The trainer explains her anti-inflammatory eating plan in her book The Power Plate Diet

By Stephanie Emma Pfeffer
January 06, 2021 12:25 PM
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Courtesy Erin Oprea
| Credit: Courtesy Erin Oprea

Erin Oprea is using the global crisis to double down on her healthy habits.

"There's no better time to think about your health than when we're in a pandemic," the celebrity trainer tells PEOPLE. "Your health is the greatest wealth that you have. It could be taken away from us at any second."

Oprea, who trains singers Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini, says that she takes care of herself by hydrating, eating clean and limiting inflammatory foods. Red meat, fried foods and processed sugars can trigger an inflammatory reaction in the body and, in the long-term, may contribute to cancer and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

"Nutrition matters more than anything," says Oprea, who is a member of PEOPLE's Health Squad. "Think about your car: If you put crappy gas in it, it will run, but it will get sluggish and eventually break down. Same with your body if you fill it with junk and sugar."

In her new book, The Power Plate Diet, she explains how to reduce consumption of inflammatory foods, which can also cause weight gain. "Every time you eat, you are choosing to either fight or fuel inflammation right down to the level of your fat cells," she says. "By combining lean proteins, omega-3 fats, healthy carbs, and antioxidant-rich veggies, these power plates will help get your body geared for fat-burning and easier weight loss."

Credit: Penguin Random House

The Power Plate Diet includes a four-week meal plan and more than 60 anti-inflammatory recipes, plus strategies that Oprea uses to feel good. "I hydrate, I don't eat a ton of sodium and I avoid starches at night," she says, adding that her go-to energy boost is a shot of beet juice.

"Eating anti inflammatory doesn't have to be boring and bland," she says. "Do I go out and have pizza? Yes. One bad meal is not going to kill me. The next day, I get back on track. It's when that one bad meal turns into the next day and the next day, and then your body is full of inflammation."

Adding that strict diets often lead to failure — "eat healthy but don't obsess, or you will give up" — Oprea emphasizes that any nutritional eating plan should be accompanied by physical activity.

Especially during the pandemic when motivation is lacking, "you have to drop the excuses to find the results," she says. "You could jump rope or do a booty workout or squats. You can run your stairs in your house. Squat jump your stairs. Do jumping jacks. There's 5 million exercises where you need nothing but your body weight and a positive attitude."

And let go idea of carving out 60 minutes to yourself. "That is the craziest myth. It's an impossible task for most of America!" Instead, she suggests, do a quick tabata: 4 minutes of 20-second bursts of exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. "It's going to instantly give you more energy, the endorphins of feeling better, that happy vibe."

And while she knows it's hard for people to prioritize their health during lockdown, maintaining good habits can lead to a better 2021.

"The bottom line is, you're worth it. If you take care of yourself first, everything else will fall into place."