As a college student, Maria Menounos struggled with weight. Credit: Getty Images
For Maria Menounos, losing weight wasn’t just a personal struggle — it was jeopardizing her career.
Before she had a reality show on Oxygen, before competing on “Dancing with the Stars,” before she was a red carpet reporter, Menounos was in journalism school and facing the prospect of not achieving her dream. The reason: At more than 40 pounds overweight, she was low on energy and often ill, which would hold her back in the fast-paced business of broadcast television.
Without trainers or nutritionists, Menounos spent a year developing the method that would become her new book, “The EveryGirl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness,” the “ultimate no-time, no-money, no-willpower guide.” She tells Metro about how wellbeing was key to her success.
Was there a moment when you decided to make a change?
My size 14 jeans grew skintight. I knew it was time to upgrade, yet again, to another size and I didn't want to. With diabetes in my family, my fatigue and illnesses, I felt enough was enough.
You weren’t just unhappy with your weight then.
I was exhausted and sick a lot of the time. All my broadcast journalism professors at Emerson warned me about the long hours in the news business. I was fearful I wouldn't be able to keep up so I knew a change was in order. Had I not become healthy, I never would have been able to keep up the pace required.
What made you go your own route to wellness?
I feel like I tried every diet known to man — shake diets, coffee diets, grapefruit diets, you name it. I couldn't stay on any of them for more than a couple of days.
You started out with “no willpower”?
That came with progress and positive results. When you start losing weight with this approach, as I did by month five, you begin to gain willpower. As soon as my pants fit loosely, I was ecstatic. A fire was lit and I was ready to step up my game.
How did you get started?
To properly motivate me, I tied my weight loss to a target date and event far into the future. There was a beauty pageant 11 months from the time I began. With an impending swimsuit portion, there was no way I was going to compete without being fit. I write in my book, for other people, your target date may be a family or class reunion or upcoming beach season. At a recent book signing, two girls were going to tie their weight loss to a winter cruise for their target date/event.
How did you structure your diet?
Once I had my target date, I journaled my food for a week to see just how much and what I was eating. I was stunned to see the abundance and specifically the excess of bad carbs I was ingesting. Next, I simply cut a tiny amount from each meal; I didn't change what I was eating. I just cut back from four slices of pizza to three, for example. The next few weeks, I cut back a little more. I tell people to keep eating what they are eating and to just cut back 10 percent every other week. I did this and in five months, I was down 20 pounds! After that I was so motivated that I stepped up my game, switching out the bad carbs for more clean, unprocessed foods.
Did you seek any advice or support along the way?
No one helped me with the diet because I never told anyone I was on a diet! I tell the EveryGirl to do the same thing. First, you're not on a diet. Diets are temporary, which is why they fail. You are just making some healthier decisions for your eating, not dieting. Second, by telling people you're on a diet you're adding more pressure to yourself — pressure that you don't need!
How would you describe your method?
It’s a 50-year plan — a plan that helps to ensure you will not only be fit for the next 50-plus years, but mobile, strong and healthy, too. To achieve that, it’s about striving to eat clean, unprocessed foods 75 percent of the time as much as possible and to remain active, urgent and mobile in your everyday daily activities. It doesn't necessarily mean being a gym rat. It means taking stairs instead of elevators or choosing the parking space as far away as possible, or getting an activity tracker and vying for 5-10k steps per day merely doing daily activities. It's just about being as active as possible every day. It doesn't mean cutting sugar out of your life entirely or anything like that. You can consume those things — just limit it to 25 percent of the time.
Why will your method work for other women?
I think most every girl out there wants to do and have it all, but struggles to find the time, money and willpower to succeed in doing so. One of those things is to be fit and healthy. I had no time, money or willpower back when I succeeded in losing the weight. My methods are tailored around those factors.