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How Bethany Hamilton Stays Healthy, Sane, and Confident


Pro surfer Bethany Hamilton is always beaming. Whether she's catching a wave in between international competitions, promoting her book Soul Surfer, or working on her nonprofit organization, Friends of Bethany Hamilton, she always does it with a smile and an upbeat attitude. We had to get her secrets for staying so positive, so we sat down with her for a few minutes to steal her feel-good secrets.

Hamilton, who famously survived a vicious tiger shark attack when she was just 13, says she didn't always feel so confident: "After the attack, I was forced to rebuild my confidence and my dream of becoming a professional surfer," she says. "I struggled with difficulties that took a toll on my self-esteem."

Part of that struggle included what Hamilton, now 22, perceived to be her less-than-perfect smile—she suffered from a severe underbite, significant crowding of the mouth, and a narrow upper arch of her jaw. After hearing about the shark attack, a California orthodontist named Patrick Turley offered to treat her using the Damon System, an orthodontics and braces service.

"It completely transformed my smile," says Hamilton, who's now the face of Damon System. "It helped me to confidently share my story of perseverence with people all over the world."

And she has been! Hamilton's fame has stretched far beyond the waters of Hawaii, where she grew up. Now, the award-winning surfer is recognized worldwide.

So what exactly does it take to stay in tip-top shape? After Hamilton's accident, she had to change the way she exercised. Before, her workout regime revolved around improving her surfing technique, but after, she had to adjust to address the imbalance caused by her missing limb.

"Besides surfing, I play tennis, volleyball, I swim, I run hills, or I do high-intensity, high-interval workouts," Hamilton says. "I'm up at 5 a.m. every day."

The surfer is a self-described "veggie addict," (she also loves acai berries and usually starts her morning with an acai smoothie) but says she can't live without chocolate.

Hamilton also credits her religion to helping her stay positive. Her parents are both religious, she says, and since she was young, she's had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that she believes helped her survive her shark attack.

We admire Hamilton's tenacity and passion for surfing. Looking for more healthy inspiration? Check out this slideshow of inspirational older women we love!


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