It was 3 p.m. on a hot day — I was tired, lazy and not feeling all that fit from spending my day in front of a computer screen. But I had RSVP’d to get my butt kicked by trainer Harley Pasternak, and gosh darn it, I wasn’t going to back out.
If you’re into fitness, you’ve probably heard of Pasternak. Stars — including Megan Fox, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian West, Lady Gaga, Adam Levine and many more — owe their incredible bikini bods to him. Was I going to look like Fox after a 45-minute sweaty, painful workout? Probably not — but I did learn a great deal in the short time I chatted with the fitness stud and it’s improved my health ever since.
Even though what Pasternak preaches is so simple, he packages the “rules” in a unique way. Pasternak’s secret is that there is no secret! A fit body and healthy lifestyle isn’t exclusive to the rich and famous, and it doesn’t need to break the bank or cause you tons of grief. It’s time to say, “good riddance, evil juice cleanses,” (my boyfriend is happy about that…) and commit to incorporating Pasternak’s five easy rules into your lifestyle every day.
And it really did work for me. I’m a normal woman who’s tried tons of fad diets — more than I can count. I’m in decent shape, but have plenty of insecurities. This program made me realize it’s not about the number on the scale — it’s about how I feel. And I feel a heck of a lot better these days. Most importantly, I learned we just need to move more.
Rule No. 1: Eat five meals a day that are full of protein and fiber
Pretty basic, right? I’m sure you’ve heard this just as many times as I have, but it’s better to eat five smaller meals packed with protein and fiber than three huge meals throughout the day. One awesome takeaway I got from Pasternak’s program is that bread is OK! And, as long as you don’t have celiac disease, so is gluten! The best way to make sure you’re not eating empty carbs is to pick bread that has at least 3 grams of fiber. Obviously, everything in moderation, but I happily welcomed bread back into my every day.
More: 5 Ways to lose weight without feeling deprived
Bonus: Pasternak’s recipes are delicious. He claims they’re easy to make, but first time around, it did take me longer than I hoped. The taste was worth it, and I found easier ways to make the recipes the more I attempted them. His Italian frittata with zucchini, leaks and Parmesan (I hold the Parm) has become a morning regular.
The sweet potato hash with turkey sausage was beyond good. I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Rule No. 2: Flex your muscles daily
Pasternak’s got a pretty cool perspective on working out that seems so simple you may just laugh. All he wants you to do is 15 minutes of resistance exercises a day.
Anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. His book provides a three-week plan of exercises — you only do one per day — and if you’re dedicated enough to squeeze them in, you’ll see your muscles tightening. I did. Fifteen minutes and 10,000 steps a day are better than only really working out two to three times a week. It all adds up, and the more you do, the more results you see. It’s all about consistency and building better habits and life-lasting changes.
More: Why women gain unwanted weight in fall and how to prevent it
Rule No. 3: Just keep moving
In general, Pasternak says our society has become too stationary, and he’s right. Many of us sit all day long. So during the five-day plan (and every day after), he urges you to take 10,000 steps. If you’re not sure how, just play a game of chase on your lunch break.
If you have a desk job, you have to proactively try to reach 10,000 steps. On day three of my five-day plan, I looked down at my Fitbit after work, and it only read 4,659 steps. I’ve learned to get up every couple of hours to walk around, I stand while taking phone calls and I choose restaurants in walking distance for lunch. Like Pasternak says, you should only sit when you’re being transported from one destination to the next.
The Fitbit seriously helps (aka it’s worth the money). Last night, I looked down at my wrist and was 21 steps away from my daily goal — so I dragged myself out of bed and walked around my room until I felt the bracelet vibrate. It was only 21 steps. I could have just let it go, no one would have known. But I felt pretty good about myself, knowing I had stuck to my commitment and reached a goal I had set for myself. The Fitbit constantly keeps me on my toes… literally.
Rule No. 4: Get eight hours of sleep
You’ve heard this so many times, but you need a good night’s rest to have a good next day — mentally and physically. If you’re tired, your cravings take over and your willpower backs away. Pasternak — who provides tons of information in his book — also explains that lack of sleep also actually contributes to weight gain. Your body doesn’t burn fat for energy well, your appetite really increases and you have less energy to hit those 10,000 steps.
It’s another simple change, but really can make all the difference. You’ll feel more refreshed and prepared to take on the day and stay committed to your health goals. It was hard for me to quit my late-night Netflix binge watching, but since I have, my room has become a “relaxation only” room and my attitude, in general, has improved.
More: The Five Bite Diet trend: Friend or foe?
Rule No. 5: Unplug and unwind
Technology is taking over our lives and while it makes life easier in so many ways, it can take a serious toll. Pasternak explains that more TV watching is associated with more overeating, poor food choices and can contribute to obesity. Not only that, but studies also prove overuse of technology and the constant sounds of pinging phones and social media lead to anxiety, depression and stress.
By unplugging your electronics and meditating, journaling, doing household chores, taking a stroll, doing resistance training or anything electronic-free, you’re allowing your brain to take a much needed break. Plus, you’re staying connected to yourself and what you need to stay sane.
After only five days of the plan, this has become essential to my every day routine. I never noticed how unhappy I was — I wasn’t listening to my body and I was overwhelmed with stress. By taking an hour to just focus on me, I’ve started enjoying life so much more.
Read all this and much more in the book because the details Pasternak provides make a big difference.
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