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Why You Don't Really Need to Diet

Celebrity trainer tips for a better body, the healthy way

When the federal government released new guidelines on exercise calling for 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous exercise per day for weight loss, couch potatoes everywhere settled deeper into the recliners and changed channels. Women, in particular, had to laugh. Who has 90 minutes a day for anything, much less exercise? We're lucky if we have 90 seconds. The very demanding nature of the guidelines made exercise seem overwhelming and unapproachable.

Derek Noble has one thing to say to those women: chill. Noble, the star of Urban Fitness on FitTV and personal trainer to such celebrity bodies as John McEnroe, Tatum O'Neal, Michael J. Fox and John Cusak, says exercise isn't about big chunks, it's not about trainers like himself, which he admits most people don't really need, and it's not about making big investments in either time or equipment. Rather, he posits in his book, The Body Noble: 20 Minutes to a Hot Body with Hollywood's Coolest Trainer, getting fit should be something that already fits into our modern, busy lifestyle. Noble goes for a simple, holistic approach to lifestyle as well: natural foods, natural moves and natural beauty. Not really what you might expect from the celebrity fitness trainer du jour.

One Size Doesn't Fit All

You've eaten nothing but rabbit food for three months and have gained half a pound. Your best friend eats more Italian food than Garfield and looks positively gaunt. But both of you would have the same recommendations for diet and exercise in most programs. With Noble's approach, body types are divided up into three categories that acknowledge that different shapes have different results. What Noble says is that they should have different goals as well.

"I don't believe in diet; I believe in health," says Noble. "Dieting focuses on one thing: losing weight. Weight loss shouldn't be the goal; good health should be the goal. General health that includes healthy eating and at least a basic level of fitness."

His three categories are:

  • Lean Machine: Lean and angular. The friend in the above example. Can eat anything and stay thin. That doesn't mean you're in good shape.
  • Muscle Maker: Generally broader on top and narrower on bottom. The jocks that seems to take off weight and put on muscle almost effortlessly. They don't have to work out as hard.
  • Fat Fighter: Pear or apple shaped. In other words, the rest of us. To keep off excess weight we have to work out harder and watch our diet more.

From there, Noble has exercise and diet advice specific to each category, but what he really wants to stress is that a Fat Fighter shouldn't try in vain to become a Lean Machine. That will only lead to failure and frustration. Instead, accept the body you have and maximize your health.

Also, in his "I hate diets" approach to dieting, Noble doesn't advocate any one particular diet. Rather, he focuses on making good choices at every meal and gives lots of examples of good, fast, easy choices – even if fast food is your only option. Think chicken, side salads and tea.

Fitting in Fitness

Noble may put himself out of business for saying this, but according to him you don't need to join a gym to get in shape. Nor do you need personal trainers or fancy equipment. All you need is a small piece of your home.

"To most people the psychology of exercise is going to the gym because they haven't been trained to fit exercise into their lifestyle," says Noble. "A lot of people, particularly women, use that as an excuse not to exercise – they don't want to have to get dressed for the gym and drive there and they may feel self-conscious. You don't need any of that to obtain an overall level of fitness."

Noble's approach has been to develop easy but effective exercises that can be incorporated into any lifestyle, whether you're deskbound (the Office Pump), are a frequent flyer (Jet Set Fitness), practically live in your car (Traffic Jam Pump), love a neat home (the Houseclean Pump) or just like watching TV (the Couch Potato Workout).

It's a no-excuses approach to fitness that Noble jokingly calls the desperate housewife workout, realizing of course that what most housewives are desperate for are just a few more hours in the day.

Because his primary market is women, Noble's exercises are geared toward resistance and strength training.

"I like how yoga and Pilates are exercise but are also very intuitive with an almost spiritual element," says Noble. "I wanted to bring that into my program because I think it's something women can relate to. Women also have a special concern because of the danger of osteoporosis, and studies show over and over that resistance training can help combat that."

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