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Hilary Duff for Women’s Health

“I have an idea…” says Hilary Duff’s 3-year-old daughter, Banks, her finger tapping her mouth. “Can I have a treat?” The child tilts her blonde head to one side as her mother looks upon her with amusement. “Did you eat any vegetables for lunch?” Hilary asks. Banks says yes, though her mother suspects otherwise. But who can deny a little indulgence in the face of such ingenuity? -Women’s Health

But this is the house where she recovered from her 2016 divorce, where she learned to parent Luca as a single mom, where she eventually wed Koma on the front lawn, and where their girls were born. It’s hard to leave a place that’s held such joy. And food is a big source of that happiness. “We eat butter in this house, and olive oil, and sodium, and sugar,” says Hilary, taking a bite of a turkey, arugula, and pickle sandwich. A deviled egg, which she made this morning because her chickens are laying, waits on her plate as Mom’s version of a treat. -Women’s Health

Hilary’s appeal as an actress has always been her easy familiarity. As a child star on Lizzie McGuire, she was the quintessential everygirl, as warm as she was vulnerable. After years of being identified with the character, and multiple passes on offers to reboot her, she agreed to revisit Lizzie in a series for Disney+. The project tanked when Hilary and the network differed on their vision for adult Lizzie. “She had to be 30 years old doing 30-year-old things,” Hilary says she insisted, pushing for a more mature Lizzie. “She didn’t need to be doing bong rips and having one-night stands all the time, but it had to be authentic. I think they got spooked.” -Women’s Health

Hilary signed on to HIMYF in her eighth month of pregnancy and had four and a half months to get ready for a wardrobe of Sophie’s short skirts. It’s a tricky thing in Hollywood for a woman to separate the idea of health from her appearance. “Because of my career path, I can’t help but be like, ‘I am on camera and actresses are skinny,’” she says. She struggled with the pressure, battling a yearlong eating disorder at the age of 17. “It was horrifying,” she says. -Women’s Health

As the afternoon light softens, Hilary takes a deep breath, gearing up for the bedtime routines ahead. She says it’s both her happiest time with her children and the most exhausting: “The cooking, the feeding, the bathing, reading books, bottles, all the stuff.” Then it’s her turn to unwind. She’s learned that exercise alone can’t be her self-care; she needs to attend to other aspects of her life as well. When the kids are down, she’ll change into pajamas (“nothing fancy—I want to be in soft rags, basically”) and turn off her to-do list of a mind. On an ideal night, she and Koma are in their big white bed by 7:30, eating takeout sushi and watching their shows. She’ll crochet, maybe read a chapter from a book—currently the memoir The Argonauts and the self-help book The Mastery of Self—before falling asleep. This is the routine that truly nourishes her. -Women’s Health

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