HGTV’s Fixer Upper may have ended, but Joanna Gaines shows no signs of slowing down: The busy mom is starring in a new series called Behind the Design and recently launched a restaurant with husband Chip. Oh, and she’s expecting her fifth child this summer.
We recently had the chance to chat with Gaines at an event celebrating the release of her new cookbook, Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering ($30; amazon.com), and she told us that she actually tries to maintain healthy habits because of her busy schedule. “I think I realized that if I’m not taking care of myself physically while I’m working, there’s gonna be something that won’t work,” she explains.
She aims to eat healthy, she adds, but doesn’t overthink things. “For the most part I just try to eat a lot of protein during the day and then not too many carbs or I will crash at and not make it,” Gaines tells us. “So, I think just drinking a lot of water and being conscious of what I’m putting in my body and being conscious of what I’m doing to relieve stress, like walking and exercising, trying to find that balance.”
Gaines doesn’t leave the house without a healthy trail mix or protein bar tucked into her purse so she always has a nutritious option on hand if hunger strikes. She also has such a sweet tooth that she keeps fruit around—especially oranges and bananas—to help curb her cravings. “But typically with sweets, I go all out,” she admits. “If you’re gonna make the cake, just make the cake.”
Now that Gaines is pregnant, she’s found her hunger to be even more unpredictable. “I’m just always hungry and then I get full really fast,” she says. “I’m craving the same things my children love, so I feel like I’m like an 8-year-old right now.”
But her diet definitely all comes down to balance. “I’ve got this huge garden in the back where we all eat all of our food, all of our leafy greens, our veggies, our fruits, come from that garden,” she says. But she’ll never feel bad about satisfying her sweet tooth, either. “I just learned with four kids and one more on the way you gotta make it a little more flexible, have fun with it,” she says. “And as long as you’re balancing it with healthy food options, just don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Gaines says her pregnancy has also changed her workout routine. “I don’t love exercise right now,” she admits, but does say she stays pretty active even when she doesn’t make it to the gym.
This isn’t the first time Gaines has gotten real about exercise—she previously stated that she didn’t always have the healthiest outlook on hitting the gym. “When I was in my twenties, working out was something I did as a part of my daily routine,” she wrote on Instagram. “As I think back to my intentions on working out then- they were based solely on the idea of looking good on the exterior- in fact it was probably more of an obsession than a habit at the time. It wasn’t healthy.”
Gaines stopped working out after getting married and giving birth to her first child due to the pressure she felt was associated with it. But in 2016, she attempted a 21-day workout challenge: “I got a fresh idea of what health really means and it starts from the inside out,” she wrote. “What I do now will have an effect later. I have had to take baby steps on getting back on track and simply doing a workout for only 20 minutes a day unlike my 1 1/2 hour workouts from the past.”
Since then, Gaines has tried her best to keep up healthy exercise habits. “I’ve found that it helps my mood, it helps stress levels, and it’s fun.”
As for self care, Gaines says there’s nothing she loves more than unwinding in her garden and kitchen. “When I’m in the garden, and I’m tending to the garden, working in the dirt, there’s something about it that’s so therapeutic for me,” she says. “When I’m in the kitchen, working with food, being creative, that’s the kind of stuff that I think really helps me come alive, it helps me be more in the moment. So, I feel like cooking and gardening are two things that are my go-to back-to-the-basics that keep me grounded.”