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Sexiness is part of Marisa Miller's DNA, not to mention a huge part of her success as a supermodel. This year will be her first in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, airing December 4 on CBS. And whether or not you like seeing women pose confidently, wearing next to nothing, along the runway on your very own television set in prime time, there's no denying that many people do. Millions of viewers are expected to tune in and admire. We caught up with Marisa pre-runway for her next challenge: convincing you, right here, right now, that every woman radiates confidence, sexiness, good health, and good looks when she works out and takes care of her body. Her down-to-earth advice makes her the perfect choice for our Mind, Body & Spirit Superstar series this month.Growing up, what was your body like?
Marisa: I used to be shy about it because I was a tomboy, but I was also a size D by the time I was 16. I'd hide my body in big T-shirts and baggy pants. If I was with friends at the beach and I had to get up to throw a piece of garbage away, I would put on all my clothes just to walk to the trash can. I didn't like getting attention. Even now, I don't like it. For a long time, I still got that nervous feeling before a shoot if I had to wear a bikini -- the same as anybody else feels. I'd rather be the one in the corner, watching, but it's my job: You have to get over it. And in general, I'm comfortable with the curves I have. I like having a woman's body.You're pretty easygoing. Where did you get that attitude?
Marisa: My parents -- they met surfing in Santa Cruz. People in my hometown have a healthy, simple attitude about life. Everybody is always out hiking or going to the beach.How do you give your body-confidence a boost?
Marisa: Exercise. I've been going to a boxing gym, and it's a really intense workout -- you have to focus. By the time I leave, any stress or negative feeling I had when I walked in is gone. It's not like I'm exercising to be skinny -- I'm the girl who needs curves. I like my butt and my boobs! My focus is on being toned and firm.
Marisa: I've tried everything. I love surfing: It's spiritual and physical. It's something I grew up doing, and it's a big part of the California culture. I also like Spinning. It's good toning for your rear and legs. I've got the bike at home -- since it's in my house, I really have no excuse not to do it! I'll put in one of my favorite Guns N' Roses music video DVDs and start pedaling. I find it's so much easier to work out when I can distract myself with something visual. When I'm home, I will try to work out almost every day, because I never know if I'll have time to exercise once I'm on the road.Do you lift weights?
Marisa: I don't. Most of the time I use my own body weight. I stretch a lot. I like long, lean muscles.What's the key to getting your rear end?
Marisa: Backward lunges [laughs]. You basically put one foot in front of the other and then lean back, isolating your glutes. I did them yesterday, and I'm a little sore! With my job, you want your butt to bounce, not jiggle.How do you prepare for the Victoria's Secret show?
Marisa: For the five days leading up to the show, I train with my boxing instructor, Phil Paolina. We do different punch combinations -- jabs, hooks, uppercuts -- and combinations that include ducking, which incorporates squat-like moves for my legs. We do this in the ring for 10 rounds -- each round is three minutes and I get a one-minute break in between, during which I do as many crunches as I can. After the ring, I box with the speed bag for about 15 more minutes. I also use a resistance band every night for leg and butt toning. I put the band around my ankles and do 15 kicks in front, 15 kicks to the side, and 15 kicks to the back and then switch legs for three sets; I like it because it doesn't take a lot of time and the results are great.
Marisa: I try not to eat carbs for dinner because I don't like to sleep on a full stomach. In the morning I'll have an English muffin or Ezekiel bread, which is all grains and legumes, with protein in it too. If I'm really good, I'll make an omelet with vegetables. And cheese -- I have to have cheese in there somewhere. For lunch and dinner, I eat protein, like tuna and a spinach salad. Last night, I grilled some ahi tuna with veggies. I don't change my eating routine for the show, I just follow this plan a little more strictly. And I always carry a ProBar and some dried fruits and nuts in my bag in case I get hungry when I'm working.What's your weakness?
Marisa: Definitely ice cream. I play tricks on myself, like putting it in a mug and eating it with a small spoon. This way, I have to take tiny bites and it lasts longer. Plus, if I want more, I have to get up off the couch and get it!Any foods you avoid?
Marisa: Processed stuff. My husband, Griffin, is tall and skinny and eats whatever he wants without gaining a pound. He has a soda dispenser in the refrigerator, which is so annoying! Recently, I came back from a long trip and he'd gone grocery shopping -- which was nice, but it was all TV dinners and Cap'n Crunch. I said, "Honey, is there a fruit or vegetable anywhere in the house?" And he's like, "I got canned peaches!" God bless him, but he doesn't make it easy for me.Eat Like Marisa
The supermodel shares her favorite recipe, a variation on the classic Waldorf salad:
Mix together. Place on a bed of greens.
Marisa: I'm addicted to Victoria's Secret lip gloss from the Very Sexy line. I wear "Intimate" -- it's the perfect shade of pink. I was doing my sister's makeup for her graduation and she liked it so much that I had to give it to her -- it was her day, after all!What did your parents think about your decision to start modeling?
Marisa: They didn't have a clue! My father is very protective, which I used to think was annoying when I was younger. Now I realize that it helped me stay out of trouble.How do you feel today when you see yourself on the cover of a national magazine?
Marisa: I run the other way! Here's a funny story: Recently, I was on a cover and my dad was so excited that he bought three copies of the magazine at the grocery store. The woman at the checkout looked at him like he was a total pervert. My dad was like, "No! That's my daughter on the cover!" And she was like, "Uh-huh..."
Get your very own supermodel workout mix! Download Marisa's favorite tunes at www.fitnessmagazine.com/playlists.
Before Marisa met up with jewelry designer Marnie Greenwood, she figured breast cancer wasn't her problem. "My mentality was, when I'm 40, I'll start getting mammograms," she says. "I had no idea how many young women get the disease."
Then Greenwood told her about her Peace, Love, Cure campaign, which raises money for the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit group that provides support to young women with breast cancer. YSC was formed in 1998 by three breast cancer survivors diagnosed before age 35. "Doctors were still saying that breast cancer didn't happen to young women," says CEO Michele Przypyszny. "And we thought, Then how can women get help?"
Now, in addition to supporting Peace, Love, Cure, Marisa serves as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program. Today, in part thanks to the advocacy of Peace, Love, Cure and YSC, awareness is spreading. But the disease is as deadly as ever among this demographic. "About 11,000 to 14,000 women under 40 are diagnosed every year," says Przypyszny, "and about 1,400 die." Youngsurvival.org receives 250,000 hits every month, mainly from survivors looking for support. Says Przypyszny, "It's charities like Peace, Love, Cure that allow us to keep helping these women."
Behind the scenes of our photo shoot, we learned that Marisa Miller is one of the nicest, most genuine models working today (and we mean working hard -- our cover girl tried on over 30 bikinis for us, and kept a smile on her face the whole time!). Here's what else we discovered about our Mind, Body, Spirit Superstar:
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November 2007.