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Fitness icon Kathy Smith shares insights on fitness, diet

July 2, 2013
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Fitness icon Kathy Smith burst onto the scene in 1980 with a workout record (yes, we're talking vinyl) and aerobics program, cementing her spot as a leader in the burgeoning exercise and personal training movement.

Smith, who began exercising to fight depression, went on to create an empire of exercise and wellness videos and fitness products, which these days she coordinates through her website (kathysmith.com). Now, 61, Smith was at The Broadmoor last month to speak at and participate in the Rally for the Cure tennis tournament. She sat down with us over a lunch of salmon salad and green tea to discuss health, wellness and more.

Gazette: What's the most common mistake most women make with their exercise and diet goals?

Smith: Mentality. Thinking, I'm either on a diet or I'm not, I'm exercising or not. The way to approach it is integration. You can't do it all at once. People set themselves up for failure. They want to lose weight quickly and deprive themselves, rather than breaking it down to doable goals. It takes time to change behavior. We don't go from loving sugar today to giving it up completely tomorrow.

Gazette: What kind of diet should we go on?

Smith: No. 1, you need to learn how to balance your blood sugar levels. Your first meal is the most important meal of the day, and you don't want to have too many carbs. Be sure to eat every 3-4 hours. And, at the grocery store, shop the perimeter - for colorful vegetables, lean meats, fish, dairy - rather than the aisles. When you stick to the perimeter for 90 percent of your items, you will transform your diet. The aisles contain the bad stuff - the pre-packaged products, full of salt, sugars, carbs and additives.

Gazette: We're on said diet. Is there room for beer?

Smith: Yes. The important thing is when, where and moderation. I'm about quality over quantity, with anything. I hate it when women start to eat a dessert and go, 'Oh, I hate this and shouldn't be eating this!' Order it, but don't be compelled to eat or drink the whole thing.

Gazette: We might have to drink the whole thing.

Smith: If you're going to have drinks, then don't have dessert. Forget the bread, forget the dessert and have the wine. Every meal is a balancing act. How does this meal relate to the other meals in my day? This is how you get into a lifelong habit.

Gazette: What's your take on Americans' attitude about exercise and nutrition? Has it changed in the last 30 years, and how?

Smith: There's a huge obesity problem in the U.S. and the numbers just keep going up. It's deceptive because you have all these exercise videos, etc., but really the same people are using them. The haves and the have-nots as you get older, that isn't about wealth. It's about health, and that gap is widening.

Gazette: We have yet to find a "forever workout regimen." Any suggestions?

Smith: The heart and soul of it is the people leading it, and the people you make a connection with. When you find that one person (trainer), you'll know it. Don't give up 'til you find that person.

Gazette: What was up with those workout costumes in the 80s?

Smith: Fitness was driven by music. Music and fashion go hand in hand. You had this great music driving this very perky kind of class format. Because of the fibers, Spandex held its color and it held you in. Getting ready for a workout was like getting ready for a party. It was kind of an extension of a disco party. It was a blast. You put your leggings and headband on and everything was neon and fun. There is something about feeling good when you work out. New science has shown that people who work out to music work out longer and harder.

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Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364

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