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Extra's Maria Menounos Talks Food and Fitness

Maria laces up to fit in some healthy doses of sweat! (Photo courtesy of Reebok)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Maria Menounos is always challenging herself in new ways. She danced her way through painful injuries on season 14 of Dancing with the Stars, and runs her own charity, Take Action Hollywood!, which raises awareness for causes like diabetes and AIDS. If that isn’t enough, she often travels from L.A. to New York for her role as host on popular entertainment show EXTRA!, and produces AfterBuzz TV, a network devoted to giving “post-game” wrap-ups of the most popular shows.

Now, as a longtime fan of Crocs, she helped them celebrate their 10-year anniversary by ringing the opening bell for NASDAQ on July 31. We caught up with her right before to find out how she stays fit and keeps her energy up through the long work hours.

How did you get involved with Crocs?

I’ve been a fan for a while. I’m actually sporting the Carlisa style right now and got a ton of compliments! I like them a lot because they’re comfy and cute, and I can fit in my orthotics.

Tell me about your injuries on Dancing with the Stars.

I had multiple stress fractures in my feet. I was looking back at a video of our doble paso, and though I remember being in so much pain, I’m not showing it. I never complained! I just kept doing it. I was kind of impressed with myself, I have to say! Now I’m just trying to heal from the show.

What was your favorite part about competing?

It didn’t feel like a competition. I was having way too much fun to compete with anybody. We set the tone by being friendly and helping each other. I made so many good friends, like instructors Derek Hough and Peta Murgatroyd. We all still keep in touch.

What type of workouts do you like to do?

I generally like to work out outdoors as much as possible. I’ll do yoga outside in my yard, play basketball, go running or hike. I do a lot of floor Pilates, too, and I want to get back into Krav Maga. I love anything that has me learning something new at the same time.

We have to ask…how do you get those awesome abs?

I try to keep it simple. Sometimes I’ll partner up with my best friend and fashion editor Rachel Zalis, or with Extra's Renee Bargh, and we’ll toss a medicine ball back and forth or compete with one another by seeing who can do the most crunches while holding the ball. I also trick myself into doing 50 crunches by switching from straight up and down and then to each side. If you confuse your body, it goes faster!

You’re a role model for a lot of women. Any advice for those who are looking to get in shape without doing any crazy diets or workouts?

First and foremost, doing things the right way is always the best way. I don’t think diets or pills should ever be a consideration because it won’t stay off. I wrote about how I did it in my book, The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life, where I explain step-by-step how I lost weight. At first, I just started by eating smaller portions, even food that was considered “cheating.” I never weighed myself. When that got easy, I started to eat better by integrating better food into my “diet.” After a year, I lost 40 pounds.

It’s best to think about everything in terms of health, not just one size or a number you want to weigh. Ask yourself, “What’s the best I can do for my body?” Think about yourself as a car - are you going to use the cheap gas or buy the good stuff? Even if the best gas is a bit more expensive, you want your car to run well. We take our bodies for granted because they’re so resilient.

Do you have any healthy homemade Greek recipes?

I think the easiest thing I make is a Greek salad with no lettuce. You use tomatoes and cucumbers, some onion, and I always use a little oregano. You can throw in some feta cheese and olive oil, too. Vinegar is good but the tomatoes are so juicy that you might not need it. It’s very simple and fast. I grow my own tomatoes so there’s no pesticides or any of that stuff you don’t want.

Does eating clean help your energy throughout the day?

It absolutely helps me – I have so much energy! If I eat things that aren’t good for me, I get lethargic and tired. A clean diet means boundless energy. Plus, if you keep busy, you’re less apt to eat unhealthy things. Though you wouldn’t expect it, I stay slim not by working out like crazy every day, but by keeping active all day long. I’m always moving.

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