These days, there are a lot of people who look like they could benefit from a spa break, and only a few people who look like they’ve just had one. Michelle Harris, co-creator and television host of Alive & Well with Michelle Harris on the ION Life channel, always manages the latter—no matter how packed her busy Hollywood schedule is.
It’s a schedule that’s booked with researching ideas, writing, prepping and shooting new segments for her show, overseeing post production, developing new projects, walking some red carpets, doing charitable work for various causes, and sharing a life with her business partner and co-creator husband, Mark, along with their three pet rabbits.
Yet despite everything she’s got on her very full plate, Michelle somehow handles it all calmly—while looking gorgeous, too. It’s something that, at first blush, might seem effortless, but have just one conversation with Michelle Harris and it’s clear that careful thought and planning goes into her vibrant good looks and upbeat personality. It all stems from dedicated self-care.
And for this star, the serious business of taking care of herself starts—and ends—with tea, a habit that cultivates her sense of calm. “I usually end my day with a cup of tea,” Michelle says. “Tea is my relaxation. It’s: ‘Okay, my day’s over.’
“I vary it between probably 50 different types of tea,” she confesses; given the high-energy nature of her lifestyle, she prefers tea without caffeine, such as decaffeinated greens and herbals.
“Anything in terms of herbals—anything that’s kind of like getting my junk food fix,” she says with a grin. “They have a lot of flavors like chocolate or caramel, so it’s almost like you’re having a dessert.”
One of Michelle’s all-time favorites is masala chai with a splash of coconut milk or almond milk. “I love chai,” she says. “To me, it feels very warm and homey.”
While she loves the taste of teas and tisanes, Michelle is, of course, well aware of tea’s many health properties, too.
“I definitely consider tea a part of my beauty routine,” she says. “I think tea has tremendous benefits for our cardiovascular health. Obviously, when you’re healthy, that shows on your skin. I think it does kind of give you a glow. There are just so many benefits to tea that make you healthy on both the inside and the outside.”
A Life with Balance
The benefits inherent in drinking tea are prime examples of what Michelle advocates on her show, Alive & Well: ways for people to live healthier, more fulfilling, and greener lifestyles.
As further proof that Michelle walks her talk, she’s able to coolly handle the breadth of her demanding, über-busy schedule while maintaining a remarkable balance, even with all the surprises that naturally pop up.
In fact, when we sat down together in a swanky Beverly Hills hotel lounge, the star, looking polished and exuding celebrity charisma, had just come from a promotional shoot for a new, hush-hush docudrama she’s been hard at work on… even while she continues to star in, write, produce, and basically function as a “Jill” of all trades for Alive & Well. The shoot had attracted the attention of the paparazzi, but instead of being ruffled, she simply laughed about it. It’s just part of working in Hollywood, she said.
Besides, for Michelle, Hollywood is exactly where she wants to be. “There’s so much creativity here,” she says. “I think that if you’re a creative person, you just draw on that.”
It’s an enviably positive outlook in a highly competitive industry.
In addition to relying on tea to balance and soothe her, while also helping to maintain her glow, one of her stay-calm secrets is Transcendental Meditation, or TM.
About seven years ago, Michelle says she did a segment on TM for Alive & Well with some of the people from the David Lynch Foundation, and she’s been practicing it ever since.
“I meditate every morning,” she says. “I think it’s a great thing for everyone. It’s very important in helping to stay relaxed and just clear your head.”
Spreading the Word
Michelle’s passion for all things healthy and green started when she was just 14 and she watched a television news segment about a nearby slaughterhouse that worked for factory farms. That did it. She became a vegetarian from that day forward and now eats a vegan diet.
A self-proclaimed geek, Michelle has always loved to study. Nowadays, her studious background, combined with nine seasons of work on Alive & Well, means that she’s a font of knowledge about healthy living—knowledge that she loves to share. She’s especially happy that her lifelong passion is catching on.
“I think we’re definitely going in the right direction,” she says. “Look at the popularity of places like Whole Foods. People are going more and more organic and more and more green—it’s the fastest growing sector of the grocery store business.”
Despite the progress, Michelle feels strongly that her work to spread the word continues to be critically important. “I think we have a lot more to do, because there’s certainly an economic disparity,” she says. “We have to really work on making these foods available to [all]people.
“They’re saying in the next 50 years, diabetes and other illnesses that are diet-related are going to get to epidemic levels,” Michelle points out. “It’s my hope that we’re going to address it and not have to deal with it in 30 to 50 years.
“It’s only going to get worse with future generations if there’s not more intervention,” she says. “It’s just as simple as having fresh foods and veggies available and providing education that this is what you should be eating instead of eating fast food.
“That not only makes people healthier, it lets them lead better lives,” says Michelle. “This is something [we need]to do as a society.”
It’s a mission that keeps Michelle going, show after show.
“I feel fortunate to be doing Alive & Well,” she says. “I think it’s a great platform to help people. It’s a lifestyle that I follow myself and believe strongly in.
“I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to help people improve their lives.”
Sip Along with Michelle
Michelle switches between quite a few teas and tisanes, but these are her current favorites—and they’re great either hot or cold!
- Teavana: Rooibos Mudslide loose tea
- Mighty Leaf: Organic Mint Melange
- Tazo: Decaf Chai
- Teavana: Strawberry Cream White tea
- Republic of Tea: Decaf Pomegranate Green tea