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'I Don't Do Anything Regularly Except Eat'


"One of the nice things about winning Emmys," says soap star Erika Slezak, a presenter on tonight's 24th annual Daytime Emmy Awards (8 p.m., ABC), "is that people send you nifty bottles of champagne. I've got a basement full," says Slezak, 50.

She should, after taking home a record-breaking fifth award last year as outstanding lead actress on "One Life to Live" (ABC).

Question: So, if there's nothing to celebrate, what do you like to drink?

Answer: I love wine. I rarely go an evening without my glass of wine at 5 or 5:30. And I might have a yogurt or, if I'm being bad, I'll have cheese.

Q: Do you drink water?

A: I drink Pellegrino like it comes out of a tap.

Q: That wasn't dinner, was it, the yogurt or cheese?

A: No. No. No. You can't walk through the kitchen without having something, and the kitchen is the way to every room in my house. No, I love to cook for my family, so dinner time is around 6-6:30.

Q: And everybody gets to sit down together.

A: See, that's why it's a plus. People may say "Oh, you should skip dinner," but how the hell are families going to get together if that's true?

Q: What do you fix for dinner?

A: Steak and salad or chicken in a wine sauce with noodles, and I make all the sauces fresh. I make stuffed peppers or stuffed cabbage. Every once in a while, it's nice to have souffles and quiches. If you've been careful all day, basically it all balances out.

Q: Are you usually careful?

A: For me it's a constant struggle, but I try to stay away from fattening foods. For breakfast I have tea and two soft-boiled eggs and a piece of crunchy rye toast with a little marmalade or a bowl of Special K, which I love, or Grape-Nuts with 1% milk. It's like drinking colored water, but 1% is fine.

For lunch I'll eat a salad--lettuce, alfalfa sprouts, beets and beans--and I put on plain old oil and vinegar. I'd just as soon not eat if I'm going to have to eat low-fat dressing. Or I'll eat a grilled chicken breast on pita bread with a little lettuce, tomato and mustard.

Q: Do you exercise?

A: You know, I'm very energetic, but four years ago I fell from a horse and injured my back, not horrendously but enough to cause me unending pain. So, for the last few months, I haven't even been able to do my back stretches because it hurts. And I would walk on the treadmill but that hurts right now.

Q: Did you have to give up tennis?

A: I love tennis, and I'm so damn stubborn I'll play for the full hour and then limp off the court. We have a pool, so I swim but I don't do it regularly. I don't do anything regularly except eat.

Q: Any food stashed in your dressing room?

A: Nothing. I used to have a refrigerator, but I killed it one day when I was trying to defrost it with a knife. You know what they do at the studio, which is wicked? They say, "Make sure you look good. Make sure your costumes fit," and then in the morning they put out bagels, sweet rolls, jelly rolls. They do have yogurt now after we begged for years.

* Guest Workout runs Wednesdays in Life & Style.

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