Hers is the Cinderella story of the fitness world.
At age 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.
Today, 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.
Reno 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.”
“I didn’t come from a fitness world. I didn’t know where to begin,” Reno said. “But I knew I had to begin somewhere. I would get winded walking up a single flight of stairs. It scared me,” she said.
Reno said “The Start Here Diet” is her most revealing book to date, and there’s no doubt it’s her most accessible.
Reno writes a monthly column in Oxygen magazine,.
She is also author of the “Eat Clean Diet” franchise, which includes more than a dozen best-selling wellness books and counts Angelina Jolie as a fan. But she says she realized that the “Clean Diet” approach and its emphasis on exercising and eating like a body builder was too intimidating for some.
“Women 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.
“The 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.
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.
Reno’s book outlines the three-step process she says she took after her life reached a turning point.
In Step 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.
“In my experience, it’s not a dozen foods that keep us from losing weight, but one, two or three old standbys,” Reno said.
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.
“It’s really about changing your thinking and rewiring your brain,” Reno said.
Step 3, of course, is fitness.
But it doesn’t necessarily mean the gym. Gardening and house-cleaning can be great workouts, she said.
Once people see progress on the scale and in the mirrors, it begins to snowball.
“The idea is to start small,” Reno said.