Dashing Diva

Michele Shapiro

A surfing soap opera star’s tips on staying fit in her 50s

Soap opera vet Eileen Davidson, best known for playing Ashley Abbott on The Young and the Restless, has a built-in motivation for staying healthy: seeing herself on an HDTV screen. “Getting older on television is a great motivator,” she says with a laugh.

When she’s not making waves on daytime TV or writing mystery novels (her third, Diva Las Vegas, is now in stores and available via eileendavidsonbooks.com), Davidson loves to hit the waves—she’s been a surfer since her 30s. Below, read how her daredevil spirit serves her well, both onscreen and off.

LOWER THE IMPACT: With my day-to-day workout routine, I try to keep it simple. I used to ride a stationary bike at home. Now I do the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, five days a week. It allows me to burn around 300 calories in a short amount of time and it’s not hard on my knees.

BE A WATER BABY: I grew up in Southern California. I was always watching surfers on the beach. There weren’t a lot of female surfers at the time, but I always wanted to do it. Then, at 35, I asked myself, “What am I waiting for?” I found an instructor and learned to surf. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment. My husband, Vince [Van Patten], also surfs, and my 17-year-old [step]son is one of the best surfers in California. We live in
Malibu. I surfed last week, and it was such a rush. I hadn’t been out in eight months before last week. My arms were like rubber!

MAKE SLEEP A PRIORITY: I’m pretty useless without sleep. It frightens me to think how many decisions I made on no sleep when my son was an infant. I know a lot of people who exist on four to five hours a night. Insomnia runs in my family, so sleep is my prized possession. I’m obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep.

HOLD THE BEEF: With two stepsons (“Flea,” 16, and Duke, 17) and one son (Jesse, 6), I’m surrounded by meat eaters. I try to have a bite of steak here and there, but it doesn’t do it for me. I eat chicken and fish. I’ve become more aware of what I eat. For protein, sometimes I’ll have a shake made with fresh fruit and Isagenix powder (eileendavidsonbooks.com). lt’s a meal-replacement drink you have in the morning or at night. It helps me keep my weight at a certain place.

BOOST YOUR MOOD: The reason I really committed to exercise was that I was exhausted when my son was born. I was up breastfeeding most of the night. The only thing that energized me was exercise. I saw and felt a difference when I managed to sneak in a workout. Now, if I’m feeling blue, I work out for 15 minutes and I feel better.

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