Hilaria Baldwin wants you to be happy.
In her new book, “The Living Clearly Method: 5 Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind & Joyful Life” (Rodale Books), the longtime yoga instructor, wife of actor Alec Baldwin, and mom to three young children guides you through her principles for achieving said happiness. And they go hand-in-hand with a healthy lifestyle and good fitness.
But to achieve this better being, there must also be clarity — an overall balance in one’s life.
“I’ve worked hard to make it through the blurry parts of my life, and I’ve fought for the happiness that I’ve found,” Baldwin writes at the beginning of her book. That phrase sets the tone for all the follows, as she writes about her journey to find clarity in every aspect of her being.
“I don’t have the ability to do work out every day,” the 33-year-old Baldwin admits. (She still drops in on her popular Yoga Vida studio in New York’s tony Union Station to instruct a class or two.) “I used to be able to do it every day, but now I have three little babies. My obligation is to them first. So I multitask as much as possible. I’m actually in the gym right now [during our early morning phone interview], lifting weights,” she says, sounding not-at-all out of breath. “If I don’t do it now, I won’t be able to do it the rest of the day.”
Baldwin spent her early childhood in Europe and Boston studying Latin dance and ballet, later competing in ballroom dance as a teen in New York City. She went on to major in art history and dance and New York University, and began studying and soon teaching yoga in earnest in the mid-2000s. She met Alec Baldwin in 2011; they were married a year later.
But it was in 2009 that a devastating fall on a sidewalk severed her leg bone from her hip, and the resulting surgery and yearlong recovery changed the course of her life. In her book she writes it was her private yoga classes that “helped other people struggling with all kinds of demons: eating disorders, abusive relationships, illness, obesity, addiction, anxiety, depression and much more.” Ultimately her journey to clarity also came through yoga (and the five principles outlined in her book) and saved her from her own personal demons.
“My eating disorder was very destructive,” Baldwin says. “My hair was breaking. My chest was always burning from the bulimia. My nails got weak. I was very, very thin. And I was really unhappy. I was incapable of having good, loving relationships. I closed myself off in my house. … It’s odd, but I was a very good yoga instructor at the time, but I was a disaster at helping myself, of taking care of myself well enough.”
Baldwin credits her undaunted determination (and some professional help) with overcoming the bulimia and turning her life around.
“I always had a fighting spirit, ever since I was young. I truly believe that for life to be good you have to take care of yourself — mind, body and spirit.”
Taking care of oneself comes down to what Baldwin calls her “Living Clearly Method,” “listening to yourself and creating a connection through yoga.” The method is broken down into two parts:
1) Five Principles: Her key ideas and practices to “help you relate to yourself better” include: perspective, breathing, grounding, balance and letting go. Baldwin takes great care in her book to describe each principle, how they interrelate and how they are essential for improving your well-being.
Briefly explaining two of the five, Baldwin said, “Grounding connects you to where you are, to your present. Listen to what your body is telling you. I know that if I move I will feel better. I felt that a lot when I was pregnant, especially after the first two [kids]. Even if I move for 20 minutes, I know I will feel a lot better [so you don’t need to work out for hours]. And it’s OK to take a break [from workouts] if your body is telling you you need it.
“Who hasn’t said, ‘I’m tired. I’m disconnected. I’m stressed out. I eat bad things and shop in bad ways?’ ” Baldwin continued. “I know I have. When your body says ‘Let’s go get a beer’ instead of taking that nightly yoga class, then maybe this one time you do that. But the next day, get back to that yoga. The hardest part of any workout class you take is showing up, and then showing up again and again. We’re creatures of habit. And when you do it five or six times it will become a habit, a good habit.”
“Breathing [correctly] is most important for body/mind functions,” Baldwin said. “You can exist a long time without eating, a long time without drinking. But you can’t go without breathing, and yet we hardly ever think about how we’re breathing. … You can create a relationship with your breath where you know how to calm it down and get in control, which will get you to better blood circulation and also cut way back on stress.”
2) Food/Fitness: Make sure your exercise and diet are taking care of your physical health needs in the best ways possible. A series of her step-by-step yoga exercises accompany each of Baldwin’s five principles, to better facilitate the journey to a healthier lifestyle. You can do many of the poses and exercises wherever you might find yourself over the course of a busy day, as the book’s photos and many of Baldwin’s Instagram posts will attest to. There are motivational tips peppered throughout the book to keep you on track, and Baldwin also offers budget-conscious alternatives to pricey gym memberships (she only recently rejoined a gym, she confesses, mostly to get hubby Alec more engaged in a regular workout regimen).
For the food part of her book, Baldwin worked with registered dietitian/chef Melissa Petitto on a slew of entree recipes —everything from vegetable and quinoa “paella” to oven-roasted salmon with herbs and lentil soup with cinnamon and lemon. There are also recipes for appetizers, snacks, smoothies and desserts. And recipes that even kids might enjoy (as hers do, she says). “Instead of focusing on taking things out of your diet,” she writes, “make it a goal to gradually add a few things in. Broaden your scope include more good foods (they will nudge out the bad ones!).”
“These are recipes that I developed with my friends and my culinary soulmate Melissa. We’ll just get in alignment and create things that are really healthy and delicious.”
As for ultimately finding clarity, Baldwin says it’s pretty basic, though we might not always choose to see it or strive for it. Getting your body and your mind in synch with each other, eating right and just moving every day helps you achieve that centeredness.
“You just start feeling good,” she said. “When you’re doing right in your life, it’s as simple as just feeling happy.”
Here are three quick tips from Hilaria Baldwin to help you find clarity:
For the hardcore, working out every day is the norm. “Even working out for 5 minutes for people who never move at all is really good. Just do more than you’re doing now. And have a lot of patience with it. It would be great if you could work out an hour a day, but for many of us that’s not gonna happen.”
“The mind and the body speak two different languages,” Baldwin said. “The body speaks a language of movement. The mind is very wrapped up in drama. The mind is able to listen and speak to the body: ‘Get off the couch and go for a walk because I will feel better afterward.’ When your mind and body synch up, you’ll find joy.”
“[You have to be nice to others] but remember to be nice to yourself. I’m a believer that there’s not enough niceness in the world. And we don’t pay enough attention to the niceness that is there. It’s your precious life that you’re choosing to either spend in a very negative way or a very positive way. I want people to be happy.”
Here’s a smoothie recipe from Hilaria Baldwin’s new book, “The Living Clearly Method: 5 Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind & Joyful Life,” a favorite of her young daughter Carmen.
Kale, Blueberry, Mango, and Almond Butter Smoothie
This is Carmen’s favorite smoothie. I rely on it to get her eating those essential vegetables, because even though she’s a healthy eater, she is still a toddler, which means we still tussle over green veggies at mealtime. Sharing this is a fun and easy way to sneak them in to her while satisfying my genuine love for all things green and leafy, too! With antioxidant-packed greens and berries, protein, and satiating fats, this smoothie is great after a workout, for breakfast, or to power through a demanding afternoon.
2 cups milk alternative of your choice
1 cup frozen kale
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen mango
¼ cup creamy almond butter
In a blender, combine all the ingredients. Blend until smooth.