Julianne Hough is a dancer, singer, actress, two-time champion on Dancing With the Stars, and former extra in the Harry Potter movies. She’s the newest ambassador for workout brand MPG Sport, and she can next be seen wearing leather pants and warbling about summer nights as Sandy in Fox’s Grease: Live. Ahead of the show on January 31, the Cut talked to her about early bedtimes, how cute workout clothes are motivational, and eating “Christmas Crack.”
How I start my day: Right now, because I’m rehearsing for Grease, I wake up at 6 a.m. I take my dogs outside and walk around a bit and let them go potty, then have a juice or a half a protein bar, like a Perfect Bar. I don’t eat a terribly big breakfast because I don’t like to be too full when I go work out. I also don’t like to get too comfortable before I go work out, or I don’t want to go. When I get home, I steam eggs in the pan and have some avocado and tomato and a cup of tea. I like PG Tips English Breakfast. I grew up in England, so that was my go-to.
How I sweat: I like to switch it up because I get bored. I work out with Body by Simone. I like to do Core Power Yoga. I sometimes work out with a trainer named Astrid, if I need one-on-one strength training. On weekends, I hike.
In the past, I used to decide that day what I was going to do. Now I schedule it out so I’m held accountable. On a good week, I’ll work out five times. But often I’m dancing during the day and get home late, and sometimes I’m just so tired. So it might be three times a week instead.
What wellness means to me: It’s a lifestyle. It’s less about the outward image and more about the internal feeling. It’s about feeling healthy and 100 percent every day, when your body and spirit is strong.
I used to be an all-or-nothing person. I would be so healthy, but then have one bad thing and be like, Oh great, I’m screwed, I might as well have chocolate-covered things and wine. But now if I feel like I need something, my body is telling me something. I’ll have the pizza and a glass of wine. Tomorrow, I’ll be better.
How wellness has changed for me: It’s become more a part of my life. We all often set goals but forget about our health. It used to be quite low on my values but now it’s pretty high, like one or two. You just take it for granted when you’re younger. Things don’t hurt or change as much. When I was dancing growing up, I could eat whatever I wanted and didn’t feel the effects of it. But your energy level changes. You just have to reevaluate what your priorities are.
It’s also about doing it for the right reasons. In our industry, it’s part of our job to look good for photo shoots and on camera. In the past, it was about being in shape. But now, it’s about feeling good and healthy, and not what I look like. If you feel good then it naturally shows on the outside, too. It’s kind of a win-win.
On style: I still have insecure moments throughout the day. The other day, this girl on set made “Christmas Crack,” which is like pretzels, M&Ms, and Chex Mix dipped in chocolate. I had a cup of that and a really yummy coffee drink with flavors in it and Lunchables, because those were the only things on set. And after times like that, the next day I’m like, I can’t wear my crop-top belly shirt. When I wear things that show a little bit more of the hard-to-tone places, it actually inspires me more. Like, I have to make sure I look good in this.
For years, I lived in my dance clothes. I want clothes that go from dancing to rehearsal, and with MPG, there’s more of a fashion element. I can wear this all day and still be fashionable and really comfortable. I like wearing things that show off my body. Being a dancer, I’m constantly looking in the mirror. I’ve found that if you’re feeling good in what you’re wearing, it’s like an extra reserve tank of 15 percent that comes out because you feel good.
My biggest wellness struggle is: Being consistent and getting enough sleep. When I’m tired, I tend to crave sugar or be too tired to go work out. I get nine hours of sleep. I know people are going to see this and be like, Who is this chick getting nine hours of sleep? But I feel so rested. When I get eight to nine hours, I’m like, I’m going to be rocking tomorrow.
But it’s a balance. Sometimes I get nine hours and other times I want to go hang out with my friends.
How I eat when I’m alone: Sometimes I do love to be healthy and cook. But there are times when Postmates is my best friend. I love Italian food like pizza, pasta, and glass of wine. The atmosphere is romantic and really fun. It’s about finding fun ways to make eating an experience beyond just fueling your body.
My wellness shortcut is: There isn’t any, really. But one thing I’ve gotten into recently is juicing. It picks up your metabolism, if you want to call it a shortcut. We bought a juicer and started at first with recipes, but now we started making our own with kale, carrots, apples, ginger, beets, celery, spinach, cucumber, and tomato.
Also, my brother [Derek] is a big advocate of working out throughout the day. So even if you’re hanging out, sit down and do some abs. If you’re walking around the kitchen, do some squats and lunges. Put on some wrists and ankle weights and lift your arms.
My wellness advice: Nowadays, we live in a hectic way that is very anxiety-driven. It can be a meditative thing, doing something for yourself. When my girlfriends say they’re so busy and don’t have time, I always suggest they do something for themselves for more energy. Schedule that time in, whether it be working out or painting.
If you’re physically doing something, you’ll naturally feel better. I have never regretted a workout. It’s about appreciating yourself, your body, your mind-set, and making yourself a priority. If you don’t have yourself as No. 1, you will get burned out. Oh, and go to bed early.
This interview has been condensed and edited.