WRITTEN BY AMELIA BRANTLEY
Part 2 of my series is all about the body. ‘Body’ is a lot of things. It’s a balance of healthy eating and exercise and rest. We need to take care of our bodies not only because we want to live long, healthy lives but also because the body encapsulates the product we’re selling! If it doesn’t look healthy, good luck trying to find buyers.
I know every acting coach, mentor, career consultant, and casting director workshop has told you this: you’re the CEO of your own company and ‘you’ is what you’re selling. But, what they may have forgotten to mention is that YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THE PRODUCT! If you don’t, how is anyone else supposed to?
Believing in your product means being happy with what you see when you look in the mirror.
But that happiness usually comes from a deeper place of knowing that you’ve been keeping the promises you made to yourself. Luckily, there is no complicated formula when it comes to how you look. (Unlike the complicated formula of making it in Hollywood- can someone please explain it to me again?) The work you put in, are the results you get out. 99% of the time.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a size 2 or bench 300 pounds or even have a gym membership. But it is important to do something active at least once a day, mainly because it releases those happy endorphins that make you feel wicked good about yourself. Happier mood, more positive outlook, more positive things happening all around. And you know there’s a million ways to work out so the excuses just make you sound lame.
If you live in LA, take advantage of the SoCal weather and go for a hike! There is literally a hiking trail in every neck of the canyons- just make sure to bring water and wear plenty of sunscreen (sports-bra tan lines are not a good look for any audition). If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to stay active, try something like a fitness calendar. Refinery29 has a TON of 30-Day fitness challenges. My personal favorite is the 30-day squat challenge. They map out on a calendar daily exercises for your booty that can be done at the gym, at home, or even on a lunch break at work. Challenge yourself to do one or two of those challenges every month and not only will your muscles thank you for it, but you’ll feel an awesome sense of accomplishment for completing a 30-day challenge!
Every casting director says it- your confidence shows in the audition room before you even open your mouth to utter your name or start your audition. That confidence comes from you feeling good about yourself.
As an actor, you want every opportunity available to you.
It’s another reason to look and feel your best! But what if you’ve been munching on Doritos and pizza all last week and now you have a commercial audition for Neutrogena and your skin is broken out? Or what if your favorite book series is casting and you land that big audition for the lead but she has lots of running and fight sequences but you’ve been putting off going to the gym? Well, unfortunately, Hollywood isn’t going to wait for you. So make the decision now to commit to whatever promises you made to yourself. As long as you feel proud and can walk with confidence, that’s all that matters.
For a brief moment in time, I worked at SoulCycle where one instructor taught me that fitness is 20% exercise and 80% what you’re eating and he’s right. You could do two spin classes a day every day, but if you aren’t putting the right stuff into your body before and after those workouts, you won’t see or feel much improvement. Good food keeps your mind sharp, your face clear, and your body feeling good so you’re ready to jump out of bed every morning with vigor!
But I do understand that actors are in a weird position where we are always on the go and also always broke. We find ourselves succumbing to a Taco Bell drive-thru by 5pm every night because we’ve been stuck on the 405 coming from a callback in Santa Monica and we only have $7 in the bank account to last us till Friday.
And that, my actor friends, is why you all need to hop on the meal-prep train. Almost every Sunday you’ll find me in my kitchen for 2-3 hours meal prepping the following week’s lunches and dinners. So, I’m going to give you one of my favorite meal prep recipes that I usually use for dinner throughout the week. This is highly confidential stuff finally made public, guys!
Cooking With Amelia
Fun fact: Some day I’m going to write a cookbook. After living in LA on a tight budget for twelve years, I think I may have mastered eating healthy for cheap. I can meal prep a week’s worth of healthy meals for about sixty bucks. I’ve learned where it’s okay to cut corners (organic vs. non-organic), when it’s necessary to get the big buck items (air-chilled poultry people, do not buy anything else!), and how to get the most bang for your buck (two words: bone broth). Someday, I’m going to take all these ideas and recipes and I’m going to publish a cookbook called ‘Starving Artist’ but until that day comes, I need an outlet where my inner Chrissy Teigen can really shine, so here we are. Are you ready?
Note: Though I meal prep on a pretty tight budget, there are some things I splurge on. I’ll mark those ingredients with a “$$” and give a brief explanation on why it’s important to spend the extra bucks here.
Also: If you don’t own a crockpot, get one here! They’re cheap and it will become your new best friend. Not only does it make cooking SO easy, but coming home to a chicken that’s been sitting in a crockpot for 6 hours is like walking into a warm hug.
Smoked Paprika Chicken Bowl with Tahini Dressing
2 boneless, skinless, air-chilled chicken breasts ($$)(Always, always buy your poultry ‘air chilled’! It basically means your meat wasn’t sitting in a cold vat of fecal water for days before it was packaged. If you don’t believe me, look it up.)
2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bunch of kale (I’m always going to recommend buying organic fruits and veggies, but I know that can add up quickly, so if you plan to cook the veggies, it’s totally okay to buy non-organic. Just be sure to wash everything really well before you cook it.)
1 crown of broccoli
2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons of tahini
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 clove of garlic
salt to taste
Place chicken breasts into crock pot. In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, parsley, black pepper, and salt. Stir. Sprinkle spice mixture evenly onto chicken breasts. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours. Depending on how thick your breasts are, you may need a little more time or a little less time. You want the thickest part of the chicken to be 165 degrees when it’s done cooking.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rip kale off of stems into bite-sized pieces and chop broccoli into similar sized pieces. Peel and chop sweet potatoes, also into bite-sized pieces. On a baking sheet, spread some olive oil. Place kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes onto baking sheet, drizzle more olive oil onto veggies, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Once the oven has pre-heated, place baking sheet into oven and cook for 20 minutes.
While your veggies are cooking, prepare the tahini sauce. In a bowl, combine a tablespoon of olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic. Add the tahini sauce and lemon juice and mix together, then add the cumin and stir well.
Once the chicken is done, take two forks and shred the chicken inside the crockpot.
Combine a serving of veggies and chicken in a bowl and spread tahini sauce on top, mix it all together and enjoy!
This recipe should give you about four dinners worth of food. I like to keep the chicken and veggies stored separately in my fridge and I use well-sealed glass containers for storage. Since the tahini sauce is so easy to make, I usually make a fresh batch for every meal, but you can make it ahead of time and store it as well, just don’t put it in the fridge. Tahini is a sesame butter, similar to almond butter, so keep the sauce mix in a cool, dry storage container.
If you like this recipe, but you’re a vegetarian, you can sub out the chicken for some hard boiled eggs. Eggs are another splurge item for me. I loathe factory farming (which is about 95% of American farms). I buy eggs from my local farmers market if I’m going to buy them. Please support local, humane farming!
If you like this recipe, but you’re vegan, then I don’t know what to tell ya’. I tried being vegan once and it lasted a day, so you’re a much braver soul than I am. (But also, this recipe would be great with some black beans or quinoa instead of chicken).