Glee star Amber Riley may have become the first black woman to win Dancing With The Stars, but that didn’t stop people complaining about her weight. This despite the fact that she had already dropped 2 dress sizes.
Amber’s DWTS acceptance speech made it clear where she stood on the weight issue . . .
I want to let women of all sizes out there know you can do whatever you put your mind to!” she said. “It doesn’t matter what size, what color you are — you can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put your mind to!
Amber has struggled with her weight her whole life. She admits that it basically came down to the love affair she had with food. Amber has a sweet tooth. She loves pastries, desserts and other sugar laden high carb foods. She also fell into the habit of relying on fast food when she was on the go. As an up and coming actress, she was on the go a lot of the time. That meant that she was adding a lot of calories to her system, and not doing much to burn them off.
Things came to a head in July of 2011. Amber began suffering from stomach pains. She took herself off to the doctor, who told her that she needed to make changes in order to lose body fat. Her body was reacting negatively to all of the junk food she was regularly eating. Amber recalls.
I decided I was going to make a change and eat healthier.
It’s not that Amber was feeling bad about the way she looked. She has always been comfortable with her body shape. She just decided that it was time to get healthier . . .
So, now that Amber had made the decision to get healthy, where was she going to start?
The Nutritional Make-Over
The first thing Amber did was stop visiting fast food restaurants. Even though she’d been a regular visitor to McDonalds and Burger King, she resolved to go cold turkey on junk food. She knew how many calories are in the burgers and fries that she’d been downing. Stopping visiting those restaurants meant that she was immediately eating hundreds fewer calories per day.
Having stopped visiting the fast food joints, Amber needed to replace them with smarter choices. So, she stocked up with healthy snack foods, placing them in her car and in her purse. She started cooking hard boiling eggs, bagged nuts and raisins, purchased a selection of fruits and began eating protein bars. Now when she drove past the fast food joints, she wasn’t tempted. That made it much easier for her to stick to her resolve.
The next step for Amber was to clean out her pantry and fridge. She didn’t fall into the trap of finishing off half eaten bags of crisps and donuts. They all ended up in the trash can. She cleared out all of the high carb, high sugar, processed foods that had been the staple of her meals for many years.
Now, it was time to replace those negative foods with smarter nutritional choices. She began by stocking up on vegetables, with a preference for green leafy vegetables, broccoli, green beans and Brussels sprouts. Then she added lean proteins. Amber was well aware that protein helps lose weight and also fills you up. She filled her fridge with plenty of chicken, lean red beef, high omega-3 fish, eggs and protein bars. She also started taking protein powder with water as a meal replacement shake once per day.
Having restocked her home with smarter food choices, Amber set about changing up her eating pattern. She used to et a very small breakfast, often skipping it all together. Lunch would normally be a burger and fries and then she’d have a huge dinner, followed by dessert. In order to lose the weight, she had to completely turn this around.
Amber would have a protein based breakfast, built around eggs. From there, she’d eat every three hours. Mid morning snacks would be a piece of fruit or nuts and raisins. Lunch might be a protein drink or fish, rice and broccoli. In the afternoon, she’d have a protein bar or a couple of crackers with tuna fish. Her dinner would consist of fish, green vegetables and a baked potato.
Amber made a point of not eating after 7:00 pm.
The Exercise Mix
Amber matched her nutritional make-over with some hard work in the gym. She teamed up with a personal trainer and began doing a mix of weight training and plyometric exercises. She trained three times per week with weights (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Another three days, she did a plyometric training session (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday).
Amber didn’t have a history of lifting weights when she first headed to the gym. So she started off by just using the bar. Here are the exercises and rep scheme that she started with:
- Squats – 3 x 15
- Lunges – 2 x 15
- Bench Press – 3 x 15
- One Arm Rowing – 2 x 15
- Barbell Curls – 2 x 15
- Reverse Dips – 2 x 15
The plyometric workouts were all about running and jumping. This was a great way for Amber to burn through a ton of calories. Here’s the program she followed:
- Skipping (2 mins)
- Ladder Drill (1 minute)
- Lateral Jumps ( 1 minute)
- Box Jumps (1 minute)
- Plyo Push Ups (1 minute)
- Skipping ( 1 minute)
Amber went through this entire routine with as little rest as possible. By the end of her first month, she was going through the routine three times, with a 3 minute break between each circuit. By the end of the workout, she was covered in sweat – and had burned off nearly a thousand calories.
The New Look Amber
One immediate result of Amber’s dedication to a healthier lifestyle was that she needed to get some new clothes. Over 7 months she dropped two dress sizes. This also effect the wardrobe staff on the set of Glee . . .
We had to revamp the wardrobe. They bought a lot of new clothes for me and we have to take in a lot of my pants and dresses.
Amber looks, and feels great, after having melted off the excess kilos. And, years down the track, she’s managed to keep the weight off. Well done, Amber!
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