(photo: Andrew Macpherson/CPi Syndication)
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The Good Life

Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece on eating right, the benefits of breathing exercises, and the importance of believing in what you do


As married couples go, good luck finding one as passionate about improving their personal health and growth as big-wave surfer and renowned waterman Laird Hamilton and former pro volleyball player Gabby Reece. Hamilton’s pursuit of the ultimate workout for life—and surviving punishment from house-size waves—has brought him as much attention as his surfing. For her part, Reece has concentrated on helping women live their best lives through fitness and nutrition. Between it all, they still find the energy and time to start and help manage a nutrition business, a fitness company, a stand-up paddleboard brand, and an apparel line, as well as model, produce books, and raise three kids. It’s a team effort that extends beyond their fitness regimens to encompass overall well-being, nutrition, and even caring for their teeth. We caught up with them for their hard-won tips on living the good life.

Whole Body Nutrition

Reece: I tell people to be your own nutritionist and pay attention to how certain foods affect your body. It doesn’t have to be hard or extreme. If a food doesn’t make you feel right, try something else.

Hamilton: Right! The biggest mistake is to rely on outside sources to tell you what to eat. Listen to your body. The healthier you are, the more sensitive you’ll be to foods that are bad or good for you. I approach my diet starting with the philosophy that if a food wasn’t available 10,000 years ago, or I can’t pronounce an ingredient, then I don’t eat it.

Reece: We begin each day conscious about what we’re putting in our bodies. Laird has a tall glass of water with lemon and a dash of Himalayan salt and then one of his coffee concoctions—that fuels him to lunch. I start with an herb-mixture tea. It’s basic, but it’s a healthy routine that starts both of our days off right.

Hamilton: For me, when you talk about nutrition and overall health, food is just the start. Healthy living is all-encompassing for me, including my teeth. It’s a fact that straighter teeth can add to your overall health.

There are many teeth straightening options today, but it was a no-brainer for me to choose Invisalign® treatment. What people may not know is that in the hands of an experienced orthodontist, Invisalign® clear aligners can treat simple to complex teeth straightening issues. The aligners are nearly invisible and removable…so I eat what I want, I’m able to train in them and perform in them without the worry of broken wires or brackets.

Lifelong Fitness

Reece: Neither of us is going as hard as we did 20 years ago. I’ve found as I’ve aged that I do more of my workouts involving explosive moves in the pool. In the water, I can go as hard as I want without pounding my body.

Hamilton: I second the pool workouts. Another thing we’re working on is our breathing, like sitting in a sauna for an hour and concentrating on the breath with a series of exercises. Stuff like breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth for 50 breaths, then exhaling and holding for a minute, inhaling and holding for a minute, and so on. Once you gain control of your breath, you’ve given yourself control over stressful situations. And you can do it anywhere, anytime.

Reece: Our goal is to perform at the highest level we can for as long as we can. And every little thing helps, right? That’s why when it came to straightening my teeth, I chose Invisalign clear aligners. And our daughter uses them instead of traditional metal braces. For all of us, they have the added benefit of not getting in the way of our active lives, where taking a hit to the mouth (from a board or a ball) is a very real possibility. The Invisalign brand anthem, “Made to Move,” fits with our lifestyle figuratively and literally.

Work-Life Balance

Hamilton: Whether it’s our nutrition company or my paddleboard business, all of our projects are based on our world and personalities. They’re all authentic to who we are, and they align with our personal philosophies. That approach has given us longevity in business. It’s never been only about the money. We believe in what we do because we live it every day.

Reece: We use family dinner to come together from whatever it is we’ve done that day and reconnect. We also use dinner to gather with friends. As a family, it’s one of the most important things we do on a daily basis. And we use it as a signal for us to wind down our day and relax.

Secrets to Success

Reece: There’s a quote used by presidents and politicians, “Never complain; never explain,” that I lean on to guide me through life. I used to care so much more about people’s reactions. But I learned to say no more often without feeling the need to offer a bunch of excuses.

Hamilton: Here’s one: Avoid watching the news on TV unless absolutely necessary, like to get information on a natural disaster or something. It’s so easy to get sucked into things you see that won’t further your life. Second, don’t hang out with people that don’t make you a better person.

Reece: We tell our daughter this tip, and we live by it as well: Try things that make you uncomfortable. That’s the only way you’ll learn and grow.

Hamilton: Or, put another way: Don’t be scared to be a beginner again.

Together, Hamilton and Reece have figured out how to stay at the top of their game for more than 25 years. Their secret boils down to a simple task: Always work to make yourself better with an understanding that many small, incremental steps will lead to powerful change.

Invisalign clear aligners are the clear alternative to metal braces for adults and teens. The clear aligners are the virtually invisible way to improve your smile with a trained Invisalign doctor guiding the way. Learn more about Invisalign treatment here

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Lead photo: Andrew Macpherson/CPi Syndication