It’s a busy new year for Jennifer Ashton, M.D., co-host of ABC’s The Revolution. In addition to her job on the new daytime show, the super-fit ob-gyn wrote a new book Your Body Beautiful: Clockstopping Secrets to Staying Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 30s, 40s, and Beyond. She also still treats patients in her New Jersey practice and trains for triathlons. No wonder she was sneaking in a little indoor cycling while we talked to her during a filming break!
In Your Body Beautiful, you recommend a Five-Day/Two-Day diet plan—sticking to a healthy eating routine (filling up on plenty of lean protein, veggies and fruit, whole grains while avoiding added sugar and refined carbs like bagels) during the week and relaxing a bit on the weekends. Why does it work?
Anyone can do anything for five days. Then you get to lighten up a little and reward yourself for just 48 hours and then you reset and start again. We’re talking about lightening up a little…have a cup of ice cream or some dessert. But mathematically, five days beats two days when you do it over the course of a several months for a year and then your metabolism slowly adapts to the more sustained pattern, which is the five-day pattern. So after a while, behaviorally, what happens is that you don’t want to go crazy on the weekends. You won’t see as much of a difference between what your doing Saturday and Sunday and what your doing the rest of the week.
How do you fit in exercise—especially triathlon training—with such a busy schedule?
I work out about two hours a day. I do a lot of cardio and a lot of The Bar Method, resistance kind of work. I lift weights, too, which I think is really important for women.
So now with the new show and still seeing patients in my medical office, I will get up at five in the morning to do at least an hour of my workout before I start my day. And then I’ll fit in the other hour at the end of the day. It’s a real priority to me, mentally and physically. My family knows that I am cranky when I don’t work out. Working out makes me really happy. It makes me feel good, I stay healthy and I get fewer colds. Last summer I did two triathlons for the first time. My message for the book, as well as my method for the show, is that women in their 40s can be more fit then they were 10 or 20 years ago. I think that that’s really exciting so I make it a priority.
Do you ever sleep?!
I really do get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The way I do that is, I’m kind of a social loser! I don’t go out a lot. Something has to be really, really important either for work or for my social life to be a reason for me to go to sleep past 9 o’clock at night. People think of sleep as a luxury but it’s really a medical necessity. And I think most people are unaware of the consequences of getting too little sleep so they don’t recognize sometimes that that’s what’s causing their health problems.
What have you learned from your co-hosts on The Revolution?
Every day, every segment we are learning from each other. Tim Gunn is just like an encyclopedia of fashion and style and etiquette. He is such an expert on always doing the right thing and always saying the right thing. One of the things I’ve learned from Tim so far is that there really is no right or wrong fashion style—you have to be true to yourself and your own style.
And then Harley Pasternak and I are always kind of having healthy debates about nutrition and fitness. He has twenty years of experience as a trainer and a fitness expert and I have more then a decade of experience taking care of women and seeing what works for them and what works for me. Sometimes we have different opinions but our goals are always on track and parallel with each other.
Your Body Beautiful is geared toward women in their 30s, 40s and up. What’s your main message to them?
No matter what shape you’re in at those ages, you can be better in every way and you can be better to the tune of 10 or 20 years or more with these tips, these secrets, these simple steps. Small habits really become effortless.
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