In 2010, when a producer called Dalton Wong to ask him to train a young actress for a role in X-Men, he couldn’t have imagined how big of a star she was about to become. “He changed my body for that movie but gave me the skills to change my life,” writes Jennifer Lawrence, in the foreword to Wong’s new book, The Feelgood Plan (written with Kate Faithfull-Williams).
And while you won’t be able to spend 10-12 hours a day with him for three months like she did, the book provides access to some of the secrets he uses to train Lawrence and other actors and influencers (like Lucas Hugh founder Anjhe Mules) out of his bespoke West London gym, Twenty Two Training.
Paramount among them are two points Wong is passionate about: your routine should fit your “real life” and should not deprive you of foods or activities you enjoy. “When you give your body the foods, exercise, and rest it needs, the complaints hush up, those unhappy symptoms vanish, and you feel good,” he explains.
To that end, The Feelgood Plan focuses on committing to 15 healthy minutes a day, whether it’s for a workout, to meal plan or cook, or to de-stress. Each chapter goes deeper into one of those aspects—Eat, Move, and Relax—and then there’s also a comprehensive 12-week plan for those who want more structure.
Ready to lift and lunge like J.Law? Here are three smart tips from Wong to get started:
1. Make small healthy tweaks to what you’re already eating.
If pizza and pasta are your favorite foods, don’t start out by deciding to go totally gluten-free. “The goal is to make small changes,” Wong says. Otherwise, you’re destined for failure. If you have lots of happy hour meetings with clients, for example, start opting for champagne instead of a sugary cocktail, he suggests. And start paying attention to how foods make you feel, and how you feel when you choose them. “If you’re celebrating with friends and you have some chocolate cake or cheesecake, fine,” Wong says, “but if you come home from a hard day and eat a whole cheesecake by yourself, that’s a whole different thing.”
2. Focus on your workout weaknesses.
“Our bodies love to do things we’re really good at,” Wong says, but “in order for your body to change, you need to work on the weaknesses, not the strengths.” Especially if you’re trying to fit efficient sweat sessions into a busy schedule. If you gravitate towards running, your tight hamstrings probably could use some yoga, for example. If yoga is fun and easy for you, you could probably use some weight training to balance your flexibility.
3. Figure out what’s stressing you out—and what helps.
Wong is so serious about the importance of stress management that he makes clients who work out three times a week at his gym book “a therapy” as their fourth session. “Knowing what your stress triggers are will allow you to make better choices,” he says, so start out by pinpointing the things that throw you off, whether it’s delayed work projects or family commitments. Then, “you need to have ways of managing your stress,” and you should choose what works best for you, he advises, whether that’s a massage, meditation, or a manicure. “If you’re really relaxed, you hit that workout, and you’ll get all the benefits because your body’s ready for it.”
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