Keke Palmer Says Her Yoga Practice Doesn't Have to Result in a 6-Pack

Keke Palmer has over 100 acting credits to her name, from child star in "Akeelah and the Bee" to lead in Jordan Peele's "Nope." She is an Emmy award-winning actor, singer, host, and author — just to name a few side gigs. While some try to compare her, there is only one Keke Palmer, and we remain in awe of her accomplishments.

That being said, it's hard not to wonder what has kept the star motivated and grounded while racking up her many, many accolades.

As Women's Health (WH) September cover star, Palmer shared what she's learned from her extensive career. "I've learned over the years that to keep my sanity, and to physically keep this machine running, I have to pour into myself as often as I can," she tells WH. This isn't the first time Palmer has spoken out about prioritizing yourself, especially as it relates to validation. She recently tweeted, "people that seek outside validation, can't understand a person that gets it from the inside."

Part of her self-care process includes learning "not to be afraid to re arrange things and to accept that I'm not going to be able to do it all without hurting myself," she told Women's Health. Palmer started seeing a therapist at 17 and from there began recognizing acts of "rejuvenation through self-practice." Such as how her grandmother always encouraged her to say prayers before bedtime to finding mind, body, and soul connection through yoga. "That was when I started thinking about how I want to exist in the world."

Palmer admitted the original goal of yoga was to use it as a form of exercise. "It was like, 'I want my body to look good because one day I want to do action movies,'" she tells WH. "It was a superficial start, which I think is fine. The entry point doesn't always have to be so serious."

But with time and practice, Palmer experienced a series of epiphanies. "I realized I'm not supposed to be competing with my classmates. I'm supposed to be getting into my own zone. I discovered that mind, body, and soul appreciation don't have to result in a six-pack." This led to a reflection on how discipline is a core value in Palmer's career and how she could apply the same level of dedication to self-care. "It hit me that I have to practice loving myself the same way I practice acting," she says.

Now, Palmer finds time to work out in short bursts to accommodate her packed schedule. Besides yoga, she tells WH, "My body responds incredibly well to Pilates." Her favorite is the Melissa Wood Health app, with videos of yoga-infused Pilates routines and meditations that range from 10 to 40 minutes long. "It's so smart because sometimes 10 minutes is all the time we have." Palmer says.

She's not the only celebrity who is loving Pilates — Kylie Jenner and Kerry Washington also find the low-impact exercise a mindful alternative. "Every exercise incorporates not just a movement, but a breath and an objective, making you more aware of what muscles you are working and for what benefit," Katie Warmuth, instructor at Pilates ProWorks, told POPSUGAR previously.

Awareness —and by extension — mindfulness are a key part of how Palmer approaches life both on and off camera, especially in the decision-making process. She recently walked away from a job offer because of bad timing. "A couple of years ago, I would have been like, 'Well, your career's over if you don't do this.' But this time I was like, 'Physically, this is not possible. I would have to dishonor myself in such a cruel way [to make it happen] that I simply have to say no.'"

Learning to say no has not been an easy journey for Palmer but, "It's been two years since I embarked on this whole 'saying no' thing," and with continued practice, "I must say, I'm getting really good at it now." She tells WH, "That's the grace and the silver lining. Everything I've been through has taught me how to love myself more."