WHEN THE PRESSURE’S HIGH
How Regina King balances her everyday life
By Bonnie Siegler
It’s 11:30 a.m. and the Emmy award-winning actress Regina King apologizes for her raspy voice, but it seems warranted. A late night on the Chicago set of Shameless, where King is directing an episode, also means a delayed blood pressure check in the morning. “It’s 129/78,” says the America Crime actress. “High blood pressure and high cholesterol run in my family.” This comes as no surprise to King, admitting she is the last of four sisters to be diagnosed with high blood pressure, along with her mother.
For several years, King opted for alternative methods to regulate her blood pressure; taking a daily organic liquid multivitamin and a morning concoction of acai juice, COQ10, and liquid vitamin C on an empty stomach. “It’s been able to keep my blood pressure down but genetics caught up with me on my high cholesterol; so, for the past six months, I take medication for that,” she admits. Combined with 45 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity, King has seasoned a good routine of healthy habits to potentially postpone blood pressure regulating drugs. “Continuing with my exercise also helps me keep some sort of balance in my life because I’ve always enjoyed working out and movement—I can never get enough of it,” says King.
When working late nights, King foregoes early exercise, sleeps in, and makes time later in the day for some sort of movement. “I try to listen to my body more than anything. I try to let my body be the captain of my personal health,” explains the actress. When time permits, and energy levels are high, King enjoys hiking near her Los Angeles home with her dog Cornbread, a Shepherd-Lab-Akita mix.
With a hectic traveling schedule, King seldom spends much time in her kitchen but always makes sure to have fresh ingredients on hand. “I always have fresh fruit around because I make smoothies for me and my son quite a bit—usually with fresh berries, bananas, and everything else is seasonal. I try to buy fresh fruit seasonally.” Little dairy in her diet is due to hereditary warning signals. “My grandmother had triple bypass surgery about 25 years ago because of high cholesterol.” Kefir water, which aids digestion and produces good stomach cultures, rounds out Regina’s diet—yet, she no longer makes her own due to an incident four years ago. “One day I wasn’t at home and a bottle cultured faster than the others; it exploded and broke the kitchen window. I still drink it, but don’t make it,” she laughs.
Pulling it together
Aside from implementing key ingredients into her diet and balancing an active lifestyle to keep her weight in check, King is most excited about her new health discovery. “It’s called pulling. Take sesame or coconut oil, put it in your mouth and swish it around for eight minutes. It is very good for getting the impurities out of your mouth. Spit it out when finished,” explains the actress. The ritual ends with 17 ounces of water and then a morning cup of tea. “I’m a huge tea drinker—I love loose mate tea. It tastes nutty and delicious. Yerba mate is good for travelling, because they have organic packets of it.” Besides her tea bags, Regina never leaves home without a small silver wallet, hand sanitizer, and Aquaphor. “I use that religiously on my lips,” admits King.
Balancing her professional life with her personal life can sometimes leave out King’s “me time,” but she manages to experience tranquil moments throughout her day. “It’s just sitting still and breathing. When I’m directing, I go to my dressing room and just sit still. Or I’ll find an outdoor area where other crew members are meditating or taking a nap—it’s very quiet. It’s almost like nap time at a preschool. When you have that many people understanding the benefits of turning your brain off even for a short time, a synergy is created in that space,” says King.
During the time she spends at home, King will take to her favourite room with a view. “We call it the observation deck; it’s a great place under a tree where I sit on a bench with a glass of wine. It’s one of my favourite things to do. It’s a visual experience for me. I’m the type of person who might be talking to a friend and a beam of sunlight comes through the clouds—I’ll stop mid conversation to point out the beauty in that. A 30 second pause for the cause.”
Up for the sunrise or the sunset?
“I am a sunset person. Although when I was living in New York earlier this year, my bedroom faced east and the living room faced west. I actually had a sunrise experience almost every morning. I hadn’t realized how much I enjoyed them, so I became an early riser. My mother told me that when she was pregnant with me, she used to watch the sunrise every morning so I gladly accept that there could be something in that connection.”