Julia Roberts: How she keeps her youthful body

Recently papped looking lean in a bikini, Julia Roberts is proof that you can still look hot in your 40s. Kate Porter discovers how the actress keeps her youthful body

She plays the evil queen desperate to keep her youthful looks in 'Mirror Mirror', but Julia Roberts has shown she has no problem staying a pretty woman.

The Hollywood star is proof that being in your 40s needn't mean turning dowdy.

Along with stars such as Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman, she's ageing gracefully and looking hotter with each passing year.

"Getting older to me is nice," she has said of passing her big milestone. "You are released from certain concepts."

The 44-year-old star has recently been pictured frolicking in the Hawaiian surf in a bikini, while on a family holiday, and is clearly holding back the years with ease.

Mum-of-three Julia credits a simple regime of Pilates, water workouts and healthy eating for her fab physique -- whatever her secret, it's working!

So how exactly does she do it?

Insider appetite

To stay in shape, Julia enlisted the advice of nutritionist Carrie Wiatt. Dubbed the Queen of Lean, Carrie is the head of food delivery company Diet Designs and author of 'Eating by Design'.

She and Julia have worked together for years.

"I played a role that required I lose considerable weight," Julia says of their first experience together.

"Carrie helped me lose over 43 pounds quickly, safely, and with a minimum loss of sanity with her common sense-approach diet."

Though she didn't need to shed pounds for 'Mirror Mirror', Julia was keen to eat well and keep her energy up as she juggled filming with a young family.

The actress is certainly no fan of carb-free diets -- she loves bread and adores Carrie's mashed potatoes -- so a balanced approach to eating suits her well.

In the past, she's had Carrie's meals delivered but as the star divides her time between her and hubby Danny Moder's eco-house in Venice Beach and their New Mexico ranch, she's opted to stick to her healthy eating principles on her own schedule.

"There's definitely a backlash happening," says Carrie, who's also worked with Matt Damon and Jennifer Aniston, of the pro-carb revolution in Hollywood.

"We all need it -- it's the exclusive fuel for the brain. Without it, you can't think and you can't exercise."

She recommends eating 50- 60pc carbohydrates, 20-25pc protein and 20pc fat in each meal. The best complex carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables and grains, according to Carrie.

The food guru also stresses the importance of maximum flavour in whatever you're eating -- she points out that Lawrence Olivier is said to have eaten an apple and a bit of pungent blue cheese for lunch each day to maintain his weight.

The stronger the flavour of food, the more satisfied he felt, apparently.

"Highly flavoured foods are one of my favourite ways to make a meal exciting and enticing, but not fattening," says Carrie.

"Roasted garlic makes an amazing spread and a fragrant addition to sauces and soups -- it's a big hit with Julia.

"Just pre-heat the oven to 450°F, place the whole unpeeled head in a baking dish, and roast it for half an hour," Carrie explains.

"You can put it on bread or rolls, in soups, spice up chicken with it, or spread it on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise."

Carrie Wiatt's top tips

Eat like Julia

Breakfast: Homemade granola with seasonal berries and yogurt; or carrot and banana muffin, and fresh papaya with yogurt.

Lunch: Baked artichoke polenta; or spinach filo pie with wheat pilaf.

Dinner: Ginger-crusted salmon with quinoa and Chinese vegetables; or seabass with black-bean salsa and asparagus.

Train like a star

Julia first started working with personal trainer Kathy Kaehler to shape up for her role in 2001's 'America's Sweethearts' and she has stuck by her regimen ever since.

Kathy, who's also worked with Cindy Crawford and Michelle Pfeiffer, designed a workout to give her more energy and also sculpt her long and lean frame through strength training and yoga- and Pilates-inspired moves.

"Exercising with Kathy has changed my life in a great, subtle and consistent way," says Julia.

"I don't love exercise, but I do love how I feel afterwards. Accomplishment, clarity, energy, strength, joy ... these are all things I give myself through working out, and I can feel it in everything I do."

Kathy, who's now a good friend of her client, says that Julia's a great mum to kids Phinnaeus and Hazel, aged seven, and four-year-old Henry, and that the star has stayed in top shape throughout her pregnancies and beyond.

"She didn't gain that much weight," she says. "When she moved away she emailed me that she was taking Pilates in New Mexico.

"She was so, so, so impressive. She had it so under control. When I saw her after she had had the twins, I was just really happy for her.

"But it is daunting," Kathy says. "It is overwhelming. You don't know how you're going to respond -- mentally, physically, hormonally."

One of Kathy's new low-impact exercises which are great for new mums involves getting in the pool.

"My training programmes often include the pool because I like how the water allows you to run hard, stretch deep and develop long and lean muscles.

"Water workouts aren't just for grannies in swim caps anymore. Far from it! Even Julia bought into my water fitness plan," laughs Kathy.

And don't worry, you don't need to have a private pool like the star to get your fitness fix.

"If you don't have a pool in your backyard, there are other options -- gyms today often have pools, indoor or outdoor, or you could try community centres, YMCAs, hotels or local colleges," says Kathy.

"Water workouts can be particularly effective because the water resists the movements of your body, increasing the challenge.

"But because you're buoyant in the water, workouts can be done without impact, making them easy on the joints and particularly helpful for people with injuries or arthritis," Kathy explains.

And it's not just your body that will benefit from exercising in a pool, she says.

"Besides the physical benefits, there are psychological perks to water workouts, too. You'll feel incredible as you float weightless through the water.

"And when the workout is over, it is hard to get out of the pool. The water is refreshing, and you feel light and relaxed," she adds.

Taking to water

"Beginners may want to take a class to get started," says Kathy. "From there, the possibilities are limitless. There are hundreds of exercises that can be done in the shallow and deep ends of a pool.

"I'm not just talking about doing laps up and down, or treading water. You can do many of the same exercises in the water that you can on land, including walking, marching, running, cross-country skiing, kicking, leaping -- even crunches," Kathy claims.

"When I have Julia in the pool, we do a range of shallow- and deep-water activities.

"The cardio exercises include jumping jacks, water walking and water running in the deep end using flotation belts. For toning, we do scissors, heel lifts, leg lifts, leg circles and knee swivels."

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