Lauren Graham sure knows how to tackle a challenge in style and the 5 week "Train like an athlete" program she embarked on for the October 2011 SELF cover is a prime example of this fact. Learn more about her experience next.

Well known 'Parenthood' actress Lauren Graham has always been a fit celebrity and she doesn't plan on lowering the bar any time soon. In fact, she does everything she can to maintain or even raise it. The latest example is a self-imposed challenge to train like an athlete for 5 weeks straight and to document her experience every step of the way: “When SELF invited me to be on the cover, I told the editors I wanted to try training like an athlete. Good news: They loved the idea and said they had the perfect trainer for me. Bad news: I had only five weeks until the cover shoot, during which I’d be traveling a lot. I panicked."

“ I'd wanted a fitness challenge. I've always been athletic, but I was in a slump. I'd been Spinning, running and hiking, but that didn't seem to be having a big impact on my body or fitness level. I felt as if my efforts were all for nothing and maybe shoe shopping with my sister Shade would be a better use of time.”

The perfect trainer for Lauren? Michelle Lovitt. 'I've learned a lot from trainers over the years, but mainly that you need discipline to stay in the gym and out of the many fine cupcake emporiums on every corner. So I wasn't expecting anything revolutionary. I was in for a surprise. Michelle Lovitt is inspiringly fit and educated in how the body responds to exercise. A few sessions with her and I started using words like glycogen. (Don't get me started on fast-twitch muscles. I'm saving that for Letterman!)."

Lauren Graham Trains for SELF October 2011 Issue Lauren Graham Trains for SELF October 2011 Issue

Among the lessons the trainer endorsed is the use of a heart monitor: 'Michelle taught me to use a heart-rate monitor to be sure I'm exercising in my fat-burning range. My goal is to burn 3,500 calories a week, which equals 1 pound of body fat. She claims I'll notice a difference in five weeks”, Lauren remembers.

The actress immediately saw that training like an athlete meant working twice as long for better results: 'Sessions with Michelle aren't necessarily harder than my old workouts, but at 90 minutes, they're twice as long. With one eye on the monitor so I stay between 125 and 155 beats per minute, I'm running intervals or walking on an incline on the treadmill (from 4 to 7 miles), or hiking (6 miles). My muscles are sore. My feet hurt. And my stomach seems to be flattening!'

During the second week, the star revealed one of her biggest weaknesses when it comes to healthy eating along with the part self respect plays in making right choices: 'I'm in New York City to visit my sister. Unfortunately, my dear friends Bagel and Cream Cheese live here, too. So I train with a friend of Michelle's, Kacy Duke, who tells me to get in touch with my Inner Diva Warrior. What? Isn't a diva a singer who throws things at assistants? I think she means to tell yourself you're worth it. Try it. You'll feel dumb, but you won't be sorry. '

Lauren Graham Trains for SELF October 2011 Issue

As the challenge goes on, Lauren tries to fix the bad habit of not drinking enough water: 'I travel to Minnesota, then D.C., to see family. It's so humid that running is a water sport. I now go longer and burn more calories. But I feel puffy. I call Michelle. "You're in insane heat. Drink more water," she says. "I only like water when it tastes like a margarita," I whine. Apparently, dehydration can sometimes lead to bloating, so drinking helps. I try flavored waters."

At the end of the challenge, the star feels extremely satisfied with her progress: 'Back in L.A. with Michelle, who says, "You're melting like an ice cube" when she sees me. So gratifying! I was stronger and had seen, during my vacation, that I could stick to my new regimen on my own.' Lesson learned? The feeling one gets from achieving the desired outcomes is priceless: 'I was leaner, which made posing in only a men's shirt seem like a grand idea. Hopefully, there are loved ones whose opinions you treasure, but in the end, there is no substitute for something you did for yourself that makes you proud. I think that's what getting in touch with your Inner Diva Warrior really means. '

Source: SELF Magazine