It’s a phone call no one—especially a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED swimsuit model—is prepared to get. In March reps for the diet company Slim-Fast contacted Rachel Hunter to be their spokeswoman. “I thought, ‘Wow, what’s wrong with me?'” says the model, 36, with a laugh. “‘Do I look fat?'”
Hardly. At 5’10” and 147 lbs. (about 10 lbs. more than her peak modeling size), Hunter is most people’s idea of an after picture. She felt better when the rep said they weren’t looking for a Kirstie Alley-type loss, but someone for a campaign aimed at women who want to drop 5 to 20 lbs. Hunter, it turns out, is one of them. “There’s no target weight, but I’ll know when I get there,” she says. “I want to feel sexy and hot!”
But really, don’t supermodels wake up feeling that way? (It must help that she’s dating Canadian hockey player Jarret Stoll, nine years her junior.) Despite appearances, Slim-Fast sees in Hunter a regular gal who “can inspire. She’s not a size 2, nor does she aspire to be,” says brand director Virginia BlakeWest.
“As I’ve gotten older, I can’t eat as much as I used to,” says Hunter. But while she’ll slurp the 190-calorie shakes for breakfast and lunch, she’ll still cook favorites like pasta and steak for kids Liam, 12, and Renee, 15. (Their dad is her ex-husband, Rod Stewart.) “The diet is not something I want to involve my daughter in—there are already too many stresses on teens. We sit down and eat dinner together.”
A model since 17, Hunter has long known the pressure to be thin. Even under contract with CoverGirl or Revlon, “I was like, ‘Is that girl skinnier than me?'” But, she says, she never resorted to dangerous tactics—”pills, laxatives”—she saw others use. Instead she relied, as she does today, on exercise. “I do Pilates, and I love hiking and biking.”
Unlike the average woman carrying a few unwanted pounds, Hunter’s goal is a bikini shoot in September for her swimsuit line Lola. “I want to go that extra mile.”