Mädchen’s Health Odyssey
MANAGING MOTHERHOOD ALONG HER JOURNEY TO HEALTH
BY BONNIE SIEGLER
PHOTOGRAPHY UDO SPREITZENBARTH
If you are like the millions who watched David Lynch’s early 90s cult classic Twin Peaks, then you were introduced to Mädchen Amick as the innocently sensual waitress, Shelley Johnson. Well, brace yourself for the Twin Peaks redux as Shelley gets ready to serve up some cherry pie in the Netflix reboot of the series, launching in May. Mädchen has worked throughout the last few decades on a myriad of projects, including American Horror Story and Riverdale, a TV series based on the Archie Comics.
Travelling between filming in Vancouver and home in California makes Mädchen’s days hectic. Yet, the mother of two says the only thing that stresses her out is time management. “Being on time can be difficult. I don’t have a concept for time management—factoring in traffic and crammed elevators is a challenge for me.”
STRIKING A BALANCE
A yoga devotee for the past 25 years, Mädchen uses the practice to aid with relaxation and stress, as well as maintain her fitness levels. She keeps her exercise routine on a rotating basis, “but the one constant has been yoga, which I started right after my kids were born.” When not in a yoga pose, Mädchen gets a workout either with a 25-mile bike ride with her husband “or if the weather is nasty, then a spin session at home with plyometrics. I also love to go for a hike, run or just hit the gym with my kids whenever possible.”
Mornings usually begin with a yawn and an immediate walk downstairs to brew a “perfect cup of coffee with soy creamer and agave. Don’t talk to me before my cup of coffee,” she laughs. Then it’s on to grab “an egg with toast or tortillas. On other days, oatmeal with some protein powder or granola and a Greek yogurt” an hour after coffee. Nutritional staples in her Santa Barbara home include coconut water, sparking water, kombucha, frozen fruit for shakes, “and healthy snacks to grab when I need a quick pick-me-up. Dried fruit, nuts, raw veggies, hummus and rice crackers and crystalized ginger are my go-tos.” The 5’6” vegetarian follows a diet that includes almost no refined sugar, wheat products, or milk products—she’s lactose intolerant.
Amick hasn’t had meat since she was a teenager, more for moral reasons than health reasons. “As a teenager, it was shocking to me that we were eating animals. But, when we raised our kids, my husband, who isn’t a vegetarian, decided our children should make their own choice. I’m not a completely no-leather person and I will eat fish, eggs, and some dairy.”
Mädchen’s health odyssey began several years ago when, after having her children, “a lightbulb went off in my head about the relationship between health, diet, and nutrition. All of a sudden I began to take complete responsibility for what I was putting in my body and that affected everything. Before, I would get sick a lot—I had pneumonia a few times and shingles. I was wondering, ‘why am I the first person to catch the cold?’” Amick, who grew up in Reno, Nevada, moved to Los Angeles at the age of 16 for a modelling career, later settling in Santa Barbara with her husband, songwriter David Alexis, and children. Her journey with natural and organic eating, holistic remedies, and daily meditation is the antithesis to her child- hood. Her stepdad, who raised Mädchen from the age of two, was a traditional Western physician who believed in an aspirin for a fever and antibiotics for illnesses. “I don’t totally reject that important part of medicine, because there is a place for it,” says the former Elite model. Yet, her go-to cold remedies now are tea with lemon and honey to flush out her system and Korean scrubs that begin with a 30-minute mineral soak followed by “dead skin layers taken o from a scrub. It’s really good for your lymphatic system, too. If I feel a cold coming on, I’ll make sure I get one. I like to know how to prevent things.”
High levels of energy, a passion for life, and a positive outlook have been keys to Mädchen’s endurance—both professionally and personally. She recalls the most di cult time in her life was when her son, Sylvester Time, was diagnosed with bipo- lar disorder during his sophomore year in college. “It showed itself as addiction at first, and put the entire family in crisis mode. It took three years to navigate this illness and finally get the correct diagnosis.” Today, Sylvester is healthy, but this tough journey pushed Mädchen into being a strong advocate for mental health.
Another pivotal moment in Amick’s life was her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, which she ultimately overcame, followed by a devastating car accident in which her mother broke her neck. Today, Mädchen credits her strength and maturation process to her mother and compares those characteristics to her Twin Peaks character. “Shelley went through a lot those two seasons 25 years ago, and at her core, she’s always been a survivor. That’s why she’s still around. I’m a survivor, too, so we’ve both matured in that way.”
Emotional strength also comes from her father, who passed away at age 50 from a heart attack. “I was only 21 when that happened,” recalls Mädchen. “To this day, I remember him telling me to always stop and smell the flowers. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in life—just stop and smell the flowers. He taught me to really appreciate where I am and see the beauty in everything. He gave me that wonderful gift.”
In the past, Mädchen has described herself as “happy, adventurous, and trusting.” Is that still so? “Well, I’m still adventurous, and definitely happy, but I would replace trusting. Not that I’ve lost trust, but I think what’s more important to me now is optimism. So, I’d say I’m optimistic.”
Would she ever write a memoir? She pauses for a moment and laughs. “There’s a great saying I heard, and I’m paraphrasing: be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground in the morning, everyone says ‘oh, shit, she’s up.’ So, I’d title my memoir, Oh, Shit, She’s Up.”
It’s an appropriate mantra for the optimistic woman who prefers a sunset to a sunrise. “I’m completely fine missing the sunrise because there’s always a gorgeous sunset.” VM