Legendary swimmer Summer Sanders is used to being in front of the camera, but now that she's retired, she's often the one behind it. As a sports commentator, Sanders is headed to London this summer to cover the Olympics. Not only that, but she's recently teamed up with the American College of Phlebology, American Venous Forum, and the Society of Vascular Surgery to work on Rethink Varicose Veins, a campaign to raise awareness about variose veins; and she's just been hired as a broadcaster to work with a new Pac-12 network in Park City, Utah. She's busy—and she doesn't seem to have plans to slow down any time soon! We managed to catch up with Sanders for a few minutes and talk fitness, health, and baring all in a bikini!
SHAPE: What do you do to stay in such amazing shape, especially with summer right around the corner?
Summer Sanders (SS): Oh, that is always a struggle, isn't it? I don't care how much you're working out, when you go to put on that bikini, you're like, "Oh no!" But you know, I'm not the athlete I was when I was training for the Olympics in '92 or when I was working out every single day. I have to live in moderation: I work out three or four days a week, and I smile while I'm working out—I really do enjoy it. I work out with my girlfriends and make it a social competition. One of the things that stuck around after swimming was that feeling of having a goal. I like to challenge myself and train for something.
SHAPE: What are some of your favorite workouts?
SS: One of my favorite workouts to do with my girlfriends is yoga. We are equally impatient with our yoga. We are those people who are sweating in the back and we'll be in downward dog giggling and looking at each other. And I know what we're all thinking: What are we going to order for dinner afterward? So yoga's pretty fun, because we don't take it too seriously. Running is great too, and there's also something great about just getting on your bike and hitting the road.
SHAPE: What about your diet? Is there anything you refuse to give up?
SS: I'm really conscious of the amount of food I eat, but I don't deny myself anything. For example, I have a really big sweet tooth. At the end of the night, if I'm craving ice cream, I might not have the bowl that I would have when I was a kid, but I'll put a couple of scoops in a coffee mug, and I'll eat it slowly, and I enjoy every moment of it. And I totally go the full-fat ice cream route. I do that with everything—salad dressing, frozen yogurt, ice cream—I just eat small portions.
SHAPE: What are some of the healthy foods you eat every day?
SS: We are a huge colorful family when it comes our plates. We eat a lot of veggies at night, like red peppers, yellow peppers, or broccoli. In the morning we always eat something substantial, that sticks to our ribs, like whole grains and fruit. I'm also a big fan of water.
SHAPE: What's on your workout playlist?
SS: My family loves that song "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Also, "Good People" by Jack Johnson. My roots go back to Van Morrison and some older, more classic rock, like Cashmere, Led Zeppelin, Rush. Oh, and U2. Music coupled with exercise just makes for smooth sailing for the rest of the day!
SHAPE: What about the days when you struggle to get out of bed and work out? How do you make yourself do it?
SS: Here's what we need to do: We need to have a long, honest conversation with ourselves. Are we tired because we feel like we're getting sick? If that's the case, shut your eyes and go to sleep. But are you just tired because you're tired? If that's the case, then you have to get up, because the moment you open that door to cheat on your workout, that door gets wider and wider and wider, and before you know it, you're constantly cheating. And can we be honest? Very few people finish their day with a workout. There are 30,000 more excuses not to work out at night than there are in the morning. So just get it done. When you're finished with your perfect song, you'll be done, and you'll feel great!