Mario Lopez, host of “Extra,” was at this year’s Health and Fitness Expo at the Hynes Convention Center promoting healthy living through his new book “Extra Lean.”

Along with Lopez, the expo featured Shawn Thornton from the Boston Bruins, Krista White — winner of America’s Next Top Model — Teddy Bruschi from the New England Patriots and other well-known celebrities. People crowded the entire first floor of the expo, which was divided into sections: health screenings, cooking demonstrations, a dancing stage, food samples, and fitness activities.

Upon entering the Expo, Mario was on stage cooking a recipe from his book. I waited for him in the Celsius section which featured the Fitness Age Challenge, a computerized fitness assessment program to learn one’s real "fitness age". Mario is the spokesperson for Celsius and is promoting their new summer campaign the "Ultimate Workout Challenge". I spoke with him about his new book Extra Lean, how he stays fit, and he told me what it was like to be on Dancing With the Stars.

BLAST: What inspired you to write fitness and health books?

MARIO LOPEZ: I love the health and wellness industry, and as I’ve gotten older, the things that I’ve learned and applied in my own life I want to share with others. I hope that what I’ve written helps change lives.

BLAST: In your book Extra Lean, you say you live extra lean. What does this philosophy mean to you?

ML: Extra lean is a philosophy and approach toward food in general. It means living healthy in all aspects of life, beginning with how we embrace and enjoy food. It is not a diet book, but a food book with principles that I believe in and live daily. I want to help people because it is a scary thing to manage weight when you do not know what to do. The three things I want people to remember are to eat carbs, protein, and fat at every meal. I want them to eat frequently throughout the day and practice portion control. The dedication to one’s health through food will allow so many other areas of life to come alive; from relationships to the economy, disease prevention and longevity. It all starts at the table.

BLAST: Through your book, how can one live their life according to this philosophy?

ML: The way to live the philosophy is to renew your mind when it comes to food. A true paradigm shift needs to occur. Because it’s not about what you can’t eat, but it’s about putting food to work in your favor, helping you feel and perform at your best.

BLAST: My favorite aspect of your book is your seven day meal plan (Seven Windows of Opportunity), which includes muffins, a tropical smoothie, fresh tomato pita pizza, and chicken enchiladas. I love how your meal plan does not deprive people of what they want to eat. What is the most important aspect you want readers to remember?

ML: The book breaks it down and explains the principles, but it keeps you motivated because the results will come quick. It’s amazing when you cut calories how much weight you lose. I encourage people to have a cheat meal every week like pizza because you are still living extra lean. When it comes to the seven windows of opportunity, the most important aspect is to treat your body like a small blaze. You don’t throw a huge log on a fire and hope it burns efficiently. No, you steadily and methodically put small quick-burning kindling on the flame. Our metabolism works the same way. Don’t worry if you don’t eat seven times, per se. Just make sure you’re constantly eating and allowing your inner fire to burn.

BLAST: What is the best way to practice making healthy choices in unlikely places?

ML: Once you incorporate the philosophy of living extra lean you can make those choices really easy. Eating out you should avoid anything fried and stick with grilled chicken, salmon, or pork. Almonds, bananas, and peanut butter are good for snacks and can be found in any convenient and grocery store. You learn to become aware of what you’re eating.

BLAST: What are your favorite meals to eat that help you stay fit?

ML: Some of my favorites are sweet potatoes, salmon, and chicken, but I still love Mom’s enchiladas (her recipe inspired my healthy chicken enchiladas in Extra Lean). That’s the important thing though, I’m too big a fan of food to exclude things I love. The key is to learn how to incorporate those foods into your lifestyle. I’ll never give up Mexican food and I’ll always stay in shape— so the two can go hand-in-hand. Also, drinking Celsius during the day helps me burn calories when I’m not working out and keeps me energetic throughout the day.

BLAST: When did you start using Celsius and how is it different from other energy drinks on the market?

ML: I started drinking Celsius a couple of years ago just because I had tried every energy drink out there. I like how it tastes; that’s the first thing that attracted me. Celsius has no sugar, no carbs, and low sodium. I like that it helps you burn calories it gives you a nice kick before you work out. Plus, it comes in other good flavors.

BLAST: Why is fitness so important to you?

ML: Well, fitness is a top priority in my life and has been for a while. I’m the Boys and Girls Club of America national ambassador of fitness and the governor and presidents counselor of physical fitness. It’s become a passion of mine.

BLAST: Do you have any workouts that you like?

ML: I like to mix it up, keep the muscles guessing. I like boxing a lot and dancing.

BLAST: Growing up did you have weight issues?

ML: "When I was a little kid I did. Obesity is prominently featured in my family. I wanted to help my family first and be an inspiration. Next I went through to my community and with the platform of my own show I can now help and inspire people on a national level."

BLAST: You wrestled in high school. Did this help overcome your weight issues?

ML: Oh, absolutely. I grew up wrestling and also did dance. Being active in wrestling not only helped me lose weight and build muscle, but I think those days helped me form my foundation for my passion for fitness and competition. Just being active is always important. As I’m getting older, I learn to eat and drink right. I don’t drink sodas either.

BLAST: How did it feel to be competing with Emmit Smith on Dancing With the Stars?

ML: Emmit was great. From the football field to the dance floor, Emmit is a true champion. I was honored to compete with him. Everyone on the cast was great. I will never forget the experience.

BLAST: As host of Extra and America’s Best Dance Crew while acting, where do you find time to work out?

ML: It might sound cliche, but I get it in when I can fit it in. If I know my afternoon and evening are jam-packed, I’ll make sure to train before work. Basically, not training is not an option. Living a healthy lifestyle sometimes takes strategic planning. If you are serious about training and changing your body, you will find the time.

BLAST: Will you continue writing health and fitness books?

ML: Absolutely. Health and fitness will always be a big part of my life and career. I hope to continue doing my part to help America become a healthier, fitter nation.

About The Author

Ashley D’Hooge graduated from Emerson college in Boston. She has written for several publications and currently resides in Boston.

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