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NFL legend Dan Marino's evolving approach to fitness and nutrition

For former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, the ever-changing world of health and fitness has been an essential part of his life since before he stepped onto the sunny South Florida turf in 1983.

“It’s not like it was -- today, it’s pretty strict,” Marino says, regarding the current NFL approach to strength and conditioning. “It’s a lot more individualized to specific people, players and positions. The way that a quarterback lifts may not be the way your linemen lift or work out in the cardio room.”

Marino says his go-to during his early days with the Dolphins involved weightlifting with Nautilus exercise machines and free weights, focusing on squats, shoulders, biceps, triceps and back. And then there was distance running, and even yoga. Oh yes, Y-O-G-A.

“We always had a weightlifting coach in college and the pros, so I would go on whatever program they would put me on,” Marino, 53, tells Edge. “If you look at the Dolphins [now], they have their own nutritionist, full-time, and every guy gets his own special diet. They have a lot of healthy food, recovery food, drinks and shakes. The philosophy has changed over time, for sure.”

But lets not forget about the healthy diet, which helped to keep Marino on track, play after play, through four quarters of pigskin performance. For him, grilled chicken and protein-based foods, coupled with mixed vegetables, were key. But his favorite food? “Some kind of Italian food,” Marino says laughing.

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“It was more or less that I just tried to eat the right things and sometimes I would cheat a little bit in the offseason,” Marino says. “I [also] liked to stay flexible -- for a few years, here and there, I was doing yoga, especially after my Achilles tendon [injury in 1993]. I would run distance, which I can’t do now … wish I could.”

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And with age, come new challenges, especially as body metabolism naturally begins to slow. Marino attests to -- and accepts -- the realities of these new demands. Eating foods normally thought to be high in fat and calories can be slightly altered without diminishing the flavor. Marino has discovered a liking for meatballs made with the healthier options of chicken or turkey.

“It’s a good way to get taste and still be low-calorie,” Marino says. “My wife will make them sometimes, and other times there’s a health food store that makes them. And I try to eat a lot of fish; I don’t eat a lot of red meat.”

The focus of Marino’s present-day strength training regimen has evolved into a near-daily cardiovascular-based program, coupled with working his body’s core.

“I do a lot of cardio -- treadmill and elliptical,” says Marino, noting that he trains with retired running back Terry Kirby, who played for the Dolphins from 1993-95. “It’s always good working out with someone else to help you push a bit. I try to do something every day, in the morning. [It gets] your day going.”

With Super Bowl XLIX descending upon the nation this Sunday, the most essential decisions may occur the following day: Super Monday -- the No. 1 diet decision day for men. Well, that’s after Americans have already consumed approximately 30 millions pounds of snacks and 325.5 million gallons of beer.

Marino’s advice? “When you’re younger, you can pretty much eat whatever you want,” he explains. “When you’re older, you have to watch [what you eat]. I’m still trying to eat as healthy as possible, and I’m [dieting] with Nutrisystem -- a lot of the shakes that they have and the bars. It’s all about portion control and that’s one thing that’s great about Nutrisystem, they come in small portions.”

One thing’s for sure: Dan’s … the … man.