Jean Gets Smart About Fitness and Diet

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The pre-interview: Jean Smart (who’s probably best-known for “Designing Women”) called at 2:30 on the dot. I at first assumed she was phoning from home, but I heard a lot of traffic in the background. . . .

“Jean, where are you?”

“At a corner pay phone.”

“Why are you at a pay phone?”

“Because I didn’t want to be late calling you.”

“I don’t want you to stand there trying to do an interview.”

“No, no. I’m fine.”

“Well, if you’re sure.”

“But the thing is, I don’t think I have enough change on me.”

“Give me the number. I’ll call you right back. Just pretend you’re Superman or something.”

“But this isn’t even a phone booth.”

We decided it would be better to try again in a couple of days.

The interview came about pretty much the same way Smart, 45, described her workout. “It’s in fits and starts. I finally accepted it and said, ‘Well, it’s better than nothing.’ But I’ve got to get back into a routine. I was out of town for almost six weeks, and I really wasn’t doing any exercising because I was doing a movie for Lifetime, working 14 hours, six days a week.”

The movie, “Change of Heart,” airs tonight at 9.


Question: You were probably too tired to exercise.

Answer: When I got back to my hotel room, I didn’t feel like doing any exercising. The problem was that it didn’t stop me from going downstairs to the restaurant.



Q: What did you do when you couldn’t fit into your costumes?

A: I said, “Do you have a safety pin?”


Q: You did not.

A: I’m serious. It was bad.


Q: So what exercise routine did you want to get back to?

A: I started going to this place in the Valley called Billy Blanks’ [World Karate Center in Sherman Oaks], and they do this class called Tae-Bo [aerobics mixed with karate and boxing]. [Actress] Nancy McKeon got me into it. Dragging me to this thing where I thought I was gonna die. I really didn’t think I was going to get through it.


Q: Why? What was going on?

A: Well, it’s very rough. I mean, you’re doing boxing moves, so you’re using your upper body and you’re bouncing on your feet the whole time. And they turn this music up--it’s sort of like rap music, but they speed it up--and they have it on full blast. For an hour you don’t stop moving. But it felt good because you really sweat and get your heart going. I haven’t sweat that much before, that’s for sure.


Q: Do you do anything at home?

A: I have some equipment here at the house that I use, especially the stationary bike. I’ll get on that and do five or six miles while I do my phone calls. Or I’ll do the treadmill and some light hand-weights with high reps to try to keep my upper body in shape.


Q: What about dieting?

A: You know as far as diet goes, for a while I was really obsessed with counting fat grams along with the rest of the world. I have found that a high-carbohydrate diet, really, I can gain weight on that even if it’s low fat. I like chicken all the time, but every once in a while I’ll have to have a little bit of red meat or pork.


Q: Me, too. I hate cutting out cheese.

A: Lately, I just let myself eat it more because I think, “Oh, my god, a piece of cheese tastes so good.” I think it’s your body telling you something.


Q: Well, if sneaking a bit of cheese is your only vice, you’re doing fine.

A: I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant, which was nine years ago. But I’ll still smoke in a movie. I have other vices, you know, like potato chips and chardonnay--but not together.



Q: Are you on insulin for your diabetes?

A: Yeah, I take insulin. And again, exercise is the best thing in the world for me. Exercise is like the cure-all.


Q: When you are paying attention to what you eat, what are a couple of typical meals?

A: Breakfast, I will have a bowl of Raisin Bran or I fix myself wheat toast and scrambled eggs. Sometimes I eat lunch, sometimes I don’t. And then dinner I’ll have usually chicken and I’ll stir-fry broccoli for a couple minutes with garlic and olive oil. Sometimes I have to have mashed potatoes with that. And then, of course, there are those nights where I say, “Oh, the heck with it,” and I go eat some cookies.


Q: Want to talk about stress?Any good thoughts on that subject?

A: Oh, gosh. Well, I would say, “Don’t go shopping for houses on the Westside.”


Q: Insane real estate, isn’t it?

A: Oh, my God, they want a million dollars for a carport.


Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.