Trainer Jeanette Jenkins Shares the #1 Mistake People Make When They're Trying to Lose Weight

POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell
POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

We asked Alicia Keys's and Pink's personal trainer Jeanette Jenkins (also known as The Hollywood Trainer) what advice she might have for a beginner on their fitness journey. She gave us an awesome (and challenging!) five-minute beginner workout and also warned us about the biggest mistake newbies make: not changing their eating habits.

"I would love to be able to say you can just ignore what you eat, but you can't."

"Not eating healthy is the classic, number one beginner mistake," she said. "They'll get in there [to the gym], work their ass off, and won't pay attention to calorie intake." She said her clients will become frustrated and come to her saying, "'But I'm not losing any weight!'"

Jeanette said, "I would love to be able to say you can just ignore what you eat, but you can't." She also noted that "There's a very small, small percentage of the population who just has a ridiculous metabolism and can pretty much shovel in anything," but she said not to look to them as examples on how to eat. She said those people can end up overeating, too, and it affects their bodies in different ways.

"People do not pay attention to their calorie intake, and they usually are still overeating. They might exercise, but then after they exercise, they're still increasing their calories, so they're not getting the results they want." It makes sense — we also heard from Lori Zanini, RD, earlier this year at the Tone It Up retreat that no amount of exercise in one day will burn off a 1,000-calorie burger. It's why you hear people say "abs are made in the kitchen."

It can feel confusing — more exercise means you need more calories, right? Well . . . it's not just any kind of calories. You've also got to pay attention to the quality of calories you consume (200 calories of lean protein is much healthier than 200 calories of ice cream, right?). "You can exercise to your heart's content but you have to give your body the building blocks that it needs so you can recover properly, burn fat, build muscle, and have strong bones and connective tissue," said Jeanette. And we couldn't agree more!

Before your workout, make sure you're getting a small, healthy bite to eat, and after your workout, recover and refuel with a healthy snack within 30 minutes — you'll want post-workout protein! Making healthier snack choices can help you reach your goals more quickly. And always remember: don't beat yourself up in the early stages. This is a journey, and we're here to guide you through it every step — and bite — of the way.