Fitness expert, author, and life strategist Andrea Marcellus is the founder and CEO of ANDREA MARCELLUS, a lifestyle brand with the mission to help busy, driven people maximize their lives.
For more than 25 years, Andrea has expertly guided clients in Los Angeles and New York to personalized health, utilizing her own unique, actionable set of principles to ramp up every area of their lives.
Thank you for your time speaking with us Andrea, you are in incredible shape if I do say so myself, do you ever feel pressure to be in perfect shape?
“I used to. It was horrible, the pressure I put on myself. That’s what led me to years of the goal- and soul-defeating combination of over-exercise plus food-judgment.
But I’m grateful for those years of white-knuckling my way through life in terms of fitness. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been exhausted enough to let go… and discover the gentler, self-affirming fitness lifestyle that strengthened me not only physically, but more importantly, mentally.
This method of “body-kindness” got me into the best shape up my life (starting at age 36, through two pregnancies and now I’m 48 and still getting better!) – and has now become my book The Way In and my AND/life app.
Our greatest failures can be our most amazing life launch-pads if we’re willing to put our egos aside and learn from them.”
What advice would you give to people trying to achieve the perfect body?
“Exchange the word “perfect” for “powerful.” And then exchange the word “body” for “mind.” Get your mind in high gear first and then your personal best body will follow – whatever that may be.”
How do we turn off those fears that we’re not measuring up?
“Cultivating curiosity. I have clients keep a short list of things they wish they knew more about – not related to fitness.
Anytime you start to feel yourself lacking some way, Google something on your list. Or just take a walk and let nature take your attention somewhere else for a bit.
The goal is to get your brain to release some “happy hormones,” which is what it does when we are learning and curious.
This process helps temporarily diminish activity in the brain’s amygdala, it’s fear and anxiety center which releases adrenaline and cortisol – hormones which are contributing to your mental (and physical) tailspin.”
What would you say then is the biggest mental block holding people back?
“Equating getting in shape with self-punishment. Thinking that if a workout isn’t grueling and at least an hour, it isn’t worth it.
Or that losing weight means eliminating bread and cheese entirely in exchange for a diet of kale and quinoa. Moderation is truly the key.
Slow and steady absolutely wins the “fitness” race. You don’t need a “kickstart.” You need to JUST start.”
You come across very confident, do you ever feel insecure?
“Of course! But usually only when I somehow allow myself to get sucked into someone else’s expectations of me or the social media compare-game – two things which I preach against to everyone who will listen against as loudly as I can.
Thankfully, at this point in my life, I feel totally in charge of myself. So when doubt creeps in, I just turn to one of my no-fail go-to mind-reframing strategies and pull myself back into a positive space pretty quickly.
This is one of the biggest things I teach in my workshops – that we never get to a place where you won’t feel fear, anxiety and shame.
It’s about having strategies to get back to a positive head space and be able to put your best foot forward again as quickly as possible – and avoid self-destructive behaviors in the meantime!”
So what would you suggest is the best way for someone to motivate themselves to get fit?
“Trust that less is more and start with small sustainable goals.
You’ll see and feel progress quickly because you are able to easily be consistent, and that will allow your motivation to snowball into genuine enthusiasm to keep your progress going.”
What is your daily routine like and do you do anything before bed to make your morning easier?
“I have my things collected on my desk neatly and ready to go for the next day.
That not only makes my morning run more smoothly, it’s a nice “closing up shop” ritual each night then lets me go to sleep peacefully (as peacefully as possible being a mom of two little ones who owns two businesses).”
You are an advocate for breaking the fitness and weight loss “rules” by working out less. Can you tell us the thought behind this?
“During the course of my 27 years in fitness, I’ve learned that generating strength and energy has more to do with food, hydration and daily activity than exercise – and in terms of weight loss, it has more to do with food portions than food types.
The heaviest, most exhausted and least healthful I have ever been was in my early 20’s when I was living in NYC, teaching between 8-15 classes per week on top of several heavy weight-training sessions and eating nothing but massive portions of food to sustain that workload.
When people overtrain (as I was), you start eating not only to sustain your workout lifestyle, but also out of exhaustion because you feel funky when you burn out too much muscle sugar.
The result is that, even with all that training, you end up taking in more calories than you spend, plus you’re exhausted and stressed, which slows your metabolism as a matter of self-preservation.
To make matters worse, you are undoubtedly developing thicker lean muscle tissues underneath the layer of fat that won’t go because of the additional caloric intake on top of a slower metabolism.
This leads to people getting “bigger” despite working out like crazy to be leaner.
Never forget what exercise is about: 1) developing the muscle strength your need to live the life you want, 2) strengthening your heart and lungs and 3) preventing pain by optimizing your alignment with muscles that are balanced in terms of both strength and flexibility.
You will only maintain your gains in these areas if you achieve with an exercise program that allows you to be consistent.
Short bouts of exercise – I ask people to set the bar at 20 minutes, and can achieve huge results over time in combination with an active lifestyle (standing and walking more).
Think about it like this, standing and walking help your metabolism keep churning and burning fat all day while exercise bouts do all the other good things.
This is a doable, manageable strategy that will also prevent you from needing to eat too much to sustain your workouts, and therefore keep your progress hidden under a layer of flab that just won’t go.”
Do you have a favourite workout routine?
“For simple cardio where I can easily control the intensity, I love the stair climber.
The double bonus is that I can actually multitask and do work on my phone as I climb, ramping it up with high-intensity intervals between answering emails (or shopping, as the case may be!)
For strength and flexibility, I blend Pilates and yoga moves with functional and traditional weight training exercises.
I have tons of total body classes on my AND/life app that follow my signature discipline-blending method because it gets maximal results in minimal time – and the focus on variety keeps every workout fun and exciting.
What one thing do you never skip in your workout?
“Being grateful for it. It’s time to myself and for myself. That’s a precious thing.”
I was going to ask you about your newly released fitness/lifestyle app that you just mentioned ‘AND/Life’, can you tell us more about that?
“My goal with AND/life was to make fitness easily attainable and sustainable – particularly for busy, overloaded people (meaning everyone).
What makes AND/life so different is that it helps you turn four, doable daily goals related to exercise, food, hydration and simply standing more into life-changing habits. And the program feature on the app is like having me there to tell you what to do all day long if you want.
It makes fitness a total no-brainer – and like you’re doing it with a friend who gets it.
The AND/life app features awesome workouts in two different ways: classes you do with me at home just like you’re one of my private clients here in LA, or custom workouts made for you on the spot based on how much time you have, what you feel like doing, what kind of equipment is available and more… even how much you want to sweat!
The app also addresses food, of course. Based on the method in my book The Way In: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong & Lift Your Life, the app teaches you my easy, no calorie-counting method of food portioning to ensure that you lose body fat.
It also ups your nutrition and immunity with simple superfood recipe suggestions based on your individual goals.
The app’s unique one-tap tracker helps you see your progress every day and you can set reminders for me to nudge you to take care of yourself, even in small, but powerful ways like drinking water regularly and standing more.
Is there advice you always get asked for?
“What should I eat for snacks?” People are baffled about what to eat. And I get it. I was too for a long time. The key is strategy – get a couple simple things under your belt and eat them all the time while you’re adding to your “go-to foods” library.”
Anyway, I love making up superfood snacks. There are tons of them in my app and I do a snack class in my workshop to help people get creative.
On the subject of food, you suggest treating food like a friend, what’s the message behind this?
“We are constantly inundated by weight loss products and books with negative messaging when it comes to our bodies, particularly the misguided notion that small and thin bodies equal healthy and happy people.
We are told that the fastest way to small and thin (and therefore healthy and happy) is to
1) Restrict the foods we love,
2) Mathematically analyze our food constantly in terms of intake and nutritional value.
3) Exercise like the Olympic trials are next week
and 4) Supplement our efforts with lab-made pills and powders.
Nowhere in this equation for healthy and happy do you find real life recommendations like hunting down your neighborhood’s best pizza, savoring your Mom’s amazing holiday cookies or enjoying wine with friends (virtually or otherwise).
In other words, popular diet and “fitness” messaging that equates “thin is a win” often paints the foods we share with others as the enemy.
This is an absolutely untrue and unsustainable proposition that
1) makes all diets eventually fail and, worse
2) makes us judge our food as good or bad at every meal – and in turn ourselves.
I did not get super lean, strong, healthy – and HAPPY – until I taught myself to eat ALL foods I enjoyed and ditch things that didn’t come from nature. Instead, I have strategized “toss-together” recipes with superfood ingredients that I can make even faster than buying a bar and ripping open the package.
Also, I’ve learned to eat in energy appropriate portions to get me from meal to meal. This means my stomach gets full faster, so when I eat richer foods, I simply can’t overeat.
Now I eat simple superfoods 80% of the time (meals I don’t share) and feel free to enjoy richer, “social” foods 20% of the time because with portions in check, it all balances out.
I have reframed my thinking of food as “good” or “bad” to beneficial or less beneficial – and in turn.
This has allowed me not only to get in the best shape of my life in a way that is easily sustainable and makes me happy, it has also had an effect on my self-confidence by detaching self-worth from supposed “good” and “bad” food choices.
My book The Way In: 5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong & Lift Your Life is all about this – helping each person unlock their own personal fitness formula just as I did for myself so that they can get fit and stay that way – and love their life throughout the process.
If you were to have a cheat day what would you go to?
“There is no such thing as a cheat day in my world. Every day is full of positive possibilities.
Sometimes the positive things in my day involve exercise and broccoli. Sometimes positive means sitting outside enjoying the fresh air or a book. Sometimes it’s an ice cream cone with my kids.
Often it’s a glass of wine with family or friends. ;)”
And our one for fun last question, If you could have a famous person at your dinner table from the past or present, who would you choose and why?
“Katharine Hepburn. She really had all the cards stacked against her as a young actress and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
She was a powerful, determined woman who made things happen for herself at a time when the hill women had to climb to be taken seriously was Kilimanjaro.
And her autobiography taught me one of the most powerful lessons of my 20’s – and which I still live by today: “Never complain. Never explain.”
Thank you so much for your time today Andrea, and to find out more about Andrea’s book ‘5 Winning Strategies to Lose Weight, Get Strong & Lift Your Life’ , and AND/life app make sure to head over to her website ANDREAMARCELLUS.COM