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Maria Menounos' 40-lb weight loss secrets: Pilates and Mediterranean diet

Maria Menounos' weight loss, diet and workout tips in new book: Before and after
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Maria Menounos is in phenomenal shape, and credits the Mediterranean diet and a combination of Pilates and Krav Maga martial-arts workouts for her stunning 40-pound weight loss. While she once was ashamed of her bulging belly, Menounos said her chiseled abs are now her favorite body part.

Maria, who was once a size 14, is now a size 4, thanks to healthy eating and an active lifestyle, she revealed in her new book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness.

Never Overeat and Always Be Moving

Menounos, who's Greek, follows the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes healthy fats such as olive oil, salmon and avocados, high-quality animal proteins, vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and seeds.

The Mediterranean diet, which is based on the traditional eating plans of Italian, Greek, Spanish, and other Mediterranean cultures, has consistently been rated one of the top diets for its weight loss and heart-health benefits.

Maria's daily meal plan features Greek yogurt with blueberries for breakfast; a Mediterranean salad with olives, chicken and feta cheese for lunch; and vegetarian chicken teriyaki with peas and cauliflower for dinner. The brunette beauty doesn't believe in starving herself, and focuses on portion control. You can have a few bites of cheesecake or pizza, but there's no need to gorge to the last bite, she said.

Menounos understands how binges can lead to weight gain. She was raised in a strict low-sugar diet as a child because her dad had type 1 diabetes, so when she went to college, she went overboard indulging all her junk-food cravings.

"There were no chips, ice cream, or sugary cereals anywhere at home," Maria told Ladies Home Journal. "I didn't even know what bagels or waffles were until late in high school. For dinner we ate a variety of dishes made with lentils, vegetables, and beans from the garden. Our dessert? Fruit."

As a result, Menounos went overboard with binge-eating when she went to college, and promptly gained 40 pounds eating giant portions of candy, chips and pizza.

"I didn't gain the Freshman 15 — I gained the Freshman 40," she recounted. "I could keep candy and chips in my room and eat all the late-night pizza I could afford. I grew to a size 14 and kept growing. I felt sick and lethargic. I wanted to nap all the time."

Pilates and Krav Maga Workouts

Tired of being overweight, Maria completely overhauled her diet and began exercising during her early 20s. Within a year, she lost 40 pounds and slimmed down to a size 4. The 5-foot-8 Maria now weighs about 125 pounds and has a slammin' bikini body.

Menounos, author of the bestseller, The EveryGirl’s Guide to Life, was so encouraged by her dramatic weight loss that she has maintained an active, health-conscious lifestyle ever since.

For exercise, Maria tries to walk 10,000 steps (about five miles) every day. The 5-foot-8 brunette beauty also runs on the treadmill, takes spinning classes, jumps role, plays basketball, and does Pilates and Krav Maga workouts. "[Krav Maga is] the best overall workout I've ever experienced," she gushed. "It's cardio. It's strength. It's reflexes. It's everything."

In addition to regular gym workouts, Maria lives by the motto: "Always Be Moving." Exercise doesn't have to be structured, she underscored. The fittest people incorporate small, cumulative activity into their days simply by walking and moving around.

Menounos shared all her weight loss, diet and workout secrets in her new book, The EveryGirl's Guide to Diet and Fitness.