Model and actress Bridget Moynahan made her television debut in 1999, playing the role of the infamous Mr. Big's girlfriend (and later, bride) Natasha. Only a year later, she made her film debut, too, in Coyote Ugly. Since then she has appeared in a half dozen films, including Serendipity, The Sum of All Fears, The Recruit, I, Robot, Lord of War, Unknown, Noise, and Ramona and Beezus, as well as several other television series, including Six Degrees and Eli Stone. A single mother of a three-year-old boy, Moynahan sat down with WebMD the Magazine to talk about how she stays fit with her busy schedule, plus her lifelong passion for sports and fitness, her enviable ability to stay on a healthy diet, and how motherhood has changed her.
You're in the CBS series Blue Bloods, and the new sci-fi thriller Battle: Los Angeles, coming out March 11, 2011. How do you find the time to balance such a busy work life and stay fit?
It's a challenge, but fortunately I have the ability to find the time so I can make it to the gym. I don't know if most people have that luxury. We also eat a pretty healthy diet at home. I'm probably in the best shape of my life. I weigh the same as I did in high school, but my body is completely changed. I have never been stronger and I've never been more fit.
In Blue Bloods, costarring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, you play Erin Reagan-Boyle, a DA and single mom. What’s it like playing her?
I can relate to a lot of the character. I think a majority of women in their late thirties and up can. Unfortunately, divorce is very high and single parenthood is very high. Raising a teenage daughter is something that I am unfamiliar with, but I can understand the stress and confusion about it. When I read the script for the first time I thought there was so much that we could play with. The multi-dimensional character really interested me.
Has motherhood changed you?
Absolutely -- for the better. I didn't realize how much patience I actually had, and my empathy level for other moms quadrupled. I used to think, "Why does that mother have a stroller when the kid is clearly 5 years old?" But now I'm like, "Okay, it's a matter of convenience for the parents."
What’s your family’s diet like?
It's not what everybody wants to hear, but we eat a lot of vegetables and protein and a low-fat diet. I know everybody would love to hear about a secret pill or great cleanse, but it's just going back to what we were taught in school.
How do you handle it when your son, who's 3, wants to have unhealthy goodies?
We just don't have them around the house. It's not like I have a tray full of cupcakes sitting out on the counter. If there is a treat involved, it's only because the healthy meals have already been eaten.
What are you best and worst health habits?
I like to nap; I think that's a really good health habit. Rest really helps you in many ways. My worst is probably too much coffee. If I'm not working I have just one cup, but when I'm working I have more. I made the mistake of getting one of those little coffee makers that make individual cups. I thought it would make me drink less but it's making me drink more.
What would you say influenced you the most when it comes to your health?
I grew up playing sports and I was on teams my whole life. I was also active during the summers in tennis camps and basketball camps. I've just always been active; it's been part of my lifestyle my entire life. There was never a moment that I wasn't working out. I think it's been instilled from my childhood.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Probably with more kids and more tired. I wish I had started earlier, but it is what it is and I'm just so happy that I had the opportunity to have a child. Hopefully I'll be able to have more.
What do you do for relaxation?
What is relaxation? Honestly, if I have a moment, I don't mind taking a nap or reading a book because I just don't have the time to do that anymore. I really enjoy escaping into a book. But it's hard to find that time.
What kind of books do you like?
I like fiction. My favorite book is one I just read by Jonathan Tropper, called This is Where I Leave You. Oh my god, I just laughed -- it's so entertaining and really well written.
What's your favorite form of exercise?
I'm working out with a trainer in New York, and we're concentrating on core work and leg strengthening, to build up strength in the lower back and get those legs nice and long and lean.
You mentioned you like core exercises. Do you do Pilates?
No, I don't. I wish I did. I had great Pilate's teacher in LA. I did it after I had the baby to build up my core again and I loved it, but I just don't have the time.
You grew up doing sports. Were your parents sporty as well?
My mother has played tennis her whole life and is still on a tennis team. My parents always had us involved in some sort of activity. My mother took me to ballet once and I just did not dig it, so we went to soccer practice the next day. I have two brothers, and I ended up being the most athletic out of all the kids.
There was also gym class in school when you were a kid; a lot of schools don't have that now.
Unfortunately in the school systems when they're making budget cuts, PE is one of the things that gets cut out, along with art and music. Those are really important things to be teaching kids that will enhance their entire lives. It's unfortunate that schools have to make those cuts.
It's harder for parents these days to raise healthy kids when there are so many advertisements for junk food on kids' TV.
We didn't watch a lot of TV, but I think it's harder for parents nowadays because there are advertisements everywhere. It's not always the healthy choices that are being pumped out there to the kids. A lot of these sports drinks and energy drinks are not healthy for kids but they're kind of being marketed to them. But there are still so many choices available for you to make good decisions for yourself and for your children. It's just a matter of putting the effort into it.
What's the best health advice you've ever gotten?
I wish I had that role model in my life who gave me of those nuggets of advice, but I just haven't. It's just been life choices that I've made along the way to stay healthy.