings’ favourite sayings is, “Be careful how you talk to yourself, because you might be listening.”
She knows that one of the biggest barriers to achieving her goals is her negative self-talk and has learned to speak to herself in a kind, positive voice rather than reinforcing self-defeating ideas.
“Changing the way you speak to and of yourself is the first step in overcoming those moments when you don’t believe you can,” she says.