"I try to have a healthy outlook. I'm your everlasting, hopeless optimist," Eva Longoria said.

Story highlights

"Before I could afford a food delivery system, I'd pack some snacks," Eva Longoria says

"Now I like weight training and abs. I love abs. I hate the elliptical," she says

Longoria: "After I shower, I put baby oil all over my body"

Health.com  — 

I can’t prove it, but I think Eva Longoria might have thirty-four hours in each of her days. How else could she possibly fit it all in?

Today, for instance, the Texas-born actress, 36, is in the car on her way to the airport. She’s flying to New York to promote “Desperate Housewives,” which will wrap in May after eight crazy-successful seasons. And what’ll she do the first morning after filming ends? “Sleep!” she laughs. After call times at 5:30 a.m., she says, “I haven’t had sleep in eight years.” No doubt.

In addition to her day job, Eva moonlights at many passions: She runs Eva’s Heroes, the nonprofit she founded, inspired by her developmentally disabled sister. She also co-owns Beso restaurants in Hollywood and Las Vegas, wrote the best-selling cookbook Eva’s Kitchen, executive produced “The Harvest” (a documentary about child migrant farm laborers), and is getting her master’s degree in political science and Chicano studies.

Before she zips across the country, Eva talks food, the day she walked over hot coals, and the positive phrase that helped her get through her divorce.

Q: How do you define a healthy life?

People think health only has to do with your physical being, but for me, it’s so much more. I remember after my divorce, I was so thin and everyone kept saying how great I looked and it was probably the most unhealthy place I’ve ever been. So it was funny what people would see as “healthy.” In my worst time, people were saying I’ve never looked better. [But now] I have a great diet and exercise routine. And I try to have a healthy outlook. I’m your everlasting, hopeless optimist!

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Q: Where does your positive attitude come from?

I was just born with that. It’s so funny, because I don’t get depressed. Even after my divorce, everybody was like, “Wow, you bounced back so quick.” I was like, “I am not letting this take over. Something great is around the corner – I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.”

Q: You mentioned eating well and exercising. What’s your go-to?

I love to cook. But when I’m on set, I have food delivery sent there. Before I could afford a food delivery system, I would make my breakfast and lunch, I’d pack some snacks, and put almonds in my purse. I was always prepared because I was always hungry. It’s funny, I would be like, “Nuts anyone?” And they’d say, “What is in your purse?”

Q: So it looks like you’re eating grub from the bottom of your purse.

Yeah, exactly. Just the raw almonds, I soak them in water overnight. It makes them plump, and they pop in your mouth. I learned that from a Tony Robbins seminar. Fifteen years ago, I went and after that I became a vegan. For, like, a year, because I was just like, “Oh my God, he’s scared me into never eating meat again!” [Laughs] It didn’t last though.

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Q: Did the Tony Robbins seminar change anything else for you?

No, it just confirmed everything that I was already doing. You know, “Take charge of your life!” I am. That’s why I’m here! I did walk the coals. I walked over the fire. I love self-help, anything that’s going to move you forward in life. The second I saw ‘The Secret,’ I was going, “Oh, I live my life this way. So I’m doing good.”

Q: Do you like to exercise?

My bachelor’s degree is in kinesiology, so it’s ingrained in me to work out. I was an aerobics instructor, and a personal trainer in college, so I was addicted to exercise. I used to do an hour and a half to two hours a day. I’d teach a class and then train clients. And I realized I didn’t need that much. Now I like weight training and abs. I love abs. I hate the elliptical. I hate jogging. [Laughs] I despise cardio. I just…can’t do it. So I try to do my cardio within the workout.

Q: What’s your big health regret?

Well, I think the time that I became a vegan. [Laughs] I love the philosophy behind veganism, but I went from one day eating chicken and meat to eating just salad. I didn’t know how to be a vegan. I didn’t know about soy or almond butter. I didn’t know that there are great breads. So I literally stuck to salads. And I think I passed out the first week.

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Q: What do you like to cook?

I love chicken leg quarters and asparagus. My most requested thing to cook for friends is Mexican tortilla soup and guacamole and chili-rubbed skirt steak.

Q: Do you have any beauty secrets you learned growing up?

After I shower, I put baby oil all over my body. And then you dry that off so you have the smoothest, softest skin.

Q: I feel like you’ve been on every “most beautiful” list there is.

Oh, God no. I was talking to Kim [Kardashian] about this the other day. I said, “You’re the most beautiful thing in the world,” and she said, “No, you are.” And I said, “No, I used to be.” [Laughs] I was like, “No, honey, I’m old news.”

Q: Do you feel pressure to keep up with the whole “beautiful” thing?

No. I think that’s probably why I make those lists, because it takes a village to build me for the red carpet. It’s an illusion created by stylists, hair, makeup. I don’t put as much effort into it as my team does. But I think people see something beyond that with me, and I love that I’m defined by my charity work. I think that’s what people see when they give me this label of “She’s a beautiful person.”

Q: You’re so busy. What’s the most relaxing thing you do all day?

I love to get in bed and turn on Bill Maher. I save five in a row and fall asleep to him ranting about something. It takes me out of my element.

Q: Finish this sentence: “In 2012, I’m going to _____ a whole lot more.”

Travel. Everywhere. Wherever the wind takes me. I could live anywhere; I can learn any language. I just love it. I love being immersed in the world.