The Secrets of Rebel Wilson's "Year of Health": How She Got Into Fighting Shape

Declaring 2020 "The Year of Health," Rebel Wilson remained committed to reaching her goal weight of 165 pounds before New Year's Day. Here's how she did it with weeks to spare.

By Sarah Grossbart Mar 02, 2021 6:00 PMTags
Watch: 5 Exercises With Rebel Wilson's Trainer

Rebel Wilson has been working on her glow-up for quite some time now.

While the impossibly charming comedic actress hasn't fully ditched her beloved baseball caps, her wardrobe has received quite the upgrade from when the Sydney native arrived in Hollywood with just one suitcase of clothes and a blanket a little more than a decade ago.

"Maybe I'm just taking a bit more pride in my appearance now, which I think is a positive thing because I was too far the other way before," the Aussie mused to InStyle in May 2019 of her newfound appreciation for Fendi and Gucci. Plus there's the help of stylist Elizabeth Stewart, who's taught her "all these little tips and tricks—and they really work," she continued. "Then you feel more comfortable when you have to dress up. I remember I didn't even go to a friend's wedding in my 20s because I didn't know where to buy a dress in my size. Now it is the opposite. Now I have a wardrobe full of custom Givenchy."

Rebel Wilson's Best Looks

But if anyone has the name of a good tailor...

Declaring 2020 to be "The Year of Health" well before any of us realized just getting out of our leggings and sweatshirts would feel ambitious, the actress—best known as Pitch Perfect's Fat Amy—dutifully stuck to her goal of getting down to 75 kilograms (that's roughly 165 pounds for all the non-metric users) by the end of the year. 

"When I was reaching for the candies last night after dinner I thought to myself "hmmmm...better not" and had a bottle of water instead," she wrote in an Aug. 28 update, "8kg's to go until I hit my goal—hopefully I can do it by the end of the year."

She did herself one better, celebrating her accomplishment over Thanksgiving weekend. "Hit my goal with one month to spare!" she shared in an Instagram story. 


Not that she would have chided herself had she rang in 2021 with a few extra kilos.

Undoubtedly confident at any size—having once declared she thought gaining weight was the secret to her successful entree into comedy—the star, who broke out in the U.S. with 2011's Bridesmaids, just felt now was the time to key in on her physical health. 

Overweight since her early 20s thanks to a battle with polycystic ovarian syndrome that left her hormones unbalanced, she'd tested out various diet programs over the years ("Like anything Oprah would try"), but thanks to a lighter filming schedule she felt like this was the time to really key in on wellness.

"I was like this is going to be the year of health, so I'm going to take it easy for a bit and really focus," she explained to E! News in a recent interview. "I turned 40 this year and I'm like, as you get older you realize, oh god I just don't want to get trashed and wake up and feel tired and I want to, like, just treat myself kindly and with respect because health is all you have at the end of the day." 

Tracking both her progress ("Closer each day," she captioned one Lycra-forward snap) and her impressive AF six-day-a-week workouts on Instagram, Wilson, marking her 41st birthday Mar. 2, encouraged her 9 million followers to tackle their personal ambitions right along with her.  

"Even if you have to crawl towards your goals, keep going," she shared in one May post. "Try and give a little bit of effort each day...I know some days are frustrating as hell, you feel like giving up, you get annoyed at the lack of progress...but good things are coming your way." 

For Wilson that good fortune began in June 2019 when she and a close friend, British TV presenter Carly Steel, booked a trip to Austrian wellness center VivaMayr. 

Over three weeks they endured what Steel called "the most incredible, comprehensive Mayr method system reset I've experienced," a practice that emphasizes improved digestion by eliminating snacking, reducing gluten and dairy and focusing on how each meal is consumed. 

"It's an approach that eliminates food intolerances, reduces sugar, encourages eating whole foods slowly, boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation," a source close to Wilson told People. And the daily hypoxtraining, aerial yoga sessions and alkalizing foot baths changed the game for the actress who declared the European spot one of her favorites, writing in March that she couldn't wait to get back "and continue my health journey!"

Which she did in November, the second round of pool workouts, hikes and healthy cuisine pushing her toward the finish line she'd set. "I feel better. I've got more energy," she told E! News. "I feel sad that I didn't learn this earlier, but also this was my journey."

That particular odyssey kicked off last January when Wilson slipped into athleisure for a walk on the beach, then sat on the couch "deliberately" hydrating "and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food which is going to be hard after the holidays I've just had but I'm going to do it!" she shared before asking, "Who's with me in making some positive changes this year?"

Well, for starters, Australian trainer Jono Castano, who's pushed Wilson through sessions that involve everything from running up and down the stairs of the Sydney Opera House (after walking there as a warm-up) to a CrossFit-inspired tire-flipping exercise that had her challenging fellow Aussies Chris Hemsworth and Liam Hemsworth (her costar in 2019's Isn't It Romantic) and declaring that "Australia's latest action hero is turning it up!"

As Castano told E! News, "She always gives 100 percent."


Though his plans are tailored by client, a typical week will see him mixing days of pure high-intensity interval training with weights and resistance training, including one full recovery day and another focused on mobility. But even on the off days, he shared, "I always suggest moving for at least 45 minutes whether that's a walk or some form of physical activity you enjoy doing." (See: Wilson's frequent hikes and Aug. 25 surf lesson in Malibu.)

"We focus on plenty of HIIT circuits, but at the same time, focusing on technique and tempo," he explained. "And understanding that each exercise is vital when working at a quick capacity." So there's no slacking when it comes to doing the squats and mountain climbers he prescribes.

His nutrition advice is just as straightforward, the basic understanding being to burn more calories than you take in. "I know it's so simple but it's science and it's a proven method," he said. "But I also believe eating the right calories is important, too, which means making sure you're watching your macronutrients (carbs/fats/protein) and getting as many vitamins and minerals from your food. Your body will function better and you will have much more energy and motivation to focus on your health and fitness." 


It's a concept that Wilson touts as well, having worked hard to ditch the habits of emotional eating that often saw her downing a pint of ice cream as a nighttime pick-me-up. 

"I did a very holistic approach," she explained to E! News. "Like obviously you'll see me on Instagram, like, working out like a maniac. I do actually like working out. I hired a nutritionist and I've been trying to slowly change up my diet because I basically would only eat carbs. I loved it. I'm really going with a heavy protein diet and doing mindful eating, which is challenging because I normally love eating dinner in front of the TV." 

Her largest hurdle, she acknowledged, was digging deep into the why of it all. "For me, also, the big thing was, like, looking at my emotional eating and why I was doing it, and working on the mental side, which for me kind of comes down to self-love really."

The way she sees it, she continued, opting for lean proteins over, say, bags of chips is the ultimate gift to herself. "Like, if you had a kid, would you be trying to feed them all just a diet based of sugar and junk food?" she reasoned. "That wouldn't seem very loving to give to a small kid. Obviously occasionally fine, but like to give them that every day is not is not loving and so why do I do that to myself? Why aren't I valuing myself the way I would value another person?"

Of course, she allows, it's not as simple as just deciding you're done with sweets. "I know it sounds so easy to be like, 'Oh you have to love yourself first,' but I was tired and I noticed I was behaving in ways that were destructive to my body and, you know, they were my ways of dealing with stress and work," she explained. "You feel like you've had a rough day, like when I got beat up in the ocean in Mexico and I'm like, 'Oh, I'm just gonna eat the cupcake.' Even though like I'm such a confident person, I just wasn't treating myself with the same respect and love and kindness that I would probably treat other people with."

At-home Celebrity Workouts

Having struck a careful balance, she works to avoid the stress eating that's so prevalent in these COVID times while still indulging in a side of chips with her weekly Chipotle vegetable burrito. And she makes it a point to move her body an hour a day, whether that's during a trainer-led session or, as she cheekily suggested in an October post, a workout with then-boyfriend Jacob Busch.  

"We do a lot of exercise together," she wrote, adding in a winking emoji for effect. 


Her yearlong romance (the two met through friends in late 2019) with the Napp's Dairy Free Ice Cream founder grew ice cold in January, but his support still remains, a source telling E! News, "They had a great time together and remain good friends."

Back in the market, Wilson admitted that one of the most noticeable parts of her transformation "is how other people treat you." Though her own confidence never wavered, "Sometimes being bigger, people didn't necessarily look twice at you," she explained during a Jan. 27 episode of The Morning Crew With Hughesy, Ed and Erin. "And now that I'm in a good shape, like, people offer to carry my groceries to the car and hold doors open for you. I was like, 'Is this what other people experienced all the time?'"

You could say these days everything is prettttttty pitch perfect for Wilson, set to star in the upcoming high school comedy Senior Year


"I love my curves and stuff, I don't think I'll ever go too skinny but I feel so much healthier," she explained during a Nov. 10 appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show. "And I don't know whether it's a thing with ladies when you turn 40, I feel like I really have come into my own now and not just with health but with my career."

As she eases into her fifth decade, she has more control over her projects and a whole new set of self-care habits to complement her ever-present confidence. "I am more health conscious and, you know, thinking of starting a family and all that kind of stuff," she explained to E! News. "I don't know how my journey is gonna finish. I'm just happy that I'm healthy and then I just try to keep doing my best."

—Reporting by Amanda Williams

(Originally published Aug. 29, 2020 at 12 a.m. PT)

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