Danica Patrick is in her seventh NASCAR season and she has a rep for being super healthy. The driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevy is constantly posting photos of her workouts and home-cooked meals on Instagram. She talked to the Cut about CrossFit, Kayla Itsines, and her love of trail mix.
How I start my mornings: My day usually starts with my dogs, Dallas and Ella, waking me up with kisses. Once I’m up and moving, I take them outside, make coffee, and catch up on Instagram over breakfast. I like oatmeal.
On my yoga room: I call it my “wo-man cave.” I have two yoga mats and blocks and bands and you name it. I also have a table for sewing, and arts and crafts. I make all kinds of random things.
My dogs love being in there, but when I’m doing yoga it is a little hard to relax when they’re licking my face and crawling underneath me. I just do the yoga on top of them and they move. They finally clear off the mat when I go to upward dog because I take up most of it.
On two-a-days: If I have to set my alarm for anything earlier than seven, I don’t work out in the morning — I’ll do it in the afternoon. The other day I had time in the morning to do yoga and then in the afternoon my boyfriend [fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.] and I did some CrossFit. Doing two-a-days is not out of the question for me.
How I like to sweat: We converted a barn into a CrossFit gym. We’re friends with the fittest man in the world, Rich Froning. He won the CrossFit Games four years in a row. Rich helps out with some of our programming. But we’ve done CrossFit long enough and I travel enough that I make them up myself, too. There’s no “wrong” workout, there’s only one that ends up being either a little too easy or a little too hard.
On Insta-famous trainer Kayla Itsines: Her app is so great for being on the go. I use it for the strength training stuff, and the challenges. And, man, she tries to make it out like there’s four cycles of seven minutes but it’s really more like 30 minutes straight — 30 seconds of break in between rounds is like nothing. She’s trying to make us fit and it’s working. And her Instagram is killer. If you look at all the people after one year of doing her app, you’re like “that’s impressive.”
To me, wellness is: I’m one of those people who actually likes to work out. I do it because I enjoy it and I also like feeling good and looking good. That’s the point. I’m sure if I didn’t look good but I felt good, I’d probably do a little less. But if I only looked good but didn’t feel good, I’d probably do less, too. Though that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do any.
How working out helps my driving: I focus on my upper body and endurance. I think that when you’re physically fit, you’re not as distracted in the car with being tired or worn out or having something hurt. Those distractions are completely unproductive. Honestly, the mental side of things is very important, especially in a competitive sport. It’s great to train your mind to work through pain and exhaustion.
What my diet looks like: Generally I eat oatmeal, some smoothies, veggies, and any kind of meat — steak, chicken, pork, you name it. I try to stay away from gluten for the most part, and dairy. I took a blood test one time that showed those as food intolerances so for the last couple of years I’ve stayed away from them. So that leaves rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and quinoa.
I eat a lot of [Nature’s Bakery] fig bars and things that I can have on the go. It’s just hard to find good food when you’re moving around, especially bars that don’t melt. There’s no chocolate in them. You might end up having something more like soft granola if it’s been in your bag too long, but it won’t be a mess. I love trail mix, too — I have a big weakness for trail mix, in fact.
On fancy dinners: I’m a pretty good cook, so for the most part I go out to eat for an experience. My splurges are usually restaurants with cool, interesting food like lamb, duck, foie gras, and sweet breads. Sometimes it’s not necessarily that unique of an ingredient but the chef is well-known for his preparation. That’s where I’ll pretty much eat anything put in front of me. But the good news is that at restaurants like that the portions aren’t exactly like a bowl of pasta.
How wellness has changed for me: I started working out when I was 14 for go-karting. But it wasn’t really until I got into my later teens or 20s that I really started liking it. With social media and the internet, you learn so much more about everything. In the past, maybe it wouldn’t have been as easy to do yoga at home because there weren’t online yoga classes. They didn’t broadcast the CrossFit Games, which made us all interested and want to know more about it. The awareness and availability of things has made working out fun because you can pick something that you enjoy.
My wellness advice is: I always tell people “just eat healthy all the time, that way when you don’t, it’s not a big deal.” If you have a cheat day, but then let’s say the next two days for lunch there’s nothing available, then all of a sudden you didn’t eat well for many days that week. So just eat well as much as you can.
This interview has been condensed and edited.