You know her from Nickelodeon’s hit show, Big Time Rush, but you probably didn’t know that the stunning and talented Challen Cates wears many hats! As a full-time wife and mother, this fiery red head’s life and career are fast paced—the kind that would have the average person’s head spinning. But Challen is not the average person. Mastering the art of balance and self-fulfillment over the years, she tells us a little more about what it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. A pilates enthusiast and fruits/veggies lover, Challen shares some of her secrets to staying fit, but more importantly, maintaining happiness! With a positive outlook on life and beautiful core values, there’s something to be taken from this infectiously amicable woman who has an endless amount of sound advice.
CLICHÉ: Congratulations on Big Time Rush entering its 4th season! Between all the episodes and movies, the show looks like it’s not going anywhere any time soon. Did you know the show had such staying power when you first took on the role as Jennifer Knight?
Challen Cates: Thank you! No, it was an incredibly wonderful surprise. I guess you never know what’s going to work and what’s not. I’ve been in so many movies that we thought were great during filming, and then they never see the light of day (laughs). It was an incredible surprise. I mean, I had a glance of the possibility when I went to the initial table read, and I met the cast. We all felt the chemistry and the enthusiasm of the executive producer—who is our amazing leader. Then, the guys sang a couple of songs acapella in the middle of the table read, and we got chills. I had no idea they were going to be so talented. So there was a little, “Oooh this could be something!”
That’s great! We did some research and discovered that you have also independently produced two films, which is such an incredible accomplishment. Which hat do you prefer to wear: actress or producer?
CC: I love both. Both are very exciting, but my first love is definitely acting. If I had to choose one or the other, I would choose being an actor. But there is something really empowering about being in control of your own project. That doesn’t really happen for actors. You’re sort of at the mercy of everyone else so it’s nice to be in that position. It also teaches you a lot about being on the other side. It gives you a good balance, and it’s something I hope to do again someday if I find the right project.
So, on top of a demanding career, you also play the role of wife, mother, traveler, fashionista, and fitness expert. How do you do it? Is there enough time in a day?
CC: There’s never enough time in a day! There’s always too much I want to do! Literally, right after the kids go to bed, my husband and I go, “Okay, what’s your day tomorrow?” and we just have to sort it out. We take it one day at a time, and we prioritize. You’re never going to get everything done every day, and you can’t beat yourself up for that. When you’re balancing your schedule, you just have to allow yourself room to live life, and that’s the most important thing. Life is short. Enjoy it!
You also mentioned that “eating like a rainbow” is really important, incorporating colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet. Tell us a little bit about that. Can you have a slice of pizza now and then?
CC: Totally! I love pizza! I love really good pizza! We just try to avoid things that are white—the sugar, the white rice, the flour—but we also allow ourselves room to cheat every now and then to indulge. As long as you don’t do it all the time and have those things in moderation, I think it’s totally fine. And food is so enjoyable. It’s one of our pleasures in life, and you have to allow yourself that indulgence!
Living a healthy lifestyle can be challenging. How do you brush off the guilt in order to get back on track when you do “cheat” or “mess up” by overeating or missing a day of exercise?
CC: You just gotta go with the flow. You’re not going to fit everything into every day. If you can’t work out one day, maybe you’ll work out a little harder the next couple of days. If I enjoy some really amazing dessert, then maybe I won’t have sugar for a couple of days, or I’ll cut out wine for a couple of days—just something to balance it out. I don’t have scales. I never weigh myself. I have no idea how much I weigh. (Laughs) But I’m like, “How do my jeans fit?” That’s my rule: can I fit into my skinny jeans?
That’s a pretty good rule! The fact that you have so much going on but still find time to eat right and exercise is truly impressive. Has health and wellness always been an important part of your life, or did it become so in light of the demands of your career?
CC: It’s something I’ve always done because of the way I was raised. I grew up on a farm, and my parents always had this amazing organic garden. They always shopped at the local health food store so that’s just how I grew up. Honestly, I think that healthy food just tastes better. I’ve never really enjoyed processed foods. I don’t like candy, and I can’t stand something coming out of a box. I enjoy things that are homegrown, homemade, and fresh. If you eat that way—obviously it’s easier in a place like L.A. where you have all these things available to you—like eating healthy fruits and vegetables, then it just becomes a part of your lifestyle. You stop craving those other things like processed food.
You can read the full interview in this month’s issue on pg. 77.