3 Lessons from Maria Menounos' 40-Pound Weight Loss

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I saw a copy of the Aug 24 issue of First for Women magazine in the SparkPeople kitchen the other day, and the beautiful Maria Menounos of "Access Hollywood" and the "Today" show caught my eye. The headline, "Maria Menounos reveals how she dropped 40 lbs & kept it off" isn't breaking news. (You've probably already read about her 40-pound college weight gain and how she lost it in several different magazines over the years.) But she's so likeable and cute, so I peeked inside to see if she had any good tips that might be useful to our readers.

I'm glad I read the story. What became clear to me is that Maria has her head on straight when it comes to food, exercise and weight. How refreshing to see a celebrity who looks great but doesn't obsess over her body. Quite the contrary! She claims that she loves her body now, and even when she was 40 pounds heavier, she told First, "I never really cared about being heavier, but it seemed that everyone else had a problem with it."

Here are the top three lessons I took away from Maria's weight loss story.

1. Don't Set Any Food Off Limits
When asked if she ever completely avoided any food, she has a simple answer: No. "I still ate Oreo cookies but in a controlled, common-sense way. " Maria would read the food labels and stick with a single serving size (3 cookies, in case you're wondering). She learned to choose lower-calorie versions of her favorite foods, such as sugar-free ice cream instead of full-sugar. Today she says that she eats whatever she wants, but keeps things in balance. "If I want a cheeseburger and French fries, I'm going to get it. But I know I can't do that every single day. And I'm going to balance it off and eat healthy the next couple days. "

SparkPeople believes that every food can fit into a healthy diet—as long as you're practicing portion control and moderation. I'm glad to see that Maria agrees with this stance. When I lost my own freshman 40, deciding to stop the "good-food-bad-food" game was a big part of my success, and it still is. When you learn that no food is truly "bad" or off limits, those once tempting foods can really lose their power over you. After all, you can have it anytime you want it, not just when you're "cheating" or "going off your diet." But we do need to indulge within reason, and that's where moderation comes in.

2. Move as Much as Possible
I remember watching an "Access Hollywood" story about Maria's weight-loss workout plan a couple years ago. She paid a personal trainer for one session—all she could afford as a college student—so she could get a workout plan to help her reach her goals. Then, she stuck with that plan for months. On one TV interview, she admitted that she still had the original paper on which her workout plan was written. Her interview with First doesn't go into these details, but she says she doesn't really have a routine per se. (Me, neither.) What she does do is exercise in small bursts whenever she has the time, saying, "Anytime I have a free second, I say to myself, What could I be doing to get ahead in life? And I do that with exercise, too. "

I'm a big believer in small bouts of fitness. I think you CAN get a great workout in 5 or 10 minutes, and when all those small workouts add up, you've done something great. This is perfect advice for people who think they're too busy to exercise. Find small ways to squeeze it in throughout your day (Maria does leg lifts while watching TV, for example) and try to accumulate those minutes. Doing a few minutes here or there is better than making excuses not to exercise, wouldn't you agree?

3. Love Yourself
More women need to be told to love their bodies. I love how Maria says that she "never really cared about being heavier," when reflecting on her college weight gain. I think it shows that she knew she was a smart, successful, amazing woman no matter what her body looked like. "I love my body whether it's flawed or not," she told First, saying that obsessing with weight—as most women do—is no way to live.

Most of us need more practice in the self- or body-love department, so we could take a cue from Maria on this one. I think that when you love yourself and care about yourself, you're more likely to give your body—and mind—the respect and nourishment it deserves by eating better, exercising, getting enough sleep and not obsessing over it all.

There's a lot more to the article in First magazine, such as Maria's go-to snacks and how she designed her own weight-loss program, so be sure to check it out while you can.

Do (or will) you incorporate any of these lessons into your own healthy lifestyle? Do you like to hear how celebrities like Maria Menounos lost weight and kept it off?

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Thank you for posting this. It keeps the right frame of mind on how this is a lifetime journey and to remember to love every minute of it. Report
I love this article. It teaches me a thing or two. There are pointers that I can
in my effort to loose weight. Report
wonderful article, thanks Nicole! Report
This really helps me a lot-- your comments and what she did to lose the weight. I always feel like if I can't do my 30-60 minutes it's bad, and I end up skipping it sometimes. I'd like to know what other people did to lose weight, but it doesn't matter to me if they are celebrities. They have more money than I do:) Report
I need to loose around 30 lbs, after my last 2 kids the weight just packed in. I love my children and I would do it again, but now they are here and I need to be healty. It's hard for me because I can pick on what my kids eat but I am integrating to them more whole grain and fruits so that when we all snack we'll eat healthy! Loved the story... Report
I like that she also loves those 10-minute cardio workouts! I always do 1 or 2 of Coach Nicole's ones at a time and I love it! I only wish there were more short cardio workouts like that on SparkPeople! Report
What a sweetheart! This is such an inspiring article. This is really exactly the way the dieting should be done. Moderation rather than punishing. It's good for you, and you should feel good about it. This made me smile. Report
I've started doing those small exercise moments. I was previously under the impression that if you didn't plan a 20-30 minute warmup, exercise, cooldown session it wasn't useful. Now, when I have a spare moment I pick up the dumbbells and do some sets for toning strength. It's so easy to fit it in and I guess it counts, doesn't it? Report
Reminding myself how much better I feel, and what I may gain from a healthier lifesyle motivates me. Seeing what others do inspires additions to my 'program'. Report
This statement bothered me, "I never really cared about being heavier, but it seemed that everyone else had a problem with it." So, she lost weight for other people, not because she wanted to be healthier? It sounds like she obsessed somewhat being concerned by what other people thought. Report
Excellent article and makes sense....I think the more common sense the article, the more that people can relate to it. The magazine, First for Women, is a wonderful resource for all types of helpful info! Report
Its so true about the portions, you can still treat yourself, just keep it to a minimum. I find myself reading all nutrition labels now and being keenly aware of how much I put in my mouth. Report
Great article! It gave me some great tips about the small bouts of exercising and portion control. Report
Already learned these tips with Spark Report
I to believe that portion control, plus exercise is the answer. I lost 77lbs that way. Report
Sounds like a great plan especially the small burst of exercise. I like doing that already! Report
Love your body! Be happy in your skin! Report
Love that article. I also have practiced no food off limits philosophy. I find that now that I've been eating so healthy that when I want something considered unhealthy, and I eat it, I don't really feel all that well, so the next time I don't even really want it. But if I really do, I will eat it, but make sure my exercise makes up for it, or the rest of my calories for the day balance out.

As far as the other part about loving your body despite your weight, that's a tough one for me, and yes I need more practice with that. I really dislike what I look like, but I am grateful that God gave me legs to walk, arms to hug, eyes to see, ears to hear, a heart to love, and a brain to think. I think our society is obsessed with perfection, and living in it, there has been a lot of psychological damage done to females in regards to body image. Great article. Thanks.
You know, somewhere along the line I've come to love myself and my body and I don't hate the way I look (I don't particularly like the way I feel right now because of health issues, but that's another story) as much as I did when I weighed much less as a younger woman. That younger woman's weight is actually my goal weight now. Report
That is good to hear that there is someone that is a good role model for all of us. She is a beautiful lady. I think that the thing I need to take away from this is that I need to love myself/body at all times. I have to admit though it is a difficult task at this time for me. My weight has spiraled upward and I have had set backs. But, I am back on track and have awesome support. Report
"I never really cared about being heavier, but it seemed that everyone else had a problem with it."

I agree with this. But now that I'm losing weight, I really am happy about it. Report
I liked hearing about this sensible approach to weight-loss. So many celebs use fad diets and gimmicks to lose weight, plus they can afford to hire personal trainers, which many of us non-celebs can't do. I'd prefer to hear from other people like Maria, who have a common-sense approach to their lifestyle change - it doesn't matter to me if the people are celebs or not.

I do make it a point to schedule in my exercise time, so I am active every day in some way. Then, I try to seize opportunities to get in "a little extra" every day. For example, I have a regular walk-run-walk routine each morning. But on the weekends, I'll also go for a bike ride or take the kayak out for 30 minutes. During the work week, I'll take a 15-minute brisk walk around the building to get some fresh air, clear the cobwebs, and stave off that mid-afternoon slump. Report
I'd like to hear more stories about people like her or him who have lost weight. Where are the men in these stories? Report
Great tips. Report
Great tips! I believe #1 is the most important for me. Nothing is off limits, just do it in moderation. Report
We can have anything we want but not EVERYTHING we want. Pick and chose what fits in your day- you have the choices and power to do that. Report
I'm a big believer in #1 Don't Set Any Food Off Limits. It's probably classic psychology, but I know that the minute I tell myself that I can't have something, I get a huge, annoying, persistent craving that only grows the longer I deprive myself! So I don't prevent myself from having any particular foods, I've just learned to limit myself by not keeping really bad food around the house regularly and by consciously trying to make healthy food decisions each day. Report
Great ideas practicing portion control with all foods is important only food I do not have in the house is chips cause can not eat just one moving your body any kind of movement counts we have two sets of stairs so do them from top to bottom at least 10 times a day Loving Myself as I am has always been a top priority thanks for sharing this blog Report
Thanks for sharing this. By reading this article, it really helped me to know that I'm on the right track. The last time I was 40lbs over weight was when I was pregnant with my youngest son, he is 24 now. It took seemed like it took me forever go loose it, but I did.
I'm now back to being 40lbs over weight thanks to a major back surgery I had. Before I had the surgery the doctor limited me on what I could and couldn't do....really hurt on keeping the weight off even though I didn't eat much....and being in a brace for 4 months didn't help either... I'm now on my way to loosing this weight but I am limited on what activities I can do... I like her advise, "keep moving, and love your body". That is something I will really have to work on there because I don't like seeing myself this way.
Thanks again! Report
This is such great advice. I too have discovered it is okay to eat just about anything, 'IN MODERATION"
Portion control was a big problem for me, not any more. Burst of fitness, I am glad to hear they do count. I can't always fit it all in during one session. I spread it out over the day, like 1 power mile spread out over 3 times each day give me 3 miles. Much easier on my old bones. Report
Great Article, it's working for me also. Report
Great tips. Report
I am totally on board with her strategy on food. Also, the older I get, the more I start to like my body for what it is and am grateful to it for putting up with me all these years and taking such good care of me, even when I wasn't taking such good care of it. Report
I have tried every diet on the planet and failed at them all. I am sick of the denial factor. I like this philosophy. This is doable and sensible. I will track my calories and eat what I want. And lose weight. What a concept! This is what you call a lifestyle change for me. Report
Good info, I do not dislike my body, nor do I love it at this time, although I know it's a work in progress and I'm making progress. I also agree that almost any food is fine in moderation and portion, the only food I find that really throws the system off is fried foods, they're the worst, the body doesn't know how to process that greasy garbage. Report
Great info! Report
Great article. It's very inspiring, especially since I have the same philosophy as her (along with many others, haha). Report
The "no food off limits" philosophy really worked for me, too. If I forbid a food I love, it make me feel deprived, which can cause binges for me. I actually try not to bring junk food into the house, though. If I want a cookie, I will buy just one serving from a bakery, convenience store, etc. I almost never eat too much of the food this way! :-) Report
I love her it is nice to see that people in hollywood have some of the same problems Report
I agree that no foods should be off limit, but eaten with control. This can sometimes be difficult, especially after a 20 mile run and you think you can eat anything. Control is the key! Report
This was wonderful; thanks for sharing! Report
The realization that the "food is not leaving the planet" helped me more than anything. I can have a "forbidden food" any time I want, I need to balance the rest of my plan to compensate for that...I am finding some measure of success since I decided to allow all foods into my plan...in moderation! The 50 I have lost will one day be 100 and all along the way, I will enjoy the foods I love... Report
I agree with no off-limit foods, just watch portion control - sometimes easier said than done though, especially with my daughter's cooking. Like Maria, if I want something, I eat it, just watch the amount. Oreos or other cookies and either eat one serving or just one cookie - hard but by the time it's down, I've had enough sweets. Ice cream also. We always have it in the freezer but I hardly eat it and when I do, a slightly heaping soup spoon is enough, sometimes too much. Also, if I get an urge for a cheeseburger, instead of the meal, it's a salad and water (but watch the dressing!). For me it's Caesar so this is a once a week or less splurge. I've also been known to get ME a kid's meal so there is the burger but apple dippers and milk instead of fries and soda. I'ts enough to get me through to PM snack of hummus and couple of whole wheat crackers or 1% cottage cheese with drained natural juice fruit.

There are two water bottles on my desk all day - fill part way at night and put in the freezer and then add water before leaving for work. When I get home, I fill a 3-cup glass with water that goes where I do in the house and quite often gets refilled at least once and ocassionally twice. Water fills me up quite nicely between meals and light snacks (hypoglycemic). Have lost 16 pounds now from heaviest and WILL continue. Report
love this article. Really gives a better positive outlook on how to think about things. Not "no you can't, no you shouldn't". :) Report
Yay, Maria! Cute AND smart! Report
Well said Report
I totally agree with this article. Thanks for sharing. Report
I know thw "What" to do, it's the implemetantion that gets in the way of weight loss!! Report
to much reading Report
Thanks for the article. It is refreshing to see a beautiful celebrity with a healthy view of herself and lifestyle. Very cool. And I totally agree. Once I started thinking that way (almost 8 mo. ago) I was able to lose 15lbs before even starting SparkPeople-- that weight hasn't come back!

In the past, when I tried to lose weight or change my lifestyle, I didn't appreciate or love myself in that moment... and I felt like if I "cheated" or binged on my so-called "diet" I was a failure. No wonder I ended up gaining more weight then what I was when I started.

I totally agree with the post here and Maria--Having a healthy view of your self is EVERYTHING.

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