Hilary Duff’s trainer: ‘There’s a huge misconception that carbs are the devil’

Hilary Duff looks amazing. She did a nude photo shoot earlier this year and you can tell she’s been working on her physical routine and working hard. She’s talked in interviews about using fitness as therapy as well. Hilary shed more light on that recently when she spoke to Women’s Health Australia about her “horrifying” eating disorder when she was 17 and trying to stay “actress thin.” Now Hilary has learned to love her body and found a way to keep fit that works for her. In the article, her trainer, Dominic Leeder, gave some tips on how to workout and eat more effectively. It’s pretty good advice, too, like focusing on resistance training over cardio and not cutting carbohydrates out of your diet. They’re fine… and delicious.

Make obtainable goals: The most common unrealistic goal people have is wanting to lose a significant amount of weight, fast. I feel that it’s exacerbated by a lot of famous people who have gone on, what I would call, a fad diet, and lost an incredible amount of weight. They take photos, you see it, but no one knows what happens after that. And often with fad diets, things deteriorate straight away afterwards.

Don’t focus so much on cardio: When I met Hilary, we decided to focus on resistance training, because we wanted to build lean muscle mass and up her metabolism. Her diet was also a huge factor and I wanted to make sure that she was eating the correct amount of macros for the goal that she needed. I know a lot of people like to avoid weights because they feel like they’re going to get big and bulky. But what I tell my clients is that if you only realised how hard it is to get big and bulky! You don’t just pick up a weight and then suddenly you build muscles.

Carbs are not the enemy: There’s a huge misconception that carbohydrates are the devil. Complex carbs, in my opinion, are imperative. If you don’t have carbs, your body will use other things for energy, like protein. And because of the way I work with resistance training, we want that protein to go to the lean muscle build to help their metabolism. We need carbs, and the right carbs are gonna one satiate you. For Hilary’s macro split, we did 50 per cent complex carbs, 30 per cent healthy fats, and 20 per cent protein.

Maintainess is hard:After reaching her initial goal, we had to find a new goal around [her priorities]. It was down to me to work out how best to maintain what we have [achieved], while she’s also enjoying her life and doing what she needs to do as a human being that has three children, a job, and so many other things. So I think it’s useful for people to know that it was a struggle.

Setting the new goal [with Hilary] was a struggle. What we ended up going with was, well, our goal right now is to maintain what we have while still having a fantastic life work/balance that’s important to her. She then went into filming for another show so it became even more difficult [to train together]. But because that was our goal, we more times than not managed to keep that going, so she can stay mentally happy. And then when she finishes that work, we’ll ramp back up again and we’ll find some new goals.

[From Women’s Health]

I want to talk about all of this, especially around the holidays, because that’s when food and body issues are especially difficult for some. I’m one of them, particularly this year. That’s why the goals portion of the article really jumped out at me. My trainer and I just had this conversation. She’s always been cautious of what counting calories can trigger with my eating disorder and constantly checks in with where I am mentally. I hit my weight goal and my trainer, like Dominic, wanted to know what was next for me. My goal is just to get through the holidays. Because it’s such a tricky time. I purposefully dropped below goal so I could add some back on and not feel bad. But guess what? I added and felt still bad because some demons just won’t get off our backs. That’s also why those fad diets Dominic addresses are so misleading. Because you feel great dropping all that weight, but you beat yourself up when you can’t maintain it – and you cannot maintain results.

But a trainer isn’t an option for everyone. I went through my budget and cut three things so I could afford one. But not everyone can do that. That’s why I like advice like Dominic’s above, it’s practical. You can find resistance training on YouTube and articles about complex carbohydrates online. I got a trainer because I need accountability. One thing that has helped immensely is the camaraderie. So let’s support each other, offer tips, be nice to ourselves, and just get through these holidays. Because from where I’m sitting, you all look fabulous.

Photo credit: Women’s Health Australia and Instagram

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34 Responses to “Hilary Duff’s trainer: ‘There’s a huge misconception that carbs are the devil’”

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  1. Normades says:

    The trainer says “complex carbs” that means fruit, beans, whole grains…Basically carbs from natural resources that have a lot of fiber, not bread, pasta, pizza etc…
    It’s absolutely the way to eat but that said when it’s cold and it’s the holidays I’m eating all the wheat.

    • Becks1 says:

      I feel like I’m making a big change bc I’m eating whole wheat bread and pasta now, LOL.

    • María says:

      Thank you for the clarification!

    • TrixC says:

      I’m sure Hilary’s eating healthy versions, but surely pasta and bread count as complex carbohydrates?

    • Desdemona says:

      Fiber in whole wheat bread is good, not a deamon…
      On www .womenshealthmag.com/
      food/g22560295/ complex-carbs-list/ you’ll they mention different types of bread but also pasta…

  2. Kiera says:

    I read some great advice the other day for the holidays. It’s called the 50% rule. Instead of setting a goal like I’m not having cookies or wine etc. Think of what you might have had and cut it in half. You still get the yummy cookie/cocktail/whatever but you don’t go overboard.

    I do count calories but I make sure to not do it one day a week for my mental health. I still eat healthy that day and then that night is when we get takeout/I eat a little extra. I also work out 6 days a week with a mix of cardio and hiit/weight training.

    Also drink lots of water/tea I find it helps when I’m bored so I don’t eat random snacks.

    • Becks1 says:

      Something I do that I think helps is that I try to eat my sweets very mindfully. Like I don’t stand in the kitchen and shove a cookie into my face (well sometimes). I take my serving and I sit down in the arm chair with my book and a cup of tea and I read or watch TV etc. We have Girl Scout cookies currently in the house (WOOHOO) so at night I’ve been having a serving of thin mints (which is 4, again woohoo) and I sit down with my nighttime sleepy latte from Clevr Blends (I’m an easy sell) and my cookies and I have a little treat.

      Other times I’ll pour myself a serving of something like peanut M&M’s and sit and eat them with my afternoon tea before the bus comes while I read a bit.

      I can’t go without the treats, so I find ways to make it more enjoyable as a process and I find that I eat less as a result.

      • Kiera says:

        Same Becks same. I love my sweets. Also my daughter and I love baking together. It’s become a really fun thing she and I do. She’s four so her “help” is hilarious.

        It’s all about balance and recognizing when you might be eating for boredom and comfort. And giving yourself the grace to have a day when that might be the thing you need.

      • molly says:

        My husband was SHOCKED how long a bag of chips lasted when I recommended he use a bowl instead of just sitting on the couch with the whole bag while he watches football. Shocked, I say!

  3. SAS says:

    Hecate! You nearly made me cry! I’m sitting in a hotel room, I travel fortnightly for work and have struggled SO HARD to eat healthily and exercise this year. I’m stuck in this cycle of “when I’m home I’ll start exercising” which then passes me by so I spend the next week away making myself feel so bad about it.

    You guys have built a lovely community here and I’m grateful for it. And I’m going to keep my eyes out for this- love Hilary Duff!

    • Kiera says:

      Don’t feel bad! It sounds like you have a lot on your plate.

      When you travel do you stay at a place with a gym? Maybe just aiming for 20 mins on the elliptical or treadmill four times when you’re traveling would be a start.

      I bet once you find a way to fit in a small bit of exercise while traveling you’ll be able to get larger bits in at home. Good luck and you’ve got this!!

    • ML says:

      Hugs, SAS! You know, stretching is also good and there are lots of stretches you can do in bed or in places with little space—that helps your body rest and helps with balance. For eating, don’t necessarily deny yourself, but eat sweets or junk after a healthy(ier) meal to manage blood sugar. And love who you are at the moment; have compassion with and for yourself!

    • AnneL says:

      I have a couple of suggestions. One is yoga with an on-line program. There’s a woman named Adrienne who got quite popular during the pandemic. I started doing her beginner’s video last spring and now I’ve gotten a lot stronger and more flexible. She has a lot of different options and a nice personality, positive and soothing. Most of them are only around 20 minutes and they’re free.

      The second is jump rope. You can get a speed rope for less than $20 and just start playing with it. I am not very athletic or coordinated, but I did jump rope as a kid and it came back to me after some practice. It’s good for your core and it gets your heart rate up. I do intervals of 50 for about ten minutes after the yoga. Not every day, maybe four times a week. It has worked well for me.

      You can put a jump rope in a suitcase and take it anywhere. It takes up no space. If your hotel room is small, do it in the hallway. It might sound crazy but that’s the beauty of it. You can do it anywhere, any time. It’s not hard to fit into your schedule. And after you get the hang of it again, it’s actually kind of fun.

  4. Becks1 says:

    I really love that more and more celebs are coming out and talking about how unattainable so many celeb bodies are, or how unsustainable a certain look is – so even if the actress loses 20 pounds for a role, she’s not going to be able to keep it off.

    I think it was Julianne Moore recently (maybe in the last year) who was just like, everyone in Hollywood is hungry. I think about that a lot bc I don’t want to be hungry. I like food. I like pasta, and I like cookies, and I like cheese, etc.

    Everyone I know who is around my age (40s) who has lost significant weight has done it with an extreme diet of one form or another – cutting out almost all carbs combined with extreme exercising, or something similar. I just don’t want to do that, lol. I’m trying to lose about 10 lbs and I know I could do it really fast if I tried something more extreme, but I don’t want to.

    big hugs to everyone who is struggling with weight issues this holiday season. Let’s all just enjoy the cookies and egg nog!

    • María says:

      Exactly, everyone in Hollywood is hungry, and unhealthy as well. Think about the effect eating less than what’s needed has on your body long-term.

    • ThatsNotOkay says:

      I wish there were an exercise Zoom where you don’t exercise to music but to gossip. Like, the participants get to comment on stories of the day and the instructor is there to keep the discussion orderly and know when to move onto the next topic—like a music playlist. What say you, Celebitchy? Ready to start one?

    • lucy2 says:

      I know someone who has lost a LOT of weight in the past year, and I’m pretty sure she’s doing it on a pre-packaged meal plan, which always makes me wonder what happens when you stop. I don’t know that I’ve seen many people keep it off after that. I hope she can, but I don’t know. It’s SO much weight so fast.

  5. María says:

    I work out 4 to 5 times a week, 2 times are playing sports (tennis) and 3 doing pilates. I do it because I love it and have a lot of fun. I also try to eat healthy, but that’s much more difficult for me.
    I think it’s great to see someone acknowledge “actress thinness”. It’s so toxic to set our standards on impossible to achieve frames. We need to take care of our body and eat healthy, and let our weight fall where it may.

    • SusieQ says:

      @Maria, Pilates have been such a game changer for me. When I was a kid/teenager, I danced three times a week and did marching band, so I was really in shape. In the 20 years since, it’s been a struggle to find a workout I enjoy and want to do. Pilates and adding weights in is my jam.

  6. Beenie says:

    I’m an abstainer, by which I mean – it’s easier for me to abstain entirely than it is for me to moderate. Take alcohol for example. I tried moderating for years and years, failed constantly, and watched my use get worse. I quit alcohol for good over 5 years ago and have honestly never looked back. Once I decided “no more”, it was like a switch flipped and I was able to finally have a life without alcohol.

    Anyway…. I mention this because I had to do the same with sugar. My sugar intake went WAY up after I got sober. I would tell myself “it’s fine because I’m not drinking!”. Full pint of Ben and Jerry’s for breakfast? At least it’s not wine! 50lbs later with poor blood work and all sorts of other health issues, I finally put the dots together… I’ve done it again, just switched one addictive substance for another. So, early this year I officially gave up sugar (refined, fake, natural… all sugar). I’ve lost the weight, reversed insulin resistance, lowered my blood pressure, and cleared up my skin (+more). Oh and yes…. I also got a therapist!! 😆

    Anyway, if you are able to moderate your sugar/alcohol/carbs/whatever, then that is amazing. I’m jealous! But if any of the above sounds too close to home, it’s possible you might be an abstainer like me and would do better with 0 as opposed to trying to moderate.

    • TheVolvesSeidr says:

      @Beenie, I could have written your comment myself. I am the same as you except I still need to find a therapist. One thing that has really “helped” me to feel better and lose weight is that I became intolerant to wheat within the past 10 years (have no idea why). SO MANY GOOD THINGS HAVE WHEAT sniff sniff.

      • Beenie says:

        Abstainers… there are dozens of us 😭😅

        A wheat intolerance will certainly kick your baked goods habit to the curb! I hope you’re doing really well now and getting geared up for a happy and healthy holidays.

        Just as an addendum to my original comment… it’s not like I realised sugar was a problem for me and then quit it 5 minutes later. Just like with alcohol, I tried moderating, I tried substitution (“it’s coconut sugar so it doesn’t count! It’s dark chocolate so it’s healthy… to eat the whole bar at 7am!”), I tried more or less all the same things as before. And it took me like 2-3 YEARS to finally be like, dammit… sugar needs to GO. So if anyone thought I was saying “oh it’s easy, just stop eating sugar today!”, I can assure you I know how hard it is!! And at least for me, I had to get to the point where I was ready to give it up. And I wasn’t ready for years.

        But yeah, it’s a slightly unpopular take when it comes to food (but not alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, etc.) to sat “I’m not eating this particular thing any more”. And I sort of get it because we all know about ED and how dangerous super restrictive eating can be. But I’d just throw it out there that what I was doing (i.e. consuming sugar morning, noon and night) was CRAZY disordered, too! And I really needed to get off that destructive train before my health got even worse…

        (Oh and suffice to say, not everyone has a problem with sugar like I did and not everyone has to, or should, give it up. This is just my personal story and everyone else should do what’s good for them!)

      • Dara says:

        @Beenie, isn’t there a crap-ton of sugar in alcohol? It’s possible your body craved sugar because it wasn’t getting it the usual way.

        I’m so impressed with you that you’ve kicked two addictions. That can’t have been easy. My dad quit smoking cold-turkey when I was a teen, decades later he confessed he still wanted a cigarette almost every day.

    • sam says:

      Thank you for your insight. I am in the same/kind of boat. I am going on 2 years sober. But, I am binge eating at night! I realize like you said, it’s just switching the addiction. Today is my 4th day with no binging. I am trying to treat this like alcohol. I actually lost 70 lbs when I quit drinking. I absolutely do not want go back to being unhealthy. I have type 2 diabetes. I have put my a1c down to 5.0, I no longer have high blood pressure, cholesterol, I feel amazing, until I binge. I know it’s psychological. Thank you for acknowledging this struggle. Best wishes to you!!!

      • Dierski says:

        Fellow-abstainer here too, Beanie! Moderation is quite difficult for me, easier to avoid and replace with healthy things to crave.

        I’m in a very similar boat as you, sam – binge eating in the evenings as a replacement to former excessive drinking & smoking weed… never wanted to admit to myself that its become a regular binge-eating-episode, but I finally came to that realization that it’s related to addiction and wasn’t just bored/stoned over-snacking.

        I’ve given up alcohol save for a social event out of my house – but I don’t keep it here or drink it alone anymore. I’ve changed to a tincture for my thc (highly recommend!) to help out my sinuses & lungs while still getting the amazing high feeling and sleep benefits. Almost more importantly, I’m working to set a stricter bedtime to avoid staying up late. There is something for me where if I end up staying up, then like clockwork I will get ravenously hungry again around 11:30 and can’t stop myself from eating dinner #2 at the worst possible time, right before crashing into bed.

        I’m about a week into my non-binge plan as well – so I feel you, sam!! But honestly, I’m feeling really physically good and quickly, so I’m hoping to become hooked on the good feelings of health again, instead of the sneaky lies of alcohol and excessive food. Best of luck! ❤️

    • Normades says:

      @beenie I feel everything you’ve said. I can’t moderate shit. Diets work great for me because I can do the discipline. Once I go off the opposite is true.

    • Abbie says:

      Same. That’s why keto works for me so well, I can really cut off all carbs for good if I set my mind to it. And once you get past the body’s reaction, you really get used to a different type of food intake and no longer crave or enjoy what you were once obsessed with.
      It was the same with smoking, once I decided I didn’t wanna die middle aged, I just stopped altogether and that was it.
      I think much of it is psychological, although I don’t deny the physical aspect of addiction. But I think our mental frame of mind plays a much stronger (and underappreciated) role in all of it.

  7. North of Boston says:

    I’ve struggled with my weight for years, off and on since my teens. The times I’ve been able to fit in a regular mixed exercise routine that included strength training are when I’ve felt best about my body.

    But I’ve also realized the thing that makes managing my weight, well being the hardest is chronic stress. I’d been in a stressful life/family/ work situation for several years and just maintaining during that time was nearly impossible.

    Early this year things changed and a lot of the stressful stuff tapered away or ended entirely. And month after month I lost weight even though my intents around food, exercise etc haven’t really changed- I still find some days breakfast is a spoonful of natural peanut butter and a coffee in the car as I’m racing to work, because I’m pressed for time. Or a planned snack of 4 cookies becomes 6 or 8. So far from perfect.

    But it seems like reducing the stress has let my body get into a much better mode, where I’m consistently sleeping well through the night, am not always “on” or “on edge”, so my body functions better, isn’t kicking up out of balance cravings and I’m able to make healthier-for-me choices more consistently- like adding more vegetables whenever I can or 1 or 0 glasses of wine on a Tuesday instead of 2+
    10 lbs down, I seem to have settled into a new weight set point. Ideally I’d like to lose another 10-15 over the next year, and be more consistent about exercising and building functional fitness around balance, flexibility, core stability. But I think keeping unnecessary stress out is going to be a big part of the plan going forward, otherwise I’ll just be swimming against the current constantly.

  8. Moderation is key with anything in life. But not easy… “Just eat less and take some exercise” – Saffy … “Sweetie, if it was that easy everybody would be doing it” – Edina 😊

  9. LeeLee says:

    I control my Type 2 Diabetes through diet only. Carbs,even complex, are a big no-no for me. I eat as few as possible. My A1C tests as a non-Diabetic. I do have issues with my muscle tone not quite being the same but had to choose what was best for me overall.

  10. Barrett says:

    As a diabetic type 1 the headline made me laugh not that if I exercise I don’t also need complex carbs

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I must say this past year has been an interesting one in learning how to get out of my own way. I’ve found intermittent everything works for me overall lol. I don’t eat three meals a day. And whenever I’m idle, I’ll throw in five minutes of something, maybe five hard minutes or whatever. I have dumbbells on my bed and sofa lmao. I’ve integrated movement into everyday tasks and it’s improved everything. I’m very aware of empty eating and it’s an ongoing commitment to what’s going into my stomach. Did I really eat that ice cream last night? Yes, so today I have to be careful. I watch sodium and sugar and take supplements daily. And my daily 64oz growler of sparkling water or unsweetened tea goes with me. I love good food, cooking shows, freshest ingredients, so it’s hard. It’s hard to whittle through all available choices and navigate to what is yummy but ticks all health concerns. One big fancy meal and you’ve blown several days of high fat, sugar, sodium…. It really is a constant inner dialogue, and you have to be firm with a bit of wiggle room.

  12. Chris T says:

    She is giving off Florence Pugh vibes in these photos.

  13. DeluxeDuckling says:

    Awww I’m glad she’s happier now.