Why Cover Model Jill de Jong Chooses to Live in an RV
Jill de Jong isn’t just the gorgeous face and fit body on the cover of our February issue. Fun fact: She was also the character model for Lara Croft, the protagonist in the video game series, Tomb Raider. De Jong got to travel the world as the adventurous heroine. And these days, this head-turning top model is embarking on a surprising adventure of her own: She’s sold nearly everything she owns in favor of a simpler life in an RV. Read on for why she opted for this road less traveled and how she’s inspiring others to live healthy and active lifestyles.
How did you first get into modeling?
“When I was 15, I was scouted at an event and they asked me to participate in a modeling contest. I became one of the winners!”
What was it like to be cast as the famous Lara Croft character?
“It was so much fun, traveling the world and representing such a fantastic, strong character. They were looking for a girl that looked like the actual drawing and had a hard time finding her. They saw a picture of me and asked me to fly out to London. I went through several rounds [of castings] and eventually got the job. It was like a dream job for me since I really loved the character, and I’m a tomboy myself. I traveled all over to do TV appearances, radio, trade shows, meet and greets with fans. I loved it!”
Croft is an adventurous character. What’s one of the most adventurous things you’ve done?
“The most adventurous thing? Well, I would say where I’m living right now! I packed up all my things and live in an RV in Los Angeles.”
You live in an RV? How did that come about?
“My husband and I both started working at a young age, became adults quickly and have always worked really hard. As our income increased with our success, so did the size of our house plus several cars and motorcycles. It was a great lifestyle that we most certainly enjoyed, but at some point we realized we had so little time to really enjoy it, since we were always so busy working to keep up with it all. One day, we looked at each other and asked ourselves, ‘Do we really need all this?’ We decided to make some big changes. We both love adventure, travel, exploring new terrain, and had always talked about doing a cross-country trip one day. We sold our motorcycles and cars and ended the lease on our home. We told our friends we would be gone for three months but it ended up becoming three and a half years! We had the best time ever during our trip and realized that the RV really had everything we need!”
What have you learned from that experience?
“It’s okay to not have a plan. We just followed our hearts. We experienced freedom like we’d never experienced before. Living close with nature really brought us back to some basic understandings about life and what’s truly important. Life has just become so much more fun, relaxed, and efficient that we plan to continue to live in the RV. We have no idea what the future will bring but for now, we’ve never felt like we were living our dreams as much as we are doing today. We realize that this life is not for everyone and are grateful to be flexible enough with our jobs to be able to do this. We’re both in the business of health and happiness and live by example; a healthy and happy life!”
What’s the best part of living such a flexible lifestyle?
It sounds like you spend a lot of time being active outdoors?
“Yes! I like to go mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding, wake boarding, and kite surfing. During the winter I like to go snowboarding.”
Is that how you keep your body so fit and toned?
“I do some things that are more for maintenance. Like today, I went to group interval training. It’s a full-body workout, a mix of cardio and body weight exercises, and then I’ll do yoga class. Then, for fun, I do all the outdoor stuff. It’s not as frequent, but I love it.”
Speaking of staying healthy, what are some staple healthy meals you incorporate into your diet?
“I get bored quickly so I always change everything up. Because it’s starting to get colder, I like to make lentils and I always like to eat quinoa, rice—easy stuff you can make in larger batches and eat every day if you want to. I like root vegetables in the winter. I try to double up on my veggies every day cause it fills you up. I used to not eat a lot of vegetables, but now I crave them. Flavorful, healthy recipes are key.”