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Jane Fonda at 72: 'I Feel Better Than Ever'

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Jane Fonda has one requirement when being photographed: “No airbrushing!” Says the Oscar-winning actress, who turns 73 on Dec. 21. “It looks phony. I’ve never made a point of hiding my age.” She has, however, made a few minor adjustments to hide some of its unflattering side effects. Last February-after vowing in 2000 never to get plastic surgery-Fonda went under the knife to remove the bags under her eyes and tighten the skin around her neck. “I thought it would be good to have something minimal done,” she says. “I wanted to look less tired.”

“Tired” is the last word anyone would use to describe Fonda lately. Almost 30 years after inspiring the nation to “feel the burn!” with her original workout video, the fitness force of nature is back in Lycra (sadly, without leg warmers) to encourage baby boomers to tone up with her new exercise DVD series Jane Fonda: Prime Time. “I’m 72, but I feel like my body is 50,” she says. Yet after undergoing hip-and knee-replacement surgeries in 2005 and 2009, respectively, even Fonda has to concede she’s not as nimble as her ’80s self. “I can’t do those moves anymore. I can’t run. I can’t downhill ski. But I can walk and snow-shoe,” says Fonda, who also teams up with trainer Gary O’Connor six days a week for hour-long sessions to maintain 121 lbs. on her 5’8″ frame. “I feel better than ever. I feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.”

That includes a health scare last month, when doctors found a lump in her breast during an annual physical. “I was a little scared at the beginning,” admits Fonda, who had the noninvasive tumor removed and has since been declared cancer-free. “It hadn’t spread,” she says. “I feel lucky.”

To stay on the healthy track, Fonda keeps her diet balanced-and vibrant. “The majority of my diet will be vegetables and fruits of different colors: dark green, yellow, red, purple, orange. I try to get all those in in a day,” says Fonda, who battled bulimia from her teens into her 40s. During that time, when she approached the dinner table, “my heart would race, and I would not eat anything,” she recalls. “Then I would eat it all when nobody was around.”

Nowadays she has no problem sharing food during date nights with her boyfriend of more than a year, music producer Richard Perry, 68. Along with eating only half of her restaurant portions, “I don’t eat desserts,” says Fonda, “but if my boyfriend is having a dessert that looks good I’ll take a bite.” Fonda-who will also reprise her Tony-nominated role in 33 Variations in L.A. next month-isn’t about to stop living it up now. “I don’t fear death,” she says. “I just fear getting to the end of life with regrets.”