Read an Excerpt
My Hollywood Fitness Secrets
. . . Revealed!
Psssst . . . Want me to let you in on a little Hollywood secret? The beautiful, sexy bodies that you see on television and the silver screen aren’t simply the product of good genes. Not all of your favorite celebrities were born with impeccable figures, or have been slim and sculpted their entire lives. In fact, most of them have to work hard to stay so trim, toned, and youthful looking–just like you and me.
Though we tend to put them on pedestals, celebrities aren’t superhuman.
Some, particularly supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, may have genetic advantages. But they still have to exercise and watch what they eat. And it isn’t always easy! Like you and me, they have lazy days. They sometimes feel uncoordinated when trying a new workout.
They get bored when they do the same exercises over and over. They have cravings for pizza, ice cream, and other fattening foods. They often want to do nothing more than collapse on the couch after a long, exhausting day on the set.
My celebrity clients may not have traditional nine-to-five jobs, but they certainly don’t have all day to spend at the gym. Truth be told, none of the actresses or models that I train typically exercises for more than an hour at a time. These women are unbelievably busy! Whether they’re working on a movie, a TV sitcom, a fashion show, or a photo shoot, their schedules tend to be very demanding. I’m talking ten- to twelve-hour days! On top of their chaotic careers, they have families, bills, grocery shopping, errands, and countless other responsibilities, just like everyone else. And most of them don’t have a team of personal assistants to help them, either. Take Julia Roberts, for example. She doesn’t even hire someone to clean her house. She washes her own dishes, scrubs her own bathroom,
and mops her own kitchen floor.
Celebrities are constantly subjected to the scrutiny of the camera,
whether they’re on a film set, walking the red carpet, or running from the paparazzi. If you can imagine having your body magnified on screen, or photos of yourself plastered all over the tabloids, then you may understand the kind of motivation that they have to look good. Sadly, for some, the pressure can be overwhelming. In recent years a number of them, such as Paula Abdul and Carré Otis, have started coming forward and sharing their struggles to remain so unnaturally thin. To keep the pounds off,
some have resorted to unhealthy, even potentially life-threatening tactics,
such as excessive exercise, vomiting, drug and alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, and harsh diuretics. Others have gone under the plastic surgeon’s knife for procedures like liposuction and tummy tucks.
Fortunately, Hollywood has finally woken up to the realization that super-thin is super-unattractive and super-unhealthy. A decade or so ago in the entertainment industry, “skinny Minnie” wasn’t skinny enough.
Size Zero was the norm in Los Angeles. But in just the last few years, the
“ideal” body shape has started to change. The waif look is out. Fit and toned is in! What’s sexy is looking strong, lean, and healthy. Many of our favorite stars–including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Lopez–are now embracing their curves. And we all know that’s what men really love!
I know all about the dangers of trying to be skinny. Although I’d never worried about my weight as a kid, I became unhappy with my appearance in high school. I wasn’t overweight; I had a sturdy, athletic frame. But I didn’t think I was thin enough. During my senior year, I started taking over-the-counter diet pills to lose weight. This insane habit continued into my college years, when I also battled bulimia. On a typical morning I would swallow a diet pill, then go without food until I was absolutely starving. After bingeing to satisfy my hunger, I’d run to the ladies’ room to vomit. At one point I was taking up to five diet pills a day.
One afternoon during my sophomore year, it all started to unravel. As I was walking out of my dorm room, I suffered a grand-mal seizure. I woke up on the sidewalk with a paramedic kneeling beside me. Later, in the hospital, I lied to my doctors, telling them the seizure must have been caused by stress and lack of sleep. They believed me, and I was released from the hospital. But even this scary experience wasn’t enough to make me quit. I continued in the vicious binge-purge-pill cycle for another year, until I finally had another seizure. Realizing that I would die if I didn’t change my behavior, I vowed to stop taking diet pills and stop throwing up.
With every bit of self-discipline I had, I took control of my life. I educated myself about healthy eating and started giving my body the nutrients that it so badly needed. I have never taken diet pills or vomited since. My all-around good habits lasted about six years, up until the time that I moved to Los Angeles. At that point, my career was going full throttle,
and I had a full schedule training clients and teaching aerobics classes. But I was overexercising and not eating enough. At the same time, I was dating a famous actor who liked to stay up all night and sleep all day. I was partying too much and only getting a few hours of shut-eye each night. During the day, I was drinking tons of coffee just to keep myself going.
Throughout all of this, my body was suffering. I felt tired and worn out.
I realized that I wasn’t living healthfully, and as someone whose career was based on promoting health and fitness, I felt like a total hypocrite. Then,
in 1990, it caught up with me. I suffered a third seizure while hiking with a client. At the hospital, my doctor threatened to put me on antiseizure medication, which meant my driver’s license would be taken away. Since my livelihood depended on driving to see my clients, I promised him that I would change my habits the moment that I walked out the door. And I did. After that day, I completely overhauled my lifestyle. I started eating right and sleeping eight hours a night. I also pledged to give up caffeine for good. Thankfully, I’ve been in excellent health ever since.
Over the years, I’ve learned a tremendous amount, both personally and professionally, about how to stay fit, healthy, and looking good. Most of my career has been spent sharing this know-how with a Who’s Who of the entertainment industry. Now, it’s time for me to teach you. In this chapter, you’ll find out all about my personal approach to fitness. I’ll outline easy ways for you to squeeze more activity into your hectic days, and provide easy-to-follow eating guidelines. I’ll also discuss the basic principles of weight loss, and tell you why a change in your attitude could be the secret to your success.
But the most important thing to remember is: No matter how much you want to look a certain way, no matter how badly you want to get into those slim-fitting jeans, and no matter how many daydreams you may have about looking like the fabulous women who populate our favorite films and television shows, your health is so much more important. Trust me, I say this to all my clients. In this book, we’re going to work hard to get your body into amazing shape. But we’re also going to respect it and embrace it–it’s the only one you’ve got.
The Exercise Equation
No matter who you are, in order to stay young and healthy, you need to move your body. It’s as simple as that. Almost every system in your body,
from your cardiovascular system to your muscular and skeletal systems,
benefits from regular physical activity. By staying active you can reduce your risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, many cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Exercise helps strengthen your immune system, so you can fend off many of these life-threatening diseases as well as ailments as basic as the common cold.
As many of you know, regular exercise is also essential for staving off excess pounds. Despite the many fad diets currently making headlines, research consistently shows that a combination of exercise and a healthy diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. By getting up and moving,
you can burn calories that would otherwise be stored as fat. When you build muscle, you also speed up your metabolism, so your body burns more calories throughout the day, whether you’re pushing a cart through the supermarket or sitting around watching TV.
But the benefits don’t end there! Exercise can also have a powerful effect on your state of mind. During physical activity, your brain releases neurotransmitters called endorphins that can help elevate your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Studies show that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in alleviating mild to moderate depression. When you’re feeling overworked and exhausted, exercise can help restore your energy, optimism, clarity, and creativity. After a good workout,
you’ll be more productive and make better decisions. You’ll also be much less likely to fly off the handle.
It follows, therefore, that exercise can have a huge impact on what you’re able to achieve in life. When you’re better able to handle physiological and emotional stress, you feel more in control of your life. You sleep better. You feel better about yourself. You have more confidence, whether you’re making a presentation at work or slipping into your favorite dress–
or, in the case of my famous clients, accepting an Academy Award or shooting a steamy bedroom scene.
When a client comes to me wanting to get in shape for a movie role, a TV appearance, or a fashion show, I always remind them that exercise shouldn’t be a temporary fix. The same goes for those of you who picked up this book determined to lose weight or firm up for a special occasion–a wedding, a reunion, or a trip to a tropical locale for spring break. There’s nothing more motivating than knowing you’re going to be bumping into your ex or wearing a swimsuit in public! But if you want lasting results,
you need to make fitness a permanent part of your life.
Fitness isn’t just a goal–it’s a lifestyle that will allow you to look and feel your best, and in turn, to live your best life. It isn’t a superficial luxury; it’s a necessity for health and well-being. The celebrities in this book look so stunning because they have made fitness a regular part of their routine.
They may not always enjoy it, but they’ve committed to it, and that–combined with a knockout exercise regimen–is what gets them superstar results.
In this book, we’ll do the same for you. You may not love working out, but if you stick with it, I promise that you’ll love what it does for your body! And, as you get stronger, you may even find yourself craving every opportunity to get up and move.
The Triangle of Fitness
Physical fitness has three integral parts: cardiovascular fitness, strength, and flexibility. All three components are vital for a healthy, balanced body–and should be the basis of any solid fitness plan.
Cardiovascular exercise works one of your most important muscles–
your heart–along with your lungs. If you do cardio workouts regularly,
your heart won’t have to work as hard to pump blood through your body,
and your lungs will deliver oxygen with less effort. This translates into more endurance and staying power, whether you’re running after your kids or competing in a bike race. Because cardio burns a lot of calories, it’s also an important tool for losing weight.
The second component, strength training, helps work important muscles in other areas of your body–your legs, buttocks, hips, arms, shoulders,
chest, back, and abs. As we get older, our muscles and bones get weaker, especially if we don’t eat right or exercise enough. Strength exercises can help prevent or even reverse these losses, reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
Furthermore, if your muscles are strong, you’re less likely to suffer back pain and other debilitating injuries. You also have the strength
Many women think that cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging or walking on a treadmill, is the best and only way to trim down. That’s just plain wrong. In fact, strength training is the secret weapon of many of Hollywood’s hottest female stars. It allows you to develop specific muscles for that sexy, sculpted look we all admire. When you build muscle, you not only look more defined, your metabolism gets a boost, so you burn more calories all day long. Muscle weighs more than fat, but it takes up less space–so even if the numbers on the scale don’t change, your clothes will get looser, and your body will begin to look firmer and more taut.
The last piece of the triangle is flexibility. Our muscles are like rubber bands–they are incredibly resilient. But the less you use them, the tighter they get. Flexibility is crucial for preventing injuries and staying mobile.
By stretching regularly you can keep your muscles limber, increase your range of motion, improve your balance, and enhance your posture.
What’s more, research suggests that stretching immediately after your strength-training workouts can help you build more muscle for an even bigger metabolic boost.
How Much Is Enough?
And now for the million-dollar question: How much exercise do you have to do to get all of the benefits and achieve your best body? For weight control and optimum health, experts recommend at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Thirty minutes a day can help you achieve important health benefits, and is a good starting goal if you’re currently sedentary. As you get in better shape, you’ll want to aim for closer to an hour, and/or work on increasing the intensity of your workouts,
for even more benefits and calories burned.
This may sound overwhelming to those of you who haven’t been exercising regularly. But don’t get discouraged! With my program you’ll start slowly, and gradually work on building strength. You can also do the workouts at your own pace. If time is an issue for you, and you’re worried that you won’t fit it all in, remember that the benefits of exercise are cumulative.
In other words, you don’t have to do your 30 to 60 minutes all at once. Instead,
you can do some in the morning, some at lunch, and some in the late afternoon. (You’ll find more details on this type of scheduling in Chapter 2.)
When it comes to fitness, some activity is always better than none. But too much exercise isn’t a good thing, either. I found this out the hard way.
At the start of my career in Hollywood, I was working out way too much–even for a personal trainer! On a typical weekday, I’d train five or six clients in a row in the morning, then teach two back-to-back step aerobics classes at night. Even though I thought I was in great shape, I soon discovered that overexercising can lead to injury and burnout. I was fatigued and frequently in pain from one overuse injury or another.
Your exercise sessions should invigorate you, not wipe you out. So it’s important to find a happy medium. These days, I take a much more moderate approach. And to tell you the truth, I feel much healthier, and my body looks about the same. Fortunately, this message has also caught on in Hollywood, and I no longer see as much of the exercise mania that gripped the industry a few years ago.