When you see a beautiful model and television correspondent looking amazing in one of those costumes on “Dancing with the Stars”, you might think that they always looked that way. Especially when you see the bright smile and funny laugh that Maria Menounos has, you probably assume that her life has always been spent enjoying that beauty and that body. But, that is not the case at all.
Maria Menounos is just 34 years old, but is known all over the world. In American, she is known as an actress, a presenter on television’s “Extra”, and of course the fourth place (but very talented) contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”. In Greece, she is known as the presenter for the Eurovision Song Contest, and some people actually only know her as a professional wrestler!
However, although Maria spent time as a teenager entering beauty contests, as soon as she hit college, she realized just what a toll the modern American diet can take on your body, gaining more than 40 pounds the first year!
Why Did She Gain Weight?
Maria recently told Shape Magazine that she wasn’t always as lean and toned as she is today, but when she was young she was definitely fit. She existed on her parents’ Greek diet which consisted of very little meat, and a lot of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
When she went off to college, things changed and straying from her natural diet almost changed her life’s plans. “For the first time in my life, I had fatty foods available. I couldn’t resist them!”
What she found out is what a lot of us have learned and that is that if you eat foods that are fatty, processed, or high in sugars, not only will you gain weight, but you will feel tired and your self-esteem will suffer eventually, too.
How Did She Take the Weight Off?
Maria’s key to losing weight was to stop eating fatty, processed foods, and to cut down on portion sizes. She went back to eating the much healthier diet that her immigrant Greek parents ate and also kept a food diary which really showed her where she could cut back even more.
Maria also used her love of WWE (professional wrestling) as a way for her to really get her body back into shape. She went so far as to compete in a number of WWE events, showing off the body that we have all seen on “Dancing with the Stars”.
Another thing that Maria has going for her is that she is incredibly tough and athletic. During the season of “Dancing with the Stars”, she suffered a number of injuries, including broken ribs, yet continued to fight through the pain.
What About Diet?
In addition to staying away from college cafeterias, Maria learned that a lot of losing weight has to do with the way that you feel about yourself and the ways in which you reward yourself. If you are giving yourself rewards in the form of foods (“I had a tough day at work, so I’ll have chocolate cake tonight.”), then you are asking for disaster.
In Maria’s recent book, she discusses the need for self-compassion, which she interprets as a way of taking care of yourself first. By focusing on your eating challenges and your diet, and then worrying about others later, you will have a better chance for success. Because she worked up to 20 hours per day, six or seven days a week, she would often find herself dehydrated and exhausted, trying to meet everyone else’s needs. When she started to focus on her body and her overall health, she dropped the weight and was able to get in great shape.
Does Dancing Help?
Although it can certainly be said that “Dancing with the Stars” took a physical toll on Maria in terms of bumps, bruises, and a few broken bones, if you watched that entire season, then you could actually see her body transform.
Maria was in great shape at the starts of the season, but by the end of the season, she was in incredible shape. She was toned, her abs were defined, and she had a level of cardiovascular health that she had never had before.
We all know it to be true – if you eat healthy and work out on a regular basis, you will have a much healthier body. The problem is that we all have excuses for not doing these things, but when you see a woman like Maria who was able to realize what she was doing wrong, correct it, and come back even stronger, then you can start to see that it is a possibility for you, too.