Between her work as an actress, producer, best-selling author, Special Olympics ambassador, Dancing with the Stars contestant,Â and reality TV starâMaria Menounos is busy. So how does she stay so fit (after famously losing 40 poundsÂ and keeping it off), and shape those amazing abs? The formerÂ Health cover star shared the details of her everyday strategies with us.
What she eats
âI do believe what people say, that abs are made in the kitchen," Menounos says. âWhat you eat is going to make a big difference. Eating healthy and eating clean is the best way to reach your goals.â So what does she mean by âcleanâ? Hereâs a typical day for her:
Breakfast: "Most mornings I start with a smoothie," she explains. "My favorite has Greek yogurt, almonds, apple, banana, cinnamon, and a little bit of skim milk. Itâs [celebrity trainer] Harley Pasternakâs recipe; Iâve been doing it for years. Nine times out of 10 thatâs what Iâm having."
Lunch: Usually a green salad, topped with chicken or tuna.
Snacks: "Almonds, a banana, or Greek yogurt. Or Iâll make a little parfait with Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, fresh fruit, like blueberries; I layer them."
She carries healthy snacks (like almonds) everywhere, even the Golden Globes. Photo: Courtesy of Maria Menounos
Dinner: "It changes all the time. Sometimes Iâll have a quinoa salad, or chicken or fish with vegetables, something like that," she says. (Try her tasty GreekÂ turkey burger recipe.)
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How she builds in treats
âI really do try to aim for a 75-25 rule for eating (but for me itâs really 80% clean). If I ate clean all day and Iâm watching a movie later that night, Iâll have a few Kit Kat Bites or some popcorn, and Iâm not going to feel bad about it. I can play a little bit.â
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How she exercises all day long
Donât look for Menounos in the gym; sheâs rarely there. Instead, she works her muscles all day. âMove with a purpose,â she advises. âEven if youâre just going from your office to the bathroom, power walk there. Get a [fitness tracker] and make sure that youâre reaching your steps-a-day goal, and that youâre always going. Take the harder way as much as possible. Weâre so conditioned to take the easy way, the convenient way. I never do that; Iâm always moving.â
She also fits in little bits of exercise throughout the day. âSit-ups are always good,â Menounos says. âI have this one little routine that anyone can get through. Fifty sit-ups: 20 straight up and down, 10 to the side, 10 to the other side, another 10 straight up and down. If you do that every night, youâll see results. Iâm always contracting my abs all day. Iâll squeeze my legs in the car, squeeze my abs. I do it all the time.â
How she fits it in, no matter what
In fact, Menounos says, âThe busier you are, the more you need it. Thatâs why I speed walk and take the longer way to meet someone in their office and take the stairs. I sometimes work 18 hours a day, itâs insane. Thatâs why Iâm always moving.â
Afraid youâll get funny looks for fitting in exercise at random moments? Make sure your friends and family are on board. âYou have to hang out with people who are equally motivated and have a similar goal,â she says. âWho you surround yourself with is who youâll be.â
Her advice for enjoying yourself...
âMake sure youâre doing what you love in the fitness and eating area,â Menounos says. âDonât force yourself to eat eggs every morning if you hate them. Donât force yourself to go to the gym if you hate it. You wonât stick with it. Find something you love. For breakfast, Iâm not an egg-white person, I hate egg whites. So I have smoothies. I donât love the gym most of the time, but I really enjoy hikes, and I love Krav Maga [a type of strength building and self-defense system first developed by the Israeli army]. Find those things that you love and stick to them, thatâs whatâs going to work.â
â¦And still working it
âThere are some sacrifices, and you have to be willing to make them. If you want to be fit and healthy, you have to make a commitment,â she says. âThe first week and even two will suck, but I promise, after that it all changes. Your outlook, your energyâeven your eyes will be clearer. Everything will be better.â
Try Maria's 7-move sculpting workout: