"I didn’t start working out to get skinnier—I started working out to feel better. And I think it’s important for women to know that."
Rita Ora, 26, is on a mission. Well, four of them, actually. There’s her highly anticipated new album, out this summer, which she’s been working on nonstop—the first single just dropped. And then there’s her hosting gig on America’s Next Top Model, which saw its ratings skyrocket for Rita’s premiere. She also has her blossoming movie career, with 50 Shades Darker this past winter and the upcoming Wonderwell, with the late Carrie Fisher. And finally, there’s her job as a designer, which has included 15 collections with Adidas over the last several years (like this pop art-inspired collab) and now has Rita planning her very own line.
Good thing she’s got a whole new workout and eating routine to help her plow through it all. In January, Rita started seeing a doctor for weekly blood tests; based on those results—and other factors, like how much sleep she’s getting and traveling she’s doing—he recommends what she should eat. Rita also now goes to the gym every day, whether she’s home in London or on the road. “I have so much more energy, and I really feel better on this plan,” says Rita over a breakfast of two hard-boiled eggs. (Shape can attest that she takes her new eating style seriously: When the restaurant didn’t have the side of asparagus she requested, it gave her potatoes instead. Rita, with ironclad willpower, pushed them aside and didn’t give them another glance.)
For her, discipline is key. “I’ve been the girl on tour who eats when she can and goes along when the band wants to go out all the time. But you just can’t keep that up. You start thinking, ‘I miss feeling good!’ ”Rita explains. “This past year, I’ve really been on my game by eating right and going to the gym. As a result, I’m focused now, and I get a lot more done.”
Listen in as Rita reveals her six rules for achieving success on your own terms.
Find your workout rhythm.
“I do circuit training. I usually work out for one or two hours, depending on how much time I have. I do three circuits and repeat that three times. I mostly focus on my thighs and my bum, so I do a lot of squats and weight lifting. And I do one circuit of cardio. What I’ve learned is that you can take your time with training. You don’t have to beat yourself up as long as you get in the workouts that you need. I used to push myself until I felt sick. But I’m approaching it differently now. I enjoy working out. And I like the aftermath—that feeling of contentment.”
Give yourself some fitspo when you need it.
“Sometimes it’s hard. I don’t just wake up and run to the gym. When I need to motivate myself to work out, I look at pictures of women like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Beckinsale. They look incredible! If they can look like that, I have no excuse.” (Here, Kate Beckinsale shares the hardcore workout plan she credits for her bod.)
It’s about being strong, not skinny.
“I’m not going to lie and say I was completely happy with my body before. I knew I could change a few things to improve my stamina, especially onstage. I didn’t start working out to get skinnier—I started working out to feel better. And I think it’s important for women to know that. Don’t be obsessed with being thin. You just have to be fit, healthy, and strong."
"I love my shape because it’s curvy. I have thighs. I’m a size 28 in jeans. And that’s an average, normal size. I’m proud that I’m normal."
Eat the food that’s right for your body.
With the plan I’m on, you can eat quite a bit as long as you exercise. In the morning, I have two boiled eggs, asparagus, and half a cup of muesli with almond milk. For lunch, I have chicken or fish with vegetables, and for dinner, I have six to eight ounces of fish with vegetables and half a potato. Plus snacks. I don’t eat bread or sugar. But I’m not starving myself. I used to be like, ‘I’m not eating!’ Eating isn’t the problem, though. It’s about what your body needs, and everyone’s body is different.
But indulge a little too.
“I’m such a sucker for cheese and wine. I was just shooting a movie in Italy, and the pastas, the cheeses, the wine—ooh! Obviously I had to have all that good stuff. Now I indulge once a week. But I don’t go crazy.”
Don’t be afraid to take risks.
“Of everything I’ve accomplished, I’m proudest of my new album. It’s going to shock people. I think it’ll be like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know she had those emotions.’ Because I don’t think they really know me....They see pictures of me, they watch me on TV, but I try to keep my personal life as private as possible, and I don’t post pictures of who I’m seeing. On this album, though, I say things I think people have been wanting to know. But it’s done in a moving-forward way. It’s a positive, uplifting album.”
For more from Rita, pick up the May issue of Shape, on newsstands April 18.