When I was in my 20’s and getting back into exercise after gaining a bunch of weight, I approached things all wrong!  Like so many when getting back into it or even just starting, I was over zealous.  I jumped right in and did way too much too soon.  Not only did I not warm up or do an adequate amount of cardio, I was working with very heavy weight!  Needless to say, I bulked up and became very thick.  Although I was healthier and stronger, I looked like a football player!

On top of this, I was eating 3 huge meals a day.  Even though they were healthier meals, I was still consuming far too many calories at one meal, which meant storing the rest as fat.  Back in those days, it was all about eating carbs, like pasta and rice.  Unfortunately, it created more of a problem for me because my portion control radar was completely off.   You see, I was brought up in Wisconsin with a Mom who cooked and baked up a storm but didn’t set any boundaries.  She also had that rule, like so many Mother’s back then, that you had to eat everything on our plate.  Of course my eyes were always bigger than my stomach, so I ended up eating even more.

I continued working out and eating this way for several years.  I attribute part of the problem to ignorance and not being educated properly, but also having a boyfriend at the time, who was a bodybuilder, could eat whatever he wanted and trained me to workout the same way.

In my late 20’s, I still didn’t make very much progress dropping weight, but I was still able to go on to become a trainer for “Body By Jake”.  It really wasn’t until my late 30’s when I was training Berry Gordy’s (Founder of Motown) girlfriend at the time that I realized I needed to make a big change.   Berry became my mentor and pulled me aside one day.  He said how great I was at being a trainer, but that I seriously needed to “Walk The Talk”.  I was embarrassed, but it gave me the kick in the butt I needed!  Yes I was fit and healthy, but no woman wanted to have such thick and stocky thighs!

I took what Berry said seriously, but I was still struggling to manage my eating habits.  So, the second wake-up call came when I was doing a live CNN segment with Jake demonstrating some of his exercise moves.  A few girls called in, and I could hear them giggling.  I knew this wasn’t going to be good.   It felt like slow motion as the giggles stopped and my heart sank as they asked how much I weighed.  Again, I was mortified!  Jake covered quickly by stating that muscle weighs more than fat, but I knew inside that I had to make some changes if I was going to pursue a career in Fitness.  Yet, despite this, I still was unable to completely conquer my lack of willpower and portion control issues.

The final blow came from none other than Steven Spielberg.  I was training his wife, Amy Irving, at the time.  I was so excited and thought “Wow, I finally have made it”.  Then one day he came over to talk to me.  I thought he was going to tell me what a great job I was doing, so I was doubly shocked when he blankly said, “I don’t want her to end up having thighs like you”.  OMG…What?!  My heart hit rock bottom.

I kept thinking back to a comment my Mom made to me when I was a teenager.  I was beating myself up, and she told me just to accept the fact that I was always going to have big thighs because it was part of my genetics.  It was easy to buy into rather than actually doing something about it.    So when deciding whether to have that second helping or that piece of cake, I thought what the heck, I’m always going to have big thighs anyway…might as well enjoy myselfJ

In my late 30’s, I was more determined than ever to prove my Mother wrong.  So, I began exercising completely different.  I started doing a solid warm up, about 30-45 minutes of cardio combining light resistance training doing lots of repetitions, and incorporating core moves throughout my routine.  Before I knew it, I was slimming down and shrinking everywhere!   For the first time in my life, I was actually a Size 6!!  This was beyond exciting as I had literally got up to a size 13/14 when I was 20 and living in Wisconsin.   However, it took me developing “Slim in 6” and my advanced program, “Slim Series”, to get down to size 4 and stay there!

Another reason I was able to finally lose the weight and inches was because I stopped eating those enormous 3 meals.  Instead, I began eating 5 to 6 small mini-meals throughout the day consisting of lean protein, whole grains, plenty of vegetables, fruits and healthy fats.  Before I knew it, I was getting lean and feeling so much better!   Now I had the confidence I needed to continue on and perfect my “Slim Training” techniques.

Then, at the age of 40, I was approached by CEO, Carl Daikeler, to develop the very first program with Beachbody called “The Great Body Collection” with Tony Horton.   They were 10 minute routines.  Mine were called, ironically,  “Thin Thighs Guaranteed” and “Great Buns Guaranteed”.  Beachbody shot a short commercial  to sell the program, and thankfully it sold very well.  So well, in fact, that Carl approached me to develop my own program, “Slim in 6”, which has now been selling for 12 years through my infomercials.  I was finally able to apply everything I had learned from all the mistakes I had made over the years and create a successful program that could truly help people shrink and get beautiful long lean muscles!

Looking back, I can’t believe how many blows it took to get me to where I am today.  Even through all that pain, I wouldn’t change a thing because it brought me here.  The biggest lesson I  learned from this experience, is that failure only exists if you stop trying.  I was able to not only learn from my own mistakes, but to develop a program that has helped hundreds of thousands of people lose weight, get fit and healthy, and gain control back over their lives!

Hopefully, my story can be an inspiration to all of those who have faced such obstacles and struggles in their lives.  I couldn’t be more grateful and feel blessed every single day.

So my advice to you is don’t give up.  Start Moving and be consistent with exercise and eating healthy.  You will not only transform your body and mind, but you will empower your life and be the best version of yourself inside and out!!

  • Adele Brezina

    I love this! Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been a Beachbody Coach for a year and a half. I started out with Slim in 6 (bad knees) and have gone from a wheelchair to being able to run! I recommend SI6 to most people, to start with, because it builds your strength and stamina, plus it strengthens your muscles to support joints and protect them from injury. You teach proper workout protocol and warn against overdoing it to cause damage to yourself. It truly gets people started right! You saved my life and have inspired me to help as many people as I can! Thank you:)

  • Stefanie

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Debbie. My problem area has always been my abs. I don’t gain weight in my legs but always have had weight in my stomach. I am hoping with consistency I can lose the extra weight. It helps to know that I am not alone in this journey. 🙂

  • Vrinda Rajkumar

    Cutting out refined and processed grains is a good thing because it is healthy, and kudos to this blog for encouraging people to do that. Promoting slender thighs as the only appropriate look for a woman is ridiculous. I find muscles beautiful. If you are healthy and fit, you can be lovely at various shapes from muscular to slender. Strength in a woman is a great look – as great as those who can look willowy without over-striving for it. It is a shame that trainers think they need to conform to a specific look and will agree to train women to fight genetics. Training with heavy resistance has so many benefits beyond aesthetics.

    If Steven Spielberg really said that, he is a douche bag.

  • Hi Adele! Wow…thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. I am sure you are motivating and inspiring people every day. I really appreciate your kind words and for making my day!!

  • Hi Vrinda! I also find muscles beautiful. Slim in 6 is just a program that helps to shrink and get leaner. Everyone has different body types and different goals. Thankfully, there are exercise routines for everyone! Thanks so much for sharing:)

  • Hi Stephanie! We all have our problem areas, but you are right…by being consistent with your exercise and eating healthy small meals throughout the day, you absolutely can achieve your goals:)

  • Carol Decker

    I’ve gone right off Mr Spiellberg how rude!!!!!

  • Kate

    Debbie, you are such an inspiration to me and have been since I first started with Slim in 6, almost 8 years ago. For me, nothing works like your workouts do. The thing I like about you, besides your amazing workouts, is your great personality too. Although being a celebrity trainer you are such a genuine woman who cares about each and every person, famous or not. You are so thoughtful and so very kind. You have always taken the time to respond to me. I love all your workouts. Thank you very much for helping me believe, I don’t have to live with big thighs either! You are amazing lady! So.Keep.going!!

  • Catherine Arend

    Love slim in 6 routines. Can’t do everything yet but will soon. My knees are getting stronger and the pain is going. Thanks and best wishes to Debbie
    Catherine xx

  • Shelley Stevenson Frazier

    I am glad you created your Slim Series. I joined the beachbody challenge in January, I use the Shape it Up work out (I was previously doing circuit training with no warm up or stretching after, lots of lower back and neck stiffness). I like Shape it Up because it works my entire body, gets my heart rate up, uses weights and gets into the fat burning mode. I’ve never followed the meal plans with any workout I’ve started before, usually ended up gaining weight. This time I followed the 21 day fix containers with your routines at least 3 – 5 times a week with 2 – 3 of them the Shape it up workout. I started with no weights and couldn’t make it through the entire routine. I can make it through it all now but it still BURNS ( love it). From January 2nd to February 5th I lost 11 pounds and over 19 inches. Three inches in each thigh! I feel great and I am continuing with the Shape it Up but was wondering how many days should I recover between these total body work outs. I was starting to feel run down and thought I might not be giving my muscles enough time to recover.