Actor, author, dancer, dad: Multi-talented Mario Lopez, host of the Emmy-winning entertainment news program Extra, celebrates his 30th year on the small screen this year. Perhaps best known for his character A.C. Slater on the 1990s sitcom Saved by the Bell, Lopez also placed second in the third season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, appeared naked on the FX drama Nip/Tuck, and hosted the recently canceled Fox reality program The X Factor.
The author of a new autobiography, Just Between Us, Lopez talks about raising Gia, 4, and Dominic, 1, and how he makes time for himself.
What's the hardest thing about juggling your career and your family since the birth of your kids?
The toughest thing was adjusting my sleep patterns. I knew it was coming, of course, but dealing with it was kind of tough. But I have a lot of family and a lot of kids in the family, so it wasn't a big shock. Then, once you get settled, another kid comes along! But you adapt. You just do. I work a long day and it gets kind of draining. But then you go home and you rejuvenate when you walk in. They hear you come in the door and come running, yelling “Daddy!” It's the best.
How has being a dad changed your life over the past 4 years?
Completely for the better in every aspect. For me, it changes my outlook on life in general. Little things don't bother you as much, don't matter as much. Your priorities are shifted and you don't sweat the small stuff as much. You become more patient, and you get extra incentive and drive as you realize you have responsibilities other than yourself.
Whom do you turn to for the best parenting advice?
My sister. She's a new parent with four kids, so everything's fresh in her head right now, even over Mom and Dad, because it's been a while since they had little kids. I've talked to her about how to handle things when her kids are sick and how she can tell. Apparently, kids get sick a lot when they're small and building their immune systems.
What's your favorite way of spending time with your kids?
When we're out playing and doing fun stuff like riding bikes and other physical stuff. Our routine is going to the park to play on the jungle gym and the swings or going on a little hike. We're getting a little workout and having some fun at the same time and enjoying the weather here in L.A.
Fitness is a really important part of your life. How do you plan to pass that on to your kids?
We do stuff together all the time, my daughter and me. I've got a jogging stroller and a cool kind of bike stroller, which is a lot of fun. We probably go way too fast down hills, but she's a little daredevil, so she likes all that. She's in ballet class, gymnastics, and swimming, so she's already very physical and active. She's not going to know any different.
You've written two children's books. Have your children provided you enough material for a third?
I'm working on it, as a matter of fact. It's going to be a surprise, so what it's about remains to be seen. I can tell you it will incorporate both of them, but I think that's all I can get away with saying.
What were some of your favorite activities as a kid that you want to share with your own children?
My mom kept me real busy and out of trouble by putting me in a bunch of activities, like drama class and dance class. There was always something after school. I was pretty hyper and my daughter's pretty hyper, so I'm sort of applying the same philosophy: Keep 'em busy and keep 'em out of trouble. Plus, it makes you well-rounded, I feel.
Your autobiography was published in September. What led you to write it at this time of your life?
Turning 40 was the inspiration. I thought it would be a good time to look back and reflect ... mistakes I've made, what I've learned, how I got to this point.
What's your daily exercise routine?
It varies. I box three times a week, I go to the gym. I like to run and be outside in the summertime. I was going to go surfing in Mexico but I tore my rotator cuff over the summer, so now I have to chill out and alter the workouts. I'm doing more biking, running on the treadmill, and using the elliptical machine while I'm rehabbing. My schedule is jam-packed, so it's all about finding the time, making the time, but it's a priority so I have to do it.
What's a typical day's diet for you?
I try not to eat a lot of crap and stay away from junk, but I'm pretty much open to eating anything and don't worry too much about calorie counting. On the weekends, I'll go a little more nuts, maybe crush a whole apple pie like I did last weekend. I like all sweets: pie, cake, chocolate.
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