Christie Brinkley—the model, the actress, the icon—launched to fame in 1976, becoming the face of CoverGirl cosmetics and model for Sports Illustrated, and at 69, she still looks incredible. With a long career in the public eye, she's spent a lifetime eating with weight loss in mind; it comes with the job. As "The Girl in the Ferrari" in National Lampoon's Vacation, Brinkley became one of the most in-demand models and actresses, and even now, Brinkley continues to look and feel as great as ever.
"I pretty much feel, as I'm approaching 70, the same way that I felt when I was approaching 30. I feel good. I feel strong," Brinkley told PEOPLE recently. Just four years ago she returned to the cover of SI with her daughters and she's spilling the secret of her youthful spirit and appearance. Read on to learn how the supermodel stays fit and healthy, plus hear from our experts about the efficacy and benefits of her regimen.
She Drinks Hot Lemon Water
Says the Expert: Many celebs turn to hot lemon water in the morning because it helps with digestion, but there are other health benefits as well. Amy Beney, MS, RD, CDCES, with Nutrition Insights shares why the simple beverage is a top choice for Hollywood.
+Hydration: "Drinking warm water with lemon can help promote hydration, which is essential for various bodily functions. Staying properly hydrated supports overall health and assists in maintaining optimal bodily processes."
+Vitamin C: "Lemons are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that supports the immune system. Adequate vitamin C intake is essential for a healthy immune response and can help protect against certain illnesses. The RDA or Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 19 years and older is 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg a day for women."
+Detoxification: "Lemons have natural detoxifying properties. They are thought to stimulate the liver's detoxification enzymes, which can aid in the elimination of waste products from the body."
+Skin Health: "The vitamin C content in lemons, along with their antioxidant properties, may support healthy skin. Vitamin C is involved in the production of collagen, a protein that helps maintain skin elasticity and firmness."
+Weight Management: "Drinking warm water with lemon is often associated with weight management. Some people find that it helps promote feelings of fullness, potentially reducing overall calorie intake. However, it's important to note that lemon water alone is not a magic solution for weight loss and should be complemented by a balanced diet and regular exercise."
She Loves Cayenne
Another thing the mother of three will do in the morning is add cayenne pepper to her hot lemon water. "Sometimes I'll put in a little cayenne just to rev up the engine," she told The Cut.
Say the Experts: "Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin, which can make you feel fuller sooner, [and] which could curb the tendency to overeat," Laurie Thenedy, RD, CEO and owner of Nutrition Renewed tells us. "If you are not overeating, then you can start seeing more results from your workouts." But there are other reasons to consider including the spice in your diet. "Capsaicin in cayenne pepper has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties," Casey Atwood MS, RDN, LD, of Innovate Nutrition & Wellness says. "It can help reduce inflammation and benefit conditions such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other inflammatory conditions."
In addition, it can help enhance your immunity. "Cayenne pepper contains vitamins A and C, which are important for a healthy immune system," Atwood states. Finally, cayenne can boost your metabolism. "Cayenne pepper contains a compound called capsaicin, which has been shown to increase metabolism and thermogenesis (the production of heat in the body)," Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, nutritionist and ACE Certified Trainer, tells us. "This can potentially aid in weight management and calorie burning."
She Eats a Lot of Greens
Brinkley includes a lot of greens and vegetables in her everyday lifestyle, which helps her stay healthy and fit. "For lunch, I go into greens and do a salad, then add a protein like a bean or nuts," she told The Cut. "Dinner is more of the same except maybe I'll put my vegetables on a bean pasta, rice, grain, or quinoa."
Says the Expert: Lauren Whitman, RDN, explains why filling up on veggies daily is important. "Vegetables provide great health benefits because of the different vitamins, minerals, and fiber they provide. By eating a variety of vegetables, you're getting a variety of vitamins and minerals which overall support your health."
She Eats a Rainbow of Color
Getting the essential nutrients needed is vital for your overall well-being and one way to do that is eating different colors of food. "I've always fed my children, my family, and myself a rainbow of color a day," Brinkley has said.
Says the Expert: "Eating food from all five food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and grains make up a balanced plate full of color," Halee Cusack, MS, RDN, says. "When you eat a variety of foods with all different colors, you are consuming a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals. Consuming essential vitamins and minerals helps fight diseases and strengthens your immune system, bones, nails, and skin."
She's a Vegetarian
Brinkley has been a vegetarian for decades and although she's had different variations of her diet, she hasn't eaten meat in years. "I became a vegetarian when I was about 13," she has said. "I started reading books right away because I knew that I had to replace the protein and figure out what to do."
Says the Expert: "Limiting meat can help someone stay slim because meat, especially processed and fatty meats, can be high in calories and saturated fats," Susan Schachter, MS, RDN, and co-founder of 120/Life, explains. "By reducing meat consumption and focusing on lean protein sources, such as legumes, tofu, or fish, individuals can lower their calorie intake and potentially maintain a healthier weight."
She Eats Eggs
Brinkley mixes up what she eats and will have eggs, which are a great source of protein and healthy fat. "I'll have an egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms," she told The Cut.
Say the Experts: "Eggs are also generally low in calories and can help keep you feeling full for long periods of time," Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT, at My Crohns and Colitis Team, says. "This can prevent you from wanting to overeat or snack throughout the day."
Eggs are also loaded with essential vitamins. "Eggs are nature's multivitamin," Andrea Mawson, BSc, RD, explains. "They're rich in vitamins such as vitamin B2, B12, D, and minerals such as selenium and iodine, which are all crucial for various body functions. The yolks contain choline, which is an important nutrient for brain health. Furthermore, eggs contain antioxidants that support eye health! So forget the old myths—every part of the egg, from yolk to white, is an eggcellent powerhouse of nutrition, choose eggs and reap the benefits of so much more than just their protein."
She Stopped Doing Fad Diets and Focuses on "Well-Balanced" Meals
Like many others, Brinkley tried all the latest weight loss crazes but learned that wasn't the effective and healthy way to go. "I tried some pretty weird diets in the beginning … everything from juice fasting to eating one kind of food at a time, to eating a grapefruit first before everything," she explained to New York Magazine. "The only thing that really lasts is a well-balanced diet." And she's right.
Says the Expert: "Fad diets are designed to be quick and easy ways to lose weight… but in reality, they are not sustainable and they do not have health top of mind," Whitman says. "Ignoring fad diets and focusing on sustainable, healthy habits is the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle."