Oct. 27, 2009
“I think your best days should never be right behind you,” Gabrielle Reece, one of the most recognized female athletes to play at Florida State, said as she took time to reflect on the glorious moments of her life.
Reece played volleyball at Florida State for Hall of Fame coach Dr. Cecile Reynaud and went on to play professional beach volleyball, land covers as a supermodel on a variety of magazines and marry the all-time American surfer Laird John Hamilton.
Sports information intern, Stephanie Loewenstern, got a chance to catch up with the Seminole beauty in late September as she reflected on health, nutrition, working out and visiting Florida State.
What is it like being back visiting Florida State, years after playing for the volleyball team?
“Being here and watching it grow is really nice because even though some things have gotten bigger it’s still the same place. I know how well this year’s team is doing. I have talked to Coach Poole, even on the phone. I am glad for them. I had a lot of positive experiences here and this place is very special to me.”
For a young female athlete, what advice would you give them in terms of nutrition?
“I think it (nutrition) should reflect everything, how you approach life. For example, for a female athlete, the reality is you need more calories. Sometimes people get caught up and don’t eat enough calories but it’s about eating the right kind of calories. It’s hard in college because you’re not cooking for yourself, but maybe it’s about figuring out how to be mindful about where you are eating and how you’re ordering.
“Another thing people need to realize is that sugar suppresses your immune system, so when you are competing in an athletic event, it’s actually better to drink water. I try to encourage people to not drink too many sugary drinks. They say Americans drink 20 percent of their calories, so 20 percent and it’s all sugar. So I tell female athletes when it comes to diet cokes and things like that, it is probably better to lay off that kind of stuff.
“My freshman year of college I was eating at Taco Bell and I was overeating at Cash Hall. But then you learn as you get older. If you want to maximize your performance, you would try to figure out how to eat well. I think college is the time that learning is most important. Everyone talks about breads and pastas, and I would agree that it would be best if you could avoid some of those foods, because, in excess, they can be really bad for you.”
Do you believe in cheating on your meal plan?
“I believe in cheating all of the time. I tell people to look at their daily habits. There’s treats and then there are habits, as long as you know the difference. So you can say, ‘I eat this way, but I realize when I do this, it’s a treat.’ Like a coke for me is not something part of my everyday life, or cookies and things like that. So when I am having a snack and it’s a cookie, versus my snack which is usually vegetables and chicken, than what I am enjoying (cookie) is a treat. It’s just getting people to learn the difference. Chips aren’t a meal. But like I said it’s hard when you’re a young athlete, you come here and you don’t cook for yourself. You’re already busy with school and practices and everything else. So it’s figuring out how to order when you’re out on the road. I always say if that doesn’t work, just tell girls that their skin will be nicer and their butts will be smaller and somehow that will be the way to get them to make better choices.”
What advice do you have for any non-athlete, college student trying to balance their eating habits, do well in school and keep in shape?
“Alcohol and eating really late probably hammers about everybody. Obviously you’re not going to eat really well because you don’t have your mom’s home cooked meals. I think eating at 10 o’clock at night at Chili’s after you’ve been out is the thing that ends up getting most freshmen. Or eating because of stress or being lonely because you’re away from home, your transitioning. Food is a very comforting thing. So let’s say you’re in your dorm and you’re feeling down – just go outside. Call your friend and say let’s go for a quick walk, let’s go do something instead of using food. I do think it’s a very natural thing to use food for comfort. It’s just about being aware of it. Alcohol is the kicker. Drinking leads to overeating because of your inhibitions.”
Being a fitness expert, what advice do you have for students who want to keep up with their fitness habits and routine?
“Students have great student facilities here. It is better to take advantage. I always say your mind works better when you take care of your body. So when you’re studying, you will be more productive in your study. Let’s say you hate the gym and don’t want to work out, is there a sport or intramural program that you like and could get exercise that way? The other thing is that it’s supposed to be fun. Movement doesn’t have to be torture. They call it working out and training which in a way puts a negative spin on it. It is work, but in the end, if you can make the time to get in some exercise with a couple of friends, it’s a great way to stay connected with people. You could even use it as a social networking kind of thing.”
What’s your favorite workout?
“I do a lot of different things. I will be almost 40 in a few months so I have been doing this a long time. I swim, I lift weights, I do circuits, and I ride bikes on the street. I also use my environment, so when I live in Hawaii I do things that are related to that environment.”
What’s your favorite career moment?
“I don’t think I have had it yet. I think I am just getting smart enough where I know what I am trying to do with my career. I think in your 20’s, you fall into what you’re doing. In your 30’s, you start to figure it out and as you get older, you also start to figure out how to create an element of service to it. Your best days should never be right behind you.”