The actress gets real about her health goals in the latest issue of Shape.
There's a good chance that you follow Bella on Instagram (along with a whopping 17 million others) and that you know she leads a colorful life. You may have even seen some pretty wild evidence of it up close and personal. But recently, she tells us, there's been a shift. In her quieter moments, Bella has been digging deep, figuring out what makes her tick, defining who she wants to be, and setting some hard-core goals that touch on every area of her life, from getting reacquainted with the gym to losing some psychological baggage that's been weighing her down for years.
The timing of these goals isn't coincidental—Bella has a lot in store this year, and she wants to be on her game. She's starring in the newly released Midnight Sun, in which she plays a young girl sheltered at home since childhood with a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight; she's hoping to go on tour with her band; and she would like to work with teenagers to help improve their self-esteem (Bella was a victim of bullying as a child). Here's what else lies ahead for Bella.
Photo: Ben Watts
Work the Weight Room
"I was filming Midnight Sun in Canada at the beginning of 2017 for four months. It was 20 degrees below zero out, and we were shooting really heavy material all night. I also did all my own stunts. It made me not want to work out. Then I started another project and got lazy. But I recently decided it's time to go back to the gym. I get stressed and antsy when I don't go. I won't do cardio—because it makes me lose too much weight, and my boobs are always the first thing to go—but I will do a lot of weight lifting, boxing, Pilates, and hot yoga." (Try this boxing yoga workout that blends the two practices.)
"Sleep is so important, and yet I keep skipping it. I can never catch up. The problem is that my creative hours are from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., and then I often need to get up for work at 4:30. By the time I get home—especially if I've been filming an intense scene or had coffee—I'm jittery and exhausted. I'm lucky that I have one of those brains that always allows me to take more on. But while it makes for a great work ethic, it gets me in trouble. When I'm overtired, my psoriasis and acne are bad, I get migraines and sore eyes, I forget my lines, and my hands shake a lot. Those are tells that I need some sleep. I'm not a believer in sleeping pills, so I need to start mentally winding down earlier so I can calm and ease my mind." (These seven restorative yoga poses promote deeper sleep.)
Photo: Ben Watts
Nourish My Mind
"I went to elementary school in Florida and didn't speak English until the first grade [Bella's father was Cuban]. For the longest time, I couldn't read at all. People at school just said I was dumb; eventually I found out I was dyslexic. They used to make me get up in front of the class and read, and I couldn't get the words out, so I'd leave school crying. That has stuck with me forever. Acting is how I finally learned to read. The years I was on Shake It Up were the only real effective schooling I had, from about ages 13 to 16. So many kids I'd talk to hated school, but I wanted to learn. I still do. My goal is to have intelligent conversations with people that have nothing to do with anything in my life right now."
Rise Above Haters
"On social media, someone commented about me being sexually molested [Bella recently made her experience public]. People tell me not to look at the comments on my Instagram feed, but there are good and bad sides to replying to bullying. The downside is that most online bullies are cowards; answering them enables other bullies. The upside is that people see me speak out and realize they can too. There's really not much I keep private, but in the past I've been a little more guarded about my home life and what I dealt with when I was younger because if you put stuff out there the wrong way, it could hurt someone. But I'm ready to be upfront now for justice—for those people who have gone through the same thing."
Photo: Ben Watts
Stay Body Positive
"Although I'm insecure about my education, I'm generally confident about my body. Still, sometimes I wake up and don't like what I see, so I take a moment and try to get back to happy Bella by remembering where I came from: I grew up in a bikini on the beach, and I'm comfortable in my skin. In fact, one of my proudest accomplishments was taking nude photos for a magazine recently [GQ Mexico, which honored Bella for her Latin heritage]. It was a nice learning experience for me as a woman. I've never been in front of a group of people completely naked. It would make a lot of people uncomfortable, but for me the issue was, I can be a feminist and show skin. You'd never tell a guy not to take off his shirt, would you?"