01/31/2014 07:20 am ET Updated Apr 02, 2014

Shirley MacLaine's Stay Young Secrets From The Set Of Downton Abbey

By Cindy Pearlman KnowMore's Hollywood Insider

Legendary actress Shirley MacLaine is not out on a limb. She's actually sitting in a chair at a picnic.

In the new season of Downton Abbey, the 79-year-old is back in her pincurls and pearls during an outdoor scene for an upcoming Christmas special. Paul Giamatti is also there as the playboy son of her Miss Martha.

Is this yet another life for MacLaine who also stars in the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? "It's another chapter," she says. "The answer is yes. I love to work. You won't find me sitting it out."

Not Your Average Shape-Up Plan

How MacLaine stays healthy enough to work at almost 80 is a topic that she loves to talk about. Of course, since it's Shirley, it isn't your typical January resolution plan that involves a gym membership.

"I have a shaman here in Santa Fe (New Mexico)," she explains. "He says that Mother Nature is like a mother dog. Both are always shaking off its fleas."

This means....

"It's all about staying the healthiest version of you," she says. "I have a garden at my house and it has been a big goal of mine to get back to nature. That's why I love living in Santa Fe. I wanted to dig in the dirt and grow vegetables. I wanted to get into the ingredients that made the cake."

She says her years in show business taught her to care about the wrong things. "Hollywood is a big teacher," she says. "It's about façade. Your priorities can easily get out of whack. You have to get back to the whole nature of what really matters in life."

"What doesn't matter is the red carpet," she says in a sure voice. "Life is not about materialism and competition to wear the latest designer gown. Those kind of priorities are off."

Her stay young secrets?

Don't Believe the Numbers: "I don't care what birthday you're on. It's all about how you feel. There are days when I feel like 30. The oldest I go is my mind. The number doesn't matter. But I do have a sense that I have some wisdom now. It's good to be wise. It sure beats being young and clueless."

Keep It Moving: "I also know that the only thing in life I can't do is a full Jane Fonda workout! That's crazy anyways. But I used to be able to do hours and hours of physical dancing and working out. Now I only do a part of that workout and it's fine. I know now that it's also fine to give yourself a break."

Stop Worrying About the Future: "One last thing that I know now; I haven't planned a damn thing ever in my life. Guess what? It worked out great. I wouldn't even know how to plan. I wouldn't have a clue. I know that you can basically live in the moment, which is what I do."

One more piece of advice:

Live a life unfiltered: "I don't think about the consequences of what I do. That's just me."

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Cindy Pearlman is the co-author of several beauty books including "The Black Book of Hollywood Beauty Secrets," "The Black Book of Hollywood Diet Secrets" and "The Beauty Cookbook."

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