Snooki on Jersey Shore Wellness and Sexy Muscles

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Jersey Shore star Snooki’s focus on health and wellness is so admirable that it even caught the attention of Mitt Romney. After declaring himself a Snooki fan, he marveled, “Look how tiny she’s gotten. She’s lost weight. She’s energetic. Just her sparkplug personality is kind of fun.” She’s also written five books and stars on a new show, Moms With Attitude. She talked to the Cut about why she loves weight lifting, her thoughts looking back on old Jersey Shore episodes, and why she doesn’t think skinny is “in” anymore.

How I start my morning: I wake up around 7:30 or 8 a.m. with the kids, and get them ready for preschool. I’m not really a breakfast person unless I’m hungover. But if I do eat, I’ll do a banana protein shake or chocolate protein bar, just the regular ones you get at any store. I like the chocolate Special K one.

Then sometimes I have a babysitter over to watch my daughter. I’ll work on my Etsy orders, go work out, or clean the house. If I go work out, I tend to eat grilled chicken, veggies, or steak, something with a lot of protein. Afterward, I’ll have a shake, in which I’ll usually put a banana, peanut butter, protein powder, and water.

What wellness means to me: Overall, it means having a healthy body and lifestyle. I know a lot of people on a diet. But for me, being healthy is just my lifestyle. It’s just how I eat and how I love to maintain my body.

How I sweat: I love working out in classes. At my gym, there’s one called Bump and Grind, or another one that’s a relay race, when you carry heavy balls and run with them or do tug of war. All that fun stuff.

I also do training with my trainer to gain muscle. One day we’ll do legs and back. And then upper body. It varies. He likes to target different areas. I try and do it every day and take a Saturday off, but it depends on the kids and my workout schedule. I usually do it at least four times a week. Sometimes, if I can’t make it to the gym, I have a gym in my house and I’ll bring my kids down there.

When I first met my trainer, I told him, “I want to lose a lot of weight, but I don’t want to look like a man. If I lift weights, I’m going to look like a man!” I’m sure a lot of women think that. Now that I’ve been training with weights for three years, my arms are sculpted, I feel really strong, and I don’t look like a man.

I love that I can make a muscle. It’s something there. I love being able to move heavy stuff and not asking my husband to do it. I love to be able to hold both my kids and run up the stairs and not be out of breath. I love that I can be a strong and good mom to my kids.

On Instagram judgment: I’m taking a break from posting workout things on Instagram because people are assholes. I posted a video where I did pull-ups. I know I didn’t go all the way down. But I did it somehow; I was proud of myself for getting stronger. But the comments from people saying “you shouldn’t be proud of that” brought me down.

I don’t need that from strangers. I’m happy. I feel great about myself. I’m not in the mood to have people bring my success down.

On strong being the new sexy: Everyone works out to be skinny. Everyone should work out to be strong. No one wants to be super skinny unless you’re a supermodel. I want abs, biceps, and big muscly legs, that’s my goal.

It wasn’t always that way, of course. In high school, I just wanted to be skinny; that’s why I didn’t eat. I wanted to have no rolls when I sat down. But ever since I became a mom and saw all these strong, fit moms at the gym, it was inspirational. Skinny isn’t really “in” anymore.

On eating: I’m a fat kid at heart. I love pizza and French fries and it’s hard to always eat clean. I’m still human, though. I like to splurge a little bit. Once in a while, I’ll eat nuggets and French fries with the kids. It’s hard, especially when you cook them the yummy food. But I think, If you eat this, you’re going to have to work out extra hard and I don’t want to do it. I try to be motivated and not cheat all the time.

When I do “cheat,” I usually do it on Sunday. The family gets together, with all the yummy food like barbecue and stuff. But if I don’t feel like I need my cheat meal, I won’t do it. Recently, I haven’t been having the urge to have my cheat day. It’s like, I have been eating great, I could have it. But honestly, I don’t want it because I feel so good and proud of what I did this week. You don’t want to go backward. If you’re in the zone, you have no desire to cheat.

How has wellness changed for me: I definitely had a crazy ride with my weight. In high school, I hardly ate. I was 89 pounds and unhealthy. Once I turned 21, I started drinking and not caring. I gained that 15 pounds all college kids do. My whole life on Jersey Shore was being overweight. I used to go to the gym all the time in high school and loved it. But when I became overweight, I felt like I couldn’t do anything. It was discouraging. I hated it.

When I had my son, I knew I didn’t want to be an overweight, unhealthy mom. I wanted to be a good example, and show [my kids] that eating healthy and working out is fun. I started going to the gym every single day. The pounds started shedding and then I was like, I love this. Now I feel like I’m the healthiest I have ever been. I was always skinny but had no muscle. I’m the healthiest and strongest I’ve ever been.

When I look back at myself on Jersey Shore, I think, Who is that person? You’re disgusting! [Laughs.] At the time, I thought, Who cares if I’m gaining weight, I’m having a good time. Even when I was bigger, I always loved my body. I was always confident with how I looked. There was no wellness, really, when I was filming Jersey Shore. There was no desire to go to the gym. There was GTL — everyone went to tan, do laundry, the gym. I just wanted to go to the bar and drink. I wilded out and didn’t care about eating healthy and wanted to enjoy life. When I look back, now I know why everyone called me a fat whore, oh my goodness.

How I eat when I’m alone: Weirdly, I don’t have an appetite. I get hungry when other people eat around me. When I’m around other people I want to eat because everyone else is.

My wellness struggle: Being completely strict. I know I want to be. Being a mom and not eating all your kids’ leftover food is the biggest struggle.

My wellness advice: A lot of people just want a miracle. You take a pill and you’re skinny. You do this cleanse and you’re good. No. You have to put in the work. You can’t be lazy. Push yourself and go through hell to have your dream body. It’s not easy but you have to be determined to do it.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Snooki on Jersey Shore Wellness and Sexy Muscles