ANGELES — Hers is the Cinderella story of the fitness world.
40, Tosca Reno says she was nearly 80 pounds overweight,
depressed and clinging to a bad marriage because, as a
stay-at-home mother, she feared she couldn’t raise her three
young girls on her own.
at 53, she is one of the most recognized celebrities in the
fitness world — and not only because she recently posed for
the cover of Oxygen magazine in a blue bikini that showed off
trim, tight abs and a brilliant smile.
says there’s nothing remarkable about her transformation,
except that she consistently took the small, persistent steps
toward health and wellness that she outlines in her latest
book, "The Start Here Diet."
didn’t come from a fitness world. I didn’t know where to
begin," Reno says. "But I knew I had to begin
somewhere. I would get winded walking up a single flight of
stairs. It scared me. I remember thinking, ‘If I don’t do
something about this, I won’t see my girls grow up to be
says "The Start Here Diet" is her most revealing
book to date, and there’s no doubt it’s her most
Reno is preaching to the converted. She writes a monthly
column in Oxygen magazine, one of the few mainstream fitness
magazines aimed at women who are not afraid to hit the weight
room at the gym. She is also author of the "Eat Clean
Diet" franchise, which includes more than a dozen
bestselling wellness books and counts Angelina Jolie as a fan.
(Reno is also behind the glute workout bible, "The Butt
says she realized that the "Clean Diet" approach and
its emphasis on exercising and eating like a body builder —
six small meals a day, eliminating all processed foods in
favor of lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits and
vegetables — was too intimidating for some.
would come up to me at a book signing and say, ‘I love your
book, but I don’t know how to get started,’" Reno
said. "So I thought, ‘Ah, I really need to go back to
Start Here Diet" begins with Reno detailing the shambles
of her life when she made the decision to put down the peanut
butter, cheese and ice cream — her "drugs" of
choice — and leave her husband. (She would go on to meet and
marry the late fitness magazine publisher Robert Kennedy, who
brought Reno into the pages of Oxygen and often pointed to his
wife as proof that it’s never too late to get in shape.)
book outlines the three-step process she says she took after
her life reached a turning point.
1, she walks readers through what she calls an emotional
"dive inward," traversing thorny terrain such as the
real reasons we turn to food for emotional comfort and how to
break those destructive habits. Step 2 urges readers to
identify just two or three "hidden foods" —
trigger foods that we binge on in secret.
my experience, it’s not a dozen foods that keep us from
losing weight, but one, two or three old standbys," Reno
says. She goes on to coach readers to give up those foods for
just one week, one of those baby steps that Reno says give
people confidence that they can tackle their food demons.
really about changing your thinking and rewiring your
brain," Reno says. "When I realized it was just one
or two foods standing in my way, it helped give me the
momentum I needed to keep going. It was very exciting to see
how changes could be made so dramatically. I remember trying
on a skirt and it actually fell down and off of my hips, and I
thought, ‘This is because I put the lid on the peanut
the book goes on to encourage a meal plan, there is no calorie
counting or dictated menus. Reno explores ways to eat
seasonally and make fast, easy meals. Recipes, for example,
include an egg-and-muffin breakfast sandwich, peanut noodles
with chicken and vegetables, and shrimp and sausage gumbo.
like to cook? Reno has suggestions for dining out, even at
fast-food restaurants. There are dessert recipes, such as a
homemade cherry pie, with the caveat that these dishes should
be reserved for the rare splurge.
of course, is fitness.
doesn’t necessarily mean the gym. Gardening and
house-cleaning can be great workouts, she says.
people see progress on the scale and in the mirrors, it begins
to snowball. People will begin to reach for more healthful
foods and have the courage to embrace more intense levels of
idea is to start small," Reno says. "I want people
to understand the difference between ‘food’ and ‘nutrition.’
It’s almost impossible to overeat kale. But it’s amazing
how easy it is to overeat potato chips because there’s
nothing satisfying in there. The body is beautifully
programmed to keep asking for what it needs, and if you haven’t
satisfied that need yet, your body will keep asking for
so much about life that is beyond our control, Reno says.
Three years ago, Reno’s stepson, Braden, died of injuries
suffered during an accident years earlier. And while she was
writing this book, Reno’s husband, Kennedy, succumbed to
eating clean and exercising were areas over which she had
"absolute control," she says.
needed to fortify myself through these tragedies," she
says. "I didn’t make the same mistake of going back to
my drugs of choice. And, really, that wasn’t going to help
anything. I got through those days by sticking to the
discipline of eating clean and exercising."
might sound daunting, as if requiring superhuman willpower and
strength. So just start small, Reno says. "If you get rid
of those ‘hidden foods’ and just move a little more each
day, you will get amazing results."