Demi Lovato hadn’t worked out in a week and was beginning to feel it.
“I don’t know how but I injured my neck during a show so haven’t been able to exercise,” the singer-songwriter said on a recent afternoon. “Working out is a type of meditation for me, so I get a little stir crazy without it.”
Lovato, 25, was nestled on the couch in the top floor of her West Hollywood house, sipping a cup of tea formulated with licorice root and slippery elm bark, her go-to for keeping her throat soothed. In a few hours, she was heading back onstage as part of a worldwide concert tour that will take her through South America and Europe.
The performer has been all over social media of late slamming what she describes as “diet culture.” Instead, she tells her legion of followers to do what works for them, and to reject expectations of what a “perfect” body looks like.
“Society has been obsessed with dieting for a long time now,” she said. “I’m just focused on being happy and healthy in my own way.”
In addition to touring, Lovato is creating collections for athletic wear brand Fabletics, which is co-founded by actress Kate Hudson. And Lovato recently came on board Ember — an app-controlled drinking mug (because there’s an app for everything) — that keeps beverages at a consistent temperature for hours, and which Lovato keeps close by on stage because “I need hot tea to sing.”
Here, Lovato talks about staying motivated, eating clean and the compelling lure of jiujitsu martial arts:
1. Start somewhere
Everybody has to be at a point in their lives where they are ready. I hit a point where I wasn’t happy with my body and I realized I wasn’t doing anything about it. I hit a wall, was getting sick all the time and really needed to make some changes in my life. Now I’m at peace with my body because I work out six days a week. If my body doesn’t look the way I want it to look, or held to society’s standards, at least I know I’m doing everything I can.
2. Keep at it
You need to push through those first couple of weeks and your body and mind adapt. You start gaining energy rather than feeling tired from it. You just have to get past the threshold. Once you do that, it becomes easier. If you take time off, it becomes hard again. So stay with it. It helps to find something you love to do. If you like dance, take Zumba. If you don’t like running, don’t run and find something else.
3. The power of mixed martial arts
I never considered myself a sporty person until I got into MMA. In school, instead of sports, I did beauty pageants and sang in the choir. I work with different trainers at the same gym so I switch out between boxing to Muay Thai [a combat sport] to jiujitsu. When I have days off I’ll go two hours, an hour for strength and conditioning and an hour of boxing or whatever. I like to get it out of the way in the morning and not worry about it the rest of the day.
4. More women should try it
It’s intimidating for some people, but the sport of MMA is growing so much. The more women try it, the better it is for their self-esteem, their confidence and their ability to defend themselves in all types of situations.
5. Taking it on the road
On tour, we choose our hotels based on two things — security, and the gym. The trainer takes everything I need, resistance bands, boxing gear, shin guards, all of it. Before, if I had time while on tour, I’d sleep. Now, I work out first.
6. When I indulge…
Dark chocolate is usually my go-to when I have a sweet tooth. And I love RX bars because they have such simple ingredients. I always carry some, especially on the road.