Well & Good
Actress Cameron Diaz has a body to die for, but she's the first to admit that the holidays took a toll on her shape, too.
"I ate everything and was not exercising as much to offset my food intake. I was not managing myself. My body looks different now than it did two weeks ago. I am not going to beat myself up about that," she says.
"I ate the stuff I wanted to eat. I didn't restrict myself from things that made me happy. I was eating that way with my family and friends. We eat pork roast for Christmas, tacos the next day. I eat the pork skin, pork fat and the beef fat. That's my treat."
But now she's back to healthy eating and regular exercise, and before long, she says, her body will be back to where it was.
Diaz, 41 ("The Mask," "My Best Friend's Wedding," "There's Something About Mary"), has written a new book, "The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body" with Sandra Bark to share the latest nutrition and exercise information because she wants "people to be healthy and live their life to the fullest."
She realises that not everyone has her "blessed gene pool," but you can "love your own amazing body. Know that body. The only way you can know that body is by taking care of it properly. If you are eating processed foods, and you're not getting all your nutrients, not exercising properly, then you are not living in the body that you were meant to live in."
Diaz would like women to "stop hating their bodies, understand them, take care of their bodies and put that energy that they would be turning on themselves in a negative way out to the world in a positive way."
She has had her own personal transformation. She grew up a fast-food junkie, consuming burgers, fries, onion rings, Coke and bean burritos. "If you are what you eat, I was a bean burrito with extra cheese and extra sauce, no onions," she writes in the book.
Eating fast food was a habit, she says. "I didn't think I needed to change the way I ate because everyone told me, 'You are so skinny. You can eat whatever you want.' But I felt sick in my own body."
She says her poor eating habits led to problems with acne. After she started eating healthier foods, her skin cleared up.
She knew she needed to change her ways because "our body is like an engine with a series of tubes and hoses. I didn't want to get to a place in my life where I need to replace a hose. I figured out how to make the best version of foods that I love."
She recommends eating "whole foods" close to their "natural form." She cooks healthy foods for herself daily, sometimes starting the day with a savory oatmeal made from steel-cut oats, egg whites, sauteed greens (collard greens, kale, zucchini) and caramelized shallots with a splash of ponzu sauce.
The trick is to make sure most of the time you are eating healthy foods but allowing yourself some indulgences, she says. She occasionally has a "cheeseburger from a place where I feel the ingredients are good quality" and if she has a craving "for a bean burrito with extra cheese and extra sauce" then she has one and doesn't beat herself up about it.
For people who need to make many adjustments in their eating habits, Diaz recommends making gradual, consistent changes. "If you drink five sodas a day, just drink two and see the difference. Cut them out completely, and you'll see a difference. Replace them with water, and you'll really see a difference."
When it comes to exercise, Diaz was physically active as a child in middle school but did very little exercise through her early 20s. Her body was transformed from a "skinny frame" into "a strong powerful body" when she was 27 and training for her role in the movie "Charlie's Angels."
"It felt amazing. I watched my body transform over a week of intense training - some days doing upward of 1,500 to 2,000 kicks a day. Kicking, kicking, kicking for eight hours. All of a sudden I had six-pack abs. It was painful. I would not recommend that anyone blast their body like that. It was an intense, physical challenge. But it woke me up to my own body and what it was capable of."
She has continued to work out since then and has no intention of ever quitting. "I went to the gym this morning. I did cardio. I went on the elliptical for half an hour. Sometimes I do the treadmill. I do a mile as fast as I can go. ... I don't like to run too long because it can have an impact on my knees or joints. I'm more of a sprinter.
"Today I also did leg exercises and weights with the upper body. I didn't go hard today, but I got a good sweat on. I don't look at exercise as a chore. I look at it as something I get to do. I am grateful that I can move my body in that way."
Part of the motivation for eating healthy and exercising regularly is thinking ahead to "my longevity," she says. "I want to make sure I don't get sick. If I'm blessed to get older, I want to make sure I can maintain quality of life."
Excerpt from "The Body Book" by Cameron Diaz with Sandra Bark:
Believe me - I know about fast food. I grew up on fast food. My mom cooked every night, and we ate dinner at home, but out and about as a teen-ager I was a bit of a fast-food junkie. My friends and I would roll through the drive-thru, and I would get a double cheeseburger with french fries and onion rings. When I was in junior high, my friend's brother worked at Taco Bell. Every day after school, I would come by and order one bean burrito with extra cheese and extra sauce, no onions, and he would always give me two. Every day after school, I ate two bean burritos and a Coke. Every single day, for three years, that was what I ate. Every single day.
And while I was eating burgers and burritos and onion rings and french fries and sodas, I had the worst skin. I mean, I had terrible, terrible skin. It was embarrassing, and I did everything I could think of to make it go away. I tried to cover it with makeup. I tried to get rid of it with medication - oral, topical, even the harshest prescriptions. Nothing helped for very long.
The pimples were still there through high school and into my twenties, while I was modeling and acting. It was really challenging to cover them up for the cameras; it was awkward and embarrassing and frustrating, and I always felt really bad about myself. But I kept eating that fast food, still following habits that formed at a young age when I had no idea that food could affect my strength, my energy, my ability to function - or my skin. ...
My issues with my skin persisted until my late twenties, when I started cooking for myself and stopped eating so much fast food. As my eating style evolved and I quit putting processed foods into my body, a funny thing happened ... my skin began to clear up. My acne wasn't totally gone, but it was significantly better. ... It's definitely possible that hormonal changes and other factors may have played a role in my acne, but it's also definitely true that I saw a dramatic change in my skin when I changed my diet. ... I began to realize that by adjusting my food intake I could affect not only my skin but also my energy levels and my stomachache levels ... not just the way I looked but the way I felt.
- USA Today
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