Lena Dunham On How Exercise Changed Her Life
"My relationship to eating, my relationship to critiquing my own shape, all of that has changed since I've started viewing my body much more as a tool to do my work."
Once upon a time, Lena Dunham's boyfriend told her she was "the most mentally energetic, physically lazy person he’s ever met." And she agreed with him. Now, the author-actress-screenwriter-producer-overall superstar is proud to share mid-jog paparazzi shots on her Instagram. How'd she come such a long way?
In a new interview with espnW, the author, actress, Girls creator, and co-owner of the soon-to-launch Lenny newsletter opened up about her evolution from a sports-free childhood to having a newfound love of running. One of the best parts, she explained, was realizing just how much her body is physically capable of. (The talk was part of espnW's "My Body Can" campaign, a series to celebrate women's athletic accomplishments.)
"When we really own and understand our bodies and claim our physicality, our superficial quibbles with our bodies lessen because we realize what our bodies can do for us," Dunham told the website. "My relationship to eating, my relationship to critiquing my own shape, all of that has changed since I've started viewing my body much more as a tool to do my work."
Here are our favorite healthy and happy quotes from her candid chat.
On learning to love fitness
"When it became something that actually gave me pleasure, I was shocked. Also, endorphins are real. You run with someone for an hour, you feel pretty good," she said. "Running for an hour does not make you feel worse."
Is a triathlon on her horizon? Not yet—and that's totally okay, she said. "I just feel good knowing that if I were to choose to try and run, it would be possible," said Dunham.
She also talked about getting hooked on the workout method crafted by Tracy Anderson (who is Health's contributing fitness editor), which Dunham described as "a mix of aerobics, strength training, and something that kind of resembles Pilates."
Dunham explained, "With Tracy it's not about getting everyone to look a specific way. It's about getting everyone to feel strong. And she uses the word 'connected' a lot, which I really love. I love the idea of feeling connected."
On using exercise to help relieve her anxiety
"I have to remind myself that when you exercise, there is a natural calm that comes from knowing that you did something with your body that day. Actually going and working out makes everything else easier and better," she continued.
The star also addressed her struggles with endometriosis and obsessive-compulsive disorder: "Another lesson came because I have endometriosis, which has been chronic for me and at times very painful. I've also had mental health issues. I value my health and my happiness. And I've realized exercise can give me both of those things."
On getting older
It's constantly evolving, according to the 29-year-old. "I'm going to be 30 next year. I had to learn, as you age, you have to move. You have to move so you don't die. You have to move so your brain doesn't atrophy. ... There are a thousand reasons why exercise is important, and I've had to find ways to make it sexy for myself."
On her favorite physical trait
Let's just say she doesn't hate staring into her own eyes—or at her boobs. "I don't know if this counts, but I'm really into my face. I feel good about it most days," she said. "I like my teeth and my eyeballs. And I also really, really feel great about my boobs. They are doing what I want them to, and I feel like they're continuing to impress me as they grow and change."
On the haters
Dunham is no stranger to dealing with trolls who feel the need to constantly critique her body on her Instagram, but she doesn't ever let it get to her.
"When I see s----y comments, at this point they don't even feel like they're about me. Like, I don't feel I need to lose 200 pounds or whatever these people are saying. I don't feel that way about myself. I feel like I have better days, I have worse days, but I'm pretty happy in my own form."
On the advice she'd give other women
Focus on loving your whole self—not just your thighs. "I know that so many women think they're being held back by the shape of their body, and ultimately what is holding them back is that they have absorbed all of this negative messaging," Dunham said. "And so you just have to work, we all have to work really hard to take care of ourselves and feed ourselves good information, just like we feed ourselves good food."
Her second life tip? Get rid of your scale. "There is no reason why you ever need to be getting a scale or measuring your value by a scale," she added.