Gena Lee Nolin went from running in slow motion on the beach in Baywatch to “guarding” four kids from mischief and serving as a “life guard” and advocate to 25,000 thyroid disease patients via her “Thyroid Sexy” Facebook page. We’re also happy to announce that Gena is now also a Celebrity Baby Scoop guest blogger.
Gena opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about her four children – Spencer, 16, Caia, 11, Hudson, 6, and Stella, 4 – and what she loves the most about being a mom. She goes on to discuss what it was like moving from the glitz of Hollywood to the security of the suburbs and what Celebrity Baby Scoop readers can look forward to reading in her blog posts.
CBS: Tell us about your four children. What are their names and ages, and what are they into? Do they get along well?
GLN: Spencer will be sixteen-years-old in June. He is into lacrosse and is also sponsored for downhill long boarding by a Los Angeles company called Arbor. He’s a busy kid who’s very creative and determined. He walked into Arbor last year and asked if he could work in trade for product. The owner thought it was so great that he had no experience and truly wanted to work for what he loved, long boarding. So, he was hired on the spot and now films for them as well. I’m so proud of him and it was just yesterday that he was born and now he’s 6 ft tall with a male voice. [Laughs]
I also have an eleven-year-old stepdaughter named Caia. She lives in Vancouver with her mom, but we try to get her as much as we can. She is such a huge part of our family and she’s so, so sweet. She’s into hockey like her dad and her team even won the championship! She’s really into sports and her academics. We can’t imagine our lives without her.
Hudson is six-years-old and wrapping up Kindergarten this year. He’s a great kid who might be my actor. He watches me in “Sheena” and just loves it. He’ll act out scenes and puts on skits for us. I don’t want to say he is the sweetest one out of my pack, but he’s very sensitive and always conscientious of others. Just recently, he ventured into the whole “Star Wars” thing. It’s so sweet to see the changes with him. We also just started him in soccer which he loves.
Out littlest one, Stella Monroe, is four-years old and she is now into soccer as well. She’s my athlete. After I had the two boys, I was like, “aww geez I want a little girl so bad!” Everything in her room is pink. I even got her the fluffy pink bedding and antique white furniture. Then she’s like, “mommy, I think I want to paint my room purple and green.” [laughs] She’s really headstrong and super smart and she loves sports. The thing I love most is that we have a really strong bond. Since she was tiny, I would take her on lunch dates and introduce her to all types of food. Now, it’s like, where should we go Stella? She’ll say, I think sushi today mom! There’s something about a mother daughter relationship that’s so beautiful.
They do all get along well. You know, it’s hard with the age gap between the two little ones and the two big ones. When Caia is here, she and Spencer will hang out and do things and the little ones tend to stick together. Everyone gets along great. There are times when one wants to watch Elmo and one wants to watch Family Guy or a show like that. There is a little bit of an age difference, but, overall, they all get along pretty well.
CBS: What do you love the most about being a mom?
GLN: I think just the unexpected…every day there is something new. Now I hear these conversations between Stella and her friends. The things they say are so innocent and beautiful. I also see my oldest growing into this young man and see the relationship he has with his friends. How he views life and his future. Being a mom is never-ending. That’s what’s so beautiful about it. It’s not like you have a baby and you get through the twos and you get through this and that. It’s ongoing forever, and I think that’s why it is such a gift to be given these little miracles.
CBS: You struggled with postpartum depression in the past. What advice do you have for moms going through postpartum depression now?
GLN: What is interesting is that I blogged for you guys and also did an interview after I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. This happened before I was diagnosed with hashimoto’s thyroiditis. We’re finding out that a lot of the symptoms I had was attributed to my undiagnosed thyroid. After Stella was born, I did an interview with you guys and I had heart palpitations and all these scary things going on. They sent me to a cardiologist, went through a ton of doctors until finally being properly diagnosed in November 2009. It’s extremely frustrating to be told over and over that it’s all in your head. That’s when it hit me, I had to help and share my story. That’s when my Facebook page, Thyroid Sexy, was born. I wanted to create awareness and really just get support from others who were suffering like me.
I feel blessed to be able to share my story with those who might need a helping hand or just want to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and read about my Hollywood adventures, some glamourous and some not, girls! My book with Simon & Schuster called BEAUTIFUL INSIDE & OUT: (Conquering Thyroid Disease With A Happy, Healthy, ‘Thyroid Sexy’ Life) will be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, all book stores, Amazon, and everywhere on October 8th of this year! We’re super excited and I’m co-authoring with Mary Shoman, who has been on the New York Times “Bestseller” list like seven times. I really want to get it out there that, yes, sometimes you do have postpartum depression, absolutely, when your thyroid is completely healthy. However, a lot of the symptoms in pregnancy induce a lot of thyroid issues. I think it is really important to blog and get that info. out to new moms.
CBS: How do you keep your Baywatch bod after having 4 kids and battling Thyroid disease? Do you work out daily? Follow a special diet?
GLN: It’s hard with kids because they will be like, “oh, look, mommy, it’s a cupcake place! Let’s go!” Ever since I was diagnosed, I have been gluten free for two years. I also try to be dairy free and I’m working on being sugar free. I think it really boils down to one thing: eat clean. I do juice a lot and I try to work out three days a week. That’s my time. I figure that if I carve out an hour three days a week, in the morning, afternoon, whenever, that is my time to exercise. I do a lot of core work and I don’t do a lot of cardio. I’ll walk or run on the treadmill for half an hour and then do a ton of different light weights; I keep it really easy. I think that anyone can attain a healthy weight by doing those things and eating clean. There isn’t a secret. I think Oprah Winfrey said, “if there was a pill I could take that would make me the perfect weight, in shape, and totally healthy, I would have bought it.” It boils down to doing the things that are necessary; working out and eating right.
CBS: Tell us about your role as a life-guardian angel to 25,000 on your Thyroid Sexy Facebook Page. What is the Facebook page all about?
GLN: I created Thyroid Sexy in July of 2011. I wanted five different people to talk to who totally understood my disease and how I was feeling while dealing with little kids and raising them; all of the things you have to do as a mom that take a lot of energy. When I was sick and had days when my entire body would ache or I had whatever symptom it was, I just wanted someone I could talk to. None of my friends had thyroid issues. I started this page and it’s so cool and such a blessing to see it go up to 25,000 fans. I still can’t believe it.
It’s a community where we all share and really care about one another. It’s not name-calling or this and that. Everyone suggests certain things, such as recipes, or someone is just there to vent and say, “you know what, I had a really crummy day. I don’t know how I’m doing this. I have four kids, my husband works 12 hours a day…” and we’re all there to show our support. It all started with me being diagnosed and feeling sort of lost. I am a very private person and when you’re a celebrity, you’re careful about who you want to talk to. I just thought, this is the perfect place. A forum of women and men to just talk from their hearts.
CBS: What was it like going from the glitz of Hollywood life to the security of the ‘burbs’? Do you miss it?
GLN: Thankfully, it was by choice. [laughs] It was a big change, but it was a change I really embraced. I don’t know if I was just burned out after three television series in a row or that I just wanted to be a mom without working 15 hour days. Believe me, that’s not possible. It was a nice change to sort of breathe, relax, and take the jobs that I wanted to take. I am in LA all the time, as we have a place there, so it’s not like I’m really out of it. The suburbs are a great place to raise kids.
With regard to whether I miss being in the Hollywood “limelight,” there are times, but then that’s when I’ll except an invite or walk the red carpet for a charity event I support. I’m very selective as to which jobs I’ll take and where you’ll see me. I’ve been offered every reality show that has aired, seriously! [Giggles] The only one I couldn’t do that I really wanted to was Dancing with the Stars, because I was pregnant. I’d definitely consider Celebrity Apprentice if they asked, because it’s smart and takes mental strength. You either fight someone, win or the obvious, get fired! [Laughs] I like challenges.
Overall, I love my change and how I’ve relayed it into what I’m doing now: my early career into motherhood, into being an advocate, an author, mommy blogger, a possible host of an upcoming kids cooking show. I’m really venturing into a completely different space. It’s exciting! So yes, it’s a great change. I embrace it and I wouldn’t change a thing.
CBS: How do you balance work and being a mom to a colicky baby and three busy kids?
GLN: I have to say that it was really difficult for my husband and I. It would be difficult for anyone out there, and I am sure so many parents who have colicky babies can relate. I had never had one before. There were times where my husband and I would go on a date night and just sit there and stare at one another and say, “ughhh, oh my gosh, do we really have to go back?” It’s challenging and heartbreaking all at the same time. You want your baby to be happy and comfortable and when you can’t console them, it’s devastating. Being a mom is what I was meant to be. I love it. I love working and I need my time to do all these other things, but being a mom is my number one, with all the twists and turns. Like I said, everything is new; you wake up and there is something new, another issue to deal with. It never gets old.
CBS: You are now a Celebrity Baby Scoop guest blogger. What can we look forward to reading?
GLN: The readers are going to get the lowdown on whatever topic I’m discussing. It’s going to come from my life experiences. Whether that is about health, diaper rashes or getting your groove back, if you know what I mean ladies? [wink] Whatever it is, I am going to throw it out there. When I look for advice, I want the truth and a different perspective. Sometimes we can get stuck in our own little worlds and forget that there’s another way. Or it might be about the day to day mom stuff that we just need to get off our chests! Yes, boring stuff. For instance, I’ve seen every episode of Caillou, Barney and Elmo. [Sighs] The Today Show is like watching the Oscars for me!
CBS: Do you plan to celebrate Earth Day? How are you teaching your son and daughter to be eco friendly?
GLN: I like gardening, so we usually plant something. My kids are really into planting flowers and they want a vegetable garden, it’s hard to maintain with the heat. We’ll probably plant a little tree and my daughter said she wanted to pick a lemon tree this year. We always do something special for Earth Day.
I do teach my kids to be eco-friendly. In my house, we’re fairly green as far as how we live. We have recycling, and they’re very much aware of being green. My husband went through all of our lights and changed them and so much in our house to be more eco- friendly. My kids are always like, “turn off the lights, turn off the water, you’re not using it!” It’s really cool and interesting to see how kids learn everything. It’s not just a saying, that they learn everything from their parents. They really do watch everything you do and they follow. It’s really important that we remember that.
CBS: What’s up next for you?
GLN: I might be hosting a kid’s cooking show that I am really, really excited about. It is in the pre-production stage. There are a lot of amazing people involved in producing it and I will also help out in the show’s production. I also have my book BEAUTIFUL INSIDE & OUT: Conquering Thyroid Disease With Living A Happy, Healthy, ‘Thyroid Sexy; Life coming out October 8th! So those two things are coming up and a book tour! My goal is to get as much thyroid awareness out there as I can.