Although actress Rachel Nichols is a busy woman (her latest film, Alex Cross, premiered on Monday), she had time to sit down with us for 15 minutes and answer a few questions. Read on to see what's on her workout playlist, the one food she won't give up, and the hardest diet plan she's ever tried.
SHAPE: What's your workout routine like?
Rachel Nichols (RN): I always take the month of August off. I'll go home to Maine and just enjoy myself, eat lobster rolls, relax, and let my body take a break. My trainer, Valerie Waters, once said that September is the new January, and I really think that's true, so I'll get back into my routine in September. I normally work out six days a week. I'll do Pilates on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and I'll do cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
SHAPE: For your upcoming film, Alex Cross, did you have to change your routine at all or do anything specific to get in shape?
RN: For this movie, I did not. When I was training for G.I. Joe, I had to put on a lot of muscle, so I was training every day, but with Alex Cross, I didn't have to do any extra workouts to gain or lose weight. Mostly I just tried to watch what I was eating, stick to my regular workout routine, indulge once in a while, and have everything in moderation.
SHAPE: What's your diet like? Do you follow a specific diet or eating plan?
RN: I definitely try to eat a healthy diet, but I am the first person to say I love unhealthy food. I would never tell you I don't. I love fried chicken or mac and cheese. Do I order them all the time when I'm out at restaurants? No, though I do have one splurge meal a week.
In September, for two weeks, I tried this eating plan where I cut out dairy, gluten, alcohol, sugar, carbs, and all processed foods. So I'd have a protein shake in the morning, a protein shake for lunch, and either a salad with some protein for dinner or maybe sushi, but without the rice. And normally I'd be eating dinner early, by 7:30, because I'd be so hungry! But I did it with a girlfriend and that helped a lot. It's like the buddy system for dieting, because it helps keep you accountable.
SHAPE: What's the one unhealthy indulgence you wouldn't give up?
RN: I love having wine with my meals. And if I splurge, I'm going to splurge big, because if I deny my cravings, it just ends up backfiring on me, you know?
SHAPE: If we looked on your iPod, what would we find on your workout playlist?
RN: You would find a ton of old-school hip hop: Tupac, Biggie, Eminem.You'd probably find some rock, like Guns 'n Roses or Bon Jovi. Occasionally there's some Metallica. Mostly I'll just grab my iPod and hit random.
SHAPE: You're obviously very busy; how do you relax or spend your "me" time?
RN: I actually just started golfing! It was something I'd wanted to do, so I'm taking lessons. I love anything outdoorsy, whether that's hiking or going to the beach. I love doing brunch with girlfriends! And I love watching football, though right now, the Patriots are just embarrassing themselves. I really wanted Peyton to have a good season!
SHAPE: What kind of fitness tips would you give someone who's trying to make a healthy change to their life?
RN: First, I would acknowledge that it's a privilege to have a personal trainer. I know I'm very lucky and that a lot of people can't afford it. However, I'd recommend looking into an online training program, or even going to your gym and buy a single session just to get some pointers before you start working out consistently by yourself because it's important to make sure your form is correct. You don't want to overexert yourself or injure yourself. I used to hate working out—until I learned how to do it properly.
SHAPE: How would you describe your overall healthy-living philosophy?
RN: Work hard, listen to your body, and have fun.