Q&A With Shailene Woodley

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on January 06, 2014
6 min read

Shailene Woodley's feature film debut in 2011 opposite George Clooney in The Descendants earned her multiple awards and nominations -- not bad for her first time out. Born in Simi Valley, CA, and working since age 5, Woodley, now 22, appeared in the hit ABC Family series The Secret Life of the American Teenager for 5 years, the lead in the popular WB movie Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, and recurring roles on Crossing Jordan, The O.C., and Jack & Bobby.  More recently, she also appeared in the critically acclaimed film that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, The Spectacular Now, with Miles Teller.

In 2014, watch for her in the upcoming action adventure Divergent, based on author Veronica Roth's best-selling book trilogy. She's also set to appear in the independent film White Bird in a Blizzard for director Gregg Araki and in The Fault in Our Stars, the big-screen adaptation of John Green's popular novel. Offscreen, she supports women's rights organizations including the Red Tent Temple Movement and One Billion Rising for Justice. Woodley and her mom, Lori, started the nonprofit All It Takes with a focus on "compassionate exchanges and realized acceptance among young individuals in middle school," Woodley says.

What is your personal health philosophy? 

"I lead an extremely alternative lifestyle and follow a form of thinking based upon the Wise Woman Tradition, a New Age concept that is empowering to women. For my body, I go foraging for wild food, I collect spring water, I know where all the meat, eggs, and produce I buy come from, and I study herbalism. I also believe we neglect our hearts and our minds, and that without conscious thinking and acceptance of 'self' that our stress, worry, and guilt can dominate and in turn can manifest into physical ailments. I'm lucky to be surrounded by a community comprised of my friends and family members who live similar lifestyles that support that thinking."

When you're overworked and stressed out, how do you reset and unwind? 

"I go outside whether I'm in the city or backwoods of any state. I connect with the ground, the trees, just breathing fresh air while I go for a walk and I find myself living in my heart instead of in my mind."

What's your go-to healthy snack and why?

"It depends on where I am and upon the temperature outside. I find whatever is locally abundant but I also do like seaweed. I sprinkle Three Lily Farm's Spirulina Gomasio on my food -- it's made with hemp seeds, Incan spirulina, and organic onion granules."

What is your typical healthy dinner?

"I eat everything but always in the cleanest, purest form. I go to the farmers' markets wherever I am and gather my food, buying whatever is in season. Eggs are great for dinner with unpasteurized sauerkraut along with fresh veggies. I'm a big believer in fermentation, which has been used for hundreds of years and creates an abundance of probiotics in the body. For the healthy flora that helps digestion, I have one fermented food with every meal, like sauerkraut, its "cousin" pickled Korean kimchee, or the tangy drink kefir -- tastes like yogurt."

What three ingredients are always in your refrigerator and/or pantry?

"Sauerkraut or kimchee, chili garlic spice, andraw chocolate: the cacao bean in its purest form, not heated or melted."

What do you stash in your set trailer?

"I don't eat any food on set and I bring my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I always have olive oil, for making a salad, plus seaweed and spirulina gomasio -- I put that on lettuce leaves. I don't buy packaged foods and usually bring what I've cooked the night before. Different condiments work great, like mustard or apple cider vinegar."

What does a perfect day look like for you, when you have no place to be and no calls to return? How do you define "me time"?

"I turn off the phone. Then I cook, read, take a bath, or just go outside. If I'm near a hot spring, I'll find that to nourish my entire body and soul."

What's your workout regimen like?

"I don't really go to the gym or participate in any school of thought about exercise. I do what feels good to my body that day and I practice lots of yoga. My lifestyle is pretty active and I'm constantly moving, which lends naturally to fitness -- I call it 'functional fitness.' It's important to keep moving, as human cultures that live the longest have proven. If I'm in the city for a long time, I'll do toning exercises, maybe push-ups or squats. When I take classes, they're 'fitness-like' classes including yoga, 5Rhythms dance -- 'a dynamic movement practice' -- or aerial silks, that is, aerial acrobatics while hanging from special fabric."

What makeup items do you never leave home without when you're traveling?

"I only ever use a tinted lip gloss called Sedona Seduction Truffle Stix, an edible chocolate lip balm, body balm, and sunscreen all in one. My mascara is by Tarte High Performance Naturals."

What do you always keep in your purse? 

"I always have a notebook and I love to write during moments of feeling inspired. I keep a flashlight because you never know when you might need that. And I have a lighter, because heat is so important just in case you're ever stranded and you can build a fire. I did study survival skills."

What's the best advice you ever got?

"It would have to be 'everything is sacred, and yet nothing is sacred.' For example, the earth, the sky, a woman having a baby, the food we ingest -- are all sacred. If you give anything too much importance, you analyze it and it can become an obsession, not just something you can appreciate. You don't want to give too much meaning to one thing."

When you're trying to lose 5 pounds, what's the first thing that goes and why?

"I eat what my body wants me to eat, when it wants me to eat -- I listen to it. I haven't ever really 'lost weight,' but for my role in the movie The Fault in Our Stars, I played a girl with cancer and had to lose some. I didn't diet, but ate smaller portions and it actually felt really healthy."

What cause is near and dear to you?

"First, women's rights: I also us want to re-establish what it is to be a woman so we see a shift in attitude during my lifetime. We should appreciate the body and be in touch with it. For example, women's menstrual cycles -- we've lost touch with how beautiful they are, how they're part of the process of life."

"A facilitator of women's empowerment, Alisa Starkweather, began the Red Tent Temple Movement that basically honors women, encourages them to appreciate one another and celebrates the art of sisterhood -- not being feminist or 'anti-men.' The organization One Billion Rising for Justice is a global call to end violence against women and girls. Also, if we don't eradicate jealousy and envy, nothing will change."

What are your other passionate causes?

"Eating organic can be expensive -- I live a very frugal life and spend my money on good food and products. I want to help lower the price of organic food so everyone can afford it."

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