Now that Ellen Pompeo has become a mom to daughter Stella, 8 months, she is working her “obsession” with diet and exercise into her family life.

The Grey’s Anatomy star opens up about her baby girl’s latest milestone in the OK! out now, and here she talks about how she prevents herself from becoming a “martyr” as a mom who cares for everyone but herself.

“I always have been obsessed with working out and eating right,” the actress, 40, says during the American Cancer Society’s Choose You launch event. “I’ve never smoked, or any of that. When you eat healthier with your kids, you’re teaching them two things – you’re teaching your kids about eating healthy, you’re doing something as a family and you’re helping yourself, so you’re going to feel better.”

She adds, “We say we don’t have time for exercise. Well, you can walk with your kids. You can bike with them. Women don’t make time for themselves, and they say ‘I can’t do this because I have to do that.’ You can think of ways to improve your whole family. You can spend time together as a family and take care of yourself.”

Even though Stella may want to eat candy all the time when she gets older, or music-producer husband Chris Ivery may occasionally ask her to pick up a salty snack, Ellen is determined to be a positive role model for her brood.

“You have to set an example,” she says. “What you do, they’ll do. Your kids are going to mimic anything you do, and if you only put healthy food in the fridge, that’s the only choice they have. If you only cook one thing, that’s what your husband’s going to have to eat. You have to put yourself first, and say ‘this is what I made, and this is what you’re going to eat.’ If you’re not healthy, you’re not around, and there is no wife and mother. We certainly want more birthdays and more Mother’s Days.”

For Ellen, sticking to a healthy diet and exercise regimen helps ensure she can share as much time as possible with her loved ones.

“I grew up without a mother, and it’s extremely important,” she says. “It’s terrible to lose your mother. It’s terrible to lose anyone. We have to do it for them. We’re so busy being martyrs a lot of the time, doing everything for them. Well, this is for them. Taking care of yourself is for them.”

Why does Chris make a great dad?

“His sense of humor — and his wisdom.”

What’s the best thing about mothering a girl”

“Everything,” she tells me. “A healthy baby.”

Pick up the OK! on newsstands now to find out Ellen Pompeo’s daughter’s latest milestone. The cover line is “Rob Tells Oprah: ‘Kristen’s Pregnant!’”

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