Driving legend Danica Patrick, 35, who will retire after the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500, has become a behemoth brand beyond the track. With a wellness book, "Pretty Intense," releasing on Tuesday, the NASCAR driver discussed her "90-day mind, body and food plan," as well as what retirement looks like for her and how she continues to build her lifestyle-brand-based empire.
espnW: What was the inspiration for your book?
Danica Patrick: I finally tried something different for myself that was very effective. I think that we all tend to go through phases of different things, and some work better than others, and this was the program that really worked well for me, so I felt like I had something to say. The book is what I have to say.
espnW: The book highlights a three-part plan to change not only your body but also your life. What are those three parts?
DP: The mind, firstly. The book goes into the ways that you not only learn about yourself but also take care of yourself and become more confident.
The second part is the physical. I talk about why the training program is set up like it is and the effects the program will have on your body that are different from many traditional forms of training. This part has the 12-week workout program at the end.
The third part is the food! Like in the physical section, I discuss why the food is set up as it is and why the program looks like it does. Then, there are 50 recipes that I developed and photographed myself.
espnW: Do you need to be at a certain level of fitness level to follow the "Pretty Intense" plan?
DP: If you struggle to jump and walk, then you might struggle with the program, but if you have a basic understanding for fitness and awareness for your body, the program starts with very simple moves that can be made as challenging as you're prepared to make them. I believe you can make any exercise challenging if you just go faster. Then the program escalates through the 12-weeks.
espnW: Which workouts do you like the most and which do you dread?
DP: I have a love/hate relationship with the hardest things. It's the "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" attitude. Some of the things that are the hardest, you know are benefiting you the most. There's another saying I like: "If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you." Running is a comfort zone for me, so interval training is fine, as well as any kind of bodyweight exercise. Bodyweight exercises have always been good for me. Pushups, pullups, air squats, lunges, jumping -- all [of] those exercises are my strengths as an athlete. That's a lot of what the "Pretty Intense" program consists of because it's designed to be used at home with minimal equipment.
espnW: How did you get into cooking, and why is it so important to fitness?
DP: I learned to cook when I lived in England by myself, so I guess it was slightly forced. But it then became about wanting to be healthy. When you want to be healthy, you can't go out to eat all the time. I think you can eat healthy out, but that comes from an education at home, first. For example, learning what sauteed means versus grilled. Or being able to identify how the food was prepared by eating it or even just looking at it -- based on how shiny the food is or how crispy it is on the edges. Those things are indications of the cooking treatment used to make your item delicious.
espnW: You've truly built a brand beyond the racing world. What is your next step?
I see myself as a wellness brand. Everything from mental and physical wellness to food wellness. Wellness in general -- that's how I'd like my brand to be identified in the future.
espnW: You'll be retiring after the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500. What does your life look like beyond the track?
DP: Retirement looks bright! I think many people retire and don't know what they're going to do next and have to figure it out, but I know what I'm going to do. I don't doubt that [retirement] will change and shift my life in ways I would never expect, so I've got to be ready for that.
But at this point in time, it's about spending more time with Somnium -- my wine brand -- doing more events there, promoting, making sure that I'm on top of the quality control. I'll do the same for [my] clothing line, Warrior. Expanding and growing that, and being more hands-on with everything from fit and fabrics, to the branding and the shoots and just generally the aesthetic feel of the brand.
I'd like to expand in the book world as well. I don't even know what that might lead to, exactly. Maybe it leads to public speaking engagements -- generally that arena of educating people. That could take any shape.
I'd also like to have a cooking show, to help people learn how to cook healthily. So those are my retirement plans. Not much, ha!
Oh yeah, I'd like to travel, catch a few concerts and see some places in the world that I've never seen. Those are just the fun things on the side.
espnW: What is the most important thing you learned in the racing world that you apply to your personal life?
DP: It's just about working hard, about knowing what you want, about staying focused and looking forward, not backward. That applies to everything in general. I remember my dad telling me when I was a kid not to turn around and look behind me to see where the other go-carts are -- look forward because that's where you want to go, and I think that could be said for life in general.