Like mother, like daughter: Journalist and author Maria Shriver and her first-born Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt (also an author) share a passion for writing and community, as well as a kindred mission to advocate for the greater good and women’s well-being. Here, the two chat about health, selfcare, motherhood and more.
Katherine: You’re such a big champion of women being advocates for themselves. Why is this critical in the world we live in today?
Maria: “When it comes to women and their health, we are decades behind. Funding and research into hormones and diseases that primarily affect women are decades behind. Most women I meet tell me that when they go to the doctor they’re mostly told ‘we don’t know’ when they ask a question. That’s why it’s critical for women to be the CEOs of their own health. Approach your visit to the doctor like a reporter. Bring a notebook, write down your symptoms, be detailed. If something still doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel heard, get a second opinion. Persist.”
Katherine: You’ve often told me, “You only have one body, so take care of it.” How do you take care of yours?
Maria: “When I was younger, I never really had a wellness or beauty routine. My mother used to tell me ‘focus on your brain, your looks will go.’ I had never heard of supplements or organic food. I rarely wore makeup, except for work, and I washed my face with Noxzema. Today, I approach taking care of my body more holistically. I meditate every day and I get outside in nature. All of my beauty products and advice I get from you and your sister. I also believe that beauty comes from the inside out, so products like probiotics—I like the ones from Renew Life—are helpful to so many women trying to maintain a healthy gut. We now know that our gut is our ‘second brain,’ so taking care of it is super important.”
Maria: You are also a big advocate for women empowerment, especially new moms, with your three self-help books and your “BDA Baby (Before, During & After Baby)” Instagram series. What inspires you?
Katherine: “I think most women just want to be and feel acknowledged for all that they are doing. Parents have felt so isolated over the last few years, so providing a safe space for people to come and feel less alone has always been my goal with my books, and it is especially my goal with BDA Baby. I love having conversations about intense topics, but also love chatting about more lighthearted subjects. You can ask questions, have them answered and then get the information you feel you need to help you in your own journey. Being a mom during the pandemic has been really hard for so many—I became a mom during that time—and I hope to help provide a support system and community, which women have relied on for centuries.”
Maria: You also just had your second baby! How are you feeling?
Katherine: “I’m feeling so excited, so blessed and so grateful. I loved having siblings when I was little, and I love it even more as I get older, so I have always known that I would like to have a similar dynamic for my kids.”
Maria: What tips do you have for busy moms to live more in the moment?
Katherine: “Put the phone away, even if it’s for 10 minutes. My friend Jessica Diamond told me about something she teaches called ‘Meaningful Time,’ and I think it’s really helpful. It’s basically putting your phone away and allowing your child to pick what you do for those solid 10 minutes, or more, and your focus is solely on them. It might sound crazy or silly, but I cherish my mommy-daughter time always, and especially when my device is in another room.”
Maria: I know you love journaling, too.
Katherine: “Yes, I credit you for this actually. You used to make us journal every day over the summer to make sure we kept track of all our experiences. I am so grateful to be able to have all those memories to look back on now. As I’ve gotten older, I have found journaling to be so therapeutic. It’s kind of why I got into writing books. It’s a really great way to be able to flush out thoughts, take inventory of what’s going on in your life and be able to go back and read about different times. I remember journaling through my first breakup in high school, and I can’t wait to share that with my kids, or even look back on it now and chuckle.”
Maria: How else do you make time for yourself from a wellness perspective?
Katherine: “Being active every day is super important to me, and I think I got that from watching you and Dad work out every single day no matter what. Whether it’s going outdoors on a walk with my daughter or doing a class at the gym, moving my body is very important to me and helps me feel good in my day. I also drink lots of water, especially when I was pregnant, and I go to bed early and wake up early.”
Katherine: What about your personal wellness journey? You’ve taught me a lot about keeping my mind “young.”
Maria: “After my father was diagnosed and passed away from Alzheimer’s, I made it my mission to find out more about this devastating disease. Through my work in the Alzheimer’s space, I’ve learned that leading a brain healthy lifestyle starting in your 30s and 40s is critical to keeping your mind sharp as you age. That’s part of the reason I cofounded the brain wellness company MOSH with your brother Patrick. Today, we know that the gut is your ‘second brain,’ so taking care of your gut is also super important.“
Katherine: I’m grateful that you’ve shared so much advice and so many of your life experiences with me that you’ve said your mom didn’t talk about with you.
Maria: “When I was growing up, I never even heard the words ‘sex’ or ‘postpartum depression’ or ‘self-care’ or ‘menopause.’ So, when I became a mom, it was important to me that my kids felt like they could come talk to me about anything, which I think you all did. But every generation learns from the previous one and hopefully does it better. Watching you mother your children is an extraordinary gift I don’t take for granted.”