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Cover Model: Giuliana Rancic

Photo courtesy of Photorun.net

Superstar journalist Giuliana Rancic battled breast cancer, a miscarriage and infertility. Her weapon of choice? The treadmill. Her prize? A happy family.

One glance at Giuliana Rancic’s schedule and you’ll see why she’s a runner: It’s the fastest way to dash between a bazillion projects. The journalist co-anchors E! News and Fashion Police, stars on Style Network’s Giuliana & Bill and hosts prime-time gigs like Miss USA and Miss Universe as well as NBC’s new dating show Ready For Love, produced by Eva Longoria.

In her spare time, she reports for E!’s Live From the Red Carpet at mega-events, contributes to OK! Magazine, oversees FabFitFun (a fashion, beauty and wellness website) and designs  her new clothing line, G by Giuliana Rancic.

What’s even more impressive is that the 37-year-old has built her whirlwind career while publicly coping with infertility issues (including a heartbreaking miscarriage in 2010) and breast cancer, which led to a double-mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in 2011. But one year later, Rancic’s story took a turn for the wonderful when she gave birth via a surrogate to her first child, Edward Duke, with handsome hubby and reality TV co-star Bill, 41, the  rst-season winner of The Apprentice and co-host of America Now.

Duke, as she lovingly calls her seven-month-old, can’t talk, let alone type, yet @DukeRancic already has nearly 23,000 Twitter followers (modern-day trust fund?). Maybe mommy will help him string together 140 characters to welcome his sibling when he or she arrives. Last October, the Rancic’s announced they’re planning for their second child via a surrogate.

In the meantime, the Italian-born beauty, who splits her time between Los Angeles (for her work) and Chicago (for Bill’s), will continue to perfect her between-takes diaper-changing skills and running with a jogging stroller so that she and her lovely family of three can participate in a half marathon this fall.

Are you still working long hours since bringing Duke home last fall?

Honestly, I used to have very, very long days, but I’ve cut back. E! has been gracious and understanding about allowing me to have a more flexible schedule. Today, we had Fashion Police at 6 a.m., but there are days when I come in at 10. So I get those four hours back in the morning, which is wonderful. That’s when Bill and I spend hours in bed playing with Duke.

Does Duke come to work with you?

Sometimes, but he’s still so young. There are some private areas on set where he can hang out and I can easily check in. He just watched his first full taping of E! News the other day and he was so good. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t make a peep. He just sat there, looking at the monitors and laughing. He’s such a cutie pie!

So when do you squeeze in a run?

I’ve been at E! for 11 years now. When I became the managing editor in 2005, I started having morning meetings at 6:30 a.m. I used to wake up–this is before I was engaged to Bill–and be the first one at the gym at 5 a.m. I’d walk in, jump on the treadmill and bust it out. Then at the meetings, I’d be all alert and peppy, like, “Hi! How are you?” to people who obviously had just dragged themselves out of bed. So early on, I used the mental benefits of running to help me at work.

Why running and not, say, the elliptical?

I picked it up after I had broken up with a guy and put on some weight in 2004. I’d sit on the floor in bookstores devouring sweets while reading about how to get off sugar. It was ridiculous. I gained about 18 pounds. I wasn’t overweight, but I stopped fitting into my clothes. I wasn’t taking care of myself and this made me very unhappy. So I met with a nutritionist and she got me on the treadmill.

How did it feel when you started?

I remember vividly thinking, Oh my God, I ran a mile! Over time, I was running three, then four and five. I’ll never forget the first time I hit 11 miles. That’s when my love of running began. It releases so much stress and anxiety for me. I can think clearer after a good run. And when I’m on the treadmill, it’s my me-time.

Were you surprised by how much you liked it? 

I used to think running looked dreadful. I never ran track in high school. I played soccer and hated running drills. But when I had that moment in my life when I felt like I had lost control, running became a way to regain control. It was something that I could do every day to feel strong and powerful. Then, when I met Bill, one of our first dates was a run along Lake Michigan in Chicago. To this day, we have some of our best conversations when we’re running. Once a week, we’ll run outside together for about six miles. It’s great. Bill’s my workout buddy, my husband, my best friend, my confidant, my business partner. He’s my life.

Are you running at 5 a.m. together?

No, but Bill and I try to go to Equinox most mornings. We’ll drive there separately because we go to different places afterward, and whoever gets there first will save the nearest treadmill. We love to exercise together. We’re actually building a gym in our Brentwood home right now. That way, the baby can sit in his bouncy and watch us work out.

What’s the farthest you’ve ever run?

I did Chicago’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in August 2010. I remember giving myself permission to stop whenever I needed to, but I never did. It was such an amazing feeling to finish. I cried! I had been through so much. It was before my cancer diagnosis, but it was after a long couple of years of trying to get pregnant. It was nice to feel like I’d made a comeback, you know? I’d love to do Chicago again with Bill and the baby in a jogging stroller.

Speaking of a comeback, what was it like returning from your double mastectomy?

So many of us walk into a gym or go out for a run and think, This is a chore. Let me get this over with. After my surgery, I remember lying in bed What I wouldn’t give to just walk around the block! It just changed my attitude toward exercise. Sometimes big things have to happen in life to make you appreciate the little things.

How long was the recovery process?

I was in bed for about 10 days after the mastectomy. It’s an ugly thing. I had tubes coming out of me. It’s pretty horrible. I had so little energy. Still, I’ll never forget the first thing I did once I could leave my bed: I walked up and down my cul-de-sac. I came home tired. Every day I’d walk a little more and I noticed it helped me heal quicker. I was back at work within two weeks.

When did you start exercising again?

I went to the gym about two and a half weeks after surgery. I got on a treadmill and walked very slowly. I think I started at 2.0. A turtle, right? It was hard, especially going to the Equinox in Santa Monica. Everyone there looks great! In the morning, they’re running six miles on an incline. And there I was, looking like hell in baggy clothes and barely moving. I could have let myself feel sad and embarrassed, but instead I told myself, Good for me. Trying is half the battle.

And then you started increasing the pace. . .

Yeah, I would jog for 30 seconds and then walk for 2 minutes. One day I said, “Look, Bill, I’m running.” He looked over at my treadmill and said, “Good for you, honey. Just be careful!” And I was like, “No, but I feel good and I can do this. I’m back!” And Bill goes, ‘Okay, you’re back.’ After that day, running was fun again.

So running was your marker that life was back to normal?

For sure. I told myself, if I can do that, then I’m back, which is all you want after a diagnosis at age 36. I was in the middle of my life and on top of my game. I was healthy. I was eating well. I was trying to have a baby. Cancer totally blindsided me. I remember saying, “I love my life. Why is this happening to me? I just want my life back.” When I started running again, it was that feeling of, you know, I’m normal again.

Did running help you cope with your infertility issues, too?

At that time, it was just bad news after bad news. It was tough. Really tough. Running was a time when I didn’t have to talk about it with anyone. Several rounds of IVF treatments were hard on my body, mind and emotions. When I’d run, I’d think, Do I want to do this again? I know Bill wanted to keep trying. Running gave me the time I needed to recover and make big decisions. Running was, and is, my therapy. ■