Parenthood's Lauren Graham on finding balance, calm, and body confidence.
Credit: Matt Jones

Matt JonesSitting in her trailer between filming scenes for Parenthood, Lauren Graham is still in hair and makeup, but dressed in what could be considered her casual uniform: a pair of stretchy jeans tucked into boots, a tank top, and a Current/Elliott denim shirt.

Shes nearly cornered the market on playing young, cool single moms, and its no accident: The 43-year-old is warm, naturally pretty, and self-deprecatingly funny. But her devotion to living healthy is no joke. Today, as she eats a lean lunch of brown rice and tuna, Lauren talks to Health about staying body-confident in Hollywood, and just how she earned herself the nickname "Bootsy."

Q: What does being healthy mean to you?
A: Balance, and I think that is something youre always aspiring to have. Sometimes Ill think, "That was a really nice day. I ate well, I exercised, I called some friends, wasnt working too hard," but I rarely have one of those. [Laughs.] Theyre more often, "Im too tired, I didnt run as far as I wanted." And so thats something Ive gained peace with. I expect now for the day to be imperfect in some way.

Q: Whats your go-to power meal?
A: I guess its protein and vegetables. Ive pretty much always been on a diet since I was born. And the women in my family struggle, so I find the less I think about food, in a way, the happier I am. In general, I think I eat less the less I think about it.

Q: In what areas of your life are you most and least healthy?
A: Im probably most healthy in exercise. Ive always really liked being active. I do Spinning classes, I run, I have a trainer, I do Pilates with my sister Shade. And I think work has been an area, historically, where Ive way overworked myself. Not on this job. But [in the past] Ive definitely spent a lot of time worrying about work, taking jobs when I maybe could have taken some time off—really pushing myself. Although Ive gotten way way way better.

Next Page: Q: Whats your favorite healthy-life advice? [ pagebreak ]
Q: Whats your favorite healthy-life advice?
A: Just keep moving. Someone said this to me a long time ago. Its a Buddhist saying, I think: "There is no wasted effort." It applies to so many things. It applies to being physical, like, "Lets take a walk outside." And I never go take a walk outside, but its such a good idea! No, you didnt burn 1,000 calories, but you gotup after dinner, you walked outside, had fresh air.

Credit: Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Q: Do you have a go-to way to lose a quick few pounds?
A: One thing I think is underrated is eating soup. I did this movie with Jeff Bridges, and I dont know if he was trying to lose weight or not, but he would carry around this thermos of soup. Also, the best investment I made in the last year was a Vitamix. You can put raw kale in the Vitamix, and you dont even taste it when you put some fruit and ice in. It comes with all these insane recipes. You can make your own peanut butter. You can grind your own flour. [Laughs.]

Q: Wow, have you done that?
A: No. Are you kidding? But I gave one to Oliver Plattfor his 50th birthday, and he was like, "Youve made the peanut butter, right?" And I was like, "Nooo." I make juice.

Q: Are there any ways you stay fit that are more surprising than regular workouts?
A: I just had a vacation, and we went skiing. It was such a cool vacation because the whole day is around something active. And occasionally wed go to the gym at night.

Q: You really worked out after skiing?
A: Yeah. Thats my boyfriend [co-star Peter Krause] who works out like crazy. You would go to the gym at night because youre tired, but youve worked the strangest muscles, so you dont feel like youve worked out.

Next Page: Q: How do you get the body confidence you need? [ pagebreak ]
Q: If youre ever feeling down about your looks, how do you get the body confidence you need?
A: Well, part of my job is pretending. And Ive honestly never led with my looks. Ive always thought my strengths were Im smart, and I have a good sense of humor. I definitely struggle with feeling confident. We went to a party last night, and I always still feel like Im in high school: "Did I wear the right thing? Do I look OK? Did I walk funny?" Like, I never feel comfortable, but Ive done this for so long that I just know Im not going to feel comfortable. Thats not the real me, you know?

Q: Any embarrassing fashion moments that tested your confidence?
A: I wore something this year that I got criticized for, and [laughs] it killed me! And I was like, "But why didnt they like it?" You want people to feel you made the right choice. But, I am who I am. I mean, honestly, I was such a tomboy as a kid. People were taking from their mothers closets—I was taking from my dads closet. It was the 80s, so it wasnt terrible, but I was wearing my dads dress shirts over jeans from the Gap. And not the Gap now, but the Gap when it was jeans and flannel shirts. That, to me, was a really good outfit. I have more access to beautiful clothes and help, but everybody makes mistakes; thats why there are worst-dressed lists. [Laughs.]

Q: Whats your go-to style now?
A: I think its D.C. meets California. Growing up [in D.C.], I can remember a girl coming to me and saying, "Do you want to be preppy with me?" And I was like, "Yes." Back then, you were disco or preppy. But then you come to California, and its a little more laid back and Bohemian. My boyfriend has a friend who calls me Bootsy because I wear jeans tucked into boots 9 times out of 10! I have way too many jeans. But I never seem to have a top to wear.

Next Page: Q: How do you feel about plastic surgery? [ pagebreak ]
Q: How do you feel about plastic surgery?
A: I dont ever plan to do it, but I dont know how I would feel. Like, if you have worked with and hung out with, as I have, Diane Keaton. Shes in such good shape, you know? She, to my knowledge, has never had anything done. And why would you? She looks great, and she doesnt look fake. The standards have changed, and people do much more in that world than they used to. Its not a fair playing field, in a way. I have an interest in looking good, but I have a fear of not looking like myself. Ive had much more success than I ever thought not being iconic in the beauty sense, so maybe Ill just continue to rest on my personality. [Laughs.]

Q: Is there a celebrity whose body and looks inspire you?
A: Sandra Bullock. She looks really great and not fake. And I think she has dignity and has handled her publiclife really well.

Q: Do you have any beauty tricks that dont come from a bottle?
A: I really think if youre trying to look good, do something athletic. I have a little mini tramp, and sometimes Ill just try to jump for 20 minutes. It gets your blood circulating and that always looks really pretty.

Q: Whats your ideal Saturday night?
A: Cooking for friends at my house—although I always break that rule about not trying to cook something new when you are entertaining, so the results can be mixed. Someday I will learn!