By Cait Rohan Kelly | March 31, 2017 | People
We rang Hilaria Baldwin to hear more about her new book, The Living Clearly Method: 5 Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind & Joyful Life, and more.
Hilaria Baldwin strikes a (yoga) pose.
Hilaria Baldwin—mother of three, beloved yoga instructor, Instagram star (to the tune of 233,000 followers), health guru, and wife to actor Alec Baldwin—can add author to her list of accolades with her new book, The Living Clearly Method: 5 Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind & Joyful Life. The book functions as sort of an extension to her social media presence: Baldwin is transparent and gives her followers behind-the-scenes peeks at everything from feeding her kids and her postpartum body to red carpets and yoga with fellow stars. With her book, she draws the curtain back even further by outlining her five tenets for achieving a healthy lifestyle—getting real on her own struggles with an eating disorder and her favorite grab-and-go meals.
On the phone, Baldwin is just as sweet and honest as she seems on social media. Ahead, she spills on writing the book, her personal challenges with eating well (and how she overcomes them!), how she recently got tricked into acting, and why Alec’s Donald Trump impression isn’t allowed in the house.
What inspired you to write this book?
HILARIA BALDWIN: A lot of it was just wanting to bring my message to a bigger audience. I’m very passionate about what we do within the classroom, what I’ve done with students, and what I’ve done with my own life, and to be able to reach more people through the pages of the book has been a really rewarding experience.
The book has gotten rave reviews so far. Why do you think it’s so relatable to everyday women?
HB: I’ve been in that self-help section far too many times. So many times you read these things and you’re like, ‘Wow that sounds really great, but I’m never going to do that.’ With my book, I wanted it to be very practical things, very doable things, that people can little by little integrate into their lives. You don’t have to have an hour and a half every day to work out, you don’t have to be on a vegan diet completely, and you don't have to be perfect, but little by little you can integrate these decisions into your life.
You don’t have an overly curated or perfect Instagram feed like other celebrities—it’s very honest, very real, and very refreshing. Why did you decide to really show the behind-the-scenes of your day-to-day life?
HB: A lot [of it] had to do with my journey of stepping into the spotlight and also not doing that in a way where it's like, ‘Oh man, I'm signing up for this!’ I really wasn't aware of how famous my husband was—I promise you, I wasn't [laughs]. I didn't have a TV my entire life and I refused to read anything about him. I didn't watch any of his movies, I wanted to really get to know him, and have him tell me who he was, just like I would with any other person I would date. I was in a relationship and I loved him very much, but stepping into the spotlight was a surprise. And then [I learned] to be a public figure through his example—the interactions with paparazzi, the interactions with fans, the interactions with different jobs, both positive and negative. The more I found that I hid from the paparazzi and the media, the more it seemed like they would dig or try to make thing up or more people would be in front of our home with cameras. The moment that I said, ‘Hey, there's nothing to hide, here's the photo, this is what's going on,’ then everybody calmed down and they left. I'm a very open person, and it felt great because I can relate to people on a very human level, and say, ‘Okay, well, this is who I am, and I'm still the same person even though I married somebody that maybe you guys watch on TV.’
Alec and Hilaria Baldwin with two of their three children.
Can you talk to us about how you got Alec’s health in check when you met him?
HB: I think we take on our partner's habits no matter what. He was great for me in terms of teaching me to calm down a little bit with my work. I would work all the time. And he asked me, ‘Do you ever take a day off?’ And I’m like ‘No, I never take a day off’ [laughs]. And then he was like, ‘You know what, I'm going to take you out to the Hamptons for one day.’ It was great, and eventually it turned into a vacation—I took a seven-day vacation. And then it turned into having one day a week off, and I developed much more balance. That was his influence with me. With me to him, I'm very focused on treating my body well, and trying to stay as stress-free or low-stress as possible or managing stress in healthy ways—eating, exercising, all these things. I think just by being with each other, we have both rubbed off on each in very positive ways.
Like many women, you reveal in this book that you’ve struggled with an eating disorder. How did you resolve that and what advice would you give to women who are dealing with something similar?
HB: I knew that anorexia/bulimia was not healthy; when I was doing it, it was something that I didn't want to be doing. I developed this method to get into the moment of that self-destructive behavior, to be present, to live clearly—it's when we're present that we actually have the power to choose something different. I have the power not to binge/purge. I have the power to learn how much to eat, and when to stop eating. I have the power to know that if I have dessert tonight, I'm going to be okay tomorrow. All of these different struggles that I dealt with—I just needed to get a little more present and not go into a [bad] place when I was about to do a destructive behavior. That's how I really got better. You also need to have the curiosity to want to explore something different and the desire to get better.
What’s your favorite recipe from the book?
HB: Oh, my favorite recipe from the book? Hmmm. That's like asking me my favorite yoga pose. The granola energy bites are really great because you can take them with you, but I would say probably my favorite that I'm eating all the time is the living clearly bowls, which are essentially grain bowls. I love them because I'm a busy mother, I work, and I don't always have this time to cook and make something fresh, but it's very important for me to eat well. And so every few days, you can make these vegetables, different proteins, different grains, and different dressings that we have in the book. And then you can mix and match like a salad. It feels different, it feels fresh, and it's fast and healthy.
And what’s your favorite cheat meal—or do you not believe in cheat meals?
HB: I believe that it’s not about cheating, I believe it’s about balance. I don’t eat a way where I’m going to not feel good later, but I want to be able to enjoy my wine and enjoy my chocolate. For me, I like to maybe eat chocolate every single day. That keeps me feeling like I’m not depriving myself, but it’s all about balance.
What would you say to anyone who felt too intimidated to try yoga?
HB: There’s no reason you should be any good at it. That’s what helped me—I walked by the studio for a week, trying to make myself go in. I was so nervous, but I really wanted to try yoga. Then I realized, there’s no reason I should know what tree pose is or warrior one—I’ve never done that before! And then the beauty is that once you realize that there are no monsters that are going to jump out at you, it’s not so much about what it looks like, it’s about the feeling that you’re creating. My students can tell you, there’s days when I fall over because I’m not in balance. But in order to be curious, you are going to fall over a couple of times—more than a couple of times—and that’s okay. It’s one hundred percent about feeling good.
Shifting gears a bit—what do you think of Alec’s Donald Trump impression?
HB: We don’t do them in the house, it’s banned from the house. None of us want to bring him into our house. I’m very proud of him. People come up to Alec all the time, and say how they like 30 Rock, or his podcast, or his family’s work with breast cancer, but I’ve never seen so many people come up to him for one particular job. I just feel like people are frustrated right now and they want to be heard, and I think that him doing this is giving people that outlet. Does he enjoy doing it? I mean, he loves his SNL friends and they all laugh together, but I think we would all prefer for him to be impersonating someone else and having this not be so relevant.
And what’s next for you?
HB: We’ve been doing really great collaborations with Bloomingdale’s, where we’ve been doing these classes. It’s such a great thing because all of the money goes to a nonprofit, and it just feels like such a treat for me that it gets to go to a good cause. Afterward, we do a book signing, take some pictures, and eat some recipes from the book.
I just acted for the first time, and that was an interesting experience. I was kind of tricked into doing it. My husband told me it was a talk show. That was a complete lie because it is a sitcom about a talk show—it’s a show within a show, Ali Wentworth’s show, Nightcap. I was very nervous, and I was very angry at my husband for tricking me into doing this. Once we got there, it was actually really fun and Ali is so funny, she had me cracking up. That was the hardest thing about this experience—she’s so funny and you can’t laugh. It’s coming back for a second season, and you can laugh at me and how I’m not very good at acting.