Take a look at Janet Jackson today and it’s hard to believe that the 46-year-old pop queen ever struggled with her weight. But in the July issue of Prevention, the slim-and-sculpted singer candidly shared her battle with emotional eating—and how she learned to love her figure, flaws and all. After reading it, I felt a connection to Jackson that I’m sure most women would share. She gets it, I thought. She knows what it’s like to struggle with her weight and, worse still, had the whole thing unkindly documented by the paparazzi.
But now, Jackson’s focused on feeling healthy, happy, and strong. Read on for Jackson’s tips on getting fit for good—and how to finally call it quits with your own ongoing body war.
Jackson’s fit-and-firm tips…
1. Change up your routine often: “I don’t like to work out, and I get bored easily,” Jackson says. “Tony [her trainer] is great. He comes up with something new all the time. When I’m getting ready for a tour, I’ll work out with the dancers to build my endurance. He’ll put us in teams, and we’ll do all sorts of drills and races. Everybody is drenched with sweat before we start one dance step.”
2. Get slim with sports: “Tony knows that I love sports, so that’s what we’ll often do,” Jackson says. “There are times when I don’t want to run on the beach, so to get me to run on the beach, he’ll bring a football. I’m just like a dog with a tennis ball—I get so excited. And we do drills. Sometimes we go to the batting cages and hit balls. He switches it up all the time. And that’s what I love.”
3. Losing weight isn’t just counting calories. “For me, it’s [about] being an emotional eater and learning how to deal with that,” Jackson says, noting that her past weight gain was often the result of binge eating brought on by sadness, boredom, or stress.
4. Find a trainer who gets you. “[Tony] is wonderful. He’s not one of those guys always in your ear, yelling, yelling, yelling. I can’t take that. That will make me say, ‘You know what? You can take all that and stick it.’ So, yeah, he’s really good with me and he’s very sweet.”
5. Keep workouts short, but sweat like you mean it. When prepping for a tour, Jackson works out six days a week to build up her stamina for the nonstop dance numbers. While that sounds like a lot, she doesn’t spend hours in the gym. “We’ll work out for 30 minutes, 20 minutes,” she says.
And it’ll be a full-blown, serious workout, with cardio and strength training.”
Jackson’s “love-the-body-you-have” tips:
1. Size doesn’t matter. “Before, I would want to [know my size],” Jackson says. “But now, I honestly don’t even knowwhat size I am. Now it’s about looking in the mirror and saying, I feel good. I feel healthy.”
2. Embrace your uniqueness. “I try to be a model for healthy eating, but I let kids know that they are beautiful as God made them,” Jackson says. “He made us all different, and there’s beauty in that. You don’t have to be a size zero to be considered beautiful.”
3. Feeling good is what’s most important: “Health was always a concern. When I gained weight in 2005, my nutritionist was very worried. I was close to having diabetes. Even when I lost it [and] then gained quite a bit back, there was always the thought of heart disease.” That’s why exercise is a major part of Jackson’s health regimen.
4. Don’t focus on your reflection. “Knowing I have these problems with body image, I ask my friends and family to tell me when I’ve lost too much. Because I will continue to pick on myself, like all women do, and say, ‘You need to lose more here, more there.’ I’ve actually had a friend tell me before, ‘Okay, you need a sandwich.’ And I said, ‘I’m that small?’ They said, ‘Yeah. You told me to tell you; I’m telling you.’ I thanked them for that, because I didn’t see it.”
By Jenna Bergen