The secrets to Rebel Wilson's extraordinary weight loss – and why she's likely to keep it off

Lisa Williams
·6-min read
Rebel Wilson decided 2020 was going to her "Year of Health"  - Corbis Entertainment
Rebel Wilson decided 2020 was going to her "Year of Health" - Corbis Entertainment

Rebel Wilson chose the right year to prioritise her health. On January 2, the Australian comedy actress, known for roles in Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids, announced to her eight million Instagram followers that 2020 would be her “Year of Health”. 

Little did she know then that this year would also be the year of a pandemic; when the correlation between being fit and healthy and being able to fight off Covid-19 would make many more of us sit up and change our lifestyles. 

As she marks the 10th month of her year-long health kick, with just 3kgs to go before she reaches her weight loss target, could her methods mean her Year of Health could turn into a lifelong commitment, and what can we learn from them?

Setting a realistic goal

Rebel’s target weight is 75kgs (11st 8lbs) and she gave herself a year to reach it. Rather than going on a crash diet, which have been proven time and time again not to get long-lasting results, this slow-and-steady approach is the one favoured by dietitians as a way of creating sustainable change. The NHS’s recommended weight loss is 0.5-1kg (1-2lbs) a week, which is the starting point for its own weight loss plan.

Finding her cheerleaders

By announcing her plans on Instagram, Rebel instantly found herself an army of supporters to cheer her on. It’s useful to tell friends your plans when embarking on sustainable lifestyle changes because they can support you and help you stick to your goals, as she found.

“Thanks for all the love so far on my Year of Health,” she posted. “When I was reaching for the candies last night after dinner I thought to myself, ‘hmmm...better not' and had a bottle of water instead.” It also helps that she has a load of celebrity friends such as Octavia Spencer and her Pitch Perfect co-star Alexis Knapp to drop her a heart or ‘fire’ emoji when she posts a progress selfie.

The right motivation

When a fan told her she didn’t need to lose weight, and that she was great as she was, Rebel replied to say: “I’ve loved myself and thought I was [the bomb] at all sizes. But I’m proud to have gotten healthier this year and treating myself better.”

Many people this year have motivated themselves to get active or to stop overeating as an act of self-care rather than self-hate. Even Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on declaring his own lifestyle overhaul after being admitted to intensive care with Covid-19, said: “There are health reasons, but it also makes you feel much better. And that's the number one thing, you actually feel more full of energy if you can get your weight down.”

A study in the International Journal of Obesity supports this. It found that dieters who were motivated by how much better their life could be were more successful than those who were not.

Enjoying an occasional treat

Sustainable weight loss isn’t about endless soup and salads. If you like traditional ‘treat food’ such as crisps or cakes, you can factor them into your meal plans and give yourself something to look forward to. 

It’s been reported that Rebel is following the Mayr Method, a diet regime which focuses on digestion, mindful eating and avoiding sugar but last week Rebel posted a video of herself eating a strawberry cheesecake, writing: “Remember though, girls, you still gotta treat yourself (I just do it with food now only once or twice a week… and substitute bubble baths on alternate nights).”

Crucially, if you never let yourself enjoy a birthday cake or a glass of wine, you’re more likely to binge eat or drink, setting up unhealthy patterns in the process. That said, Lean in 15 author Joe Wicks has warned of the dangers of ‘treat days’ in which you have a day-long blow-out, saying unlimited gorging is no good for your body or your mind. He advises you, like Rebel, have the occasional treat instead, saying: “I don’t have cheat days, I just have treats and that’s called living.”

Rebel’s also worked out that treats don’t need to be food or drink either, and that a relaxing bath can make you feel just as good. If baths aren’t your thing, you could try a massage, meditation or bike ride instead.

Finding a routine and sticking to it

Rebel is working out with personal trainer Jono Castano, who recommends combining diet with doing 45 minutes of exercise, five times a week. The former football player is also hot on routine, saying that having a structure to your week helps you stick to good habits. His celebrity client has obviously taken this advice on, posting a hiking photo with the caption: “This week was super busy but I got up super early 3 times (6am) and went on a hike… even did a couple of 11m sprints to get the heart rate even higher (although my ‘sprint’ is probably someone else’s ‘slow jog’)”.

Some fitness fanatics swear by putting their exercise sessions into their diaries so they commit to it, even if it’s just a lone run or home yoga session, and a study by the University of Sydney on high intensity incidental physical activity (HIIPA) is showing the benefits of building exercise in to your everyday life for lasting benefits. That said...

Variety is the spice of a healthy life

Rebel’s Year of Health has so far seen her try a timetable of fun and energetic activities. As well as her personal training and solo gym sessions, she has been surfing in Malibu, swimming, jet skiing, boxing with friends and hiking in the hills. Even her PT sessions are mixed up once in a while, and she’s posted snaps of herself flipping heavy tires across a yard, and running up and down the steps at Sydney Opera House. While we can’t all try out some of her more glamorous activities, we can learn from how she mixes up her workouts to keep her interested and on form, meaning she’s less likely to get stuck in a rut and give up. Each form of activity can also have different health benefits, says health consultant Christian Thomson.

“Low-intensity cardio has more impact on structural changes that positively impact nutrient delivery and metabolic flexibility. Weight training on the other hand will boost metabolic rate and functional ability to work harder in other exercise forms,” he says.