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Balancing Act: Kim Raver

"Eight hours of sleep!" she shrieks over her coffee, midstir. "That's not just healthy -- that's heaven!" Actress Kim Raver is sitting in the cafe of the Soho Grand on a chilly, rainy day in Manhattan, talking about what defines a balanced life. For Raver, known for her roles on popular shows like "Third Watch," "24," and "Lipstick Jungle," real life as the mother of two boys (Luke, 6, and Leo, 1) has its challenges. 

Occasionally, mornings begin at 3 a.m., making sleep a rarity indeed. But an easy schedule doesn't make a balanced life; a grounded perspective does. For Raver, 40, well-being comes with successfully managing priorities -- and she has several. In addition to juggling family commitments and a demanding acting career, she lives by green principles, consistently going the eco-friendly route with home building, cleaning, meal planning, and more. 

She also pairs a focus on her own health with an emphasis on helping others, supporting UNICEF as a spokesperson to provide clean water to children in Ethiopia. "I think life is all about giving back," Raver says, "and not taking basic things we have for granted." That strong inner compass -- plus a deep connection to family -- helps this busy actress keep track of all the whirling bits of her day. It also serves as the complete recipe for a life well-lived.

On Mindful Living
Raver's clear-skinned glow and breezy appearance belie a hard worker who started acting at age 6 and has appeared on stage and screen ever since. By her own definition, success requires more than just discipline. It means, to a great degree, being able to roll with whatever comes your way, good or bad. A big part of it, says Raver, has to do with simply being aware of it all. "Not to sound corny," she says, "but I am grateful every day that my family and I really do have our health. It's about maintaining the good things while you've got them."

On Her Greatest Inspiration
Raver and her older sister, Cybele, were raised in New York by their single mother, Tina, who held a full-time job to put her daughters through school. In the process, she taught Raver all she needed to know about simultaneously tending to career and family. Indeed, whenever Raver falls prey to a bout of mommy guilt (particularly after a spell of 12-hour days), she remembers that just as her mother handled it all, so can she. "It's the quality of time you spend with your children that's most important," she says.

Another piece of wisdom Mom shared? The world is more than just your immediate surroundings. Raver laughs as she recalls the time her mother took her to Kripalu for a yoga retreat, before yoga was popular. "I was a teenager, and I just thought the whole thing was hysterical -- the sweaty yogis, the silent meals," she says. "I teased my mom the whole time." But the getaway gave her a chance to experience a different way of living, along with a holistic perspective that would later inform an entire set of conscious lifestyle choices.

On Living Green
While she tries not to get, as she calls it, "cuckoo" over her choices, plenty of issues keep Raver up at night. "Hormones in milk, genetically modified foods, plastic -- all that plastic!" she says. Her concerns about bisphenol A (BPA) and other toxins in plastic caused her to switch to using baby bottles and accessories that avoid BPA, phthalates, and PVC. And when she and her husband, French filmmaker Manu Boyer, built their Los Angeles home, they opted for greener choices, including environmentally friendly paints, sustainable woods, and solar panels, which provide much of their energy.

On Healthy Eating
"Organic is a priority for me," says Raver. "We also avoid preservatives, added sugar, and soda, as well as opt for non-GMO, seasonal, and local foods whenever possible." Raver credits her natural approach to the European influence of her husband. She jokes that when she first met Boyer, she drank Diet Coke, sought out "fat-free" labels, and made liberal use of fake sweeteners. Not anymore. On their many trips to France, she realized that smaller portions make a big difference. "By eating healthy food that tastes really good, in moderate amounts, I can eat whatever I want," she says. "I don't count calories. I don't get on a scale. I don't measure. That's insane-making."

On Giving Back
As this issue went to press, Raver was planning to travel to a remote village in Ethiopia as part of the "Drink 1, Give 10" campaign, sponsored by Volvic. Raver will make a multiday trek to the community, where she'll help UNICEF build wells and teach families how to run them, providing access to clean, safe water. "It's one thing to campaign for these people," says Raver, "but it's another to experience it all firsthand." Though leaving her children for almost two weeks won't be easy, she values teaching by example. "I always tell them how important it is to give back," she says, "and I'm really lucky to be able to do it in a big way."

Kim's 10 Tips for Healthy Living
Keep It Simple
Health requires everyday maintenance and prevention. It means doing my best to help my family eat well, sleep well, exercise, and appreciate all that we have.

Heal Yourself in Nature
When things get really bad, I go to the beach and walk. It's helped me through some really rough times.

Try Home Remedies First
A hot steam shower can do wonders for a stuffy nose. There's nothing more effective than a strong salt gargle for a sore throat.

Laugh
It's a huge part of my life -- and a major de-stressor. I make it a point to laugh a lot, especially with my kids.

Be Here Now
What brings me the greatest pleasure in life is living in the moment, doing whatever I'm doing -- even if it's just sitting on the couch with my family, laughing our heads off.

Skip the Chemicals
I tell my kids that there's good dirt and there's bad dirt. Few things are as reliable as good old soap and water.

Please Your Palate
When you're really satisfied, you eat less. I'd much rather have two squares of really great dark chocolate than 10 cupcakes.

Keep Moving
I had this trainer in L.A., Valerie Waters, who said, "You're always one workout away from a good mood." It's true. I've never finished any kind of workout feeling bad.

Go Organic
Yes, it's expensive. But it's important. I make buying and eating organic foods a priority.

Set an Eco Example
The best way to encourage others to go green is to walk your talk.

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