Home杭州桑拿 › ‘Weight-loss is really easy’: Celebrity trainer James Duigan

‘Weight-loss is really easy’: Celebrity trainer James Duigan

James Duigan. Photo: Supplied”I lost my dad to cancer two years ago,” James Duigan, the n famous for training A-listers like Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, tells me over a green juice in Sydney’s Bondi.
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He is telling me about the effect of emotions on our weight and overall wellness.

During his battle, his father ate to keep his weight up and because he “felt lonely”, Duigan ate with him, putting on 10 kilograms in the process.

“Dad passed away and I felt like I’d let him down – I wanted to save him and I couldn’t and I was just racked with shame and guilt,” Duigan explains.

Previously, with his support and making lifestyle changes, his father had beaten cancer, Duigan says. He had faith they could do it again, telling his son, “Now I know you’re here we can beat it”.

“He had so much trust in me and I just felt like I’d let him down,” Duigan recalls.

“I was just holding onto it all and there was nothing I could do and I’d just go ‘OK, I’m going to clean up my diet because I’ve written five Clean and Lean books and I’d just find myself not.”

Unable to pull himself out of his rut and return to shape mentally or physically, he says his wife, Chrissy, eventually told him he had to let go of his guilt.

“I really worked at it,” he says. “It wasn’t like ‘that’s right, I’ll let go of the guilt’. I worked at it every day. It was affirmations and being disciplined with my thoughts – it’s really easy to get into a spiral with your thoughts and I just thought ‘enough’.

“You can control your thoughts and then thinking these good things and being vigilant with them you just start to feel better generally and I looked around and I’d lost 10 kilos in three months.”

Guilt and shame are important, often overlooked, components of weight and health problems, according to the owner of Bodyism and author of Clean and Lean.

“Weight loss in itself is really easy,” he says. “Biologically it is – unless there’s a really hard-core hormonal or parasite type of thing going on, the mechanics and biology of weight loss is really simple.

“It’s the psychology of it that’s the issue. And also all of the mixed messages – gluten-free, low-fat.”

Duigan (pronounced Dye-gan) is mostly gluten-free and sugar-free but says as soon as you start to get dogmatic about any way of being “people fall through the cracks”.

“Like if you’re going to have a brownie, have a brownie. Not a beetroot and brussels sprout brownie. Just go for it, do it,” the 40-year-old father of two says.

“I love food. It should be celebrated. The energy you put into your food is almost as important as what you’re eating.”

He is saying that the more we are stressed about the food we eat, the more we produce cortisol which inhibits fat loss.

It relates to exercise too.

“Some of the most dramatic weight-loss results we’ve had is when we’ve said, ‘OK, you need to to stop running’, you get them walking and doing yoga and their stress levels go down and they just become unrecognisable versions of themselves,” he says.

Does that mean that if we really enjoy moments of indulging, (or not running) the cascade of pleasure hormones counteracts the effects, at least a little, I wonder.

“I think so,” Duigan replies. “Guilt is the deep-fried doughnuts of emotion – it will hold onto more fat than anything you eat.”

That’s not a licence to go and eat whatever you want, he adds.

“Choose foods that work for you. People say, ‘go on, live a little’ – yeah, absolutely, do stuff that makes you feel better.”

I suggest that the message gets skewed along the way – that people often take the idea of eating what makes you feel better as the foods that are emotionally comforting rather than foods that make your body feel better.

It comes back to psychology, he says.

“A lot of people don’t have a deep belief that they deserve to be happy and healthy … There’s a lot of shame and guilt.

“The minute you change that conversation and the minute that you do understand that you do deserve to be happy and healthy, everything becomes easier and you tend not to sabotage yourself and you tend not to do these crazy things, because if it sounds crazy, it is crazy.”


“Instagram has promoted health and wellness but, it’s also so dangerous,” Duigan says. “You’ve got the rise of Instagram anorexics who are just ruthlessly opportunistic and ruining people’s lives.

“There’s zero accountability. If someone says something horrifically dangerous, like just eat 10 bananas a day, limit your intake to 800 calories a day and do these plyometric exercises that I do so cutely with my boyfriend.

“The banana one – that’s actually a real thing and there’s another one – they had a fight – who has 4 million followers – hard-core plyometric exercises, super calorie-controlled – all just on the border of acceptable in terms of dietitians. It’s crazy.”

Everyone is affected by the images on Instagram, he says.

“I speak to people now – one of the most famous actresses and she’s like ‘I feel terrible’ and I said, ‘why?’ and she said, ‘I was on Instagram for half an hour this morning, just feeling terrible’.

“There’s a Victoria’s Secret girl we’re training and she’s like ‘Oh, for god’s sake, I can’t do it anymore’.

“I know two of the biggest wellness bloggers and my heart goes out to them, but they’re suffering eating disorders and it’s like ‘you didn’t eat that, stop it, stop saying you did’.

“The good news is that the fastest way to lose weight is to focus on your health. And that’s a great thing, but people can’t believe that. They’re like ‘where’s the pill’ or ‘what do I have to do miserably for this to work?’

“A lot of people think health means boring and drab like steamed chicken breasts with a bowl of dust … that’s where Instagram is great – people sharing beautiful, delicious food.

“There’s nothing wrong with social media it’s just a few opportunists are ruthlessly exploiting it and are faking it as well: ‘Oh look this is this thing I like’, and they’re getting paid for it.”​

Duigan has a new cookbook out in December called Clean & Lean for Life. 

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