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Edie Falco’s Real Habits: She’s No Nurse Jackie!

By Jenna Bergen
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD

Award-winning actress Edie Falco, who plays drug-addicted nurse on Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, stays active and energized in her real life with smart food picks and regular workouts. Yet for her, the flab-firming effects of sweat sessions are simply an added perk. It's the mood-boosting benefits that motivate her to carve out time for cardio.

Falco shares her top tips for creating a healthy, happier you.

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Score “me” time on the move. As an Emmy-winning actress and a single mom, finding time to exercise or sneak in alone time isn’t always easy. Her solution? Combine the two: “I’ll have the nanny watch the kids, and I’ll do an exercise of some kind and listen to music,” Falco says. “It’s very quiet time, very private time.”

Gym more to grin more. To Falco, exercise is far more than staying trim and toned. “It always clears my head,” says Falco, who was running up to 5 miles a day until knee pain caused her to cut back. “You feel better all day because of the endorphins running through your system. I do it more for my brain than anything else.”

Plan post-lunch lounges. Early wake-up calls with her kids and endless to-do lists often keep Falco from scoring 8 hours of shut-eye at night. How she pays back the debt: Midday snooze fests. “I love to nap in the afternoon,” Falco says. “I’ll grab my dog, and we’ll go up in my bedroom and sleep for a few hours. It’s not consistent, but it seems like the greatest luxury in the world.”

Snack smartly. Forget chocolate, cookies, or cake. Falco’s must-have treat is popcorn. “There’s something about watching TV and eating popcorn that’s so deeply satisfying,” Falco says. “It’s got all the perfect flavors."

Boycott boredom. Besides running, Falco stays active with Pilates, yoga, and the elliptical machine. “I’m always switching it up to stay interested,” Falco says. Bonus: Varying your routine will help you avoid plateaus and help prevent overuse injuries, too.

Avoid cardio craziness. In the past, if Falco had a 5 a.m. start time, she’d be up at 3:30 a.m. to work out. “I used to be sort of obsessive about exercise,” Falco says. “But now, I fit it in where it’s manageable and reasonable. As always, just do the best that you can.”

Bounce back from binges. Though Falco mainly eats a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, like fish and low-fat dairy, she indulges at certain times. “I go through periods of time, like the holidays, that are just ridiculous,” Falco says. “But I always go back to ground zero. I just feel better when I eat well.”

Reviewed on February 25, 2014

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