So, about a month before her Women’s Health photo shoot, Vanessa Hudgens began intermittently fasting. But her primary purpose wasn’t to slim down. Her goal was simple: to feel healthier.
Sitting on the couch in her quaint Mediterranean-style Los Angeles home with her tiny rescue pup, Darla, Vanessa explains the inspiration. After noticing how vibrant a friend was on the eating pattern (which involves cycling between periods of fasting and eating), she became curious. “He is literally pulling a Benjamin Button,” says Vanessa, who turns 30 on December 14. “Homeboy is ageing backward!” So she gave it a shot and has kept it up. Of course, she’s not afraid to indulge in pizza and wine here and there. “You’ve gotta pick and choose your time,” she says. “It’s about having priorities.”
Today, with her hair pulled back with a leopard-print headband, Vanessa is make-up free and glowing. She attributes her clear complexion not only to her beauty routine but also to her pescatarian diet. She ditched meat about a year ago after watching the Paul McCartney–PETA documentary, Glass Walls. “I used to be the girl who ate bacon for breakfast every single morning,” she says. But when she lets me look inside her fridge, it’s clear her new practice has stuck.
Inside, there is a large container of rocket, which she eats “almost every day”, cans of a sparkling watermelon energy drink, kombucha (“It’s full of probiotics, but you get a nice little buzz!”), cashew cheese, almond milk, oat milk, eggs, avocados, ceviche, prawn cocktail (“left over from a party”) and grapes. “I love finding things that are good for you and also taste amazing,” she says. An antioxidant smoothie packed with acai berries, blueberries, banana and coconut oil is another staple. “I try to get enough healthy fats, protein and foods that give me energy,” she explains.
After nearly 15 years in the spotlight, the actress/singer/designer, who stars with Jennifer Lopez in new rom-com Second Act, has taken a deep dive into wellness and self-acceptance. Consider her body philosophy as an example: “If I ever get to the point [where] I’m not happy with my body, I’ll do something about it,” she says.
“You will always have the power to do something. Sometimes it will take a little longer than you would like necessarily, and sometimes it may be a little more extreme. But if you honestly have a goal, you can do it. You just need to figure out the right way to get there.”
Vanessa fits in at least six workouts a week, mixing cycling with pilates, ballet, Training Mate classes (circuit-based HIIT developed by Aussie ex-rugby pro Luke Milton), yoga (which she and her boyfriend, actor Austin Butler, often do together), and hikes with girlfriends. “To be self-motivated consistently is almost a daydream,” she says. “I reach out to friends to hold me accountable.” When she does, they’d better be ready to get up at dawn, because morning workouts are Vanessa’s jam.
Read more of our chat with Vanessa Hudgens in the January issue of Women's Health, on sale Monday December 3.