A self-described “health weirdo,” 44-year-old Holly Charnes admits, “I definitely feel the difference between now and 10 years ago.” You might never know it to look at her — Charnes was the swimsuit model for this magazine’s fashion shoot last summer — but she knows she has to work harder than ever to maintain her appearance and health.
A former career as a trauma nurse at Regional One Health and her current roles as full-time mom and pharmaceutical sales representative keep her busy. The secret to a healthy lifestyle, she says, is to constantly monitor what you eat, and to remain active.
Charnes studied kinesiology at Mississippi State University and graduated from nursing school at Mississippi University for Women. “I know from my nurse’s training that proper diet and exercise go hand in hand,” she says. “I check the labels of everything I eat and avoid food with lots of sugar, sodium, and carbohydrates. I’m really not into red meat, so several times a week I eat salmon or tuna — they’re much better for you, and they are both packed with omega-3 oils, which are very healthy for you.”
Charnes has two children, and it’s not easy when they visit friends’ homes and find the kitchen cabinets stuffed with what she calls “kid food” — Twix, Oreos, candy. “But we don’t have them in our house. If they’re not readily available, it’s a whole lot easier to avoid them.” And no Cokes or sugary drinks, she says. “I drink only water, all day long. I keep it with me all the time; I’ve got a bottle right now in my car.”
She also recommends small meals throughout the day: an apple, a cup of yogurt, a pack of string cheese. “When I do eat out, I try to find places like Panera, because they have healthy items on their menu, especially their soups.”
To maintain her model’s figure, Charnes stays active every day and, for that matter, every hour. “No matter where I am or what I’m doing, I can’t just sit still,” she says. “I’ve gotten pretty creative with ways to exercise. If I’m at work, or even while I’m cooking at home, I’ll find a hallway or someplace to do stretches, leg lifts, whatever I can do.”
“I’ve been a runner since junior high,” she says, “and I still find time to do it every day.” At the same time, she emphasizes the importance of “interval” training. “Don’t get on a treadmill and run for a half-hour,” she says. “Your body gets used to that. Break it up by running two miles, then stop and do push-ups, run some more, stop and do sit-ups. It really makes a difference.”
Charnes cautions about running long distances on concrete sidewalks or hard asphalt, which can damage knee joints, especially, but she laments that her own neighborhood doesn’t have suitable running trails. She also recommends that runners buy new shoes on a regular basis; even though they may still look okay, the padding wears out after several months.
Every night, she lifts weights to strengthen her muscles and also her bones. “I’m constantly exercising,” she says. “I know some friends think I’m a health weirdo, but I enjoy the results because I can feel the results.”
Her clients with Colors modeling agency have apparently noticed her hard work. She participates in many photo shoots and trunk shows for Joseph, Macy’s, Oak Hall, and other retailers. “I really love modeling because I get to dress up in wonderful clothes and pretend I’m somebody else for the day,” she says. “It’s just so much fun, and I’m glad I’m still able to get jobs that normally go to girls 20 years younger than I am.”