Staying healthy is a huge priority for Demi Lovato. The actor often talks candidly about the work she puts into taking care of both her mental and physical health—which includes everything from avoiding triggering TV shows to taking up workouts that help her feel strong and confident, like mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu.
The 25-year-old singer recently experienced an unexpected setback in her fitness game: While vacationing in Bali several weeks ago, she fell down a flight of stairs and broke her foot. But she’s not letting it totally derail her routine—after all, exercise really helps her feel empowered and confident, Lovato tells SELF. “I’m working around it,” she says, adding that she’s temporarily gone from tossing her trainer around in the ring to boxing from a seated position.
Despite her commitment to her workouts, Lovato will be the first to admit that dragging herself to the gym isn’t always easy. On those days when she isn’t feeling it, Lovato finds motivation in dressing the part. “I think 75 percent of the challenge of working out is getting dressed and getting to the gym, so when you have cute clothes, it definitely helps,” she says. And she’s hoping to help her fans do the same with her recently launched Summer 2018 Demi Lovato for Fabletics collection. “I took inspiration from my tour and wanted to give my fans a collection of styles that make me feel confident,” she says, of the line.
SELF caught up with Lovato to talk about the new collection, her workout routine, her thoughts about diet culture, how she practices self-care on the road, and more.
SELF: What does your workout routine look like these days?
Demi Lovato: [Since I] just broke my foot, I’m trying to work around it. We’re modifying my workouts. I did boxing today sitting down. That was pretty cool. But typically, I do a lot of circuit training. I actually love training MMA, mixed martial arts. That’s how I get a lot of my cardio in. I also love training jiu-jitsu. I incorporate cardio in my strength and conditioning so every time I work out, I do cardio and strength, too.
What’s your favorite MMA move?
I love the arm bar because it’s a simple submission that can be set up in a number of different ways on the ground. I was working on wrestling before I hurt my foot. Learning how to throw people is really cool. I love doing that. Learning how to take people down is really cool. I’ve taken down a 200-pound man. That feels pretty good!
And which one is the most challenging for you?
The triangle is a figure-four choke hold. It’s my least favorite because I find it difficult to get into sometimes. [Editor's note: A figure-four is a common hold in MMA that involves wrapping your legs around your opponent's neck and one of their arms.]
What do you do when you want to feel empowered?
Working out really empowers me. It makes me feel stronger. It makes me feel more confident. That, but also…doing things that will empower me, like going to therapy and doing things to really take care of myself. I have a hot tub, I get massages, too. Massages are probably my favorite. It’s important that your body rests and that it gets taken care of. [Massages are great for] working out the kinks.
How do you care for yourself when you’re on the road?
I keep it pretty simple. I like to have some time to myself before the show. Sometimes I like to have my team in there, on the bus, to get pumped up. Other times, I will take a nap before a show just to make sure that I have enough energy for a performance. Then to come down from the shows, I’ll watch my favorite TV show or some DVDs on the bus.
What advice would you give your younger self about cultivating a positive body image?
I would say that taking care of your body will be really important for helping you with body image issues. Something that really helps with my body image stuff is getting in the gym. Brazilian jiu-jitsu helps me both mentally and also physically. It’s the best!
A few months ago, you tweeted about giving up food shaming yourself. What’s your advice for people who are struggling with that?
I think it’s hard because we live in a society that praises diets. The diet culture is very impactful on our minds and the way that we think about ourselves and the things that we put in our bodies. It’s hard when people tell you things like “You are what you eat.” It makes it hard not to shame yourself when you’re eating fries…there should be no shame.
I feel like we have a lot of work to do in our society with diet culture. I would like to see fewer commercials on TV for weight loss things like food programs, or exercise machines, or diet pills. Unfortunately, we live in a world where kids at a very young age are starting to judge themselves and their bodies. I feel terrible about that and I wish that it wasn’t like that. It’s sad.
Do you follow anyone on Instagram that you really look up to in the fitness space?
My fitness role model is my mom, actually. She developed an eating disorder when she was younger but now she has a really healthy relationship with working out and with food and she’s doing amazing. She’s my role model in every aspect, but with fitness as well. She takes her workouts seriously and doesn’t half-ass anything.
I’m not a huge fan of Instagram stuff when it comes to fitness just because you can do a lot of comparing and sometimes it just seems unobtainable with the way that people work out and look a certain way.
What are your favorite pieces from your new Fabletics summer collection?
I’m really looking forward to the clothes that I have designed with Fabletics. It’s exciting for me to see them come to life. I think my fans will really love it. I love the sports bras. Every time that I’m working out, I feel very supported. Of course I love the leggings as well—the compression is really great. Those pieces are ones that I’m really excited about.