Natural Beauty

So you think most celebrities who claim to be healthy are merely hawking products?
Meet Meadow Williams, the passionate actress and Skinny Mini model whose
deep commitment to well-being started all the way back on the organic farm in Tennessee.

By Joanne Gallo

July 2006

A fair amount of Hollywood actresses are notorious for having a somewhat superficial relationship with health, as nutrition and exercise are often simply a means to an end. Feeling the pressure to stay impossibly thin, they embark on the trendiest of diets and fitness routines only to jump on the next bandwagon that rolls around, from low-carb and Zone diets to Strippercise and Tae Bo. Others reform themselves after years of bad lifestyle choices and showcase the secret to their transformations in publicity-garnering books and talk shows.

To meet a celebrity with a true lifelong passion for health that extends far beyond being skinny is a rarity, but there isn’t much that’s ordinary about Meadow Williams. A beautiful and accomplished actress with numerous TV and film credits, including the 1995 Oscar-winning film Apollo 13 (Williams calls its director, Ron Howard, “one of the most brilliant men on the planet artistically”), Williams is poised to make a splash starring in the upcoming film Light Years Away, co-starring Eric Roberts and Christopher Knight. Right now, perhaps she’s best known to health food devotees as the spokesperson for the popular Nature’s Plus Skinny Mini weight loss shakes, bars and supplements. But take note: Williams does not endorse the bone-thin physique considered to be most desirable in Hollywood and embraces the idea that women of all shapes and sizes can be beautiful. A native of Rockvale, Tennessee, Williams was raised with her nine brothers and sisters on an organic farm (before it was trendy) and learned very early the joys and benefits of a simple, natural lifestyle.

Energy Times: What was it like to grow up on an organic farm?

Meadow Williams: My parents had a dairy farm. The cows were roaming around freely until milking time and they would come to the barn out of habit and be milked. They were not cooped up; they were not in any way kept from being free and happy. They roamed around on land that’s very lush and green. It has a river running through it.

It’s just paradise where my parents live: My mother calls it the “Garden of Eden.” People mistakenly think that it is a national park and they actually get out of their cars and walk around the land. It’s absolutely gloriously beautiful with gigantic, old oak trees.

My mother is an outrageously healthy person. She raised us without sugar and with all homegrown foods, on land that was owned by my grandfather that had never been touched by pesticides or chemicals. Everything we ate was grown on the farm, from vegetables to meat. My mother would occasionally get something like Cheerios, and she would occasionally purchase flour—whole-wheat flour, of course. You go to my mother’s house and she’ll feed you a blackberry cobbler made with a whole-wheat crust that will just break your heart it’s so good. The blackberries grow wild in the back of the farm.

ET: When you were young, were your parents environmentally conscious in other ways?

Meadow: My mother has been against every unnatural thing. She was talking about the problems of landfills when I was a little girl, and people thought she was crazy to go through garbage cans at the ball games and get the tin cans and take them to be recycled. People weren’t doing that just a few years ago, especially in Tennessee. My mother would get other people to bring her their newspapers and cups for recycling, and she was very anti-Styrofoam and anti-disposable diapers. She would tell people how bad it was for the planet and they’d look at her like she was nuts. Some people thought she was kind of a hippie but she was just very socially conscious before it was fashionable.

My mother is a very large influence in my life because she is such a strong woman. She has been a teacher of underprivileged children my whole life, until recently; she’s retired now. She has boundless energy; the woman still does more in a day than a lot of people do in a month. She’s a beekeeper and she has five hives currently. She’s having a little bit of trouble with one of the queens, I guess the beekeepers out there will know what that means!

ET: What kind of impact did this natural lifestyle have on you and your family?

Meadow: My family has fantastic energy, health and vitality. We were raised to take our vitamins, be active and watch what we eat. We haven’t succumbed to eating junk food as much as most people because we were raised without it so it tastes funny. My brother, Wade, just made fireman of the year; he’s an outrageously fit and strong young man, has saved many lives and received a lot of recognition for his bravery and his strength. He doesn’t have to use an axe to go through a door because he can kick it open with his foot. Maybe it’s the food he eats, maybe it’s genetic.

ET: So you’ve never had any health concerns?

Meadow: No, I’ve been blessed with very good health and since I’m the type of person that would like to know what’s going on with my body, I went to a very specialized lab in LA and had huge amounts of blood work done and tested everything. The doctors came back and said that I was one of the healthiest people they had ever tested in their history. They showed me page after page of all these results and they couldn’t even come up with anything to tell me to do better. I said, “Is there anything I should do or change?” After a pause one said, “You might drink a little more water.”

ET: Now that you live near LA, what kind of a diet do you follow?

Meadow: Largely due to my upbringing, I really love natural foods. The foods here don’t taste as good as my family’s food. Even the organic food isn’t as good; maybe it’s missing all that Tennessee cow manure, I don’t know! The closest I can get is organic vegetables, which I love, and I’m a big raw food eater. I love fruit: Blueberries, raspberries, papaya, watermelon, I love it all. I try very hard to eat low fat. (I don’t have cravings as much as the typical person because it was never around me when I was young.) My one weakness is chocolate. We were raised without it; my mother felt like it was a drug. But we did get it on Easter holiday: We were allowed to have one chocolate bar, which we would freeze and take little bites of all year. We were so happy to have chocolate.

ET: You’re lucky you never really had to change your diet much.

Meadow: I know that those junk food places are everywhere and it’s very quick and cheap but your health is something that is very much, “Pay me now or pay me later.” You cannot buy good health when you run out of your own good health. You need to take care of yourself so that you can be healthy and enjoy your life as long as you live. Yes, it’s hard to try to find a health food store with a deli if you’re eating with friends who want sandwiches, but if you expose your friends to the good food they’ll like it better. So I try to influence my friends to eat healthy too, and I think they’re starting to live healthier because of it.

ET: What kind of a fitness routine do you follow?

Meadow: I love yoga. I spend some time in the gym every day no matter what; I like it. I don’t think I could stop working out at this point, I’m too used to it. It’s just like brushing your teeth.

ET: As an actress in Hollywood, do you feel a lot of pressure to stay thin?

Meadow: I don’t know why Hollywood thinks every woman has to be so skinny—though it is true that the camera adds 10 pounds. Actresses in Hollywood are the skinniest people you will ever meet. Personally, I think they’re just too thin. Some of them don’t even look good in person due to the extreme thinness. It’s sad that the field is so very conscious of weight. I think heavy women are beautiful as long as they’re healthy. A woman can be 10, 20 even 30 pounds overweight and be gorgeous.

But you can’t imagine how much fun acting is. So some would-be actresses are willing to do just about anything to keep thin. I have been on sets where other actresses’ stomachs were growling so loud they had to cut takes. It was horrifying for me the way that women would become anorexic or bulimic and starve themselves. I was around some of these young glamour girls and they were absolutely starving, and they would be amazed that I would eat normally. I would be on the set eating a yogurt and they would say, “You had a yogurt and fruit” and they would be watching the food I would eat because they were so starved. I was very happy about Skinny Mini coming out [Meadow is the product’s spokesperson] because I felt that women needed some help when they were trying so hard to stay thin.

ET: Why do you think it’s such a popular product?

Meadow: I like the energy that you get from Skinny Mini. I enjoy being active and I like the way Skinny Mini makes me feel. I don’t necessarily take it every day. It’s one of those things that if you would like to lose a pound or two you can go back on Skinny Mini for a few days or a week and then when you’re at your ideal weight you can just use it now and then for maintenance. It’s not something you have to take all the time but it’s very nice to have in your cabinet. [Skinny Mini contains a proprietary herbal energy blend of guarana seed, L-phenylalanine, aspartic acid, spirulina, cacao fruit and green tea, plus rhodiola, CitriMax and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).]

ET: What other supplements do you take?

Meadow: I take vitamin C and a Source of Life multivitamin every day; I go back and forth from the liquid to the tablets. I take about a half-dose of Nature’s Plus Rx-Joint every day, just due to the amount of running and bending I’m doing in the gym; I would like to keep everything in good repair. I also take Nature’s Plus Ultra Hair, a wonderful hair vitamin that really makes a difference. I’ve gotten several of my girlfriends to start taking it. One of my nieces was about to graduate from college and her hair was getting thin just from breaking off. I got her on the Ultra Hair and she has gorgeous, long, spiral curls now.

ET: What do you think of the pending legislation to regulate supplements?

Meadow: It’s very scary. I would hate to have my use of supplements regulated. I would really think that the government has more important things to do than trying to make it harder for us to take care of our health. I think the government should spend more of it’s time and energy on important things like national safety, trying to make our country better and healthier, and trying to help children that are impoverished. It’s not right to use that energy on legislation that could hurt our health and our freedom.

ET: Do you devote your time to any causes?

Meadow: I have been involved with animal charities. I also am very supportive of underprivileged children. I have very dear friends who are paraplegic, and I used to live next door to a wonderful physically challenged man, Mike Tanner, and I just loved him. I feel very strongly about the concerns they have and how things should be modified so that they can live life to the fullest. I am also sensitive to issues about battered women and orphans and basically anyone who’s hurt. I have a deep level of compassion and I think that will always be there.

ET: What do you think is the secret to true beauty?

Meadow: It’s who you are inside, projecting itself outside. Whatever size or shape someone may be, when you look into their eyes if you feel warmth, if you feel light, if you feel that they are a compassionate, caring person and that they care about other people more than themselves—that’s the wellspring of true beauty.

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