As the old saying goes, no pain, no gain. We all hear about athletes who undergo crazy body transformations in the offseason, coming back to play stronger than ever due to a different training routine or new eating habits, or the actor cutting weight for an upcoming role that requires a few scenes in the buff — some gig, right?
For these celebrities, their bodies are their full-time job, requiring constant attention and refinement to make them the best in the business. Are they realistic approaches for the average person? Here’s our take on a half-dozen celebrity success stories, and how you can use their approach to get in better shape.
The host of “The Price Is Right” (pictured above) had tried losing weight numerous times before eventually shedding more than 70 pounds last year over just five months. His motivation stemmed from the realization that if he didn’t kick his sugar habit, he might not be around to watch his son graduate high school or get married. Carey kept sugar out of the house so it wasn’t within easy reach, and adopted a low-carb diet focused on egg whites, Greek yogurt and fruit. He also ate cinnamon daily and drank organic apple cider vinegar after large meals to aid in lowering blood-sugar levels.
Dietitian’s Tip: The “out of sight, out of mind” principle certainly applies to sugar and junk foods — if you never allow them in your cabinets, it will be that much harder to eat them. The weight-loss effects of both low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets have been shown to be quite similar. Choose the approach that works best for you. Carbs are still a key part of quickly burned energy, making them important for sustaining yourself during workouts. However, choose whole-grain carbohydrates, such as quinoa, brown rice and millet to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
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This 11-time NBA All-Star was always a big guy — after all, you don’t earn the nickname “Round Mound of Rebound” by accident. Weight was something Barkley struggled with for years — he once gained 20 pounds in two days to avoid getting drafted, to no avail. After retiring from the NBA in 2000, he gained more than 100 pounds. Eventually, he decided to do something about it. After making huge changes to his diet and becoming a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, Sir Charles has shed more than 40 pounds. He used friendly competition with friends to motivate him in the gym, found a way to be active every day and focused on eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables so eating healthy never got boring. His advice? Don’t focus on a restrictive diet: They’re often not sustainable or effective. Instead, recognize the importance of indulging in moderation.
Dietitian’s tip: Find a way to be active every day, whether that’s an intentional workout or something less on busier days, which might mean taking a 20-minute walk during your lunch break, using the stairs instead of the elevator or biking to work. As Barkley notes, it’s important to have a support system when transforming your body. Find a way to engage in friendly competition with family and friends to motivate you in the gym and within your eating habits. This support will make your lifestyle changes much more sustainable.
The diminutive comedian’s 5:30 a.m. alarm kicks off a day packed full with scheduled events — but most important, he always makes time to work out. For Hart, mixing fitness and fun into everyday life has allowed working out to become part of his natural routine. He puts in 60–90 minutes a day running and lifting weights, taking every other Sunday off. For diet, he focuses on high-protein foods and avoids dairy and bread.
Dietitian’s tip: In today’s hectic world, many of us don’t have one to two hours every day to dedicate to training. However, making time to for physical fitness is a matter of prioritization — when you plan your day in advance and include time to workout, it becomes much easier to squeeze in physical activity. High-intensity interval training workouts are an effective method for weight loss and are usually less than 30 minutes, allowing even the busiest of us to squeeze in a powerful workout. Schedule these routines directly into your calendar and invite friends to join you — that will make you much more likely to stick to your plan.
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Big Papi’s approach to weight loss? No alcohol, bread, sweets, chicken or shrimp. The former Boston Red Sox legend dropped more than 20 pounds in two months during 2012, getting his weight down to 250. Ortiz started his restrictive diet for reasons completely separate from his baseball performance: His cholesterol had reached dangerously high levels, and he decided a change was needed. After making these dietary changes, he said the results were immediately noticeable — he felt less tired when he worked out.
Dietitian’s tip: Cutting back on alcohol and sweets is a great way to kick-start weight loss. Neither provides much in the way of nutritional value, offering only empty calories and added sugar that neither fill you up nor nourish your body. Even a small amount of alcohol can have a huge impact on your metabolism, slowing the digestion of fats and carbohydrates and resulting in weight gain.
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For the controversial documentary filmmaker, something much simpler than diet or intense exercise was the key to his 70-pound weight loss: walking. For 30 minutes every day, Moore goes on a walk, and now mobilizes thousands of people to do the same through his “Walk with Mike” campaign. Moore believes that cutting out specific foods and taking on restrictive diets are not the long-term solution. Instead, he focuses on walking more, sleeping more and drinking more water.
Dietitian’s tip: Special diets and fancy gym equipment may leave you feeling like you’ll never be able to transform your body the way celebrities do, but Moore’s transformation shows that isn’t the case. Taking a more holistic approach to health by incorporating 30 minutes of walking, more sleep, extra water and natural foods may offer a much more sustainable weight-loss plan than rigorous exercise and expensive diets. Sleep deprivation has been shown to alter your metabolism and increase feelings of hunger, resulting in weight gain. Aim to get 7–8 hours of sleep per night to keep your body happy and healthy.
After seeing a handful of his fellow University of Tennessee football team alumni die young from weight gain and obesity, this former NFL offensive lineman had more motivation than ever to transform his 500-pound body. That’s when the producers of “The Biggest Loser” stepped in, inviting him to participate in the show during the 2011 season. In six months, he lost more than 45 percent of his weight, shedding about 200 pounds. Davis credits this program for saving his life, and now runs a program at Tennessee that prepares players for life after football.
Dietitian’s tip: Davis’ case is a unique instance of substantial, rapid weight loss in a supervised program. For most of us, a transformation this large would require extraordinary efforts that may be ultimately unhealthy, as they are difficult to maintain in the long-term. The usual recommendation is to focus on losing one to two pounds per week, a slower pace that allows you to sustain weight-loss efforts.
Photo via Associated Press