Her secret to success, health, and happiness? Work hard, play hard; eat a lot, work out a lot. Oh, and never be afraid to leave your comfort zone.
Photos: Mark Williams + Sara Hirakawa
Shay Mitchell is most confident not when she's all glammed up and gorgeous on the red carpet but after an intense workout. "I'm sweaty, and I don't have an ounce of makeup on, but that is 100 percent when I feel my best," says Shay, 30, who loves boxing. "It's me in my rawest form, doing something great for my body, pushing myself as hard as I can, and it feels so good." (Don't believe it? Watch her crush an insane circuit workout with trainer Kira Stokes.)
That realness, along with a curiosity and passion that motivate her to discover new ventures, has earned Shay millions of loyal fans. Eight years ago, she went from working bottle service at a club to landing a role as one of the main characters on Pretty Little Liars, the popular TV show that launched her career. Today Shay is starring in the new Lifetime TV series You, a romantic thriller that premieres later this year; has her own production company and a multiyear deal with Warner Bros. to develop projects for TV and digital platforms; and is busy creating videos, posts, and other content for her social media empire, which includes an incredible 18.4 million followers on Instagram, 2.8 million YouTube subscribers, and 5.8 million followers on Facebook.
"I am so lucky because I get to do what I love every day—things I've always dreamed of," Shay says. By sharing her life, whether it's her Shaycation travel series on YouTube, which follows her trips to destinations around the world, or the killer workout videos she posts on Instagram, she hopes to inspire others to go after their goals. "My message is, If I can do it, you can too. If you really want something, believe in it, and have the drive and focus, you can attain it," she says.
Here's how Shay keeps her momentum going strong and continues to reach new milestones.
Hustle for the workout high
Typically I work out three times a week. Boxing is great because it keeps me in the moment like nothing else. Usually, my mind is racing with a million thoughts and ideas, but when I'm in the ring or boxing with my coach, I really can't think about anything else, or I could get hit in the face. I also love to Spin because it's such a good sweat. And I do Barry's Bootcamp because it forces me to run. I'm extremely competitive: If the person next to me is running at a speed of 10.5, I'll push it to a 12. I like the class environment because it makes you better than you were the class before. (Try a DIY Barry's Bootcamp treadmill and strength workout for yourself.)
Ban the food stress
"People who know me can't believe how much I eat. I'm not the kind of person who says 'I eat pizza' but then doesn't really eat it. I eat the pizza! And I don't stress out about it. I also have a million snacks. I'm the biggest fan of popcorn, which I eat throughout the day. Or I'll have chips and guacamole or veggies and hummus. And there's a sandwich in there someplace too. I've learned that as long as you're moving, you can have the food you want." (Read more about her workout routine and love of burgers.)
Have no fear
"I'm more confident and optimistic than not. Every one of us has insecurities. I have a whole bunch of them, but I don't dwell on them. Instead, I focus on my strengths. After all, what's the worst thing that can happen if you try something new and it doesn't work out? So what? You don't know what you're going to be good at until you do it! The same goes for travel: Explore the world; don't be afraid of it. Get out there and be adventurous—that's my life motto."
For more from Shay, pick up the March issue of Shape on newsstands February 13.