Jenna Wolfe is living a healthy (and happy) life. The former The Today Show correspondent is gearing up to make 2016 healthier for everyone with her amazing book, Thinner In 30. We met up with the fitness expert and TV personality, her partner Stephanie Gosk, and their daughters Harper and Quinn to talk about being healthy, what it’s like balancing work and family, and why, at the end of the night, she warns, “Don’t eat the Play-Doh!”
Jenna, how did Thinner In 30 come to be?
Jenna: I was constantly being asked by people what they could to do to get healthier. Some were bored with their routines and didn’t know where to start. People like small easy tips, like, “Tell me the one thing I can do.” No one says, “Hey, give me 40 things I can do starting January 1st!” Who says that? [laughs]
I decided to come up with this way to achieve change by breaking it down into 30 easy, digestible bite-sized pieces. So if I give you one tiny thing that you could do today and you didn’t have to do anything else, then on the next day you do another small tip. So you’re getting the information but it’s easier, and at the end of 30 days, you’ve changed. You’re eating better, you’re feeling better. And that’s how the book came about. And it’s not just for people who aren’t in shape; it’s for people who want to get back in shape or try something new but don’t want to do everything in one fell swoop.
They say that it takes 21 days to adopt a new habit. So with your book, by the 30th day, you don’t even realize you’ve made that many changes and have adopted a newer, healthier lifestyle.
That’s the point. It’s so important to be healthy in front of your kids, because if you don’t work, your family won’t work. That’s why it’s important that Steph and I stay as healthy as possible, even though we are in the thick of it right now. We haven’t slept in about three years!
Stephanie: There are more things that matter. Working out and stuff you do for yourself starts to slip on the list pretty quickly.
How do you make yourself a priority, when you’re so ingrained to take care of yourself first?
The way you do it is that you stop saying I have to get in shape and I have to change the way I eat or move. You will do it if you only have to do one thing. You don’t gain weight in one day, so you’re not going to lose it in one day. You drink 20 sips of water every morning; that’s the first chapter in my book. You realize that it’s not daunting and it has sustainability. It’s so not easy for us; it’s hard for everyone. Anyone who has kids will understand.
So while we were shooting, Jenna you were saying that you are the health fanatic, but Stephanie you’re less so.
Stephanie: I’m a little less so but it’s all relative to her, for sure. I definitely love to be active and I always have been throughout my life. But I also eat cheeseburgers and drink red wine. I indulge a bit more.
Jenna, do you ever indulge with her?
Jenna: So I will compromise. I’ll do three weeks on and one week off. Three weeks of super super clean healthy eating, and then one week off of just clean healthy eating! [laughs] I won’t do a cheeseburger on a bun with French fries, but I will do a bison burger, extremely well-done, with some steamed veggies and a salad, and then maybe I’ll put a piece of low-fat cheese on it. So I will indulge, but not that much. But you have to understand that she’ll say that she’ll indulge whenever she wants, but she’s also super disciplined. She’ll wake up one day and say, “I need to lose 5 pounds this week,” and will lose five pounds in a week! So she’s good when she needs to be.
Stephanie: There’s balance, but I definitely have been blessed with my parents’ metabolism, my Mom’s in particular, but at the same time, with Jenna, she has pushed me to eat healthier. She doesn’t cook, so I’ll cook for us. I’m not going to cook stuff that she won’t eat; I’m not going to cook two different meals. I make sure to cook something that we both enjoy that is healthier. When we got out to dinner, I’m the one getting pork and beans and she’s the one getting steamed fish! That’s where things balance out.
I find that couples who are together have similar eating styles. You don’t really find one person who is super healthy conscious and the other one who…isn’t.
Jenna: Yes, there is generally a nutritional osmosis there.
How do you instill healthy eating habits for the girls?
Jenna: They eat healthy; they are eating sweet potatoes, avocado, chicken, beef, soup, and vegetables as their daily staples. So when they go to a party and they have cake, they really appreciate it. Quinn doesn’t have teeth yet so she’s gumming her way through life’s culinary offerings!
Stephanie: But then we also make cookies together.
Jenna: It’s great to start them off with a healthy palette. When there are choices we can make for them, we do it. Harper doesn’t need to be drinking juice; she drinks water and milk. There might be a point when all she wants is juice, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
In addition to Thinner In 30, you also do exercise videos on your site, too.
Jenna: Similar to the way I’m giving you the chapters in the book, I’m not going to give you 60-minute workouts. The workouts are ten minutes long. So if you’re a working mom who’s juggling and battling a thousand different things, you can have a great workout in 10 minutes. I’m doing quick workouts that you can do that get it done. Stephanie is the same way; she’s so busy at work that she doesn’t have time for full workouts.
Stephanie: When you have that moment, you have to take advantage of it. Before you had the liberty to do it when you want, but now you can’t put it off.
What are some of your favorite exercises?
Jenna: For me, I love to sweat. I need to sweat. It makes me feel like I’m really working. I don’t have the luxury of having 60 minutes every day to get to a gym, so that’s why a lot of the things I do are right here in my living room while the kids are playing. Everything I do, I do whenever I can. I did a 100 mountain climbers and then played with them, then did another 100. You can do them anywhere, do pushups off the wall. If there’s a move I don’t like, I find another move to work the same muscle. I hate doing lunges; I’ll still work my glutes and my legs. People ask me all the time what’s the best workout and I tell them: “Whatever gets you to the gym.” It’s whatever you like to do.
Steph: You have to enjoy some aspect of it.
Jenna: I’ve given Steph workouts she can do when she’s in her hotel room. So if you tell me what your limitations are, I’ll tell you why they’re not an excuse and why you can absolutely workout.
How would you describe your parenting styles?
Stephanie: I think we’re pretty similar on a lot of things. When it comes to behavioral things, when you say no, it has to mean no. Out in public, you have to behave a certain way. We started to instill them once Harper started to understand the concept.
Jenna: There’s nothing worse than when a kid is doing something wrong and you say “If you don’t stop you’re going to get a time out,” and the kid doesn’t stop and the parent doesn’t’ give the time out. Harper is still a little too young to understand cause and effect, so we discipline in a way that she understands.
That said, it’s hard in a same sex situation where there’s no real gender divide. I guess I can see how people would think it’s hard to understand whose role is this and who does that. Not that it matters which gender at all, but over the years, it’s fallen into that men will do this, and women will do that. But with us, we fell into this great parenting system where Steph takes care of all the food—all the buying and cooking—and the clothes. And I take care of all the doctors’ appointments and the scheduling.
I don’t think of parenting in a “men do this” and “women do that” kind of way. I think of it more like, “What are you strengths?” and how do you balance it within the couple.
Stephanie: I think in a same-sex relationship, where there aren’t any cultural norms of who does what, then you’re not battling any of that. So you’re very naturally and organically dividing the labor.
Jenna: I might be the one to coddle a bit more, while Steph is more the adventurist, even though most people would think that’s me. I was the craziest person in the world before I had kids. I did things you would never even think of doing. I had no fear; I jumped out of planes and moving vehicles. Now, I know that I’m not just living my life for me anymore. There are 3 other people who are there and depend on me, so now I’m more cautious about that stuff.
Your life isn’t your own anymore, and you’re okay with it—to an extent. You want to have that time when it’s not all about the kids.
Jenna: To any parents with two kids under the age of 2, there is very little us time.
Stephanie: And the truth is that you can’t have just any babysitter come in because they’re too little. You don’t have that freedom like before. We try to find those windows and when we do they’re great.
Jenna: They’re so cute that you want to be with them, and then there other times that they’re so cute, but you still want your freedom, too!
So now what else do you have going on work wise?
Stephanie: The good thing is that there’s always going to be news. There’s always going to be the next thing. We always have stuff to do. There’s no planning; it happens very suddenly, and then you have to go very suddenly. You might be gone for a day or you might be gone for two weeks.
Jenna: Steph has a bag packed by the door at all times. Like with San Bernardino. We had planned a long weekend and moved heaven and earth to get coverage for the kids. And then San Bernardino happened and Steph was on the next flight.
Steph: The news doesn’t care what day of the week it is or what vacation you have planned. It’s a schedule that most people aren’t used to.
Jenna: So now that I left The Today Show I guess part of me thought that my life would be a little easier. It is anything but. I’ve been given a lot of great opportunities to do some really cool things but then pull me in a bunch of different directions, but all within the same space. I’m working with Microsoft now to develop workouts that I’m putting together. I’m also doing a lot of Dr. Oz right now. There’s this great app called Lose It; it’s how I lost all my baby weight. They put me on their advisory board so I’m doing all the fitness for them. I’m still doing TV but I have my hand in various projects. I do speeches now, too.
It all relates to where you are right now in your life.
Jenna: 100%. But as scattered as this is, and it’s chaos, it’s amazing that at the end of the night, I say—
Steph: [interrupting as Harper tries to eat Play-Doh] Oh honey, don’t eat the Play-Doh!
Jenna: [laughs] Exactly. At the end of the night, I say, “Oh, honey, don’t eat the Play-Doh!” We count the babies and we count ourselves and say, “Okay, one down. Let’s get ready to do it all over again the next day.”