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Getty ImagesThere arent many Hollywood actresses who will happily tell you that they “cant wait until they turn 30,” but Jennifer Love Hewitt is not your typical celebrity. Sunny, well-adjusted, and almost absurdly down to earth, Hewitt plans to celebrate her birthday not by dancing on tables at a club but by running a marathon. “Thats just something I want to give to myself,” she says.

If her eagerness to embrace the coming year is unusual, its at least understandable, because Hewitt is in a great place in her life. The former star of Party of Five and films like I Know What You Did Last Summer is embarking on the fourth season of Ghost Whisperer, the creepy hit drama in which she plays Melinda, a young newlywed able to pass messages from the dead to the living. (Shes also taking her own trip down the aisle next year with Scottish actor Ross McCall.)

Hewitts positive attitude toward aging extends to her physique, too. Shes proud of her curves, seeing them as a definition of womanhood and—someday—motherhood.

On a rare day off, she shared how her body image has evolved, her get-fit tricks, and how her fiance has changed her life.

Your character, Melinda, rarely seems to get a good nights sleep. In real life, are you as sleep-obsessed as most of us?
Im not a great sleeper. My mind is always going, so one way Ive found to calm my head down is to cook dinner when I come home from work, which gives me between a half-hour and 40 minutes to completely decompress. If I can do that, most nights I sleep well. I think decompressing is one thing people dont do enough of. Also, baths are big, big deals. I have to take a bath every night before I go to sleep.

How do you keep your energy up?
I eat tiny snacks every hour and a half, whether its a bite of salad, a piece of cheese, or an apple. I also keep avocados in my trailer; I cut one in half and put lime juice on it. Its the greatest snack—it has good fat and will really fill you up.

What are your food weaknesses?
Pizza. And I was a big ice-cream person before I found out I was allergic to it. Ive gone seven months without having any dairy, aside from a bit of cheese. It was a really hard transition for me. My number-one health recommendation is to go to a naturopath. Its changed my life—my immune system is better, my energy is better. They do these tests to find out what foods your body doesnt respond well to. And all of a sudden you think back and say, “You know what? Every time I ate Chinese food, my stomach did hurt a little the next day.”

How do you feel about turning 30 next year?
Im so excited! Its my dream age. I dont know why but, literally, since my 12th birthday Ive wanted to turn 30. I feel like theres nothing more graceful or elegant than the beauty of a female when she has figured out who she is. And thats what happens for women in their 30s. Im so ready to not be insecure and not ask so many questions, to not put so much pressure on myself but to just actually be. All my girlfriends were like, “I cried all day when I turned 30. I couldnt have a party.” I want to be with 500 people that I dont know on my 30th birthday!

One of your goals is to run
a marathon by the time youre 30. How did that idea come about?
I really wanted to wake up on my 30th birthday and give something to myself and say, “This is my personal goal.” My concern is not if I run the whole marathon—if Im running it or walking it doesnt really matter to me. I just want to know that Im in shape enough that I could do it. Im so excited, although training has been a lot harder than I thought.

How so? Whats your regimen?
A friend of mine does marathons all the time, and shes been taking me out. You initially do hour-and-a-half runs, where you run for six minutes and then break for a minute and a half. It doesnt sound that difficult, but if youve never done physical activity like that, you think, OK, maybe Ill run just two blocks instead of a marathon. Once you get into it, though, its really addictive. It truly is this weird high. When you start pushing yourself, you realize how powerful the human body is.

What else do you like to do to stay fit?
I enjoy yoga for the mental part of it, but it took me a while. My first time, I hated it. I was like, This is ridiculous, I could have been at the grocery store or could have visited four of my friends during the time I was in a very stinky, sweaty room with a lot of people I dont know—and Im miserable. But now I love it.

Next Page: How has your relationship with your body changed? [ pagebreak ] How has your relationship with your body changed over the years?
I so wish I had listened to my mom and grandma when I was 18 and would complain about some little tiny bump or feeling bloated. Theyd say, “Sweetheart, appreciate it for all its worth because it all changes when you get into your 30s.” I used to scoff and say, “No, I feel fat today!” Now the jokes on me. I wish I had been nude from the time I was 12 until I was 28. I looked great! I want to tell all young girls to walk around in bikinis all summer—and enjoy it. I want to tell them to never, ever feel bad about anything, because there will be that one day in your 20s when youll eat a hamburger and actually see the hamburger on the side of your leg. Initially its shocking, and you think, Whoa, I have to actually think about what I eat and work out double the amount I did before. Then you go, Well, now my body gets to make children, which is so cool. And I suddenly dont look like a little girl anymore. I look like a woman. How exciting is that? You start to find value in other things.

How do you keep your skin looking so good?
Im obsessed with Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Its genius. Put a little around your eyes and on your cheeks and lips, and youre done. It gives you a totally natural glow. And when you fly, its awesome because it keeps your skin from drying out.

You rarely drink, which sets you apart from many of your Hollywood contemporaries.
I do enjoy a glass of wine or a beer on a hot day. But its my job to look fresh when I show up at work, particularly now that theres high-definition TV. Plus, I like to be in control of whats coming out of my mouth. Alcohol doesnt allow you to have that ability. I find its much more interesting, especially in Hollywood, to be the sober person in the room as everybody else slowly deteriorates—its hilarious.

You moved from Texas to Hollywood when you were 10, but you never got caught up in the craziness. How did you stay on track?
Ive never been a big partier. I grew up around a lot of kids my age who went that way, and they lost more than they ever got from living that lifestyle. It just was not my thing.

Can you give us any tidbits about your upcoming wedding to Ross McCall?
We want to keep it very, very small. Then its about having a silly dinner and probably some kind of game night—just something fun. Were not very serious people. He makes me laugh all the time. I just know hes going to do something during the ceremony thats going to make me laugh. And when I get the giggles, I cant get it together.

How has your relationship changed your life?
I think its just about having somebody there who really gets you. Its about finding somebody who wants to be around when youre bloated with PMS, who finds the times that you complain or get road rage hilarious, and who thinks youre most beautiful when you have no makeup on and have a big red nose from blowing your nose all day while youre in bed with the flu. If youve done it right, you feel like best friends. I will always be there to pick him up and be the first person in the room to laugh at his jokes. And he feels the same way about me. My relationship has totally changed my life.

Whats the most romantic thing your fiance has done for you? Is he the romantic type?
When I least expect it, hes so romantic. Ill come home and there will be letters taped up everywhere in different languages, so I have to figure out what romantic things he wrote. Also, every Friday night for three years, Ive had to work until 2 a.m., so he will bring dinner and have a date with me on my break. Hell sit there with the dog and sleep on a couch in my trailer, too, so that I know hes there. Then, he will drive me home.

Thats more romantic than the big gesture.
It totally is. Thats when you know youre in the right relationship, when you learn what romance really is. You get out of the 80s movies romance, which nobody can live up to, and you get into the real stuff thats romantic, like somebody who wants to take you home at 2 a.m.

We havent even married you off yet, but are babies in your future?
We definitely want to have kids at some point. I have had a great relationship growing up with my mom, and Id love to give a child what she gave me. I think that being a mother is something Ill be good at.

Whats the hardest thing youve had to deal with in your career?
People talking about you as if they know you. They judge you, say mean things. Not long ago, a magazine printed a picture of me without a smile on my face—and 15 people were dissecting why. They made up all these stories about how [Ross and I] must have been fighting, or how the show wasnt going well, or how I was dealing with inner turmoil. The reason why I wasnt smiling is because it was six in the morning and I was walking my dog! No one smiles when theyre walking their dog at six in the morning.

You seem extremely well-adjusted. How do you stay happy?
So many kids who come out to Hollywood and start acting dont have the privilege of having their families with them. I always did, so it never felt like I was doing this big thing on my own and had to be a grown-up. I did a grown-up job every day, but at night I went home and was able to be a kid. My mom was always with me. And Im by nature a positive person. Im grateful at how my life has turned out. I feel pretty happy all-around.