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The Mindy Project Takes Off

Actor, writer, producer Mindy Kaling steps out of The Office and into the spotlight.

Mindy Kaling on Diet and Exercise continued...

She tries to sneak in a half hour on the elliptical or some strength training before work, "But only if my call time doesn't start with the number 7, which it almost always does." On weekends she runs. "I am an avid slow jogger," she says of her 5-mile jaunts. "I don't go to therapy or any of that stuff, and I can be very anxious. But if I go for a run, my mind feels so much clearer." Kaling trots along to music by Rihanna and Beyoncé, as well as to movie soundtracks. "I have a very active imagination, and when I work out I like to disappear into a world of fantasy. A soundtrack is great for that."

Kaling often says she wants to lose 15 pounds, but admits that she doesn't want it enough to do what it takes. "I'd have to do interval training, but I never would because I don't enjoy it," she explains. "And those days of just not eating dessert for a week and dropping 5 pounds are long gone."

She says she made peace with the idea of being "chubby" years ago. "I'm such a perfectionist that I'll always want to change how I look. But if someone called me dumb or unfunny that would be devastating, and I have never not worn a bikini just because I'm not skinny. My best friend in college was comfortable in her own skin, and it had a huge effect on me. So I wear strapless things and clothing that stylists tell me I shouldn't. I love fashion too much to miss out on trends."

The Importance of OB/GYN Visits

It was Kaling's mother who instilled in her daughter a passion for fashion. "My mom loved looking good and she loved me and my brother looking good, which is weird because I think of her as an intellectually minded person," she says. "But when you came home from college, you didn't wear sweatpants in front of her. It was about respect."

Kaling's mother also taught her daughter to treat her body with respect. "The great thing about having an OB/GYN for a mother is there was nothing we couldn't talk about," the actor says. "She was completely frank and open with me, and things like, 'See your GYN regularly' were always a part of my life. I'm not that organized, and I don't eat great," she continues. "I don't take a multivitamin or do a lot of the things I should, but as a result of my mom, when it comes to seeing my OB/GYN, I go like clockwork."

Cheri Lowre, MD, an OB/GYN and an assistant clinical professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles,lauds Kaling for taking responsibility for her health and the time to find a doctor she likes. "It's incredibly important that you feel comfortable talking to your ob/gyn and that you feel she or he is listening," Lowre says. "You need to be able to have open dialogues about everything."

Kaling says talking about her mother's death is "still difficult," but she supports the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network by recording public service announcements to help raise awareness of the disease.

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