My simple rules for getting bikini-fit: sure, top model Daniela Pestova is a natural beauty—but she works hard to stay bikini-ready year-round.
Though Daniela Pestova has been modeling swimsuits for more than 15 years--2006 marks her fifth Shape cover--don't think for a second that she lives on bottled water and salad. "If I don't eat, I'm exhausted," says the 35-year-old mother of two. "I'd much rather eat healthy and be healthy." Here, Daniela's tricks for looking fit and having energy to burn.
MAKE WORKOUTS COUNT
"I hate to admit it, but when I first started modeling I didn't like to exercise," Daniela says, "but now that I have kids and a demanding career, working out actually helps me to relax." She goes to the gym three times a week while Yanick, 9, and Ella, 4, are at school. She does 40-50 minutes of cardio on the bike, the elliptical trainer or occasionally the treadmill. After stretching, she does resistance training to stay toned. Since she's been a Shape reader for more than eight years, she says many of her moves--be they leg-toning squats or sexy arm-baring biceps curls--have come straight from our pages! "I change up my toning routine often, but I usually start with my abs," Daniela says. (Go to Shape.com/getfit to find moves like Daniela's favorites.) "Then I rest and do the whole thing again!" she says.
Twice a week she exercises at home using Gaiam Pilates DVDs (gaiam.com) and resistance bands. "Though the workouts aren't particularly advanced or exhausting," she says, "they force me to relax and concentrate on stretching and alignment--and leave me feeling invigorated."
EAT FOR ENERGY AND ENJOYMENT
Daniela often steers away from her native Czech cuisine, which is heavy on meats (like sausages), starches and creamy sauces. "I'm not a vegetarian," she says, "but I love lots of tofu and veggies." She drinks a cup of black tea every morning and follows it with yogurt ("It has healthy bacteria that helps balance my digestive system"). Lunch often includes a big bowl of homemade vegetable or chicken soup, and midafternoon-snack favorites are crunchy veggies like carrots and cucumbers. Evening meals are lighter, but always contain protein like eggs, cheese or chicken.
You won't find many junk foods in Daniela's diet: "If I'm working out I don't like to put lots of unhealthy food in my body," she says. Which isn't to say she doesn't like to indulge: "My occasional treats are a glass of red wine or a big chunk of dark chocolate," Daniela says.
FIND TIME TO TAKE IT EASY
Like so many working mothers, Daniela is always looking for simple ways to relax. "These days it feels like I'm either at work or working at home!" she says. When she can grab some private time, she looks forward to her workouts, a hot bath or a long bike ride. It sometimes means letting go of the idea she can (or has to) do it all. "Something has to give and maybe my house won't always be in tiptop shape," she says, "but if I can steal away for half an hour, I can find balance, and that's so much more important than housework."
RELATED ARTICLE: 'A few of my favorite things'
Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs ($10; at drugstores) "I bring this with me when I'm modeling swimsuits--it makes my legs look flawless and doesn't stain clothes."
adidas by Stella McCartney hoodie ($100; shopadidas.com) "It's cool-looking and totally functional. I wear it out with jeans--and to the gym."
L'Occitane Green Tea Eau de Toilette ($40; loccitane.com) "This scent is fresh and just a little exotic."
Lancome Juicy Tubes lip gloss in First Class, Copper Cabana, Exotic Kiss and Tropical Tryst ($16.50 each; lancome.com) "This evens out lip color with just a hint of shine; I wear one of these every day."
RELATED ARTICLE: MY SHOOT PLAYLIST
Modeling bikinis takes loads of confidence. Here, Daniela's strike-a-pose soundtrack:
* U2 "Two Hearts Beat as One"
* Pavol Habera & Team "While I'm With You"
* The Rolling Stones "Emotional Rescue"
* The Chemical Brothers "Galvanize"
* Interpol "C'mere"
RELATED ARTICLE: How I keep slim on the road
Daniela's career demands constant travel, so exercise has to be flexible and portable. "I try to stay in hotels that have gyms," Daniela says. "If that's not an option, I take long walks." Her biggest challenge? Coming "home" to her routine after weeks away. "Motivating myself can be so frustrating," she says. "But as soon as I walk in the gym door," she says, "I remember again why I'm there: for me!"
"I began loving exercise when it stopped being something I had to do--
and started to become something that I wanted to do for myself."
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