Gabrielle Union is 46 and killing it. Currently starring alongside Jessica Alba in "L.A.'s Finest," the actress juggles her career, family, and fitness like a pro.
So just how does Union manage to keep it all together? She makes self-care a priority, not only by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen, but also by setting aside quality time for her family as well as herself.
Here is everything Union does — including what she eats and drinks as well as how she sweats — to make 40-something look like 20-something.
A Sensible, Balanced Diet
Union describes her approach to diet as "it is what it is," however she does stick to a healthy eating plan. During the week, when on the set of her show, she eats good fats and maintains a gluten-free, dairy-free, and low-sodium diet. The actress first started eating like this in early 2018 while dealing with IVF side effects, including intense bloating.
"My face looked like the surface of the moon, small chunks of hair were falling out," she explained to Women's Health. "At 9 a.m. I had a flat stomach. By noon I looked like I was five months pregnant."
Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist and women's hormone expert, helped get her back on track. "She said, 'Cut out gluten, dairy, alcohol, and caffeine and see if the swelling alleviates and it helps with your skin and hair,'" says Union. "I felt like she was trying to torture me." However, after a few days she noticed a huge difference.
When snacking does happen, it comes in the form of unsalted almonds, which she carries with her all the time. Sure, there's "nothing fun" about them, but they "edge off the hunger pains" she told Everyday Health.
She also told the website that a "beet, carrot and kale pressed juice probably every other day" is on her radar.
There is one vice that Union refuses to give up: alcohol. While temporarily eliminated as part of her nutrition's recommended restrictive diet, the star admits to Women's Health that she won't be giving it up again.
Water…Lots of It
Union drinks a whopping gallon of water a day, usually tap, and sometimes with lemon. "It's just important to get the water in," she told Fitness Magazine about the importance of hydration. "If you can replace sugary drinks, or coffee, with water, you're still ahead of the game."
One of the ways Union keeps her mind right is indulging in the occasional cheat meal, which she describes as "eating what the hell I want and not thinking about it." She chose her Women's Health interview as one of those days, ordering garlic Parmesan fries, chicken wings. Um, yum!
She told Fitness Magazine that other of her go-to splurges include cupcakes, cookies, pancakes and bacon.
Union believes in taking care of yourself from the inside out, so an effective self-care routine is important to her. This includes finding a moment alone to enjoy some quiet time ("I appreciate silence"), reading ("Let me just get a chapter in"), and listening to Affirmation Pod by Josie Ong. Some of the titles she has been listening to lately include "Motivation for a New Beginning" and "You Are Worthy and Deserving." "I'll listen to these while I'm brushing my teeth or getting a facial," Union says. "She always drops some nuggets."
Read more: The Best Free Podcasts for Healthy Living
Union makes sure to maintain an active lifestyle, which also includes spending plenty of time outdoors. "I need sun," she says. "I need vitamin D on my face. Give me a trail, a park, a walk down the street with the dogs, a breeze, rain. I'll go hike. I'll get a lawn chair and sit outside my trailer so I'm not trapped inside."
She and husband Dwayne Wade have a home in Miami, a perfect place to jump on some jet skis. She also enjoys exercising with the kids, as can be evidenced by her social media. "Training together, struggling, failing, trying to get better — it's been a cool thing that doesn't feel like, 'Let's go talk about our feelings.' It's like, I'm a cool mom!"
Union makes sure to do 15 to 20 minutes of daily cardio, as well as strength training and Pilates, to keep her body fit and her head clear. She tries to get her workouts in during the morning, as it works better with her schedule, but admits sometimes it's hard to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. She's only human, after all!
"You know how you swing your legs off to the side of the bed?" she asks. "That's when you really think about life's decisions: How much would it cost if I cancel? What does traffic look like? Should I go back to sleep?" It's usually cold-brew coffee and the guilt of canceling last-minute that gets her going. "I don't leave people hanging."
Union confessed to Everyday Health that when she's working there isn't always time to go to the gym, so she executes a short but effective workout in her trailer. "I'll do 20 jumping jacks, I'll run in place for like 30 seconds, I'll drop down and do 10 pushups and 10 sit-ups, and I'll do 15 curls [with 5-pound weights] and 15 squats. I try to get that done in a minute and a half to two minutes and then I'll repeat," she said. "You know every little bit helps — being sedentary is not your friend. Just work in little bits if you can't get to the gym."
She also does interval training. "It's the best thing for your heart and it's the best thing to either kick start your weight loss or maintain your weight loss," she explained. Her go-to routine is jogging at level 5 for a minute, dropping down to 3 to bring her heart rate back down, up to 5.2, drop it back down, and then back up to 5.5.
"Aim for at least six rounds of jogs, walks, and if you are in a little better shape, do sprint/walks, and you're walking with a higher pace as well. So if you took it up to 7 and you're sprinting, then your recovery should be 4 or 4.5," she advised.
While Gabrielle Union is seriously devoted to healthy living, her approach is actually quite reasonable and totally doable — even for us civilians!