Fauxprah Gets Fitter

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Chef Sean Butler

Meet Fo’s personal trainer and chef.

By Cherri Ellis


Since I declared that I was living for 40 days as Fauxprah (Oprah without the $3 billion), my life has been dramatically different. I have people. Today, I will tell you about two of them who are near and dear to my heart and some other key body parts: my personal chef and my personal trainer. O may have cookbook author Rosie Daley and fitness expert Bob Greene, but I have Sean Butler from Catering By Bellinis and Ashley Knight, local trainer to the stars. 

I would love to tell you that I miss the creative expression and loving preparation of meals for my family, but that would be wildly untrue. Not cooking rocks. Every day I am given a perfectly delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner in pre-portioned microwaveable, recyclable containers. They are made with whole, unprocessed foods that are bursting with flavor and require no additional salt or pepper. I do not even have to go get it, because my husband has agreed to be Stedman and he picks it up for me. (You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve told him Stedman handles. He has never watched Oprah and doesn’t know any better. It’s awesome.)

Chef Sean Butler of Catering By Bellinis is a crazy fast multitasker. Last time I talked with him in his commercial kitchen on Highway 280, our conversation was just one of the five things he was doing. The space is gleaming and bustling and filled with food being made from scratch. Sean is Austrian and Irish, and from the age of 4 at the hem of his grandmother’s apron, he knew that he wanted to be a chef. This is a man who is passionate about food. He told me excitedly that he gets his lettuce from a local provider named Southern Organics, and it is grown over tanks of tilapia. I have no idea how that even works, but apparently it creates micro-greens of a joy-inducing quality. He runs the kitchen with a team of eight, and they are all seasoned pros. While there are other options available, I chose the 1,200 paleo gluten-free calories a day. Fauxprah needed to lean out a little.

All the white stuff is gone: bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, dairy…buh-bye. My meals are arranged by Healthy Meals expert Joshua, who I am sure by now wishes he had never given me his cell number. When I questioned why I couldn’t put half and half in my coffee, he told me I really shouldn’t have coffee or alcohol—period. “I have a job!” I responded, as if that made both the stimulant and depressant necessary. He suggested I skip coffee and instead drink a glass of unfiltered apple juice in the morning. I did not consider his suggestion, but I have been drinking my coffee black, which I think of as prison coffee. I choke it down in the morning, feeling the whole time like I might get shanked. Joshua and I have become digital buddies, and I text him random things like, “I want to marry whoever made this coffee cake.” Yes—my diet has included moist and dense baked goods made out of flours other than wheat.

As for the alcohol, I was told I could have a little bit of red wine every once a while. How fun is that? The answer is none. There is exactly zero amount of fun in an occasional, single, small glass of red wine. I think that Oprah would agree that you need to feel connected to your ancestors, and I do. I clearly came from the tribe that figured out how to ferment berries and store them for special occasions. These were my people. And I bring them honor.

Trainer Ashley Knight is 29 years old, has given birth to two beautiful babies in two years, and is physically fit to the point that you would think she’d been photoshopped if you weren’t looking at her with your actual eyeballs. She is country music singer Sara Evans’s friend and trainer, which practically makes me Sara’s BFF.  I am expecting my invitation for drinks on Sara’s tour bus any day now.

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Ashley Knight

Ashley basically made exercise work for my life. The time that became available due to after-dinner sobriety made evening workouts possible, and she custom-designed a series of intense exercises that I could do on my own. She is crazy good at what she does, mixing it up with hand weights, an exercise ball, a BOSU ball, and a medicine ball. She would teach me the exercises, then write them down in my notebook, making me name them myself so that I would remember what was meant by three sets of 15 Total Body Hells. Her demeanor is pleasant and her training style is gently relentless. She held me accountable and made me text her when I was finished working out, which many days was the only reason I made myself do it. One night, after a very long day at work, she texted me to ask which workout I was doing. I shot back, “I am doing my ‘Lay on the bed in my robe and bitch’ exercises. I have 1,000 reps to go.” My phone rang immediately, and I was doing sit-ups soon after. Ashley may be encouraging, but she doesn’t take a lot of crap.

When Oprah is ready to take off a few, she doesn’t go it alone, and neither did I.  In 40 days, the combined efforts of these two have changed the way I look and feel. I have not shopped for, prepared, nor cleaned up a single bite of food for myself. I have not been hungry or unbearably sore, which is almost a miracle. I have lost 13 pounds and can do backward burpees over a BOSU ball like a boss. Right now, I am wearing a pair of jeans that six weeks ago you couldn’t have gotten me into with a jar of Vaseline and a team of Clydesdales. That’s not quite a new car giveaway, but it most definitely made my list of Fauxprah’s Favorite Things.

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