But when it comes to walking a red carpet, even the Olympic gold-winning athlete with a killer physique can be insecure.
“I’m, like, twice the size of anyone, in both height and weight!” she tells Health in its December issue. “I’m five-foot-ten, but I’m definitely quite a bit heavier than everyone else. I feel like the odd man out sometimes, but that’s even more reason to be confident, to show girls that you don’t have to be a size 2 to be beautiful. Any size is beautiful as long as you’re confident in yourself.”
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That accepting outlook has made the U.S. ski champ a proud and relatable role model to young girls. She even started The Lindsey Vonn Foundation as a way to help empower them.
“It’s kind of funny because before I was 17, I was incredibly skinny. I was made fun of and called ‘chicken’ and ‘chicken wings’—I was super tall and probably weighed 30 pounds less than I do now,” she explained. “Then I gained weight because my metabolism slowed down, and I kind of was on the other end of the spectrum. I’m normal-size, but when I started to do well and do events and photo shoots, I felt like I was too big.”
An advocate for healthy eating – “when I’m eating really clean and splurge on something really sugary, I feel like I’m going to vomit,” she says – and keeping fit, Vonn is putting her vast knowledge to good use. This spring, her first book, Strong Is the New Beautiful, “a menu of foods you can eat and workouts you can do” debuts.
She is also focused on the future when it comes to her love life, after her almost three-year relationship with Tiger Woods ended in May.
“I think it’s just given me more time to spend on myself,” she says of the separation. “That’s what happens with most breakups: You really look at yourself and figure out what makes you happy, and you also have a lot more free time. I’m focusing on my job—my skiing— and I’ve been working really hard. I got a new nutritionist, and I’m just doing everything I can to be in shape for this season. And it’s paying off.”
–Michelle Ward Trainor