Maria Menounos’ Healthy Tips for the EveryGirl

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Maria Menounos

You would never guess it from the paparazzi pics of her svelte figure, but there was a time when Extra TV co-host Maria Menounos was 40 pounds heavier and a far cry from the fitness symbol she is today.

After binging on junk food as a teenager, the Chasing Maria Menounos star ballooned from a size 2 to a 14 before deciding to get serious about diet and exercise, eventually dropping the extra pounds she'd packed on in high school in her early twenties.

The secret to her success? A clean diet consisting of whole foods and veggies plus plenty of exercise, which she divulges in her new book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness: How I Lost 40 lbs and Kept It Off-And How You Can Too! We recently caught up with the 35-year-old to talk about her favorite spot to unroll her yoga mat and the reason you'll never see her doing Downward-Facing Dog at Hollywood's yoga studio du jour.

Yoga Journal:What inspired you to write this book?

Maria Menounos: More than anything I wanted to help every girl out there looking to get in shape but [who] has struggled to do so. I remember how happy I was when I finally succeeded. I recall telling myself how much I wanted to help others achieve the same bliss. My book is the means to do so. My target audience is women who lack time, money, and willpower to get in shape, which is most of us.

YJ: Did yoga play a key role in your success?

MM: In all honesty, I was not practicing yoga when I lost the weight. However, in later years it has definitely helped to keep me toned and trim.

YJ: How long have you been practicing?

MM: I've been practicing for almost five years. I don't attend classes because I don't have time to commute, but I often do yoga bedside or in my front yard, even if it’s for 10 minutes. I do what I can with the time I have. I find it helps my day go smoother if I do it first thing in the morning.

YJ: You just signed a multi-year contract with E! Is it tough to juggle a healthy lifestyle with your hectic work schedule?

MM:
I'm always going to be busy, but what's great about yoga is that you don't need to commute to a class and it doesn't require expensive equipment or trainers. A simple mat is all you need and not a great deal of time. Fifteen to 20 minutes of bedside yoga is something I can manage and find the time to do. Again, it's not as often as I'd like, but it's something I can achieve. I have even done it all dressed up for work, whatever it takes!

YJ: What are the greatest benefits you've reaped from yoga?

MM:
The calming effect has been the greatest upside. By doing it when I wake up, it sets me up for the day to be positive and in a great mood. I love to do yoga in the morning. I do a few poses, breathe in fresh air and end it with saying something positive out loud like, “Today is going to be a great day.” Ending the day, it helps me to decompress and sleep more peacefully. Physically, I love the stretch and the flexibility it has given me.

YJ: Do you have a favorite healthy snack that helps you recharge?

MM:
Greek yogurt, bananas, and almond butter.

YJ: What are the greatest benefits you've reaped from yoga?

MM: The calming effect has been the greatest upside. By doing it when I wake up, it sets me up for the day to be positive and in a great mood. I love to do yoga in the morning. I do a few poses, breathe in fresh air and end it with saying something positive out loud like, “Today is going to be a great day.” Ending the day, it helps me to decompress and sleep more peacefully. Physically, I love the stretch and the flexibility it has given me.

YJ: What stay-fit strategies do you recommend for the EveryGirl?

MM: Keep a yoga mat by your bed or in your office. I love to do yoga in the morning. I do a few poses, breathe in fresh air and end it with saying something positive out loud like, “Today is going to be a great day.”

YJ: Any favorite poses?

MM:
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) is my favorite because I love how it opens me up and eases my back.

YJ: Any obstacles you've overcome off the mat thanks to having a regular practice?

MM: I have a stressful career and it has helped ease those stresses so much. Whether running a household or running an office, yoga is a great practice for women.

— Dana Meltzer Zepeda