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Mariel Hemmingway: Mariel’s Way

In this age of super rich, party girl socialites, one who blazed the trail early on by choosing substance over abuse is actress Mariel Hemmingway. This model-turned-actress-turned wellness guru is shedding the light on the mind/body/spirit movement and in an exclusive to us, she talks about the latest challenges for women to have it all, staying centered and not losing oneself in the quest for Hollywood’s quest for perfection.

“My passion is to get into the heart of people and say, ‘Who are you? What speaks to your heart?’” says Mariel Hemingway. On a crisp, cool morning at the Travis County New Milestones Foundation luncheon where she is speaking, Hemingway is centered on getting to the heart of things. Tall, sublime and possessing traffic-stopping beauty, she still very much exudes, at 46, the screen queen image that got her nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar when she was the bright, young ingénue in Hollywood in the 1970s and early 80s. She is still the perfect model size, with golden hair and a smile that beams across the room. Captivating is but one word to describe Mariel Hemingway.

She admits getting a foot in the door of a nepotistic entertainment industry came easier than for most. After all, her older sister Margeaux Hemingway had star turns as a top model too, and in successful films, including cult classic, Star 80, before she committed suicide. Her grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, was one of the most prolific and troubled authors of the twentieth century. That pedigree, she admits, helped keep her on a path of wellness. “I grew up in a family where there was a tremendous amount of addiction, and suicide and manic depression. And talent and creativity and all those things kind of go together. And I think that we worried that maybe if we get rid of some of them then we would lose our talent. There is all this different sort of messaging, messages that happen to somebody who is born into a family like that. So, my obsession, in the beginning with health, was really survival,” says Hemingway. “If I looked back on my Grandpa, there was this subliminal thing. He was obsessed with his food and he was obsessed with his weight. And it’s weird, when you look back and you think ‘Wow. I’m like a genetic model. But you can break the genetics. You can break the code and be the one that says ‘That doesn’t work for me.’”


Mariel Hemingway feels keeping things simple works for her and can work for others. She’s authored several books and nost recently, with Healthy Living from the Inside Out now out in paperback, people are paying attention to what she feels is important. It’s just four basic steps and reveals an individualized 30-day program that teaches readers how looking and feeling great are just a few simple choices away.

Step One is to realize that food is the fuel of life and what people eat and drink affects every part of their lives, from energy level to body shape. By making them conscious about their everyday choices, they learn to use food in a positive way to boost the body and mind and correct imbalances of weight, mood, and energy. Hemingway provides some of her favorite recipes to help integrate a flavorful yet super nutritious diet into our regular lives. “People should be empowered to know that they are the instigators of their own health,” she admits. We can figure it out if we have the proper questions to ask ourselves and that’s what I do in the book. I just ask you the questions that you wouldn’t think to ask yourself.”

“You have to get rid of the noisy foods. They are pretty obvious and people don’t really like to hear that,” she states. “If we think an Advil in half an hour can take a headache away, then why wouldn’t eating a Big Mac have an effect on your body?” She goes on to say. “I’m not a Nazi… once in a while it’s fine. Know moderation and walk the middle ground. But know that an every day habit creates a build up of toxins and a buildup of all these things, with all that sugar and all those chemicals they buildup in the brain. They definitely have an adverse effect on our mood.”

Exercise also affects mood and is the second component in her book, is not just to stay in shape, but to stay connected to that level of fitness. Hemingway feels that by putting the emphasis on quality not quantity, people can learn to nurture themselves, stay grounded, and transform their mental, emotional, and physical states a little bit each day. Thus, ending up looking and feeling better than ever. “Some people are skinny and it’s fine if they are. Some people are not super skinny, but it’s about finding the ‘beautiful you.’ Which is just unique to you and its doesn’t look like me, it doesn’t look like Madonna, it doesn’t look like Angelina Jolie, it doesn’t look like those other people. It looks like you,” states Hemingway.

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One of Hemingway’s survival tactics is to slow down. To meditate, as the third step. “Slowing down your life actually gives you more time. We’re under the belief system that the more we do, the more we get done, which isn’t true,” she shares. “The truth is that if you organize your time well, then you create sacred space. You create time to slow yourself down and you actually find that your life is more fulfilling and the priorities are right. I always think, ‘What is truly a priority here? Do I really have to watch the half hour of not so good sitcom or reality show? Or can I put that time into a bath with candles, and really just take some quite time for me. Or whatever that ritual may be, and that can speak to somebody in so many different languages of wellness.”

“Mediation doesn’t have to look the same for everybody, so silence does not have to be meditation,” Hemingway confides. For me it is, but for other people it can be a walk in the woods. That is also my meditation. Or it can be music, listening to Schubert, or listening to whatever you love. It’s about finding those things that speak to your heart and when you start to speak to your heart, your heart starts speaking back and telling you what you need… and then you start living a balanced life.

The fourth principle of Hemingway’s guide to bliss is about one’s surroundings. “Too often the home in which we live echoes the clutter and chaos of the outside world. Learn how to make home a place where you can rest, recharge, and refocus—a haven for the balanced life we (and our families) seek’” advises Hemingway. To Hemingway, that means removing clutter and anything unnecessary that inhibits a balanced life. “There is that stuff that accumulates that you never look at. It’s those papers that pile up, it’s those things that are old that you really don’t care about but you think that your supposed to. It’s like finding the noisy foods… finding noisy objects that don’t serve you, that don’t give you any joy, don’t give you any peace. That’s the goal,” she states.

All in all, one might say Hemingway is a very together woman. Her two daughters, ages 18 and 19, live the healthy life mom supports in her books and everyday practices. She and writer/director Stephen Crisman have been married for 23 years, a milestone in Hollywood and anywhere else. That love and support has transpired in many ways. When Stephen was diagnosed with cancer, Hemingway took action. “He was all about white and brown food… he just ate sugar all the time, and I ate all the green food. It wasn’t his journey yet. The second time he got cancer, he said ‘I really want your help and I told him this is not about me, so if you want my help I'm so there for you, but we’ve got to do it together,” she confides. “He really changed his food and his changed his lifestyle. He meditated twice a day with these monks who live very close to our house. Then he started exercising and yes, now his life changed. I thought that if this can help save a man’s life who had terminal cancer, we’re onto something. He did a lot and acupuncture and Chinese and Tibetan medicine.”

These days, in addition to her books (the next one she is working on is how to make the kitchen greener), Mariel Hemingway is still acting selectively. “I just did a movie called Chatham that should be out at the beginning of the year as well, with David Carradine, Rip Torn, Bruce Dern and Charles Durning, It made me feel fantastic and like and ingénue. When she discusses her sum total of experiences, she is candid by saying, “I mean the truth of it, by doing all the different things that I have done, and I've done a myriad of odd things, it has taught me that it’s not about pushing it away… its about embracing it. To find the health and balance within yourself.”