Blake Lively's Trainer Wants You to Sleep More and Not Count Calories (Yes, Really)

Don Saladino, who has worked with Blake Lively for more than 10 years, is spilling all the diet and fitness tips to help you achieve all of your wellness goals this summer, including eating more food.

By Tierney Bricker May 07, 2023 12:00 PMTags
Watch: Met Gala 2023: Why Blake Lively Is NOT Attending This Year

Spotted: Mom of four Blake Lively looking strong AF.

While the Gossip Girl alum sadly didn't attend the Met Gala May 1, Blake's fans couldn't help but be impressed by how confident and radiant she's looked in recent red carpet appearances since welcoming baby no. 4 with Ryan Reynolds earlier this year. And, fortunately, we've got the secrets to her totally attainable wellness routine that we're definitely going to tell. You know you love it. 

When it comes to his clients, Blake's longtime trainer Don Saladino is all about instilling healthy habits that will set a person up for consistency and success without sacrificing delicious foods or committing to unrealistic fitness goals. "We're never doing anything unhealthy," Don tells E! News in an exclusive interview. His clients are "never starving themselves, we're never dehydrating the body, we're never doing no-to-low carb."

In fact, the fitness expert wants people to eat more food and stop worrying about the number on the scale.

"The reality is if any person came to me right now and I told them, 'You could be 10 pounds heavier but take your clothes off and look exactly how you want to look naked, would you take it?'" Don—who's also guided Blake's husband and Marvel superhero Sebastian Stan, among other stars—poses. "They would have a tough time answering that question."

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For those who are all in, that's where Don's Train Like Blake comes in, his popular six-week program that is designed to build lean muscle and burn fat without massive restrictions. It's a philosophy that's worked for Blake, as well as his other female clients, including Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt and Cindy Crawford. (Ever heard of them?)


"These women understand the importance of being strong," Don reasons, "and they understand the importance of getting in enough energy. They don't starve themselves." In fact, "If every woman came to me and they said, 'I want to put on muscle,'" Don shares, "that would probably allow me to get everyone to their goal. That's what I've been doing with thousands of people now, teaching them, "Let's try and put on muscle, you won't look muscular, but you'll have that lean, athletic body that you want.'"

So, if your mission is to get in the best shape of your life this summer or to get toned ASAP if you have a major event like a wedding or vacation coming up, Don is offering up his simple, effective and affordable tips to achieve your goals. And guess what? You probably don't actually need to drop those pesky 10 pounds that never seen to come off anyway.

"Let's stop talking about weight loss," Don says, "Let's start talking about body composition change."

By all means, Let's!

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Move Your Body, But You Don't Have to Be Sore After Every Workout: Consistency over intensity is what Don hopes to instill in everyone and it's something he's incorporated into his sessions with Blake since they began working together more than 10 years ago.

"Let's just move, let's just do something, let's just see how we feel," he says of his M.O. "And then good things happen out of that. The goal should be leave there better than you felt before you came in. If you could be into this and you can have that attitude, you're going to be in a great place."

His Train Like Blake program shares the philosophy he's developed with The Shallows star with the masses. 

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"There's one aspect of this program that she really has to pay attention to and it's movement," he explains. "She's a great mom, she's got four kids jumping on her and that's hard on the body, right? Coming into this workout and having a series of movements that are going to restore the way she feels and allow her to develop a high level of energy is really important."

With a focus on both strength training and straightforward walking, " the workout regimen "allows the body to feel strong and resilient," says Don, "these are words that we always use."

Another key element is "recognizing that we don't have to be perfect every day," Don adds. "You're going to wake up one day and have a terrible night's sleep and be like, "You know what? I'm just better off getting my steps in today. I'll bump it to tomorrow.' Understanding that is really important."

And it's something Blake takes to heart.

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"Blake's really done a great job in coming into the gym with a great attitude and moving and having fun," Don shares. "Like any other human being, sometimes you want to be there and sometimes you don't. I think accepting that makes it very real and that's something that people like to hear because they understand that someone isn't always perfect and always nailing it."


So, relax, because, "you don't need to come in and beat the s--t of yourself" in every workout, stresses Don. Sure, he adds, there is a time for "more metabolically demanding" movement, but he doesn't equate intensity with effectiveness. 

"For someone who's just trying to look better naked and live a healthy lifestyle, go in and dog it if you have to, but just do something," he poses.  "If you can just get people to be more consistent, they'll be way better off."

Forget Counting Calories Right Now: "Stop living in a caloric deficit," Don stresses, revealing that many people are actually not eating enough food, which can result in becoming "ravenous" in the evening and binge-eating their way through a bag of chips.

"Calories are energy, so if you get into a car and you gas up a car, a car is going to drive until it runs out of gas or until you pull over," Don explains. "The human body is going to look at the amount of calories someone is consuming and say, 'Wait a second, this person is not putting enough energy into my body.'" The result: You're not going to run all that well. 

"And that's why you see people who are eating too little calories, they can't lose weight," he continues. "Their blood sugar level is low and their energy level is low, so they are not moving as frequently anymore."

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Instead of prioritizing their caloric intake, Don is far more interested in helping people hit their TDEE: Total daily energy expenditure, "which means there's a certain amount of calories that they burn in a day when they're sitting and then there's a certain amount of calories they burn in a day when they're moving," he explains. "And when you bring those numbers together you have your TDEE. How many calories do you need to consume to break even? My goal is to get people there through high-quality food."

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Rather than track macros or eliminate any food groups, Don advises his clients prioritize lean sources of protein—the building blocks for muscle growth—and an array of colorful fruits and vegetables. You can also add in fermented offerings, like kimchi and sauerkraut three-to-five times a week, and even carbs, including jasmine and brown rice. "It's okay," Don jokes, "no one has ever died from brown rice!" 

Drink Some Damn Water and Rest More: While these may seem like simple steps, Don stresses that hydration and the quality of your sleep are "non-negotiable" when it comes to changing your body composition. While he would love it if everyone could get seven-to-nine hours of sleep a night, Don suggests slowly working towards increasing the length of your bedtime if you are someone who is currently only getting four hours. Should you need proof for just how much your tossing and turning could be impacting your fitness journey, Don reveals he's had clients lose nine pounds in three weeks from just getting an additional 90 minutes of sleep. "It's a fat-burner," Don explains, "and it's free."

Start Walking...Everywhere: One of the first questions Don asks when he begins working with a client is how many steps they take in a day, "Because if someone is coming to me and they are at 4 or 5,000 steps," he says, "that's just way too little." His ideal marker is 10,000, and before you start thinking of an excuse, like that you work at a desk job, Don doesn't want to hear it, offering multiple ways to get moving: "Walk to work in the morning, walk home from work, after all three of your meals, walk for 30 minutes, just do something. You're going to have to show some discipline!" 

And, should you think cardio has to mean running or jumping, Don is here to dispel that myth. 

"It's a pretty easy thing to do and sometimes people are like, 'Oh, walking is easy, that's effective?' Of course it is. It's very effective."

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Reevaluate Your Relationship With Alcohol—Including Tequila: When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, Don's honest answer was brutal: "Alcohol is alcohol," he says. "I don't know why everyone is under the assumption that it you continue to drink, you can still see this crazy body composition change." Especially if you are prepping for a major event, "removing booze is going to be one of the first things that I tell most people to do," Don stresses.

Not only will booze impact your sleep quality, but it will also wreak havoc on your hormones and cause inflammation, Don explains, even if you are going with a commonly-believed-to-be-healthier offering like a clear liquor with club soda. Explains Don, "Just because the calories are low, doesn't mean it's not doing what alcohol does."

In fact, Don argues that vodka and tequila are "really potent," which could have a greater impact on your hormonal system than a—gasp!—light beer that has—double gasp!—gluten. 

But, Also, Pick Your Battles: Listen, Don also gets that the summer is upon us and you may want to enjoy a cocktail occasionally while also maintaining all the hard work you've been putting in. So, if you are going to indulge, Don's recommendation is to "limit it to a few drinks every two weeks" so you are not forcing your body to work overtime "trying to detoxify and spending all that energy to rid the toxic substance. Alcohol is a toxic substance and that's why it beats the s--t out of you."

Still, just make sure it doesn't become a regular occurrence. 

"To be very clear," he adds, "I have people who get off alcohol and in one month they're like, 'Oh my god, I didn't change anything else and I lost 12 pounds.'" 

We'll not drink to those kind of results.

To check out day one of the Train Like Blake program for free, click here.

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