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Get-Fit Tips from Fierce Women in Football

Dream Big, Work Hard

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Shannon Eastin made headlines for being the first ever female referee in an NFL game. But while the rest of the world was surprised, she always knew it would happen. In 1999 Eastin said,"It may sound crazy to some people, but I think I can be in the NFL some day. You've got to believe in yourself. If you don't, nobody else will."

Exercise Might Save Your Life

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Robin Roberts, one of the first black female sports anchors for ESPN's SportsCenter, credits regular exercise for helping her cope with her recently diagnosed myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood and bone-marrow disorder. The Good Morning America host and champion of Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity says, "They say I’m younger and fitter than most people who confront this disease and will be cured."

Fit is Strong, Not Skinny

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Tami Krause, head coach and coordinator of the Vikings cheer squad, explains her motto for one of the most popular dance teams in the NFL. "We want our girls to look like women. For us, fitness is not about being skinny but about being strong, having stamina, staying injury free, and being energetic. You need muscles for that. People think cheerleaders don’t eat, but these girls can eat a horse. They just choose to eat the right things most of the time."

Snack Smart

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Former NFL cheerleader Lisa Guerrero has been called "the hardest working sports reporter" at the LA Times. She also appeared on Fox's The Best Damn Sports Show Period. How does she maintain the fit physique of her cheerleading days? By noshing on "fish, vegetables, light foods," she says. "I always have almonds and foods for energy without the fat—lots of fruit… health bars, and Vita Coco."

You Don't Need a Gym

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Jill Arrington, the daughter of an NFL quarterback and the only female reporter for CBS' The NFL Today, knows her way around a gym, but she prefers sweating on the court. "I began playing tennis at age three and grew up playing in tournaments. I also played softball for ten years. My father was the coach. Now I play more golf than anything. Sports were always, and always will be, a part of my life."

Refuel Right

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If you do a high-intensity workout lasting an hour or longer, it's crucial to eat something afterwards, says Amy Campbell, fitness competitor, two-time NFL cheerleader, and former Ms. Fitness Universe.

"Within the first 45 minutes post-exercise, there is a “metabolic window," she says. During this time, your body's ability to utilize protein, carbohydrates, and fat instead of storing it all is at its peak.

"Eating a carb-and-protein mix at this point will maintain muscle, replenish glycogen stores, and reduce the amount of fat your body stores. Some examples may include: peanut butter sandwich, yogurt with fruit, bagel with cream cheese, or a handful of nuts (almonds/walnuts) with an apple and reduced-fat string cheese. Even an 8-ounce glass of nonfat chocolate milk is a great idea if you don’t have something more complex available," Campbell says.

Mix Fitness and Family Time

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“Ever since I was a kid, my mom used to drag me out of bed in the morning to go running with her. I loved it from the beginning and I ended up competing in track in high school and college," says NFL cheerleader Kaylee Munson, team captain of the Minnesota Vikings squad. "These days I run two or three days a week and when I can, I still go running with my mom. It’s our girl bonding time.”

Treat Yourself... in Moderation

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As the owner of the New Orleans Saints—one of only five female owners in the NFL—Rita LeBlanc hasn't forgotten her Cajun roots. No matter how busy she gets, she makes time to enjoy her favorite foods.

"I have to control myself with the bread and butter. I love rich foods like macaroni and cheese. And langoustines [large prawns]."