How Healthy Living Keeps Kelly Preston Happy
Michael WilliamsSomething inside Kelly Preston's handbag is squeaking. "Oh my god! Listen to my purse!" the actress says with a laugh. Kelly—who's in the backseat of a car en route to her home in Brentwood, California, after our cover shoot—fishes around and pulls out the culprit: an eco-friendly teething toy belonging to her infant son, Benjamin. "It's Ben's toy!"
Sure, the 48-year-old has appeared in more than 40 movies (including the upcoming film about the Gottis, in which she'll play Victoria Gotti alongside her husband, John Travolta, and their 11-year-old daughter, Ella). And yes, she is married to an international icon. But as the contents of her bag suggest, Kelly is more eco-savvy mom next door than holier-than-thou movie star. "I love being a mom," she says. "I'd keep having babies."
Back at the Travolta residence, Kelly gets comfortable on the sofa in the living room. Everywhere you look, there are framed photos of Kelly and John's friends and family—including baby Ben, Ella, and their beloved son Jett, whom they lost to a seizure two and a half years ago at age 16. Kelly first became concerned about the danger of chemicals in children's lives after Jett was diagnosed with autism and developed seizures. ("I'd be on the computer at 3 a.m. researching things that can trigger seizures, like MSG, food dyes, additives, and preservatives.") But instead of just detoxing her own home, this Yes You Can! winner dedicated herself to speaking out about the danger of toxins and pesticides on behalf of children's health organizations. She also created, with her husband, the Jett Travolta Foundation (jett-travolta-foundation.org) to help children with a wide range of special needs as well as assist other charitable and educational causes.
While sipping her favorite organic drink and waiting for John and Ella to get back from a daddy-daughter outing to the Angels baseball game, Kelly talks about the joys of new motherhood and how healthy living helps her stay happy.
Do you remember the moment you decided to have another child?
We had been trying for quite a few years, and then of course there was a time when we weren't, and then we started trying again. When I found out I was pregnant, I was floored. I'd snuck out of bed and then came back and woke Johnny up in bed. We both started crying. It was wonderful.
Did you have any reservations about having another baby?
I didn't have any doubts. I love being pregnant. I love the closeness I feel when I'm carrying them. I love feeling them move inside me. My heart breaks for people who aren't able to have kids. But I feel like there's really hope for anyone.
How would you describe yourself as a mom?
Very hands-on. I absolutely adore my kids. Johnny and I love them up constantly. Ella's like, "Mom, ugh! Thank god you had Ben because now he can take some of the kisses!" And Johnny sings to them—a lot of Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand.
Do you appreciate mother-hood now more than ever, considering everything you've been through?
Absolutely. I've always wanted to be a mother, ever since I was 11. I was an expert babysitter. I was doing commercials for thousands of dollars, but I'd still babysit for $3 an hour just because I loved it. I'm just in a good place, and am able to really be with my kids. It's pretty amazing having a child at this age.
Photo: Michael Williams
When times are tough, who is your rock?
Johnny is definitely my rock. Kirstie (Alley) is one of my absolute best friends. My mom, my brother. And to be honest, the Scientology center. I don't know if I would have made it through without it. We've been able to navigate through it and to come to a place that is a lot better.
You started the Jett Travolta Foundation to help children.
Johnny and I feel you're at your best when you're helping others. And it was really important to us to have something positive come out of this, and help people, whether it's with learning difficulties, or seizures, or special needs—it's really a wide spectrum of help.
Do you have any advice about staying positive for others going through a tough time?
Even though it may seem like they won't, things always get better. And there are things that you can do—sometimes as simple as taking a walk or spending time with your girlfriends. Take vitamins. Never underestimate how important it is to have sleep and good nutrition. When you have those basic things, your outlook is a whole lot better.
Do you think your healthy lifestyle helped you have a child at a later age?
Absolutely. For a lot of people getting older means you start slowing down. I don't think you have to. A lot of it is mind-set.
Is it true that you got your The Last Song co-star Miley Cyrus to take her vitamins?
Yes! And Miley texted me the other day, and said, "I'm still taking my vitamins, Second Mama!" She calls me Second Mama.
What steps do you take to raise healthy kids?
All our home products are nontoxic. We eat primarily organic, and as little packaged and canned as possible. On the other hand, I'm loose about desserts! We're not obsessive. I say: Do what you can, enjoy yourself, and don't live in fear.
So you have some total indulgence foods?
Oh my god, too many to list. One reason I wasn't losing as quickly was because I was like, "Ooh, those cinnamon muffins are really good." I sort of got on a jag with that. Then in the last month I lost most of the rest of it. I still have a few pounds to go.
You look so great. Your natural diet must help.
I try to eat natural organic foods, free of chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. That's why if you go to a country like France, you can eat more and not gain. It's because you're eating more natural foods.
Is it hard being in an industry where new moms snap back into shape so fast?
In Hollywood everybody loses the weight in about three or six weeks; it's kind of insane. And I mean, if you have that type of body, then, all the power to you, it's amazing that you can do that if it's still healthy…
Did you feel that pressure?
I didn't feel it, because I didn't put it on myself. And I consciously didn't want to go back to work right away. So I gave myself the break to lose it in a healthy, natural way.
What's your favorite way to work out these days?
Johnny and I have taken up tennis, and that's really fun. He got the upper hand when I got pregnant, because I didn't play. So he's a little better than me, and he'll love me for saying that! But we're well matched.
What's the secret to a happy 20-year marriage?
We check in with each other: What's wanted and needed? We keep it alive and playful and fun. And we don't push each other's buttons.
Do you ever look at your life and just say, "Whoa"?
Yeah, and I appreciate it all the time. It's not something you ever really get used to. I'll be sitting there doing something really normal with the kids and then all of a sudden I hear, "Whoosh!" and see the lights of the airplane and he's like, "Honey, I'm home!" Growing up, Johnny thought everybody would have a plane in their backyard. And he made that dream a reality.
When was the last time you said yes to something?
I say yes a lot. It's a conscious decision. I really believe you can do, and be, and have anything you want. If you want to say yes, say yes to living. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. I've done all of that. And now I live a really clean life.
What will you tell Ella and Ben about drugs?
I've already started on education: what drugs do to your body and how they are addictive. There was this fallacy in Hawaii, where I grew up, that pot's not addictive, and that it's natural, and all this other B.S. I went from that to…bam!
What do you know at 48 that you didn't know at 38?
Don't sweat the small things. Love your kids like it could be the last moment. Johnny and I really give our kids the space to discover who they are—to make their own choices and to experience the joys of life.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter