Being healthy doesn’t mean being skinny. Being healthy means taking care of yourself and committing to a healthy lifestyle, eating the right foods, and making sure your body is strong enough because you never know when that role is going to come around that you’ll need to be ready for.
Our bodies are our instruments and the better we take care of them, the more opportunities you’ll have to perform and the more years you’ll be able to perform. Pursuing the goal of being an actor full time takes a tremendous commitment physically and psychologically, so you have to be in the best possible shape you can be in.
We often feel defeated in our pursuit of a healthy and fit body, not for a lack of ability, but because of a lack of wholeheartedness. When you commit your full self to being in the best shape you possibly can and stop making excuses for why you’re not in the best shape, success will find you.
Eating healthy, eliminating sugars from your diet, and adding exercise to your routine will have a dramatic effect on your confidence and how you feel as a performer. The more confident you are, the better you perform on screen and on stage, and the more productive you are. Here are a few ways to get started.
1. Eliminate sugar.
Eating foods that contain little to no sugar is the key. The higher the amount of sugar you consume, the worse you feel, the sicker you get, and the more body fat you gain. Getting rid of sugar is key to losing weight and having more energy—it’s the biggest reason for not being able to reach your health and weight loss goal.
Fruits are great and contain tons of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals, but you have to be very careful not to over-eat them as they’re a form of sugar. My rule is one or two whole pieces of fruit a day as long as you’re fairly active and moving your body. And definitely eliminate fruit juice—it often has more sugar than a soda.
2. Eat frequent meals.
Eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one snack is how you keep a consistent source of energy that will help you feel good and give you the discipline you need to make healthy eating choices. Too many people go about losing weight by starving themselves and skipping meals, but all that does is make you more ravenous when you do eat. It also completely throws your blood sugar levels out of whack. Eating something every three-to-four hours keeps your metabolism working at its highest and prevents you from feeling “hangry” at any one point during the day.
3. Limit alcohol.
Drinking too much alcohol can make it extremely hard for you to feel productive and lose body fat. This is because when you consume alcohol, you are giving your body a very high dose of sugar, and when it enters your system, your body puts the metabolizing of other nutrients on hold until it can eliminate the alcohol from your body first. That means that fat burning is put on hold until the body takes care of the alcohol first.
3. Up the fiber.
Fiber speeds up your metabolism, satisfies your hunger, regulates blood sugar, and increases your immune system. Try to incorporate anywhere from 30–40 grams of fiber into your daily diet (but check with a healthcare professional before making any drastic changes to your diet). Eat more long grain brown rice, wild rice, any and all green veggies, sweet potatoes, and yams to increase your fiber and replace white breads and other starches.
Obviously this can be a very complex subject—I could write a whole book on how to exercise correctly—but the important thing is to move your body every single day. Men and women should lift weights to build muscle: the more muscle you have the less body fat you’ll have. A pound of muscle demands 35–40 calories to sustain itself compared to two calories for a pound of fat. You do the math.
“I’ve always been a fit person and I’ve always felt you should be in shape. I’m used to devoting my whole life to the work and what it requires.” —Estelle Parsons, who at 80 years old, replaced a 68-year-old who had to leave “August: Osage County” on Broadway due to exhaustion.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.