Ian Somerhalder Explains Why He Calls His Cheat Meals 'Balance Days'

 by Lindsay Farber

Ian Somerhalder shares his top tips for living a healthy lifestyle in an exclusive interview with LIVESTRONG.COM.

Ian Somerhalder is a Hollywood mega-actor and a proud husband and dad — and let's just say the guy knows a thing or two about fitness. From showing off his strong physique in "Vampire Diaries" to posting photos of himself and wife Nikki Reed under the Mexican sun, it's safe to say he's doing something right when it comes to his health.

But how does Somerhalder stay fit between filming his upcoming television show "V-Wars" and raising 1-year-old daughter Bodhi? He's game to explain! The 39-year-old star has teamed up with Royal Canin in honor of National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22 and, fortunately for us, shared some helpful tips and tricks exclusively with LIVESTRONG.COM about maintaining a healthy lifestyle both in and out of the gym.

Keep Your Workouts Fun

When it comes to working out and having a jam-packed schedule while shooting, Somerhalder aims to keep his fitness routine as fun as possible to avoid burnout. "Honestly, I believe in getting exercise when you can and not focusing on a consistent workout," he tells LIVESTRONG.COM.

"Sometimes working out for me means yardwork and carrying around large bags of soil or running after my dogs when they chase their ball. If you think about it, kids aren't consciously planning workouts, yet they're more fit than any of us! That's because they don't think too much about it, they just have fun. Working out should be fun. Don't get me wrong, I have moments where I really do focus on intense training, but I also remind myself to have fun!"

Instead of performing a repetitive routine in the gym, Somerhalder focuses more on the idea of being active, putting less pressure on the workout itself. "I try to subscribe to the idea that at some point throughout each day, if I can manage to get in one sweat, I usually feel good about the day. But also, one true day of rest per week is crucial!"

Switch Up Your Diet

In order to stay on track when it comes to food, Somerhalder says that he is constantly changing up his diet to avoid potentially harsh effects on the body. "The thing I think we forget is that modern man has access to grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and meats all year long due to modern transportation systems and modern agricultural practices," he reveals. "It's obviously good that people can eat, however, our bodies are simply not designed to consume the same thing every day all throughout the year."

To learn which foods in particular are having a negative impact on his health, Somerhalder gets a deep blood, food and topical food allergy test three to four times a year. "I firmly believe that understanding what foods do not work with your body will prevent inflammation and allergen responses in your body to keep you healthy and more vibrant for much longer. When we stress our system with allergies we prevent it from tackling its main function, which is to fight off cancer and disease."

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

While it's important to eat right and exercise to stay fit, Somerhalder is a major advocate for getting proper sleep, especially with such a hectic schedule. "Having the right amount of energy is crucial, and whether you're working hard because you're a doctor, you're a single mom, a construction worker, a teacher or a CEO, you need energy and the right amount of sleep to have your cortisol levels in a place that gets you feeling great," he reveals. "Sleep is tough to come by when all of us are living such busy lives."

All About the Balance

While many people avoid indulging in certain foods in fear of gaining weight, Somerhalder reveals that he is all about enjoying life, even if that means eating things other than fruits and veggies every now and then. "I believe in 'cheat' days, but I just called them 'balance' days!" he tells LIVESTRONG.COM. "A balance of diet and exercise will be a healthy way to live. It's the extremes that we seem to go to that makes us confused and label things with words like 'cheat.' That's just my take on it."

The actor reveals that he looks to natural foods when possible, while still getting his "fix." "Many people say they love chocolate. Well, good chocolate typically is just cacao, some coconut sugar, some soy lethicin and fruits or nuts," he says. "You don't need complex, refined sweets or unnatural packaged foods to have that yummy endorphin-producing sugar rush. There are 1 million ways to enjoy yourself, whether it's a chocolate cake, a croissant, a giant, beautiful bowl of pasta or a drink or two. We as humans will search our entire lives for this little word that is so elusive, so subjective and yet so needed; that word is 'balance.' Why live on this planet if we can't love and enjoy the things we eat?"

What Do YOU Think?

Do you experiment with switching up your diet in order to avoid negative reactions? Have you tried different types of meditation in order to get energy and improve sleep? Sound off in the comments below!


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