The veteran golfer brings golf back to the Olympics, and shares how she works out, fuels up, and loves her body
Michelle Wie is quite the anomaly in the golf world. She reached golf fame before puberty when she set the record as the youngest player to make the cut in an LPGA event at just 12 years old and became the youngest person ever (male or female) to win an adult USGA championship at 13. She's also known for playing in traditionally men's tours around the world. Despite dealing with injuries and ups and downs throughout her long career, Wie cemented her place in the golf world when she won her first major championship at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and is known as one of the biggest stars in women's golf.
But on top of her major golfing cred, she's so cool she could make even those who couldn't care less about golf want to take up the sport stat. She has amazing style on and off the green (she's even rocked rainbow-dyed hair) and has worked hard to combat the stereotype that golf's a boring game made for men. As part of her partnership with StarKist, we sat down with the golf star to talk about her ongoing quest to get girls involved in golf, and her love for yoga, meal prep, and Pinterest.
Shape: Golf is returning to the summer Olympics in Rio this year for the first time in over 100 years—what's that mean for you?
Michelle Wie (MW): It's amazing. Growing up watching the Olympics, it was always so sad because we never had the opportunity to be part of it. It's cool for me personally because I was so heavily involved in the process—back in 2009 we went over to Copenhagen along with rugby sevens and presented in front of the International Olympic Committee to convince them to include golf. It was so nerve-wracking waiting for the votes to come in! That was four or five years ago and now it's really happening! I think the Olympics are going to have a really big impact—especially on a junior golf and in developing countries. I think it will really increase the amount of kids who take up golf.
Shape: How do you feel about men's golf usually getting more attention than women's? Do you see that turning around?
MW: We look at the tennis organization as a goal. Men and women in pro tennis are given equal prize money. Yes, male golfers are getting a lot more attention right now, but considering where we were ten years ago compared to now, it's amazing. We're definitely on an upward trend. We're working to bring more attention to the LPGA tour, to junior golf, and getting girls to play and it's definitely working. But it takes a while for mindsets to change. Girls are brought up thinking—'I can't do this'. That's why I love and support the Play Like A Girl! movement. It's not an insult anymore, it's like, 'Yeah, I play like a girl! Damn straight!' That change in mindset just takes time. (Find out what female pro athletes think of the Aways #LikeAGirl ad.)
Shape: Those stereotypes that golf is a boring sport or an old man's sport are obviously pretty common. You're very clearly the opposite of those things, but what would your response be to a young girl who thinks golf isn't a cool sport for a young girl?
MW: There is definitely that stereotype, but I think we're breaking through it! There's definitely a youth movement going on. Rickie Fowler has done a really good job with that. And there are so many cool personalities in the LGPA—like Lexi Thompson—and hopefully young girls will see that. It's really cute to see girls playing with their pink balls and fashionable outfits. I go to junior golf tournaments and it's really fun to see how it's changed—they're really concerned with how they look!
Shape: How do you fuel up post-workout?
MW: I'm dairy-free and gluten-free so I'm always in the habit of bringing my own food wherever I go. I never want to be stuck in a situation—like in an airport—where you're so hungry and pick the wrong thing because your willpower is so low! So if I'm going to the gym, and I know afterward I'm going to want lean protein, Starkist tuna and salmon creations pouches have been great. You don't need to refrigerate it, you don't need utensils, you don't need to mix it with anything, you can just rip it open and eat it straight from the pouch. I also love to always keep fruit and trail mix on me—I love nuts. I always try to have protein and keep the sugar content low.
Shape: You've talked about your love of cooking. What's your favorite go-to healthy recipe to right now?
MW: Recently, I've been really into cooking oatmeal in the slow-cooker to have for breakfast. I'm obsessed with that, and my favorite recipe is really easy. I chop up some bananas and put that on the bottom, then I put a mixture of gluten-free steel cut oats, quinoa, and chia seeds, and then I'll pour in some water and cinnamon—no sugar—and it just cooks over-night. It's delicious–the banana makes it so sweet! It takes 30 seconds to do. For me, it's all about meal-prep. On Sundays I'll spend hours meal-prepping and it makes the week so easy. (Psst...We have 10 New Ways to Eat Oatmeal.)
Shape: What are your go-to workouts for staying in shape?
MW: My fitness plan really varies when I'm in-season and not. When I'm in-season there are a lot of golf-specific exercises I need to do for my hip and for my leg to keep everything strong. I really focus on my glutes and hamstrings—especially since I'm naturally very quad dominant. Those two are very important for golf. I'm also double-jointed in a lot of areas and don't have any problem with flexibility so for me it's more about keeping everything strong and tighter. But in my off-weeks, I love swimming in the ocean and I'll do open-water swims. I also love yoga and going on hikes.
Shape: Are there any mantras you tell yourself right as your stepping up to the tee to mentally prepare and keep your mind in the game?
MW: For me I say, "Let's just do this." You just need to dive in sometimes. There was an Adam Sandler movie, I forget which one, but he says "Count to three and just do it!" I just love that. It's so true. So I'll tell myself, just count to three, and do it on three. Because what's the worst that can happen? And I love looking up quotes on Pinterest—I have a whole board just of quotes! There was one I kept as my screensaver for a while: "Count your blessings big and small and everything in between." I really took that to heart. I think we take a lot of things for granted, but there's so much to be grateful for. You can lose sight of that and become unhappy if you forget to be grateful.
Shape: You experienced some setbacks and struggled with multiple injuries last year. Did you come out of that with any lessons?
MW: I learned to listen to my body better. I'm a grinder and I work hard but sometimes I work too hard, and I don't listen to my body and I ignore the warning signs. I say, "Oh I'll be fine, I'll be fine." But then it hits me way too late. So this year I've focusing on listening to my body if I'm hungry or tired and just being more in tune with what I need.
Shape: Let's talk body confidence. Was there ever a point growing up in the spotlight where you felt insecure about your body? How do you deal with that now?
MW: It was tough. I was quite the chubby one growing up. I was very large. I was also 5'7'' when I was ten years old. Being that tall was tough–I was bullied in school. It was hard being really insecure and then being thrown into the spotlight. Let me just say having a "Michelle Wie Day" in sixth grade is not the best thing that can happen to you! It's maybe the worst thing! It was this big accomplishment, but I was so embarrassed. I learned to work through it. As much as I hate to admit it, it still filters into my life today so I have to work on loving my body and loving myself and counting my blessings. I don't read anything on my Twitter or Instagram. It's unfortunate because people can be very mean on it and just hide behind their computer screens and I don't want to subject myself to that. I am very grateful for my followers and supporters, but you just never know.
Shape: Are you inspired by the female athletes who have shown off their bodies, for example in the ESPN Body Issue?
MW: The one name that really comes to mind is Serena Williams. She has such a strong body and the way she embraces and celebrates it is an inspiration. She’s definitely someone I look up to. Female athletes have beautiful, strong bodies!