Secrets to Looking Fit & Fabulous

Tips for fitness motivation, exercise routines and healthy diet from The FIRM Instructor Alison Davis-McLain

Alison Davis-McLain isn’t just a Master Instructor for The FIRM — she’s also a mom and speech-language pathologist. And on top of this, she’s committed to following a routine that keeps her slim, strong and healthy. So how does she do it? Find out her secrets to looking fit and fabulous, from what she eats to how she finds exercise motivation to her favorite workout routines.

Finding workout motivation

Half the battle of getting and staying in shape is having the motivation and desire to exercise. Follow these tips from Alison on how to look forward to and actually enjoy your workout.

1. Focus on the positive results.

During exercise, instead of focusing on aches or discomfort, visualize what you want to get from the workout. Imagine how good the shower will feel on your sweaty body when you finish and how nicely those jeans will fit. Think how happy you'll be about what you’ve accomplished. You'll feel vibrant and confident in your body and yourself.

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you do fall off the workout wagon for some time, don’t beat yourself up about it. Keeping a positive attitude will make it easier for you to start working out again. “Think of it as giving your body a break, so you’re stronger coming back to exercise,” says Alison. “You’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.” Alison also recommends taking it one step at a time, and just trying to do the best you can for that day.

3. Seek fitness support.

Whether it’s an online community like The FIRM, a fitness class at the gym or a workout buddy, seeking support from other people can be one of the strongest motivators to exercise. Everyone has bad days, and you can help lift each other’s spirits and reach your fitness goals.

Exercise routine: Weight training and cardio

Alison follows The FIRM’s philosophy for her own workout routine, combining weight training and cardio to maximize the ability to burn fat and shape the entire body. Here’s her weekly workout routine:

  • Two to three days of an hour-long cardio and weight training workout. She alternates between lifting heavy weights and running sprints. If she’s short on time, she does a sculpting and fat-burning workout from The FIRM videos.
  • Three days a week of just cardio. She likes to run, bike or follow a cardio workout video — anything to get her heart rate going.
  • One day of rest. Taking one day to give her body a break helps her feel refreshed and even more motivated when she returns to exercising.

Diet: Everything in moderation

“I don’t like to deprive myself,” Alison says. “But I do believe in everything in moderation.”

She maintains a healthy, balanced diet of lean proteins (such as fish or tofu), vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates (like sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole wheat pasta). She satisfies her sweet tooth with a low-calorie brownie after dinner.

Eating five small meals (breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner) curbs her appetite and keeps her energy levels up throughout the day. She usually cooks for herself because she sees better results in her body than when she goes out to eat. (It’s difficult to know all the ingredients in restaurant food, and portion sizes are larger.)

Get fit with Alison’s workout routines

To really burn calories and get in shape, try some of Alison’s The FIRM workout routines.

“I’m all about hard workouts. If I’m going to do it, I don’t want to waste my time,” she says.


Core Solutions

The Ultimate Fat Burning Cardio workout combines some of the best cardio workouts with strength training, allowing you to burn fat while sculpting your entire body.


Core Solutions

Want rock-hard abs? Core Solutions targets your core, working the front, side and back of your waist.


Core Solutions

If you like to dance or want to learn how, try Cardio Dance Express. You'll get a slimmer, sexier figure with these cardio, body-sculpting dance moves. No dance experience is required — just a desire to have fun and get in shape.


Check out photos from Alison’s cardio and body-sculpting class at Gaiam.

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