Don't let the "former teen star" description fool you: Hilary Duff is one young celeb who truly has it together. You won't find the ex–Lizzie McGuire star landing in the tabloids because of hard-partying ways.
Instead, the 23-year-old actress/singer has made headlines by getting married (to pro hockey player Mike Comrie) and adding to her ridiculously impressive resume: In October, the actress/singer released her first book, a young-adult novel called Elixir. Here, Hilary chats with Health about what she loves about writing, which workout she swears by, and her hard-earned secret to body confidence.
Q: What's your definition of living healthy?
A: Moderation is key. Eating healthily all the time can be boringyou know, when you take apart the menu and ask for everything on the side? Balance makes me feel good: I feel most healthy when I enjoy small bites of the things I love. I used to feel bad about eating French friesI'd think that I had blown my diet. But you have to think, That's OK, I'll eat healthier tomorrow.
Q: What are your favorite good-for-you snacks?
A: Recently, I have been eating a lot of vegetables and hummus and fruitstuff I never really liked before. If I am hungry before bed, I will grab a handful of blueberries. Greek yogurt is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Sometimes I'll chop up a bunch of veggies and put them in a food processor with Greek yogurt and make a dip. It's better if I snack throughout the day, because if I get hungry, Mike says I get "hangry," which is hungry-angry. It's not good.
Q: Do you have any guilty-pleasure foods?
A: I love cheese. I would probably eat any kind you put in front of me! And I like healthy things with a high fat content, like dark chocolate and avocado.
Q: You're into Pilates, right?
A: I was a gymnast when I was little, so I think Pilates is really important to helping me stay long and lean. I try to do it three times a week. I also do circuit training. Before I wasn't doing much cardiojust Pilatesand I wasn't getting the same results, so I bumped up my cardio and do circuits probably twice a week.
Q: You intensified your workouts (with trainer Harley Pasternak) before your August wedding. Have you kept that up?
A: I was kind of burned out afterward, so I relaxed a bit, but now I am starting to feel the effects. I probably won't be as hard on myself, but I do want to stay on top of it. It's a constant battle.
Q: What are your tricks for making workouts fun?
A: Making sure I work out with people I can talk to. Sometimes my sister [Haylie] and I will work out together, and we laugh the whole time, so it goes by faster. I can also read a script or book while on the elliptical. I joke with Mike that I have better than 20-20 vision.
Q: Do you have any health regrets?
A: I got pretty skinny when I was between 17 and 19. I don't know what exactly made me get on that kick, but at the time I was starting to become aware of what people said about me and how I looked in pictures. I literally ate nothing but steamed vegetables and broiled or grilled chicken, with nothing else. I was touring at the time, traveling everywhere, and I felt so run down. Not giving your body enough of what it needs is really dangerous. I regret it because I don't think I was happy then.
Q: You endured scrutiny about your weight when you were still a teenager. How did you handle that?
A: It sucked. I was 16 and my body was still changing and people would say I was too heavy. And then I would lose weight and my face would get skinny and people would say I had done something to my face and that I was too skinny. It must have been really hard because I've blocked it out a little. At the time, I felt almost proud of being skinny, but one day the mother of a fan came up to me andsaid, "Are you OK? Are they not feeding you?" After that, all of a sudden, I stopped being as concerned about everything. It wasn't a big intervention or anything. I got off tour and changed. I started hanging out with my friends and cooking and had a more normal life.
Q: You seem comfortable in your own skin now. What's the key to body confidence?
A: I have issues and insecurities just like everybody else. It really helps to have a partner that loves everything about you and makes you feel really beautiful. Not that you should look for other people to make you feel good about yourself, but it does help. Other than that, I really do feel like working out has helped because you're working hard for something. You feel stronger and a little more powerful. There's no trick, though. I hate my arms. Nobody is ever perfect, but it helps to look for things to feel good about, rather than things to feel bad about.
Q: Your first novel, Elixir, came out in October. What made you want to write a young-adult book?
A: It was a few years ago, and I asked myself, "What do I want to do? How can I spend time with Mike?" I wanted to be able to reach out to my fans, and writing was something creative I could do, even when I was traveling with him.
Q: After releasing four albums, you put your music career on hold. Think you'll return to the studio?
A: I want to act. That is what I want to focus on more, but it's all about timing and finding the right role.
Q: Did any of the older Disney alums give you advice when you were starting out?
A: I think people imagine it that way, that you have these deep conversations about how to manage your way through this craziness. I've met Justin [Timberlake] and Britney [Spears] a few times, but it's not like they've said, "Here, sit down, listen to me kid."
Q: You filmed a threesome scene on Gossip Girl last season. What was that like?
A: I went into my wardrobe fitting one day and was trying on lingerie. I asked them why I was trying on so much lingerie, and they were like, "Oh, you don't know? You're having a threesome scene." My first thought was, "How am I going to tell my mother?"
Q: How have things changed between you and Mike since getting married?
A: I think we already felt married before we were married because we had a really strong commitment to each other. I did feel different after the wedding, going through the steps and saying those words to one another, but now things have settled down and gone back to normal.
Q: Do you have special plans for your first Thanksgiving as newlyweds?
A: For the last few years [Mike] has been in Canada and they do Thanksgiving on a different day. I don't know if my mom is going to come or where we'll be. But I love to bake! On Thanksgiving, I make pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Before the wedding I was baking all the time and giving it away and my friends were like, "We know what you are doingyou are making us eat it [so you don't eat it]. This is mean!"