Dinner was the main event in Katie Lee’s home as she grew up. Starting at age four, Katie learned to cook from her Grandma Dora and her love of food only grew—she’s now the author of two comfort food cookbooks, is The Early Show‘s contributor on all things food and even hosted the first season of Top Chef.
But when Katie stumbled upon hard times, she decided to take up a new sport: surfing. The experience (she researched while surfing in Mexico) helped to inspire her first novel, Groundswell, which was released today! We spoke with Katie to learn about her new hobby and how she stays so fit while around so many tempting treats.
How did you make the transition from chef to novelist?
I have wanted to write a novel for years, but I never could find the right story to inspire me. I tried so many times, but I always thought the story had to involve food and I just couldn’t get it right. I guess writing is kind of like love: If you’re looking for it, you’ll never find it. It’s when you least expect it that it sweeps you off your feet.
What inspired you to begin surfing?
I was going through a rough time in my personal life and wanted to try something completely out of character to “get out of my head.” I was always enamored with the ocean, but terrified of it at the same time. One day, I was on the beach watching the surfers and thought I’d give it a shot. I signed up for lessons and went to my local surf camp.
What have you learned about yourself from the sport?
I’ve never been particularly athletic or good at sports, so I was really surprised that I was able to surf! I’m by no means a great surfer, but I love it and the mind-body connection I experience while surfing. It gave me a new sense of confidence and achievement.
Besides surfing, how do you stay in shape?
I exercise about six days a week. I live to eat, rather than eat to live, so I have to really work out hard! I do Core Fusion, SoulCycle, yoga and run on my treadmill.
Do you watch what you eat?
I do, but don’t count calories. I try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, making my plate 70 percent vegetables and 30 percent protein. During the week, I don’t eat sugar and save my indulgences for the weekend.
Since we couldn’t talk with the Southern food connoisseur without asking for a meal suggestion, click below for one of Katie’s favorite crowd-pleasing recipes!
When making dessert is your job, staying fit can be a challenge. We recently sat down with swimmer and competitive chef (she was on season two of Top Chef and Food Network Challenge) Marisa Churchill to discuss the launch of her new cookbook, Sweet & Skinny: 100 Recipes for Enjoying Life’s Sweeter Side Without Tipping the Scales. Though she’s around tempting desserts all day, Marisa is in amazing shape and even competes in swim meets. Here’s how she makes that possible:
What’s your workout routine like?
I try to exercise at least five days a week. I swim three times, completing about 6,000-8,000 yards weekly, and strength train twice a week.
Aside from swimming laps in the pool, what’s your favorite way to work out?
Since the launch of Sweet & Skinny, I am on the road a lot traveling for my book tour. Therefore, I’m all about “exercises on the go.” Here are a few of my favorite ones that you can do just about anywhere:
- Squats and Lunges: These are perfect for when you’re on the go because you don’t need a lot of space or equipment. You just need your body! You can easily do either exercise in a hotel room or hallway. I do three sets of 15 squats and three sets of 20 lunges.
- Sit-ups and Push-ups: Any style works. It doesnt matter what type of sit-up or push-up you perform, as long as you get it done!
- Planks: Drop down and hold for 30 seconds! I aim for four sets.
What do you eat to fuel up for a tough workout or swimming competition?
I cut back on sugar the week before a competition and make sure I eat well-balanced meals with lots of fruits and vegetables. I also drink a lot of green tea to keep me energized.
Stay tuned for healthy cooking and eat-right tips from Marisa in an upcoming issue of FITNESS!