Last December, former supermodel Kathy Ireland was indulging in one of her favorite pastimes at home in Santa Barbara: baking cookies. At the same time, her 14-year-old son Erik was running around the house snapping photos when he captured a candid of his mom that made him snicker. “I said, ‘What’s so funny?’ And he said ‘Mom, you look pregnant!’ ”
Ready to dismiss the comment as typical teen exaggeration, she took a peek. “I didn’t recognize the person I saw,” Ireland confesses. “What I saw was someone who looked overwhelmed, overstressed, overweight, over-everything.”
But rather than hit delete, Ireland — the 5’10” model whose killer body and piercing green eyes graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue three times between 1989 and 1994 — decided it was time to get her body back under control. “I wasn’t going to destroy the picture and pretend this isn’t true,” she says.
By candidly talking about her 25-lb. weight gain, Ireland, 46, wants to send a message to all mothers that, yes, even a former supermodel deals with the battle of the bulge. “I was just not making enough time to take care of me,” says the author of the new book “Real Solutions for Busy Moms.”
Ireland never intended to lose her way. The weight crept up incrementally. Once she hit her 40s, “things changed, and so did my body,” says Ireland, who has grown her business into a $1.4 billion design empire that now includes furniture, flooring, lighting, jewelry, skin care and apparel. “As my career expanded, so did my waistline.”
Balancing her role as C.E.O. and M.O.M. to Erik, Lily, 10, and Chloe, 6, with husband Greg Olsen, 50, an emergency-room doctor, Ireland also often found herself snacking on sweets as she shuttled the kids to school and their extracurriculars. “I was really eating unconsciously,” she says. “Sometimes I would have ice cream for breakfast! I had to have my sweet fix.” But once she saw Erik’s photo, she knew she needed to change her lifestyle.
Ireland reached out to her close friend and trainer Jenny Schatzle, who helped her slowly get back into a fitness and nutrition routine. “At first I was going to cut out bread and desserts, but that made me too cranky,” she admits. “I’m focusing more on vegetables and healthy fats like avocado. And I’m cooking with olive oil.”
Kathy credits her weight loss to three one-hour workouts a week (mix of cardio and weights), not eating ice cream or cookies for breakfast (like she used to) and giving up a sandwich with fries for grilled chicken salads.
Now with half the unwanted weight already gone, Ireland feels a huge difference. She recently celebrated her 46th birthday with a surfing session alongside her husband. The best part? “I could get the wet suit zipped up without sucking my stomach in!” Still, she insists, losing the weight is not for her vanity. “If I end up liking the way I look because I’ve made healthy choices, then thats icing on the cake — the kind of icing I can really enjoy.”