Keke Palmer has spent nearly two decades in the spotlight. Her acting acumen and witty delivery put her on the map in movies like Akeelah and The Bee and the hit Nickelodeon sitcom True Jackson VP. In more recent years, she’s starred in blockbusters like Nope, released her “Big Boss” album, and debuted a new single, “Serious.” Through it all, Palmer has established a level of candor with her community as it pertains to mental health and self esteem. She’s been transparent about her experience with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), adult acne, depression, and most recently, the emotions that come with being a new mom (her son, Leodis "Leo" Andrellton, was born in February).
Professional success and personal growth are a balancing act for Palmer—one that’s constantly evolving, growing, and changing. The same can be said for her approach to wellness. Her journey has ebbed and flowed in intensity and experimentation. She possesses a “learn as I go” mentality, expanding her purview from exercise and healthy eating habits to reiki healings and “hippie-ish” spiritual retreats. On a phone call from her home in Brooklyn, Palmer details what prioritizing a healthy mindset looks like for her right now.
I've tried a lot of stuff, but I would love, love, love to try one of those shaman-type retreats where somebody guides you through a spiritual experience—kind of like what Nicole Kidman did in Nine Perfect Strangers. For something like that to work though, I think you not only have to have an open energy, but you also need to be confident in your choice to do it; you need to feel solid and balanced and know you’re in the proper head space to feel safe and receive something positive.
I was actually invited to do a shaman retreat one time, but I was very early in my wellness and spiritual journey. At the time, I thought sound waves, and teas, and cleansing my soul sounded crazy. I was so spooked, but it probably would have been very cool.
I’m into all the “woo woo” stuff. When I did the We Care Experience, they had reiki. They had sound healing. To me, that kind of stuff isn’t “woo woo,” but people get very spooked out by those kinds of things. I for one am here for it. There was a period in my life, when I was in my early twenties, where I did a lot of reiki healing and aura cleansing. I’m all about detoxing—mentally and physically.
Acupuncture. It’s not necessarily “woo woo,” but I’m just not a fan. It makes my muscles too zhuzhed. It does something odd. I’m not mad at cupping, but I can’t get behind acupuncture.
It would start by waking up at 5:00 a.m. to work out. Then after I leave my workout session, I would have all planned meals available—and there would be five or six a day that I could go through. I would have a facial, a massage, get my nails done, and my eyebrows waxed. I’d walk around Brooklyn, by the water. I’d maybe have a glass of wine and eat something nice and fresh like oysters. I’d end the evening at Night Hawk Cinema, which is my favorite cinema in the world. I’d come home, maybe get into some reality TV, have another glass of wine, and go to sleep. That would literally be the best day ever.
I’ll go to CVS and buy myself a face mask, maybe some shaving cream, and a bath bomb—anything that they have. I’ll grab a candle, always some wine, and get the bath going. Then I’ll put my iPad up, get a show going, shave everything that needs shaving, and just relax. It’s a wonderful wellness vibe.
A wellness retreat. I once went on one called the We Care Experience. The thing about a serious wellness retreat is that it’s not jacuzzis and baths at my whim—my whole day is scheduled. I’m talking to a spiritual guide at the top of the day, and everything is completely programmed, down to the meals. It’s totally detoxing and rejuvenating.
I’m kind of hippie-ish—it's all very free flowing. I'm not really afraid of anything. I really trust myself and I really trust God and the universe. I feel very supported, even when things are intense and difficult. Ultimately, I believe I’m meant to come out of this life feeling good about my experience. Even with the ups and downs, I’m always seeking the positive and searching for ways to receive balance for myself. When it comes to wellness and bettering myself, I feel like it’s all just part of the process.
My trainer Corey Caillet has been really awesome as a wellness motivation. He trains me on not just the physical, but the mental aspect, too. My mom has been really encouraging, especially when it comes to mental health. I read books from people like Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer. I used to listen to Wayne Dyer’s “Wishes Fulfilled” every morning. He’s a very well-known spiritual and motivational speaker.
Equinox, Club Pilates, and MelissaWoodHealth—lots of movement. I also have Daily Yoga, which isn’t just yoga, but also a guided meditation.
I go somewhere where I can be alone. I'm the kind of person that seems super extroverted, but I'm also quite introverted and it's important for me to spend time alone and be with my thoughts. I need to gather myself before I can be out in the world.
It's a little chaotic. It’s interesting though; I just came home from the spa. I like the spa, but it took longer than I thought and I was like, Did I miss my whole day? Then I got spooked, but it’s fine, everything is fine.
I’m trying to work on letting go of things I can’t control and continuing to unpack unnecessary narratives that aren’t serving me. It’s been a lot of therapy, relaxation, and really focusing on the positive. It’s so interesting—I was talking to Raven Simone and she was saying that your thirties are the decade of revelations. I felt literally the day that I turned 30 that became true. I started to realize who I don’t want to be and who I do want to be. I’m so much more aware and able to put things into perspective. I remember my time is the most valuable and expensive thing I have.
I’m the happiest when I’m with my son. He's my favorite human on the planet and being with him gives me a boost. If I’m ever not with him or he’s sleeping and I need a boost, I find myself looking at his pictures. Seeing him reminds me of my reason.
The first time that I did reiki, this lady was beating on my chest. She kept saying, Let it out. Let it out. I started crying. I felt like I was remembering things and letting stuff go. It was painful. But after a while, I couldn't figure out if I was crying because I was releasing emotion or because this lady was beating on my chest. This was physically hurting me. It was the funniest experience I ever had. In hindsight, I can’t figure out if I was having a break through or if she was literally breaking through me.
There’s this idea that wellness is this linear, expensive thing. It doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t have to be perfect. The more you think you have to be this perfect “wellness” person, the harder it’s going to be for you to keep it going and the harder it’s going to be for other people to jump on the train with you. It’s the same way we look at self-esteem. I hate the concept that self esteem is either low or high. It’s always growing. It’s the same way with wellness. When you think about wellness like that, it doesn’t become such a hard task. It’s a bit more easy and a bit more graceful—not this uptight, specific task.
Put yourself first and make yourself happy. That’s all that’s needed.
Doing Well explores how busy people, well—do wellness—from the vitamins they take, to the silly reality TV they watch to help them relax.
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Samantha Holender is the Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, where she reports on the best new launches, dives into the science behind skincare, and keeps up with the latest trends in the beauty space. She has previously written for Us Weekly, Popsugar, Makeup.com, Skincare.com, and Philadelphia Wedding. Follow her on Instagram @samholender.
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