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Padma Dishes It Out

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The Top Chef host has cooked up the perfect plan that lets her indulge in her favorite foods and stay in great shape. Find out Padma Lakshmi's secrets to eating so well while looking this good.
Don't forget to tune in to Top Chef Season 11 in New Orleans Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo!

Getting to Know Padma

Padma Lakshmi has gained -- and lost -- 15 pounds 10 times during the past seven years. No, she's not a yo-yo dieter; the weight comes with her job. Every season on Top Chef, Padma goes up two dress sizes, thanks to eating all the decadent dishes the chef contestants whip up.

Arriving at her photo shoot for the FITNESS cover after nearly two months of filming in New Orleans, Padma, 43, admits she had been anxious about this moment. "I found out about the cover right before doing Top Chef, knowing that I'd be gaining weight," she says. "I was terrified. It's FITNESS. I'd better be fit!"

Mission accomplished, as you can see. So how did she do it? We got Padma to spill the workout strategies that help her ditch the pounds, plus the cooking and eating tips that keep her slim and still let her enjoy all her favorite foods. Her sensible ideas will work for you too.

So how do you lose the weight you gain on the show?

I follow a clean diet: no meats, no sweets, no alcohol, no cheese, no fried food, no wheat. And I work out five days a week, boxing three days, lifting weights the other two.

Do you change your workout after you reach your goal?
To maintain my weight I strength-train, use the treadmill and elliptical, and box three times a week. I also do planks at home and jump rope. I carry a jump rope with me everywhere, especially when I'm working. It's a great way to squeeze in a quick workout and get your heart rate up when you don't have time to go to the gym.

You gained 45 pounds while pregnant with your daughter, Krishna, who's now 3. Was it harder to get that weight off?

Yes! I did all my usual workouts, but the most important thing was that I found an exercise buddy in my makeup artist, Michelle. Having an appointment with her makes me get to the gym. Instead of meeting friends for dinner or drinks, meet to work out! You can still spend an hour and a half chitchatting, but you're getting in your reps too. Also, I always try to get enough sleep because the body holds on to more calories when it's tired, and I tend to eat more when I'm tired. Rest is important to weight loss.

It took 13 months to get the weight off. It was hard. I went from a size 4 to a size 14 when I was pregnant. What's interesting, though, is that, in my experience, men don't want skinny girls. When I was a size 14, I got much more attention from men than I do now.

Has your body changed since you turned 40?
I've seen a slow decline in my metabolism from the time I was 30. Even when I'm at my ideal weight, I have to work out regularly -- otherwise I'm jiggly. So I exercise consistently, even if it's just doing some jumping jacks, planks, and stairs, or jumping rope for 10 minutes. I notice a difference if I go a week without exercise.

What are your healthiest habits?
I drink a homemade cleanse of two ounces of pure cranberry juice, six ounces of either green tea or plain water, one Emergen-C Vitamin C packet, and a teaspoon of fiber powder three times a day. I also drink two to three liters of water a day.

You've been quoted as saying, "I would rather spend half my life at the gym and eat whatever I want than sit on my ass and starve." Do you still feel that way?
Yes, 100 percent. I love food way too much to starve myself just to look good. I will put in the work at the gym so I can enjoy what I eat.

What's your food weakness?
I have lots of them. Pizza, nachos, cheese, potato chips, fried chicken. I believe in everything in moderation. I never say, "No, I can't have any of that." I have it and enjoy it! After I finish this photo shoot, I'm going out for pizza, and I'm literally going to take down a whole large pie by myself.

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cchoster wrote:

why are all pics of Padma of her in sexy poses with bland/fruit food? It s/b about the food not her...yuck...

11/27/2013 09:59:18 AM Report Abuse
elandor1011 wrote:

Saying what she can't eat, what can she? I'm from the South. We're carnivores down here! I can't survive on lettuce. I'm not a rabbit! I work out as much as I can and watch what I eat (I do eat a lot of vegetables and fruits) but the scale keeps going up. I wonder if it's something glandular, and not everything I'm trying to do right.

11/18/2013 09:52:32 AM Report Abuse

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