Justin Hartley On Keeping a 'Sustainable, Not Strict' Diet And How He Stays In Super Shape

Justin Hartley might look like he lives at the gym and endures a carb-free existence, but that’s not the case, says the super-fit actor.

“I’m not as strict and stringent as some people may think that I am, but I try to be reasonable,” says the self-described foodie. “I try to avoid certain things or an abundance of certain things. And, if I’m aware of how bad certain things are, I won’t eat them as much. Basically I rely on guilt.”

Striking the right balance includes making sacrifices while still enjoying his favorite comfort foods.

“If I have bread, I’ll try not to have it at the next meal. If I have a sandwich for lunch, I’ll say, maybe I shouldn’t have pasta for dinner. Or if I’ve eaten really healthy for two days in a row and feel really good diet-wise, I’ll treat myself to a cheat meal and get a dessert,” says Hartley, whose latest indulgence included a “big bowl of spaghetti” and chocolate ice cream. “It was worth it.”

The key, says the This Is Us star, is “to supplement that with the intensity of my workouts.” “My wife [Chrishelle] was going to this Barry’s Bootcamp class and I hadn’t been in a really long time, and it’s an intense workout, so I thought, why don’t I go and burn off this bowl of pasta I had last night.”

He adds: “If you can combine a sensible diet with a really good workout you should be fine, and I also try not to eat at like 10 o’clock at night and then go to bed.”

Typically, Hartley exercises four to five times a week and likes to keep his workouts “fresh and new.”

“I’m trying to work on things I can improve while being aware of the fact that I’m not getting any younger,” says the 41-year-old. “It’s more about lower weight, higher reps, taking care of joints, taking care of shoulders, and making sure you’re not laid up for the next two weeks. I threw my back out not too long ago and it’s taken me forever to heal. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

While his sweat sessions include boxing and weight training, he is also committed to total body care and wellness. “A big part of my workouts have become the pre-workout stretching and the post-workout recovery. I’ll do compression, I’ll get massage, I’ll do a cold laser on anything that might be aching. I’m a big fan of the cryo treatments and all of that. So trying to preserve my old bones as much as I can,” he says.

And to prepare of those shirtless This is Us scenes, Hartley does admit to putting in some extra work.

“What I normally do is, 24 hours out, I will be really aware of what I put in my body. I try not to eat too much salt the day before. As annoying as it is and as much as I hate doing it, I have such a great job and I’m so lucky, I don’t want to lose my job,” he jokes. “I don’t want to shock anybody. I don’t want, you know, ‘[my character] Kevin has his shirt off, and woah [looks like] Kevin’s been partying.’ Those photos are forever so you don’t want to embarrass yourself.”

With the summer season here, Hartley also tries to keep it light on the grill. “I’m a master griller,” says the actor, who recently collaborated with MorningStar Farms and swears by their Meat Lovers Vegan Burger. “It’s plant-based and packed with protein. It sustains your appetite.”

Along with willpower, says Hartley, Chrishelle keeps him on track. “She makes it easier. She’s a big motivational factor for me because she’s in such great shape,” says Hartley. “I try to keep up with her. To have somebody in your life that can motivate you is really, really good.”


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