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Boxing Legend Laila Ali Shares Her Best Fit and Foodie Secrets

 

Laila Ali takes charge of her health. Your turn. (Photo courtesy of Brian Ach/Associated Press for Pfizer)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

Boxing champ and fitness expert Laila Ali (you know, daughter of the Muhammad Ali) may have retired from the ring six years ago, but that doesn’t mean her fighting days are done. The mom of two is now battling a new opponent: age.

Laila has teamed up with Pfizer’s “Get Old” campaign to redefine the way we think about health as we grow older, explaining how wellness today will impact our tomorrows. “It’s a simple message,” says Ali. “How great is it to be preventative when you’re young, before you do get older and do start having problems?” And as the undefeated Super Middleweight Champion of our generation, she definitely knows her way around fit living. We chatted with the athlete to find out how she conquers motherhood, health and her hectic schedule…without feeling old.

You’re a mom, an author, a cook and a fitness fanatic. Wow! With such a busy agenda, how do you find time to exercise?

Being a mom makes it harder. I can’t just do what I want, when I want, so I have to really make sure that it’s a priority to get my workout in early. Some days, I just don’t make it; there’s too much going on and I can’t do it, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I focus more on my health because I’m getting older and I want to make sure that I’m thinking about being here for my kids and living a long life.

Very wise. Other than being busy, how has your workout routine changed since you hung up your gloves?

I was boxing before I had kids, so the difference is that I’m not a professional athlete anymore, when it was my job to train. Before, I had to do it in order to compete. Now, I don’t. Instead of boxing, I’m doing things that other people do, like running, Spinning and Pilates. I’m trying new things that I’m not necessarily going to injure myself trying to do.

If you could only do one boxing move for the rest of your life to keep fit and toned, what would that be?

Hit the heavy bags! That’s what we do—we punch. I’m hitting something; it’s not a person, it’s a bag, and I can do everything that I’ve learned. I can do a jab or an uppercut, and I’m working my full body.

A big congrats, by the way, on making it to the final round on Chopped: All Stars! What’s your favorite memory from the show?

The whole entire show was fun, but being competitive again was great. I love being competitive—that’s my thing. Make it a competition and I’m in it all the way.

What healthy snack do you love to quickly whip up?

If I have a sweet tooth, it’s going to be Greek yogurt. I’ll sprinkle on a little bit of Xylitol, a sugar replacement, to sweeten it. Because if you buy yogurt sweetened, there’s a lot of sugar in it. So I get the plain Greek yogurt and add a little bit of fruit; maybe some granola and nuts. If I want vegetables, I’ll probably do kale—bake it and make kale chips.

Yum! We love Greek yogurt. And kale. So now that you’ve finished Chopped, what can we expect from you next?

I’m getting into the cooking space. That’s part of the reason I went on Chopped. That was a great experience for me; it gave me a lot of credibility. I would love to do a cooking lifestyle show. I also have a line of hair-styling tools. I have a lot going on!

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