Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Roll Camera
As her best-selling memoir hits the big screen, the globe-trotting author tells WebMD what it's like to be played by Julia Roberts (!), plus her best and worst health habits.
Q: What's your healthy-living philosophy?
A: I have a list of 10 things, which I have found keep me happy and healthy, that I try to do every day. I can't say it's a prescription for everyone, but this is what works for my particular organism - - mind, body, and soul. When I take care of these things, everything else takes care of itself. Here is the list:
1. Take a walk.
2. Write something.
3. Read something.
4. Don't eat too much.
5. Spend some time in silence.
7. Send a message of love to somebody.
8. Drink water.
9. Mess around in the garden.
Q: What's your best health habit?
A: Walking. I come from a family of passionate walkers, and I bless my parents every day for instilling the love and habit of wandering into my bones. I don't think a day goes by in my life where I don't head off on some exploration of my habitat on foot -- wherever I am.
Once in a while, I'll go for a jog to try to stay in better shape, but I'm not sure I believe in running. Certainly my knees don't believe in it! I think everything you need for total heath (cardio fitness, muscle stretching, blood pressure reduction, meditation, interaction with beauty, time to reflect, a pause for problem solving, spiritual reflection) can be found at some point during a long walk.
I love the feeling of moving at a human pace -- the pace at which our bodies were designed to move -- and experiencing weather, animals, new cities, familiar faces, all from the vantage point of my own two feet rather than seeing the world zoom past from the window of a speeding car.
I specifically decided to live in a small town (designed in the middle of the 19th century, with no suburban sprawl) in which everything can be reached on foot. And so I spend most of my life walking from place to place. Whole days go by when I never go near a car, and I love that. I love my small and human-scaled town, and my small and human-scaled life. My dog loves it, too: He comes with me everywhere.
Q: Your worst?
A: Overeating whenever I am in the company of other people. Celebratory bingeing, I guess you could call it. I seem to always get overexcited when I'm around the festivities of sharing meals with others, and I lose control of my fork. When I'm alone, I have no trouble eating small portions of healthy food and never crave anything more. When I eat with my husband, I eat about twice as much food as I would eat alone. Add a few family members and friends into the mix and I really start to pack on the calories. It does seem to be a mathematical equation for me that the more people who are at the table, the more I stuff myself. I've never been quite able to figure out how to control this, but I'm working on it.