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Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton talks to Kidsday

Surfer Bethany Hamilton with Kidsday reporters Mackenzie Setton,

Surfer Bethany Hamilton with Kidsday reporters Mackenzie Setton, Min Hur, Sydney Lesnick and Tasmin Loqman, all from Cantiague Elementary School in Jericho. They are at Planet Hollywood in NYC on May 13, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met surfer Bethany Hamilton when she visited Planet Hollywood in Manhattan recently. She was there to talk about her new book, "Body and Soul."

Tell us about your new book.

So my new book is called "Body and Soul" and it's a girl's guide to a fit, fun and fabulous life, and my hope was just to encourage girls and their choices to eat healthier and find activities and exercises that they like to do.

What advice do you have for other athletes around the world?

My advice would be just . . . always work to have fun at what you love to do. When I go surfing, it's more motivating than when I'm just trying to be super serious all the time. I think sometimes recovering from an injury, you have to take time to heal, and for me, learning how to surf with one arm, I just had to be creative, patient and persistent. I'd just encourage them to [be] persistent, and ask people for help if they need it.

Did you ever think about getting a prosthetic arm?

I did think about getting a prosthetic arm and I actually got one, but because of my stump being too short, the prosthetic arm just like sits there. It's more for looks. I really just wanted to have something that would be useful and it wasn't that useful. So when I got the arm I was like I'm fine with how I look with one arm. This is me and I know that God loves me just as I am and so do my family and friends. So it didn't really matter to me to look like I have two arms.

What got you so interested in surfing?

What got me into surfing was my parents. They both surfed and they taught my older brothers and myself how to surf. And so I just fell in love with it.

You have competed all over the world. What's your favorite place to compete?

My favorite place to compete in competition . . . is probably Hawaii because often the waves that we compete in, in Hawaii are a lot better than the other waves that we compete in. So it's fun to be able to surf good waves in a contest because sometimes you go and travel really far and you have to surf really bad waves. So it's very challenging and can sometimes be frustrating. But Hawaii has warm water, too, so I like that.

Have you faced any other bad memories besides the shark attack?

Nothing worse than the shark attack, I would say, but some of my struggles have just been, I think, adjusting to life with one arm and sometimes being really discouraged or just not being able to do things like I used to. It took time to figure out how to do things and just being really impatient and also like I've had a few other really bad injuries like a cut in my leg and my arm.

Did you ever see the movie "Soul Surfer"? If so, what did it make you feel seeing the movie based on your life?

Seeing "Soul Surfer" for the first time I was really nervous and it's kind of crazy to have a movie made about your life and have someone who's not you and pretending to be you and they're not quite the same. But honestly, AnnaSophia [Robb], who who played me, did a very good job. I thought the movie turned out really good.

How do you relate to your role in "Dolphin Tale 2"?

I was so excited to be a part of "Dolphin Tale 2." When "Dolphin Tale 2" approached me to be in the film, I thought it was a really cool invite. And I was like, oh, that would be so fun to be a part of and just seeing how people are really inspired by Winter and how she survived and I think it was hugely the community of people that . . . came together to come up with a prosthetic tail for her. I just really liked her story. I thought it would be cool to go and share my story alongside of her story with other people.

Since when did you start eating very healthy food and snacks?

I started eating healthier when I was about 16 and I think I just started to realize that I wanted to have good energy and nice skin and be fit so that when I go surfing I'd have plenty of energy to surf. So I just started eating more vegetables and less sugar and candy and fast food. I just started to feel the difference. Now I love eating healthy and I don't even think about fast food.

What is one of your favorite recipes?

My favorite recipes are probably the smoothies. I love to make smoothies and I like eating them, too. They're great to drink before doing an activity or surfing or like an afternoon snack.

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