Actor, law student and long-time Elixr member Honey Debelle is starring in the Sydney Theatre Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in September. We caught up with her – in between rehearsals and workouts – to find out how she manages the demands of her career and studies, while still maintaining a healthy mind and body balance.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Breakfast. I love food so I always start my day with a yummy breakfast and a huge French press full of coffee. A beautiful breakfast is like a love letter to yourself. When it's colder, I usually make turmeric porridge and add some protein powder if I'm heading to the gym. In summer, I usually start my day with papaya and cottage cheese or tahini and banana on toast. I find it hard to have a bad day when I start with a good breakfast.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Juggling uni and a career in the arts means there is no such thing as a 'typical day'. At the moment I'm taking time off from uni to do an acting job, so today started with a beach walk, then off to an interview and photoshoot at 9am, then rehearsals from 10am-6pm, then home to run a bath and cook myself a healthy dinner. Once the play opens, my schedule totally changes and I am free all day but performing every evening. And when I'm at uni full time and not working on a show, my day looks totally different again. It keeps me on my toes.
Has your exercise routine helped you manage the demands of your career?
Yes, it has – both mentally and physically. Pursuing a career in the arts is a nightmare for your mental health. The highs are very high and the lows can be very low if you don't take care of yourself. I would have gone insane a long time ago if I didn't do so much yoga. But the arts can be physically challenging too. The play I am currently working on is very taxing on the body. At one point I am sprinting laps around the stage while reciting Shakespeare. It takes a lot of breath control to get your lines out when you are running that fast, and those interval sprints on the stationary bikes are definitely paying off.
How often do you work out?
About five times a week. And on 'rest' days I usually go for a walk or do some light stretching just to keep my mood up.
The class you enjoy most?
Don's yoga class, although Marcus's Dance Fusion class comes in at a close second.
What's on your current exercise playlist?
I listen to a lot of hip hop when I work out. Right now I'm loving Anderson Paak, Chance the Rapper and Party Next Door. And I can never go past '21 Questions' by 50 Cent.
Are you changing your exercise routine for spring?
I don't consciously modify my routine with the seasons but I'm a big believer in listening to what your body wants and changing things up so your results don't plateau. I'm changing my routine at the moment to accommodate the physical demands of the play I'm working on. Less weight and interval training (which tires me out) and more yoga and Pilates so I go to rehearsals with my breath and body already warmed up and ready to go. I think it's really important to re-evaluate and set new fitness goals every few months. I have a great trainer at Elixr (Elliot) who I see every 12 weeks to get a new weights program.
What are your goals?
My short-term health and fitness goals are to get through the play I'm doing feeling happy, energised and injury free. My long-term goals are to build core and upper back strength to keep improving my posture.
If you could try one new thing this spring, what would it be?
Floatation therapy. It's where you lie in a tank filled with Epsom salts. The water is the same temperature as your body and the salts make you float so apparently you can't feel where your body ends and the water begins. I find meditation really hard but apparently the physical sensation of floating puts you in a meditative state, so I'm really keen to try it.
How do you spend your time when you're not working?
With friends. My family live interstate, so my girlfriends are like family to me; we look after each other. We're all really active too so we often go to gym classes together, walk Bondi to Bronte, or swim at Icebergs. Or sometimes we just get burgers and drink rosé.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
My friends and my mum. Beautiful, ambitious, healthy women who take pride in themselves and support each other.
What's the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Your habits determine your future.
What does the future hold for you?
I haven't got a clue what next year will look like, let alone the more distant future. But my habits make me happy, healthy and inspired, so if my 'life lesson' holds water, the future looks pretty good!