Hey, how can I get into Janet Jackson shape?

You have to hand it to Janet Jackson: She is looking amazing on the cover of Essence Magazine.  She looks exceptional for any age, but especially now, at 52.

It's also worth noting that she gave birth to her first child at the age of 50, and in published reports, she confessed, "I've put on quite a bit of weight."

Fast forward, the mega superstar has shed a reported 80 pounds, and just in time for her extended State of the World Tour.  If I sound like a fan, that's because I am.

Recently, while I was chewing the fat with some of my girlfriends, Janet became the topic of conversation. All agreed that Janet is in stellar form, and many wanted to know just how she was able to achieve such amazing results.

Always the voice of reason, I cautioned my friends to not hold themselves to these unrealistic celebrity standards.  Unfortunately, I had to tell my friends that even with regular exercise, most women will never have enough time, let alone the willpower, to make themselves exercise long, hard, and frequently enough to achieve Jacksonian results.

I explained that it takes an enormous amount of self-discipline and exercise, and a meticulous diet to pull this off.  Also, lest we forget, looking good (notice I didn't say being healthy and fit) is Janet's bona fide occupational qualification (aka BFOQ). Looking good is largely what celebrities are paid to do. They get big bucks for many reasons, but chief among them is to peddle products and influence. Nothing sells like celebrity.

And, let's be realistic, Janet is not just rich, she is massively wealthy! She has access to the best state-of-the-art gyms, personal trainers, personal chefs, and nutritional consultants. Do you? She also has housekeepers, personal assistants, and nannies, which also give her the time and freedom to focus, laser-like, on her goals.

What could you do if you were focused like a laser?

Motivation and money aside, do you have professional makeup artists and professional lighting for magazine shoots and shows? Probably not.

But aside from all of my convincing arguments, one of my friends still insisted that there had to be something more she could do to reach somewhat similar goals. I told her she could try, with a heap of determination and clearance from her doctor.

Here is the modified plan I recommended:

Get your first workout in before breakfast and before you go to work. Get up at 5 a.m., and get to the gym for your first cardio session, or walk outdoors for an hour.

If your schedule allows, do 30 to 45 minutes of weight training after your cardio.  Ideally, you'll want to get in three to four days of strength training a week. If time is a factor in the morning, you may need to squeeze in a lunchtime strength-training session.

After a few weeks, add in a second 45 minutes to an hour of cardio in the evening. Again, you can walk outdoors, or do a cardio session at the gym on a stationary bike, treadmill, or stairclimber.

Without a doubt, the diet is the most challenging part of the body shaping routine. Forget about dining out, because you'll need to prepare and carry every single meal with you. Invest in a nice cooler/lunch bag, plenty of plastic containers, and a canteen for the gallon of water you'll need to carry and consume daily.

As for the content of your meals, you'll primarily be eating four to six mini-meals composed of a protein and a vegetable. If your goal is to get a six-pack, carbohydrates are very limited on your menu. When consuming carbohydrates, have them early in the day. For example, you might have a half-cup of oatmeal with your breakfast. Serious competitors don't even eat fruit when they are shooting for a six-pack.

So, you see, getting into celebrity shape is like a full-time job.

Undoubtedly, Janet is an inspiration, and for sure, Ms. Jackson is back into fighting shape and fully in control.