Actress Mariel Hemingway reveals easy ways to work wellness into your life.

By Jené Luciani
March 19, 2012

It's time to take control of your health. That's the message of a national initiative this month called Wellness Week. During the week of March 19 to the 25, hundreds of gyms and spas across the country will offer discounted memberships and services through the Wellness Week website, and various experts-including myself, SHAPE Weight-Loss Coach Cynthia Sass, and spa owner/former Real Housewives of NYC star Cindy Barshop-will be speaking about ways you can live life a little more, well, well!

Oscar-nominated actress and advocate Mariel Hemingway, who has battled a family history of mental illness, her own personal struggles with depression, and the pressures of growing up in Hollywood, presented the initiative before Congress and is serving as the Wellness Week spokesperson. We caught up with the 47-year-old to find out why she's so involved in the cause and how she finds time to lead a healthy lifestyle.

SHAPE: Why did you want to get involved with Wellness Week?

Mariel Hemingway (MH): My personal journey to wellness has taught me that nurturing your body and mind is not only the greatest thing you can do for yourself; it's the greatest thing you can do for everyone around you-for your family, your kids, your colleagues, and your community. That's what Wellness Week is all about. It's about making it easier and more affordable for people to make healthy choices by highlighting the wide range of wellness options that are available in their own communities. Services like massage and reflexology, which are critical to reducing stress, yoga, Pilates, and so much more.Throughout Wellness Week, you can try these services for a reasonable price and hopefully discover something new that will make you healthier and happier.

SHAPE: What ways do you find wellness in your life?

MH: Every day that I wake up and can go outside and watch the sunrise, I feel calm and good about starting my day. There is no better way to start a healthy day than this.

SHAPE: Tell us about your family history of mental illness and how you've overcome that in your life?

MH: My family, though creative and wonderful, is haunted by masses of mental struggles, from addiction to suicide to depression, and more. I have battled my own depression and survived through lifestyle choices. The daily choices of food, water, sunshine, movement, and silence inform my emotions and my mental peace of mind.

SHAPE: Tell us about your personal ‘dieting issues' and how you've overcome them?

MH: I no longer diet, as I have tried all ways of eating, from healthy to crazy-all fat, no fat, all protein, no protein, macro, vegan, raw-all of them have good pieces, but now I eat ethically and with meaning. I don't eat abused animals, only from local farms. I start my day with raw food, usually a smoothie. The main thing I have discovered is balance in all my food and organic-no sugar, no processed food, and no alcohol. When I limit addictive foods, then I have less "noise" in my brain, and how I eat becomes a very easy way of life. I love simple, pure, and healthy food every day.

SHAPE: I noticed your website is all about living holistically and healthy eating. What prompted you to start this site and spread this message?

MH: I have studied health all my life and now it is my passion and my business. Mariel's Kitchen is my cookie company-cookies I created that are sugar- and gluten-free. They're a delicious (potential meal replacement) cookie called a Blisscuit, which will soon be available all over. The Mariel's Kitchen Cookbook has the recipe. I love my brand-I love that I can create food and lifestyle choices for everyone so they can live healthier, happier lives.

SHAPE: What are your simplest tips that all women can incorporate into their daily lives to live healthily and holistically?

MH: Drink water-good water-no BPA bottles and from glass. Change your breakfast to something healthy and take at least five minutes of silence every day and breathe during it.

Writer's Note: If you live in the NYC area, you can catch me and Cindy Barshop hosting a special "Moms Symposium: a Discussion on How to Fit Beauty, Health and Wellness into a Busy Mom's Life." This free Wellness Week event is being held on March 19th from 6-8 PM at Completely Bare Spa, 12 Chase Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583. Email