This Is Maria Menounos’ Everyday Routine for a Flat Belly

Between her work as an actress, producer, best-selling author, Special Olympics ambassador, Dancing with the Stars contestant, and reality TV star—Maria Menounos is busy. So how does she stay so fit (after famously losing 40 pounds and keeping it off), and shape those amazing abs? The former Health cover star shared the details of her everyday strategies with us.

What she eats

“I do believe what people say, that abs are made in the kitchen," Menounos says. “What you eat is going to make a big difference. Eating healthy and eating clean is the best way to reach your goals.” So what does she mean by “clean”? Here’s a typical day for her:

Breakfast: "Most mornings I start with a smoothie," she explains. "My favorite has Greek yogurt, almonds, apple, banana, cinnamon, and a little bit of skim milk. It’s [celebrity trainer] Harley Pasternak’s recipe; I’ve been doing it for years. Nine times out of 10 that’s what I’m having."

Lunch: Usually a green salad, topped with chicken or tuna.

Snacks: "Almonds, a banana, or Greek yogurt. Or I’ll make a little parfait with Greek yogurt, chopped almonds, fresh fruit, like blueberries; I layer them."

She carries healthy snacks (like almonds) everywhere, even the Golden Globes. Photo: Courtesy of Maria Menounos

Dinner: "It changes all the time. Sometimes I’ll have a quinoa salad, or chicken or fish with vegetables, something like that," she says. (Try her tasty Greek turkey burger recipe.)

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How she builds in treats

“I really do try to aim for a 75-25 rule for eating (but for me it’s really 80% clean). If I ate clean all day and I’m watching a movie later that night, I’ll have a few Kit Kat Bites or some popcorn, and I’m not going to feel bad about it. I can play a little bit.”

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How she exercises all day long

Don’t look for Menounos in the gym; she’s rarely there. Instead, she works her muscles all day. “Move with a purpose,” she advises. “Even if you’re just going from your office to the bathroom, power walk there. Get a [fitness tracker] and make sure that you’re reaching your steps-a-day goal, and that you’re always going. Take the harder way as much as possible. We’re so conditioned to take the easy way, the convenient way. I never do that; I’m always moving.”

She also fits in little bits of exercise throughout the day. “Sit-ups are always good,” Menounos says. “I have this one little routine that anyone can get through. Fifty sit-ups: 20 straight up and down, 10 to the side, 10 to the other side, another 10 straight up and down. If you do that every night, you’ll see results. I’m always contracting my abs all day. I’ll squeeze my legs in the car, squeeze my abs. I do it all the time.”

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How she fits it in, no matter what

In fact, Menounos says, “The busier you are, the more you need it. That’s why I speed walk and take the longer way to meet someone in their office and take the stairs. I sometimes work 18 hours a day, it’s insane. That’s why I’m always moving.”

Afraid you’ll get funny looks for fitting in exercise at random moments? Make sure your friends and family are on board. “You have to hang out with people who are equally motivated and have a similar goal,” she says. “Who you surround yourself with is who you’ll be.”

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Her advice for enjoying yourself...

“Make sure you’re doing what you love in the fitness and eating area,” Menounos says. “Don’t force yourself to eat eggs every morning if you hate them. Don’t force yourself to go to the gym if you hate it. You won’t stick with it. Find something you love. For breakfast, I’m not an egg-white person, I hate egg whites. So I have smoothies. I don’t love the gym most of the time, but I really enjoy hikes, and I love Krav Maga [a type of strength building and self-defense system first developed by the Israeli army]. Find those things that you love and stick to them, that’s what’s going to work.”

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…And still working it

“There are some sacrifices, and you have to be willing to make them. If you want to be fit and healthy, you have to make a commitment,” she says. “The first week and even two will suck, but I promise, after that it all changes. Your outlook, your energy—even your eyes will be clearer. Everything will be better.”

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Try Maria's 7-move sculpting workout: