Growing up in the south, Sean Hampton remembers flavor and quantity outweighing nutritional value when it came to dinner time. That being said, his parents made sure to balance all that good food out with sports. Then having being bitten by the acting bug and heading to Los Angeles years ago, the now 35-year-old actor/producer and father or one doesn’t look like he’s ever had a fatty food in his life. He’s well aware of what he does to his body, as well as what goes in it and while he eats well, he says his workouts are more lightweight with high reps, saying, “I’m not looking to put on lots more size, so it’s all about muscle maintenance and keeping my body fat low. My diet centers on lots of vegetables, plant based proteins, and restricted amounts of meats.” So because of all that, he came to mind when this week was written down and I’m glad Sean obliged to open up about staying healthy in his own life, as an actor and as a parent.
Kendra: Are you one of those people who sort of push their health agenda onto others?
Sean: Trying to push your habits, (health, politics, etc) onto others is the fastest way to end up alone. Deciding to live a healthy lifestyle is something each person has to find their way to and that choice can’t be forced. My philosophy is to serve as a safe person for others to talk to and ask questions. People know they can come to me and I won’t try to sell them a product or make them a clone of me. I like to answer questions, give good resources for further review, but mostly let them know my door is always open to help.
Kendra: Some people say it’s just too expensive to be healthy. Which, when you look at the price of the “good” vs “bad” food, they’re right. Do you have any advice for people on a budget who want to eat healthier?
Sean: First is to realize that there’s a lot of marketing tricks going on in the nutritional world these days. There’s always a new villain to stay away from (fat, carbs, gluten, etc). These gimmicks can end up costing a lot of money if you’re not careful. Keep in mind that certain foods (particularly vegetables) are designed to not only nourish us, but make us full. Every meal I eat ends with a large serving of greens. This helps digestion and makes me feel full without negatively impacting my overall diet. Greens are usually a good price so costs can be kept low. So while it can be expensive, a good market and attention to foods that give us a “full” feeling will keep the checkout costs low.
Kendra: Did working at a gym keep you motivated to stay in shape?
Sean: Actually, working in a gym can hinder your progress! When most people leave work, the last thing they want is to be reminded of work. If you spend nine hours in a gym, then have to workout, it can feel like unpaid overtime. When I worked in a gym I always made sure I not only worked out in the morning, but at a different gym. It made me feel like I was disconnected from my job so there was no feelings of being at work all day long.
Kendra: We all know though that just because you look okay, it may not always mean you’re healthy. Being an actor, have you ever had any issues with going to an extreme for a role, so much so that it put your health in jeopardy?
Sean: I’ve never experienced that because with my character type I’m cast because I look the way I do on the day of the audition. Actors like Edward Norton, Christian Bale, etc. have normal body types that they can change to become a certain role. When you walk into the room and you already look a certain way that’s not the norm, most producers will figure it’s easier for you to play a role you already match versus waiting for you to transform.
Kendra: What do you think of actors who do that, who will gain a lot of weight for one role and then turn around and lose it all for another?
Sean: I think they are crazy! Just kidding, I think it’s an incredible thing to drastically go up and down in weight AND deliver the performances they do. Your brain chemistry, spacial orientation, and many other things are greatly affected with drastic weight loss or gain. They fight through all that and give us the performances we saw in movies such as American History X or The Machinist. Brilliant!
Sean: I’m always looking for ways to make sure that not only does she eat healthy, but that it’s normal for her to see at home. Whenever prepping my meals she’s right there with me watching me weigh food and portion it all out. We always have “ice cream” at the end of dinner, which in my house is a smoothie I make with protein powder and fruit. Having said that, I also recognize the importance of junk food in a kid’s life. That may sound like a joke, but I know some fond childhood memories of mine were getting an ice cream cone with my dad, or maybe a piece of pie at a certain restaurant. We still do those things and have those moments, but that’s an exercise in moderation. The only thing completely off limits is fast food. We do not go there!
Kendra: Lastly, what is the biggest high and lowest how when it comes to staying healthy?
Sean: The biggest high is when I can help someone become more healthy and they actually follow the advice to reach their goals. Many people ask for help, few actually take it. When someone tells me the diet I helped them make worked and they lost weight, or maybe the guy who wanted to get some muscle now has to buy bigger shirts I feel like I really did something for someone. The biggest low is the amount of restrictions I have to place on my meals. I LOVE desserts and the world is full of them. Passing by all of the cookies, cakes, pies, and other delicious treats every single day and not having them gets trying to say the least. Yes I like the results, yes I do like how I feel….but sometimes I just want the cookie!