Dancer and choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba’s no-nonsense approach has earned her a reputation as a savvy critic on ABC’s wildly popular Dancing with the Stars. The same take-charge philosophy permeates her personal life, too. Here, Inaba talks about her diet makeover, how she meditates and why being strong is sexy.
Q: How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle with such a
A: Since Dancing with the Stars took off, it’s been tough. I gained weight, some old
dance injuries resurfaced and I felt sedentary because I was judging and not dancing.
This past summer, I decided not to take any jobs and, instead, spent my time reclaiming
my health and taking charge of my life.
Q: What changes have you made in your diet?
A: Dancers aren’t exactly known for their healthy eating habits, and I wasn’t any
different. I often ate to be thin, but now I try to stick to an anti-inflammatory diet of
low-glycemic carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats. I was diagnosed with
arthritis five years ago, and this diet has made a huge difference in managing my pain.
Q: What role does exercise play in your life?
A: I’m happiest when I’m in the moment using my body for self-expression. When I was
a dancer, I didn’t realize how much dancing was like meditation. Now that I’ve made that
connection, I tend to gravitate toward activities like dance that use the mind and body,
such as kickboxing, yoga and Pilates. I try to get an exercise endorphin rush at least five
times a week: It reconnects me to my spirit, it’s grounding, and being physically strong
makes me feel sexy and capable.
Q: Both of your parents recently battled cancer. How did
those experiences affect you?
A: My mom had breast cancer and my dad had tongue cancer. It’s been scary and
confusing being both a daughter and a caregiver. It’s also been a big eye-opener to
realize that I have the same genes. I’ve really focused on being strong for my parents
and educating myself so I can be a good advocate for their health and my own. I’ve
also been eating lots of cancer-fighting foods like kale, cabbage and broccoli.
Q: You recently got engaged to your boyfriend Jesse
Sloan. Any wedding plans?
A: Right now we’re just focusing on taking care of our five cats and the organic garden
we planted. Going out in the garden every morning is like a meditation. It helps me
stay balanced, gives me perspective and keeps me healthy. Jesse is a man who loves ice
cream and fried foods, but he decided to join me this summer in making healthy
changes, and it helps that we’re doing this as a family.
Carrie Ann's Top 5 tips for healthy living
1. Start and end each day with lemon water “Since my parents’ cancer diagnoses, I’ve been extremely conscious of keeping my body alkaline because I’ve learned that cancer thrives in acidic environments.”
2. Meditate “I used to feel I had to sit for a half hour, but even five minutes makes a huge difference.”
3. Spend time with animals “I always feel better after time with my cats, either cozied up on the sofa or outside in the grass.”
4. Stretch “Tune in to your body and notice where you feel tight. For me, it’s my shoulders and neck, so I do heart-opening stretches.”
5. Be grateful “Focus on what you’re grateful for and thank the universe, or God or whomever you like. It helps keep things in perspective.”