Get Well

Jennifer Lawrence’s Trainer on Not Going to Extremes & Finding Balance

Let’s just say Dalton Wong keeps things real.

By: Noah Lehava
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Sometimes we can’t help but bombard the people we meet with a flood of questions. Take, for example, when we found ourselves at Twenty Two Training, the London studio of celebrity trainer and author of The Feelgood Plan, Dalton Wong, just a few short weeks ago. You see, Wong hails from our motherland (check):, his 9-to-5 consists of working out and carving out the bodies of actors on set of films and TV shows like X-Men and Game Of Thrones (check and check), and he eats burgers with Jennifer Lawrence on the reg (check, check, check). Now you see what we mean about the questioning thing, right?

So by the time we stopped asking him what J-Law was reallllly like IRL (btw, she sounds awesome. Now we’re just waiting for her to let us give her the *full* Cov treatment), he had explained to us how he’s not about eliminating all of yours and our vices, why you should always (always) get a massage and drink the green juice, and how it’s sometimes okay to skip a workout. Yeah, we can totally get on board with ALL of it.

 

WHAT WELLNESS MEANS TO HIM:

“Wellness for me, is that you are somewhat content with where you are and how you’re feeling. So for most people, wellness can come in many forms. For me, it’s when you’re physically feeling very good and you’re mentally and emotionally feeling very good. It’s when things are at balance; when you’re physically at balance and when you’re mentally and emotionally at balance. And that’s a very difficult thing to get done.”

 

HOW TO FIND *THAT* BALANCE:

“It’s being able to control the things that they can control. So, for instance, you can control what you eat, you can control when you can go to sleep, you can control when you exercise. Things you can’t control are things like your travel schedule, your bosses, your family situations. I like to tell my clients, ‘let’s control the things that we can.’ And, when we can control those things, our bodies are much more resilient, we feel better, then we can deal with other stresses that we can’t control.”

 

THE SMALL CHANGES THAT MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCES:

“If exercise is a very difficult thing for [a person] to commit to doing because they have family, they have work, they just can’t physically go to it, then they need to go somewhere else. So what I would suggest is, when you wake up you’re going to do your two stretches and you’re going to do 20 squats before you brush your teeth. That is something small that they can do so they feel that when they accomplish something they can go to do bigger and better things. And a lot of people ask me well, ‘Dalton, I can’t overhaul my whole diet because I’m travelling. I’ve got my wife, I’ve got my family, I can’t do it. So I’m not doing it.’ And you know what, we’re not going to worry about everything, all we’re going to worry about is a couple of key things. So the first one would be: I don’t care what you do this week, you just need to make sure that you drink this amount of water. They go, ‘Alright Dalton, I did it in a week. Now what are you going to get me to do?’ You know what, don’t worry about lunch and dinner, all you’re going to do for breakfast today is you’re going to do this: you’re going to substitute something for this. And then what I try to do is get them to do small little changes. Doing these over one week is not [a big change] but over four weeks, it is.

What I try to get to do with my clients is not to make whole, systemic changes in their life. Because when you make a whole systematic change, it’s very difficult to be able to continue with that sort of change for long periods of time. But everyone can make a small change. You know what? Instead of having five cups of coffee, have a couple green teas. I can make it so that they can do something that’s achievable. And when they do. I get them on my side and then I can get them to do bigger changes.”

 

WHAT HE TRIES TO INSTIL INTO HIS CLIENT'S HEALTH AND WELLNESS ROUTINES. INCLUDING, *COUGH* JENNIFER LAWRENCE *COUGH*:

“It’s that they’re consistent. In order for any of my actors or my clients to look good and feel amazing, they have to be consistent with what they’re doing. The beautiful thing about it is that they’re consistent because they have to be in front of the camera. But what that means for my normal, everyday clients, is that they need to be consistently working hard and making sure that they’re eating well, exercising, and sleeping because it’s like another job. And what people don’t understand is that to have wellness is a really difficult thing to do all the time. What you have to do is, you have to work on it. Just like your job, just like you save up for your holidays, just like you save up for your house; eating and exercising, and making those lifestyle choices are just as hard work. The difference is between most people and my clients, is that a lot of my clients, they are seen through the public eye on a TV show or in a movie, so it’s their job to be having a good sense of wellness within them. Whereas with you and I, it’s different; our [wellness goals] would be like, ‘I want to have more energy, I want to go on some holidays.’”

 

HOW HE HELPS HIS CLIENTS STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING:

“When you’re travelling, there are some things that are hard to control like the sleeping patterns, the time zones. You just can’t. But what you can control is how you fuel your body. So when my clients travel a lot, I get them to be focused on being much more diligent with their food and not worry so much about your exercise.  Because when you come back home, you can work on exercise, but what you can’t do is eat bad food and travel all the time, or drink a lot, because you’ll just burn out and you’ll get sick. So it’s picking one thing— for my clients that travel a lot I say, ‘let’s just work on your eating and maybe not drinking so much’, rather than saying, ‘you need to go to your hotel gym.’”

 

HOW TO RECOMMENDS YOU GET YOUR ENERGY UP AFTER A LATE NIGHT:

“If you’re travelling a lot and it’s sunny out, first thing you do is you get up and go outside for a walk. Getting outside in that natural sunlight tells your brain it’s time to wake up! Even if it means walking a couple extra blocks to a meeting—it’s a great way of turning your body on. The second thing I get them to do is eat something really nutrient-dense. For instance, instead of having something like smoked salmon and scrambled eggs first thing, have a green juice or a smoothie, try some wheat grass, some ginger, something that gives you that little pop-up.”

 

HIS THEORY ON CAFFEINE:

“When you are drinking, it’s a depressant. That’s what alcohol does. Caffeine tops you up. So, you’re tired and wired. And that’s why you should never drink Redbull and vodka and that’s why you shouldn’t really have that much caffeine. Your body doesn’t know if it needs to be awake or if it needs to be asleep. For a lot of my clients who do travel a lot I say, ‘you know what? You can have a coffee but it has to be first thing in the morning’. And when you’re struggling to say no coffee, just be really diligent with making sure you’re well hydrated and not using caffeine as a way of staying awake. Because that shoots your adrenal glands and eventually you’ll be tired all the time, which is not great.”

 

WHY MEN SHOULD DRINK THE GREEN:

“Most women are into their green stuff and guys are like, ‘yeah, I’m just going to eat meat’. Well, no! It’s great to have vegetables, vegetables are good for us. Lots of guys are on the fact of, let’s just eat meat and whatever, and they might have some spinach, or they might have a bit of broccoli. A great way of getting lots of vegetables in one go is having a smoothie or a green juice. It’s hydrating, it's quick and easy. If you need to try and get your five or fifteen a day, it’s a great way of doing it. Those guys who can’t handle pure green can put an apple or a pear in it. Nowadays the tastes are so amazing, you don’t need to drink Kombucha, you can just have a green drink.”

 

HOW HE STAYS SANE DURING A HECTIC FILMING SCHEDULE LIKE X-MEN:

“It’s crazy because it’s my job, so I have to. I’m pretty lucky in the sense that I get to do all those great things. But what I do is, when I get home after whatever hectic day I’m have, I do stretches. In the morning, I’ll do things like have a green drink. I will get outside, get some fresh air, go for a walk.”

 

WHAT HE TELLS HIS CLIENTS TO DO WITH THEIR DOWNTIME:

“I have this analogy; when you’re really stressed out and it’s all-encompassing and you can’t focus, that is not the time for you to exercise. That’s the time for you to take some time, go to a movie, relax, go to a massage, focus on having something rich and nourishing to eat, until your stress levels reduce. Then you can go back to exercising and working at a high-intensity.

Most people think that when they’re stressed, if they do harder workouts it’s going to make them feel better, but it’s only for a short period of time. They feel instantly better, but what they’re doing is they’re basically stressing their body even more. I tell my clients, when you’re in high-level stress, you can tell how strong your body is and how resilient it is. If your body is resilient enough, you’ll come out of it feeling not-so damaged, but feeling better. When you’re in high-level stress, we’re going to back off the exercise, we’re going to focus on your stretching, your breathing, your yoga, your massages, and we’re going to focus on eating nutrient-dense food.

If I say to them well you have to do this, you have to that, that becomes another form of stress. We can always control the things we can control. So I say you can’t control what’s happening with your project but can control how we deal with it. Let’s not make exercise and diet a huge point, let’s just make sure we’re eating well, make sure we are stretched and relaxed so when the stresses come we can battle it, rather than adding more stress to the situation.”

 

HIS FAVORITE BREAKFAST:

“My Monday to Friday breakfast is a green smoothie that I make at the gym, that has celery, spinach, cucumber, ginger and mint. I have that first thing with some fresh lemon juice in it and then I’ll have my coffee. On my weekends, when I’m a dad and not Dalton Wong, one of my favourite things to have is sourdough bread with avocado, eggs and spinach. In the morning we get up and go to Gale’s, which is a nice bakery, we buy the sourdough, we come home, the kids have it with jam and butter. I’ll have it with avocado, eggs and some veggies.”

 

HIS FAVORITE SNACKS:

“One of my favourite things is to have celery with almond nut butter. I’m allergic to peanut butter so I can’t have peanuts. When I’m at home, I like to have trail mix—nuts, seeds and dark chocolate.”

 

HIS ADVICE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO LEAD A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE:

“Focus on the journey, not the goal. Most people are too focused on getting to the point and they forget about all the lovely things that they’re doing to get there. If you want to start something, the only way it’s going to happen is if you’ve made a commitment to do it.  For a lot of people that’s a big commitment, so what I tell them is just focus on doing small things so you gain up to that commitment.”

 

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