Award-winning actor Edie Falco may play a drug-addicted nurse on Showtime's Nurse Jackie, but in real life this nonstop 48-year-old mother of two doesn't need an upper in pill form for an energy boost.
Despite being busier than ever (currently starring alongside Ben Stiller in the Broadway production of the House of Blue Leaves whileSeason 3 of Nurse Jackie airs Monday nights on Showtime), Falco stays active and energized with smart food picks and regular workouts. Yet for her, the flab-firming effects of sweat sessions are simply an added perk. Falco tells WebMD it’s really the mood-boosting benefits that motivate her to carve out time for cardio.
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Read on to learn Falco's top tips for creating a healthy, happier you.
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,” says Falco. “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 recently 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 eight hours of shut-eye at night. How she pays back the debt: Midday snooze fests. “I love to nap in the afternoon,” says Falco. “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,” says Falco. “It’s got all the perfect flavors and I can almost tell myself it’s a vegetable.”
Boycott boredom. In addition to running, Falco stays active with Pilates, yoga, and the elliptical machine. “I’m always switching it up to stay interested,” says Falco. The healthy bonus: It’ll help you avoid frustrating plateaus and lessen the risk of 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,” admits Falco. “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 throughout the year. “I go through periods of time, like the holidays, that are just ridiculous,” says Falco. “But I always go back to ground zero. I just feel better when I eat well.”