Fitbie's Pop Culture Year in Review

Some stars raced triathlons, performed their own stunts, and got into the best shape of their lives. Others endorsed dangerous diets and fibbed about fitness feats. Here, we recap the best and worst celebrity diet and fitness moments of 2012

December 7, 2012
Jennifer Lawrence
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Best: Jennifer Lawrence performs her own stunts in “The Hunger Games”

When the forest caught fire during "The Hunger Games," that wasn't CGI--and it wasn't a stunt double sprinting away from the flames, either. The super-athletic Jennifer Lawrence completed many of her own scenes, from hand-to-hand combat to climbing trees and shooting a bow-and-arrow. 

Related: See how other celebs get into blockbuster-worthy shape

Michael Phelps
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Best: Michael Phelps retires on top

We knew Phelps had the talent to end his career with a bang, but we didn't know how exciting it would be to watch him claim his 22nd medal and become the most decorated Olympian in history. If that wasn't enough, the fish-out-of-water was also named the Fittest Man of All Time by Men's Health magazine.

In the Pool with Michael Phelps

Ellen Degeneres and Michelle Obama
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Best: Michelle Obama and Ellen Degeneres compete in a push-up Contest

When the First Lady appeared on Ellen, she revealed that she wakes up as early as 4:30 every morning to exercise for an hour and a half. Degeneres then challenged Obama to put her famous smokin' guns to use in the form of a push-up contest. FLOTUS banged out 25 without breaking a sweat--and Ellen completed a totally respectable 20 herself. 

Fitness Secrets from Michelle Obama's Trainer

Paula Deen
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Best: Paula Deen fights type 2 diabetes

"Rich" is an understatement for Deen's fried, butter-laced cuisine, but after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the Food Network chef hopped on the fast track to health. She has since trimmed her diet, dropped pounds, and enjoys her Southern favorites in moderation.  

Cure Diabetes With Your Diet

Christina Hendricks
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Best: Christina Hendricks says, “Don’t call me full figured”

Christina Hendricks taught one Australian reporter to be more careful with her words. When the interviewer referred to Hendricks as full-figured, it prompted an icy response from the Mad Men star, who then rolled her eyes and refused to respond to the question. We give her props for showing the world that beauty--and health--comes in all shapes and sizes.

The Lazy Girl's Guide to a Flat Belly

Nautica Malibu Triathlon
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Best: Stars raise money for charity at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon

Each year, celebrities compete for charity this Olympic-distance triathlon in Southern California. In 2012, famous faces included James Marsden, Jon Cryer, Rainn Wilson, Max Greenfield, Allison Sweeney, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ellie Kemper, Ali Landry, Claire Holt, and Geoff Stults. They raised close to $1.7 million for the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

Build Your Own Triathlon

Jeremy and Conda Britt
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Best: Jeremy and Conda Britt lose 314 pounds on “The Biggest Loser”

This brother-sister duo entered the Biggest Loser Ranch with a combined weight of 683 pounds. Today, they're almost unrecognizable. Conda, 24, dropped 115 pounds and placed third in the competition, while 23-year-old Jeremy lost 199 pounds and took home the $250,000 grand prize.

Biggest Loser Before and After Photos

Charles Barkley
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Best/Worst: Charles Barkley drops pounds on Weight Watchers

When Charles Barkley signed on as a Weight Watchers spokesperson in 2011, he clocked in at close to 350 pounds. To date, the retired NBA star has dropped over 60 pounds and says he's feeling (and looking) the best he has in years. But depending who you ask, his commercials for the "Lose Like a Man" campaign have been either hilarious or appalling. We love the "Roll Call" ad, where Sir Charles reveals one unexpected benefit of losing weight. But the spot where he's dressed in drag? Well...maybe not.

Related: The NBA Diet

Kevin James
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Worst: Kevin James gains back all the weight he'd lost

For his role in "Here Comes the Boom," Kevin James had to go from doughy comedian to ripped MMA fighter. The "King of Queens" alum worked with an MMA pro to pack on the muscle, melt fat, and gain the stamina he'd need to play the role. In all, he dropped 80 pounds for the role and looked healthier than ever. But the James that showed up on the red carpet for the film's premier looks nothing like the guy in the movie. "We shot the movie about a year and a half ago and a couple of things happened between then and now," he told David Letterman on '"The Late Show." "Like I had no idea that they sell peanut butter and jelly in the same jar! It's a life changer. Also, Wendy's came out with the Baconator." We feel for James--a 2011 study found that 90 percent of people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. But yo-yo dieting has been shown to mess with the metabolism, and rapid weight gain also puts strain on the bones, heart, and nervous system.

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Worst: The Kardashians continue to shill for weight loss pills

The Kardashian sisters have been paid spokeswomen for QuickTrim since 2010, and early this year, they experienced major backlash for it in the form of a $5 million class-action lawsuit. Plaintiffs allege the products don't work and are potentially dangerous. Yet, the sisters continued to promote QuickTrim. In October, Kim wrote on Twitter, "Since I started QuickTrim again a few weeks ago, I'm down 6 lbs!!!" We wish she'd try to tone up the healthy way: by eating less and exercising more. Click here for healthy get fit tips.

Ryan Lochte grill biting medal
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Worst: Ryan Lochte overload

Ryan Lochte was his own biggest fan going into the London Olympics. On the Today Show, the swimmer told Matt Lauer that these would be the Olympics where "Ryan Lochte takes over." Not quite--not even close, really. Though his five medals are certainly nothing to sneeze at, we wish he'd take his ego down a few notches. Nobody needs "jeah" sunglasses.

Sarah Palin
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Worst: Sarah Palin to write a fitness book

It's no secret that Sarah Palin is an avid runner--she was even featured in Runner's World magazine in 2009. But is she qualified to dispense diet and exercise advice? In an email to People magazine, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate wrote, "Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods!" We're not sure what to expect from this how-to, but we're prepping a spot for it on next year's best-and-worst list.

Paul Ryan
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Worst: Paul Ryan flubs marathon time

When the former vice presidential candidate and lover of P90X said he ran a sub-three-hour marathon, runners everywhere raised their eyebrows. It only took a little digging to figure out that his "two-hour and fifty something" race was a more modest four-hour finish.

Honey Boo Boo
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Worst: Honey Boo Boo introduces the world to “sketti”

TLC's hit show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" revealed a family favorite recipe that made us gag. Not to be confused with traditional spaghetti, "sketti" is created when margarine and ketchup are melted, mixed, and poured over noodles. Clocking in at a whopping 670 calories, 36 g of fat, and 1,733 mg of sodium per serving, it's a heart attack waiting to happen.

Matthew McConaughey
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Worst: Matthew McConaughey starves himself for a new role

When you picture Matthew McConaughey, chances are he's not wearing a shirt. We don't blame him for wanting to show off his chiseled pecs and bulging biceps. But in October, photos surfaced that showed the actor looking downright gaunt. To prepare for his role as a sickly HIV patient in "The Dallas Buyer's Club," the 42-year-old has been starving himself and now looks like a shell of his formerly fit and healthy self.  We wish stars would stop going to unhealthy extremes to change their bodies for their movie roles.