For nearly 10 years, Kate Walsh was one of television’s most popular doctors, having played the role of Dr. Addison Montgomery in the hit ABC medical dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” In real-life she’s an advocate for health, as well.
Last year, Walsh revealed that she’d had a brain tumor removed in 2015. Upon surgery, it was discovered that the meningioma, which was the size of a lemon, was benign — but the health scare was certainly a wake-up call. Walsh, who turned 50 last fall and is now starring in the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” told us she’s feeling as healthy as ever.
In an interview, Walsh shared with us some of the health rules that she swears by.
1. She Aims To Get Enough ZZZ’s
Sleep hygiene, aka good sleep habits, is becoming a catchphrase — and for good reason.
“I think we’re all underslept,” Walsh says.
The actor says that she aims for eight hours of sleep each night, and makes sure that she gets no less than six. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults age 26 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough ZZZ’s can lead to all types of health problems, including weight gain, higher cholesterol, premature wrinkles and slower muscle growth.
2. She Exercises With Weights
Walsh told us that over the past couple of years she’s been incorporating weights and strength training into her exercise regimen as a way to build more muscle and promote bone health. Experts agree that strength training, whether that’s lifting or resistance with one’s own body, is a boon for bone health.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least five days a week for a total of 150 minutes (or, 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days a week), plus moderate-to-high intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week for additional health benefits.
3. She Uses Protein To Avoid Energy Slumps
One in three adults 50 years and older aren’t getting enough protein in their daily diets, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination study, with data from researchers at Abbott and The Ohio State University. Protein, though, is essential for keeping you satisfied and energized between meals — and it helps build muscle mass.
Walsh says she’s been focused on making sure she gets enough protein so that she has enough energy to power through long days, which are common when she’s on set. She’s partnered with Abbot, the makers of Ensure and, to meet her daily protein goals, she says she relies on Ensure Max Protein, which is a 150-calorie portable protein drink with 30 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar (by comparison, Walsh points out, an egg has six grams of protein).
In addition to the protein drink, she says she snacks on almonds. Getting enough protein throughout the day keeps her blood sugar stable, and helps her avoid those infamous afternoon energy crashes.
“None of us love those!” she says.
4. She Asks Her Doctors Questions
Last year, Walsh and other beloved TV doctors teamed up with Cigna for an ad campaign that focused on preventative health. The message: Visits to the doctor should be regular occurrences, not just reactionary measures when something goes wrong with your health. Around that time, Walsh discussed how she took control of her personal health, pushing for the MRI that revealed her brain tumor.
“There’s this idea that doctors are gods, and you can’t approach them, like they have superpowers,” she told Cosmopolitan in an interview. “You just have to keep talking, keep asking questions. I think of myself as a very strong, proactive person, but still there’s this anxiety that comes up, and the idea that healthcare is an ivory tower, and you don’t want to bother the geniuses.”
5. She Drinks A Lot Of Water
Psst … the fountain of youth is really just plain ol’ water. Without it, dermatologists say your skin tends to look more dull and wrinkles tend to be more prominent, plus it’s key for important bodily functions like regulating temperatures, lubricating your joints, protecting your spinal cord and getting rid of waste.
“I drink a ton of water,” Walsh says. Here’s how to figure out how much water you should be downing every day.
So, there you have it — straight from Dr. Montgomery herself. Sleep, water, exercise and getting enough protein, Walsh says, are the staples of her self-care routine.
What are some of your own secrets to staying healthy?