Welcome to Pregnancy & Newborn’s Book Club! This month’s book is How to Look Hot in a Minivan: A Real Woman’s Guide to Losing Weight, Looking Great, and Dressing Chic in the Age of the Celebrity Momby Janice Min.Former editor in chief of US Weekly, mother of three, and a minivan driver herself, Min knows well that Hollywood moms set the bar high. (Their couture-covered bumps and bikini-clad postbaby bods regularly featured in the tabloids are constant reminders.) But she swears even those of us without personal chefs, stylists and trainers can keep up with the Kardashians (and Jolie-Pitts and Garner-Afflecks). In her invaluable primer, Min generously divulges celebrity secrets to help you shed the pregnancy pounds, dress for success, and find your mommy mojo. Read our interview with Min below.
Name: Janice Min
Occupation: Editorial Director, The Hollywood Reporter
Resides in: Los Angeles
Children: Will, 8; Tate, 6; Lila, 8 months
Pregnancy & Newborn: Hi, Janice! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us about your new book How to Look Hot in a Minivan. Tell us, what were you hoping to accomplish when you set out to write this celebrity insider’s guide to looking good?
Janice Min:I learned a lot covering celebrity culture—the good, the bad, the ugly. A lot of celebrity news is ephemeral, not really useful in our lives except as a distraction or as entertainment. But one thing that always struck me as valuable was the beauty, fashion and diet advice that comes from celebrities and the pros that work with them. As a pregnant lady now three times over, with a stressful job to boot like so many other women out there, I’ve often felt overwhelmed and lost in how to pull myself together. I know millions of moms also feel the same way. Advice gleaned from the pros actually makes the art of looking good—looking the best you can—seem fun and easy. I thought all women deserved to learn some of the best tricks those Hollywood moms use to look so good.
P&N: As the former editor in chief of Us Weekly and current editorial director for The Hollywood Reporter, you’re no stranger to our culture’s obsession with celebrities. We’re inundated with photos of celeb moms flaunting postpartum bods that would put many of our prepartum shapes to shame! But you admit in your book that such svelte physiques are often out of reach for us “regular” mamas. “This is real life. At some point, we have to stop the madness and start aiming for goals that are actually attainable,” you write on page 160. How do you manage to find balance between admiring these famous phenoms and accepting—and feeling good about—yourself as you are?
JM:All any of us can and should aspire to be is the best version of ourselves. I love that Nora Ephron quote: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” As it pertains to this specific aspect of our lives as mothers, you should feel entitled to look and feel your best without guilt. As mothers, we never relax: If we aren’t doing homework with our kids, we feel like we should be organizing drawers, or figuring out better lunches to pack for our children, or scheduling play dates, or organizing family photos. My book very much says, “Hey, it’s OK to spend some time on ourselves. We deserve it.” The simple fact is, the pros who help Hollywood look good know how to make looking good easier. They do this as a living. And when we look good, we feel good too. That positivity trickles down to your kids and sends a good message too: Mom matters too. We should work at least half as hard on our self-esteem as we do on our kids’. If you can separate all the things we make fun of celebrities for—72-day marriages, wardrobe malfunctions—you realize they know more about looking good, since that’s their job. We as normal people are lucky that we can just steal what we want from what they know!
P&N: You’re currently seven months postpartum. (Congratulations on your newest addition, by the way!) How has “bouncing back” after your third child compared to your first (with whom you had lost 25 of your 30 pregnancy pounds within 24 hours of giving birth) and second (who somehow managed to weigh more than you lost during delivery—we totally sympathize!)?
JM:I went into this pregnancy much more realistically. I definitely didn’t think I had some sort of “magic genes” like I felt I had after the first baby! Because of the difficulty in losing weight after my second child was born, I knew I would have to really put my mind to eating well and moving my body around out of the gate this time around. I remember after my second child, I was starving from breastfeeding and constantly ate turkey sandwiches with cheese and mayonnaise because I thought I needed to make up for those extra calories. Little did I realize how fast those extra 500 calories add up! I was probably eating 1,500 extra calories a day, just from hanging out at home in the kitchen on maternity leave. I used it as a license to eat with abandon! This time, I was disciplined from the outset, in large part because of tips I learned while doing my book. For example, the nutritionist Keri Glassman reveals in my book how many calories eating off your kids’ plates adds to your day. I used to be the clean-up crew off my older kids’ plates—finishing their last three chicken nuggets, or their half-finished bowl of mac and cheese. All those nibbles can top 1,000 calories a day! I stopped that. I stopped drinking all those empty calories off of sports drinks, I stopped having diet sodas, which the nutritionists in my book say can lead to sugar cravings. There is a really detailed shopping list in my book that I followed too, about what to buy and what not to buy at the market so you are never faced with a bad choice at home.
More importantly, I began moving around. I walked. And walked. With my baby and without. Because it was my third baby, and a vaginal birth, I felt fine almost right away. I started even doing light jogs right away after my doctor told me it was fine. I also knew what to expect, so I wasn’t beating myself up the way I did on my second pregnancy. I knew it would all eventually come off if I stuck at it. One of the best things I did was buy a few pieces of clothing one size up—another great tip in my book from, of all people, Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx. She said you actually look heavier when you try to squeeze into too-small clothes. So I treated myself to some easy pieces from places like The Gap that I could wear and look and feel good in while I was on my way. All told, I did it in the doctor-recommended time of six months, though not everything on my body looks like the way it did before—but hey, that’s what happens after you have kids. I also have learned to accept that.
P&N: Chapter Four is all about the 5-minute mom face, which is brilliant since we’re all pressed for time in the morning ( … and afternoon … and evening). What’s your morning beauty routine, and how long does it take?
JM: My morning beauty routine depends a lot on what I have to do that day. I’ll spend more time if I have a work event. If it’s a weekend, it’s ridiculously fast. I think every mom probably has a dark secret that sometimes we forget to shower, or don’t shower on any given day! That would have been unthinkable to me before children! But now, if I can put my hair up in a ponytail, I feel just fine leaving the house after I curl my lashes, apply concealer under my eyes, put on a swipe of eyeliner and add a touch of lip gloss (usually in the car). I religiously use the 20 Mom Essentials shopping list from my book. Once you have the right tools, it makes getting ready less puzzling. It was a relief in my book to hear from top makeup artists about where you get the most bang for your buck in the morning. With my hair, I try to take the time to do my own blowout every three days—if I invest a little more time in that one day, it will last longer and save me more time in the end. My book details the five haircuts that almost all Hollywood moms have. The haircuts work because they are easy and versatile. I ended up with one of those haircuts done by my own hairstylist. It’s the one that the hairstylist Oscar Blandi calls The Liberty—simple longer, layered hair. It’s the same haircut he does for Kelly Ripa. But I don’t have someone professionally styling my hair every day, though I wish I did!
P&N: There’s no denying it: Exercise is a key player in both looking and feeling our best. As moms though, our schedules are packed and the gym isn’t always top priority (somehow, kids and partners always seem to rank higher). But you give it to us straight on page 167: “The reality is that being ‘too busy’ to work out just isn’t a valid excuse. It’s up to you—and no one else—to make healthy and fitness a priority.” And you’re completely right. Tell us, how have you managed to fit fitness into your regular routine?
JM:I’m not going to lie to you. This is maybe one of the hardest things as a mother to achieve. But I have managed to fit it in. For starters, I love to walk. We are lucky enough to live close enough to many stores in our neighborhood, and I’ll walk instead of driving. I also have found inventive ways to squeeze exercise in. On the weekends, the second the baby goes down for a nap, I’ll run out to the gym if my husband is home to watch everyone so it’s easier on him. I love these cross-fit style classes that are popular in LA where you can get both a weights and cardio workout in at once. I try to time those classes with the baby’s naps. Also, I live by a YMCA that has childcare. There are times I pack up all three kids, leave them in the center, and I can do 30 minutes on an elliptical machine in peace. On both the second pregnancy, where it was so hard to lose weight, and this one, I found that it wasn’t until I added weights to my routine that the weight really started to come off. Celebrity trainers interviewed in my book, like Gwen Stefani’s trainer, say that you can run until the end of time, but unless you are adding weights or doing certain exercises properly, you won’t begin to see the kinds of changes in your body you want. In my book, Valerie Waters, who trains celebrity moms like Jennifer Garner, gives her best at-home workout with pictures and instructions. The workout uses equipment you have at home, and can be done in just 30 minutes. They include a lot of weight-bearing exercises where—I’ll use this phrase again—you get more bang for the buck.
P&N: How to Look Hot in a Minivan is chock-full of tips and tricks on everything from losing weight to dressing well to looking good to eating right. If moms can implement just one piece of advice or strategy from the book, what should it be?
JM:Shop from the book’s 10 Wardrobe Essentials. I swear, it has saved my life. The pieces are celebrity-approved, timeless, not expensive and you can mix and match them any which way for any occasion in your life. I know this sounds ridiculous, but the way it’s presented in the book it’s so easy! It’s like Garanimals for grown-ups!
MIN’S FIVE FAVES
Celebrity: Tina Fey
Beauty product: Eyelash curler
Weeknight dinner: Grilled chicken with broccoli