Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross is the April cover star of Health and looking fantastic in a colorful mix of bodysuits and body-con swimsuits. Inside the pages of the magazine, the 44-year-old talks about many interesting things, including how her body is changing, how she treats it and what she loves about getting older.
“The comfort in my skin is so much better,” she said about aging gracefully in Hollywood. “I spent so much of my life, culturally, seeing myself through others because I just didn’t always have the confidence to look at the world through my own eyes. As opposed to the ‘shoulds.'”
She continued, “It’s a curse word! It’s literally worse than ‘f—.’ ‘Should’ has so much shame in it. There’s nothing good. ‘You know what you should do?!’ It’s awful! As I get older, I’m having fun being me for the first time. My ability to be present has gotten better. It’s taken me a while because my tendency is to be in my head, judging myself, going over moments.”
As she gets older, Ross is also more aware of what she puts into her body, hence the reason she has a pretty smart food rule.
“It has to pass two tests: Not only taste good in my mouth, but it also has to feel good in my stomach,” she said. “So a lot of foods that are good in the mouth, 10 minutes later? I’m cursing myself. Potato chips don’t do that, french fries don’t do that—they’re fattening as hell, but whatever. But cake? I feel bloated, I get, like, hives from the sugar, and I feel like I’m having an anxiety attack. Ice cream? I can’t swallow; I feel like I have glue in my mouth.”
And when it comes to her body, Ross told Health that she’s learning to give it positive feedback and train it well. I’m sure you’re wondering how that works.
“One, talk nice to it,” she said. “And two, find workouts that make me feel good. And I have to say that Tracy Anderson’s workout the last five years has been really good for me. I love the studio atmosphere, I love how beautiful and sexy and long and strong I look when I work out, and I love the loud music. I find that, as adults, we stay so regimented in our movement, even if we get on a treadmill. The music changes all the patterns, and my body gets to move freely, so you feel amazing—which is ultimately the point of the workouts, too. One of the things that’s most encouraging is you see a roomful of women working their a–es off and looking beautiful. You see women in their 40s wearing jog bras and their stomachs out proudly, walking in a stance that says, ‘I love my body,’ and that’s exciting to me.”
Ross works out about three to four days a week and says she puts in the work at the gym because at this stage in her life, she needs to.
“I feel the best when I work out,” she said. “I feel very strong. I didn’t wake up like this. At 22, I woke up like that. At 44, I work really hard for this! I am on TV, and I don’t want to lie to anybody. I’m not at my skinniest, I’m not at my fattest, but I live my life. This is my body. Health and the functionality of my body are more important than what it looks like.”
But if she had to pick an asset that both physically and visually she loves, Ross would admit that it’s her butt. She works to keep it perky by doing moves in the gym that lift and tighten.
“Gravity makes it drop and spread, so I try to lift and tighten,” she said. “[My trainer and I] specifically target it to make sure my butt is looking lifted and full. And I switch it up with other workouts, sometimes squats and lunges and deadlifts. I love a deadlift. I have 20-pound weights in my meditation room, so sometimes I’ll just do some.”
But it took a long time for the star to embrace her backside. It was only after going up and down in her weight that she realized that that a– wasn’t going anywhere. She’s happy it hasn’t.
“I love my butt in a way I didn’t growing up,” Ross said. “I really didn’t like it growing up. It was so much bigger than everyone else’s, and I wanted jeans to look the way they did on everyone else, and mine didn’t. I’ve been—to a certain extent—at odds with my body for many years, wanting it to be something other than it was, wanting myself to be something other than I was. Then, in my 30s, I started to get comfortable with the largeness of my personality. The same thing with my butt. I tried getting really, really skinny, and I learned that no matter how thin I got, I was still gonna have a butt.”
Images via Health/James White