Sara Rue is best known for playing the role of Carmen Ferrera in the TV series Popular more than a decade ago. Today, though, she looks nothing like the tubby main character of that show. Sara has reinvented herself with a slimline, athletic body and a healthy new attitude.
Sara has been so successful in her weight loss journey that she has become a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. More recently she has teamed up with pharmaceutical company Takeda to promote weight loss. After struggling with her own weight issues for decades, Sara feels great to have finally got on top of her body fat issues . . .
I am really proud and honored to be in a position where I can advocate for women and empower people. Sixty-six percent of women over the age of 20 in this country are dealing with being overweight or obese, and I think it’s a serious discussion we need to have.
Sara had often tried to lose weight in her teens and twenties. Sometimes it was in an attempt to get in shape so she could audition for a coveted film role. She would go on the latest high profile diet, starving her body of vital calories and nutrients. While the scale would go down, Sara never ended up looking any better. That’s because she was losing more muscle mass and water than body fat. Then, after she came off of the diet, she’d end up piling on even more weight as a result of the body’s starvation response.
Having recently reached 35, Sara knew it was time to get serious about her weight. She had a vision of where she wanted to be in the next 10 years physically, and her current shape just wasn’t matching up with that image.
Learning to Eat Smart
Sara had got into the habit of mindless eating. This led her to eat the things that she knew she shouldn’t be eating. It also led her to eating more food than she should. She would lose track of the food that she had been eating, which led her to think that she hadn’t been eating enough food. Sara explains the mental changes that she made . . .
I became someone who really paid attention to what I was putting in my mouth. I think that awareness gives you perspective so you can go, “I don’t need to eat that because I just had this.” It becomes a reasonable dialogue in your head as opposed to unconscious zombie eating, which happens to a lot of people who are really busy and running from place to place or from job to job. When you really become conscious of what you’re putting into your body, you want to make healthier choices for yourself. I didn’t cut out any particular foods to lose weight, but I now eat a mostly plant-based diet.
The Plant Based Diet
In order to fast track her way to rapid fat loss, Sara made the decision to follow a plant based diet. Here are the simple steps she put in place in order to do it:
- Stop eating all dairy foods
- Stop eating all foods that have oils on or in them
- Stop eating all refined grain products
- Limit meat to 2-3 portions per week
- Eat 100% whole grains and whole grain products
- Stop eating all nuts, seeds, dried fruits and fruit juice
Sara fills half of her plate with starchy, filling whole grain foods like brown rice, or mashed potatoes. The other half of her plate is filled with vegetables and fruit. She drinks water and herbal tea. On this diet, Sara can fill up on delicious foods like mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob, rice and bean burritos, and vanilla ice cream.
Finding Time for Fitness
With her busy lifestyle, and a young daughter, Sara is constantly on the go. Yet, she prioritizes the time to exercise. Often this means getting up earlier to get a workout in. It may also involve physical movement as a part of her socialization activities. Sara explains . . .
I live in a really great hiking area in Los Angeles, so I do a lot of hiking with friends. It’s a great way to catch up while you do something healthy and get outside. I focus a lot on walking. I do spin classes, major hikes, and generally try to stay active.
Sara began her exercise journey slowly. She started out with very small increments of exercise, augmented by larger periods of rest and then slowly improved to the point where she is now ready to run a half marathon. She also became a fan of her Garmin fitness activity tracker . . .
I spent the first few months of my program wearing my pedometer and getting in my 10,000 steps every day. When I started running I would run for one minute and walk for ten. Now I can run for two-and-a-half hours straight. That’s insane! I never would have thought six months ago that I would be able to run that much.
As well as getting back to the great outdoors, Sara spends time on her treadmill. But she’s not a girl to indulge in slow, boring steady state cardio. Rather, she will engage in high intensity interval training. That means that she gets in position on the treadmill, places her water bottle in its holder, and then does a 2 minute medium paced warm-up at 4 miles per hour. As the end of her warm up time approaches, she will begin increasing the speed on the tread until, when the two minutes are up, she will be sprinting at top speed.
Sara will run as fast as she can for a full 60 seconds. When that time is up, she will thrust her legs out to the side and rest for another 60 seconds. She makes sure to sip on water during this time.
Sara will repeat this 60 seconds on / 60 seconds off circuit between 6 and eight times. At the end of it, she will be totally exhausted – and she will have burned a ton of calories. This type of HIIT training also brings on the excess post oxygen consumption (EPOC) effect. That allows her to elevate her metabolism and burn even more calories over the next 48 hours.
Sara’s 50 pound weight loss journey has led her to incorporate healthy nutrition and regular exercise into her lifestyle. As a result, she is more balanced and able to get far more out of each day. As a health spokesperson, she is now able to share her success and motivation with millions of others.