Harley Pasternak says abs are made in the kitchen. He should know, he's the trainer responsible for some of Hollywood's most famous abs including those belonging to Lady Gaga, Halle Berry, Orlando Bloom, LL Cool J, Kate Upton and more.
And while he's known for his no-nonsense workouts, the Canadian-born trainer is adamant that what you eat is more important than how you exercise. "Most of the success I've experienced with our clients as far as physique transformations goes, occurs outside of the gym," he says.
Pasternak, who was in Toronto for the Can-Fit-Pro World Fitness Expo, has authored several diet books, including "The 5-Factor Diet," "The 5-Factor World Diet," "The Body Reset Diet" and "The Body Reset Diet Cookbook." Even his fitness books contain significant nutrition/diet sections. He says there's good reason for that. "I've really focused on diets in my books because you can change someone's body in a week through diet, but not through exercise."
As Canadians gear up with their New Year's Resolutions, Pasternak warns that doing too much is counterproductive. "A lot of the short-term things people are doing have long-term problems," he says. "Cleanses and fasts; overdoing cardio or overdoing weights lead to injuries or people burning themselves out. The biggest misconception is that you need to work hard to change your body. You just need to work smart."
While Pasternak says he understands that people are often time-crunched, he counters that you can make noticeable changes to your body in almost no time at all. "Take 10,000 steps a day, sleep seven hours a night, unplug an hour a day. So far I haven't asked for any of your time. Eat protein and fiber five times a day. I haven't asked for any of your time. And do at least five minutes of resistance exercise every day."
In an effort to help clients save time when it comes to nutrition, Pasternak partnered with Salton to create the Harley Pasternak Power Blender. "The number 1 reason people give me for not sticking to their eating plan is "no time." They don't have time to steam, cook, grill, chop, poach, so providing them with a 60 second solution to a healthy meal eliminates most of the excuses."
Furthermore, he adds that blending helps sneak in healthy ingredients that some people might not otherwise eat in whole form. "I hate vegetables," admits Pasternak. "But if I can make a puréed vegetable soup, or if I can put spinach in a smoothie, I'll eat them all day."
The trainer also suggests beginning a fitness or nutrition plan slowly rather than trying to change your lifestyle all at once. "Add one thing in a day; and one small thing can add up, big time. Start day one with 'I'm going to eat a healthy breakfast today.' Going forward, make that breakfast standard. Day two, I'm going to walk around the block once before I leave the house today and make that a daily thing. Day three, I'm going to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight and make it a daily thing; so small things added in gradually," he advises.
Pasternak urges clients to be patient when it comes to physique change and shrugs off suggestions that celebrities have an easier time losing weight. "What the average person has to realize is just because you're famous doesn't mean it's easier. It's way harder. No matter how rich you are you still have to not eat the bad foods. No one can do that for you. You still have to eat good foods. No one can do that for you. You still have to walk and get your steps in. You still have to go to bed half-an-hour earlier. So all these things are constant no matter where you're at from a fame perspective or socioeconomic status," he says. "If anything, they just have less time. They work long hours; long days. If someone's shooting a TV show, it's 12 hours on set. That's a lot."
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