As a professional surfer, I have had the amazing opportunity to travel around the world and even had a movie made about my life, "Soul Surfer." But I'm blessed to have had an opportunity to share the importance of "smiling through adversity" and living a healthy, confident lifestyle with teens around the world.
When I was 13, I was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing in Kauai, Hawaii, and lost my left arm. While I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to surf with only one arm, I stayed focused on regaining my strength and was back in the water less than one month later. Through hard work and perseverance, I went on to win a national title in the 18-and-under division of the National Scholastic Surfing Association championships and eventually reached my goal of turning pro in 2007.
It wasn't just my accident that inspired me to get healthier and stronger; my best friends and I developed a passion for leading a healthy lifestyle. Now I absolutely love to get others excited about healthy living too. Life can throw many challenges, but it's important to keep a positive attitude and focus on the many reasons to smile! I'd like to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite tips for leading a healthy and confident lifestyle.
•Get active! Surfing is my passion, and when the waves are good, I can spend anywhere from two to eight hours surfing. But I love to be spontaneous and creative by throwing other physical activities into the mix. Outside of the water, I do quite a bit of cross-training to stay in shape and work with my trainer Dustin Dillberg to keep my body strong and my spine aligned. I typically train two to three times a week with a TRX Suspension Trainer to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability. On some days, I like to change up my physical activity and play tennis, go on a challenging hike with my dog, ride my bike, or play volleyball with friends and family. Really anything that gets my body moving and puts a smile on my face!
•Embrace a balanced diet. I love healthy, yummy food that keeps my energy up throughout the day. I try to eat almost all organic, and fuel myself with fresh foods throughout each day. Some of my favorite foods are Sambazon acai smoothies, ZICO coconut water, vegetables, and for a treat, dark chocolate that's 70 percent cocoa or higher!
•Don't forget about your oral health! While physical exercise is super important to my lifestyle, I also am passionate about promoting oral health. Did you know that keeping your teeth clean can actually increase heart health? I was surprised to learn this -- but it did help me reinforce healthy habits including flossing daily and avoiding foods that are high in sugar. It's also inspired me to share my passion by becoming the official spokesperson for the Damon System. Having orthodontic treatment with Damon Braces really made a difference -- not only because my teeth are straight and easier to clean, but I now have confidence in my smile -- a feeling everyone should have!
•Find your inspiration. I'm enjoying life as a pro surfer and getting to go on surf trips all around the world. But when life presents obstacles -- and it does -- I rely on Jesus Christ for inspiration to help me through it, as well as others such as my parents and friends. When I was younger, I had a youth leader named Sarah Hill who was a great friend and provided a lot of guidance through some more difficult times, and we're still close friends today. Everyone needs someone in their life that they can trust and turn to when times are tough.
•Set goals for yourself. While I'm proud of what I've achieved as an athlete, having goals in place helps me stay motivated and focused. Some of my personal goals include following and obeying God on a daily basis and just doing my best in everything I do, as unto him; qualifying for the ASP world championship tour; and improving my big wave surfing and barrel riding.