Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Women's Health

Font Size

Amy Brenneman's Healthy Balancing Act

The 'Private Practice' star reveals how she takes care of family, career -- and, most importantly, herself.
By Lauren Paige Kennedy
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Actor Amy Brenneman of ABC’s Private Practice is in fine form these days. She’s finally learned "how to be nicer to myself" after a recent health scare forced her to put herself first more often.

Juggling a hit TV show while raising two kids (daughter Charlotte is 10 and son Bodhi is 6) with husband of 16 years, film writer/director Brad Silberling, Brenneman struggles to fit everything into 24 hours a day. And to stay sane -- and physically sound -- while doing it.

Recommended Related to Women

The New HPV Test You Should Ask Your Doctor About

By Shari SimsThere's a new, more sensitive way to screen for cervical cancer — yet only 15 percent of doctors are using it. Why the Pap may no longer be enough. Suppose there were a screening test for cervical cancer that could detect potential dangers with far more sensitivity than the Pap. A test so reliable that when it was done with the Pap, you could trust the results nearly 100 percent. Sounds like all women would be getting it, right? Well...there is such a screen — the HPV test. It's been...

Read the The New HPV Test You Should Ask Your Doctor About article > >

"I'm lucky because I have help," Brenneman, 47, admits. "I think that for working parents, a big dirty secret that no one wants to talk about is finding child care that you trust. But unless you can hand off your precious children in a safe way, you can't find time [for work and other pursuits] or have a clear conscience."

In an effort to better care for herself, Brenneman works with a nutritionist, Los Angeles-based Ashley Koff, RD, who made small but important changes to the star's diet. She avoids raw foods, seeds, and nuts, and tries to stay well-hydrated.

Brenneman also makes exercise a priority but not an obsession. "I've always been fit. I'm lucky ... I have an internal clock, and I know when to move my body. And I have a wonderful trainer. I wandered into this hardcore Pilates place [last year], and she worked me out. Also, one of the great releases for me is to go running."

Amy Brennerman's Ulcerative Colitis

Being pulled in so many directions -- production schedules, kid commitments, red carpets -- does take its toll. For years, Brenneman suffered flare-ups of ulcerative colitis, a condition of the colon where inflammation and ulcers develop in the intestinal lining. Her health forced the Judging Amy and NYPD Blue alum to re-evaluate how thin she could be stretched -- metaphorically and literally.

"I lost a scary amount of weight while I was doing everything I could to avoid getting the surgery," Brenneman says, referring to the course of treatment recommended by her doctors. "I'm normally 130 pounds, but I got down to 105. Not good." She underwent two operations in 2010. The result? I'm doing really, really well. I feel great. And I'm so grateful," she says.

The unexpected bonus: "I don't drive myself so hard now," she explains, even if "I do drive people around me crazy at times. I schedule things a week or two out front. Then, as I get closer to the day -- and if it's not putting people out -- if I don't feel like it, I won't go.

"I try to stay in touch with my intuition as to how my day should go…there are lots of things we don't have control over. But I don't shame myself over it ... I try to have compassion for myself."

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
Couple with troubles
Article
Bone density illustration
VIDEO
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 
Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow