What follows wild success at a young age is often a challenge for many athletes and celebrities. For Shannon Miller, the most decorated U.S. Olympic gymnast in history, her time spent training for the games was just the beginning of a positive and fulfilling career.
Miller, inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame last month, won three bronze medals and two silver medals at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and earned two gold medals in 1996 in Atlanta as part of the Magnificent Seven team – all before retiring as a gymnast by age 19.
Miller stays connected to the sport as a TV analyst and commentator, public speaker and founder of Shannon Miller Lifestyle, which promotes health and wellness, especially for women. But it wasn’t gymnastics that inspired Miller’s passion for the company; it was her experiences returning to college after retiring from the sport.
“There wasn’t that same sense of structure that I was used to, and then, on top of that, you lose your gymnastics family overnight,” Miller says. “You’re thrown into an alien world, and since I was very shy, I’d just do my homework, watch TV and eat. Lo and behold, a few months later I had gained four dress sizes.”
Miller was determined to develop a new balance and routine for herself to stay healthy. In the process of learning about health and wellness outside Olympic training, Miller noticed that many women in her life took care of children and other family members but neglected their own health.
“I wanted to form a company that was devoted to helping women make their health a priority and feel good about that,” she says. “It’s taken on a life of its own, but it’s a passion that I started developing many years before the official launch of the company in 2010.”
Shortly after the company began, Miller’s life turned upside down once more when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Miller pursued aggressive chemotherapy and says creating a plan of action helped her develop the right mindset to beat the disease.
“Getting that competitive approach back really helped me, and it gave me the courage I needed,” she says.
Reticent while growing up, Miller threw herself into public speaking just “as I would a new beam routine.” Even after her cancer diagnosis, she stayed in the public eye and spoke openly about her health.
“This idea of going out and talking about my ovaries on the national stage was not exactly in my life plan,” Miller says. “But for me to use any kind of platform, I have to talk about things that I’m passionate about, like women’s health; this felt like a positive step.”
Now cancer-free, Miller remains as busy as ever, with her Florida-based company, and her family, which includes two children. She says being a mother is one of the proudest accomplishments in her life.
“My kids are such a blessing, and they keep things down to earth because they don’t care how many gold medals mama has,” Miller says.
Looking back, Miller attributes much of her success to her upbringing and time spent in Edmond.
“I feel so thankful that I grew up in Oklahoma – the community and the way they supported me, win or lose,” she says. “We’re that community that rallies no matter what, through the good times and bad.”