Thanks to her new marriage, a healthier way of eating, and animal advocacy work she's passionate about, Kate Mara has found her bliss zone.

By By Pam O'Brien
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Lots of people talk about living in the moment, but only a few master the experience. Kate Mara is one of them. "I'm not a person who plans ahead," says the actor, 35. "I enjoy the here and now as much as I can. I'm at my best when I'm not worrying about the future."

That strategy is clearly a winning one, because Kate's life these days is pretty fantastic. Last summer she married her boyfriend of two years, actor Jamie Bell, becoming stepmother to his 4-year-old son. "I love knowing that I have a partner for life," Kate says. "I feel very proud to call Jamie my husband and to have made that commitment to him." Her career is also soaring. Kate is starring in the movie Chappaquiddick, and she's playing a leading role in Pose, a groundbreaking musical drama debuting this summer about life in New York City in the 1980s, featuring the biggest transgender cast ever on a TV series.

Photos: Ben Watts

Then there's her other great passion: working on behalf of animals, which Kate calls life-changing. Two years ago, she and her younger sister, actor Rooney Mara, traveled with the Humane Society of the United States to Liberia, where a group of chimps abandoned by a medical organization was struggling to survive. Kate helped raise money for the chimps' care and assisted in getting the medical group to pay for a large chunk of it. "The project was a huge success," Kate says, as she cuddles on the couch with one of her two beloved Boston terriers. "I didn't realize what I was missing until I started working with and for animals. To protect innocent creatures in ways they can't do themselves is really an amazing thing."

To help balance her life and all its exciting new and different facets, Kate credits these five personal truths.

I Stay On My Toes

"My favorite workout spot is this amazing ballet and Pilates studio called Ballet Bodies in L.A. My trainer, Romi, is a ballerina. I go there five days a week when I'm home. Some days I do the ballet workouts, other days I do Pilates. I really love exercising-I find it very therapeutic. I always enjoy trying new workouts, but this is by far my favorite. You have to focus so intensely when you're doing ballet moves, and it's a great way to clear your brain. Also, it's about taking time for treating yourself. For me, it's the equivalent of getting a massage." (Try this butt workout a professional ballerina swears by.)

Photo: Ben Watts

A New Way of Eating Changed My Health

"I've been a vegan for five years. I found it hard to give up cheese at first because I love it so much. But I haven't missed meat at all. I decided to go vegan after reading a book called The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder. It's about how our bodies are not meant to digest animal products and what we should be eating instead. It made a lot of sense to me. I've always had a pretty sensitive stomach, but when I cut animal products out of my diet, I felt so much better. Now my healthiest habit is drinking Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie every morning. It sets the tone for the rest of my day. If I don't have it as my first meal, I find I don't make healthy choices afterward." (Make this vegan green soup with coconut oil, spirulina, and other superfoods.)

My Family Is Everything

"My sister, Rooney, lives in L.A., and we see each other as much as we possibly can. My mom is in New York, but she's always flying out to visit us. We're a very close-knit group. And now that Jamie is legally part of my family, it's such an incredible thing. I'm very protective of our marriage. All the traveling we both have to do for work can make it hard, but we have a rule that we will never go longer than two weeks without seeing each other. Even if we have to spend all day traveling to have just 24 hours together, it's worth it in order to have a strong relationship."

Photo: Ben Watts

I Learned to Build Myself Up

"Confidence is something I've definitely had to work at. I was pretty shy as a kid, and as a child actor, auditions and interviews were really difficult for me. I think we all have to learn to feel confident, but as an actor, you're also kind of forced into it. You're constantly meeting and working with lots of different people, so you have to fake it until you make it. That's what I did. I used to pretend I was outgoing and comfortable talking to everyone, and eventually, I just became that way. Now working with new people doesn't stress me out the way it used to." (Related: How to Boost Your Confidence In 5 Easy Steps)

I Use Everything I Have for Good

"I am very passionate about being an actor and creating film and TV that inspire people in some way. I do my best to tell stories that are meaningful and important. But that goes only so far. As I get older I have started thinking, What can I do to help someone and leave the world a better place in some way? Working for animals is very fulfilling. I get much more out of it than anything else. Actors are given a platform. I feel like we don't deserve to have it if we're not going to use it to do good."

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