The year was 2017.
Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ was played so often it was almost annoying. Beyonce was pregnant with twins. TV series Younger was headed into its fourth season. And the internet had just discovered Hilary Duff had quite the body on her.
I remember this time well because after I picked my jaw up off the ground, I thought, “that’s what I want to look like”.
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In the years since, 32-year-old Duff has steadily held her position as #goals for many people. Not only because of her rig, but her honesty about life as a mum, and her advocacy for body positivity.
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Most recently, however, the singer and actress made headlines for her fitness journey in the lead up to her wedding to Matthew Koma. (She does have a one-year-old, after all.)
Duff told Women’s Health magazine that she dropped 10 pounds (almost 5kg) without cardio, without cutting wine, and without “starving” herself.
As someone who’s forever hunting for balanced health routines – and someone who still wouldn’t mind a booty like hers – I was instantly intrigued.
Weight loss and muscle definition while ditching cardio and drinking wine? Hey, now! Hey, now! This might just be what fitness dreams are made of… (My sincere apologies for the cheese-ball I just turned into.)
Lizzie McGuire references aside, this wellness regimen sounded almost too good to be true. So, I took a closer look and attempted to follow the full plan for a week.
Here’s how that went.
HER APPROACH TO DIET INTIMIDATED ME, AT FIRST
In a recent interview, Duff revealed that she’s been working with a flexible dieting coach who helps her count her macronutrients (the types of food that make up your diet).
This seemed like a time-consuming method to me. Was I going to have to measure everything I ate? Would I need to use an equation for every meal? I hate math!
Thankfully, no. I worked with Nicola Moore, Clinic Manager and Dietician at LifeShape, who looked at my eating habits in comparison to my goals. She helped me find a basic food plan that I could alter daily.
Once I got my head around the formula, I felt really comfortable eating this way.
I didn’t cut out any food groups, and just like Duff, still enjoyed a wine when I wanted one.
I HAD TO INCREASE MY FOOD INTAKE
After chatting with Moore, I learnt I was not eating enough to achieve my fitness and weight-loss goals.
What in the holy what?!
I’d spent my entire life thinking less was more when it comes to diet. (Hello, toxic ideas about food!) But apparently, that’s not always the case.
Moore explained that for some people, healthy weight management is linked to cutting food down, but for others, it’s about “making sure they are eating enough” and that they’re “getting the balance of the core food groups”.
For me, this meant introducing snacks throughout the day and upping my carbohydrate intake (I know!) This took a minute to adjust to – mentally, it was tricky. But I quickly noticed I was feeling better-fuelled for the day, and that I was recovering from workouts faster.
Now, I’m not sure that Duff’s meal plan looks like mine – she hasn’t shared that detail, and counting macros is a pretty individualistic process. But, seeing that we’re similar age and height, and our goals (increased fitness, weight-management) are the same, I’d imagine there are parallels. The point is that she eats a balanced diet.
LIZZIE MCGUIRE TRAINS HARD:
Foolishly, I interpreted the lack of cardio in Duff’s regimen as a win for me. “Ooh look at this! I don’t need to drag my butt through a spin class,” I thought.
According to Insider, the Younger star works out four-to-five times a week. She mixes things up with a combination of weights training, pilates and group fitness sessions – she’s said to be a fan of dance-based classes.
I usually exercise four times a week, so I only needed to shift my regular routine slightly, but my body certainly noticed the difference.
I worked out with weights twice, took one strength training slash dance class at The AKT in New York (which Duff has referenced before), then did a barre class and a yoga session.
Swapping out cardio for more strength training fatigued my body in a way I didn’t expect, but I loved that I was working on building muscle, rather than dropping kilos.
SO, HOW DID I FIND IT OVERALL?
I bloody loved this health routine.
I was never hungry but became more mindful of my food. I wasn’t pushing myself to exercise every day but worked out consistently. In short: I felt great.
Did I lose weight? Not in a week. But my energy levels improved. My mood lifted. And my skin looked brighter. Most importantly, this approach felt sustainable. Like something I could (and might) commit to long-term.
Sure, I might not have that Duff kind of rig (yet), but this is the long-game, people. And I’m set on playing it right.
This article originally appeared on body&soul.com.au and was reproduced with permission