With a starring role in A Wrinkle in Time complete,Ocean's 8 due out this June and the creation of a new TV show called Champions, the past year has been a whirlwind for Mindy Kaling — and that's all before you remember she welcomed her first child, Katherine, in December.
“She is a really happy baby. When she was born, she was kind of skinny and anxious," the 38-year-old new mom reveals in the June issue of Shape. "I think she was like, ‘Can this woman take care of me?’ But during our many breastfeeding sessions, we’ve gotten to know each other, and she’s learned to trust me over time.”
In fact, they've gotten to know each other so well that Kaling thinks she has an inkling as to what Katherine's first words will be.
“What’s great for me is that my doctor told me that incessant chatter is good for a baby, and I’ve lived my whole life waiting to have a captive audience," Kaling jokes. "So, I spend the days narrating to her. I’m constantly doing voice-over for her, as I did in The Mindy Project. Honestly, I feel like her first words are going to be, ‘Just stop. Please!'”
The comedian says she has already started thinking about things she'd like to teach her daughter, including the importance of working out.
"I'm excited for my daughter to see me work out and to know that it's a normal part of my life. I wasn't raised that way, and I think when you don't see that kind of thing as a kid, it's really hard to pick it up," Kaling shares. "I would love for her to learn at a young age that exercise is a great habit to have. I didn't learn that until I was 24."
Kaling tells the magazine that she works out four to five times a week and switches it up for variety — SoulCyle, strength-training and yoga are all in her repertoire.
"I love working out," she says. "I don't go to therapy, and I think that's because I get endorphins from exercise. It's such a powerful tool for me mentally. I know that working out is not the path for me to be skinny. For my body type, that entails eating well and making healthy choices. Working out is a way for me to have mental strength, and now, with a kid, it's also time that I have just for myself and to focus on my body."
For Kaling, exercising was an integral part of her pregnancy too.
"Because I like to eat, and I'm not skinny to start with, I knew that if I gained a lot of weight during my pregnancy, things could just fly off the rails in a really bad way. That was something I definitely needed to watch out for," Kaling says. "My doctor said that women who gain just 25 to 30 pounds usually have less trouble losing it after the baby is born. So I kept my weight gain to about 27 pounds. I also worked out whenever I could while I was pregnant. I did a lot of yoga and a lot of walking, and I jogged until I couldn't jog anymore. I exercised until the morning I gave birth."
Working with women and other mothers on her latest projects has also been encouraging for the new mom.
"It's funny, because when Ocean's Eleven was filming, you'd read about how it was such a convivial atmosphere on set and that George Clooney would play pranks on everybody. It made me realize that when men go away to shoot a movie for two or three months, they leave their families at home. But women take their families with them," Kaling says.
She continues: "So I wasn't just seeing big stars like Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett without the rest of their lives. The rest of their lives were with them, and I got to meet spouses and children. That was wonderful. Cate and Sandy both have little kids who are so well behaved and fun, and I got to learn a lot about how they parent and ask them a ton of questions. The group of us from that movie is still tight. We text all the time."
As for her career, Kaling doesn't plan to give it up any time soon, rather, she wants her daughter — and other young women — to be inspired by what she does.
“If I could make a difference by shepherding into this business a group of deserving young women or young people who felt like they had not been represented before, that would really mean a lot to me,” Kaling says. “... I want my daughter to be proud of what I do. I want her to brag about me to her friends.”
Watch the video to hear more about the best thing Kaling's daughter, Katherine, does:
Mindy Kaling Says Stephen Colbert's Baby Gift 'Straight-Up Sucks' Compared to What Oprah Gave Her
Oprah Gave Mindy Kaling's Newborn Daughter 'the Most Amazing' Gift
Mindy Kaling Gushes Over Her Baby's Best Skill at First Red Carpet Since Giving Birth (Exclusive)