Debra Messing shares her resolutions and her philosophy about new beginnings in life.

Debra Messing didn't rest on her laurels when Will & Grace ended. She got busy with a new series and a new body (bye-bye, baby weight!).

In the January issue of Shape, Debra opens up about new beginnings and her philosophy of life. She reveals her strategies and some resolutions she hopes will make 2009 her healthiest and happiest year ever.

Stay true to your roots...

Eric McCormack, Debra's co-star on Will & Grace, once called her the most down-to-earth actress he knows. "That means the world to me," says Debra, who still considers all her co-workers from that series her "family." "I'd like to think I'm that way because of my upbringing. My parents taught us that everyone should be treated with respect, consideration, and dignity," says Debra. "The nicest thing my mother ever said about me is that she's proud of what a nice person I am." It's a quality that's helped her as executive producer of her show. "In my new role, I'm the advocate for my fellow actors and the production departments."

...but stay willing to reinvent yourself

Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island, Debra always knew she wanted to be an actress. "We used to play Gilligan's Island," she recalls. "I wanted to be Ginger, but I was always Mary Ann. Deep inside, aren't we all?" Although her parents allowed her to pursue her dream, they also encouraged her to go to college. At New York University, she got her master's, met her future husband, and transformed herself from Debbie to Debra.

"You take your life in your hands if you call me Debbie today," she says, laughing. Her parents also instilled in her the importance of hard work. From standing on an assembly line making jewelry ("I was just like Lucy in the chocolate factory on I Love Lucy!) to catering events, Debra says it taught her the value of a dollar. "I'm very pragmatic now," she says. "I never assume I'm going to have a job in five years. Look at the economy!"

Debra Messing shares more about her New Year's resolutions.

Stop caring what others think

Everyone knows that dropping your pregnancy weight is tough. Debra tried to do it while the entire world was watching. "It was written about in the tabloids a lot," she says of her post-baby body. "On one page it showed all the actresses who got skinny in six weeks or less, and on the other page was me! I was so depressed and frustrated."

It wasn't that she didn't try to lose the extra 42 pounds. Right after her son was born, Debra went to a personal trainer. "It helped me drop the first few pounds, but I was exhausted! I couldn't work out three hours a day and do my job as a mother and an actress. So I took the pressure off: I cut back on seeing the trainer but started eating healthier." It took her three years, but she got back to her pre-baby weight. "Ultimately I'm very proud of how I dropped the weight because I think it was the healthy approach," she says. "I've finally taken ownership of my body."

Spend quality time with your partner

In her latest film, Nothing Like the Holidays, which opens this month, Debra plays a Jewish girl spending Christmas with her husband's Latin family. In one scene, she gets to salsa dance with John Leguizamo, which she says gave her the bug to take lessons to spend quality time with her own husband.

"I started out as a dancer and my first goal was to be that triple threat: singer, dancer, actor," she says. "Now I'd just like to take salsa classes with lots of other people, because you need a partner." Like her husband? "Oh, he's a great natural dancer and I've wanted to take lessons with him for ten years!" she says. "That would be a great New Year's resolution for us."

Click here for a sneek peek of Debra's new movie.