Thursday, May 29, 2008

Behind the Scenes with Rachel Nichols: GI Joe’s hottest Action Hero

To be an action hero you have to be tough enough to kick the bad guys butt. To be a female action hero you not only need to be tough enough to kick the bad guys butt, but you have to do it with big hair, body hugging clothes and high heels. I recently posted a couple action hero workouts that I have been doing with my client, Rachel Nichols, who has been cast as Scarlett in the new GI Joe Movie that hits theatres in August of 2009. Since the workouts have been so popular, I thought it would be fun for you to get a glimpse as to what it’s like to play an action star. Rachel has been kind enough to give us a peek behind the curtain.

I first asked Rachel if there was anything she could tell us about the movie or her character Scarlett. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to share any specifics. (We will just have to wait until the movie comes out!) I can tell you that GI Joe isn’t just 1 person. It is actually an elite counter-terrorist team, whose main purpose is to defend human freedom from Cobra, a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world. So here’s what the lovely Rachel had to say:

What is it like playing an Action Hero babe?

Playing an action hero comes with a lot of outside influence and expectancy. When fans are familiar with a character, they expect certain elements to crossover between the fantasy and the human playing the role and I certainly don't want to let anyone down. Playing Scarlett has been so much fun. I've never had two months to physically prepare for a role and I took advantage of it. It's not every day I get to have fight scenes on elevators, break necks, jump through fire, and almost get washed away by waves of water in an underwater bunker!

How did your program change for this role?

The only thing I did...was tell Valerie that I needed a kick-butt body to go with the character! She took it from there and the results were pretty amazing. We wanted to add muscle (not pointless bulk) so that I could be believable in the role of a highly trained combat soldier. I needed to be on a moving treadmill for an entire scene wearing a sports bra and I didn't want ANYTHING jiggling around while I was running! I also wanted to arms and abs to be a bit more substantial and I needed to build up my stamina for all the long, physical days of shooting I knew I would encounter. Thankfully, I have Valerie (we've been working together for 3.5 years) and she knew exactly what to do to get me where I needed to be.

Compared to when you were a model, how has your body changed?

I modeled for a long time while I was at college in New York and will always look back on that period of my life with great fondness. I learned a lot about myself during that time and have been able to use some of that knowledge in my current profession. When I modeled, however, my body was completely different. I didn't work out...ever...and my diet was not a healthy one. I battled with food for many years and I still occasionally have issues with food, but I am a much healthier person now than I have ever been. When I got hired on ALIAS, they suggested that I begin working with Valerie to get in shape for the physicality of the role. During out first session I almost passed out! I had not done and working out in a very long time and I had not eaten breakfast before seeing Valerie (big mistake)...and that was the day I started changing my body, mind, and diet. Valerie taught me what to eat and when to eat it and we started training together 3 times a week. My body started changing in the first 6 weeks and it has been getting better ever since. I began to feel better, my muscles were showing tone and definition, but I wasn't getting bulky. My stamina was greatly increased, my butt started firming and lifting and I actually began to feel strong! It was so empowering to finally have control over my body. It was invigorating and exciting and the more I worked out, the happier I felt...and the cycle continues today.

I know from my own interviews that everyone thinks it is easier for celebs to be in shape because, after all, they have trainers, chefs, etc. Obviously, you and I know that’s not necessarily true. Most people don’t realize how difficult making a movie can be. Maybe you could share what a typical week of shooting looks like?

I completely understand how public perception can be a little bit off when it comes to the entertainment industry. It seems like it would be easy for me to stay in shape because I have a trainer and sometimes the luxury of a food delivery service, and I'm not by any means saying I have it rough, but some days are definitely a challenge! I have been shooting GI JOE since February and am currently finishing the film in Prague for 6 weeks. If I sometimes find it difficult to workout enough during filming in's definitely more of a challenge here in Prague! A typical work week for me usually begins with a 5 or 6am call time on Monday (meaning I might be heading to work as early at 4:30am) and a 7 or 8pm wrap and that's pretty much the way it goes every day. I always train with Valerie on the weekends because it can be tricky to fit in sessions during the week. When I get home at night, I have to look over all of the material for the next day of shooting. I try to get on the treadmill for 45 minutes at least three times a week before going to bed, but if I have to be awake at 4am and I didn't get home until 8pm that evening, sometimes I have to opt for sleep instead! I usually try to be in bed by 10pm. Some weeks, obviously, are much easier and I do have occasional days, I love what I do so much that even the hard weeks are fun.

How do you stay on your diet when on a movie? Again, I don’t think people really understand what you are up against (ie: The Craft Service table luring you in with warm chocolate chip cookies, chocolate malt balls, chips and dip, every type of candy you could ever wish for).

I have a terribly sweet tooth...and I freely admit that it is impossible for me to stay on a strict diet for more than a couple of weeks. There have been several times where I knew a specific scene was going to be shot on a specific day and I took the weeks before to prepare my body to be ready to look my absolute best...which meant that I had to adhere to a proper diet. Sets are very dangerous when it comes to food...because there is food all over the place! All the time! And even if, yes, there are veggies and proteins available...I usually want to eat the cookies and chips. What I have come to realize is that I can curb cravings for sweets by "little cheats" - one string of chocolate licorice, 10 Gummy Bears, chocolate skim milk, chocolate rice cakes, or berries with a little bit of chocolate syrup can usually tame my need for sweets. But I also find that if I acknowledge a craving and wait for about 10 minutes, it has usually subsided. And then sometimes I just eat that piece of pie, but I eat it slowly and I savor every little taste...if you're going to splurge, then you'd better enjoy it thoroughly! When I work, I often have a food delivery service prepare all of my meals. If, however, there are no services where I am shooting, then I usually stick to greens and proteins...chicken, veggies, fish, egg whites, fruit, yogurt, salads with a simple dressing. Surprisingly enough, and contrary to popular belief, healthy food can be very tasty! I live by the motto "try anything once, have an open mind when it comes to food" because I am very often surprised by the way something tastes compared to the way it sounds. I mean, "veal cheek" doesn't necessarily sound appetizing, but I had some last night and it was amazing.

Any other tips or thoughts for aspiring action babes?

Take care of your body - it's the only one you have. If you have a span of unhealthy behavior, take a few weeks off to relax and cleanse. If you splurge, make sure you properly enjoy it. If you are frustrated and want to change your body and/or diet then DO IT...don't waste time talking about it! Love yourself no matter what because you can't be happy otherwise. Appreciate your faults and your weaknesses. Set goals for yourself and meet them. and always remember - YOU'RE ONLY ONE WORKOUT AWAY FROM A GOOD MOOD (words of wisdom from Valerie)!

If you want be able to train like Rachel check out

If you want to learn more about her secret weapon, The Valslide, visit

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Kick Off

Technically it's not summer yet, but the season has officially begun. How did you feel Memorial Day Weekend? Were you bikini ready? Do you feel that you successfully navigated the weekend BBQ or did you leave feeling like your program was derailed? Did you manage to get in a workout and chose the more healthy food options?

If not, don’t let one weekend throw you off track for good. Re-commit to your workouts and plan your meals for the upcoming week. Strategy trumps willpower! And if you need some direction and a little boost check out my Red Carpet Ready program.

To help you prepare for the next summer BBQ, here are the 5 foods you must avoid and 5 you should choose.

1. Hot Dogs
2. Cheeseburger
3. Chips & Dip
4. Potato Salad
5. Beer

Hot dog with bun: If you actually read the ingredients in a hot dog it would be easier for you to pass. Add the bun (which is devoid of almost all nutritional value) and other fixings and you will realize this is a diet buster.

Cheeseburger: A 4 oz burger with American cheese comes in at a whopping 630 calories and 41 grams of fat. Eliminate the cheese and make sure the patty is from 95% lean, grass-fed beef, and you can put this back on the menu.

Chips & dip: A 1 ounce serving of Lay’s chips, which is about 17 chips, delivers 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. Add 2 tablespoons of Lay’s onion dip, you just added 60 calories and 5 grams of fat and you barely even noticed your snack. Chips are definitely something that is best to not even get started on. We all know how hard it is to just eat one.

Potato salad: The problem here is the mayo. If you can make it without mayo, using mustard instead, then you may enjoy a small portion.

Beer: Okay, technically this not a food, but they don’t call it a beer belly for nothing.

1. Grilled Chicken or Fish
2. Veggie Kabobs
3. Watermelon
4. Veggies with hummus
5. Red wine

Grilled Chicken or Fish: Fish in general and salmon in particular are excellent sources of Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are amazing because they have numerous benefits like protection from heart attack and stroke, and reduction of inflammation, to name a few. Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein, just be sure to remove the skin and read the label of any bottled BBQ sauce you may use. Avoid those with “high fructose corn syrup.” Plain grilled chicken or fish is best.

Veggie Kabobs: It’s really hard to eat too many vegetables. Fill up on these first and you will be able to enjoy your BBQ without sabotaging your diet.

Watermelon: One medium size hunk is only 46 calories and naturally sweet.

Veggies & Hummus: Hummus is a great source of dietary fiber and protein. And like avocado, Hummus contains heart-healthy fat.

Red Wine: Unlike other types of alcohol, red wine contains vital antioxidants which help repair damaged cells. In moderation, drinking red wine can improve heart health and circulation while also preventing cancer. The key word here is “moderation.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fiber...are you getting enough?

I just got back from doing a radio interview with Leeza Gibbons. She is GREAT! Her office had a really cool Zen vibe and one of her employees even brings his dog to work, which I love! One of the first things Leeza said was how excited she was to meet me. Isn’t that cool. She was excited to meet me! No wonder she is so successful. She makes people feel so special. I had a blast talking to her!

Yesterday I did a radio media tour, which means I got up at 4 am to do 16 radio interviews in a row. During each interview I gave a bunch of fitness tips and talked a lot about fiber. As you may, or may not know, I am a member of the National Fiber Council. Our mission is to educate consumers on the importance, as well as the benefits, of getting adequate fiber every day. I have been a long time advocate of fiber, not just because it’s great for the body, but because it helps tremendously with weight loss. Sadly, most people only consume about half of the daily recommended 32 grams.

If you missed the interviews, then here’s the “skinny” on how fiber makes you skinny.

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are undigested, and are not absorbed into the blood stream. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance that traps sugars, fats and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and passes through the digestive system largely in tact. So how does fiber make you skinny (and healthy)?

-Soluble fiber binds with sugars, fats and cholesterol
-Soluble fiber slows digestion in the stomach, thus making you feel full longer
-Soluble fiber regulates blood sugar, thus making you less likely to crash and then crave junk
-Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol
-Insoluble fiber promotes regularity
-Insoluble fiber removes toxic waste through the colon in less time
-Insoluble fiber helps prevent colon cancer

I think it’s pretty amazing that just 32 grams of fiber every day, can have so many benefits.

In order to get your daily fiber dose, you’ve got to eat more of these things:

-Fresh fruits & veggies
-Dried fruit
-Whole grains
-Flax seed
-Wheat germ

So how do you incorporate these things into your diet? Here’s how:

-Eat more veggies. Add spinach, mushrooms, onions or other veggies to your egg whites in the morning. Have a salad for lunch and not just lettuce. Add cucumber, tomatoes, walnuts, and/or cranberries.
-Add berries to your cereal or yogurt
-Add lettuce, tomato, and grilled peppers to your burger
-Switch to whole grains, like brown rice instead of white, or whole wheat bread instead of white.
-Start your dinner with a salad

So what does eating 32 grams of fiber every day look like?

-Breakfast: 1 package of plain instant oatmeal ( 3 g) with ½ cup of blueberries ( 2 g) = 5 g
-Snack: Apple ( 3 g) with ¼ cup of almonds ( 3.4 g) = 6.4 g
-Lunch: Salad: 2 cups of mixed greens (2 g) with ¼ cup artichoke hearts (2 g), 1 tablespoon of slivered almonds (1g) and 4 oz of grilled chicken = 5 g
-Snack: Medium banana = 4 g
-Dinner: Salmon with broccoli (5 g) with ½ cup of brown rice (3 g) = 8 g
-Dessert: ½ cup of raspberries = 4 g

TOTAL FIBER: 32.4 grams

It may seem like a lot at first but fruit and veggies are naturally low in calories. By choosing from a wide variety of these and switching from refined carbohydrates to whole grains, you will be well on your way to getting enough fiber. If you are still struggling, try a fiber supplement like Metamucil. There is a new Lemonade flavor that tastes good and delivers 3 grams of fiber per serving. Just mix with water.

If you want more information on the benefits of fiber or how to get more of it into your diet go to Request of the new free “Dine In, Dine Out” pocket guide to help you make better, high fiber food choices!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


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Friday, May 9, 2008

Revlon 5K run/walk

Saturday, May 10th, 2008 is the 15th running of Revlon's 5K run/walk to raise funds for the fight against womens cancers. 50,000 people, many of them cancer survivors will participate in this amazing event. While I am not participating this year, I have many times and I can tell you it is incredible. The race finishes inside the LA Collesium and regardless of whether you ran your best or walked in support of someone, the crowd makes it a special experience.

Click here for more information or visit:

I was interviewed by ABC's Lori Corbin to provide some tips to the runners/walkers. The segment aired today on the 4 o'clock news and if you missed it or have a race in your future, I have outlined my tips below:

General Advice for first timers:
  • Don't do anything different on race day than you have done for any of your training runs.
  • Enjoy it and remember thta you have done all of the hard work in your training, now you are here to enjoy the race and be proud that you made it to the starting line.
  • Don't start out to fast. It is a common mistake for many first time racers to go out too fast and then feel miserable by the second mile. It is normal to be excited just be sure to ease into it.

What to wear:

  • Breathable athletic wear
  • If you wear layers, plan on how you will remove them while running.
  • If you wear layers, plan about where you will put your race number (you won't want that hidden when you pass the photographer!)

What to eat:

  • It is just a 5K, so you don't need eat much before. Half a bagel with peanut butter or half banana should be just fine.
  • Drink some water and/or a sports drink but don't overdrink. If you have too much liquid in your stomach, the risk of getting side stitches is higher.

What to bring:

  • Something to put on after the race as you may get chilled
  • Race information

The warm up:

  • Walk and/or easy jogging to get your muscles warm
  • Dynamic stretching such as leg swings, warrior lunges and plie squats to get the muscles firing

What to do if you aren't feeling well:

  • Slow down
  • Play mental games...look at the next tree and get yourself there, then find a new landmark.

Post race protocol:

  • Easy walking to cool down.
  • Do the following stretches: quads, hamstrings, calves, hips
  • Refuel with a sports drink and a healthy lunch.

Competing in 5 and 10K's is a great way to stay motivated in your workouts. If you've never participated in one, sign up now for one that is 30-45 days from now and get ready. You will be so happy you did. Not only does it keep you focused for the next month, but you'll feel amazing when you cross the finish line!