September 2, 2008

From Supermodel to Role Model

By Connors, Claire

Amber Valletta-model, actress, mother-is no size 2 cover girl. She's healthy, strong, and making a difference in the world. The word "supermodel" conjures up all sorts of stereotypes: rail-thin body, over-the-top fashion statements, unapproachable demeanor. Amber Valletta, who has appeared on hundreds of high-fashion magazine covers since graduating from high school 16 years ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, doesn't fit that profile at all. Shape caught up with this 34-year-old mom not at a trendy restaurant, but at a quiet coffee bar near her home outside Los Angeles. Dressed casually in a white sweater, flats, and black jeans that show off her fit but curvy body, Amber looks more supermom than supermodel-albeit a gorgeous one. Although tempted by the organic but gooey goodies offered at the counter-"I love food so much!" she admits-it's right before lunchtime, so she settles for a vanilla-infused decaf coffee. Clearly she has a handle on how not to indulge in high-calorie snacks between meals, but how else does this self-described foodie stay in such good shape? She follows a tough but energizing four- day-a-week workout that she sticks to diligently. Loves to eat and loves to exercise? That's our kind of role model. Get ready to be even more surprised as Amber shares her strategies for a happy, healthy life (turn to page 60 to learn about her environmental work).


Growing up in Tulsa, Amber was a jock. "I played as many sports as I could-soccer, track, and basketball," she says. "In fact, I always dreamed of being an Olympic or pro athlete. I didn't have that kind of talent, but I loved being physical." No wonder, then, that her workouts today are reminiscent of high school.

Rather than hit the gym, Amber meets her trainer, Juni Armstrong, three to four times a week at a local university track to go through a 90-minute outdoor routine. They start their morning practice with a warm-up of three or four laps around the track (about a mile).

Then the hard part begins: Circling the entire stadium, they run up each row of steps, do a set of either push-ups, bench presses, or lunges at the top, then run down the steps until they've climbed every stairwell in the stadium. "I feel like I'm in the movie Rocky when we do this part," says Amber. They finish up with 10 minutes of abs and some weight training on Juni's portable bench, then they cool down with stretches.

After a year of following this intense routine, Amber's seen a significant difference in her body. "My goal was to get my arms and legs stronger, and they are," she says. "And lately I've noticed how great my butt looks. The other day I put on a skirt, looked in the mirror, and thought, 'Wow, I've got back!' I never had that before, and I love it. My body is definitely changing for the better."


Whether doing a fashion shoot, making a film (Game, a futuristic thriller in which she does physically challenging stunts, is due out this fall), or cooking for her 7-year-old son, Auden, Amber's food plan is simple but consistent: She sticks to an all-organic, lean protein- and vegetable-based diet that gives her the energy she needs to get through her hectic days-with the occasional splurge. "I try to have a lot of little meals during the day," she says. "I just feel better when I eat a healthy breakfast, lunch, midday snack, dinner, and bite of something before bed." Her first meal of the day is homemade juice made with fresh spinach, cucumber, parsley, and apples. She has some lean protein, like chicken, late morning, particularly on days when she works out, and then she usually has a big green salad with grilled fish or sushi for lunch. Her go-to afternoon nibbles are protein-packed snacks like hummus with carrot and celery sticks, cottage cheese, or a handful of almonds or walnuts. Dinner can be anything from Mexican at a local restaurant to one of her family's favorite homemade dishes. "My husband and son love my Thai beef," says Amber. "I usually do a fast stir-fry with organic beef, green beans, cherry tomatoes, ginger, a little fish sauce, and Thai spices. Then I put the whole thing on some brown rice." Before bed, rather than eat something supersweet, Amber prefers Greek yogurt drizzled with a little honey. "But if I want something sugary or fried-like a chocolate souffle or fries-I have it. Life is meant to be enjoyed!" she says. "When I do indulge, I know I just have to work out a little harder the next day."


First thing every morning, Amber takes a few minutes to sit quietly and meditate or pray. "I've been spiritual all my life," says Amber. It's her faith, she notes, that helps her stay optimistic. "I know that the more positive I am, the more helpful I am to people." The desire to serve others is something she grew up with. "My mom was always active in our community with food drives and feeding the homeless," she explains. "She showed us that you can either stand still or do your part and help someone who is suffering." As for passing along this message to her own son, she believes, like her mother, that actions speak louder than words. "We show him how to be a better person by being accepting of others, living a healthy lifestyle, and caring for the future of our planet."

Stylist Mark Townsend uses Matrix Varoom Volumizing Foam on Amber for a sexy, beachy look.

To make Amber's eyes pop, makeup artist Villian Dempsey uses a bronze eyeliner.

For her next role, Amber would like to play a warrior princess. "I'll never be one in real life," she says. "That's what films are for!"


"Music is my biggest workout motivator!"


"Eye of the Tiger"


Chariots of Fire title track

Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake

"Four Minutes"

Justin Timberlake



"Give It to Me"


Diorshow Iconic Mascara ($27; dior .com for stores) "I'm always looking for mascara that works."

Shiseido the Makeup Dual Balancing Foundation ($36; macys .com) "This provides the best coverage. I mix it with a little moisturizer."

Rag & Bone RBW 9 zipper jeans ($242; Jeffrey New York, NYC, 212- 206-1272) "They make great jeans, and the length is good for tall women."

The Giving Tree ($12; "I love anything by Shel Silverstein, but this book about love and generosity is a family favorite."

Laura Mercier Secret Concealer ($22; laura "It's the only thing I use to hide dark spots and blemishes."

CTonics Elixir Blossom ($25; "I love it because it's organic and smells good."

Fallene Total Block SPF 65 Clear ($19; amazon .com) "I wear this sunscreen all the time."

Adidas by Stella McCartney studio tank ($80; "Stella's workout clothes are functional but also very chic."

Copyright American Media, Inc. Sep 2008

(c) 2008 Shape. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.