"Right now I have so much energy, my skin looks good, and my butt is higher than it’s ever been. I’ve been skinnier and I’ve been a little bit bigger, and I’m never hard on myself one way or the other. The fact that I’m active, eating well, and taking care of myself is all that matters—not a number.”
"I’m passionate about working out," Lea says. "I love it. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I have a healthy relationship with my body. I’m in a really good place right now." And why shouldn’t she be? The 30-year-old actress is starring on the hit TV show Scream Queens, she just finished recording her second album, and she’s enjoying being single. "I have this time to grow and focus on me," she says. Lea, who had never taken a fitness class before she moved to Los Angeles for Glee, credits exercise with making her happier, and definitely healthier, than ever. "The mind and body results after you do a workout you enjoy are incredible," she says. Here, she shares her other strategies for being strong and confident. For more from Lea, pick up the November issue of Shape on newsstands October 18.
A scale does not determine your self-worth. "As I get older, my body is always changing. Right now I have so much energy, my skin looks good, and my butt is higher than it’s ever been. I’ve been skinnier and I’ve been a little bit bigger, and I’m never hard on myself one way or the other. The fact that I’m active, eating well, and taking care of myself is all that matters—not a number."
Never be idle. "Find three workouts you enjoy so that you can choose what you need on any given day. I’m addicted to SoulCycle. I love the mentality in the room, the sense of community, and the fact that it’s fantastic exercise. I also do CorePower hot yoga, which is amazing, and I just started this new workout I love called The Studio (MDR), which is sort of like an extreme version of Pilates. I exercise every day if I can. If I’m not working out, I’m on a hike or swimming in my backyard. I have a bike on the Scream Queens set, and when there’s a 20-minute break, I’ll ride around the Paramount lot. I always keep moving." (And she's a major source of fitspiration on Instagra, too. Here, 20 Times Lea Michele Inspired Us to Work Out.)
Hone your body-instinct. "If I have one of those days when I don’t want to work out, I ask myself why. I’ve learned how to listen to my body and know what I need in that moment. And I'm grateful for that. It took me a very long time to get to this place. Now I can tell when my body is saying to take a break from working out, or when it’s saying, No, you’re being a little lazy, so that I can push myself to get going."
Enjoy what you eat. "I was a vegan for a while, I was a vegetarian for 10 years, and now I’ve incorporated meat back into my diet. I eat as healthy as possible because I know food fuels me. I usually start my day with avocado toast or a green smoothie. I love a big salad for lunch; I’m always concocting recipes like kale Caesar or spinach artichoke salad. For dinner I’m flexible. If I’m going out and I want a bowl of pasta, I’ll eat it. I’m not hard on myself. I try to be smart about snacking. I’ll slice two oranges in the morning and leave them on a dish in my kitchen and eat them throughout the day. I always have blueberries and carrots and hummus on hand. And I like little bags of Popchips or Pirate’s Booty if I’m watching TV. I keep my snack options at home superhealthy."
Indulge a little, too. "My favorite is pizza. And mac and cheese. And grilled cheese. Anything with cheese. For dessert, I’ll usually order a cheese plate rather than something sweet. I’d eat an entire block of Wisconsin cheddar over chocolate cake any day."
Do not underestimate the power of sleep. “I’m a grandma—I’m in bed by 9p.m. if I have to get up early for work the next day. Sleep is the number-one thing that gives me energy. It’s imperative for me to get a solid eight or nine hours. It usually takes me awhile to fall asleep, so I do things that help me wind down at night. I drink tea, I take a bath with nice salts and oils, and I spray lavender on my pillows.”
Photo credit: Don Flood. Fashion credit: 525 America Cotton Handknit Cropped Cable Sweater ($160, 525america.com). L Space by Monica Wise Estella bottom ($70, lspace.com). EF Collection Huggie Earring ($535, efcollection.com). On right hand: Jennie Kwon Design Half Round 2 Diamond Cuff Ring ($620, jenniekwondesigns.com). On left hand: Jennie Kwon Design Square Ribbon ring ($1,078, jenniekwondesigns.com). Henri Bendel Luxe Arrow Charm Stack ring ($98, henribendel.com). Lucy & Mui Skinny Love Pavé Diamond Twist ring ($280, lucyandmui.com).
Find your core strength. “I was raised to be confident. But confidence also comes from getting knocked down. When you go through something tough, you come out of it a stronger person. We live in a social media–driven world, where people say whatever they want, and if you’re going to engage with them, you have to be confident. Everybody is always going to have an opinion, and they’re entitled to that. You just have to know who you are and what you believe in.”
Put the work in—it pays off. “I constantly set goals for myself, and then I achieve them. I’m not someone who says they’re going to do something and then doesn’t. Follow-through is a huge thing for me. It’s something I look for in friendships and relationships. I pride myself on achieving goals and constantly growing and getting stronger. It’s about not becoming stagnant or letting anything hold me back.”
Appreciate right now. “I don’t take any day for granted. I realize how lucky I am. I have an amazing job, great opportunities, and a fantastic family and group of friends. I genuinely wake up every day with a really big smile on my face because I love my life.”