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There was a time in the 1990s when Mark Macdonald couldn’t walk past a mirror without lifting up his shirt to make sure he still had a six-pack.
All these years later, the 40-year-old fitness and nutrition consultant for CNN admits that he was a slave to food and his physique.
“Food controlled me, and my body controlled me. I lived in fear of getting fat,” he tells Sun Media in a phone interview from Atlanta. “My wife came to me and said something had to change.”
At the time, Macdonald was managing a gym and training clients. He was practising and preaching deprivation dieting and excessive exercising.
It was a regimen that helped the personal trainer stay ultra-lean for some sideline work as a fitness model.
But he was miserable.
“I was fitness modelling and I just sucked it up,” he recalls, noting he followed a nearly no-carbs diet for all but one day of the week. “I hated my food for six straight days and then I lived for my cheat day. No one should live like that, because eventually you crack.”
And although he was helping his clients drop weight, they would invariably gain it back within a few months.
“So when you’re failing your wife and failing your clients, there’s got to be a different way,” explains Macdonald, who had studied nutrition, physiology and anatomy in college while on a soccer scholarship. “I went back to my books.”
Through his research and good old-fashioned trial-and-error, Macdonald eventually discovered what he says is the real key to getting and staying lean: stabilizing the body’s blood sugar.
Balancing blood sugar helps the body “consistently release its stored fat and then that fat gets burned up in your muscle,” he explains.
“It’s very simple,” he adds. “It’s just like a baby. Babies feed every three to four hours. They eat a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates in breast milk. They stop eating when they’re satisfied and eat again when they’re hungry. That’s how we’re fed our entire first year of life. And then we abandon it.”
In 1999, Macdonald founded Venice Nutrition and opened the first Venice Nutrition Consulting Centre in Venice Beach, Calif., where he began expounding on the virtues of blood-sugar stabilization through one-on-one coaching.
The company has evolved and grown over the years. Today, there’s a network of more than 350 licensed
locations throughout the U.S., as well as Venice Nutrition Online, which feature the Venice Nutrition Program based on blood-sugar stabilization.
Macdonald adapted his fitness and nutrition know-how into a book, Body Confidence, which was released last year and became a New York Times best-seller.
More recently, he has teamed with MonaVie, a purveyor of health juices and other nutritional products.
Besides keeping his blood sugar stabilized by eating smart and healthily, Macdonald maintains his fantastically fit six-foot-two, 200-pound physique these days with five efficient workouts a week in his home gym.
He lifts weights two to three times weekly for no more than 25 minutes each session and does roughly an hour of high- and low-intensity cardio — often while watching Netflix — on the other days.
“To me, I feel great and I look great,” he says, “which is the definition of ‘Body Confidence.’ ”