We caught up with two of the new reality show's trainers to learn more about their diet and fitness plans, as well as their personal weight-loss secrets.


When it comes to dieting, the choices are seemingly endless: from Atkins to Paleo to Weight Watchers, it's easy to fall into the trap of picking one at random. How do you decide which diet plan works best? A new reality TV show called My Diet is Better Than Yours (which debuted on Jan. 7 on ABC) has set out to find the answer.

Filmed in Atlanta over a 14-week period, the show features five contestants who are each paired up with a different fitness expert. The five experts all have different diet and fitness philosophies—from a no-carb diet that centers around "wild" ingredients to a "super swap" plan where you switch out favorite foods for healthier versions. Contestants remain in their homes and continue with their daily routines during filming.

The show features weekly challenges and weigh-ins, and is hosted by Shaun T, creator of several mega-popular workouts, including Insanity. Unlike NBC's The Biggest Loser, no one is eliminated, but the contestant who loses the most weight will take home $50,000 in cash and $20,000 worth of groceries, and will also be featured alongside their coach in People magazine.

We caught up with two of the show's trainers, Carolyn Barnes and Jovanka Ciares, to learn more about their diet and fitness plans, as well as their personal weight-loss secrets.

Carolyn Barnes

A 20-year fitness vet, Carolyn Barnes is a classically trained professional dancer, certified master trainer in Pilates, and certified health and wellness life coach.

Tell us about your plan.

The 'cLean' Momma Plan is truly about helping real people in the real world get real results. It’s all about moderation, balance, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. My program is different primarily because it’s about incorporating exercise and motion into everyday tasks that you have to do no matter what.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about dieting?

That being thinner means that you're healthier and happier. If you focus on being healthy and active, you'll find your right weight and you'll be perceived as beautiful. Nothing is prettier than a sincere smile.

What are your favorite pre- and post-workout snacks?

I don’t snack before workouts, but I do drink water. If I'm hungry, however, I will eat good fats like raw almonds or avocado. We need fat to burn fat! It’s all about staying hydrated. Of course, if I haven’t eaten for a while and I know I will be very active, I'll grab an apple or some leftover grilled chicken.

What's a mantra you tell yourself (and clients) to stay motivated?

'Find an excuse to do it, not an excuse not to do it!'

Jovanka Ciares

An entertainment executive-turned-wellness expert, Jovanka Ciares is a certified life coach detox specialist, nutrition educator, and author.

Tell us a little about your plan.

The 'Wellness Smackdown' is an anti-inflammatory vegan diet that involves a 9-hour eating window and has a no-snacking policy. Natural herbs are used to detoxify the body and dieters following the plan drink a gallon of water daily and fill their bellies with fruit smoothies, fresh vegetables, and whole grains.

What do you think is the biggest mistake women make when deciding to go on a diet?

Not managing the underlying causes of the weight gain first. It doesn’t matter what you eat. Anyone can put together a diet plan that will eventually help you lose weight. But how do you maintain that weight loss? Weight loss is only a by-product of a healthy lifestyle. Identifying the causes of your weight gain—like not getting enough sleep, extra stress, and poor body image—will lead to an overall shift in lifestyle and put you down a better path.

*SPOILER ALERT: Another thing we should mention about My Diet is Better Than Yours is that if a contestant isn't happy with his or her particular diet/exercise program, they have the option to switch to another one, eliminating their coach in the process. On last night’s episode, Ciares was eliminated from the competition.

Can you tell us how it felt to be eliminated?

I will vouch for my program and for Taj and say that my plan was not why she eliminated me. You have to remember this is TV and it’s limited, and there’s a lot that wasn’t shown that contributed to Taj's decision. But I’m excited about the future. This is just the tip of the iceberg about what’s to come for the programs that I offer. I want to reach many, many people and teach them about self-love and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Speaking of a healthy lifestyle, what’s your favorite workout to do?

My absolute favorite is dancing! I’m Puerto-Rican, so salsa dancing especially. It’s beautiful and I love it. Yoga is my second favorite.

What's a mantra you tell yourself (and clients) to stay motivated?

'Assume the feeling of the wish fulfilled.' It means to imagine the moment when you’ve accomplished something and you get that moment of absolute joy. Embrace that feeling everyday in everything, even in things that haven’t manifested yet.