Up Close with AnnaLynne McCord

Apr. 7 2010, Published 11:29 a.m. ET

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-- by Shape Magazine

You might think every young actress in Los Angeles diets religiously and works out 24/7 to stay slim and camera-ready. But that's not always the case— and we chose 90210 star AnnaLynne McCord to be on the cover of Shape's Sexiest Bodies in Hollywood issue to prove it! The Southern gal's approach to eating and exercising contradicts what we've always heard about how celebrities get their sleek, sculpted shapes. AnnaLynne, 22, shows that when it comes to healthy living, sane plus smart equals sexy!

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Listen to Your Body

Growing up in Georgia, AnnaLynne was surrounded by high-calorie foods. "It's all about butter, sugar, fried, and deep-fried," she says in a light drawl. Despite the tempting treats, she's kept a trim figure her entire life-thanks, she says, to her mom. Ten years ago, her mother lost 45 pounds with strategies she picked up from The Weigh Down Diet. "The author studied the habits of thin people and discovered that when they're done eating, they wrap up their leftovers instead of just finishing whatever they were served," says AnnaLynne. By following a few basic guidelines—such as pushing away your plate when you're full and allowing for splurges in moderation—her mother got much fitter and inspired her three daughters to "think thin" in the process.

Cook When You Can

Because of her crazy-busy schedule—she's on set at 6 a.m. most days and sometimes not in bed until 1 or 2 the next morning—breakfast is the only meal AnnaLynne eats at a normal time. Usually she has an egg sandwich or French toast-or both if she's really hungry. She tends to graze the rest of the day, grabbing a turkey and ham sandwich for lunch, a handful of red and green pepper strips with ranch dressing or cereal bars for a snack, and vegetable soup plus fish or chicken for dinner.

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When she isn't working until the wee hours, AnnaLynne likes to make healthy, home-cooked meals, and her specialty is citrus chicken. She starts by marinating chicken breasts in lemon and lime juice, then sautéing them in olive oil and more citrus juice. She throws in lots of fresh chopped herbs, like rosemary, sage, and thyme, and browns the chicken slowly until it's done. She pairs that with a side of fresh spinach sautéed in olive oil and garlic on top of fettuccine. "I love this meal because it's simple and ready in 30 minutes," she says.

Of course, she's not always perfect when it comes to her food choices: She's obsessed with Taco Bell Mexican Pizzas, but sticking to her mother's moderation rule, indulges only once or twice a week. And she's recently discovered why she loves them so much. "My mom told me she used to eat one every single day when she was pregnant with me," she says, laughing. "I'm like, ‘Mom, you're the reason I'm totally addicted to Taco Bell!'"

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Sweat with a Friend

Open any celeb tabloid and chances are, you'll see photos of AnnaLynne running around the beach with her girlfriends. "With my unpredictable work hours, I rarely have time to exercise and have fun, so my idea of a good workout is to mix them both," she says. "I love being outdoors, playing beach tennis, going for runs in the sand, or doing a three-hour hike with my best girlfriend, Mieko." Three hours? "Yeah, we go to Runyon Canyon or some other hiking trail and just walk and talk for hours," she says. "It's our one-on-one time."

Think Outside the Gym

"When I first moved to L.A., I didn't have a lot of money to join a gym or take classes, so I improvised," she says AnnaLynne, who still doesn't have a gym membership. "My sister and I went to the library and looked over their DVD collection and discovered Neena and Veena, these Egyptian twins who have a whole series of belly dancing routines. We did them all." Not only is it a complete workout, says AnnaLynne, belly dancing has a positive side benefit as well: "When you're shaking your booty," she says, "you can't help but feel beautiful and sexy."

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Take Time to Give Back

Move over Angelina, because AnnaLynne is vying for the title of hardest-working philanthropist in Hollywood! For more then two years, she's been the Goodwill Ambassador for the Blind Project, an organization that fights human trafficking in Southeast Asia. She's also helped rebuild houses for displaced families in New Orleans with the St. Bernard Project, and right before the earthquake hit, she brought supplies and gifts to orphans in Haiti.

"You have to find something you're passionate about so it's not a matter of 'Can I help?' but 'I can't not help,'" says AnnaLynne, who also supports animal rescue. She's so committed, she says, her New Year's resolution was to "empower and challenge my friends to work for charities that speak to them, because it's so rewarding. For me success is not all about the paycheck or magazine covers. It's about figuring out why I'm here and discovering my greater purpose in life."



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