Healthy ways to lose weight for an acting role

Illustration-of-a-theatrical-performance-photo-by-PexelsCommitting to your art can inspire and enliven you, but that doesn’t mean your health is worth sacrificing if you have to lose weight for a role.

Take Julia deVille, a renowned jeweller, taxidermist, and artist. For her 2018 exhibition Wholeness and Implicit Order, she worked seven days a week for most of the year. This led her health to decline and her hands to become swollen and arthritic. She consciously decided to put less pressure on herself moving forward.

Perhaps an example closer to your acting vocation is Zac Efron of High School Musical fame. The film Baywatch required him to achieve an unrealistically ripped physique using strenuous workouts, Lasix, and potent diuretics.

Efron later admitted this caused burnout and insomnia, and he has since sworn off trying to attain physical perfection. His latest movie, The Iron Claw, pushed him to have a more muscular build – which he worked to achieve without endangering his health.

You, too, can find ways to lose weight for an acting role while keeping your body robust. Here’s how.

Consult your doctor
Your body works in complex ways, so losing weight with the wrong methods can impact your health. That’s why you’ll want to consult your healthcare provider before losing weight for an acting role. Your doctor can educate you on body mass index (BMI) and the repercussions of moving too far outside your optimal weight range.

They can also take into account any pre-existing conditions you may have, like hypertension or diabetes, that might negatively impact your health alongside weight loss. Using this information, they can help you craft a weight loss plan suited to your unique needs – and keep you healthy as you progress towards the weight your forthcoming role requires.

Move more often
To lose fat for a role, you need to burn calories. That’s why regular physical activity is a critical component of enacting a weight loss program – staying active facilitates calorie expenditure while granting you benefits like heart, bone, and brain health.

Try to follow Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week. You get as creative with this as you want to help the habit stick.

For example, you can ask one of your scene partners to be your workout buddy. Or, if you find it difficult to power through a routine, try multitasking and listen to an audio recording of your lines as you exercise.

Customise your diet
Losing weight in a healthy way, for your role or otherwise, means eating enough to meet your energy needs while simultaneously not consuming so much that your intake gets stored as fat. It’s a delicate balance, but you can achieve it without restricting what you eat.

Instead, you can cultivate a balanced diet incorporating colourful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and legumes. These will give you the nourishment you need and keep you full longer. You’ll also want to limit foods that contain lots of saturated fat, sugar, and salt, as these can boost the amount of empty calories you eat.

Prioritise sleep
The quality and quantity of the shuteye you get can play a key role in helping you lose weight. In a nutshell, weight loss is more challenging for those who report short sleep times. Disrupted slumber affects your ghrelin and leptin levels.

Since these hormones regulate your appetite and hunger, they can lead you to overeat if you’re sleep-deprived. Because of this, you’ll want to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. If your rehearsals tend to end late, try talking to your director about moving them earlier or blocking time off to sleep in the morning to ensure you get enough rest.

Acting roles might require you to lose weight. Remember to never sacrifice your health in the process by following the tips above.

Image: Illustration of a theatrical performance – photo by Pexels