In this interview, electronica vocalist Lauren Abraham shares the highs and lows of her metamorphosis of a career (snowboarder - turned - TV-host - turned - entertainment-producer - turned - electronica-vocalist) and lets Bodybuilding.com know the workout and diet secrets behind that "Captain Baberaham" bod.
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TV Personality & Entrepreneur Lauren Abraham Shares
The Highs And Lows Of Her Career.
[ Ashlee Green ] You've done it all - from a high school garage-band singer to editor-in-chief of your college literary magazine to a television personality for Fox Sports Network, Spike TV and ESPN - not to mention your status as a professional snowboarder and avid skier! How do you prioritize your time?
[ Lauren Abraham ] As far as prioritizing my health and fitness regimen, I have stepped it up to a whole other level... I'm trying to alkaline and pH my body right now. I've recently discovered that if your body's acidic and if your pH is off, you're going to have a hard time keeping your weight where you want it and keeping yourself in a healthy state, mentally and physically.
I'm already over five years sober, so I don't do alcohol or drugs, but now I've recently cut out caffeine and I'm watching the weight melt off of me. Instead of coffee, I'm doing fresh juices. Instead of treating myself with a latte, I'm treating myself with an amazing, green fresh juice with beets, spinach, ginger, parsley and carrots. I do it usually after my workout.
I'm kind of staying out of the gym right now. I've been pretty much a gym rat most of my life. Since I've moved to Santa Monica on May 1st and left my home base of Lake Tahoe where I resided for ten years.
There's a great thing here in Santa Monica that I love: the famous Santa Monica Stairs. It's 190 flights of stairs or more. The average person does about seven; I'm up to twenty flights a day, minimum, and I'm doing it every day.
When I'm going up the stairs, I'm stretching my arms out straight and I'm twisting my shoulders... and when I'm coming down, I'm jabbing like a boxer. So, I'm trying to work my arms into it as well.
Every other day I'll do an ab routine right up on the grass. I make a point of hitting those stairs every single day - I even go at ten o'clock at night in the dark when no one's there.
Work is pretty random being an action sports commentator. I'm busy mainly in the winter with ski and snowboard commentary and a little bit in the summer, but that's living in Tahoe. Now that I've relocated to Santa Monica, the health and fitness world is banging at my door.
I moved down here to expand my branding of myself, and I didn't even know what direction I wanted to take it in. I thought, "Maybe I'll just jump into mainstream sports like basketball and football..." I still might do that, but right now with health and fitness... it's kind of naturally coming at me, which is a wonderful thing!
I just enrolled in acting school. I'm going to be attending the Larry Moss Studio - it's the Edgemar Center for the Arts. It's one of the most acclaimed and prestigious acting schools here in L.A. Actors and actresses are a dime a dozen in Los Angeles, but I think I have an edge because I have five years of hosting experience underneath me.
I've also heard from very successful, multi-billionaires, that the only way to reach your full potential and success is to get out of your comfort zone. If I continue to remain in the hosting world - which I'm totally comfortable with - there isn't going to be potential to grow as much as I would like to in this lifetime.
I've opened my heart and am really diving into my spirituality. I've reached a lot of balance in my life when it comes to keeping serenity when things get tough. With those extreme highs in the success that I have, are the exact same extreme lows. I'm really reaching out and trying to figure out how to remain sane through all the craziness that I put myself through.
I'm going to the Agape Church here on Wednesday nights, which is directed and was founded by Reverend Michael Beckwick from the movie The Secret. I'm also enrolling in meditation classes and yoga classes here at the Paramahansa Yogananda Center. I think that things are falling right into place.
I'm making the transition into surfing. I surf probably a minimum of two to three times a week. I'm loving it and I'm really excelling at it pretty fast.
[ AG ] Have you done that in the past?
[ LA ] I dabbled into it a little bit, and then on my show Destination Wild for Fox Sports, they had me go out with a real surf team. Jack O'Neill, the inventor of the wet suit himself, gave me a wet suit and sent me out with some of his team riders. I went out there and did really well, and I got hooked that day because we were out there for hours.
The next thing you know - when my series came to an end - I had all this money in the bank, and I had an ex-high school sweetheart living in Costa Rica who wanted me to come visit him. So what did I do? I just flew out there and seven days turned into thirty-eight days. I stayed in Costa Rica and surfed. I knew as soon as I moved down here and got settled into my world I would pick it up and pursue it.
I'm going to be acting, surfing, getting very spiritual, and pH balanced (laughs) in the quest for my soul mate.
[ AG ] You suffered a major setback in January of 2001 when you took on the role of a Hollywood stunt double in Big Bear, California that nearly paralyzed you - What happened and how did you manage to remain positive and motivated?
[ LA ] I didn't remain positive and motivated to be honest with you. Before that injury, I had already blown out my left knee, broken my back twice, and blew out both shoulders.
I was a little unfocused when it came to my health and fitness back then. 2001 was a while ago and I was partying a lot. I drank like a fish; I partied like a rock star. I thought I was going to go out there to do back country stuff - which I'm really used to - like cliffs and shoots and big mountain riding.
All of a sudden they wanted me to hit this seventy foot jump at Big Bear Mountain which all the pro guys were hitting... I hit the jump and I over shot the entire landing and landed from fifty-five feet up in the air flat. I broke both my ankles as they buckled up from underneath me and my knee went into my chest. It completely separated four of my ribs under my breastplate, and then my knee went into my nose - I was a pancake.
I was forced to withdraw from college. My father completely cut me off and didn't talk to me for two years because of this incident. I went into a major, major psychological hardcore abyss of alcohol, drugs and other problems. I lived in and out of a wheelchair with surgeries for a long time.
But there was a blessing behind it all. As I was getting drunk in the commentator's booth, sitting up there at the events, at the competitions which I still wanted to be a part of... they would put the microphone in my hands. I'd be spitting out tricks, spitting out lines, and gossip, and commentating for the event, just joking around. People that worked at the events were listening.
|FEATURED VIDEO: NATE HOLLAND INTERVIEW|
After checking myself into a rehab facility... the local TV station asked me to come on board and do their morning snow report. Then the local commentating ski and snowboard competition asked me to be their Emcee, and then I had a dating show at a casino.
Within a year, I had those three gigs, working for free doing these things in hopes that I f---ing had another future ahead of me, because it wasn't going to be a professional snowboarder anymore - at least on the competition level.
What I really feel like I need to do is just continue to do what I can do. I could either not work out and just let my body go or I can rise above it, do the necessary steps to figure out how to my cardio so I can continue on with my career and continue to keep my body looking good which keeps my mind healthy and keeps me confident.
[ AG ] "Lauren Abraham Entertainment" talent agency - specializing in nightclub and dance entertainment - is one of your newest projects. Tell us a little bit about that.
[ LA ] It's a talent agency and I'm the entertainment producer for a pool of talent - everything from the basic go-go dancers to the most amazing fire dancers in the world, hoop dancers in the world, aerialists, and choreographers. I'll go in there as Entertainment Producer with the club owner and he'll tell me a vision of where he wants his nightclub to go.
I'll go in there and take his vision and times it by ten by bringing in my vision collaborated with his. I'll do all the costuming, all the choreography - the entire production. They just need to trust the process and let it ride and I can guarantee that people will be in their nightclub. Usually when there's a grand opening or a new nightclub is opening is where I come in.
My clients have ranged from Mickey's Beach to Harrah's, Harvey's, Caesar's Casino, Bowl-A-Vard Tree in L.A. And it was all pioneered from the president of Harrah's up in Lake Tahoe appreciating my small town celebrity status. He gave me the Casino Yacht and said, "Here, I want you to turn this into a nightclub." I turned that yacht into Captain Babe-raham and her Skippers. That's where L.A. Entertainment was born.
[ AG ] As far as sports go, what were a few of the most memorable moments in your career?
[ LA ] One time... in band camp (laughs), after living in Tahoe for five years, I went home to Crystal Mountain, Washington - where I'm from. There was a border-cross competition that was happening at my local mountain. I had never competed at my local mountain before because most of my [snowboarding] career was focused in Lake Tahoe.
My step dad - who I've always kind of butted heads with - came to my competition that day. He was at the starting gate warming me up, keeping me warm, making sure that my board was waxed. Because of him being there, I swear... I won every single heat - and there were six heats. I was always the first one out of the gate and the first one at the finish line.
|FEATURED VIDEO: PAT HOLLAND INTERVIEW|
I felt like I was coming home, I was representing my home mountain to the best of my ability. Everyone that was there that was local to Crystal Mountain, Washington was so proud of me... Me and my step dad have had an incredible bonding relationship and it was built off of that memorable day.
[ AG ] Are you currently still competing?
[ LA ] With me being a TV host, I am now commentating at the events. I've reached a level where I don't need to compete anymore. Now I'm getting a lot of coverage from photo shoots and TV time.
You go through a transition. You compete, compete, compete - like in the fitness world - and then you build a name for yourself and find your place within that world.
All of a sudden, it's like a stress is off your shoulders because you're established. That's the point where I'm at in my snowboarding career. Now I can sit back and relax. I don't have to worry about being at the starting gate and freaking out and risk injuring myself again.
I can actually go out with a photographer all day long and get some sick photos and get them published in a magazine or represent the companies that believe in me and have faith in me as an athlete still... by giving them TV time. But I got more than eighty days on the mountain last year. I pretty much snowboard every day during the winter.
[ AG ] I'd like to talk about your training and nutrition plans back when you did compete and now, when you are preparing for photo shoots and appearances.
[ LA ] In the fall [pre-season,] I played a lot of soccer - tons of soccer. I felt that the more soccer I played, the less sore I was going to be and the stronger my legs and stamina were going to be. I did a lot of leg workouts.
I tried to keep my weight down really low - to about 105 pounds - because I feel when I am at my lightest, I'm at my leanest. My body's going to be able to take hits harder. The equipment is really heavy, so the lighter you can keep it, the more you are going to be able to spin in the air and be more graceful. That's just what works for me.
One of the things that I never ever let go-ever-is my abs. They're my strongest feature and the feature that I've committed to.
For snowboarding, a lot of it is core. I did a lot of balance routines on BOSU balls, medicine balls, squats on balls. When you're training for snowboarding to the level that I was competing at, balance is key, core is key, and legs are key. You don't really have to focus on your arms that much. I'd work on my balance routine, my lower body and my abs every other night-after snowboarding.
I'd go home - at that time I was drinking coffee - get my latte (laughs), get some energy in me, go to the gym and work it out and then be done with my day.
These days, I'm not as psycho (laughs,) and just really do it for maintenance. My diet has definitely changed too.
| What Is Glycogen?
Glycogen is a polysaccharide of glucose (Glc) which functions as the secondary short term energy storage in animal cells. It is made primarily by the liver and the muscles, but can also be made by the brain, uterus, and the vagina.
Then I'll try to do either a nice high rep, lightweight gym routine in the evening, another cardio session, or a yoga session. Really, whatever mindset I'm in. Two weeks before a photo shoot, it's definitely twice a day. Otherwise I'm a once-a-day kind of girl.
[ AG ] What about your nutrition plan?
[ LA ] For snowboard season - it really hasn't changed that much - I like to do my carbs mainly being oatmeal or Ezekiel bread in the morning after my cardio session. I know the importance of doing carbohydrates in the morning so I can keep my energy up for my second routine, which will happen later on in the day.
I stay away from bread, pasta and rice - I think they're the devil. They slow you down, they bloat you, and they're horrible for your joints. So, unless I'm indulging in a dessert, I'm not a bread, pasta or rice eater whatsoever. I don't think I've had pasta in three years.
I've maintained a steady diet for most of my life. I love nutrition. One thing that I have researched and gotten into is treating for my hair and my skin... For me, it's about the bigger picture. I've known that what I'm putting in my body today is going to affect me down the road.
I'm going to be honest with you. I have been a junkie on Splenda for about three years. I just recently pried myself off of the addiction of artificial sweeteners, which we use in the fitness industry - which everybody uses.
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I know that the free radicals in the sweeteners are causing me other problems. The last thing I want to do is encourage these possible problems.
| What Are Free Radicals?
In chemistry, radicals (often referred to as free radicals) are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons on an otherwise open shell configuration. These unpaired electrons are usually highly reactive, so radicals are likely to take part in chemical reactions.
When it comes to my nutrition program, it isn't all just about what's going to make me look good physically. It's also about what's from the neck up, too. It's your hair, skin and nails, which are representations of what's going on inside of the body. If your skin is bad, that means your body is toxic. If your nails are brittle, that means your bones are weak.
[ AG ] If you're out on the mountain, how do you manage to maintain that consistent nutrition plan?
[ LA ] On a powder day, when I know that I'm going to ride from 9 A.M. to 4 P.M. I will take a lunch. If I'm lucky I will get to eat it. I will do an awesome bowl of oatmeal with some raisins and cinnamon and some eggs in the morning or an egg and Ezekiel bread sandwich.
I definitely make a point of having one hearty, awesome breakfast because I know that's going to have to carry me for hours on the mountain.
When it comes to snacks, sometimes I'll just grab a CLIF bar. Sometimes I'll squeeze in a hot chocolate during my water break to keep my energy.
If we do go in for a lunch, I usually get a fresh chicken salad or a bread bowl of chili. When you're burning that much energy during the day for hours on end, you can indulge a little bit. My body's going to need that; otherwise I'm going to burn out. The last thing I want to do is cut the day short.
[ AG ] Have you ever experimented with any supplementation?
[ LA ] Yes, I have. I take Shen Min - it's a hair nutrient. I also take another one called MAXI-HAIR. It's incredible! It will totally make your hair grow like a weed. I do that to keep my hair and nails growing. I'm also taking MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) and Glucosamine for my joints.
To be honest with you - before I got into alkalizing my body and really focusing on getting the nutrients within my food, doing the low carb diet and doing lots of protein - I was doing a lot of supplementation.
I know that feeding my body with high amounts of vegetables, fruit, eggs and fish, and cutting caffeine out - which will take the nutrients out of my body - I feel like I don't need to take as many supplements anymore.
I do drink protein powders. I love Syntrax Matrix Simply Vanilla (it's one of the best tasting I've ever had). When I have a sweet tooth at night I will mix it with some soy milk and cinnamon and have that as my milkshake.
I also do protein pancakes in the morning. That's a staple part of my diet. Which is five egg whites, a scoop of protein, a splash of soy milk, and some cinnamon. It's wonderful. It's like having crepes.
[ AG ] How long prior to snowboarding season do you recommend starting a training, nutrition and supplementation plan to other athletes?
[ LA ] Before the snow falls, the latest you would get started is July 1st. You need July, August, September, and October to get yourself ready. But, if you're an intermediate athlete then you can probably kick it to August. I just like to be so prepared and so ready.
There are two ways to go about it:
- Either crunch it and do the daily grind starting in September-October, so you're ready in November
- Or get in the gym and get yourself on a schedule that works for you in July.
The schedule that works for me right now is waking up and doing my cardio. I'm to a point in my body physically where I can pick and choose: Am I in the mood to just chill and do yoga tonight? Or is my energy up - do I want to go do more cardio or go weight train?
If you start five months out, you will have that choice because your body will already be in a position to maintain.
One time, I got lost out in the backcountry. It was me and my boyfriend at the time. We almost died - we were five minutes away from dying.
We dropped off this cliff and went down miles and miles away from the ski resort. We had to hike up a crazy pitched mountain for five hours without stopping because we were trying to beat the sun that was going down.
We had one trail mix bar between the two of us. If I had not been on the Stair climber, and with my crazy leg routine, there's no way I would've been able to make it up that mountain in the time that we did.
[ AG ] Do you carb or fuel load before you hit the slopes?
[ LA ] Right now, since I'm not snowboarding I'll have some eggs and a slice of toast in the morning or a very small quarter cup of oatmeal and some eggs. But when it comes to going out on the hill all day, I'm having a cup of oatmeal. I don't even care about the eggs (laughs).
| What Is Carb Loading?
In sports, carbohydrate loading, colloquially known as carb-loading, is a strategy employed by endurance athletes such as marathon runners to maximize the storage of glycogen in the muscles.
I have gone into Starbuck's and Safeway and grabbed a cinnamon roll or a muffin to go with my coffee when I'm in a rush, and I tell you, I just feel like crap. I'm burned out... I'm tired after a couple hours.
[ AG ] What stretches or exercises would you recommend to a fellow boarder to reduce the likelihood of injury?
I don't care how cool you think you are and how lame and boring yoga is. I was that person. I never wanted to go to yoga because I thought it was way too slow, way too boring. I can spend that time in the gym getting ripped and getting strong.
As soon as I started doing it, I was like "Wow." This is so good for my body. I feel so much more graceful on the mountain. I had more body awareness and was more mentally calm, for god sakes. If the meatheads out there that are trying to get into snowboarding can do one yoga session, it's going to do wonders for them.
[ AG ] I noticed from your MySpace that you're a Portishead fan. What other music are you into and what motivates you during workouts?
[ LA ] That's funny you should ask that... I just got signed to a label called Wish Industry, which is electronica music. I'm writing all their lyrics and singing their vocals for three different DJs.
I have my own music coming out on my MySpace soon - one of the songs is called "Twin Suns" by DJ Stillwell. I am very much an electronica person.
I like house, deep house, breakbeats - I grew up in the Rage scene in Seattle; you can't blame me (laughs). But, I love rocking out to things that I grew up with: Rage Against the Machine & Jane's Addiction. Those always get me pumped on a killer day.
[ AG ] Aside from your fitness and television stints, what do you like to do in your free time - assuming you have some?
[ LA ] While I was a Lake Tahoe resident for the past ten years I would snowboard in the winter and wakeboard in the summer
Now, living in Santa Monica and being away from the snow, I will only get a chance to ride on the weekends. In my free time, I'm testing my surfing skills out in the big ocean, taking my acting classes, and going to my spiritual meditation classes. And I'm going to get my tire fixed on my mountain bike.
I'm a board sports enthusiast. My dream, to be honest with you, ever since I was a young girl, was to become a pro surfer. If I could trade my snow skills on the mountain for surfing skills, I would do it in a heartbeat.
I would have loved growing up as a pro surfer. I love the mentality. I'm a Pisces and love to be on the beach. I think it's such a beautiful culture. I'm going to really focus on making that culture my culture.
[ AG ] What's next on the agenda?
[ LA ] I'm doing acting school for the next six months, minimum. I'm going to be cruising back up to Tahoe and Washington as soon as the snow flies to get my snow days in.
Also coming up in March, I will be shooting a new show in Papua, New Guinea. I can't tell you what the show is now but I can give a brief description: I'm a host for a new show that's going to be airing on Fox. Then in November I'm going to be doing heli skiing in Alaska doing stunt double work for a Japanese pop star. This will be for her music video.
|FEATURED VIDEO: SHAUN PALMER INTERVIEW|
As far as work goes, I'm really looking to expand my branding down here in L.A. In Lake Tahoe, I've been a big fish in a small pond for a long time. Up in Tahoe, everyone knows my name - it's like Cheers. Here, nobody knows who I am. I'm really pushing to establish myself and make a name for myself in this wonderful new home of mine.
The biggest goal that I have is I want to host and direct my own travel-adventure show on a global level. I want to do everything from hiking Kilimanjaro to dancing with the tribes in Africa - pretty much like a woman vs. wild type show.
That's where my head is and that's what I'm trying to manifest for myself.
[ AG ] Thank you very much for your time!
[ LA ] Thank you.