Fitness + Well-being

Brandi Chastain on Motherhood, Diets and Posing Nearly Naked

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 (Reuters)

You might remember Brandi Chastain from the “sports bra incident" when she scored the game-winning penalty goal in the 1999 Women's World Cup match against China, then fell to her knees and tore her jersey off.

But Chastain is known for more than just that memorable photo op. She's an international soccer icon with three Olympic medals and two World Cup championships under her belt.

Today, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. She plays soccer professionally for the California Storm, is a television broadcaster, assists her husband in coaching college soccer, runs a workout group in her community, and most recently teamed up Libby’s Fruits & Vegetables to promote the importance of children living healthy and active lifestyles.

And did we mention that she’s a mom to six-year-old Jaden Smith and 23-year-old stepson Cameron Smith? Clearly, she knows how to juggle more than one soccer ball.

Here’s how she does it:

You have a lot of accomplishments under your belt, including becoming a mom. How did motherhood change your body?

“Becoming a parent and being a female athlete, your body changes a little bit,” says Chastain. “I think what participating in sports and being an athlete has helped me know is that I’m kind of in charge of how my body feels and what it does.”

Although Chastain says she’s “kind of in denial” about some of the changes that come with motherhood, she makes a conscious effort to stay active and eat right. “I work with my husband at Santa Clara University for the women’s soccer team, so I’m on the field every day,” she says. “It takes a little more effort … but I’m not very good at sitting down.”

What’s your diet like?

“I don’t usually use the word ‘diet’ in any sentences,” she says. “To me, dieting is something you’re trying to fix.” Instead, Chastain avoids “empty calories” and sets a good example for her children by choosing nutritious foods.

Were you always this healthy?

“I grew up at a time when my parents weren’t educated in nutrition,” says Chastain. “I ate whatever tasted good to me and usually it had a lot of mayo or it was fried, or had a lot of white, processed food.” As she got older and entered college, those not-so-healthy choices started to catch up with her. “I had to learn some things,” she says. “I was heavy for a kid, as a 16, 17, 18-year-old. Luckily, I had people around me who were supportive and never made it a big deal. But looking back on it now, I see that.”

It’s hard to eat healthy all the time. Do you ever indulge?

“I’m not here to say I don’t enjoy splurging on something,” says Chastain. “Ice cream is something I absolutely love.” Instead of avoiding it, she finds ways to integrate it into her regular routine in a way that’s manageable, controllable, and makes her happy. “I think having that happiness and finding that comfort is good — with moderation,” she adds.

You once posed nearly nude, and this year, younger soccer players like have followed in your footsteps. What was your barely-there photo shoot like?

“I can only speak for myself, but I think in those photo shoots — I think everybody has a sense of vulnerability and insecurity,” says Chastain. “I think that’s innate in human nature.” Looking back at the scenario, Chastain said the process taught her that “This is me — I have to feel okay with myself. This is my one go-around. I’m going to feel as good as I can, I’m going to work as hard as I can, and I’m going to be okay with me.”

It seems like you’ve found the balance between health and happiness. Do you have any advice for other busy moms trying to do the same?

“Surround yourself by people you admire,” says Chastain. "Those kinds of things are truly infectious." Her advice to any parent — both moms and dads — is to "put yourself around people who you admire, pick their brain and use them as a great support system to push yourself to try something new."

And ultimately, "Be involved with your kids. When they go to the park, don’t sit on the sideline. Get on the monkey bars!" she says. "I just think that being active is so positive and so life affirming that there’s only good outcomes.”

Finally, can you believe Kerri Walsh was pregnant when she won her gold medal in London?!

“Yes, yes I can!” Chastain exclaims. “We went to the same high school, and it didn’t surprise me at all,” she adds. “I think the woman’s body is programmed naturally to do great and awesome things. She proves that right there. Kerri is a true, true superstar.”