Bees, the quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, helped his team to Superbowl victory …By Lucy Danziger, Editor-in-Chief, SELF magazine, author, The Nine Rooms of Happiness
The truth is no NFL QB has ever been interested in talking to the editor of SELF, but Drew Brees is not just some ordinary player. Yes, he is the 2010 MVP and quarterback of the Super Bowl-winning New Orleans Saints; and yes, he is the nice family guy who held his adorable son and put the earphones on the toddler's head to shield his ears from the roaring crowd; and yes, he is the philanthropic, civic-minded guy who has helped rebuild the 9th Ward and especially its public school systems.
But what you don't know is he is also extremely involved in the idea of making America a fitter place, and he has ideas of how to help women (especially) get back in shape on their own terms, their own time and do it easily and fairly effortlessly. I better watch out for my job.
Drew got on the phone with me, and what was supposed to be a 15-minute interview became a freewheeling conversation encompassing his favorite moments of the past year (not the Super Bowl but an appreciation night at the Lusher School, where he and his wife were celebrated for raising money and giving funding to its rebuilding). We stayed on the phone for nearly an hour. His room service arrived, and instead of jumping off he answered the door and got right back on the horn. (He eats between 5,000 and 7,000 calories a day, depending on his workout schedule). OK, here is the interview. My favorite line: The message, "Have a purpose." Read on.
LSD: First of all, congrats on everything-MVP, your healthy season and your charity work in New Orleans. Everyone I spoke with about you-who knew I was going to get on the phone with you today-absolutely says, "He is the nicest guy in the NFL." And your adorable son sealed the deal for female fans everywhere.
OK, first question:
How are you going to do in your game tonight? JK! That's not what we're talking about today. Let's start with your philanthropy in New Orleans, which you are famous for. Of all the Katrina-related work and give-back opportunities, what has been the most personally meaningful moment for you? What will you always remember about your charitable work? Was there one clincher moment that really made it all make sense?
Drew Brees: There's been a lot of those moments. I'd say, there was...one of our big projects was a charter school called Lusher Charter School, and it's a middle school and high school and obviously post-Katrina it's one of the areas that I feel has come back better than ever-the public school system. Obviously a lot of the schools needed public funding and they needed more funding than ever, and one of the projects we adopted was Lusher and one of the main focuses there is the arts. They have a broad arts program, and a great orchestra and a jazz program as well....so we did a project...donated $750,000, which helped with their school and curriculum and arts and also build an athletic field right there on their site. So it became this community focus. This school in the neighborhood and this field, so recently they put together this big performance on the field for my wife and I. It was the ballet and the orchestra and the jazz band and the theater program, so one by one, every organization within the school put together a performance for us and it was awesome. Truly it was unbelievable. A lot of times these kids just need someone to believe in them. You see how talented they are and they just wanted to show it.
LSD: That sounds amazing. I just got goose bumps! Speaking of helping people, the Get With the Movement program is why we are on the phone today. Tell me about it: this campaign, and Fitness Anywhere, which I know makes the TRX. So if I were to clarify the point of Get with the Movement, what's your goal?
Drew: Get With the Movement is a program that basically wants people to be more active. It's very much just preaching an active lifestyle. That's going to make your body feel good and make you feel good about yourself. I am also a spokesperson for Play 60 program through NFL, which tells kids to get out there and be active for 60 minutes every single day. And also co-chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, the What Moves You? Campaign. And that can be hiking and biking. Whatever it is you want to do to be active. As long as you do something.
The TRX is a piece of equipment I've used since 2006. It was the main part of my rehabilitation when I was rehabbing my shoulder injury. It's very much a functional training element. What I love about it is it requires no weights, it's just a suspension of straps and it's your body weight. You can train every muscle group with the TRX. It's functional.
For my sport, and to be healthy, I need core strength, I need shoulder strength, joint integrity and the ability to train my legs. Speedy power. And I can do all of those things with that one product. I incorporate the TRX in every workout I do every single day.
All of us set training goals, to lose weight and tone up and get stronger, etc. I think the TRX helps me do that.
LSD: Active living for kids and families everywhere is part of SELF's message and my personal passion as well. How are you getting your message out there and what would you tell my kids when they don't want to go running? Or any kid who doesn't want to turn off the screen and get off the couch?
Drew: The biggest thing is to think: This is family time. If it's my son and I can't get him off the couch or off the TV or video games. I say, This is family time and we are going to do it together, play catch, go for a bike ride or something fun. There's a lot of great things about it. It helps develop social skills, Being active with your friends, or go out with your parents or siblings all together.
My brother, growing up, that is all we did. It was more a question of how could our parents get us back in the house to do our homework? It's a different day and age with technology and all, but we were just living outside back then.
Video games and such aren't bad [chuckles], but they have to get out and get active. It's a healthy balance...we have to allow people to do a little bit of everything.
LSD: What is your healthy snack? What is your favorite indulgence?
Drew: I eat a lot. 5,000 to 7,000 calories a day, easily. Especially when you're training. You eat more. I'm 212 pounds, 6 feet tall, so I burn calories like crazy. I have to put calories in my body, with two practices a day and also doing weights. So I try to eat enough to fuel that. I do about six hours a day (of training and practice) or so.
LSD: How do you relax and kick back when your work and workout is done?
Drew: Used to be my wife and I would travel all the time, and golf. But now with my son and another on the way, it's all about being with kids.
LSD: You came back from a tremendous injury and won the Super Bowl when some players would have never recovered. It took time but you did it. How did you stay positive and get better? What is your secret to success? (As someone dealing with injuries I need to know this!)
Drew: When broken, you just have to believe. You have got to believe you're going to come back stronger. You have to do things smart. Rehab is smart, but depending on the injury, it's tough. Having short-term goals are important, too. A torn ACL is a six- to eight-month process, and it's overwhelming if you think Six to eight months! But short-term goals work.
With my shoulder I heard from my doctor: "Eight months from now you will be able to play again. Two years to feel completely normal like nothing had ever happened to it." And it did take that long. I was able to play, and play fine after eight months, but I knew what he was saying. I could feel a tightness, or a tug. Four years after the injury, I won the Super Bowl.
LSD: Setting and reaching goals is so SELF. It's how we help motivate women to accomplish their best body and reach their goals. It takes weeks, but each week you can do it! Great message.
Drew: Yes, it's all about short-term goals. So eight months seemed like forever and I could get overwhelmed...so I asked, "When could I get out of the sling?" and was told four weeks. I thought, I gotta beat that...and I did, I got out in three. Then I asked the doc, "What is the next objective?" It's full range of motion in nine weeks. And I thought, I have to beat that...I did it in six weeks. Then, throw at four months. I gotta beat that. Did it in three and a half.
Anytime you accomplish a goal, it makes you feel good about yourself along the way. Set goals. Set realistic short-term goals. If you want to lose 10 pounds, you can't do that all in one week. So for the first week try to lose 1 pound, second week 2, then by week three you're up to 4, so you shorten it down in the period of time and think: This is manageable...you can accomplish it and that positive reinforcement makes you keep going.
LSD: We have a workout about how to lose weight like a guy and I think this is relevant since women want it all right now, change everything and see results fast, but if you do it gradually and forgive yourself when you don't get it right, stay on track and stick with it, you can get it done. You can reach your goals.
DREW: I like to say: Have a purpose. Work out with a purpose and ask what's your purpose and what's your goal?
If it's "I just want to lose 10 pounds," then that's your purpose. How can you do that? Make a plan. Work out 30 minutes a day and then think about short-term goals and how to meet them. Map it out. You can't lose all 10 this week but maybe you can lose 2 this week and 2 the next. So map it out and feel good about your short-term goals.
Or, if your purpose is to run a race, then map that out.
There is a difference between exercise and training. You can't just exercise and hope to see results, you have to train with a purpose. Have that goal in mind, that purpose in mind every time you start to train.
LSD: OK, last question: This is from my husband, who just walked into the room from his bike ride. He wants to know: How much of what you do is mental and how much is physical? Meaning how much of your success?
Drew: It's 90 percent mental. The rest follows. There are certain physical traits I have to have...like I have to be able to throw a football. But the rest of it is all mental. I have to believe in myself.
LSD: Great message: Believe in yourself. Very SELFy!. I love the idea of "Have a purpose." That's going to be my mantra for the next month of training. Thanks, Drew. Good luck tonight!
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Photo Credit: cnn.com