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Lauren Graham's Healthy Approach to Parenthood

The childless actress is once again playing a single mom in a hit TV show. How does she do it?

Graham on Broadway continued...

Graham's dream of playing Broadway came true when she won the role of 1930s nightclub singer Miss Adelaide in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls

"It was a dream, but then there's the reality," she laughs, recalling the toil of performing in eight shows a week for six consecutive months. "It was physically demanding … I discovered the neti pot. I was on [prescription medication] the whole time for heartburn. Everyone on Broadway is, because you have the adrenaline of performing, you eat after the show, and then you ask your body to go to sleep -- you just can't digest properly. 

"A friend who's done a lot of Broadway sat me down before I started and said: 'You will not eat tomatoes [because of their acidity]. You will sleep 12 hours every night. You will not eat heavily after a show. I did all of those things … I even saw [former President] Bill Clinton's voice doctor when I thought I was losing mine."

Graham in Parenthood

Just a few months after the show's run, Graham got a surprise call from Parenthood's producers. Fellow NBC medical drama ER alum, Maura Tierney, who'd originally been cast as Sarah Braverman, faced a sudden diagnosis of breast cancer last summer before production began. (Tierney is reportedly doing great, according to her rep Christina Papadopoulos.) 

So Graham got the script -- and the part. "I've been doing this long enough to know when I have a real emotional reaction … I connected to these people. It reminded me of the shows I loved growing up, like [the ABC series] Thirtysomething. There's nothing cheesy or melodramatic, just truthful." 

Back in Los Angeles, Graham has replaced her Broadway regimen with a more, well, normal approach to health and nutrition: "Listen, I've done everything: cleanses, fasts, I've gone vegetarian," she says. "Now, I think the thing is to eat only stuff [when] you know where it comes from and close to the source … I try to earn whatever bad choices I make by being healthy throughout the day, or by making sure I exercise. It's all about balance: I can do this because I did that. I'd rather have a small amount of something I love than fill up on tree bark and rice! 

"In my business it's so easy to worry about your body and aging -- but you know what? That's unhealthy. So I try to have a greater ease about it all." Graham stays fit by doing Pilates and attending regular indoor-cycling classes. Once an avid runner, she's also recently taken up cycling, just like her dad. "He's been into it for the last five years or so. We went on a cycling trip together through Ireland, which was a great time. You can be anywhere, any age, and you can always get on a bike."

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