After we were done admiring the frocks on the Golden Globes red carpet, we started admiring the bodies inside them and were once again in awe of how quickly celebs seem to not just lose weight, but completely change their body shape ahead of major events. And with the Academy Awards looming, we’re a little curious about what sort of measures the stars go to in order to fit into their gown on the night.
To get the skinny on celebrity diet secrets, we spoke to Alexa Towersey, a Hong Kong based Health and Fitness Expert who is one of only a select few trainers worldwide to have completed instructor training with the famous Hollywood trainers at Gym Jones, about celebrity diet secrets. Read on as Alexa shares some of the less healthy tactics celebs use to get into shape; the healthy, 9-5 friendly tips and tricks we can steal to get red carpet ready in record time; what her personal day on a plate looks like and more…
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RESCU: How long before a major event do celebs start prepping to fit in to their dresses? What’s a realistic time frame to give ourselves to meet weight loss goals?
Alexa Towersey: I try and get all my clients to buy into the philosophy of being red carpet ready all year round. This doesn’t mean calorie counting, round the clock training or feeling deprived 365 days a year – it just means investing a little bit of time initially in becoming aware of what works/doesn’t work for your own body. Everybody responds differently to training and nutrition protocols, and the sooner you understand this, the less guesswork that needs to happen, the easier the process is, and the shorter the timeframe.
Setting realistic timeframes is important, as this will dictate how far you are willing to go and what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goal. Whilst I’m not an advocate of quick fixes for the most part, significant weight loss can be achieved in as little as a few days safely, by just focusing on what you’re eating, or not eating – cutting out foods such as sugar, alcohol, gluten, soy, dairy, sodas, and/or grains can be a game changer for a good majority of people. 12 weeks is a safe bet for significant and longer lasting results, though a well designed training and nutrition plan can work wonders in 4-6 weeks if you stick with it.
RESCU: And what does that prep usually entail?
Alexa Towersey: What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for someone else whether it be related to nutrition or training. How a body responds to either can be dictated by genetics (body type), hormone balance and/or as a function of previous background and experience.
With training, I’ve found for women that a combination of full body resistance training done circuit style, boxing/kickboxing and hot yoga is particularly effective. It also helps to take a look outside the box – it never ceases to amaze me how much simple lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, poor stress management and household chemicals can hinder weight loss efforts.
I always encourage my clients to do a food intolerance test (you can choose from blood tests, muscle response testing or do an elimination diet yourself), as this will dictate their nutrition. Finding out and avoiding the foods you are intolerant to has a huge impact – bodyweight changes can be directly attributed to your reaction to different foods. Just because a food is “healthy” doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you.
RESCU: Is this realistic for the regular 9-5er?
Alexa Towersey: I think people need to remember that celebrities are paid to do a job, and part of that job includes red carpet events. In most cases, they have 24/7 access to a team of experts in the lead up to an event including trainers, nutritionists, chefs, beauty therapists, masseuses and stylists, not to mention a slightly bigger budget.
However, quick and healthy results are possible and realistic in a short space of time. You need to ask yourself how much you really want it? Poor work/life balance is an easy excuse, but it really is a case of making the effort to schedule your workouts in just like you would a meeting and making sure you are prepared on the food front – simple things like stocking up your office or car with healthy snacks, finding out which local eateries offer healthier menus, and then surrounding yourself with people that can support your goal.
RESCU: Can you share some of the healthy tactics big name celebrities use to shift weight and transform their body?
Alexa Towersey: A really popular tactic is to replace whole foods with vegetable/fruit juices and smoothies in the lead up to their event. I’m a fan of smoothies as they allow you access to the full spectrum of nutritional value in the ingredients with a minimal amount of work required by the body to digest it. Smoothies maintain the integrity of the whole foods and the fibre, which will keep you satisfied for longer and help you stabilize your blood sugar. Anything that supports optimal digestion, and helps eliminate toxins will encourage weight loss. Certain natural body treatments and therapies are also beneficial, and easy for the everyday woman to incorporate. I recommend lymphatic drainage massage which improves the texture and tone of the skin, helps release toxins from the fatty tissues and reduces the appearance of cellulite. I also like to include Epsom Salt baths, as the Magnesium salts are absorbed into the body and not only act as a natural stress relief, but also help to eliminate toxins. Toxins are the enemy!!!
RESCU: And what about the not-so-healthy tricks? What would you advise against?
Alexa Towersey: I’m not a fan of anything that is extreme, one size fits all, or that encourages people to develop an unhealthy relationship with their food – I’m often reluctant to even calorie count as it can make food a stressor. You will not find me telling people to drink cayenne pepper, even if they are Beyonce!
I would avoid using diet or thermogenic pills to aid weight loss or reduce appetite – not only can they create dangerous dependency issues long term, but they can also do some serious damage to your hormones and your metabolism.
There is such an overload of information in the media (Google apparently knows everything), that people get so overwhelmed with all the various forms of miracle weight loss cures out there, that they simply can’t process anything at all. They end up getting stuck in this vicious cycle, where they just keep switching from one fad to the next. And that’s a problem.
RESCU: Does shifting weight for an event do any damage to the body or the metabolism? For example, lots of women lose a lot of weight for the wedding and put it back on for their honeymoon – is this yoyo-ing doing any damage?
Alexa Towersey: People rarely get fat overnight, and it usually takes longer than a week to undo years of poor choices. There is a general belief that the quicker you take it off, the quicker you put it back on, but I think this depends on the individual and their attitude towards food and exercise on the whole. The biggest success stories are those where people embrace a healthier lifestyle as opposed to seeing maintaining it as a chore.
It’s not realistic to assume you will be able to be at your peak all of the time – weight naturally fluctuates – it’s about finding the right balance for you. Whilst yo-yo dieting isn’t ideal for your body, I find the most dangerous part comes from the psychology of it. Extreme diets that get extreme results, dictate that people use it as a “go-to” anytime they believe they need to lose a couple extra pounds.
RESCU: What’s more important when it comes to changing your body shape- diet or exercise?
Alexa Towersey: Nutrition without a doubt. You cannot out-train a poor diet (unless you’re a genetic freak!).
RESCU: And would you suggest women looking to change their body for a dress invest more time in weight training or cardio?
Alexa Towersey: This discussion tends to open a can of worms, as a lot of people, women especially, confuse losing “weight” with losing “body fat” – not always the same thing.
Muscle weighs more than fat, but is smaller. People get so hung up on scale weight, but at the end of the day do you want to fit into your skinny jeans OR do you want to weigh less? It’s really important that you take the time to understand exactly what it is you want to do, and then “train for your objective”.
As a general rule of thumb, weight training will change your bodyshape, but cardio will make you a smaller, lighter (but possibly skinny fat) version of yourself.
RESCU: Are there any supplements you believe are essential when undergoing a red carpet body transformation?
Alexa Towersey: When on the red carpet, it’s not only your body that’s on show, but also your skin. Your skin is your biggest organ and can usually give a pretty good indication of any underlying issues or toxicity, so if you’re breaking out, it’s a good indication your body is a little out of balance.
You can help build beauty from the inside out by supporting digestion and detoxification pathways. If you have been taking care of yourself with good nutrition, you shouldn’t need to go overboard with supplements.
In general I normally recommend a good quality probiotic, a plant based digestive enzyme, Omega 3 oils, Magnesium and a B Vitamin Complex. Weight loss is also enhanced by being alkaline – for an easy fix, you can add chlorophyll powder to your water to take to work.
RESCU: Can you share your top three tips for getting a red carpet body?
1. In training, make sure you include exercises that lengthen the front of the body and strengthen the back of the body – this will help give you great posture which has an automatic and immediate weight loss effect.
2. Drink plenty of water. The body is a very clever thing – if it’s dehydrated, it will hold onto whatever water you give it, including the water in any food that you eat. You can naturally combat any water retention by cutting down on dietary salt and drinking dandelion tea, and unsweetened cranberry juice diluted in water throughout the day.
3. Beat the bloat by avoiding processed foods and junk, gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, sodas, sugars, alcohol, artificial sweeteners and chewing gum. You may also want to switch out some of the healthier veges such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussell sprouts that tend to form gas, for dark green leafy options such as spinach and kale. You don’t want to add your own soundtrack to your red carpet interview!
RESCU: What does your day on a plate look like?
Alexa Towersey: This is an interesting exercise for me, as I have always been a fitness bunny brought up on the principles and theories of a high protein, high fat, low carb diet. These days, I find my body responds better to an approach that is more vegetarian in nature, with my protein intake limited to fish, seafood and plant based protein. This is what I had yesterday…..
5.15am – warm water with raw apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice.
5.45am – Green smoothie with arugula, spinach, romaine lettuce, parsley, fresh lemon juice, green apple, banana, pear, chia seeds, water.
6am – organic black coffee.
9am – quinoa & jobs tears (gluten free alternative to barley) boiled in non-sweetened almond milk with linseeds, raw pecans, blueberries, and honey.
1pm – Roasted eggplant, pumpkin, zucchini with kale, green beans, avocado and hummus.
4pm – Carrot and spirulina juice/kale chips
7pm – Poached salmon, brown rice, asparagus, spinach, cherry tomatoes, beetroot and feta cheese.
9pm. Dark chocolate covered almonds
RESCU: Any last words on red carpet bodies?
Alexa Towersey: Fake it ‘til you make it!! If all else fails, get a great tan, pick an outfit that accentuates your favorite body parts, and learn how to work your angles. Confidence is the best trick you have in your toolbox!
Alexa Towersey is visiting Sydney and Perth this month to assist at the Gym Jones Fundamentals seminars
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