08-2005: Healthy Living

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As a teenager in California, Rebecca Romijn (pronounced "romaine," like the lettuce) was known as The Jolly Blonde Giant. "I was gawky, skinny and had a complex about wearing shorts," recalls the five-foot-eleven former Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model, who is now an in-demand actress. "I never wore shorts because I thought my legs were too skinny. I would layer a lot too. No matter how hot it was, I’d wear long johns under my pants to make my legs look thicker." So, what did Rebecca do to remedy the situation? "I wanted to be like the other girls, so I began to eat junk food and drink heavy cream," she recalls. The pounds piled on fast.

When Rebecca decided to pursue modeling after completing one year of college, the former music major got serious about shaping up. "I cut out junk food, which helped a lot," she says.

That was not an easy task for someone who's been known to keep stashes of goodies in her glove compartment, purse, even her makeup bag--a habit that was practically a family tradition. "My mom had a sweet tooth and kept a hoard of candy hidden way up in her closet," says Rebecca.

Despite her love for sweets, Rebecca’s mother was a good nutritional influence on her family.

"My mom taught us about nutrition; she even made her own yogurt, breads and granola,"

Rebecca recalls. "She was always at the forefront of good nutrition."

To keep in shape, the former swimmer does 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 40 minutes of weight training whenever she is able to. "That's my goal at least, but it doesn't always happen. Sometimes I'll do it four days in a row, but then I'll be traveling for two weeks or working nonstop and I can't work out."

So what then? Rebecca does what she can, even if it's nothing more than taking the dog for a walk. "Even if I've had a really long day, I'll try and do something," she says. "The combination of working out and being physical--just being in touch with myself--is the most therapeutic combination I can think of."

So does she ever give a nanosecond’s thought to physical flaws? "My Achilles heel is the same as for most women--when I do think about it, I concentrate more on my thighs and butt area. My body is a little top-heavy, so I have to pay attention to that and do upper-body strengthening exercises. I think it was my years of swimming, starting when I was a kid, that overdeveloped my upper body."

She leans in as if to reveal a deep, dark secret. "When I started modeling, my back was so muscled that I could not fit into any dresses," she says. "They couldn't zip up anything on me and I had to stop swimming altogether for a few years to let it shrink back down."

As for the rest of her body, "I've got plenty of things I'm not proud of--plenty of lumps and bumps that I don't want people to see," Rebecca says. "But I know how to hide it and that's the key to modeling. I'm not perfect at all."

The Food Factor

Now comfortable with her looks and her weight, the 33-year-old actress likes to start her days with a healthy breakfast of plain yogurt, cereal with lowfat milk and decaf coffee. "I have to have some protein in the morning or I'll go crazy," she notes. Lunch is her biggest meal, and usually includes steamed vegetables with chicken, fish, steak, lamb or, on rare occasions, pasta. Dinner is a smaller version of lunch. "I try not to eat too much refined sugar, and that's hard sometimes because of my sweet tooth and because of my work. Usually if I'm acting, there are so many sugary donuts and croissants around for breakfast. Grabbing some yogurt or at least a glass of milk helps. I was a vegetarian for three years--mostly for moral reasons--but I became anemic growing up; I was so tired all the time. I wasn't getting enough protein and, to this day, I crave steaks."

Original article: Healthy Living 3/2005

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