Jennifer Cohen, the author of "No Gym Required" and reigning queen of fitness and nutrition in Toronto, offers her advice for a successful get-fit Summer program.
1. You have like 0% body fat. What's your secret?
- Ha ha. I have nowhere close to 0% body fat – trust me! That being said, you've just pointed out something very important. I think you imagine me having 0% body fat because I’m comfortable with myself - I know there is still work to do but I am okay with that too. That's the amazing psychology behind confidence and happiness. If you see yourself as a work in progress, as we all are, and are confident and proud of how you look as you progress, that shines through. People will perceive you positively. That's the biggest "secret" I can share.
2. How often do you workout?
- 4-5 times a week. That's because I really enjoy food and don't want to change that. Ha ha. I'm seriously. Everything has a price and CALORIES IN + CALORIES OUT = WEIGHT GAIN or LOSS. So I could either eat normally and exercise less or eat what I want and exercise more. I prefer the latter. Luckily, working out is a habit of mine so I enjoy it. That's key for people starting out. It may seem difficult at first but as soon as you've made exercise part of your routine you'll love it.
3. What does your diet consist of? (Please give an example of one day)
- Oh my. You probably won't believe this but here we go:
- I also drink tons of tea all day long to keep myself well hydrated.
4. What's the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to starting a fitness program?
- The biggest mistake I see is setting unrealistic goals and striving to be someone they're not. Unrealistic goals always lead to demotivation which lead to failure which means goals are not reach. The fix for that is simple: set one simple and achievable goal at a time.
5. You train celebrities. Do you have any funny stories?
- Celebrities are people like you and me. Whatever crazy stuff happens to us happens to them. Ha ha – wait I got one. I was training a very certain A-list movie star of a cult classic sci-fi movie and he kept canceling because of movie shoots, meetings, and so on. I was getting really annoyed because he kept canceling last minute so I told him "enough". So one day we’re scheduled for training and his friend shows up. He was afraid to cancel so he sent his friend to get trained instead! Ha ha. Well at least his friend was on time.
6. Who do you think has the best body in Hollywood?
- Probably Jennifer Garner. She's very fortunate to have the body type she does but she also works to keep it at its best. She's very consistent, has great lifestyle habits, and so takes very good care of herself all around. I think that shows in both her body and her attitude.
7. What's more important—working out or diet?
- Eating properly is the most important – it's about 70% of the equation. That doesn't mean dieting because dieting is depriving yourself and I don't believe in that. Eating properly means making a conscious effort to put only good things in your body. The other 30% of the equation is exercise.
8. What are 5 miracle foods you recommend eating for good health and fitness?
- I hate to use the term "miracle" food because it sends the wrong message so I prefer to use superfoods. These are foods with a little extra bang for the buck like apples, asparagus, grapefruit, green veggies, and oats. Each one of these has many beneficial properties.
9. What are 5 foods people should never eat?
- Anything processed, canned, artificial, or loaded with artificial color, flavor, and pesticides. EATING CLEAN is very important and I always recommend it. A simple trick is to stick to the outside perimeter of the grocery store because that's where the fresh ingredients tend to be.
10. Your new book stands behind at-home workouts. What's your current fave at-home workout?
- This may sound stupid but my favorites are the classics: push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and squats. Everybody knows how to do them and they’re actually the best to target their respective body parts. I like to do a little set up them in the morning and before dinner. 5-10 minutes and I feel great and my energy levels are way up.
11. What are some fitness gadgets, tools or equipment you recommend?
- I really like our NGR Shoes. It sounds like a shameless plug but I think they’re a great value and really do the job. They have an interchangeable weighted midsole and help burn up to 50% more calories just by doing everyday activities. Who can’t benefit from that!
12. Everyone's going online these days—for working out or keeping track of calories. What are some of your favourite websites for fitness or nutrition advice and tracking?
- YouTube, Sparkpeople, my NGR blog, there are literally hundreds of resources out there to help you get in shape. Personally I like interacting with the people on my blog but that’s just me. The most important is to find a platform you enjoy using and stick with. Whatever that platform is.
13. If someone is totally out of shape, what's a reasonable amount of time to hit the gym and eat right before seeing big results?
- If someone is totally out of shape the first step is to get moving and change eating habits. Set a reasonable goal, like do push-ups every second morning, or lose 3 lbs and keep them off for 1 month, or prepare lunches for work 3 times a week, and stick to it. When someone is totally off track the most important is to start somewhere. Going to the gym and big results shouldn’t be your goal. Getting started and keeping up the momentum is the goal. The second part is bearing in mind it takes 3 months to change a habit. That means 3 months of sticking to it and maintaining motivation. If you can execute on 1 and 2 your set!
14. What’s the key to seeing results, results, results?!
- Consistency, consistency, consistency. Take my slogan "Anytime. Anywhere. No Excuses." and live it. Make sure you’re consistent and you’ll get your results.
Special thanks to Jennifer Cohen for taking the time to do this interview.