Most people know Gabrielle Reece as a model and volleyball legend — but today, her most important role is being a mom.
Reece and her husband, professional surfer Laird Hamilton, are raising three young girls and trying to teach them to love their bodies — in a world where the perfect, #nofilter images on Instagram receive the most likes. Last week, Reece took a break from her role as presenter at the Robb Report Health + Wellness Summit to chat about parenting, staying fit and living life to the fullest.
“I’m aware that my kids are navigating something [social media] I never did at their age. So I try to keep an open dialogue and equip them with the truth, and keep the door open to have the conversation,” Reece said, reflecting on the impact of today’s social platforms.
Reece also realizes she has a strong influence on how they feel, too, and noted that real-life examples of body positivity are the best way to demonstrate it.
“Children are watching more than they’re listening,” she explained to TODAY. “So I’m constantly checking myself: Am I discussing my weight? Am I critiquing my clothing? I try to convey that your body is a tool that brings you experiences — it’s not just ‘How do I look in my jeans?’”
Reece, who most recently appeared as the host of NBC’s “Strong”, a competition reality show where trainers worked to help their trainees improve their physical fitness, hasn’t always felt great about how she looked.
“I was 6 feet tall by the time I was 12 years old, so there was no way I was going to look like everyone else,” Reece remembered. “But growing up in the sports world, I was around women who were clearly imperfect, but were having fun and felt comfortable in their own skin. I learned to connect with my body in different ways.”
Clearly Reece’s empowering views are having a positive effect on her daughters. In June, she and daughter Reece posted a video on Facebook sharing their current weights. Gabrielle Reece had recently undergone knee surgery and hadn’t been able to work out, and thus was disappointed to learn she had lost some muscle and a few pounds.
When her daughter got on the scale and realized she weighed more than her mom, she was excited. For once, she had more muscle than her mom. A woman in the locker room was confused by their mother-daughter exchange, which is why Reece decided to share it with the world.
“We’re all different,” she said in the video. “We give so much to the scale, when really, we should be giving it to how do we feel, are we our own personal best? And not worry about comparing or worry about the scale.”
Aside from not stressing about a number, Reece wants her daughters to develop who they are — and not to rely on their looks.
“I tell my girls: If you’re offering pretty hair and butt, there are millions of those on Instagram,” she explained. “Instead, send a signal of your worth — develop a skill set and personality, and let being pretty be a bonus because it’s not that unusual.”
Reece has a lot going on, but still manages to find time for herself, which is an important part of being a mother.
“As women, we’ll clean the house, cars and make sure our nails are done, but we won’t take care of ourselves, and there’s no better investment. Don’t apologize for taking ‘me’ time,” Reece said.
For her, that means an hour of exercise about six days a week. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, it’s high-intensity interval training for about 48 minutes. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, she trains in the pool or practices meditative breathing exercises.
When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, her number one tip is this: “Have fun,” she stressed. If you hate the gym, get outside. Invest in yourself and your family will feel the benefits, too.