Q & A with Gabby Reece: Super-Athlete, Mom, Model, and Entrepreneur
Pro beach volleyball player, model, mom, and entrepreneur Gabby Reece does it all -- and is one of the most recognizable fitness faces in the world, as she's graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Shape, and Sports Illustrated for Women.
She is the creator and host of The HoneyLine, a website and magazine-style broadcast that delivers realistic answers to women's questions concerning style, health and fitness, relationship challenges in the home, food, and the environment. Reece enlists the help of her celebrity friends through one-on-one interviews, getting detailed answers to modern-day dilemmas. The HoneyLine segments can be seen on The Rachael Ray Show.
Reece and her husband, pro surfer Laird Hamilton (pictured above), live in Hawaii and Malibu, California. We were fortunate enough to chat with her on the phone to talk about her thoughts on diet, mind/body wellness, and relationships.
MindBodyGreen: How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
Gabby Reece: I usually rise around 6:45 a.m., make breakfast for our children by 7:30 and then get ready to train. I like to train in the morning so I can get it over with, and will either do circuits at 8:30 or maybe go for a bike ride. I'll have a protein smoothie before I train, as that's easy to digest.
MBG: What's in the protein smoothie?
GR: I'll put in some maca (it's South American), as it acts like an energy booster -- sort of like caffeine, which I don't drink. Laird loves his espresso, but it's not for me. I'll also throw in muscle milk, some powdered greens, fruit, some peanut butter for fat content, and maybe some flax. The smoothie will get me through my workout up until my next meal, which I'll have around noon.
MBG: What is your philosophy on diet?
GR: There's not one right way to eat for all people, but basically I think the more "real food," the better. I try to stay away from foods in bags and cans, and I don't use a microwave.
It's important to explore different methods to see what works. Take it week by week and see how you feel. Me personally, I do eat animal protein, but for some people, animal protein makes them tired. I always suggest that people explore a balance of proteins and carbs for a week and see how they feel. Are you hungry when you go 50/50 protein to carbs or tired, etc.? Like I said, it's important to explore different balances of foods and see how you feel.
MBG: Any holiday eating tips?
GR: Look at each holiday as a single day out of 365 days. If you are mindful of your eating and your workouts, then one day isn't going to kill you -- but you've got to work toward it. Also keep in mind how much you are going to enjoy something and try to pick and choose what to eat. For instance, if you're going to the best Italian restaurant, are you not going to eat their pasta? That's ridiculous -- you should eat it and enjoy it! But if you're going to a holiday party and there's a bunch of passed-plate appetizers that don't look too great and look unhealthy, then stay away.
MBG: What about working out while you are on the road?
GR: I don't travel as much now, only two to three days at a time. So what I'll do now is workout heavily before I go on a road trip. When I'm on the road, I'll then be completely focused on work, trying to accomplish whatever I need to, every minute of the day. When I was younger and traveled a lot more, I would work out early in the morning-no matter how crappy a gym was (or even if there was no gym), I would find a way. All I need is 20 to 30 minutes. Most people don't realize that you can do a lot of damage in 20 to 30 minutes -- you just need to train hard and not waste time. This is one of the reasons it's so important to educate ourselves about what we can do with our bodies. I don't need a lot of time to do what I need to do.
MBG: What makes your marriage to Laird work? Do you have general relationship advice?
GR: Laird and I have a mutual respect for each other, and at the same time a tiny but healthy bit of reverence. As well as I know him and love him, I don't choose to be his mom or mess with him, as he's his own person and I can't change him, nor would I want to. If he's downstairs for 20 minutes in the morning before I am and doesn't unload the dishwasher, sure, it gets me upset. But I can't get mad at him.
I think we work as couple because I'm very much the female in the relationship and I'll do the womanly things like make dinner -- but at the same time, he'll be aware of my male side, my athletic side, my business side. Laird is very much the man, and together, we have a deep respect for each other and our own things that we do separately. Laird inspires me by how hard he works. Philosophically, I think we are very similar, though Laird is more emotional and intuitive and I'm more analytical. We're both similar and different enough -- but share the same values. We bounce things off each other and support each other-and appreciate each other.
Another thing: Laird once said, "Feelings aren't good or bad; they're just feelings." I think you should have the freedom to tell your partner how you feel without being judged. We shouldn't tell our partner that what they're feeling is right or wrong -- good or bad -- we should just hear them and listen to them, and not take it personally. This just opens up communication, which is a very good thing. It's just so great to be able to say to your partner, "Hey, I'm just feeling this way…" and not be judged.
MBG: Do you and Laird work out together?
GR: No, we do our own thing. I get ideas from him all the time, but we work out separately.
MBG: How has your perception of wellness of changed as you've had children and matured?
GR: I feel I need to approach my health in a more complete way. When you have children, you add another dimension in your life -- you need to take care of them, you need to teach them, you start thinking about what philosophies you want to pass on to them. And also as time passes and you mature, you start to look at people older than you who have aged well, and look at the lifestyle choices they've made -- how they've balanced stress, the food they've chosen to eat, how they've lived in a more balanced and complete way.
MBG: How did you lose weight after giving birth?
GB: I trained throughout all my pregnancies. When you're a woman and you give birth, there's something natural that occurs: Your body gains weight as you carry your child, and then when your child is born, you'll lose weight. However, if you want to lose all the weight you gained, you have about six weeks post-birth to get serious. After about six weeks, it becomes exponentially harder to lose weight as your body adjusts to your new weight. Personally, I had a C-section, so after about three weeks I began very moderate exercise and went from there. (Reece's real-time pregnancy workouts for all three trimesters can be found here.)
MBG: Any really good advice you've received over the years?
GR: Sure. Something that stuck with me was from my volleyball coach at Florida State. She said something along the lines of, "We have 12 athletes competing for six spots. I'm going to look at the situation and try to make the decisions that are best for the team. After I've made my decisions, people are going to be unhappy, but one person will be happy: me." What I took from that was that sometimes decisions are tough, but as long as it comes from a good place, you'll be OK -- and once you make that decision, stick to it, don't waver, and accept criticism. But own it and know that you, and only you, made it. This leads me to my "30/30/30 rule": Whatever you do, 30 people will love it, 30 won't care, and 30 will hate it -- just be prepared to live with it.
MBG: What's your favorite healthy food?
GR: I'm not really a "foodie" per se, as I look at food as fuel. I like good food, but I'm not obsessed. That said, being that we live in Hawaii for a large part of the year, I eat and enjoy a lot of stir-fry. I also really like sushi. Generally, anytime you can take a bland and healthy food and ramp it up and make it taste good, I'm game.
MBG: Favorite guilty indulgence?
GR: Chocolate! I totally own it, though, as it's become a mainstay. I love milk chocolate with nuts!
MBG: Can you tell us more about The HoneyLine?
GR: Having children made me more aware and conscious of what women are contending with out there. Although I've worked hard, I think I've been successful because I've had access to great people, great minds, and a great support system. I was fortunate enough to have people around me to say "Great job" or "Move your butt" -- it's just so important to have a strong support system. But so many women out there are at it alone trying to get healthier and don't have someone to look out for them. I wanted to create a support system in The HoneyLine for these people -- help them find easy and realistic ways to take better care of themselves. We all have to take care of each other and look out for each other. Our thinking has to shift. If rain falls on my neighbor's roof, then it falls on my roof, too, right?
For me, I think your 20s are about finding out what your career is. In your 30s, it's about directing your career. And in your 40s, it's about what your career can do to contribute to the greater good. And I hope to contribute with The HoneyLine.
For more on Gabby Reece and The HoneyLine: