The 1600 Penn star shares her favorite healthy snacks, shortcuts for staying fit, and more

By Kristen Aldridge
January 18, 2013

Jenna Elfman is back and better than ever. We all know (and love!) her from the smash hit comedy Dharma and Greg, but now, 10 years later, the blonde beauty is starring in an all-new quirky role on NBC's latest sitcom, 1600 Penn. And we have to admit, not only is the queen of comedy super funny, she also happens to be incredibly beautiful-from the inside out. So much so, we were dying to know her secrets! We scored a one-on-one with the talented 41-year-old actress to talk about her workout, diet, and best advice for a bangin' body!

SHAPE: You always manage to look so amazing! First off, what do you do for exercise?

Jenna Elfman (JE): Thank you!! For exercise, I walk, climb stairs, hike, dance, and do some strength training exercises and lift free weights. But really, all this only happens when I can make time for it in my day without falling over from already being tired from working and parenting my two young boys. But here's a little trick for when I am limited on time: I keep two 10-pound weights in my bathroom, and every day I do a quick set of lifting in the morning or when getting ready for bed. Also, I do lunges while brushing my teeth and then I try to do 10 to 15 pushups before bed. If you're consistent with this shortcut regimen, it's amazing the results you can accomplish!

SHAPE: Let's talk diet! What are some healthy things you like to have for breakfast and why?

JE: I actually just drink water all morning (with fresh lemon juice if it's available) until about 9:30 a.m., which I have found works really well for me-it may not be the best for others. Then at 9:30 a.m., I'll have a big scoop of peanut butter. About an hour later, I continue with eating a snack such as a small serving of oatmeal or some fresh vegetables, then lunch, snacks, and dinner as the day progresses.

SHAPE: When it comes to healthy snacks, what are some of your faves and why?

JE: For snacking, I'll eat an apple or some berries; I eat millet or buckwheat rice cakes; I try not to eat dairy, so the yogurt thing isn't really happening for me very often, but I do eat the occasional coconut yogurt. I like pumpkin seeds, peanuts and almonds, fresh cut vegetables, fresh vegetable juice, etc. I also enjoy turkey jerky! Sometimes a bowl of rice makes a great snack for me too.

SHAPE: What do you typically do for lunch?

JE: Well, with my crazy, unpredictable schedule, "typically" doesn't really apply! But I'll often eat a variation on a salad or soup theme. I always try to stay away from heavily refined foods and stick to organic whole grains, fruit, vegetables, etc. Not always easy-at all. But I try.

SHAPE: Any tips on how you manage to eat healthy despite your busy schedule and always being on the go?

JE: I just really don't like the way I feel if I eat some huge, fattening, empty-calorie meal. It sucks the energy out of me and I need every ounce of energy I can get! So if options are limited, I just try to pick the healthiest choice available. If that means eating yogurt or some random breakfast sandwich, then so be it. I usually will just take the bread off the breakfast sandwich though. Bread and I aren't really friends.

SHAPE: What are some of your favorite healthy dinner foods and why?

JE: Dinner is actually the trickiest for me because I'm with my kids. Unfortunately they can be finicky eaters, so their food selection isn't the same as mine and most of my evening is spent tending to their nightly routine of play, dinner, play, bath, bed! By the time I realize I'm hungry, I usually just have time for some puffed rice or millet cereal with honey and almond milk right before bed! Unless I get lucky and my husband happened to have brought home some sushi!

SHAPE: What is your favorite guilty pleasure food or drink and how often do you let yourself splurge with it?

JE: I really love pizza. REALLY love it. But it's not the greatest choice when trying to keep my figure and my energy up. However I have found a couple pizza places in my neighborhood that make gluten-free pizza with vegan cheese. I know that may sound wholly unappealing to most, but I actually love it and can eat an entire pizza by myself!

SHAPE: As a woman with such a great physique, what is your best fitness and diet advice for our readers?

JE: I try to get enough sleep. It really isn't easy, but it's really, really important. Honestly, take one day a week and be really selfish-do whatever you have to do to permit yourself to catch up on lost sleep.

As for diet, just don't eat that table bread! Sit on your hands if you have to. Don't do it! I drink plenty of water-vital. I actually carry a 32-ounce water bottle around with me at all times and try to drink two of those a day. Not easy. But if I have it with me, I can usually do it. And I sip at it, I don't chug it.

I take a multi-vitamin, extra vitamin C, calcium, magnesium. Also, I take extra vitamin D--very important. And of course, my good oils-EFAs, etc. All of these have been given to me by my doctor.

Exercise: Just get out there and walk. Also, while I'm out and about during my day, if there is a choice between taking the elevator/escalator or the stairs, I always take the stairs!

SHAPE: We're so excited about 1600 Penn! What should our readers expect to see with your character?

JE: A super smart, well-intended, accomplished chick who isn't the most graceful at being a stepmother to the four kids.

Huge thanks to Jenna Elfman for the inspiring interview! Be sure to check out 1600 Penn on NBC Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c.