|Dec 20th, 2013
How Paula Abdul Minds Her Body
By Stephanie Stephens
While she’s “Forever Your Girl,” Paula Abdul is also a choreographer, dancer, songwriter, performer, designer, actor, public speaker and businesswoman. The “Straight Up” singer has sold more than 60 million records worldwide, has a Grammy, seven MTV video awards, two Emmy awards, and two People’s Choice awards.
As head cheerleader-choreographer for the Los Angeles Lakers, Abdul combined cheerleading with dance, and later brought her talents to The Tracey Ullman Show, American Music Awards, and Academy Awards, and to artists including Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Luther Vandross, INXS, Heart, and Prince. She supports the American Humane Association’s Pets and Women’s Shelters (PAWS) Program—she won an award—along with fund-raising for Haitian earthquake victims, UNICEF, the American Red Cross and the fight against breast cancer.
She established an indelible presence on American Idol, went on to executive produce and judge CBS’s Live To Dance and judged the debut season of Fox’s The X Factor. She’s a recurring guest star on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva. Now 51, Abdul will appear as a lead judge on So You Think You Can Dance Australia in February 2014.
What you do for physical activity? What does dance do for your body?
It varies each day. One day I’ll do pure cardio, another day it’ll be dance fitness, or I’ll go hiking. When I’m on set, I tend to keep a pair of 5-lb weights handy. Something else I incorporate is light meditation before or after I workout.
And of course, dance challenges the body like no other exercise—balancing, turning, kicking, sliding, leaping. Muscles get visibly longer and leaner and your stamina and flexibility increases. It’s not just an incredible cardio workout, it’s also a time for quieting yourself so you can stretch and balance. It is such a powerful expression of every single human emotion. There’s nothing like it, and there’s this feeling of being invigorated and refreshed after dancing.
What could you do better for yourself?
I could get more rest. Sometimes I’m working when it really is time to unplug. Ideally, I aim to get about 8 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen! There are those nights when I wake up with a creative idea, grab my notebook and just write.
Actually, I visited Israel recently—strictly for vacation. It was so refreshing to be able to visit and to genuinely rest, relax, and explore in such a beautiful country without having to adhere to a specific schedule.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about health so far?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that what I think about plays a huge role in my health. I love reading books that inspire and encourage me to continually venture outside of my comfort zone. There’s truth to the saying, “What you focus on grows.” When I’m focused on the positive, I get positive results. I become healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s also about doing the basics: eating vegetables and lean proteins, moderating or avoiding sweets, drinking plenty of water, getting rest and supplementing. Consistently doing those essentials has made an amazing impact on my health.
How do you sustain a positive mental outlook, “get happy”?
Loving and accepting myself just the way I am has truly helped me to cultivate a positive mental outlook, to feel fabulous, and to fall in love with myself over and over again … flaws and all. For me, a positive attitude comes from self-acceptance. When I really started to accept myself—short dancer, quirky sense of humor, weird laugh—it helped me to start celebrating all my idiosyncrasies. We adore our friends and all their personality traits, but do we treat ourselves with that same level of love and acceptance? I love that by accepting myself I become more open to change—I learn something new about myself every day. It shifts my mindset into gratitude and positivity, and that’s always where I want to be.
What one health condition would you most like to eradicate for everyone and why?
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or RSD: It can affect a person’s work and personal life, and devastate a family financially. The lack of knowledge about RSD in the medical community is startling. It seems like most people have to see five or six doctors before they get a diagnosis of RSD. So many people are actually dismissed as needing psychiatric care because “it’s all in their head.” Then when people finally do find a doctor who knows about RSD, their pain is treated with prescriptions of strong medications with side effects that can really take a toll on the body.
The most common triggers of RSD are surgeries and traumas. We need more symposiums, more conferences, and more presentations focusing on RSD and complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS to further educate healthcare providers in the surgical and pain management fields.
If you could undo one bad health habit, what would that be?
I would “undo” staying up too late. After a long day I like to catch up on my favorite TV shows at night, and there have been times when I’ve just stayed up way too late. Our bodies need rest. We have to recharge. Not getting enough rest is an unhealthy habit that can—even if it’s unintentional—easily become a pattern. I don’t want that.
How do you stay looking so young?
I do things that make me feel vibrant like hiking, and getting out into the sunshine and fresh air. I read uplifting, encouraging books and give myself some quiet time to meditate on what I’ve read. That really helps me stay focused on my true goal, which is to be healthy and empowered … not to look young. When a woman of any age feels empowered she feels vibrant and attractive because she’s happy and fulfilled. That, in itself, is a youth elixir.
Stephanie Stephens, M.A. is a spokesperson and consultant for the active mature female demographic—midlife and boomer. She writes, produces, and hosts her multimedia channel, Mind Your Body TV, featuring timely health and lifestyle blogs, podcasts, and videos—also seen on YouTube and syndicated by AOL/On.
Original article url: http://www.parade.com/244383/stephaniestephens/how-paula-abdul-minds-her-body/
Filed under: Health