Check Out the Beauty Ritual Marilu Henner Says She Started Doing Long Before GOOP

For the last 40 years, Marilu Henner has been all about health.

The Taxi star (and Hallmark Channel favorite) first went on what she describes as a “personal health journey” after losing both of her parents in their 50s. She kicked her diet-soda obsession, then moved on to eliminating dairy from her life, and then made more healthy changes, which she discovered all led to increased energy, improved digestion and glowing skin. At 67, she’s still seeking out new information on how to keep her mind and body operating at full capacity, such as new vegan diet-friendly cheeses or trying out new supplement lines, like Youngevity. She’s also big on keeping herself calm and finding ways to purge stress. caught up with Henner to discuss 20 things she’s vowing to do every day in 2020, her favorite mood-boosting mantra, and the Goop-approved beauty practice she’s been doing long before Gwyneth Paltrow.

What was it like ringing the NASDAQ closing bell during Wellness Week?

It’s nice that we’re moving so into a time where we talk about overall wellness rather than fitness.That’s something that I’ve believed for a long time. And that’s why I called my first health book written 22 years ago Total Health Makeover. It’s not just how you eat or how you exercise, but how you move through your day, how you relate to other people, how you feel about yourself, how you set up your home, just everything. It’s a total picture.

What are your secrets to looking absolutely fabulous at 67?

My father died at 52 of a heart attack. I was 17. I was a senior in high school and I found myself eating my feelings and became very—I can’t even call it a depression—it was a kind of a silent depression that manifested in my habits rather than in my being. And then my mother took ill a few years later with rheumatoid arthritis and I know a lot of it had to do with the stress of my father’s death. I made a commitment to myself and I said, “It’s not going to be about my weight anymore. It’s going to be about my health.”

So when she passed away at 58, it was a real epiphany for me. I said that I’m going to learn everything I can about the human body and save my brothers and sisters and myself from this genetic hand we’ve been dealt. I had just turned 26 and I was a crazy yo-yo dieter. I could gain and lose 20 pounds in a week, which is very stupid and it’s very damaging to your body. But once I really discovered this path to health, it just changed everything for me and there was no looking back.

I feel healthy and strong and I’ve kept eating the way I eat for 40 years now, which is no dairy, no refined sugar, no meat. I’m a vegan who has fish once in a while. And I just feel better. I was able to do a Broadway show last year and keep up with the whole cast. In fact, everybody was like, “man, you’re never tired.” I danced my little heart out. I did Dancing with the Stars. I think a lot of it is energy and attitude and food and relating to people and taking the right supplements and just living your life. So that’s my secret, I guess.

They approached me because somebody knew both of us and they said, “You are likeminded people. You have this focus on health and the whole picture and the title sounds great for you.” And so I became their brand ambassador and I’ve just fallen in love with the people in the company and the supplements.

Did you start with dairy and move on to eliminating other animal products from there?

It started, believe it or not, with Tab. I was drinking close to two gallons a day. So I gave up Tab first for three weeks and tried it again and it tasted horrible. My stomach felt bloated even from one sip. And I’ve never had another diet soda or even a soda since that time. So it started with Tab and then it went to sugar, then meat, then dairy. The day I gave up dairy, August 15, 1979, I consider my health birthday.

What immediate effects did you notice?

My breathing was better, my digestion. This is TMI, but I was once in a clinic because I didn’t go to the bathroom for 17 days. I was on what I used to call my Jarlsberg cheese diet where I’d buy a pound of Jarlsberg cheese and chip away at it cause it was 1700 calories. I’d chip away at it for the day and call it my healthy diet. I was a crazy dieter. The diets that I used to go on were so stupid and they’re so counterintuitive to the human body and how we digest. I always say, “learn to love the food that loves you.” Once I realized how much dairy hated me, it was an easier thing to give up.

Any other beauty secrets?

I drink a lot of water. You want to know how to drink a lot of water? Buy a plant and you’ll see what happens to it if you don’t give that plant water at least two times a week! It’s really a visual manifestation of what it is we’re supposed to be doing to our own bodies, only we’re supposed to be doing it every day.

Aside from diet, what is your health and fitness routine like?

I try to break a sweat every day for at least 10 minutes. If you ever see me standing in line at the airport, you’ll see that I’m doing like crunches or squats or leg lifts or while waiting in line at a bank window or something. I’m trying to move as much as I can. And I love Pilates.

Okay, tell us about your plan to do 20 things in 2020:

One of the things I did for 2020 is I wrote down 30 things that I could do every day. And I give myself points for everyone one that I do. The list includes everything from flossing to skin brushing, which I’ve been doing since the 70s, way before Gwyneth Paltrow! Also doing my arm exercises, my butt exercises. You write down your sleep, you write down if you’ve been drinking. I’m doing Dry January, although I kind of broke it last night. I’m allowed to break it four times during the year and I broke it last night. That was one of my little indulgences cause we were all out.

So of that list of 30, I have to do at least 20 every day, because it’s 2020. And 2020 has such a great ring to it. It has such a powerful message in those numbers because it’s sort of visionary. It makes me feel like I’ve got 20/20 not only hindsight, but I can see the future with 2020, because I’m going to use my brain and my memory. I’m going to use everything that I’ve been through to not only make me aware of the present and the mistakes or the good things that I’m doing, but it’s also going to inform a better future for me.

Do you do Dry January every year?

Yeah, I do it because it feels like a reset, especially if you’ve been partying over the holidays. I don’t drink anything but sake and tequila, cause I’m allergic to wine and champagne. But I’m always looking for little things to challenge myself. And plus I get points on my little 2020 chart!

What do you do for your mental health?

Because I have this unusual memory—I’m sure you’ve heard that I can remember every single day of my life and I’m one of very few in the world who can—my meditation is usually as I’m falling asleep. I will say, “OK, what was I doing exactly a year ago today, two years ago, today, three years ago? What was I doing when I was exactly to the day as old as my two sons? They’re 24 and 25 right now.” So I think like, “Oh, let’s see this is four months and four days before Nick’s 26th birthday. So what was I doing four months and four days before my 26th birthday?” I’m always doing a little mental exercises because I think that that’s really helpful to keeping your brain fresh. But I also take this incredible supplement from Youngevity called Synaptiv.

I love to read so I’m always reading. I also love to organize something cause sometimes just that mindlessness will help you feel like, “OK, I set my brain straight again.” Or I’ll go work out or something like that. Something that makes me feel good. Also I have the mantra, “Do something small to make yourself feel better.”

What are some of those small things that you do?

It could be anything in a given hour. It could be fixing up my jewelry box. People are always bringing me tangled things and I pride myself in being able to unravel tangled things. There are just so many things that you can look at in your life, that say, “OK, this needs a little fixing” or I will make a list or take a walk around the block or look at old pictures or do something to reset my brain. It all adds up!

Want to learn more about Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness company Goop? Check out our Try the Trend product-testing video below.


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