Written by Rachel Torgerson, editorial intern
Anyone who watches Down Home with the Neelys on the Food Network knows that Gina Neely likes buttery, southern cooking. So when we heard that she was participating in George Foreman’s Weight Loss Challenge—a 12-week food and exercise plan complete with week-by-week grocery lists—we were more than curious to see how it would pan out. Fast-forward twelve weeks later and Gina’s lost 20 lbs and gained a new, healthy lifestyle. We chatted with her about what changes she’s made (and sticking to!), her favorite recipes and even her Billy Blanks workout tapes.
What inspired you to make these changes in your life?
I think it was just when I went to the doctor and got my physical. She told me my cholesterol was getting a little high. I just said, “You know what? I’ve got to start changing that!” This is my body and if I’m not going to be good to it, it’s not going to be good to me. I said to my girls, “If I don’t do this and make time for myself, if you need me, I’m not going to be around.” And that’s just a really serious part of it: making sure that you’re healthy for your loved ones.
Was it hard to start the challenge?
The first week and a half I noticed my pants fitting a little looser and I was like, “Hey, hey, hey!” I was already doing little things like taking the bun off of my burger, but sticking to the challenge really helped me see the results. I lost 20 lbs and 12 inches by the end.
On the show and in your restaurants, you’re surrounded by food constantly. How do you stay focused and motivated?
When I’m in the restaurant, I’m around food a lot, so it’s kind of just picking at it and filling up. The George Foreman helped me stop doing that so much because it’s a fast meal, as opposed to a bunch of chopping. Because after doing that all day, you don’t want to put effort into dinner; you’re over it. The grill cleans up easy, it makes cooking fun and my girls can use it.
What kind of changes did you make to your lifestyle?
The exercise. I’ll put it on my calendar now, like an appointment, from 9-10 am. If somebody calls to say can we do coffee at 10, I’ll say no because I probably wont have time to get back. I even put on my old Billy Blanks tape; I hadn’t seen that in forever! There were some good moves!
What are your favorite healthy recipes?
When I got the grill, I thought salmon would be amazing on it, so I sprayed a little olive oil so the salmon wouldn’t stick, and I did a low-sodium soy sauce with honey, onions and some rice-wine vinegar. Mix it all up in a bowl, then baste it on the salmon. Put some rice around it and asparagus. My friends had it and were like, “Oh my God. This is so amazing!”
Now that you’ve made these changes in your own life, will you make changes in your show or your restaurants?
Yes, we are going to try to trim some things back at the restaurants. We have a new cookbook coming out too, so you’ll see more of the healthy lifestyle there as well.
Do you want to take the George Foreman Weight Loss Challenge? Check out their website for more information.
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