When you look at Ilana Muhlstein, RD, creator of Beachbody's 2B Mindset, a video-based weight-loss program that revamps your diet, you might think she's been slim her whole life. She is a shining beacon of health, after all. But Ilana started from a place many people are familiar with, and she had to work hard to change her life and eating habits around. Read her full story ahead.
When Ilana weighed her heaviest, 215 pounds, she didn't feel like she was able to truly enjoy her life. "I realized that I had so much energy and positivity to share with the world, but my exterior wasn't matching the way I really felt or wanted to live," she told POPSUGAR. "I became fed up with making excuses for my weight and started accepting the fact that I could take control of it instead. Also, my size 20 jeans were becoming snug and I knew size 22 would mean I couldn't even fit into Gap and Old Navy's extended sizes, and I would finally be forced to shop in plus-size-only stores. This was a particularly difficult thing to accept given that my friends at the time were still shopping in juniors sections."
She thought about what had caused the weight gain in the first place and couldn't pinpoint one thing specifically. She said it stemmed from all sorts of things, including her "love and preoccupation with food for pleasure, stress relief, boredom, social engagement, and overall mindlessness." She tried all sorts of things to lose the weight, from Weight Watchers to "weight-loss camp," but nothing really stuck for her. She lost 25 pounds at the camp, but realized that wasn't enough to feel and experience a big difference in her life.
"I then took my weight-loss journey into my own hands with the principles that are now 2B Mindset," she said. "From my highest to my lowest weight, I lost 100 pounds." She never counted calories because she finds that practice to be very frustrating and "calories on food labels and restaurants can be extremely inaccurate."
She ate a lot of whole foods on a regular basis. These are some of the staples she keeps in her fridge: baby carrots, coleslaw mixes, bell peppers, cauliflower heads, and turnips. She also stocks "lots of lean, easy proteins like eggs, egg whites, Greek yogurt cups, and string cheese." She likes to eat fruits, high-fiber tortillas, "and definitely always some good bottled salad dressings, marinades, and marinara for quick meal assembling on busier days."
She eventually took all of the good habits and practices that she developed and created the weight-loss program 2B Mindset. It was done "with a lot of trial and error, patience, a positive outlook, and an open mind." This program "touches on the nutritional aspect of weight loss, but it also uncovers the behavioral and emotional aspect of eating as well."
"There are hundreds of diets and prescribed meals plans that simply tell you what to eat and not to eat," Ilana explained. "The 2B Mindset goes much further to explain how to approach real-life eating situations and scenarios so you are set up for success wherever you are. So not only can you lose weight when you are focused and prepared, you will also be able to lose weight while enjoying yourself on a vacation, through the holiday season, or even while undergoing an emotional or stressful time."
Ilana didn't believe in entirely eliminating food groups or desserts, so she instead chose to shift her mindset and cravings "in a more productive and positive way." That's why she created 2B Mindset with a "framework for success and the best recommendations and structure," but she also left room for "variability and flexibility" so everyone could feel like it was tailored specifically to them, because no two people are the same.
Ilana is a new mom, so she says she'll be back to her lowest weight in two to three months. "Thankfully I really kept a healthy 2B Mindset throughout pregnancy and only gained 31 pounds while staying active," she shared. She loves to go to Spin, boxing, or Pilates classes. "But my mainstay is power Vinyasa yoga. Nothing makes me feel longer, leaner, and happier than doing yoga three to four times a week," she said.
When we asked Ilana to share some of her favorite nonscale victories, she said, "My first Summer without chub rub (irritation between my thighs) felt like a dream come true! I used to have to use baby powder in between my legs to control the pain and redness, and once I realized I was wearing shorts on a really hot day and my thighs weren't burning, I felt like I made it! Also, just simple things like being able to shop for clothes easier and wear dresses, feeling confident working out in just a sports bra, not feeling like I need to crop my body out of photos — I could go on and on!"
As for advice for people on their own weight-loss journeys, Ilana has a lot to say. "Go in with the mindset that if you focus on it and do it in a smart, sensible, and sustainable way, then this should really be the last time you ever have to lose weight again," she told POPSUGAR. "Sure, you'll always want to prioritize your health and may need to lose a couple of pounds in the future following a long vacation or holiday season, but ultimately, you should take this time as a learning opportunity and means of creating a healthy and positive lifestyle for yourself. And if done right, then the more effort you put into it, the more effortless it should later feel to sustain."