The best thing about Blake Lively's February 2018 gym selfie isn't that it's incredibly hot (which it is), but that it features an extremely honest caption about her 61-pound weight loss journey.
And now her trainer, Don Saladino, is opening up about the surprisingly reasonable methods he used to get her into shape. Carbs, anyone?
Anyone can relate to Lively's Instagram-induced jealousy, but we know of a few body-positive accounts that can fix that right up. Nevertheless, she found the motivation to get active and eat healthy. While 61 pounds is a lot of weight, remember that she lost it over the course of 14 months, proving that slow weight loss actually works.
When It Comes to Calories
In an interview with E! News, Saladino (who also trains Lively's husband, Ryan Reynolds) discussed everything from her training routine to her outlook on food. His surprising philosophy on dieting, he revealed, is to focus on food quality rather than calorie deficit. He's not into starving people of the food they love (i.e., cookies and pizza).
"I believe that we can still get a substantial amount of calories, proteins, carbs and fats to feed the body and become a fat-burning furnace," he says. "That's what we did with Blake. We did not put Blake on any crazy, strict diet. That's not who she is. That's not what she wants people to think she is. She enjoys eating delicious foods, just like anyone else."
He recognized that her hectic schedule, often requiring her to either be on set, traveling or with her children, made a strict meal plan unrealistic. Instead, he encouraged quality and moderation.
"If she's eating pasta, it's a good-quality pasta. If she's eating cookies, it's good-quality cookies," he explains. "She tries to avoid processed foods and junk foods. There's a list of foods that one can eat on any budget that isn't garbage. This is a very attainable way to do things, and I think anyone can do it the way she does it."
This sounds like the perfect weight loss plan, unless, that is, you like to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. "She does not drink alcohol," Saladino adds.
Carbs Are Allowed (No Joke)
Pasta lovers will flip when they hear that Saladino is totally against low-carb diets.
"Low carb is one of the worst things you can do as a human," he says. He explains that carbohydrates are the body's primary fuel source, so when you forgo them, you're depriving yourself of energy. What's more, carbs encourage your body to retain water. So you release a bunch of water when you initially cut carbs, but quickly gain that water weight back when you reintroduce them to your diet.
Instead, Lively would have three meals and two protein shakes a day. Each meal would be balanced, including a palm-size protein, a vegetable and a carb. Following that loose outline, Saladino and Lively would assess as they went.
"After two weeks, we would adjust and see how their body is feeling. I would start adding carbs or more fat, depending on their goals," he says. "The problem with eating is that people will give diets a chance for a couple of days, and they really need to give it time. I think in two weeks you can really see how your energy levels are and see how your body can adapt.
The bottom line? "If she wanted to have a piece of cake or a cookie, she would do that. Sometimes it was daily," he says. "By taking that approach and exercising and relieving her body of stress, she was able to get her body where she wanted it. It took 14 months, but she looks incredible."
Read more: What Makes You Fat: Carbs or Calories?
Hitting the Gym
No celebrity weight loss plan is complete without some serious gym time. Lively would hit the gym four to five times a week, according to Saladino. Depending on her schedule with the children, she would keep her visits between 20 minutes and an hour.
Each gym session would start with 10 minutes of activation and mobility training, which would include foam rolling and a dynamic warmup. Then Lively would focus on resistance and weight training, which, Saladino notes, is especially important for parents.
"I work with a lot of moms, and the one thing — especially with new moms — is that they are either carrying the baby around on their hip or they are developing an asymmetry," he explains. "If I'm going to put a 20-pound bag on their arm, and you're going to walk around like that for two hours, yeah, your back is going to feel sore. The main thing with mothers is to get them in and unwind those asymmetries."
They would finish the session with cardio, and 90 percent of the time it would be steady-state rather than high-intensity.
"If a mom comes in and is tired from being up with her kids or was working a job or dealing with the daily stresses of life that moms deal with, putting a mother under a high-intensity interval training is one of the most irresponsible things that anyone can do," he says. "You can still burn calories during steady-state cardio. We took it day by day."
Hollywood’s Hottest Workout Buddies
Of course Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds work out together. But we're dying to know: Who's in better shape? Sadly, Saladino is keeping his lips sealed. "I have to bite my tongue on that one," he says.
While Lively may look like a goddess, her weight loss plan is as human and accessible as they come. The inspiring takeaway here is that it's totally OK (and more effective) to take your time losing weight. We'll chalk up her incredible glow to diet, exercise and a lot of self-love!