Carla Hall Plans to Live Until She's 104 Years Old—and Her Strategy Is Sound

The celebrity chef eats well, moves, and meditates in the name of longevity.

Carla Hall with the text "Doing Well" on an ombre purple and pink background
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There’s no right way to “do” wellness, but Marie Claire’s Doing Well offers a glimpse into the self-care mantras, therapies, and affirmations practiced by industry trailblazers.

When I met Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef Carla Hall, she was participating in a summit for the QVC 50, a selective group of 50 women over 50 who approach life enthusiastically. Hall, in my experience, expresses a particular passion for self-care, going out of her way to remain healthy, strong, and flexible, even if that means multitasking while she's on the go.

"I do 30-second intervals of balancing exercises when I'm brushing my teeth because as you get older, it's all about being stable and sturdy," the former Top Chef and Top Chef: All Stars contestant explains. "I work on balance and stretching, and I do this routinely. I'm going to do it right here." Hall then rose from her seat and bent to touch her toes, her face effortlessly grazing her knees. I marveled aloud at how flexible she was—significantly more so than me.

Hall is the picture of good health, with a bounce in her step that she owes to regular workouts and a nutritious diet. She even advised me on my own wellness journey: When I mentioned that I was experiencing shin splints after going on runs, she asked, "What is your gait like? How are you running?" Once again, she rose from her chair and demonstrated both correct and incorrect running gaits, explaining in detail how best to land to minimize my risk of injury.

Everyone can benefit from Hall's wellness wisdom, whether in terms of mental health, nutrition, or, in my case, fitness. Here's hoping that, through the practices she describes ahead, we can all catch some measure of her infectious energy and exceptional joie de vivre.

Carla Hall embracing a fan

Carla Hall embraces a fan at the 2023 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival.

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The wellness trend I haven't tried yet but want to:

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Oh, my God, there's so many things that I do. I'm all about wellness. But, this is a wellness trend that may be when you're in high altitude: I've never had oxygen.

A wellness practice you swear by that some might find "woo woo"

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I do meditation. I do chants. I am a proponent of Enneagram and astrology and following it to see where your pitfalls may be. I have marked my calendar with special dates because I'm like, "Okay, this date I should rest. This date, I should think about starting something new." I also do tarot cards—I'm taking a tarot class. I think all of that is great for mental health, because you feel like you're in control of whatever tools you can use to help center you.

No matter how hard you try, you just can't get into:

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I tried kegels, but I don't know if the issue is that it's not working or that I'm not interested in keeping up with it. Intermittent fasting and stuff like that doesn't seem to work for me because most of my energy is in the morning, so I need to eat. Otherwise, I feel less mental clarity. Maybe it's because I didn't do it long enough. My husband's body works that way, but mine doesn't.

I also did microneedling once. I felt like I had so many scabs on my face, I couldn't do it again.

Carla Hall speaking with fellow chefs

Carla Hall speaks with Amanda Turner and Tom Colicchio on season 21 of Top Chef.

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Your ideal wellness routine:

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I think movement. I did 23andMe and had my panel done, and it said I carry the gene for late-onset Alzheimer's. My grandmother had Alzheimer's and my mother has early dementia. One of the things that I was told was that if you exercise three to five times a week and get your heart rate up, that it will cut that number down by 83 percent because of the oxygen it gives to the brain. So I walk; I work out with light weights. We have a Peloton and we have a Tonal at home. If I'm in a hotel, traveling, and I'm not going to go to the gym, I put in an audiobook and I just walk for 20 minutes up and down the steps.

Low-brow feel-good hack:

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My husband teaches yoga and meditation, and he does sunbathing. So for me, a low-brow thing to do is just to go outside, take your shoes off, and let your feet touch the ground. I learned about nature walks years ago and how you can allow the earth to ground you. It costs nothing. Go to a park, take your shoes off, and be grounded.

High-brow feel-good splurge:

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I love massages. I love facials. I've been getting facials since I was 24 years old. And it makes all the difference in the world, especially because I'm wearing makeup constantly, so I just can't clean the pores out. When people are like, "Oh, you look really great," I think: I chose to look great. I've been getting facials since I was in my mid-twenties. And I never go to bed with my makeup on—ever, ever, ever, ever.

Carla Hall cooking

Hall performs a culinary presentation at the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in 2022.

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The best way to describe your wellness vibe:

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My wellness vibe is definitely proactive. I don't wait for somebody to tell me something; I don't want to wait for something to go wrong. I eat well, I move, I meditate for mental health—I'm already thinking about my whole body. For example, I eat out a lot, so, when I'm at home, I eat very simple food. A lot of people are like, "Oh, what are you cooking? It must be fatty, sugary, and salty." But actually, no. It's pretty boring and plain at home. I mean, it's tasty, but it's nothing wild.

Who you look to for advice:

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I belong to a spiritual group, the Athena Warriors Sisters, so I've been meditating and making declarations for four years. I used to have somebody that I would speak to all the time, and now I have a nurse practitioner that I go to. We always give the power to a doctor, and I decided this year that I wanted to have somebody who knew more about menopause. I can call her at any time. I can say, "This is what my body's doing," and she gives me articles to read. She's very proactive.

I also go to a place called Nava in the DC area, and I get my blood drawn quarterly, every four months. I talk to the doctors there about how I'm feeling and my nutrition.

Carla Hall at a podium, smiling

Hall grins ear to ear onstage at the 2023 James Beard Restaurant And Chef Awards in Chicago.

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The wellness apps we'd find on your phone:

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Even though we have the Tonal and Peloton machines, because I travel so much, I do the on-the-go workouts, too. You can do exercises wherever you are. Because it is guided, you feel like you are being held accountable. And every time that I see in the app that I've worked out this many times or for that many weeks in a row, it makes me feel good.

The other app I have is MyFitnessPal. When I work out, I wear the polar heart monitor, that automatically tracks to MyFitnessPal. And then I can also put my meals in so I can see if I'm getting my micronutrients. I'm not concerned about calories necessarily, but you need calcium, you need fiber, you need protein. I'm on baking shows and know that I will be eating sugar, so I need to ensure that I'm getting fiber before I eat those desserts because I don't want my sugar to spike. Even carbohydrates—you need carbohydrates. I want to make sure that I have enough fiber. And as you get older, you are more prone to your A1C numbers. I do watch those numbers, I watch my cholesterol, and I make sure that is balanced with carbs. I'm not carb-phobic. I'm also definitely thinking about protein: Most older women only eat 63 percent of the protein that they actually need.

When you need to reset:

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I get facials, I get massages, I get IV drips regularly. I get the NAD drip, which is long, and I get the multivitamins when I travel.

Carla Hall waving

Because Hall travels so frequently for work, she turns to wellness apps like Tonal, Peloton, and MyFitnessPal for on-the-go workouts and nutrition tips.

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Your current state of mind:

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I want to live until I'm 104, specifically because my great-grandmother passed away at 103, and I want to beat her. I think because I have that mindset, I take care of my temple. With my eye on that prize, I have been doing everything I could to take care of myself.

Your mental health focus right now:

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I gave myself permission to not work out for six months so that I could enjoy the couch time, and it was really great mentally. I didn't feel guilty. Now that I'm back on the workout routine, I enjoy the process of feeling the strength in my body. And as I get older, the stronger I feel, the sexier I feel. That's sort of my journey. It's just wanting to be sexy as I turn 60. It's my sex-ty journey.

When and where you feel the happiest:

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I feel happiest when I am collaborating with people and it's a healthy, nurturing environment. When you look around and everyone is enjoying their part of whatever is happening, it's really beautiful.

Carla Hall pouring drinks with a mixologist

Although Hall is known for crafting complex, flavorful meals on television, her regular diet is much simpler and nutrition-focused.

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A funny little wellness story about you:

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My husband always says that I'm so gullible when somebody says that something works. I do brain scans because Alzheimer's runs in my family, so if you give me anything dealing with the brain, I'm in. I do this test at Nava called WAVi, and my husband and I got it. I'm very competitive, so I was like, "I'm ready. I'm sitting. I'm ready. I'm ready to play. I love games." And the lady said, "You can relax," but I was like, "But I want to win. I want to beat the score." She was like, "You're so stressed out," and I said, "I know, but I want to win." She's like, "This is not really about winning."

I did very well, by the way. And I told my husband, "I want you to take it because I want to see if I beat you." He took it, and I did beat him.

Wellness advice you've received that...isn't great:

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Never eat carbs. I mean, it's just not true. Your body needs carbs. It's a balance. Or to just get the salad. I don't know where that came from. So many women think the default is to do a salad. It's not really feeding your body. Everybody's like, "Oh, let me get a salad," and you have all that dressing and all those other things, but you don't have protein.

The thing you'd tell your younger self about wellness

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Use oil cleaners! When I was 18 or 19, in college, and my skin was always breaking out—mainly because I didn't understand how to take care of my kind of skin. I had combination skin or oily skin, and no one said that all this astringent stuff was really drying out my skin and making it worse. I went through that until I was 24. When somebody gave me oil to clean my skin, I was like, "No, but my skin is oily. Why give me oil?" It's counterintuitive. I should have taken the oil.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at