Q&A: Model/Actor Jodi Lyn O’Keefe
At age 17, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe starred opposite Don Johnson in TV’s Nash Bridges. Now 34, the former model has worked on many of television’s popular shows, including Two and a Half Men, Lost, Boston Legal and Castle. Recently, she starred alongside John Cusack and Nicolas Cage in the movie, The Frozen Ground. She’s currently shooting a Lifetime movie, Stalkers, and creating her own jewelry line, “Q Jewelry Designs,” inspired by her mother. She lives in the Hollywood Hills where she shares a home with her two dogs.
Born in Cliffwood Beach, New Jersey, the talented actress began her career as a model at the age of 8. She attended public schools where teasing about her height—she grew 9 inches in just one summer—made the shy Jodi Lyn very uncomfortable.
Today, O’Keefe takes her 5-foot 9-inch frame in stride. She wouldn’t change a thing, she says. She has, however, made changes in what she eats. She recently talked with Living Without about her special diet and what she does to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Q: I hear you’re a gourmet cook.
Jodi Lyn O’Keefe: I don’t know that I’m gourmet but I do love cooking and I do love having dinner parties. I’m not afraid to try out a new recipe or cook new things. I might prepare a filet mignon with cabernet reduction sauce for my dad when he visits—his favorite—but I normally don’t eat red meat any more. I used to eat it quite a bit. Then for health and moral reasons, I became a vegetarian for a while, still eating the occasional fish. After a few years, I went to a nutritionist and she said to supplement my diet with protein. So I’ve added more protein back into my diet—I eat chicken and turkey every now and then.
Q: Besides red meat, are there other foods you’ve completely omitted?
O'Keefe: I don’t eat any processed sugar—no sugar!—just to be healthier. I don’t eat any fast food. I stay away from dairy. I survive mainly on a lot of fresh vegetables and fish.
Q: Why have you cut dairy products out of your meal plan?
O'Keefe: I just feel a lot better when I cut out dairy. It was a big change for me. I find that I can still tolerate a bit of goat cheese, which makes me deliriously happy because completely giving up cheese was difficult. I do love cheese!
Q: When did you make this change?
O'Keefe: It was a few years ago. I’m guessing I’m lactose intolerant although I’ve never really been tested for it. My mother is lactose intolerant and we were told there’s a genetic predisposition.
Q: Did you experience any specific symptoms when eating products made from cow’s milk?
O'Keefe: I would get congested almost every time I ate it. I’d get these unexplained stomachaches but it wasn’t to the point where it was completely stopping me. After a while, I put it all together that I would feel uncomfortable, get congested, get stomachaches and a bloated feeling every time I ate dairy. So I just stopped the dairy. My mother experiences pretty much the same symptoms.
Q: Have you found good dairy substitutes?
O'Keefe: Sometimes I’ll have vanilla soy milk instead of regular milk in my coffee but I lean toward the almond products—almond milk and almond yogurt. Sometimes the soy just doesn’t taste quite right to me. I make protein shakes with almond milk almost every morning and I use almond milk and almond products for most of my dairy substitutions. I like the taste and consistency better than soy products. I use rice milk a lot, too. I’ll put that in my cereal all the time and almond milk in pretty much everything else.
Q: Do you worry about getting enough calcium?
O'Keefe: I make sure I take a daily calcium supplement, along with a women’s multi-vitamin. I’m trying to keep everything in check, not doing too much of one thing and not enough of another. I’m eating a clean, simple diet and exercising to stay strong and fit.
Q: What do you do for regular exercise?
O'Keefe: I used to do Pilates several times a week but I’ve switched over to yoga. I had never done it before in my life and I find that I love it.
Q: What have you found to be the principle differences?
O'Keefe: It’s a whole other experience for me. I do steam-heated yoga, which is sort of like Bikram but not a dry heat. It’s fast paced, put to music, and it feels like it works every part of my body while I’m getting a cardio workout at the same time. I feel better when I leave. Pilates helped clear my head and brought me back inside my body and yoga does the same. It’s on another level, however, because you’re doing your own practice and doing what your body will allow. It’s being your personal best. I started doing this type of yoga two years ago and now I do it three to four times a week.
Q: What else do you do to promote your best health?
O'Keefe: Meditation is a great part of my life. It’s been a really nice experience for me.
Celebrity correspondent Bonnie Siegler lives in California.