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Body Watch | GUEST WORKOUT

Healthy Habits

It's a mental thing. Watching what she eats helps Kathy Smith keep up her good disposition.

July 24, 1996|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When Kathy Smith walked into the Camelions restaurant, the first thing that struck us was how drop dead gorgeous she is, this fitness expert who turns 45 in December. A business woman--owner of Kathy Smith Lifestyles, with 20 fitness videos under her belt--a wife, married to Steve Grace for eight years, and the mother of two daughters, Kate, 7, and Perrie, 4, she has energy to spare. Must be all that healthy living, something Kathy learned the hard way. "Exercise can give you the strength and confidence to pull yourself out of a bad situation," she explained in between spoonfuls of a carrot ginger soup. "When I first started, I got involved with running."

Question: That was after you lost your parents.

Answer: Yes, that was really a tough time for me. My dad died from a heart attack when he was 42. Two years later my mom and stepdad passed away in a plane crash. That's when the whole bottom really fell out. You're 19 and all of a sudden there's nobody.

Q: And running helped you through all of that?

A: I just started to sense that every time I would go out for these runs, there'd be a clarity and it would help me. You just clear your mind out completely or if you have a problem you start working on it. Running just took me over. To tell you the truth, that was a real turning point in my life.

Q: And led you to L.A., into the fitness world.

A: It's funny because I met Richard [Simmons] right when I came to Los Angeles. I went to his Anatomy Asylum and I had tight jeans on, so as I sat down the zipper broke. Pop. Gone, right? . . . Richard got in front of me and we bunny hopped to the bathroom. I always loved him for that.

Q: You don't look as though your zipper would pop.

A: My issues have never been about weight. With the type of metabolism I have, I don't have to sit here and worry about every single morsel of food I eat. My issue is how I feel because food really affects my disposition. The wrong foods--like chocolate--would make me a little moody.

Q: More mental health than vanity.

A: It's not where you're standing in front of the mirror, dropping your drawers and checking out whether you've got the perfect legs. It's a matter of, do I have enough energy at the end of the day so when my 7-year-old comes home I can take her to the park and help with homework and tuck her in and have a good attitude.

Q: How do you make sure everyone's eating right at home?

A: One of the things we do right is early in the morning we cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, radishes and jicama into a Tupperware bowl that we keep on the kitchen counter. It's a munch thing, one of those ways that you can really get vegetables in your diet.

Q: What are your meals like?

A: Breakfast is whole grains, or oatmeal, throw a few raisins on and rice milk. And I have a vitamin C drink and a piece of fruit, normally an orange or papaya. . . . I use bagels with a little jam as a mid-afternoon snack.

My favorite meal, to tell you the truth, is dinner because it's such a family affair. Dinner, a good piece of grilled swordfish with a baked potato and asparagus or turkey burgers--I'm trying to think for my kids; they love turkey burgers. I have to tell you one thing that I feel I've got a lock on--I've worked out this exercise and eating so that it's all just very natural.

Q: What is your exercise routine?

A: It always changes, so I'll give guidelines. I work out, I'd say, five days a week in the mornings when I'm fresher. My main thing is the treadmill. I do that for 30 minutes. I'll do another 15 to 20 minutes of weights, one day upper body, one day lower. Then I do another 15 minutes of yoga-type exercises for flexibility. One day a week I take a really intense yoga class and I go for at least a two-hour hike on Sundays with my two girls.

Guest Workout runs every other Wednesday in Life & Style.

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