She may play a spy on TV, but in real life, Keri Russell doesn’t hoard secrets. Here, the active actress shares her tips for staying healthy, happy, and sane–no matter what life throws at you.
From Women’s Health May, 2013
by: Lesley Rotchford
But for all her joking about being spent, Keri is more than keeping it together. She films five days a week, with some of the shoots creeping into the early-morning hours (obviously, she gets little sleep those nights!). When she wakes up, she’s the cookie-baking mom to River, 5, and Willa, 1, her kids with her carpenter/ contractor hubby of six years, Shane Deary, whom she met through friends. Even on her day off, she’s not one to roll out of the house in sweats.
For this interview at Bevacco restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, she’s dressed in black leather pants, a white silk blouse layered under a black cardigan buttoned once at the neck, and pointy-toed pumps. The famous hair—so beloved it was blamed for a decline in viewership of her college drama Felicity when she chopped it off during season two——falls down her back in a swirl of thick, tousled waves. And at 37—a fact you need to keep reminding yourself of as you look at her—she is super-fit and fresh-faced. Yet she’s looser and more animated than you’d expect of someone known for playing tightly wound characters: She’s a smiler. A laugher. A gesturer.
Given that Keri—who, on top of everything else, has a new romantic comedy called Austenland out this summer— is able to maintain a grueling work schedule, raise a family, and keep her bod in kick-butt condition (um, did you see her abs on the cover of this magazine?), we thought she’d be the perfect person to pump for tips on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with little downtime. Lucky for us, unlike her TV alter ego, she’s not one for keeping secrets. (“I’d be the worst spy of all time,” she admits.) Here, she happily spills her tips for staying sane…and in shape.
In order to play a tough KGB agent, Keri worked out with Avital Zeisler, a Krav Maga instructor who moonlights as a hand-to-hand combat consultant. “Working out [this way] makes you feel fierce,” says Keri. “l tend to be very internal—getting on the subway and keeping my eyes down. But I would leave those workouts looking people in the eye, like, “Sup,’” she says with bravado. For each of Zeisler’s moves, do three sets of 12 reps.
Get into a squat with your elbows bent, hands open at cheekbone level, and palms facing in. As you stand up from the squat, strike with your left hand and then immediately strike with your right. Return to start. That’s one rep.
Elbow Strlklng Abs
Do one crunch, with your elbows bent and hands on either side of your face, palms facing in. At the top of the move, bring your left forearm out and across your body until your left elbow is slightly past the center line of your chin. Return to start. That’s one rep. Repeat with your right arm.
Lunging Defensive Knees
With your hands raised to cheekbone level, lunge back with your right leg until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Shift your weight forward as you bring your right leg fonuard, leading with your knee. Return to start. That’s one rep. Repeat with your left leg.
Do a pushup, then lower your body so you’re lying on your stomach. Roll over, and in one movement, bend your knees, lift your hips, and kick your left leg in front of you, leading with your heel. Return to start. That’s one rep. Switch sides and repeat.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands at cheekbone level, palms facing in. Leading with the heel, kick your right leg to the front, then side, then back (touch your foot to the floor between kicks). Return to start and do a jumping jack. That’s one rep. Repeat with your left leg.
Get a Jump on the Day
Waking up at the crack of dawn is no picnic-—especially for someone like Keri who “loves to sleep”-but it’s often the only way she can fit in a workout. Sometimes she’ll crawl out of bed at 5 a.m. and go for a bike ride around her Brooklyn neighborhood. (She also bikes to work when The Americans films near her home a couple times a week.) If she was shooting the show until 3 a.m. the night before, she’ll wake up a little later, get River off to school, and do a 20-minute toning routine while Willa naps. “I have this really nerdy workout I do in my walk-through closet in our brownstone. I do aworkout video and use my own music—whatever is inspiring to me at that time, like Alabama Shakes, the Cure, or Mumford & Sons,” says Keri.
When she has time, she’ll catch a yoga class. “It’s very calming and relaxing,” she says. “I feel better in my mind when I work out. It makes everything better.”
Drink Your Vegetables
Keri discovered veggies late in life and has been making up for lost time ever since. “I d0n’t think I ate a green vegetable until I was 30—I didn’t grow up with a mom who enforced that at all,” says the actress. But since it can be tough to sit down for salads when you’re constantly on the go, she tries to have a green smoothie for breakfast, made with kale, spinach, yogurt, coconut water, and blueberries.
Stop for Some Silence
Keri doesn’t have the luxury of hours of alone time, so she slips in short spurts of R&R throughout the day. And it’s nothing fancy: “I go into my trailer [on the set of The Americans] and shut the door and sit on the couch in silence. The silence is amazing—it’s very restful for me.” She also tries to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, which gives her mental clarity. “It calms your brain, and inevitably when I finish, I’m suddenly like, ‘I know where that thing (that I misplaced earlier) is!’ ”
Blow Off Steam
Whenever Keri has to deal with something stressful, she gives herself a treat. “I eat a doughnut or something really delicious. I reward myself like that. Or I play music really loud and dance around by myself.” She also loves to read, which she admits is her only hobby these days. (On her nightstand: Jeanette Winterson’s Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?)
Make Exercise Social
One of the first things to fall by the wayside when you’re balancing work, marriage, and kids is girl time, but Keri schedules it like any other important commitment. “I love my girlfriends,” she says. “At least once every few weeks we have a night out, where we have dinner, hear everyone’s stories, and drink wine.” Keri is still tight with Ilana Miller and Lindsey Alley, with whom she costarred on the Mickey Mouse Club as a teenager, and Amanda Foreman from Felicity. (Oh, and she’s also still buds with Felicity costar Scott Speedman. We know you were wondering!)
Sometimes she even makes friend outings double as exercise-— another time-saver. “I got (my friends) all together and I was like, ‘Listen, I’m not going to tell you what we’re going to do. Just be ready, I’ll pick you all up. And wear workout clothes.’ Everyone was like, ‘Whaaat?’ We went to (Krav Maga instructor) Avi’s place. She gave us fight training. She showed us how to get out of choke holds. We were laughing so hard.”
Don’t Forget About You
Like any other working mom, Keri often feels pulled in two directions. But she believes it’s vital for both her and her family that she has something totally for herself: her career. “It’s tough. I try to quell my guilt by saying I’m a better mom if I’m interested in my own life. I’m not resentful. I can be really engaged when I am there. I like the yin and the yang of both worlds, and I think it would be hard for me to give up either one.”
Give Yourself a Break
You know those insufferable people who try to make it seem as if their life is perfect? Keri isn’t one of them—she has a refreshingly laid-back take on life: “If things don’t work out—like I really, really want a part and it just doesn’t work out I’m pretty good about letting things go and saying, ‘It’s OK. Something better is going to come along.’ And something usually does.”
Keri has an equally low-key approach to aging. She wears a hat, sunscreen, and long sleeves during the summer when they visit Shane’s family in Martha’s Vineyard, and on Caribbean vacations like the one they recently took to St. John with Shane’s childhood friends and their families, but that’s pretty much the extent of her anti-aging routine. “I’m not a complainer about age. I think my girlfriends all look so much better now than they did 15 years ago. But the thing I notice most is my butt. I used to have a really good, plump butt. Ugh- now my butt’s gone. I do wish I had my 25-year-old butt!”
Beautify Before Bed
Since mornings are bananas for Keri, she showers and blows out her naturally curly hair at night “so it has a little wave, and then I don’t wash it for a couple of days.” This pre-bed ritual has an added benefit: It’s relaxing and helps her wind down.
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