303: Gabby Reece on Parenting, Creating Strong Relationships, and XPT

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Gabby Reece on Parenting, Creating Strong Relationships, and XPT
Wellness Mama » Episode » 303: Gabby Reece on Parenting, Creating Strong Relationships, and XPT
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The Wellness Mama Podcast
303: Gabby Reece on Parenting, Creating Strong Relationships, and XPT

It’s not every day you get to sit down with one of your personal role models! Gabrielle Reece is not only a volleyball legend but an inspirational figure for girls and women everywhere. You may already know Gabby as a former professional beach volleyball player and Nike’s first female spokeswoman, but in this episode, you’ll also get to know her as an entrepreneur, an amazing mom of 3, and a dedicated wife of 20 years.

What I appreciate most about Gabby is the positive message she sends to women everywhere about a healthy body image, the importance of relationships, and creating your own definition of success.

Episode Highlights With Gabby Reece

  • Ways to help teenagers learn healthy self-love and body image
  • Why freedom is key to motivation
  • Strategies for raising kids who learn to be independent
  • Why being a good role model doesn’t mean being perfect
  • Characteristics of a healthy relationship and marriage
  • Ways to model good communication and conflict resolution in a family
  • The role of sports in the family
  • How Gabby approaches exercise and fitness today (and how you can train with her)
  • The benefits of cold plunge
  • A powerful mental switch that can lighten any mom’s load
  • And more!

Resources We Mention

More From Wellness Mama

Did you enjoy this episode? Please drop a comment below or leave a review on iTunes to let us know. We value knowing what you think and this helps other moms find the podcast as well.

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Child: Welcome to my Mommy’s podcast.

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Katie: Hi and welcome to the ”Wellness Mama” podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com and this episode is with someone who I personally look up to. Gabrielle Reece, otherwise known as Gabby Reece is not only a volleyball legend but she’s also an inspirational speaker and leader, a New York Times bestselling author and a wife and mom of three. She’s a former professional beach volleyball player and Nike’s first female spokeswoman. And she to me represents both athleticism and beauty and also is very inspirational as a parent and in her 20-plus year marriage as well as in all the outreach that she and her husband Laird do in the health world and in their community and in fostering strong fitness and community around the world. And in this episode, we go deep on raising teenagers, on body image, on ways to nurture strong relationships and about her new fitness system that she does with Laird called XPT and which I’ve tried and love. So I hope you will enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it.

Gabby, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Gabby: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Katie: I am so excited to chat with you because I have known about you and Laird for a really long time and you are such an inspiration both in business and fitness and also as a parent and in your relationship. And I have so many directions I can’t wait to go with this interview, but I’d love to start off with a little bit of the fitness and body side because I’ve gone on my own kind of journey the last couple of years of learning to accept and love my body as it is. And I know that you were named one of the top five most beautiful women in the world and that you obviously are a very beautiful woman, but I also know that you’re taller than a lot of women. And I’m curious, have you ever struggled with body image issues because of that or if not, how did you avoid that?

Gabby: I think, I didn’t always live with my mother, but my mother, I moved sort of back in with my mother when I was seven and she’s quite tall. She was about 6′ 2” and a half, let’s say before gravity started doing its thing. And I don’t think I ever had an issue with being tall. I think what’s hard as a young person is getting unusual amounts of attention. I think that’s hard for any adolescent person. So if you asked me if I struggle with that, maybe I struggled there and also struggled just kind of realizing really early that, you know, like I wasn’t gonna be, it sounds so silly now, but like you know, you’re not gonna be wearing the same fashion as other people because a lot of things don’t fit. And also what could be on-trend sort of looks ridiculous on you because you’re so tall. And so I think I just came to a level of acceptance.

And then I just did the normal amounts of torturing myself as a woman. You know, whether it’s in your teens wanting bigger this or smaller that or straighter this. And then in your 20s picking yourself apart, oh, is that cellulite? You know, whatever weird things that we do to now, you know, this time of my life it’s like am I gonna look a little closer for lines and all the imperfections. So I think it’s been within reason, a reasonable amount, but I think my height just forced me to get to accepting things quicker.

Katie: That makes sense. I can see the blessing of that for sure. And you have daughters as well, I think, how old are your daughters?

Gabby: I have, my youngest is 11 and my middle has just turned 16 and we have a 24-year-old.

Katie: Got it. So you are, like I said, I look to you for kind of mentorship and advice in this realm because my oldest is only 13 and then I have an 11-year-old daughter as well. And I feel like we’re just on the cusp of all of these things as a parent, and facing it as a parent is so different than facing it as a teenager myself. And so I’m curious if you have ways that you have worked with your daughters to build that body positivity or that self worth and that self-love from an early age.

Gabby: You know, every kid is different and in ways that they’re similar, which is they sort of don’t listen to their parents or believe their parents, but yet they’re watching and they’re probably taking what they like and leaving what they don’t. And so I don’t think it’s on purpose. I just, by the nature of how I try to live, I just try to model behaviors that I believe in and that aren’t self-destructive. It doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I just try really hard that they’re not really… that they’re not a part of my everyday life. And also the other women that I’m around. I think that that’s a really important thing, which is we can’t be all things to our children. And so if I can have a powerful meaning, intelligent, or kind and loving and, or physically stronger or, you know, or all of the above women that I’m drawn to, my daughters are getting, you know, in Hawaii they call them aunties. It’s like they’re getting impacted.

And what’s so great about young people is they are so very clever. And so let’s say you’re around a female who is just nitpicking every little bit of herself. Oh, I’m, you know, I’m this age or my waistline or you know, young people, they may not have the words for it, but they see very clearly what’s happening. So I think when you model confidence and hard work and self-care and some of the things you can be in charge of and also self-love I think that’s our best shot.

Katie: That makes sense. And something that I’ve tried to consciously do with my daughters, and I’m guessing probably came naturally to you, is to set examples of how amazing the body is for what it can do and not focusing so much on what it always looks like. And as an athlete, I’m sure that was something your daughters saw from you at a very early age was the amazing strength of the body and the incredible things it could do. And I know that that’s very much still a part of your lives, but I’m curious, is that something that they’ve picked up on and how you integrate that as a family?

Gabby: Yeah, it’s funny. I especially, I’ll see it in the older ones. You know, the young ones back you when they’re, because you know, they don’t really have as much freedom, right? So they’re looking for self-identification or freedom more than in a way they stop, they push less as they get older because they have other freedoms. But I always, once I was sort of playing sports and sort of developed this relationship with my body as a tool and having an appreciation also for it as this gift, this tool, you know, the avatar that kind of takes you on the adventure. They pick up on that as well and develop in addition to I’m a female, how do I look? What size am I, what colors my hair and eyes, you know, Oh, what can this avatar do and where can it take me and what experiences can I have with it and am I gonna appreciate when it’s very powerful and it can, you know, lift something or jump in the air or what have you, conversely to like, you know, getting them to connect to with their intellect and their spiritual side.

And one of my daughters, well, two of my daughters are actually very artistic and enjoy painting. So there’s another sort of expression of the inner self and using the avatar to do that. So I think it’s the more we can do that in sort of saying, you know, I’m not really my body, right, like it’s my essence and my spirit. And then, you know, just trying to manage that human side of insecurity and being critical, self-critical and things like that.

Katie: I’m so glad you mentioned the freedom side because that’s the thing that I only understand conceptually because my kids aren’t in that like driving phase yet. We’re not quite there. But I know it’s important for kids, like the work of a teenager is actually to start psychologically separating from their parents and to gain independence. And that sounds easy on paper and I’m sure much harder when you are actually going through that with your child. But I’m curious, are there ways you’ve facilitated that with your daughters that have seemed to really work? And I’m definitely asking this somewhat selfishly is I’m about to be there myself.

Gabby: I think as parents, you know, the temptation to wanna be in control. Because if you think about it, when you have a new baby, they’re so tiny and helpless and you sort of really do have to be in charge. It doesn’t mean you can control when they cry or stop crying or when they wanna sleep or don’t sleep, but just, you know, you really do have a high level of control of what’s happening. And then as they grow and us being protective and not objective and kind of all these things, it makes it harder for us and maybe even more with daughters than sons, I’m not sure. But it’s sort of really learning to let them go. And listen, I’ve done that with all of my daughters and at times it’s not that I regret some of it, but you sort of think, okay, I’m gonna do everything I can to keep them safe and put them in good environments and around good people, but I’m not gonna, like I don’t have on my kids’ devices. I don’t have everything. I’m not tracking every move and things like that because my whole thing is I’m trying to teach my children to manage themselves versus I’m controlling them. And I’m also hoping to avoid some major kind of snapback. Like they finally get to college and then they flip out. But I will say that we’ve had experiences where I was like, Oh, I regret not being sort of more of a controlling parent. Having said that, I sometimes feel like no matter which way we approach it, kids are gonna go through things. They’re gonna choose things we wouldn’t choose for them. They’re gonna make bad choices like we’ve made. They might even, I don’t wanna say get hurt, but might be in situations that you know, you thought you could control but you couldn’t.

And so I have been really humbled by this idea of being, I’m not relaxed or have a lax sense of parenting, but I’m definitely not micromanaging. Because I just think in the long, long run, especially with the kind of people Laird and I are, that we would have kids that would really get radical. So it’s a natural thing to wanna fight, letting go of the control, but it’s so necessary. And also when things don’t feel like taboo, it’s actually not as sexy for them to go through it.

Katie: Yeah. That’s such a great point. And to circle back to what you first said about modeling it versus forcing it, and I think that’s just such a different mindset and focus. And they feel it so much differently when we’re modeling but not forcing and then they feel like they actually do have that freedom to make the choice. I think a lot of times, I mean mine are still young, but they tend to actually want to make the choice that we would have probably chosen for them anyway if we were controlling the situation. But then they have the autonomy of having done it themselves, which brings that ownership that we would want them to have as adults. And I’ve seen this with my background in nutrition. I don’t even like if my kids are not in my house, I don’t control what they eat. I’m not micromanaging their food intake because I know they’ll be fine if they eat something that wouldn’t be what I chose for them once in a while. And at home, we eat clean and we cook healthy, but I’m not micromanaging their food choices because like you said, I don’t want them to go to college and fast food was always taboo or sugar was taboo and then that’s all they want. And I think that applies to so many aspects of parenting like you said.

Gabby: It’s human nature, you know, even us as adults, I see it with myself. Like, let’s say we decided to do like a very short fast, like two days or something. I am already pissy and rebellious by lunch the first day, even though if it was just a normal day and I wasn’t fasting, I could blow through that no problem to midday and not even thinking about food, but because someone has said to me, okay, we’re not doing this, all of a sudden now I’ve kicked into like rebellion mode and I don’t. And I think that that is a big part of humans and, you know, I just think getting people to understand their reasons why they do or don’t do things is more powerful than forcing them. And even though your daughters are 11 and 13, you know, 13 is a defined human being with a point of view and opinions and likes and dislikes.

And so we’re better off trying to ride that out and help them, you know, drive their own vehicle than say like, well, I’m gonna drive it for you and try to be as appropriate as possible. Because you know, they’re gonna get there and they’re gonna know stuff and see stuff and better to, you know, make it an open door policy where there’s real communication and dialogue. And then if you show them, you know, how it works for you in your value system, chances are they really do take a lot of the good stuff.

Katie: Yeah. I think you’re so right about that. And I’m curious as far as keeping that open door communication and giving them chances to facilitate that conversation, are there anything that you’ve noticed over the years, things that have worked well in encouraging them or letting them feel like they have the freedom to come talk to you about stuff if it’s hard, without feeling judged or those kind of more sensitive things?

Gabby: It also depends on the kid. You know, I have one kid that it’s not that she doesn’t care what I think, but not as much. Like I have one of my daughters, I can look sideways because I have a million things on my mind about work and she’s very sensitive and takes things personally. So I just, I find that, first of all, it’s dealing with each individual person. But also being like very straight forward as a parent, meaning not using guilt or manipulation, which is hard to do because sometimes that’s easier. And also being willing to say, okay, I’m gonna give you the choice in this situation and I’m going to accept if it’s not what I would have done or wanted you to do, but I’m gonna do it in a way that supports and loves you. Because if you can’t do it that way, then don’t give them the choice because it’s almost worse saying, Oh, you have the choice and now I’m gonna, you know, sort of torment you and with my disapproval the whole time.

And so if you’re not prepared, then you have to go, well then this is the way it is. And I know that you don’t love that. But that’s how it is because that’s more honest. So I think it’s like there’s so many dynamics. It’s like their personalities, you know, sort of what are we talking about? If it’s like Cheetos, who cares? If it’s like going in a vehicle with somebody out later than you want, that’s another conversation. So I think it’s also what’s the scenario? And that’s why almost giving them small freedoms all along the way and teaching them sort of the power of that and how it’s actually better for them. And then so when they do move into these bigger choices and bigger freedoms and bigger decisions, they’ve had some practice.

Katie: That makes sense. And I’m curious, maybe this applies more to when they were younger, but how you as a mom navigated them taking risks and especially like getting to make their own choices when they were little, when it came to things that were probably good for them, but also maybe a little bit scary. I know with Laird being a surfer and you guys do so many outdoor activities were there ever times when it was hard to like let them do an activity and to have to like calm that mom reflex, you’d be like “oh” and I’m curious how you navigated that. Because I’m a big believer that kids need to climb trees and they need to be outside and they need to take risks to learn. It’s like an important part of psychological development. And I’m curious how you guys navigated that.

Gabby: You know, I wish it was just the physical risks. For me, that’s so much easier than some of the nuanced emotional things. There were times where Laird could put them into a situation more comfortably and safely than I would. And so what I also have learned is that kids oftentimes learn fear. And so it doesn’t mean some are not more naturally fearful than others, but they also learn it. So the other thing I would do honestly is if he was in charge of it, I would just walk away. If it was something that really it was just too hard for me as the mother to watch. And also I have a great deal of confidence in his, the way he chooses to do things. So I’m like, they don’t need to see me because they’re gonna learn from me versus, you know, learning the freedom of calculated and intelligent risk from their father.

Katie: That is such a great point too. You’re right. And I’m sure he has a unique talent of being able to do that, but I love that you brought up Laird because you guys, I also look to you as an inspiration of a long and successful and seemingly very happy marriage. How many years have you guys been married?

Gabby: At the end of the month we will have been married 22 years and we’ve been together for 24 years.

Katie: That’s amazing. Congratulations. I’d love to hear firsthand from you some of the ways that you guys have really nurtured a strong marriage over the years because it seems like there are some definite waves, kind of a pun intended or roadblocks that come up. And I feel like I’ve encountered some of those, even in my own life in the last couple of years, just that come with time and with changing as humans and with raising kids. So are there some things that you guys have done over the years that have really nurtured your marriage?

Gabby: You know, I think weirdly both Laird and I are sort of selfish in a way so that, what I mean by that is, we’re very upfront about sort of our own personal needs. So for example, we’re both willing just to serve the greater good, the family and everything that falls under that umbrella. So work and maintenance of where you’re dwelling, kids dropping off and picking up, whatever it is, right? But neither one of us is unselfish enough to, you know, sort of lose ourselves in that. And so what’s good about that is we’re both kind of squeaky wheels, me less than him, but it’s instead of like 20 years going by and nobody sort of said what they really needed or wanted, it’s sort of like a constant form of checking in because it’s like, Hey, I need more attention. Or Hey, I know you’re stressed out, but the way you were talking to me, I just don’t love it. Hey, I wanna sneak away and be alone with you.

So, I think that is very helpful because it keeps, you know, everything is transparent and out there and you always can deal with, you know, everything that’s in front of you instead of guessing or got put under the carpet or it’s been so many years, you don’t even remember, you know, the original impetus for the situation or the tension. And even sometimes just having an open dialogue. I’ll give you an example. So yesterday, for example, we both realized that we sort of have this small window, maybe we could connect and it got you know, we had a miscommunication and kind of Laird was aggravated and I was like, well, yeah, okay, I’m aggravated too. But in the meantime I’m doing 50 things and, you know, kind of, don’t take your crap out on me. But you know, and this is very unlike us. We don’t bicker. So it was unusual and yet it went through the whole evening. Like the evening was stained with that disappointment or that whatever, domestic frustration, whatever, however it finds itself.

And I just remember thinking when it was happening that I was aggravated, but I also have enough experience to be like, well, the good news is, is that, you know, it’s always identified and it gives us a chance to work on it and we might have to do it tomorrow. Both of us might be too tired or weird right now to actually get it done tonight. And so I think that is very helpful. I think we both take care of our personal happiness, so I’m not looking or reliant upon Laird to sort of make me feel fulfilled nor do I do that with my children. And I know Laird is the same. That is very helpful.

I think figuring out how to be, you know, whether it’s, even when my kids were really little, like 15 minutes, I always found the way to take care of myself. And I know that is a luxury to me, having had a job and have a job that’s sort of around fitness, because there’s plenty of people who they commute, they go to the office 8, 9, 10 hours, they come home, they don’t get those minutes. So I really understand that. And I think we have a level of respect for one another that is very high. So it kind of keeps everybody on their toes and on their best behavior. There’s not a lot of like careless things that are said back and forth to each other. And I think also we have and I’ve said this many times, I think Laird and I have a very natural chemistry, so this is not something that no matter how great we were at communicating or whatever, I think that chemistry is helpful.

And those are just some of the things I think that have been helpful. And it’s a maintenance, right? Like I love when people go, Oh, marriage is so much work. It’s like, well, it’s sort of just how life is. It’s like training is a little bit every day, you brush your teeth every day, you make your bed. It’s like marriage is a little bit like, Hey, we gotta tend to the garden, we’ve got to clear out the weeds. We’ve got to deal with it. It’s not just gonna run on its own. And I think that that is something that we’re both pretty diligent about.

Katie: I love that. And it seems like from at least what I know of you guys and what I’ve read from both of your work, that you’re both very much strong individuals and have pretty strong personalities. So I’m curious, has that ever like caused tension or caused butting of heads and if so, how do you balance that in a relationship? Because I know you also have written about your views on relationships and feminism and then taken a kind of alternative view of that. And I’ve seen that on different news outlets. I’m curious how you balance that in your marriage?

Gabby: You know, maybe I, you know, when I said it, I said something about submissive in the book. And, you know, there’s some things I learned out of that. That word for really obvious reason provokes a lot of people because it at a time when things were not fair or environments it’s not fair. That word is sort of an anchor. And I think the way that I intended it is of service. And so, for example, in my family, like everybody who’s in a family, whatever kind of family and whatever your role is in that family, we are all of service in that family. People are participating. And what I also was communicating is being, you know, I think a pretty strong female and one would call an alpha in the everyday world. I liked the dynamic of taking on the feminine role inside the house. And even if you’re in a same-sex relationship, someone takes on the masculine and someone takes on the feminine.

And so that’s not to say that the female can’t take on the masculine and the male takes on the feminine. Just in our dynamic, I was playing in that feminine role. And so I think a lot of people were uncomfortable by that. But I presented it and do it as a choice that in ways I’ll be honest, is probably harder in the way that my brain works and what I’m interested in getting done is so very different than Laird. And so in some ways more comes on my plate on a day-to-day because I’m better at doing all the tasks and the mega lists. But like for example, last year the fires came through Malibu, I’m not the one who stayed and fought the fire with the pump and saved my house. That was Laird. So I think it’s also kind of saying, what are your strengths and what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? What are your weaknesses? Can we work together? And you know, you do that when you play sports and you learn to start to understand how to do that.

So I just, I think I felt comfortable talking about that because I also recognized it as a choice. No one’s telling me what to do. Laird is a very loving and kind husband, but it was just talking about this very specific dynamic between a husband and a wife or a couple, let’s say, any couple. And how does that work? Because you can’t have, you know, two masculine energies or two feminine energies. You know, people are taking different roles and sometimes it switches. But I think we do a pretty good job of being both very strong within our spaces. But what I say is that we both leave our swords at the door. So when I come in, my main objective is how can I make it better for Laird? How can I help him? And I feel that coming from him. So what you have is you have a level of cooperation versus, you know, antagonizing one another and slowing each other down and encumbering the process. I think both of us believe separately and together that it’s just a lot easier if you come with the attitude of service.

Katie: That’s beautiful. Yeah. Having that attitude of service versus look like and what can I give versus what can I get that changes the whole relationship even I’m sure with your kids or in any relationship. And you mentioned you guys have a beautiful natural chemistry, but after over 20 years, are there things or ways that you guys have found to make sure you keep your connection strong? Is that something you regularly have touchpoints for or date nights or any tips on navigating that?

Gabby: I mean, honestly, and it obviously has different temperatures at different times because if you have a newborn baby or like two little kids running around or whatever, I think, you know, you have different types of schedules, but quite frankly it’s just having a regular intimate life. And so you’re priming that pump and that’s a language between the two of you that is thriving as well. And again, I sometimes maybe oversimplify things, but I do feel, at least in the case of Laird and I don’t think it’s unique. Laird’s language of love is they’re pretty straightforward. I think Laird wants to be encouraged to pursue his passions. I think he likes to feel, you know, respected. I think he really enjoys us all gathering and eating food and being a part of that.

And one of his other languages is sex and intimacy. And I think with women, you know, we’re tired and it doesn’t occur to us sometimes some of us, as much as, you know, maybe as the, you know, maybe it doesn’t occur to me as much as it does to Laird or I have like, would I rather finish off the last 13 things on my checklist, then sneak away. And I just think it’s realizing that it’s a very simple, natural, healthy act. And it’s something that makes things very fluid between us. So as far as forced or you know, like Wednesday’s date night, we don’t do that. I just think that we’re both mindful of, Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve connected and that’s gonna be treated like a priority.

It doesn’t mean, you know, you get these huge romantic windows, sometimes that’s not practical. You know, it’s like you’re sneaking into a closet if your kid’s taking a nap when you have little kids. It is what it is, but I think to ignore that part of the connection or to not take care of it. And I know it’s hard, especially with people’s busy lives. That for us seems to make parts of it easier. But it’s also like we sit in the mornings between like 6:00 and 6:30. We connect, we talk about something we’ve read or the day or there’s just a moment, even if it’s just a few minutes that we sort of are connecting as human beings. And then you’re getting to see your partner as like someone you really appreciate and value and respect as an individual human being and just kind of do the best you can. There are days like maybe you’d wanna even be with them and you just know there’s no window. And sometimes just saying, Hey, you know, I thought about it and, you know, I know there’s no window sometimes even for your partner to know that it’s important to you that it can be even valuable.

Katie: That makes sense. And another thing I think you guys model beautifully is the importance of community and strong friendships and strong relationships in that sense as well. And you mentioned your daughters have other strong role models and women in their lives. And at least from what I know of you guys, it seems like this is something that you’ve done a really good job of is building a really strong community around you of friends and relationships. And I think this is in the modern world, something many people struggle with because the more technological things get and the more we move into this kind of divided areas and we aren’t as much in human contact with people, we lose that. So are there things you guys have done intentionally to build community or to foster those relationships?

Gabby: I’m not sure if it was so deliberate. I think maybe when there’s a practice, you know, for example, when Laird was surfing in the early 90s, they had a crew there that they called Strapped. It had about eight or nine guys and they were sort of working together to create a sport that they could all enjoy. And each person contributed, had different input about ways to improve the sport, things like that. So me playing on a team when you start to realize, you know, the power of community maybe organically, then you might subconsciously seek it out. So I think both of us experienced the power of community very early and then just said, okay, well what can we contribute because we all have something to contribute, each and every one of us. And can I give that to my community or my tribe?

And then from there, you know, if you have no expectation, it usually works out, you know, really, really well. And there might be people you kind of have to kick out of your community. There might even be people in your community that you don’t hang out outside of let’s say one activity and knowing that that’s okay too. Like we’re not best friends with every person that comes to train at the house. It’s an agreement. We’ve all agreed to gather, to help one another to push each other towards this positive goal and then we might go on with our lives. So I think that that’s how he kind of stumbled upon it.

Katie: Gotcha.

This episode is brought to you by Beekeepers Naturals, superfood products from the hive that help support your family’s best health. Right now, their Propolis has been a lifesaver with all of the sniffles and coughs going around where we live. Propolis is a resinous mixture that bees make in the hive and contains over 300 compounds including polyphenols and compounds that are antibacterial including one called pinocembrin that acts as an antifungal. Some studies have shown that propolis can speed wound healing. It’s antibacterial and antifungal properties also make it great for fighting the sniffles. At first sign of any sniffles, sore throat or coughing at our house, I spray propolis in the throat and it almost always helps us bounce back quickly. I also use propolis before flying to avoid picking up anything on the plane. You can save 15% on propolis and all Beekeepers Naturals products at beekeepersnaturals.com/wellnessmama with the code wellnessmama.

I am so excited to finally be able to share a top secret project I’ve been working on for years…this episode is proudly sponsored by Wellnesse… a new company I co-founded to create safe, natural and obsessively tested products for families. You’ve heard that much of what you put on your body gets absorbed through your skin and goes into your body. We turned this idea on its head, creating products that aren’t just safe to put on your hair, skin and in your mouth, but that are beneficial. We started with the toughest first, creating the first of its kind natural toothpaste that is free of fluoride and glycerin and that contains ingredients like green tea, neem and hydroxyapatite to support the mouth. Our haircare (shampoo and conditioner) is free of harmful ingredients and contains ingredients like lavender and nettle to support healthy hair! Be the first to try it at Wellnesse.com

Katie: And to switch gears a little bit. I’d actually love to talk about the training side a little bit because you guys have something called XPT, which I’ve been doing pretty regularly in my own life. And I think it’s a really cool and unique method of training. So to start off, can you explain what that is?

Gabby: Yeah, well the pillars of XPT are move, breathe and recover. And you know, it was, we always say like, nobody’s really doing anything different. It’s just how you’re putting it together and just, you know, your kind of take on it. And so XPT was just a natural extension of some of the training we had been doing for many years and getting great results from. And so we work with a woman named Jennifer and Jen, who I’m very close to was like, you know, we should figure out way to share this and both Laird and I were like, oh my goodness. Like, you know, how are we gonna do that? Because we had people, you know, whatever 10, 15 people coming to the house and we were doing it as this very small group. And so anyway, so breathe, move and recover is sort of based on some pillars that we think are important. So breathing, which we were really in, you know, kind of inspired by Wim Hof and then since then had kind of added some things.

So there’s a book by Patrick McKeown called ”The Oxygen Advantage,” which talks about the real scientific reasons why we should all just be nose breathing unless you know, you’ve just done a hundred-yard sprint and even if you’re sitting in your office or how you can use the breath as a tool to up or down-regulate oxygenate your system, get ready for sleep, whatever it is. And I always say it’s, you know, it’s free and you can do it anywhere and it’s the most essential thing we do. So breathing is a huge cornerstone. We actually have an app that has many breathing routines on there. And then move, which, you know, our bodies are meant to move and people sometimes probably think, Oh, Laird and I, all our training is just killing ourselves. And that’s not true. I think real functional movement and then getting your heart rate up in a significant way twice a week, I don’t think it’s about killing yourself. I think it’s just about trying to move and move correctly, consistently and then recovery.

And so instead of just saying, Oh yeah, I take a day off, active recovery. So using the breath, maybe using heat and ice. We have an underwater pool training that we do where, you know, you’re able to do some pretty rigorous training, ballistic training and not smash your joints. But also there’s a way to use the water for recovery. So XPT kind of tries to encompass some of these thoughts and there’s different levels. You know, the pool is a little more you know, kind of regulated and who gets to teach it and things like that because it’s pretty serious. But it’s also pretty eye-opening and pretty fantastic. So XPT is just an extension of some of the training that we were like, Oh, this is really good.

Katie: And when you guys do it at your house, the XPT, you have an element of cold often as well, is that right?

Gabby: Yeah. So we have the heat and ice. And so our saunas are about 220 and then obviously a 32 degree ice tub. And you know, I always tell people with ice, if you go to lift weights, you don’t wanna ice close to lifting weights. You wanna let that tearing and that inflammation and that swelling, you wanna let that happen. Heat is always good. Now, if I was let’s say a basketball player and I’d have time for some reason, if I could get in an ice tub for a few minutes, that would help my performance. So it’s understanding where to use these modalities in ways that they support you. So, obviously, they’re both great for recovery. Ice is good for hormone regulation, mood enhancement. Heat has all kinds of benefits that people wanna look at the work of Dr. Rhonda Patrick, she has a lot of studies talking about the benefits of heat and the recovery and things like that. So, we definitely use that in a pretty rigorous way.

And what I tell people is, you know, Rubbermaid has giant, you know, kind of tubs with a drain. It’s like you and your friends all got together and sort of contributed ice two times a week. There is a way to do it and I know it’s not that easy, but it does make a big difference. Or even if they just take, you know, 30-second as cold as they can showers at the end of each day, there’s benefits there as well.

Katie: Yeah, for sure. And what I’ve seen in the research, like you said, saunas, there are so many benefits for cardiovascular and I’ve read that using it after exercise for instance, can also be beneficial to improve the effects of exercise. And with cold, I’d love to go a little deeper on that because I think women especially tend to resist the idea of cold because it seems so awful when you first do it. And it’s a regular part of my life as well. Like several times a week, I’ll spend time in the cold plunge. But I’m curious like talk a little bit more about why the cold can be so beneficial and how to start that if it’s something that seems really scary to you.

Gabby: Well, it is scary. I mean I think, you know, people have to realize it’s a primal fear. The number one thing you could do is when you get into whatever cold you’re in obviously a lot of people during cryo, so that’s a different thing. But if you get into it, I always say hold your nose slight under and let the cold pass over your face because now what you’ve done is you’ve actually triggered your body to be prepared to be in that environment. It’s actually weirdly easier. So if they’re using ice, if you’re sitting in ice and let’s say after a few 10, 15 seconds, your toes because of all your nerve endings or your fingertips are burning and you think, I can’t stay in here. What you could do is slide them out until you start getting used to that environment.

The other thing people can do that really does help you is nose breathe 7 seconds in and 7 seconds out. And what you’ll do is you’ll put yourself, the first 30 seconds is the hardest. You put yourself into your parasympathetic, so you’ll override your primal impulse to get the hell out of cold because that’s what it is. I mean, you see people have like a visceral response. So you’ve got hormone regulation. If, you know, for girls there’s a lot of discussion around brown fat and cellulite that it can improve all of that. And quite frankly, mood enhancement is a big one for the cold. I think based on studies that the heat is still the king of all, I do, based on overall health benefits, but the ice is something that when you can touch, what I say about the ice is in a way it’s meeting yourself. I’m uncomfortable. I’m afraid, I’m gonna find the way to calm myself down in that state. If you can take that tool to everyday life, then I think that this is what the benefits of training is really about. Training is not about like, Hey, I have 8% body fat and wow. It’s, “Can I make my organism function better in everyday life?” and the cold certainly does that. And again, it’s you having to deal with you and you can’t hide and then you go, Oh, I found the way, I found the way through my breath and through calming myself down to manage that stress.

Katie: I 100% agree with that. To me, the cold, it’s never, I wouldn’t call it fun, but it is the easiest form of meditation I know how to do. Because when you get in that cold, it’s easy to have a singleness of focus with your mind on just your breath and you’re not worried about your to-do-list or what you need to meal plan or any of those things. You’re able to just calm and focus. And I think also what you said is so important about training and being able to do something that’s difficult. Getting comfortable with the discomfort and stretching our minds’ idea of what we’re able to do. And for me, that’s the same reason I love to start every year with a pretty extended water fast is that when you go without something even as simple as food that you would normally eat every day, it teaches you about a toughness that’s in you that you may not see every day. You may not always encounter. And I think that has a rollover effect into parenting and into business and into relationships when we find that kind of like inner strength. And obviously you can speak to that much better than I can as an athlete. But I think that’s just a beautiful analogy that you’ve presented.

Gabby: Yeah, I mean I think for me at this point in my life, if everything doesn’t feed everything, then it’s probably not worth doing overall. Like, so what books am I reading? What food am I eating? What exercises am I doing? Who am I spending time with? If all of this for the most part is not, you know, feeding the greater good and my ability to function at a higher level, which would mean hopefully react less, love more, be less fearful. And again, meeting yourself in a pure way. You know, having 90 things to do in one day and being super stressed out and getting it all done, that’s a different kind of challenge. And I think a lot of us confuse that with actually stripping everything away and going, okay, now I’m in a discomfort that is actually good for me. That’s the other thing is I’m looking for positive stresses in my life, things that they’re stressful but they’re actually positive. And I think those are important to have a few of them.

Katie: That’s such a good point. And I’m also curious, I’m always fascinated by highly successful people and you manage parenting and a successful relationship and multiple businesses with Laird. I’m always so fascinated by people who achieve at that level and what their day-to-day looks like and what the non-negotiables are that make your daily or pretty regular list of things that are important enough to be part of your life. So to whatever degree you’re comfortable, can you just kind of share what a normal routine looks like for you?

Gabby: Yeah, sure. I think, you know, I also think, you know, people go, Oh, can you have it all? It’s like, well, I don’t know if you can have it all, all the time. I think you can have it all spread out differently. And I think that that for me is first your perspective. So my perspective starts with my expectation is not to be perfect. My expectation is not to believe I’m in control. I have, I try to be, you know, have a level of order and try to be as in charge and organized as I can be, but I’m not delusional any longer thinking, Oh, I’m in control and I’ve faced all my fears and all that. It’s like, yeah, no. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I think I come with a pretty practical perspective on things.

And then you have buckets, right? Like you have your family buckets, your self-care buckets, your work buckets. And I would put my relationship bucket almost separate from my family bucket in some ways because it is sort of in some ways a very different language, you know, a little bit. And then I just pick off what is the most important thing at that time. So I wake up in the morning, obviously Laird’s up before me because he just is, he’s kind enough the dishwasher gets unloaded. So when I come down, I deal with girl’s breakfast and just get ready the girls to school. Oftentimes he’s the one who will take them in the morning. Then we train. And having said that, if I have a shoot or a meeting, sometimes my training might go by the wayside on that day. But typically I train right away. Yesterday, I trained at 7:30 in the morning. And then it usually goes into, you know, sort of a good chunk of hours towards work and then back to family, kids, dinner, preparing dinner, cooking dinner and then maybe, you know, sort of another 45 minutes of responding to emails and what have you. But again, this is the overall set.

And what I do is I have flexibility and understanding like, Hey, my day is shot today, I have a shoot and three meetings. I’m not gonna get to train. I may not even be the one picking up my kids and I’m gonna just chill out and relax in that. Because I think what people make a mistake is when things get shifted or they have to adapt or it’s not how they want it, they really get stressed out. And I think that the powerful thing is to have acceptance and be like, well this is what’s happening today. But I’m very good about focusing on one thing at a time, but many of them in the day.

Katie: Such a good point. Yeah, you can’t have everything all the time, but you can have it all sometimes. I think that’s such a good perspective. And often for moms it does feel like we have to try to do all the things all the time. And so taking that step back and that deep breath is a really helpful perspective. A question I love to ask for the end of interviews is if there’s a book or number of books that have really dramatically influenced your life, if so, what they are and why?

Gabby: Well, I don’t… I mean, I think it’s always a combination of things that, you know, depending on where we are, like in our lives you know, I recently read, I won’t say it completely changed my life, but I read… I’ll just share with you some of the recent stuff I’ve been reading. ”Becoming Supernatural” by Joe Dispenza. Sometimes for me, I’m very analytical and also I go back to very old habits of survival. So when I was a kid, I didn’t have a particularly secure childhood. And so, you know, he’ll sort of say you’re living in your one, two and three, your lower shockers, right? Which is just really about survival. It’s like food and shelter and it doesn’t really allow you to get into the mystical, right? And even though I’m a big dreamer, I am, sometimes I recognize I spend too much time in that weird low, my lower self.

And so reading that just kind of reminded me even having emotions of anger or being, having things when I’m having it with people, you know, he calls himself limiting emotions. It’s like when they start to bubble up and I go, okay, that is actually gonna hurt me, so it’s not even worth it. And I think that that at this time in my life was a great reminder. I recently read Ryan Holiday’s book on stillness and I have to always, you know, I’m trying to be more still. I’m trying to think of like a book that just blew my head open and sort of made me look at everything different. But I think it’s just been a constant accumulation of, okay, now I’m ready to receive this message at whatever time in my life. And so those are the more recent because I’m really trying at this phase in my life to not try to control everyone’s feelings, to being comfortable that not everyone’s gonna like me or agree with me and that I might be the bad guy sometimes, to trying to drop information off regardless of other people’s reactions, but to be in love. That’s the other thing though is like how do I try to stay in love because I can get…mean is comfortable for me because that’s connected to fear.

And so I have to really always manage that. And just, you know, try to keep stripping it down and taking ownership of the things that are triggering me. That was a big one. I read a book last year by Byron Katie and it’s like if I’m in a situation and you say something to me and I respond strongly, not only is it probably true, but it’s a trigger for me because it’s something that I recognize I’m trying to deal with. So I think there’s been some stuff recently where, you know, you just keep looking back at yourself in the ownership. And if I had a new baby, there was a book called I believe it was like keep your…”Hold Your Children as Close as You Can.” What was it called? And it basically said, you know, like until your kids are like 11 or so, you have the grit, that’s your time to influence them because then their friends will start to influence them. And that was a really ”Hold Onto Your Children as Long as You Can,” I believe it was called. That was a very good book as far as parenting. But yeah, I don’t know that I’m a person who would like be going along the road and read a book and then we’d switch. But right now those books continued to help, you know, kind of impact my thinking.

Katie: I love that. I’ll make sure those are all linked in the show notes. And I think what you said about triggers is so vital as well. I have a friend who says never waste a trigger, meaning like triggers are a really good insight that there’s something going on there. And so rather than like lean into that anger or lean into whatever it is, use that as an opportunity for self-reflection and to figure out what’s going on because it really can be a gift if you let it kind of teach you versus letting yourself just fall into the anger of it. And it’s also interesting what you said about fear and anger being an easier state. I can totally understand that and see that and that’s a beautiful point to stay in, love and kindness, instead of that. I think there’s also a perfect place to wrap up. I’ll make sure all those books again are linked in the show notes as well as all the resources we’ve talked about. But if someone wants to stay in touch with you and follow your work and learn more about XPT, where can they find all of that?

Gabby: XPT is xptlife.com. And like I said, we have a breathing app that, you know, it’s hard to meditate on your own. So one of us either Laird or myself or Mark Roberts or PJ, Nessa who’s, you know, they’re incredibly talented movement and programming people that we are fortunate to work with. They’ll run you through. It can be short or longer depending on what your realities are. And I’m on Instagram, it’s just Gabby Reece. But, you know, I always encourage people that, you know, it’s also the reminder that kind of everybody is doing the best they can. But, you know, even though life is scary and having kids is scary and all of that, I think sometimes when we learn to surrender into it, which is incredibly challenging, believe me, there’s something that happens that’s easier and I have really learned that in the last few years about, I can’t make it different than it is. So can I sort of surrender to certain things? And even with your kids, you know, that’s a big lesson. If you sometimes can surrender or not put up the resistance, whatever it is that they’re going through, especially that you don’t like, they usually will get through it faster if you don’t put up resistance.

Katie: That’s a great point and a perfect place to end. Gabby, I know you’re very busy. Thank you so much for spending time today. This was so much fun.

Gabby: Thank you. And I hope everyone is making sure, even if it’s for a few minutes just to take care of yourself first because I find that to be the best first line of defense.

Katie: Absolutely. And thanks to all of you for listening and for sharing one of your most valuable resources, your time with both of us today. We’re so grateful that you did, and I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the ”Wellness Mama” podcast.

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Thanks to Our Sponsors

This episode is brought to you by Beekeepers Naturals, superfood products from the hive that help support your family’s health. Right now, propolis has been a lifesaver with all of the sniffles and coughs going around where we live. Propolis is a resinous mixture that bees make in the hive and contains over 300 compounds including polyphenols and compounds that are antibacterial and a compound called pinocembrin that acts as an antifungal. Some studies have shown that propolis can speed wound healing. Its natural antibacterial and antifungal properties also make it great for fighting the sniffles. At first sign of any sniffles, sore throat, or coughing, I spray propolis in the throat and it almost always helps us bounce back quickly. I also use propolis before flying to avoid picking up anything on the plane. You can save 15% on propolis and all Beekeepers Naturals products at beekeepersnaturals.com/wellnessmama with the code WELLNESSMAMA.

This episode is sponsored by Wellnesse, a new company I co-founded to create safe, natural, and obsessively tested products for families. You’ve heard that much of what you put on your body gets absorbed and goes into your body. We turned this idea on its head, creating products that aren’t just safe to put on your hair, skin and in your mouth but that are also beneficial. We started with the toughest first, creating the first of its kind — a natural toothpaste that is free of fluoride and glycerin and that contains ingredients like green tea, neem, and hydroxyapatite to support oral health. Our haircare is free of harmful ingredients and contains ingredients like lavender and nettle to support healthy hair! Be the first to try it at Wellnesse.com

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


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