At a time when it seems like every celeb wants to share their secret to a healthy life, it’s rare to find a plan that’s actually realistic for those of us somehow surviving sans assistant, stylist, and personal driver. (Wait, you don’t have someone making that pistachio milk for you?!)
The starlet got fed up after constantly getting asked the same questions by reporters: “How do you stay in shape? How did you lose all that baby weight? How do you always look so healthy and happy?” Because the truth is that nothing is as simple and carefree as the media makes it; as Hudson explains, “If you want to make lifestyle changes, it doesn’t happen with a Like on Instagram. It takes time and discipline.” Preach.
“When you understand yourself and connect to how you can become body smart, you realize pretty quickly that the perfect, the ideal, is not the goal.”
Throughout the book, the actress is brutally honest about her wellness ups and downs: gaining pregnancy weight, using extreme fad diets for roles, and feeling insecure about her body. But now that she’s at her self-professed healthiest age, Hudson has honed in on what she believes to be the key to well-being.
“When you understand yourself and connect to how you can become body smart, you realize pretty quickly that the perfect, the ideal, is not the goal. Instead, [it is] feeling good in your body. That’s what leads to confidence, to feeling and looking fit, and being pretty happy.” Sounds like a plan we can get behind.
Here are five healthy and inspiring lessons from Pretty Happy that Kate Hudson taught us about loving our bodies—and ourselves.
1. Your body is smarter than you
At any given moment, your body is trying to tell you something—the question is, are you listening? Hudson’s foolproof way for paying attention to yourself (and your needs) is by documenting it in a drawing board—a place where you track your thoughts, feelings, questions, and fears. (In the actress’ case, it’s a journal.) “Your drawing board is a mirror of the inside of your head, heart, and body. It’s a dynamic, ever-changing reflection of what’s going on inside of you so you are aware of all of you,” she says.
So even though you love that morning yogurt-based smoothie, you may begin to realize that it’s actually affecting your digestion or energy levels more than you realized. Listening to your body may mean that you switch it up to see if that helps you feel better.
2. It’s only situations that are out of control (not you)
Is your to-do list so long that it includes “prioritize to-do list” on it? Do you go to bed overwhelmed with what you know you’ve got to face the next day? According to Hudson, the key with stress is not allowing it to define us. She learned that lesson while on the brink of a nervous breakdown; Hudson called her mom (yes, that would be Goldie Hawn) for some advice.
“I want you to squint your eyes really small and get your vision really fuzzy.” Hawn told her daughter. “Squint your eyes and imagine you’re seeing everything around you for the first time.” When she did that, Hudson found herself looking at, say, the chair she was sitting on, instead of thinking about those feelings that were overwhelming her. Moral of the story? “What she was telling me, and what she explained later on, was not to forget that you are good and that everything is all right,” says Hudson. “The situation is what feels out of control. You are okay.”
3. Fun fact: Your body is constantly changing
“Life is a verb”—Hudson incorporates this quote by feminist writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman into her intro, and we love the sentiment behind it: Life is about moving, seeing, and doing, in the way that works best for you. “I didn’t just wake up one day understanding how to take care of myself. I had to learn how to do so over time, and I continue to learn—each and every day,” writes Hudson. “This is a process, and my body is constantly changing. So is yours. And when I learned how to accept that I will always be like this, I relaxed. Our bodies do not stand still for time.”
Hudson stresses that any and all activity is important, but that you first have to find out what you love—which will make you want to exercise. “Exercise really comes down to moving in a way that makes you feel good,” she explains.
4. Eating healthy is important—but so is pleasure
“If I want to go out and eat at a restaurant with amazing food, I’ll do that, like, once a week where I’m not thinking about it,” Hudson says. “I want to indulge! I want to do things that are not healthy sometimes.” But, she recommends that you see it as a treat and as an experience of life, not just a mindless activity.
In other words, you may want to hold off on the snacking when you’re mid-Netflix and chill, but you definitely shouldn’t sweat that piece of cake or extra glass of wine when you’re at your BFF’s birthday party. It won’t throw you off—and while in the future you probably won’t even remember what you downed that night, you’ll certainly appreciate the (maybe wild?) memories that you made while you were out.
5. Give yourself permission to be selfish
It seems that not even celebs are immune to the work-life balance struggle. But Hudson swears she’s figured out the secret to not burning out: embracing “selfishness” and focusing on herself. “If you don’t put your needs, your desires, and your dreams first, then you will not succeed. For many, especially us parents, this may seem totally selfish. We are programmed to put our families first—our culture tells us that we need to sacrifice in order to show love,” says Hudson.
After all, as the actress points out, “Not much in an average day is a life-or-death situation; other people and their needs are going to wait until you finish your exercise or meditation. Putting others before ourselves time and time again actually puts stress on our bodies and minds, and we may become ill.” And perhaps most importantly, in the long run she believes it will actually improve your relationships with others. “The irony,” she writes, “is that when we take care of ourselves first, we are in a much stronger place to take care of those we love.”