It's no secret that Hilary Duff has a healthy and happy outlook on life—we've found ourselves applauding the Younger actress for pointing out her so-called "flaws" in bathing suit selfies and envying her unique workout style. And now, Duff is letting us in on another mantra of hers—the importance of spending time outside. She recently teamed up with Claritin for their "20 Minutes of Spring" initiative to encourage people to get outdoors.
Sitting together on a New York city rooftop, I can't help but tell Duff how jealous I am that she's from sunny Los Angeles, where it's easy to spend time outside year-round. But she offers a tip from her days working in New York: "I started knitting like 10 years ago, but whenever I would get off work early and it was a nice day, I would just make myself go knit in the park and it was so lovely," she says. "Even if its not your dog, just going and being around dogs or people enjoying outdoor activities, it makes you feel good, it makes you want to be a part of it."
Plus, knitting keeps Duff from mindlessly scrolling through her phone. "You know what I mean, even on set and stuff I feel like I'm so in the habit of going to Instagram," she adds. "I actually read something that we are going to have way worse neck wrinkles than our parents because were constantly looking at our phones all day. It makes sense. It's really bad for you."
Here, the actress opens up to Health about how meal prep has changed her eating habits, what she does to keep her body and skin looking their best, and finding time for self-care.
On making time to meal prep
"Meal prepping on the weekends kind of sets me up for success throughout the rest of the week," Duff says. "I love to be naughty and eat things that taste delicious, but when I do meal prep, I feel like I make a few more sensible choices throughout the week."
To make the process easier, she preps a bunch of vegetables on a big pan and roasts them, then mixes them with proteins and grains. "Ill make some sweet potatoes, rice, grilled chicken, and then Ill have a few containers that I can do different stuff with. And adding greens is always important."
While it might be hard to find the time to meal prep, Duff says shopping on the weekends helps her get into more of a routine. She also prefers to prepare ingredients that can easily be thrown together instead of making full meals: "I dont love to just eat fruit by itself I like to put it in a salad," she adds. "And also this is so random, but I dont like to eat a strawberry just like a strawberry, so I slice it all up and have it all ready in a container and then its just way more edible to me that way and Ill actually eat them as opposed to them going bad in the container. Ill put grapes with it or Ill slice apples with it, or some other kind of fruits so it looks more appealing."
It's especially important for Duff to make make healthy food choices because she has an allergy to gluten. "I'm not totally gluten free, but I have the allergy and so it helps me avoid eating like a sandwich on the run when I do have fresh arugula to mix with rice and put chicken on top, something like that.
You just have to get creative and figure out what you like and what youre actually going to dip into instead of just grabbing something. Because really the reality is I want to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day long."
On her go-to recipes for eating healthy
Duff isn't afraid to tackle ambitious dishes. "This is kinda gross for some people, [but] I love to roast chickens, so Im not grossed out by the skin and stuff," she says. "When you roast a whole chicken, its actually very easy, but you have to get up under the skin and put seasoning in there and stuff and that kind of creeps people out. I just feel so professional and then it comes out and it looks like a restaurant did it youre like, 'That was me.' But you can use coconut oil or you can use olive oil or salt and pepper. I'm a spice person, so I put hot sauce on everything to make it exciting if its a little bit boring.
One of my favorite recipes right now is actually on Skinny Taste and its an eggplant parmesan with a ricotta and mozzarella cheese mixture but there's no bread crumbs and you dont fry it, you bake it. Its so bomb."
On staying in shape
Duff works with a trainer and prefers HIIT moves like like squats, jumps, and quick sprints over the standard gym machines. "I'm a very hyper person, so its good for me to get my energy out like that," she explains. "It just feels good. On occasion it makes me more tired and other times it makes me feel great and I'm just like, 'Yes, I got this day, anything, bring it my way, I can do it.' Plus, I like to eat, indulge, and drink wine, so thank God I love to work out, or else it would be a huge issue."
However, a friend of Duff's is trying to convince her to try a new workout. "One of my friends is trying to get me into swimming and I do really like it, but its just such a hassle because then my hair is wet and you look so horrible," she admits. "I feel like I can leave the gym and not look horrible in front of other parents, but swimming is a whole to-do. It is nice, I do notice that my body feels really good doing it."
Duff also just got a Peloton bike: "I havent used it yet but Im really excited, its in LA waiting for me. I hike a lot too, and then my trainer in LA just started training some of my girlfriends in my backyard so our kids will come over and swim and well kind of keep an eye on them since theyre old enough now. So well be in the yard training while theyre swimming. Its awesome."
On her favorite workout gear
"I love LuluLemon; I dont know what the style is called but theyre a little bit more high waisted," she says. "I just wear black, Im so boring. They're a little bit thicker, they hold you in place. I dont like the thin ones, its not supportive enough for me. But I also like Alo a lot and I tend to wear a little more of their colors. I dont really match my bra with my pants or anything like that."
Duff doesn't stress about putting together matching workout outfits, though. "Some people look so cute and Im like I dont know… I tend to wear a vintage T-shirt and knot it up and just wear sneakers. Im a Nike person but I actually got these shoes, my friends husband works at Allbirds, have you seen those? Theyre really lightweight–I dont necessarily know if they're great for support but they're really comfortable and look kind of like Yeezys. I'm really into them. So, I've been using those a little bit too."
On finding the confidence to post no-makeup selfies
"I love makeup just as much as the next person," Duff says. "When im having a bad day, it definitely helps me feel a little better about myself. But I think also as I get older, I want to be happy and I just feel naturally more confident in my skin and the way my face is and how my body is."
Like everyone, though, she has good and bad days. "I have weeks where Im like, 'Im crushing it right now, I look really good,' and weeks where I dont want to have to feel the pressure of fitting into that or whatever," she says. "If Im having a really pretty skin day, I want to let my skin breathe and show that off. So, I think its just important to find a balance and just be happy with ourselves, were so lucky to be here and to be healthy."
For anyone wanting to adopt a similarly positive outlook, Duff suggests watching the movie Call Me by Your Name for its beautiful message. "The dad gives the most beautiful speech at the end," she says. "It's like, 'We have one heart and we have one body and we have one lifetime and it's yours. It's all yours. It doesn't matter what I think, what your mom thinks, what anybody else thinks, it's your heart, your body, your mind.' It made me cry! I was like, I want to watch this all over again just to hear that dad say that. It's so beautiful and it doesn't just relate to loving, it relates to loving yourself and being good to yourself and being happy with what you have."
On her beauty routine
Since she's often working under bright lights, "if I have acne or a breakout im just like so disappointed," Duff says. "I feel like its the only thing people can see on my face and it makes me feel bad. I'm lucky to have good skin and I try my best to take care of it and get facials often. I have this lady in LA who im obsessed with, and she does these peels with roots and herbs and I'm obsessed with it."
When it comes to makeup, Duff says there's one product she always has on hand: "I use a mascara every day, Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara—Im obsessed with it," she says. "And I use Glossier Boy Brow. So, that helps lift the hairs, and its like a little gel but powdery and it has a little color so it's really nice."
Duff also likes the RMS Eye Sheens. "They're really pretty and they're organic which is nice," she says. "I'm not a stickler for organic products, but its nice when you can."
On her favorite self-care activity right now
"One of my favorite things to do, which is very important, is take a little bit of time for yourself for self care, and my new favorite one is a bath time with flowers," Duff tells us. To try it for yourself, she says, draw a hot bath, tear petals off of flowers—any type—and throw them in the bath with essential oils. "It is the most delightful, girly time that you could spend with yourself."
Her one word of warning? "Dont use bubbles," she says. "I tried it, it ruined it."