WORK IN PROGRESS
LISA EDELSTEIN ON PERSONAL GROWTH AND HEALTHY LIVING
BY BONNIE SIEGLER
Lisa Edelstein isn’t the doctor she portrayed for seven years on the popular TV drama House, and she is not the divorced, middle-aged woman she currently depicts in Bravo’s Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. Yet, Edelstein does possess the feisty, independent streak both on-screen characters possess.
“To be this age , and playing the lead of a romantic dramedy—Abby McCarthy—who is allowed to be sexual and even sexy. A character who is well dressed, engaged in the world, cel- ebrated, and on a road of self-discovery,” relates the actress and playwright. “All these things didn’t exist when I started in this industry. The show is about a woman in mid-life whose life is suddenly and radically changing.”
Edelstein’s passion for change led to her 2014 marriage. “Every new phase of life is born out of accomplishments and rife with new challenges. I try and stay willing to participate with energy and focus, with joy for what I do and with a ton of gratitude for still being here.”
Edelstein grew up in a traditional Jewish family, but began to make her own distinctive choices early on. Thirty-seven years ago, she embraced vegetarianism—never to look back. “My hus- band is vegetarian-ish,” she says with a big smile. “He does it for a while, then reverts back to eating a broader diet. Then he does it again. At home, we are vegetarian.”
Throughout her life, Edelstein has been in forward motion, giving credit to and remembering some of her early childhood influences. One was her love for animals. “I was raised in a kosher household, the rules of which don’t apply much to me anymore as I don’t eat any animal. What it did leave me with was a deeply felt superstition that nothing I don’t believe in eating should touch my dishes and cookware. It is slightly crazy, I admit, but it’s important to me.”
So, while her on-screen characters might display stressed out days and nights, Lisa in real life is a committed vegetarian who finds happiness in life’s daily routines and a simple nighttime ritual of “a hot bath and washing my face slowly—sometimes I read. I just try and slow down.”
She doesn’t seek out fad diets or the newest and craziest workout to keep her figure in check. This actress likes taking over her Los Angeles kitchen and creating meals with some of her favourite spices.
“I like playing around with spices and flavors. I love a good cookbook for inspiration. I tend to lean towards Asian flavors—lemongrass, star anise, ginger, curry—but it changes with my mood. Ginger, which is healing in many ways, is delicious. As a vegetarian, the willingness to explore is really important. It makes for a more diverse diet.”
Lisa takes her own and her family’s health seriously; however, she’s not fanatical about it. “I’m the cook at home, although I’ve been off working this last year.” Admittedly, this will make her a rusty chef when she takes up kitchen residence again.
Preferring to get her daily intake of vitamins through nutritional eating, Lisa avoids cane sugar and processed foods, opting for whole, organic ingredients. Go-to snacks include “carrots and hummus, rice crackers and raw almond butter, and always fresh fruit.” In her home, nutritional staples are greens of all kinds, yams and sweet potatoes, legumes, squash, tofu, tempeh, miso.
“I recently flew home for five days and my husband got the flu. I made him my favourite vegetarian version of Jewish chicken soup—spicy Thai lemongrass curry soup. It cures everything!”
Even though Lisa has an eye-popping figure that looks as good in jeans and a tee as in a designer gown, the actress surprisingly does not go for extended periods of rigorous exercise anymore. Edelstein doesn’t need a flashy exercise trend or two to keep herself content and on an even keel. While she was an ashtanga yoga devotee for many years, Lisa now states, “As I got older it became a bit too hard on my body. It’s there when I need it, in moment of stress, to just reconnect with the primary senses of movements and breath.”
Nowadays, Lisa keeps it short. “Usually between 35–40 minutes because I find that if I work too hard, I have a set-back. I have to recognize pain as the warning it was meant to be and not as something to push through anymore.”
Life has come together very nicely for this former New York City party girl who displays a sincere, sensitive confidence, mixed with intelligent fragility and thoughtfulness, with an acceptance of life’s contradictions. She still considers herself a work in progress.
“I think once you stop considering yourself a work in progress, you die. You point to one clear thing about myself and I can point you to a part of myself that contradicts it.” VM