In a time when celebrities are still openly admitting to dangerous crash diets ahead of red carpet events, at least we can count on Mindy Kaling. The star, who has partnered with Propel to promote 'the joy of working out' recently shared how her philosophy about fitness and dieting has changed radically since her 20s.
"I used to be this person that would be like, 'Okay, I have a big event coming up, the pressure's on. I have six weeks to just like, stop eating, juice cleanse, do the boot camps' — whatever. And I have completely let go of that… it never worked for me. It wasn't healthy and I was in a state of deprivation," Kaling told InStyle ahead of the Met Gala, which she attended as a guest of Prabal Gurung wearing a plunging, lilac-colored gown that showed off her diamond medallion necklace from De Beers Jewellers. "But right now, I think I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm the healthiest I've been. And it's not because I'm preparing for anything! I wanna stop a cycle of yo-yo dieting and all that. I would love to never think about that again."
I really refuse to put any pressure on myself about the way I look. I just want to live for a long time and be able to run after my kids."
She's got other things on her mind. The writer-producer-actress is currently juggling multiple projects including Legally Blonde 3, The Sex Lives of College Girls, and Never Have I Ever and her two kids, Katherine, 4, and Spencer, 19 months. "For me now, I really refuse to put any pressure on myself about the way I look. I just want to live for a long time, you know, and be able to run after my kids. The way I think about my body and the way that I use my time now is so different than when I was 23," she adds.
Kaling contributes this shift, in part, to changing her mindset around exercise and more specifically, refusing to believe that working out must be torturous to be beneficial. "I'm this person who, in my 20s, I thought that working out had to be punishing. It had to be like, you know, 45 minutes on the treadmill running a seven-minute mile and I had to hate it. And that's how I knew it was like a 'good' workout," Kaling says. "I just don't have the patience and the time for that anymore, you know?"
For Kaling — who previously shared she reluctantly got on board with at-home workouts, including the Peloton, when gyms were closed — finding the joy in working out means getting back into group fitness and being willing to try anything. "I'm in this phase where, because workout classes are opening up, I am telling all my friends, 'bring me to your workout class!' I am loving being, like, a professional dilettante with classes. I did a Pilates reformer class two weeks ago and it was so hard — it was at one of these elite LA places, and it was so intimidating, but I absolutely loved it."
Kaling has also been influenced by her friend B.J. Novak who "got really into yoga" during the pandemic. "He recently was saying how much he loved it and I think it's a very, very good type of workout for someone with my personality because I'm kind of anxious. So he's been really inspiring with his love of yoga," Kaling says.
She's also finally come around to the idea of stretching. "I think because of my age, I can't keep up with the kind of cardio I want to do or with the training I want to do if I don't stretch," she said adding that she really gets into it with a full hour of stretching and has seen a difference. "Those little stretch things at the end of a group workout class where it's like two minutes? That does not cut it. I need more at 42."
Having kids has also changed the way Kaling approaches movement. "People are always saying, like, 'I stay fit by running after my kids!' I'm not gonna go that far, but I will say, my daughter's always like, 'You play the bad guy and I'll play the good guy and you chase me around the backyard!' I wouldn't just depend on that as a workout, but that's a good 15 minutes a day!"
Motherhood has changed the way she approaches style, too — but not how you might assume. "I remember when my mom was my age, she certainly didn't dress like I do! I think as I've gotten older, I have really gotten less judgmental of myself and also of other people for rocking certain trends," she says. "Not everything that I see on TikTok is something that I can pull off. I would love to be able to wear, like, a latex dress — that's so on trend with every celebrity I see on Instagram. I don't think that would look great on me. I don't think I'd feel comfortable in it." But she's certainly not opposed to taking risks.
She might not be "wearing a tube top and going to Coachella" any time soon, but Kaling flexes her fashion know-how from time to time, whether with a red carpet designer moment or a sexy, hip-cutout dress. "I like to surprise myself, whether it's in fashion or with a workout I wouldn't normally feel like I could do, she says.