Given her much-documented tendency to face plant, it might seem strange to describe Jennifer Lawrence as “well-balanced”. But the award-stacking actress manages to simultaneously look great while also enjoying alcohol and pizza in a way that’s as genuine as she is.
Lawrence credits her healthy attitude—and abs—to London-based PT Dalton Wong, who prepped her to wear just a coat of blue paint in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. The friends were reunited on the set of this summer’s sequel X-Men: Apocalypse. “When I’m in London I love to train in his gym,” she writes in the foreword to Wong’s new book The Feelgood Plan. “Then afterwards we go out for burgers and fries.”
Rather than imposing one specific, strict and ultimately unsustainable regimen, Wong instead imparted Lawrence with “the skills I need to change my life”. Think of it as the fitness equivalent of teaching you to fish, rather than giving you a fish – and prohibiting the chips and wine.
Posture is a superpower
“Whether you’re a celebrity who has to walk down the red carpet or someone who works at a desk all day, adjusting your posture can make you look amazing instantly – without even going to the gym. Jen and I worked on a lot of strength exercises like rows and cobras. If you teach your muscles to have better posture and incorporate that into your exercise plan, you get a double effect.”
Even A-listers are time-crunched
“Sometimes actors have three months to prepare. But often, they come straight from another movie, and they’re filming round the clock. So I get hired to come up with solutions when time is limited – like my ‘Espresso energizer’ workout. It’s 15 minutes, and because there’s no equipment, we could do it in her hotel room or trailer. You don’t always have an hour to go to the gym.
Train back to front
“I have a history of working in spinal rehab on Harley Street, so I like to make sure that your abs look good but they’re also strong and functional. So we work on the bottom abs with Pilates-style exercises like single-leg lowering that really help your pelvic girdle. It’s like your body’s natural belt, so you won’t have that stomach distension, plus reduces the likelihood of back, hip and knee pain.”
Six-packs have four parts
“To have sculpted abs, you have to do four things really well – which Jen is Oscar-worthy in. The first is movement: you need flexibility, posture, strength training and cardio to be a sustainable body. The second is what you eat. The third is stress management. And the fourth—and most important—is lifestyle management: how you go out to drink and eat, or go to a barbecue.”
Hack your restaurant order
“Most diet plans will tell you: no drinking, no sugar, no fun. I’m totally against that. I teach all my clients: if you’re going out and you want to eat less, have a starter then have a starter as a main. Or if you have a sweet tooth, have a starter as a main and then share a dessert. And remember why you’re going out: it’s to socialise with your friends, not just to eat a lot or get drunk.”
Go on a liquid diet
“If you like beer, drink bottles instead of pints: you’ll decrease the volume by almost half. If you like wine, drink out of a smaller glass. If you like cocktails, drink clear spirits: they’re less calorific and a lot cleaner. And for every drink, have some water right after. You might get tipsy, but you’ll still be well-hydrated. Plus you’ll make better food choices the next day because you’re not hungover.”
Follow principles, not plans
“Everyone is unique, so for me, there’s no “diet”. But what are my golden rules? Adequate protein: if you’re trying to gain weight, a bit more. If you’re trying to lose or sustain, a bit less. Next is lots of fruits and vegetables. People say don’t have fruit, but I’ve never seen anybody get obese by eating mangos. And good fats: coconut and olive oil, nuts, seeds. Don’t be afraid of fats.”
Cut the carb confusion
“I firmly believe we need some, but it depends what your needs are. If you’re trying to lose weight, you probably need to reduce the amount you’re eating somewhere. So an easy way is to reduce your fats: don’t eat so many nuts or use so much oil. Or reduce your carbs: don’t eat a sandwich, eat a salad. They’re both fuel sources. If you’re trying to gain weight, then you can have a bit more.”
Go with your gut instinct
“Most people know what foods work for them. They just decide that they would rather eat something that makes them feel good in the moment than for a long period of time. It’s like having that extra drink instead of going home. Before you eat, ask yourself: is this going to give you energy or make you hungry? Is it going to help you achieve your goals? Is it going to make you feel good?”