When it comes to diet and fitness, this Extra host knows exactly what she’s talking about. Author of the recently released book, The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness: How I Lost 40 lbs and Kept It Off-And How You Can Too!, Maria Menounos details a weight-loss program based on a Mediterranean diet that encourages women to think “smarter, simpler, and healthier.” Why should you listen to what Menounos has to say? Because her plan works, and she can prove it.
It’s hard to believe it, but at one point this fit celebrity was 40 pounds overweight. In her book, she describes herself as being low on energy and often sick as a result of the excess pounds. Menounos says she tried multiple diets, none of which worked. She finally took matters into her owns hands and spent a year developing an easy-to-follow commonsense diet, with exercise and lifestyle techniques to accompany it. She shed the pounds, regained her energy, and has kept it off ever since.
Ready to learn how you can rock a body like Menounos’s? Here are some of her best tips and tricks for living a healthy life.
“There will be times when you can’t fit in exercise, so you have to figure out a way to make it work. One way I do it is something I’ve coined ‘convenience conditioning.’ I make sure I’m getting in my workout throughout the day. When I’m in the office, I’m not sauntering from spot to spot, I’m speed walking. I’m always moving, which is why I’m able to maintain my figure without being a gym rat,” Menounos tells Shape.
An easy way for Menounos to keep track of her activity is by wearing a pedometer, she tells Shape. A while ago, she said she was starting to gain a bit of weight. Wearing a pedometer revealed she wasn’t being as active as she used to be, so she made it her goal to take 10,000 steps a day. “Ninety-five percent of the time I get that, 5 percent of the time I don’t, and sometimes I even exceed it wildly. I feel if you maintain your steps you can maintain your weight,” she says.
Since travel is a big part of her job, Menounos decided to make workouts easier to fit in by creating a do-anywhere routine. This workout, as shown in Self, allows her to get her sweat on anytime, anywhere.
- Saddlebag Slimmer: Lie on your left side on a bed with your legs stacked, knees bent, left forearm supporting your upper body, with your right hand planted in front of your torso for support. Place a blanket over your legs to add resistance. Pressing your insteps together, lift your feet off the bed and open your right leg to the ceiling, forming a diamond. Release to start. Do two sets of 12 reps. Switch sides, and repeat.
- Belly Buster: Lie face-up with your knees bent, feet flat, legs pressed together, and shoulders hanging off the edge of the bed. Place your hands behind your head, with your elbows out, to start. Engage your abs and slowly sit up straight. Return to start. Do two sets of 12 reps.
- Tush Tightener: Start on all fours, with your wrists directly beneath your shoulders. Keeping your abs and butt engaged, lift your right leg to the ceiling, with your knee bent and foot flexed. Return to start. Do two sets of 12 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
- Thigh Trimmer: Lie on your left side with your legs stacked, knees bent, and your left forearm supporting your upper body, right hand planted in front of your torso for support, keeping your back straight. Lift your right leg as high as you comfortably can and lower slowly back down. Return to start. Do two sets of 12 reps. Switch sides, and repeat.
Menounos is also a fan of the treadmill, she tells OK! She’ll start at a 4.3 incline, and then run for the last half of her workout, even if it’s only for five or 10 minutes. She tells OK! she’ll spend the last minute running as fast as she can. When she does a treadmill workout, she’ll mix in some leg-based Pilates, squats and lunges, in addition to an ab workout.
When Menounos first started her weight-loss mission, she focused on eating chili peppers, hot sauce, vinegar, grapefruit and plenty of water, she tells Today. “I worked on everything I ate for a week – every single thing,” she explained. “I realized, ‘OK, my problem is carbs.’ So I started to cut back on my carbs and started replacing [them] with better food. I ate a grapefruit in the morning. I had heard that grapefruit burns fat, so it was the first thing I would eat. I ate a lot of spicy peppers and jalapenos and a lot of vinegar, which I already loved anyhow, because I also heard that burns fat,” she said.
Menounos also amped up her water intake. She says she started keeping a gallon of drinking water with slices of fresh lemon in her refrigerator, which helps keep her feeling full.
There are a few important foods Menounos tries to incorporate into her diet every day, according to Shape.
- Almonds: A handful of nuts will only cost you about 160 calories, and you’ll get four grams of fiber and half your daily dose of vitamin E.
- Hot Water
- Greek Yogurt: It packs twice as much protein as regular yogurt.
- Fruit: Eating fruit is key, says Menounos. It helps keep you full and gives you a variety of essential vitamins.
- French fries or dessert: “I have some indulgences here and there. Some days are better than others. Last night I had truffle fries, sweet potato fries, and a French toast dessert at Abe and Arthur’s, which was delicious,” she admits. “Definitely not feeling as great today—but it was really delicious!”
Ready to create a Menounos-inspired meal? Here’s a recipe for fluffy zucchini patties, one of her favorite appetizers to make, per CBS.
- 4 large zucchini, grated
- ½ cup minced Italian parsley
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup olive oil (for frying)
- Place the zucchini in a colander and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic, crushed red peppers (if using), egg, salt and pepper, and bread crumbs. Mix well.
- Form the mixture into small balls. Roll a ball in the flour, shake off the excess, and place it on a sheet of aluminum foil you’ve set out near the stove. Press gently to flatten slightly. Repeat with remaining zucchini balls. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy skillet. Place a few zucchini balls at a time into the hot oil. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the zucchini balls, flipping them over so that both sides get golden brown. Remove balls with a metal slotted spoon or tongs and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining zucchini balls.
These are excellent to serve with tzatziki sauce for dipping, Menounos recommends. (Tzatziki is a yogurt, cucumber, and garlic spread.)
A few key tips
Menounos offers plenty of tips and rules in her book. Here are a few rules Menounos swears by, according to Extra.
- Be healthy. Being healthy is more important than being thin. Make sure you’re always focusing on a healthy lifestyle with a diet that focuses on good fats and carbs, such as olive oil and whole grains, and avoids things such as diet soda and energy drinks.
- Don’t make drastic changes. Instead, ease out of old habits and into new ones at a slow, realistic pace.
- Keep moving. Try to incorporate small, cumulative activity throughout the day. It will help keep the weight off and ensure your metabolism stays revved up.
- Don’t compare. Appreciate the body you have. Don’t compare yours to anyone else’s; it won’t do you any good!