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Kim Alexis, staying active

Model behavior

Serena Kappes

Kim Alexis
Kim Alexis today and (inset) in 1986

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(PEOPLE) -- Kim Alexis: Supermodel, advocate, public speaker ... Wet Head?

Before becoming a cover girl, Kim Alexis earned her nickname as a competitive swimmer at her Lockport, New York, high school. "I was into swimming and sports," she says. "I just really wasn't into beauty. I didn't know much about fashion magazines."

That changed when the 5'10" Alexis decided to try modeling as a teenager -- and wound up gracing the covers of more than 500 fashion magazines. But even with all that to her credit, she was referred to as a "former supermodel" during a radio interview a few years ago. "I'm like, 'Don't I get to keep the title?' " she jokes.

At 42, Alexis -- who was a fashion correspondent for "Good Morning America" from 1987-90 and hosted the cable show "Healthy Kids" in the early 1990s -- still models occasionally: She'll appear in the May and June issues of More magazine.

But her focus in the past several years has been on her children, sons Jamie, 16, and Bobby, 13 (from her first marriage to real estate executive Jimbo Stockton), and Noah, 8, from her second marriage to husband Ron Duguay. (She's also a stepmom to Amber, 18, and Shay, 15, Duguay's daughters from his first marriage, who live in southern California.) "I've enjoyed for the last few years really stepping back and just being a mom," she says.

A public speaker

Along with her dedication to motherhood, several years ago Alexis began appearing in commercials and as a public speaker (including for the 1996 Republican National Convention).

Among the subjects she tackles are her years as a model and her decision to become a born-again Christian in 1990. She credits a nanny working for her at the time with inspiring her conversion. Alexis discusses this subject in her 1999 biography (cowritten with Jim Denney), "A Model for a Better Future," and has used her celebrity to promote her faith in a series of fitness CDs -- including "Praise Walk with Kim Alexis" -- which were first released in 1999 and feature Alexis narrating "a little bit of instruction."

Alexis -- the daughter of Barbara, a homemaker, and Robert, a chemical engineer -- was first discovered by a talent scout while a high school senior and modeling school attendee. The scout introduced her to John Casablancas, the owner of the Elite modeling agency, who promised her a modeling contract -- but also told her to lose 15 pounds.

Alexis says this advice jolted her -- and began a struggle with her self-image that still haunts her today. "I was muscular -- I was never overweight," she says. "But tell a girl that she has to lose 15 pounds when she's not fat, and that has destroyed a lot of who I am over the years, even still. In my mind I'm thinking, 'I'm always too heavy. I should be a skinny thing.' "

Through the years, Alexis has combated that self-doubt by continuing to be athletic -- she races cars, runs, and plays hockey -- and through the love of her family. In 1993, she married Duguay, 45, an NHL superstar who now coaches the minor-league Jacksonville Barracudas hockey team, organizes celebrity charity events and owns the New York City restaurant Cronies. "The second we touched, it was a big electricity thing -- we've just always felt a comfort with each other," she says.

And Alexis, who lives with her family in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, is clearly in a good place. "You just sort of get to a point," she says, "where you know what makes you happy."

For more Where Are They Now? stories, visit PEOPLE.COM

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