Elon Musk’s mother Maye says flexitarian diet keeps her fit at 76

When Maye Musk was asked to pose for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit again, she did not break a sweat.

The 76-year-old, who has led a modeling career spanning over 50 years, credits a "flexitarian diet" for helping her look and feel her best.

The style of eating has been described as one that prioritizes plant-based foods while consuming meat in moderation. It is considered more "flexible" than vegetarianism.


Maye Musk is a fan of the flexitarian diet. (Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

The mother of Elon Musk was photographed for the 2024 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The outlet is celebrating its 60th anniversary. She told Fox News Digital there are "two reasons" why she follows a flexitarian diet.

"When I got divorced [in 1979], I couldn’t afford to buy meat, fish or chicken," Musk recalled. "So I had to feed my children bean stew. And as they say, they did get tired of my bean stew. But I did vary from it. I used different beans and lots of vegetables. [I also gave them] fruits in season. Of course, we could never have afforded organic or anything like that.

Maye Musk prefers working out at home as she talks to her sister on FaceTime. (Alessandro Bremec/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"You [also] get whole wheat bread… in South Africa, brown bread was subsidized by the government. White bread was more expensive, so we only ate brown bread. And of course, it kept us all in good health. And then we had cereal and fruit in the morning."

The 2024 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is available on newsstands now. (Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

"I remember Elon saying, ‘I always wanted Coco Pops, but we only got Raisin Bran,'" she chuckled. "Well, the thing is, Coco Pops were more expensive and less nutritious, so that’s what [my children] got. And if they complained, I didn’t listen. And then [my daughter] Tosca said she always wanted apricot jam, but that was more expensive than strawberry jam. So she didn’t get that either. And then [my son] Kimbal said, ‘I left home to go to university because I was tired of your bean stew.’"

Maye Musk is the mother of three children, including billionaire Elon Musk. (C Flanigan/Getty Images)

"They really joke about how I am, but I’m also not a good cook," Musk admitted. "That’s also why Kimbal learned how to cook… He loves to eat really great food. Some people just don’t like cooking and that’s OK. You just eat the foods you like. I eat mainly vegetarian at home."

Musk is eating less bean stew these days. She does stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, which she said is essential as you get older.

"I eat very well," she explained. "To me, to keep a body healthy and skin glowing, you have to eat well. That keeps me in good health… [When my children visit], we usually send out for meat, fish or chicken. Tosca and Kimbal really love cooking. So I always have delicious home-cooked meals."

Maye Musk originally appeared on the cover of SI Swimsuit in 2022. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Still, Musk is not afraid to indulge in moderation.

"It would usually be something sweet because I love desserts," she explained. "But I have managed it. I used to overdo it… I was the first plus-size model in South Africa in my 30s because I’d been through stressful times. And stress is a common reason to overeat. I gained 60 pounds. So there I was, eating a lot… But it affected my knees. My back was hurting. It was really painful. And then cholesterol goes up. I could go on medication for the rest of my life or get my weight under control. So I have to keep it under control."

Musk joked that she cannot keep a box of chocolates at home because "your old habits still want to come back." However, that does not mean she eliminates sweets altogether.

From left to right, Christie Brinkley, Maye Musk, Brooks Nader, Kate Love, Kate Upton and Lily Aldridge attend the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Celebration of the 2024 Issue Release and 60th Anniversary at Swimsuit Island on May 17, 2024 in Hollywood,

"When it comes to desserts in restaurants, I take a teaspoon," she explained. "If it tingles in my mouth, I will eat half of it. But if it doesn’t, I don’t eat it."

Musk is also a big believer in having a daily active lifestyle. She noted that finding simple workouts that can be done at home is key to starting a new routine and sticking with it.

"I walk my dog three times a day, although she sniffs more than he walks," she chuckled. "I do exercises at night when I FaceTime my twin sister – she lives in Canada. I have 30 minutes to an hour of working out at home. I used to work out hard, but then I would hurt myself. You can overdo things. I wanted to be extremely fit. And then you find out you don’t need to hurt yourself. You can just be active."


Maye Musk, left, is seen here with Ciara, who also posed for SI Swimsuit in 2022. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit)

"I do more yoga, jumping on the spot and weights," she said. "Our kids wonder what [my sister and I are] talking about. But we talk about our lives."

Over the years, Musk has learned plenty of tips and tricks to look good in front of cameras. She is not afraid to use them.

Maye Musk has been modeling for over 50 years. (Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

"I’m OK looking my way," she explained. "I don’t think I have many wrinkles, but in a midday sun without makeup on? Yeah, I certainly look my age. But I’m happy to use filters if I have to, if I don’t like the lighting of the photo. But usually, I like good lighting. It just makes life easier. And of course, on the red carpet, you don’t have a chance to retouch anything. But the lighting is good there, too. The photographers want a good picture. So I haven’t had anyone insult me."

Maye Musk at the Sports Illustrated Swim Issue Launch Party held at the Hard Rock Hotel on May 16, 2024 in New York City. (Lexie Moreland/WWD via Getty Images)

"I think once every three months, somebody says, ‘You’re old,’" she continued. "But I don’t care. I can just delete [those comments]. Doesn’t bother me. I guess I’m old, but I’m on social media doing very well. I’m getting most of my bookings through social media."

Musk became the oldest cover model in SI Swimsuit history when she appeared on the cover of the 2022 issue at age 74, the outlet reported. The title was taken by Martha Stewart, 81, in 2023.

"It’s an honor really," said Musk. "You don’t expect this when you’re 76, but it’s just surprising and exciting… [My children] are delighted… When you walk out in a swimsuit, you’re really not excited for anybody to see you. But [SI] encourages you to let loose, be happy with yourself and look fabulous."

"I think women just have to realize that as you get older, you do get wiser," Musk noted. "People still try to take advantage of you, but you can recognize it better and quicker so that you don’t go as much into miserable situations… Even if you have to write down how you’re going to make a change, you have to make a change. You don’t have to live in misery all your life. You will struggle. You’ll be scared. You’ll have no confidence. If you’re unhappy [with yourself], you’ve just got to make a plan."

Maye Musk attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Island red carpet at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 18, 2024 in Hollywood, Florida. (Romain Maurice/Getty Images)

For those who are hesitant about rocking a swimsuit this summer, Musk has some advice.

"Go to the beach and look at the men," she said. "Do the men care? Are they insecure? They will be in tiny [shorts] and… flaunting themselves, thinking they are fabulous. Women should do the same… You have to enjoy your time at the beach. It’s fun to do that. And if anyone is insulting you, send the insult right back.

"It’s so bizarre that a man can insult a woman when he looks way worse than her. I don’t know why we allow that. And if other women are insulting you, then you don’t have to mix with them. But you need to feel good about yourself when you go for a swim."

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