LA (and California in general) has a well-earned reputation as a center of health and wellness. "Everyone looks healthy and glowing here" is a comment visitors often make about locals. What they don't realize is that we weren't all born with that Southern California glow and healthy body. We work hard.
Of course getting in shape and staying in shape in LA doesn't have to be all 'boot camp.' There are some fun ways to maintain a healthy California lifestyle while making sure your body remains your temple.
Eating Healthy: Food Shopping in LA
I personally find that I'm at my lightest and healthiest when I eat like the Greeks. The book The Omega Plan outlines how you can do this. But it basically comes down to a lot of fruit and vegetables, olive oil (instead of corn oil), some fish and minimal poultry and red meat.
Where you buy your produce is extremely important. I have found some incredibly tasty (and reasonable) seafood on Fairfax in W. Hollywood where all the Kosher markets, butchers and fisheries are. There are many LA locals who swear by the farmers markets. They love these spots for their plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also for the fun cultural and shopping experience they offer.
Eating Healthy: Restaurants in LA
Angelenos are blessed with an array of restaurants that serve up healthy food. Most decent eateries these days offer vegetarian options. And of course LA is notorious for its delicious and healthy meal salads. 'Salade Nicoise' is a great one. It includes hard-boiled egg slices, olives and tuna.
I love going to restaurants that specialize in vegan, vegetarian or raw food, as it takes some of the thinking out of ordering. These spots usually substitute cheese with a faux 'cheese' made of soy or nuts. You'll generally also find lots of bean dishes on the menu, as well as desserts sweetened with fruit juice.
Drinking Water For Health
I know we keep hearing about a water shortage in Los Angeles, but water is the fuel of life. It is especially important to stay well hydrated here because it is so dry and arid. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day or you will reap the consequences. My skin became dry and red when I forgot to drink water here. When I started, I lost weight, my skin cleared, I gained energy and felt fantastic.
Walking in LA
The Missing Persons song from the '80s says "nobody walks in LA." Of course, it forgets to mention that there are plenty of Angelenos who stay trim by consciously walking around town. I myself enjoy intentionally parking far from my destination, and taking a nice purposeful walk to say the coffee shop or a neighborhood bookstore.
If you don't have your own dog, why not offer to walk a friend's? Purposeful walking--rather than just walking on a treadmill at the gym--goes by in a flash and feels empowering.
You can also kill two birds with one stone with a neighborhood walking tour: learn more about a certain area of town you're not too familiar with while getting exercise.
I would also recommend touring areas you know are heavy on stairs like Santa Monica by the Pier. I was recently a guest at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades and enjoyed how much inadvertent exercise I got by walking up and down the steep, long flight of stairs from their hilltop temple to the lake.
Running, Hiking, Jogging and Biking
If you like your brisk walking or even running to be a bit more directed and structured, there are plenty of places around LA to have a nice jog like Runyon Canyon or Fryman Overlook in Hollywood, Roxbury Park in Beverly Hills, Will Rogers State Park in the Palisades or Beeman Park in Studio City, to name a few.
If you're even more advanced in your running and jogging pursuits consider training for the LA Marathon. If you can get a friend to train with you, even better: the buddy system. People often train for months and months in advance for this once-a-year competition that leads runners throughout the city from Elysian Park to Santa Monica.
Biking is immensely popular in LA as well. Places like Santa Monica, Venice and West Hollywood even have designated bike paths, so you don't have to risk your life in traffic just to stay fit and get to where you're going.
Sports in Los Angeles
Naturally, one of the best ways to stay in shape in LA is to get involved with a particular sport. Some sports are more suited to balance and certain muscle groups, like golf. Other sports like rock-climbing (which requires a bit of travel beyond LA proper) use every muscle in the body...and you definitely feel it afterward.
Adored by locals, surfing is great for balance as well. It does however pre-require some pretty strong swimming skills. So it may be best to get some swimming practice under your belt before you take surfing lessons.
Body Toning Classes
Pilates and yoga are two of the most popular activities with healthy people in LA. Fans of Pilates talk about how toned they have become as a result of their practice. I've also heard it helps with back problems.
Yoga also tones the body with ease but has the added benefit of allowing you to meditate throughout. There are different types of yogas, from the physical Iyengar to the sweaty Bikram. Kundalini has some pretty challenging exercises too.
Joining a Gym in LA
I've saved the most obvious healthy lifestyle choice for last. Since we're blessed with such nice weather year-round, Angelenos seem to prefer outdoor exercise. However, there are still those of us who--with little time and busy schedules--enjoy, for instance, getting on a stationary bike at the gym and reading, sending emails or whatever we have to do.
And there is another tier of gym fans that loves sports clubs for their interesting classes. Some people feel that Tai Bo or Hip-Hop dance, for instance, spice up an ordinarily boring workout routine.