Retired National Football League (NFL) defensive superstar DeMarcus Ware won millions of fans with his ability to conquer and defeat opposing teams. Now, the former Dallas Cowboy and Denver Bronco All-Pro has a new starring role: helping others improve their fitness and health. He spoke about what keeps him motivated, his favorite healthy snack, and how he and his family lead healthy lives.
You have said that you are in better shape now in retirement than when you were playing in the NFL. Why is that?
Retiring from the NFL has allowed me to have a healthier lifestyle. I get more rest and recovery time between workouts and my body doesn't get beaten up and bruised every week. I've also cut in half the number of calories I take in. Some people say that your life stops when you retire. For me, it has started!
"Some people say that your life stops when you retire. For me, it has started!"– DeMarcus Ware
Tell us about your diet.
I eat three healthy meals a day and a few healthy snacks. For example, I usually eat oatmeal with blueberries before my 45-minute morning workout. After that I have a full breakfast with things like brown rice, eggs, chicken sausage, and a protein shake. For lunch I'll have fish, broccoli, and whole-grain rice. And for dinner I'll have a lean meat, vegetables, and sweet potato. Also, one day every week I treat myself to food I can't have the other days. If I'm tempted to eat something I shouldn't, it helps to be able to tell myself I can have it, just not that day.
When did you start your healthy habits?
As a kid, I played four sports and always made a priority of staying fit. I looked into the diets of the sports stars I wanted to be like. So, I started eating healthier then. I couldn't afford much of the fresh foods that these stars were eating, but I got the frozen versions, which were still healthy.
How are you instilling healthy diet and fitness habits in your kids?
Giving your kids a positive experience with healthy foods is important. If I were to tell my kids I don't like how sweet potatoes taste, they won't like sweet potatoes. But if instead I put a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on them and say it tastes like sweet potato pie, they'll love it. Regarding fitness, my son and daughter didn't enjoy exercise at first. But now they love to go out and do any kind of exercise because we do it together and we make it fun. It is a staple of our family routine.
What motivates you to get moving when you don't feel like it?
We all need help with motivation from time to time. I like to use both sound and visual imagery. I'll make myself a playlist of upbeat music or listen to motivational speeches. I also like to look at pictures of healthy role models who inspire me about what I'd like to achieve with my workouts. That helps me create a mental image of what I'd like to look like, like having a toned, fit body.
What other healthy habits do you try to keep up?
I do stretches and I use a foam roller to relieve tension in my muscles in the morning and night before I go to sleep. I am also sleeping and resting more now. I used to go to bed at midnight and wake up at 6 a.m. Now I go to sleep at 10:30 p.m. I feel more fit as a result.
You were on the 27th season of "Dancing with the Stars." How did your fitness play into that?
Competing on "Dancing with the Stars" (DWTS) was one of the most challenging things I've ever done. In football I played defensive line, and I was known as a body mover. To do my job, I had to move guys who were 6 feet 5 inches tall and 365 pounds. For "DWTS" I had to have sweet feet, twinkle toes! I had to train myself very differently, with a real focus on mental quickness. I'm still doing some dancing now as part of my fitness routine because it requires you to think while you are moving.
What does the future look like for DeMarcus Ware?
My ultimate goal is to help motivate people to improve their fitness. Recently, I opened a gym in Texas, where I live. I'm also launching a new digital fitness app. I was a computer science major in college, so I enjoyed applying that knowledge to my expertise in fitness.