Exclusive: Sitting down with Chelsea Handler’s trainer

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Chelsea and Mark are not only workout buddies, but good friends

If you had a best friend like Jennifer Aniston, you too would want to keep your body in tip-top shape. Here we talk to the man who does just that for Chelsea : Mark Macdonald.
Nutritionist, personal trainer, and fitness model Mark Macdonald grew frustrated with the ever-changing hype and false information pervasive in the fitness and weight loss industries. His personal experience, and that of his wife, mother, and others in his life, was his inspiration for founding Venice Nutrition, a fitness program with over 350 centers across America that has helped hundreds of thousands of people—including his friend and client Chelsea Handler—achieve their weight and fitness goals. Now, with Macdonald’s first book, BODY CONFIDENCE (April 2011; HarperOne), readers can understand how to get into the best shape of their lives without superhuman willpower or obsessive exercising.
And the best part about the diet is that you can enjoy the odd tipple or two….which is always a winner in our books.
Before we get to our exclusive interview with Mark, here’s a little word from Chelsea;
I met Mark Macdonald three weeks before my twenty-seventh birthday, and he changed my life forever. I was sick of starving myself and never losing any weight, and not exactly open to the idea of cutting alcohol out of my life. After spending an hour with Mark, I realized how little I knew about food, and how many bad habits had been formed from my childhood in New Jersey.”

And here’s our interview with Mark….

Celebzter:     I love the fact that you have transformed Chelsea’s body….can you explain to our readers how you did this?
Mark:   Chelsea was just like most of us…working really hard at her food and exercise and yet still struggling with consistent results.  She was caught up in the dieting mindset, thinking she had to restrict calories and carbohydrates to stay lean and tight, never really understanding food.   The key to Chelsea’s success was educating her on how her body works and then implementing those strategies into her world.  You see, getting in great shape is all about developing the right rhythms with your food, exercise and “off plan” meals /alcohol.   Once Chelsea understood how to optimize her food and exercise she possessed the tools to take her body to the next level.  (My 5 top strategies for getting in great shape, #3 below,  is what Chelsea does with her food and exercise.  She uses Pilates for her strength training.)

o   Now once Chelsea’s food and exercise rhythms were locked in, it was time to work her beloved  Vodka into her plan!  There are 3 simple things Chelsea does when she drinks to help minimize storing any fat

o   First off, Chelsea limits drinking to 1–2 times per week, with a max of 2 drinks at a time. Now I know there are all sizes and shapes of drinks, so let’s define a drink as a shot of Belvedere (or any hard liquor), 6 oz of wine (red or white), and 12 oz of beer (preferably light)

o   Second, Chelsea avoids eating all starchy carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potato, etc.) when you drink. Alcohol actually gets metabolized by the body before food does; so when you eat heavy carbohydrates along with alcohol, your meal contains too many calories and the result is typically extra fat storage (definitely not the goal!)

o   And third, Chelsea’s cautious with drinking before bed, and stop’s drinking within two hours of bed. Alcohol affects the quality of your sleep and interrupts your sleep cycles. Since most of us are always on the go, we already know how important our sleep is for our daily energy. Your quality of sleep also affects the speed of your metabolism, which is a big component of burning body fat and getting and staying lean.

 

There you have it, whether it’s Chelsea or a reader of Celebzter.com, once they implement these strategies they can get the body they want, and most important not only look great but Feel great too!

 

Celebzter: And the best part of the diet is that you still can drink, correct?
Mark: 
Being able to drink and eat the foods you love is definitely a huge bonus of the program.  But to me the best part of the program is understanding how your body works so you can take back control of your health.  So many of us struggle each day with confidence in our body, just like Chelsea did, and it’s all because we really just don’t know what to do.  So we end up chasing diet after diet, desperately searching for the solution.  I created the program to help people connect the dots and fill in the gaps with their health so they have a real foundation to work from and actually reprogram their metabolism and improve their health each year.   This knowledge is what gives people back control of their food and exercise and allows them to “have their cake and eat it too”

Celebzter:   What are your top 5 tips for getting in great shape? – These 5 tips will take anyones body to another level!
Mark:  Tip 1 – Eat 5-6 balanced meals of  high quality protein, fat and carbohydrates every 3-4 hours.     Your body is a “refuel as it goes machine”  meaning it needs consistent meals to keep it running efficiently and effectively.    Eating frequent meals,  within an hour of waking, then every 3-4 hours  and then within an hour of going to sleep, keeps your blood sugar stable and allows your body to continually release stored body fat, toxins and excess water (bloat).    One quick note, you definitely  want to eat before bed, just be cautious of eating complex carbs (oatmeal, rice, potatoes, etc…) before bed.  Choose a high quality protein, fat and simple carb (fruit or vegetable).

·         Tip 2 -  Replace Dairy, gluten and soy in your meals with high quality food.  Dairy, gluten (a complex protein primarily found in wheat) are typically hard to digest by the body and cause bloating in most people.   Simply by eliminating or reducing these foods in your meals will typically drop 5 pounds in excess bloat and water weight.    Yes it makes that much of a difference.   You should also notice your digestive system working better too, this is the case 99% of the time when people shift to higher quality foods.

·         Tip 3 – Do 30-60 minutes of  fat burning cardio 4-5 days per week.    Stable blood sugar release’s stored fat, and your muscle burns that fat up.   Fat burning cardio is cardio that uses your red muscle fibers when oxygen is present.   Meaning you are not out of breath.  Keep your heart rate around 135-145 beats per minute and choose from these three  movements (they recruit the most amount of muscle fibers which allow you to burn the most amount of fat).    Walking on a treadmill (or hill climbing outside) at a 15% incline (adjusting the speed to match your breath an d making sure you are not holding on to the hand railing), jogging,  or stair climbing on a step mill or bleachers.   Also one quick note – ALWAYS do fat burning cardio AFTER high intensity cardio and/or strength training.  You will burn much more fat and optimize your fuel pathways.

·         Tip 4 – Get  30 – 35  minutes of high intensity cardio in 2 times a week .    Fat burning cardio works your red muscle, high intensity cardio works your white muscle.   High intensity cardio is performed in bursts of speed.    The two best types of high intensity cardio are sprinting and running stairs (they both recruit the maximum amount of muscle fibers and stimulation of your nervous system).   Here is how to do it, using sprinting as an example.   Imagine being at a track….  You get to the track and do a slight jog and stretch to warm up for 5-10 minutes.  I highly recommend you warm up due to the high intensity of this type of cardio.  After your warm up, you want then want to sprint as fast as you can for 60 seconds, really push it and get your heart rate as high as you can.  Then barely walk, really slow, for 1-2 minutes to get your breath back.  Once recovered (Heart rate around 120 BPM) blow it out again and sprint as fast as you can for another 60 seconds.  Then once again recover.  Do this same routine for a total of 30-35 minutes.     Then after your 30-35 minutes, go right into your fat burning cardio for  30-45 minutes.

·         Tip 5 – Perform  2-3 days a week of strength training (core or weight training) 30-45 minutes per session .   Your fat burning and high intensity cardio will really burn up your body fat and your strength training will get you tone, tight and speed up your metabolism.    The type of strength training your choose really depends on your goals.  If your focus is more on flexibility, strength and a toned body then core training is your best choice.  Pilates and Yoga are excellent examples of core training.  If your focus is more on increasing muscle mass then weight training is your best choice.   Weight training overloads and damages your muscle fibers.  Then with proper rest and nutrition your muscle grows back stronger in strength and size.     If strength training is new to you, I suggest working with an instructor/personal trainer, taking a class or purchasing a video.


Celebzter:  What foods should we always eat?
Mark: 
What matters most is to eat a protein, fat and carbohydrate EVERY meal in the right balance, calories and meal intervals.  This combination is what keeps your blood sugar stable and your metabolism humming.   The more high quality foods you can eat the better.  A few proteins being, egg whites, chicken, turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, fish… A few fats being, natural nut butters (peanut, almond, etc.) raw nuts, Avocado, olive oil…and a few Carbs being, fruit, vegetables, sweet potatoes and grains like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa.   The higher quality food you eat the more stable your blood sugar will be and the more tight and toned your body will be.

Celebzter: What foods should we always avoid?
Mark:
You will never hear me say the word “can’t”…you can eat whatever you want, you just need to know what adjustments to make when you eat so called “junk food”.   Obviously soda, candy, alcohol are not the best for your body, but everything in moderation is fine.  It all comes back down to what you are doing 90% of the time with your food and exercise.  If you are great 90% of the time, the 10% that you are eating some “junk food” is fine.  If you force yourself to give up foods you love, watch out, eventually you will crack and that is when the rebound phase begins….

Celebzter: With the holiday season upon us, what tricks can you share to stop us piling on the pounds?

Mark: Here are 5 great tips/tricks to make it through the holiday and actually prevent the Holiday Slide!
·         Tip 1 -  Keep your Blood Sugar Stable

                                 i.      Fall and the Holiday Season comes and we love our hearty foods , which are more dense and higher in calories and carbohydrates, but hold on You CAN eat the foods you love this Holiday season and maintain a great shape! The key is to just keep it all in the right balance.  We’ve all been there, skipping a meal or a snack and we go into a meal starving.  This insane hunger is caused by low blood sugar, which causes your body to burn its muscle for energy and slow down your metabolism .  Then this is when we reach in abundance for the heavy carbs which spikes our blood sugar and causes our body to store body fat.  This cycle is which causes many of us to experience the unwanted fat and weight gain throughout fall.  By simply focusing on these 3 simple things you can eat the foods you love and keep your blood sugar stable:

1.       Eat 5-6 times a day (within an hour upon waking, every 3-4 hours and within an hour upon bedtime)

2.       Eat the right amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates per meal (I can show the food to ensure people know which each is)

3.       Eat the right amount of calories per meal (not per day) – I can also show a meal so the audience can get a visual of a portion size

·         Tip 2 – Be ready for your “off plan” (aka cheat) meals  or when you drink Alcohol

                                 i.      The Holiday season is all about food, so when those moments come and it’s time to eat  “off plan” or you want to have drink, make these adjustments to minimize the damage and stay guild free!

1.       Adjustment 1 -  Keep eating your balanced meals  leading up to your off plan meals.  Big mistake is many of us think we should skip meals to save our calories….this is a sure fire way to slow down your metabolism and store excess fat (as I explained in the blood sugar segment).  The key is to keep your meals leading up to your off plan meal, this will keep your metabolism humming and prevent you from “going to town” at the meal

2.       Adjustment 2 – After your meal, eat a meal of just Protein and fat, no carbs (show food again) , this activates your metabolism and helps burn the excess calories you had in your “off plan” meal

3.       Adjustment 3 – If you are eating off plan but want to somewhat in check, make sure each off plan meal has protein and fat and then avoid all starchy carbs, like potatoes, rice, beans….This way you can eat a meal with your protein, fat and then have a dessert or some alcohol.  This keeps your overall calories and blood sugar spikes at a minimum.

·          Tip 3 -  Remember that Maintenance is a Great Thing

                                i.      Every January, many of us focus on getting back in shape from the Holidays.  Imagine, starting January exactly at the same weight and body fat you had at the end of August.  Actually not regressing, but actually maintaining throughout the holidays.   You probably would take that deal if it was on the table, I know I would!  You see, we are all geared up with the ‘all or nothing’ mindset.  The reality is it does not have to be like this.  During the fall months and holiday season, you will have some extra “off plan” meals and you will miss some exercise days, but if you are dialed in around 85% of the time, you will definitely  maintain.   Then come January, you are not looking at losing your “holiday weight”, you are focusing on getting your body in even better shape than last summer.

·         Tip 4 – Always have your Mobile Readiness Food Kit (MRFK)

                                 i.       As long as you keep your blood sugar stable it’s impossible to store body fat.  Your MRFK ensures food is always within an arm’s length to keep your body fueled, balanced and burning body fat.  A MRFK can be as simple as a protein bar in your purse, or as complete as a cooler with Greek yogurt, nuts and fruit.   Basically all that matters is that you have balanced meals available for those busy times during the day, especially your mid morning and afternoon meals.

·         Tip 5 – Remain in Control -

                                 i.      The holiday season is a  crazy time, work load picks up, kids are back in school, holidays are right around the corner, it is easy to let your health take a back seat, especially your nutrition.   Your number one focus during the slippery month of September is to stay ahead of the game and spend a few hours each Sunday stocking up your fridge and cupboards with good healthy food and planning your exercise routine for the upcoming week.   We all hate the feeling of having to scramble due to being unprepared, so the solution is easy,  plan ahead and stay in control!

 

Celebzter: Any other tips for us?
Mark: Just remember to Have Fun with your food and exercise and Enjoy the Process!!  This mindset makes your health part of your world forever. 

Celebzter:  Lastly, what is chelsea like to work with?
Mark:Chelsea is one of my greatest friends and inspirations.  I asked her to write the foreword because she is an amazing example of how it is possible to make your health work regardless of how busy your lifestyle is.   You just need to make a choice and then choose to make your health a priority.  She is not only the funniest person I know, but she is also one of the most genuine, kind and passionate people I have ever known.   Our friendship began in 8 years ago and she is family to me.   So as you can tell, I love working with Chelsea.  Her commitment to her health inspires so many people to dive in and take back control of their food and exercise, just like she did.

We sure are fans!

For information on Mark, see below for all his details!

Mark Macdonald, NC, CPT, is the CEO and creator of Venice Nutrition. He opened the first Venice Nutrition Consulting Center in Venice Beach, CA, and it has since developed into a network of more than 350 centers across the United Station. Macdonald lives in Atlanta with his wife Abbi and their son Hunter. Visit him online at venicenutrition.com.

BODY CONFIDENCE
Venice Nutrition’s 3 Step System That Unlocks Your Body’s Full Potential
By Mark Macdonald
HarperOne
On Sale April 2011; $26.99; Hardcover; 9780061997273
Also Available as an eBook: 9780062078698

 

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Melissa Myers has worked as an entertainment journalist for ten years, both in London and New York. She has done a daily gossip column on British newspaper the Daily Star where she interviewed everyone from Tom Cruise and George Clooney to Simon Cowell and Jennifer Lopez. She also worked as the News Director of In Touch in New York for the past six years, before launching her own site www.celebzter.com, which aims to provide smart content for smart women.
Melissa Myers has worked as an entertainment journalist for ten years, both in London and New York. She has done a daily gossip column on British newspaper the Daily Star where she interviewed everyone from Tom Cruise and George Clooney to Simon Cowell and Jennifer Lopez. She also worked as the News Director of In Touch in New York for the past six years, before launching her own site www.celebzter.com, which aims to provide smart content for smart women.
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