There’s no real secret to getting in shape for bikini season, says athlete, model and health and fitness writer Gabby Reece. Nor does it mean hours in the gym or cutting out everything you love to eat.
"You can enjoy your life," she told TODAY’s Ann Curry. "It’s not about never eating pasta and never eating chocolate."
Reece has spent her life proving that women can be big and strong —and cover-girl worthy. She stands 6-3, weighs in at 172 pounds, is the wife of surfer Laird Hamilton, the mother of a three-year-old daughter, Reece Viola Hamilton and has six-pack abs.
A hall-of-fame volleyball player at the University of Florida, she went on to a professional career both in volleyball and as a model who has appeared on the covers of magazines, including Elle and Playboy.
In 1989, when she was a sophomore in college, Elle named her one of the five most beautiful women in the world. In 1997, Women Sports & Fitness named her one of the 20 most influential women in sports. This year, at the age of 37, she’s coming out of retirement to compete in four-person AVP Beach Volleyball.
But, she told TODAY, "You don’t have to be a professional athlete or a full-time trainer in order to get it done. There’s no magic pill. It takes a level of commitment and decision."
There is no one route to getting in shape, she said.
Make a plan you can live with
"The number one thing people have to do is find something they enjoy doing," she said. "It is work, but it’s not torture."
It could be working out in a gym. It could be running on the beach. It could be walking. What’s important, she said, is making a commitment, "especially for women who put everyone and everything else first. Make your health a priority."
Eat vegetables and healthy food, she said, but also understand that sometimes nothing tastes better than a juicy cheeseburger. Simply drinking water instead of sugared drinks can cut out 20 percent of a day’s calorie intake, she said.
Set a goal, she said. "The goal could be I’m going to train two or three days a week. I’m going to do it for three months straight."
It’s better to do something physical — like taking a walk — for 15 minutes a day six days a week than to work out for two hours once a week.
She admitted that staying in shape is easier for her. "It has been the luxury of my job," said. But added the author of Big Girl in the Middle, getting in shape should be something every woman can do.
Give it 30 days, she told Curry — a month. "If they start moving and cut certain foods out, they will be different. Period."
For more information and tips from Gabby, visit GotoGabby.com.