Kim Zolciak on the Book That Got Her to Quit Smoking

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Kim Zolciak Biermann.Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Real Housewives come and go, but only the dedicated know how spin a few minutes of weekly airtime into a budding empire. That’s what Kim Zolciak Biermann did after her stint on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. She launched her own spinoff show, Don’t Be Tardy, which enters its fifth season next Wednesday; cemented a steady stream of endorsement deals; and, most recently, launched her own skin-care line. Here she talks to the Cut about adjusting her life after suffering from a stroke, how a book moved her to quit smoking, and why she has to eat dessert every day.

How I start my day: I get up at 6 a.m. because I have to take my kids to school. I’ve never been a breakfast eater because if I ever did eat breakfast I would just continue to eat all day, but two years ago I started with the 310 Nutrition shake. My chef — when I showed her the ingredients — said I should go with their shake. Every morning we do a 310 shake with fruit, peanut butter (I love peanut butter and chocolate, it’s my obsession), oats, whey protein … I try a bunch of different things. I won’t eat until lunchtime, which is usually 12:30, 1, and then I eat dinner. I definitely eat two meals a day, but I eat chocolate every day. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I also eat in moderation, which is the key.

How I like to sweat: I’ve always liked to do cardio, which is so weird. I’ve always enjoyed running. Prior to me having my heart surgery, I was only able to do a fat-burning mode, say run for a minute and then walk for a minute. But since my heart surgery I’m able to run, and run, and run. Every night I run with all of my children. Ariana [Kim’s daughter] drives the golf cart (we live on a golf course), and we all run. I swap off with Ariana because it’s like a five-mile run. I also do weights, but I don’t really enjoy it. I like to do squats because I want my butt to be bigger.

How I feel about meditation: I’m learning to meditate. I started yoga just three weeks ago. It’s hard for me to grasp the concept because I’m always on the go. My yoga instructor is like: “Kim, one hour, four days a week, we can do this. Just put your phone down, don’t think about anything, just focus on yourself.” But my mind runs from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. I even dream about half the shit I have going on in the day. I’m trying to slow it down — having a stroke made me realize that I have no choice but to slow it down.

To me, wellness is: It’s not just a word that means you look fit. I’m thin and never thought I’d have a stroke. Wellness is an all-around equal balance. I feel like in every aspect of my life I’ve managed somehow to be well. My marriage is amazing, my children and the relationship I have with them is amazing, my career. Wellness and success — I measure those differently than other people. Money, to me, doesn’t measure success. And being thin and looking good in a fucking skirt doesn’t measure wellness.

How wellness for me has changed: I did smoke. I quit a few years ago. I definitely loved cigarettes, which was so odd because I love white teeth and pretty skin. I just started very young so I kind of contradicted all that I believed for many, many years. I read a book and never smoked again. It was the Easy Way to Stop Smoking by Allen Carr. I smoked a pack of cigarettes while reading it, and I never picked up a pack of cigarettes again. I have a very addictive personality, and for someone like myself who has smoked since I was 15, I promise you, it changed my life.

The guy who cleaned my pool was like “You should quit smoking” and I was like Shut up, Mark. He told me he quit after smoking for 31 years by reading the book. Ellen DeGeneres quit smoking because of it; 14 million people quit smoking because of it. My husband did chewing tobacco and he quit that cold turkey. I didn’t even really want to quit — I had no reason to quit, I just smoked a whole pack of cigarettes reading the book, as it tells you to do, and I’ve never, ever smoked again. It’s bizarre. If I can do it, I know for a fact anybody can do it.

How I eat when I’m alone: I don’t eat differently alone. I like to eat, period. I do like to have a glass of wine, though. I was never really a big red wine drinker until my stroke and I read about all of the health benefits. So I like to have a glass of red wine by myself. I take my makeup off, I put my pj’s on, I just like to relax with my glass of wine. But I eat everything and anything. I’m a vegetarian, not for any other reason other than I didn’t really grow up with meat. I had a piece of steak once and I had to chew it 50,000 fucking times until it was swallowed. It’s just annoying to me. I eat pasta, pizza, I like carbs.

My wellness advice is: Listen to your body. Had I listened to my body the day before I had my stroke, I probably never would have had a stroke. Women in general — I’m running a house, I’m a wife, and I didn’t listen to myself. I knew I felt different, I knew I felt weird, and I think that women in general need to listen to themselves. Listen to your body.

Also, every body is built differently. I’m very lucky with my genetics. People are like “What do you do, what do you do?” Obviously a lot has to do with genetics, let’s be honest. My mom is super tiny. My biggest key to anything in life, more than anything, whether it’s wine, food, or dessert, is moderation. My mom taught me if I want to have an Oreo, that’s great, but have two Oreos, not eight. Or if you want a hot fudge sundae, let’s eat half and not the whole thing. That’s how I grew up. You have to enjoy life. I eat dessert every single day after dinner. That’s how I grew up, Italian-Catholic, and that’s what I’m used to. I don’t feel full unless I have dessert. But everything in moderation. I have a couple of bites, I’m satisfied, and I keep it moving.

This interview has been edited and condensed.