No longer “just” a professional dancer on “Dancing With the Stars,” Julianne Hough is now juggling a career that includes acting (she starred as Sandy in last year’s live TV version of “Grease”), singing (she recently released a self-titled album) and, of course, her first love of dancing (earlier this year she and her brother, Derek, starred in a soldout live dance tour).
And if those weren’t enough hyphenates, Hough recently added “wife” to her repertoire when she married ice hockey player Brooks Laich in July.
Though the “Footloose” star might have the career, not to mention the body, that most us can only dream about, she does struggle with a condition that most women — 176 million women, in fact — can relate to: endometriosis.
Hough recently shared with Health magazine on how she stays in shape and keeps her energy up, while also taking care of her condition.
She ‘Protects’ Her Workout Sessions
“When we first got together, Brooks said, ‘Protect the things that are important to you,’ and for me, working out and having my alone time is so important to me, and it’s the same for him, too,” she told the magazine, adding that her favorite workouts include Body by Simone, Tracy Anderson, or “I’ll do SoulCycle or CorePower Yoga. I’m a dancer, so I remember different combinations, so I’ll sometimes take what I’ve learned in classes and make my own workout.”
Regular exercise is important, but, like Hough, it’s just as important to switch up your routine. Changing your sweat sessions not only prevents you from plateauing (which is when you burn fewer calories even when you’re doing the same amount of exercise) but it will also build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries, not to mention beat boredom.
She Has Protein Shakes For Breakfast
“I have half a protein shake before I work out because I need a little bit of energy, but I’m one of those people who can’t have a full breakfast,” she said. “When I finish the workout, I finish the protein shake. Then I come home and have a bowl of oatmeal and berries or something like that.”
Because protein has many roles in the body, there are a number of benefits of downing a protein shake, like increasing lean muscle mass, speeding up recovery (injury or after a workout), and strengthening the immune system.
And consuming a shake post-workout like Hough is the most ideal time. That’s because after exercise, our body is ready to absorb much more protein into the muscle and use it to rebuild and repair, which is why you want to take advantage of that time frame.
She Carves Out ‘Me Time’
“If I don’t have my space for an hour, I feel overwhelmed and I need to just chill. That can be having a cup of tea by myself outside, going and getting gas—it doesn’t matter; I just need some time every day where I can think and put myself in a good place,” she said.
In addition to having time for herself, Hough said, “I always try to wake up and think about three things that I’m grateful for: something that has happened already, something I’m currently grateful for, and something that I’m wanting that I can achieve that day.”
Gratitude is not just good karma, but, according to science, it’s actually good for you, too. Studies have showed that those who practiced gratitude had improved heart health, were less depressed, slept better, as well as had an improved immune system.
She Takes Hot Baths for Her Endo
“I thought I was just like every other girl—getting her period and having cramps,” she told the mag. “Then I was on “Dancing With the Stars,” during one of my last seasons as a dancer, and all of a sudden while I was dancing, something happened and I just doubled over. They cut to commercial, and my mom was in the audience that day, so she’s like, ‘You’re going to the hospital. I don’t care what you say.’ It took so long to figure out what was going on.”
It turned out that Hough, like fellow celebs Lena Dunham and Halsey, had endometriosis and needed surgery. The painful disorder occurs when the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. It can make having sex and using the bathroom uncomfortable, cause painful periods and can even cause infertility issues.
While there’s no cure to soothe her pain, Hough recommends, “A hot bath. I have a hot water bottle that I call the boiling baby, and I sleep with it and put it next to me. Also, stretching and almost breaking a little bit of a sweat. You don’t have to, like, go for a run, but just getting my heart rate up helps with the blood flow.”
The Center for Young Women’s Health also suggests light exercise, and a hot water bottle to relieve symptoms, in addition to sleeping eight to nine hours, eating healthy meals, and meditating daily.
Ultimately, Hough wants women to know that it’s okay to talk about endo.
“I’ve had so many people who message me on social media saying, ‘Thank you so much. Because of you I had the courage to go to my doctor and ask about this,’” she said. “For me, especially with this campaign [I’m partnering with], Get in the Know About ME in Endometriosis, it’s that it’s OK to talk about these kinds of things. In the past, it was kind of a hush-hush thing, but it’s a way of life.”
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