August 19, 2009

Lauren Conrad confides the true state of her self confidence in January 2008 – and more.

When we last checked in with Lauren Conrad for our January 2008 cover, she seemed to have everything going for her: She was the star of the hit reality show The Hills, and her high-end clothing line was in chic boutiques around the country. Yet, despite her outward success, Lauren now admits her self confidence was really flagging. "People I thought I could count on were undermining me, and my self-esteem took a hit," she says. Fast-forward 18 months and it's a very different Lauren who bounces into a New York City photo studio. Despite dramatic changes in her career, the natural beauty is glowing with energy and self confidence.

Curb your food cravings

Despite her hectic lifestyle, Lauren's been eating healthier than ever before. She's gone from calorie counting to a more flexible approach: She gets plenty of fruit, like watermelon and grapefruit; organic salad greens; and lean protein, like turkey, tuna, and beans.

"I've found when all I'm eating is really fresh, healthy foods, I stop craving pizza and burgers," she says. Lauren's even switched to super nutritious nibbles (what she calls "snack plates"): hummus, sliced turkey, cucumbers, and apples to fight food cravings. "When I have these foods in front of me, I find it easier to avoid high-calorie binges," she says.

Lauren Conrad shares the secret of her inner strength, plus the romantic ways she keeps her heart rate up.

Get your "heart" rate up

One of the best things to happen to Lauren this year was starting a relationship with actor Kyle Howard. But after just a few months of dating, Lauren found she was getting soft around her middle. "I call it the 'boyfriend layer,'" she says, laughing. "We were having more romantic dinners out, and I was exercising less." To get back on track, the couple started working out together. "We like doing outdoor stuff: tennis, bike riding, kayaking, stand-up surfing, hiking in the canyons around L.A.," says Lauren. "I just ask Kyle, 'You feel like working out?' It's more fun than hitting the gym alone."

Find your inner strength

Lauren's confidence got a jump-start after a pep talk from her mother and a close friend. "Nine months ago, I reached my breaking point," she says. "I felt bad about myself because certain people were relentlessly attacking me and my reputation. My mom kept saying, 'Let it go, Lauren. It doesn't matter.' My friend also sat me down and asked, 'Why do you care what people say about you? How does it really affect you at the end of the day?' I couldn't come up with a good answer and realized I had to stop worrying about what other people think. The next day I got a tattoo on my lower back that says 'sticks and stones,' because they may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Once I let go of that, I felt more confident about myself. And that," she says, "made my decision to leave The Hills pretty easy."

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