Get Fit! Oprah’s Trainer Shows You How

Oprah's trainer Bob Greene offers seven no-fail tips on how to stay motivated with your fitness and weight loss goals.

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on February 02, 2010
From the WebMD Archives

Fitness guru Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey's longtime personal trainer, has been in the business 30 years. So he's heard the laundry list of excuses for not exercising and not eating right -- from the ''hectic schedule'' cop-out to "I have small children at home," and lots of others in between.

Greene, 52, has personally overcome those obstacles, and others. He and his wife have two young children, so they know about fitting in fitness between parental responsibilities. He travels, writes books, lectures, trains, and makes appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Recently, he's become more concerned not just about our less-than-stellar lifestyle habits, but the harm they can do -- such as the diabetes epidemic. It alarms him, he says, from a global and a personal perspective: Both his parents have type 2 diabetes.

"For the most part, type 2 is preventable," he says, citing research that a healthy diet and physical activity go a long way.

To help the estimated 23 million people in the United States with diabetes, he's written the Best Life Guide toManaging Diabetes and Pre-diabetes, applying the principles of his Best Life Diet (healthy eating plan, calorie control, physical activity) to those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or told they are on the borderline.

Greene has also recently released his first fitness DVD -- the Total Body Makeover DVD, aimed at people with hectic schedules.

Despite his own hectic schedule, Greene manages not only to stay in top shape but to help keep his high-profile clients healthy, too.

Lack of motivation? Not a problem. He's woven dozens of no-fail tips into his life. Here, he shares some of his best -- and perhaps surprising -- ways to stay motivated with weight loss and fitness goals:

1. Get Serious About Your Efforts

Greene knows that not everyone will tune in to his healthy messages. ''When you launch a new program or a new book, you will reach maybe 20% of your readers," he says. "I don't get too frazzled by the stats. I concentrate my energy on those willing to change their life."

Only by making a serious commitment to change, he said, will you achieve success. To get there, he says, stop expressing negative thoughts about the lifestyle changes required to lose weight and get fit.

"Stop fighting it and stop negotiating with yourself," he says. "Do it because you care about yourself, not to lose 10 pounds."

2. Ease Into Weight Loss

When most people decide to lose weight, they go cold turkey on the Chunky Monkey and chips and dive into a Spartan menu of vegetables and cottage cheese, determined to do an immediate overhaul of their diets.

Wrong approach, Greene says. Gradual is better. "Don't radically change your entire diet overnight," he advises. Phase in healthier foods a little at a time.

"Don't give up all your comfort foods at once, and don't look at snacks as foods that get you into trouble," Greene says. Eating right can and should include snacks, he says: "Snacks are effective weight loss tools. They bridge hunger and help you not to overdo it at a meal."

3. Skip the Scale

It's a knee-jerk reaction. You've been on a diet for oh, 24 hours, and you're eager to see progress. Of course, you'll weigh in.

Think again, Greene says. "Stay off the scale for the first month to six weeks," he suggests. This will be a challenge, he knows, for most people, who can't wait to see the pounds drop off.

But the scale gives you a somewhat inaccurate idea of what is going on. You may have lost only water weight, for instance, or you may get discouraged if you haven't lost as much as you hoped for.

If you're dying for feedback, focus on how your clothes fit, he suggests.

4. Shift the Diet Focus

"Instead of focusing on cutting calories [only], which drops your metabolism, focus more on activity levels," Greene says. "It's the bigger of the two."

Activity burns calories. Exercise like weight training also builds lean muscle, helping to boost your metabolism over time. So it offers a short-term and long-term advantage to meeting your fitness and weight loss goals, Greene says.

Many people plan to diet first, then incorporate exercise. But Greene says that if you have to do them one at a time, make exercise a habit first, then focus on cutting calories.

5. Make Your Workout a Meditation

It's easily done, Greene says, just by listening to great music when you walk or jog, for instance. If you're on a treadmill, watch a show you enjoy.

Find a way to exercise that takes your mind off the activity itself, such as running or walking in an outdoor setting. "When Oprah and I meet in Hawaii and we are hiking, it's hard work going up the mountain but it's joyful," he says.

6. Build Exercise Into Your Life Creatively

One of Greene's business partners built a desk on his treadmill, taking phone calls and working while he works out. "He's writing, he is making his marketing calls, and he is on the treadmill," Greene says.

Greene adapted the idea himself. "I was training for a cross-country ride, and had the phone by my indoor bike," he says.

Those examples are extreme, Greene says, but they can get you thinking about weaving exercise in when you have even a few spare minutes during the day. The more you do that, the more likely you are to reach your fitness goals.

7. Focus on the Outcome

Focus on how you know you will feel when you're done with your workout.

"Everybody loves exercise when it's done," Greene says with a laugh. "Exercise, when done right, is never painful, but involves discomfort. Focus on the effects."

And he doesn't just mean tighter muscles or flatter abs. "I've never had anybody say they don't feel better, sleep better, after exercising," he says.

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Bob Greene, exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer; contributing writer and editor for O, The Oprah Magazine; author, The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes.

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