Faith Ford is hot.
She's the one who mentions it – although it remains true in a universal sense of the word.
Right now, her hotness is focused on how she's sweating in the 100 degree Louisiana heat. It's early morning in her southern home and she just made breakfast (without any butter on the toast) for her 73-year-old Mom.
Now, it's time to step outside into a wall of good-for-your-post-40-skin humidity.
Please don't tell the Southern belle that she's schvitzing. "I'm glowing," she says with a laugh.
Faith grew up in Alexandria where she was "a knobby-knee, runt of a kid. I was shy. A wallflower.
"I loved to listen rather than talk," she says. "I was an observer. Just like my Dad."
I ask her: What has she observed about being a midlifer? Any secrets to share?
"Aging doesn't affect me at all," says the former "Murphy Brown" star who turns 47 this fall.
"They keep asking us ladies, 'What is the new 40? What is the new 50?' I'm so tired of those questions. What does it all mean anyways? These ages are based on how you feel on the inside."
And as for the rest of it….here's how to keep the Faith happy.
"Basically, I live my life and try to look good for my age, but I'm not obsessed. It's one day at a time, anyways!" she says.
FROM DISEASE TO HEALTH
Faith has fought Graves disease, which changed the way she looked at health and fitness.
"I'm absolutely a big believer in working out every single day," she says. "I've had so many health issues in my life including Graves disease. I was severely anemic at one point in my life, but not anymore. I made a vow to myself when I was sick that if I possibly could get better, I would NEVER go back to those sick days."
She says bad eating habits contributed to her problems, "I was a skinny little thing as a kid. Then when I got older, I ate everything," she admits.
Around the time of "Murphy Brown," she made a big change. "I made a commitment to get myself strong," she says.
Not skinny. Not fit into jeans. Strong.
"I started doing weights the first season of 'Murphy Brown.' I had a trainer. My husband used to be a trainer and now we workout every single day.
"It's important for your brain," she says. "I also love to eat fresh fruits and veggies plus healthy proteins at every meal.
"Give me some tasty fruits over that piece of pie. The pie is gone in ten minutes. If you eat the fruit, you'll be happy that you resisted the pie."
FAITH COOKS SOME SOUTHERN CLASSICS
Faith has a cookbook called "Cooking With Faith." She still indulges I her lifelong love of getting into the kitchen.
"I started cooking on a hot plate when I moved to New York at 17. I missed my home food so much that I took matters into my own hands," she admits.
"I just love to cook," she adds. "My mom had me on her hip as a baby. She says the only way she got me to stop crying was holding me while she cooked.".
Her advice for midlifers when it comes to eating takes just a little bit of effort and creativity.
"First, write down your family recipes. Have your mother tell you her recipes and the ones her mother made so these will be preserved forever. It's important to eat foods that you love and pass them down.
"I also wish people would grow more fresh veggies," she says. "The next thing I want to do is start canning."
She also likes to limit restaurant visits. "Believe me, when I'm in New York, I can't resist a great deli. But generally I prefer eating my own food. I know what goes into it.
Now for the big question: Does this Southern babe do fried chicken?
"Yes, I will do southern fried chicken. Here is my rule about eating fried food: Five fingers. My mother has to watch her cholesterol. Bless her, she's 73. This week, we had fried chicken. We won't have it again for a week or two."
She advises, "Pace yourself with the fried food. You should be able to count on one hand how many times you have fried food in a month."
Faith also does a daily salad.
"Always throw in those dark leafy greens in a salad including collard greens, mustard greens. My tip is you don't have to cook them as much as your mama did," she says.
BACK ON TV
Faith starred on "Murphy Brown" from 1988 to 1998 as newscaster Corky Sherwood. Then she joined lifelong friend Kelly Ripa on the series "Hope & Faith."
Faith's latest TV project airs this Saturday on NBC called "Field of Vision." She plays a high school guidance counselor dealing with the topic of bullying.
"I was bullied as a young girl," she says. "In high school, I was running for cheerleader and got a nasty note in my locker.
"It scared me," she says. "My mom was a teacher who said, 'Don't let it bother you.' I wish all kids could find mentors like that to tell them that they don't have to listen to a bully and that they can do anything."
SOME EMOTIONAL MIDLIFER TIPS
Her best life lesson at this age is to take the focus off you.
"I'm someone who is told, 'You care too much.' Honestly, I don't believe you can care too much. It's better now to be selfless than selfish – as long as you don't cross the line and lose yourself.
"I know it's not about me everyday," she says.
"The day I wake up and think it's about me is the day I should get up on the other side of the bed!" she whoops.
"By that I mean get up on the other side of the bed and get my head on straight!"
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