To keep calm and carry on when faced with devastating challenges can seem impossible. Dealt a terrible hand in recent years, Tosca Reno has rebuilt her life and is soldiering on. D’FYNE sat down with the health and fitness icon to learn how she does it.
To say Tosca Reno is strong is an understatement. Yes, we’ve all seen her toned, powerful body on magazine covers and in fitness competitions, and she is undeniably physically strong. But that strength pales in comparison to the 59-year-old’s spirit. Consider the past seven years of her life: in 2011, her 24-year-old stepson passed away due to complications from a car accident; just a year later, the love of her life, Robert Kennedy, died suddenly from lung cancer. Left managing his business, Robert Kennedy Publishing (the original publisher of Oxygen and Clean Eating, along with all of Tosca’s books, including The EatClean Diet), she discovered that while her books had brought in $25 million, the company was, in fact, insolvent, and she had no choice but to declare bankruptcy in 2013.
Still reeling from both deaths and blamed by many for the publishing company’s demise, it was a dark time for her. “I struggled daily. I couldn’t think straight; I didn’t know how to get out of bed. There were so many things I couldn’t do. I had no sense of clarity whatsoever,” she shares.
And yet, not even a decade since life started throwing her curveball after curveball, she exudes a “good vibes only” attitude and is unafraid of showing her vulnerabilities — something I think it’s safe to say many of us wouldn’t dare do, especially being in the public eye as she is. Turns out she’s just done the hardest “workout” of her life to helping her get through the hardships, including days when she didn’t know if she had the money for rent or to eat.
HOW SHE INITIALLY GOT BACK ON TRACK
Grieving the loss of her stepson, husband, and the business that made her a New York Times best-selling author, Tosca found herself with zero appetites. “I wasn’t starving myself, but I wasn’t feeling motivated to eat,” she says. But to pull herself out of this hole, she returned to what she knew. “It wasn’t completely obvious at the beginning, but I relied on a few things I knew very well: the tenants of the eat-clean lifestyle I had built, sticking to it as best I could, following those principles I had taught to literally millions who were looking for a way to find health and wellness. It was something I had spoken to them about, and I was going to follow it myself. And I kept up with exercise; it’s very much needed for optimum health.”
THEN CAME HER TOUGHEST CHALLENGE
As someone who has always just tackled problems head-on, Tosca found that after these very difficult years, trying to do that and focusing on how she ate and kept active wasn’t enough — she still felt paralyzed. “Something still felt terribly wrong, the level of grief I was feeling, and I was asking myself, ‘Why is this happening to me?’” she says. Encouraged by her eldest daughter, Rachel, a naturopath, Tosca began to explore another avenue of wellness, one she hadn’t focused on before: emotional self-care. “With a beautiful circle of women and my daughter, Rachel, I began meditation, journaling, practicing gratitude, and spirituality. For me, this was the final piece of what I now call my wellness platform.” She adds that the heaviest sets and reps she did were not in the gym but rather this emotional path and learning to care for herself. “Tapping into that resilience I obviously had but hadn’t tapped into. That’s a lot.”
AS FATE WOULD HAVE IT
Living through these difficulties might leave one feeling bitter and depleted. This mother of four, however, has managed to accept what fate had and has in store for her. “I believe what happened to me happened to me for a reason. I can say this now. I couldn’t say that seven years ago when I was watching my stepson die or when Robert was dying a year later or during the bankruptcy or when I was discovering how broke I was. But I can say now that the emotional work has been done, I have been given these opportunities, and from this comes the greatest potential for growth, and that is the gift.”
MOTHERHOOD HAS MADE HER STRONGER
Tosca credits her four daughters for being the support that helped her keep it together. They are also the reason she knew she had to keep her head above water in the worst of times. “Watching Robert’s body degrade before my eyes, watching our lives fall apart completely, and taking the hate, what kept me going was that I didn’t have the luxury nor the right to say, ‘I can’t handle this.’ Because I have four daughters, and now a grandbaby; they’re watching, and they need to know you can get through anything, and that was on me. Now, did I handle every day perfectly? No. But every day I put that ahead of me.”
With so many unexpected reroutes in her journey, Tosca has shown herself to be adept at adjusting her course by transforming herself. As for where she stands now and what we can look forward to from here? “I feel like I’m standing in that same place I was when I met Robert, and I jumped off the cliff and went into this whole eat-clean discovery With so many unexpected reroutes in her journey, Tosca has shown herself to be adept at adjusting her
course by transforming herself. As for where she stands now and what we can look forward to from here? “I feel like I’m standing in that same place I was when I met Robert, and I jumped off the cliff and went into this whole eat-clean discovery”..
PHOTOS BY CHRIS V. LINTON Follow @CHRISVLINTON