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She's been a supermodel, sitcom star, best-selling author. She even took on Tom Cruise. We've loved her from afar for years -- so what's she like in real life? At 42, Brooke Shields's focus is on her upcoming starring role in the TV series Lipstick Jungle. A drama/comedy about three female power brokers in New York City, it's based on a novel by Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell. As part of our all-new Mind, Body & Spirit Superstar series, Brooke sat down with FITNESS in Los Angeles to talk about balancing her own busy life with two kids, the joys and challenges of being forty-something, and why it's so important to help girls and women learn to be more confident. Brooke, in her own words:FITNESS: You've reinvented yourself so many times. How do you do it?
Brooke: It's about circumstance. When one environment stops welcoming me, I move on to the next. After college, I wasn't getting the kind of movie offers I'd been getting, and I knew I wasn't going to be a top model anymore -- I'd already done that. So when Broadway opened its arms to me, I went for it. Then TV wanted me, and I decided to make the most of that. I capitalize on everything available to me.FITNESS: Is being 42 different from what you thought it would be?
Brooke: I always wanted to feel fulfilled, but I wasn't always convinced it was going to happen. But now that I have my husband [TV writer/producer Chris Henchy] and my kids [4-year-old Rowan and 1-year-old Grier], I am. That makes me feel younger than I am -- like life is just beginning for me.FITNESS: What's the hardest thing about it?
Brooke: The preconception about what being forty-something means in Hollywood, where everyone is obsessed with women in their 20s. That's one thing that makes Lipstick Jungle so great -- it portrays women who have lived a lot but also have a lot more living to do. And I love that I don't have to worry about being shaped like a prepubescent to star in it.
Brooke: I try to do an hour of something every day. It's almost impossible when I'm working, because I'm on the set for 14 to 16 hours. But last summer, for instance, I'd take a Spinning class or do a morning hike while Rowan was at camp and the baby was asleep; that way, I didn't feel guilty about not being with them. Or in the afternoon I'd put both of them in the stroller and walk the L.A. hills. But on days when the baby has woken up four times during the night, putting my sneakers on is the last thing I want to do. I'd rather have four cups of coffee and, after the caffeine wears off, take a nap with her! I used to have a very type-A lifestyle, but being a mom changed all that.FITNESS: How do you stay motivated to work out?
Brooke: It's easier when I have an external motivation, like getting ready for Broadway. [She starred in Grease in 1995, Cabaret in 2001, and Chicago in 2005.] I had to go into those shows at the top of my game, physically, because the schedule was so rigorous. It's like the Olympics -- only it lasts six months!FITNESS: Do you ever struggle with self-confidence?
Brooke: I think all women do. The process of doubting ourselves starts at a very young age. Rowan used to be so sure of herself, but that's changed since she started school. She'll say, "Will I be more beautifuller than you, Mommy?" I don't know where she gets that -- I sure don't put it into her head! So I'll say, "How do you feel?" And when she says she feels good, I tell her that means she is beautiful. That's why I'm so happy to be involved with a charity called Chain of Confidence, which honors women around the world and helps them connect with one another to share their strength and be more confident. [To learn more, go to chainofconfidence.com.]FITNESS: When you're not feeling confident about your body, what do you do?
Brooke: Exercise helps me beat stress: I go for a run and deplete myself physically, so that I'm too tired to be tense. Having a beer also helps me decompress -- though it's hard for me to say that, because I come from an alcoholic family. Or I go out with a girlfriend for dinner and a glass of wine.FITNESS: Are there any foods you avoid?
Brooke: Carbs are the first thing to go if I want to lose weight. I never used to eat red meat, but now, if I crave it -- which usually happens when I have my period -- I go for it. I also love ice cream. I try not to deny myself, because if I do, it turns into this major internal battle. So I pop a couple of Dove Miniatures. I can satisfy myself without going overboard. I also try to drink tons of water. I can actually see how much healthier my skin and hair look when I do.
Brooke: Before I knew they were thinking about making it into a series, I read the book and identified with the women in it so much: They're smart, strong, and flawed -- but not bitchy! So when I heard they were making it into a series, I was thrilled...until I realized they couldn't hire me -- I was pregnant. But by the time they were ready to shoot the pilot, I'd given birth to Grier. It worked out perfectly.FITNESS: How do you balance it all -- kids, marriage, 16-hour workdays?
Brooke: My husband helps take the pressure off. I've been married for seven years, and though life is hard -- coordinating schedules and finding time for everything -- our relationship isn't. That enables me to be the kind of mom I want to be and to have the kind of career I want.FITNESS: Okay, besides the great husband, what's your secret?
Brooke: I multitask: I'll take a Spinning class or a hike with a girlfriend, so we can exercise and catch up. Although I'm not sure that's such a great strategy. The other day I was multitasking in the car and I drove into the beam that supports our house! I was wearing these enormously high heels and one of them got stuck on the pedal. I said to my husband, "Should that beam really be there? Maybe we can move it." And he was like, "Uh, it holds up the whole place!"
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2007.