What Danica Patrick Wants You To Know About Wellness

Danice Patrick

The all-star racer chats about her podcast and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers

Danica Patrick is best known an all-star racing driver, but this year she took on a new role: podcast host. On Pretty Intense, the racing champ interviews other remarkable people — from Gloria Steinem to Neil deGrasse Tyson — to find out what motivates them and get to the core of what makes them who they are. We chatted with Danica about the show, as well as her own approach to wellness. (And of course, we had to ask about her relationship with NFL star Aaron Rodgers!)

You’ve served as a major inspiration to young women in racing. You’re retired from the sport now, but do you still follow it?

I watch it like a casual fan now — I find myself watching all the popular races that everybody watches. As a fan, I’m like, “Oh it’s Talladega, or Daytona, I’ve gotta tune in!” Sometimes I’ll check results on ESPN. But do I watch every single weekend, and go to races, and have a real opinion on things? No. But I definitely still pay attention!

Your groundbreaking career in racing began early on — you were a young go-karting champion before you even became a professional racer. How do you think you became so motivated at such a young age?

My parents led by example with hard work, that’s for sure. I remember being a kid, and my parents would sometimes work until 2 a.m. at their shop, and my sister and I would sleep at the shop with them in sleeping bags. That’s the kind of hard work they put in. Not only to make money and be successful, but to be able to afford the life that they wanted for us. Their hard work paid for everything from my racing, to new clothes every year for school, to family trips. My parents were really hard workers. Their example has been ingrained in both my sister and me.

I also moved to England when I was a teenager — I lived there from age 16 to 19. Traveling, and adapting to a new environment, really forces you to grow up. I think the best thing you can do with kids is push them out of their comfort zone, which traveling did for me.

Now you have a podcast, the aptly-titled ‘Pretty Intense.’ What’s your goal with this show?

The core of what I’m interested in is health and wellness. So topics from fitness to food to mental well-being… you name it. An extension of that is the concept of personal growth, and how different people face challenges and learn from them. When we enter spaces that feel really difficult, it’s easy to fall into old patterns.

So with the podcast, I really want to learn from various different people what they did when that difficult moment hit, and how they got through it. I want listeners to relate their own stories to something they hear on my show. Or maybe an interview you hear just plants a seed, so if something comes up in your life, that reminds you of the conversation and you can go, “Oh, this is the part where I have to dig in. Now that things are difficult I should actually feel hopeful, because I’m about to have a breakthrough.” I want to help people to stop feeling like they’re stuck. And I think that’s a part of wellness.

Describe your ideal dream guest for us.

I mean… Oprah! Or Brené Brown would be amazing. Anybody that’s open. I love guests that are willing to tell their stories, no matter how ugly or challenging or embarrassing they are. Because we all have them. So we can relate. Vulnerability is so relatable. On top of that, someone has to be a really great storyteller, and have some opinions and perspective on certain topics. That takes an interview far. Every interview is a little bit different, but I love when people can take their own story and offer action points. Because you can consciously understand something, but how do you reprogram the subconscious to actually act on something and change your behavior? That takes action points — for instance, what can I be doing differently on a daily basis that can reprogram my subconscious, and create a better reality for me?

You can’t make someone change — they have to make the decision for themselves. Wellness comes from within, and it starts with the mind.

That’s so true. In that same vein, you’ve said that your boyfriend Aaron Rodgers helps you “go with the flow.” You’re both pro athletes, and incredibly busy. So what does a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do look like for the two of you?

We cook together a lot. Sometimes we play cards, sometimes we read together, sometimes we just have coffee and chit chat. We listen to music a lot. Other than sports, we really don’t watch a lot of TV. I don’t think I’ve turned the TV on in the morning in a year. But we do watch a lot of sports together. We enjoy being stimulated, and growing, which is what I think makes us both so optimistic. When you’re in a growth mindset, you can be open to new thoughts and perspectives. Rigidity can be a real problem in any part of your life, including relationships. It can be alienating. But Aaron and I both think the same way: We know how important it is to talk to each other and grow together and work to understand each other. I’m very lucky. He pushes me in some areas and I push him in others.

On top of everything else you’re doing, you own a vineyard, Somnium, in Napa. We’re of course thinking about California now, especially in light of the fires there. How is the Wine Country community rallying together?

It’s unbelievable. It feels like an unprecedented problem. The fires were so bad two years ago, and they’re so bad again. Thankfully they’ve come a little later, but when I was there a few weeks ago, most of the town had the power shut down. Yet here we are with more fires. It’s really destructive.

But the valley does a really good job of supporting each other. The fundraising the community does is so helpful in fighting the fires, but also to help people who have been displaced. People there really take care of each other, and the firefighters are putting themselves on the line to save everything from people to vineyards to homes. They are incredible.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

This originally appeared on Medium.com