Tell Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Emmy-winning star of the sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine, that she looks better now than she did 11 years ago on Seinfeld and the actress bursts out laughing.
“Well, thank you very much," the 48-year-old says modestly. “Of course, I was pregnant twice on Seinfeld, which might have something to do with the way I looked!"
Today Julia is in truly remarkable shape, with a sleek, fit body and gorgeously smooth skin. How does she do it? Skeptics might say she’s had a little nip/tuck action, but this is one Hollywood star whose beauty is au naturel. “Of course if things start to fall, I may have to do something to pull it all up," says Julia with a laugh. “But seriously, the whole idea scares me. My mom never had it done and she looks fantastic. Hopefully I’ll follow in her footsteps. I don’t judge anyone who’s had plastic surgery, but I don’t see it in my future. And my husband [writer/producer Brad Hall] is 100 percent against it!"
And why should Julia consider it when she’s found the fountain of youth the old-fashioned way: through healthy eating, regular exercise, and a fulfilling career and family life. True, keeping the balance isn’t always easy, but Julia’s learned a few tricks over the years, including some eco-conscious tips, that she shares exclusively in the April issue of Shape.
Healthy eating strategy: Eat smarter, not less
Like many women, Julia is constantly searching for the middle ground between indulgence and discipline when it comes to maintaining her weight. “Some people have it easier than others," she says. “Unfortunately, I have to work at not being fat. I’m always trying different things to see what sticks."
Julia Louis-Dreyfus enjoys a big salad, just like her Seinfeld character, Elaine. Find out what other strategies she uses to keep looking and feeling great.
Her everyday strategy for a balanced healthy diet- Have breakfast. “It’s hard for me to eat in the morning," says Julia. “But I recently discovered something I love: two eggs fried in olive oil and a slice of whole-wheat toast with honey. It tastes so good, and I don’t get crazy-hungry before lunch -- that’s when I start to make bad food choices. I’ve found the key to healthy eating is finding foods you really like. That way you don’t feel ripped off when you can’t have a fattening doughnut or whatever you’re craving."
Her green twist- Buy local organic foods. “I love vegetables. I should be a vegetarian, and I feel guilty saying I’m not," says Julia. “But I like meat and chicken. So I buy organic foods whenever they’re available and shop at my local farmers market whenever I can. There’s something cozy about it. It’s a very friendly environment; you get to know the farmers. Plus, it’s better for the earth because the food is grown nearby, not flown in from some faraway place like South America." Like her Seinfeld character, Elaine, Julia is a big fan of the BIG salad. “I eat them at least once if not twice a day," she says. “My current favorite is arugula with some Parmigiano-Reggiano and either olive oil and fresh lemon juice or a sesame-ginger vinaigrette."
Give in to your splurge urge- “I have a huge sweet tooth, and I feel like I deserve a treat when I work hard," says Julia, who tries to be sensible about it. “It’s important to give yourself a little of what you really want so you don’t feel like you’re in food prison. Eating in moderation keeps me sane."
Her everyday strategy to manage her sweet tooth- Have a secret stash. “I have a chocolate drawer in my desk where I keep treats at all times," Julia admits. “As long as I can have one or two pieces, I’m fine. But my biggest food vice is bacon. And no, I don’t have a bacon drawer. In fact, I don’t keep bacon in my house -- that would be way too tempting."
Her green twist- Create your own desserts. “I have two growing boys," she says of sons Henry, 16, and Charles, 11. “I’m concerned about what goes in their bodies."
From thinking positively about her workout routines to enjoying regular nature walks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus shares what keeps her fit and fabulous.
Think positively about fitness workouts- Despite her sweet tooth, Julia’s weight stays consistent because she makes working out a priority. “In a perfect world, I’d do it five times a week," she says. “Honestly, though, it’s less than that. But if I go a few days without my fitness workouts, I always come back to it. I find I actually crave it. It makes a huge difference in terms of my metabolism and keeping my weight steady." And is it true that exercise can enhance your love life? “Of course libido is affected by activity," says Julia. “When my husband and I started dating, we played tennis together...a lot. It was very romantic."
Her everyday strategy for her workout routines- Adapt your workout to your needs. When time is tight, Julia multitasks by jumping on her elliptical machine at home and watching TV. “It’s a very efficient way of fitting in exercise," she says. “When I can, I try to go for a four-mile run. I love to break a sweat. If I’ve gotten in a huge run, I feel like I’ve really done an effective workout."
Her green twist- nature walks. A few times a week, Julia hits one of the state parks in her area and goes hiking for an hour or two. “There’s something about the ritual of moving forward along a trail, pausing every now and then to look at the view or smell a flower," she says. “It’s a physical escape as well as a mental one." It’s also a family tradition she’s hoping to pass along to her kids. “When I was a little girl, my mother would say, ‘We’re going on a nature walk.’ And I would recoil because I hated doing that kind of thing," recalls Julia. “Now I love it, but when I mention hiking to my own kids, they’re like, ‘Ugh!’ I’m hoping for a residual effect with them, though, and that by the time they’re my age, they’ll love going on nature walks as much as I do."