If you're one of the 17 million people who follow Shay Mitchell on Instagram, you know that her feed is basically a dream. Between the travel porn, fitness inspo, and yes, National Pizza Day posts, the actress, best known for her skyrocket to fame on Pretty Little Liars, is one of our favorite follows. (In fact, it's why we teamed up with her for our Body Shop event in Los Angelesnext week.)
As part of her partnership with Stella Artois for the brand's "Host One to Remember" kickoff, we talked to the actress about what's going on behind the scenes of those beautiful photos. Like how she manages to squeeze in workouts while jet-setting to Morocco and South Africa, and how she indulges burgers and fries and still finds that elusive #balance. Read ahead for her fitness, diet, and mind-body advice.
Her go-to weekly workout schedule: "I love boxing and Pilates classes and hot yoga—I'll jam-pack a bunch of classes into a week. I also like to do a hike two to three times per week because I get to exercise and take my dog for a walk at the same time, which is great. I also love to either go spinning indoors—I'll do a double class on Saturdays—or grab a bike and ride to Santa Monica and Venice. I also think running in the sand is incredible for a workout and cardio. I'll also go to UCLA and just run the stadium stairs, up and down and up and down. It's great because you're outside and it's such an incredible workout. So if you can find stairs anywhere outside, I'd fully take advantage of that."
On the importance of unplugging: "All of our days are just so busy and we're always on our phones, myself included. So, I think it's really important to take that hour of not being on your phone—aside from taking your Instagram shot after! I think it's a mental relax for your brain to have that hour dedicated to yourself and your body to just sort of forget everything else that's going on. So for me, I really do get the meditative component, which is a huge part in hot yoga. There's always a lesson in there with some of the instructors that I go to. And yeah, you just need that moment every once and a while, just to detach from everything else."
How she finds balance in the summer: "Summer is my favorite season because I love having friends over and hosting parties outside. And even though I love indulging, there are also ways to make things healthier. My signature recipe in the summer is a Kobe beef burger with a Sriracha aioli, but you can also do that protein-style with lettuce instead of the bun. It doesn't always have to be so decadent, but hey, I'm not having burgers all the time, so let's indulge! Then you can have a walk afterward and take advantage of how beautiful it is outside. It's all about balance.
Her go-to hangover trick: "Food, food, and more food to soak it all up. I also suggest reminding yourself during that state of too many beers to order food. And the next day? Loose clothing—just pajamas—and if you can, get in a sweat sesh. Not a workout sweat sesh, but literally sit in a sauna or steam room or go to a Korean spa and literally sweat it out."
On staying fit while jet-setting: "I love checking out the hotel gyms and when I'm coming to New York I try to choose a cool boutique hotel that has a sick gym. But you can also do stuff in your hotel room with just a few pieces of equipment—I always bring a jump rope with me and sliders—they're like furniture sliders. If I don't have weights, I'll lift stuff that's heavy. You can find a way to work out anywhere.
On switching up her routine: "I love certain workouts like boxing, but I also think it's fun to confuse your muscles and do different things. Two things I plan on trying are aerial yoga and a surfboard class I recently walked by in LA—it's all about balancing and using your core. There are so many workout classes out there now that you can do, and I think you should try as many as you can and finds the one you like best."
Why she loves her shape: "I love my shape because I've worked for it and by that I mean, I've eaten for it and I've worked hard for it. I mean, it's my only vehicle that I have. You only get one body, so I'm proud of the one that I have. There are a lot of people who want to work on changing it—you can always get stronger and I truly believe that—but I think being fit is more important than what you physically look like. I don't think I've ever tried to be skinny. I've always tried to be stronger and I want to continue to get stronger, and I think we need to continue to change those words we use and how we look at it. But I truly feel at my ultimate best and most beautiful after a workout because I am proud of the work I put in and the sweat that came off, and just that I'm stronger. And I think that that's what we should really attain to instead of focusing so much on the physical look of our body."
On the Instagram illusion: "People are always like, 'Oh, your Instagram—,' but I always say, 'Thank you, but it's curated.' And like, it took 5,000 photos to get that one photo! I'm not gonna lie, I learned how to pose over the years. It's not complete reality and I think we need to remember that, especially younger girls. We're bombarded by images all the time—but let's not forget there are filters on filters, there's a way that you pose that makes yourself look slimmer. I have a hair and makeup team at all times! And it's like if I had known that when I was younger, I would have felt a lot better myself growing up, because I was comparing myself to these girls in magazines, not realizing all the work that went into it."
On eating what she wants (no guilt): "I love salty foods like a bag of chips or French fries. But I really don't ever feel guilty when I eat something, because I think that in itself adds stress and cortisol and that's what's making you feel bad! It's all psychological. I eat something, I enjoy it, but then I also enjoy going to the gym the next day. I don't really feel guilty about it."