Do you want to lose 10, 30, 50 or more pounds? Have you recently reached your weight loss goal but want to maintain it? Are you willing to dedicate yourself to a healthy lifestyle? Then this blog is for you!

I have lost 118 pounds and have maintained the weight loss for two years. One of the things I have learned during the weight loss process is that it is much easier to reach and maintain your goal weight if you surround yourself with like-minded individuals to support you in the process (whether they be in person or online).

I also have learned that learning as much as possible about healthy living gives you the knowledge and expertise needed to lose weight the “right” way. So this blog includes regular posts, a book list, website list, TV list, video list and book and website of the month. In addition, there is a recipe of the month and product review section. Visitors to Weight Loss Aficionado can just enjoy the site for informational purposes or can comment on posts, ask questions, share resources, their triumphs and pitfalls during the weight loss process.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

23 Ways to Push Through a Tough Workout Article by Kelly Fitzpatrick

I visited the website and found the fitness article below. I especially enjoyed it because I use many of the strategies it mentions already. It's nice to see others use the same strategies! But, I also found a few I do not use, so I plan to try them out!

23 Ways to Push Through a Tough Workout Article by Kelly Fitzpatrick

If exercise were easy, everyone would do it. But in fact, only 60 percent of Americans exercise regularly— and that includes walks and other leisure activities. But there are ways to push through the invisible wall and squeeze every last drop out of a workout. Read on for tricks and tips, no matter the mindset (buff bodybuilders and yoga girls alike!).

You Can DO It — Your Action Plan
1. Repeat after me. From the Little Engine’s “I think I can, I think I can,” to a basic “Ommmmmm,” mantras can be the necessary motivation to keep on truckin’.
2. Change pace. Circuit training, a killer combination of cardio and strength training, can help break the monotony of a long workout. Run five minutes, then drop and do some push-ups. Wash, rinse, repeat.
3. Picture this. Visualize cheering fans or crossing the finish line to bang out one more set or lap. Or just go mental: Imagine this workout is the equivalent of the Olympic trials (no big deal).
4. Work with a pro. Get on board with a personal trainer who will play the drill sergeant or the kind, motivational type (your choice!). Still want to slack when shelling out all that cash?
5. Break it down. Set mini-goals when the going gets tough. This isn’t a three-mile run— just six measly half-mile runs.
6. Look the part. Swing those arms and keep the eyes dead ahead when running. Shuffling those feet will naturally slow the pace (duh).
7. Get rewarded. Whether it’s a slow cool down after sprints or enjoying a superfood smoothie, dangle a metaphorical carrot on a stick when the pain starts to strike (isn’t victory sweet?).
8. Gather feedback. Monitor heart rate, pace, and exercise intensity to both distract yourself and serve as a reminder of just how far you’ve come.
9. Grab a pal. Work out with a fit pal who will hold you to a higher standard. Stuck going solo today? Imagine they’re still there. After all, who wants to wuss out in front of an audience?
10. Have a purpose. Running in circles with no goal in sight? There’s nothing motivating about that. Having something to run for (think, fitting into those skinny jeans or lowering blood pressure) can be a necessary kick in the butt.
11. Perform. The guy across the weight room is definitely jealous. Put on a show, focusing on excellent form and making those lifts look easy as pie— you might start to believe it yourself.
12. Get distracted. Reading on the treadmill might not improve pace, but if it keeps those legs moving, it’s OK by us. Choose something inspiring for a little extra push (we can’t get enough of Born to Run).
13. Savor the pain. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” the saying goes. Pain is also proof that this workout is tough. Clearly you’re doing something right, so why stop now? (Just know when pain is signaling something more serious.)
14. Hone in. When strength training, focus on the specific muscle targeted by each exercise. This can help maintain proper form, and remember, each lift will bring you one rep closer to that goal.
15. Put it in the bank. Think of time in the gym as deposits into the fitness bank. After saving up, cash out on a special treat (like new kicks or workout gear).
16. Build a resume. Is the promise of a better butt not enough? How about knowing those plyometrics will help kill it on the court? Instead of thinking of this as a workout, consider it a training session— gathering the skills to become a better athlete, parent, lover, you name it.
17. Who’s really getting cheated? Sure, no one else would know about skipping out on the last Chatarunga. But only one person loses in that situation (hint: it’s not the super-ripped chick sweating it out on the next mat).
18. Get real. If the gym just doesn’t cut it, make like Jack and hit the road. Head out for an outdoor run and actually go somewhere, or work on functional fitness in real-life situations.
19. Say “ahhh.” Imagining the post-workout pain is hardly motivational. Instead, get into a sore-muscle-relief routine. Knowing those thighs have foam rolling in their future could keep ‘em pedaling just a little further.
20. Tune in. Use music to zone out during the tough spots. Fast, heart-pumping tunes have been shown to bring cardio to the next level .
21. Count it out. When counting reps up from one, it’s more natural to push out one or two extra. On the other hand, some people push harder when it feels like a real countdown— try both to see what works best.
22. Compete. Whether comparing against the dude on the next treadmill over or your own time last training session, competition ups the ante and helps us forget about wanting to quit.
23. Remember the end. That post-workout high? Yeah, almost there. The struggle of that final set won’t last— and when the workout’s over, it’ll be replaced by a much better feeling: pride.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book Review: “Bring It! The Revolutionary Fitness Plan for All Levels That Burns Fat, Builds Muscle and Shreds Inches” by Tony Horton

I just finished reading the book "Bring It". It is written by the creator of P90X. If your ever up late night I'm sure you have seen the paid infomercials! The book is a quick read that assesses you and then gives you the guidance and information you need to stay physically fit. There are chapters on health and fitness, nourishment and supplements. 
Chapters 2 and 3 are assessments you can take. The second chapter “What’s Your Fitness I.Q. includes assessments to measure your fitness level and your fun factor. Once you take the fitness level quiz there is a workout designed for you. Chapter 3 “How Fit Are You” includes additional assessments including finding your:  resting heart rate, working heart rate, waist-to hip ratio, flexibility, strength and endurance.

I really enjoyed taking the assessments and consequently did extremely well on them. My fitness level is Warrior according to Tony Horton! It’s good to see that  going to the gym 2 ½ - 3 hours a day has paid off! 

The fitness section includes a step by step guide with cardio, Kenpo, yoga and strength training exercises. I am familiar with the majority of exercises in the book because I go to a variety of classes at the gym including kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, sculpt and tone and Zumba. This shows me that he has created an exercise plan that includes a vast variety of styles, sequences and moves. 

The recipe section has some interesting foods like Sticky Bars, Spinach and Fennel Salad, Quinoa Black Bean Salad w/ Dried Apricots and Yam Tempeh Stew. I can’t wait to make them! I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to rev up their exercise program or assess where they are physically!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Learn How to Cook Low Cal!

Eventually you will need to learn how to cook low calorie meals, even if you are currently on a prepackaged diet. You can’t eat prepackaged food forever! When I first started cooking low calorie I would use my current recipes but make substitutions that would lower the calories (i.e. Use PAM instead of regular cooking oil or use equal instead of sugar or volumize by adding lots of steamed vegetables to the meal I was cooking). 

Eventually I wanted to increase my repertoire of healthy recipes so I began to search for recipes on the web that were already healthy and did not need modifying. Below are the URL's for some of my favorite low calorie recipe sites.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Listen to CD’s that Support You During the Weight Loss Process!

Well, we all know the benefits of meditation! What about relaxing to words of diet wisdom while relaxing?  In the past few months I have read three books that have CD components: Think Yourself Thin by Darcy Buehler  Ph.D.,  Self Hypnosis Diet by Steven Gurgevich Ph.D, and I Can make You Thin by Paul McKenna.

Darcy Buehler’s  CD includes:
·         Rewiring Your Brain
·         The Precious Moment
·         Decision making
·         Die Young as Late In Life As Possible
·         Sugar Avoidance
·         Slowing the Pace of eating
·         Exercise
·         Change Your Focus

Steven Gurgevich’s CD includes:
·         An Introduction to Self Hypnosis
·         Clearing the Past
·         Release from Craving and Temptation
·         Rehearsal for healthy Eating and exercising
·         Create and Sustain Your Perfect Weight
·         Setting Intention

Paul McKenna's CD includes:
·         Craving Buster’s
·         Emotional eating
·         Exercise made easy
·         Program Your Mind and
·         Secrets of the Thin

I listen to a CD each evening before bed for about 10- 20 minutes. The CD's help me relax and keep my mind centered on my weight loss goals. So, try listening to a weight loss CD and see if it benefits you during the weight loss process!

*If you are interested in learning more about meditation the best book for beginners that I have read is “8 Minute Meditation: Quiet You Mind, Change your Life” by Victor Davich. The book  walks you through numerous meditative strategies, one each week. By the end of the book you feel ready to step it up (increase your meditation time and use the appropriate strategy when  warranted).

If you want to make meditation a family affair read, my favorite children’s book on meditation, "Peaceful Piggy Meditation" by Kerry LeeMacLean.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Do I Choose A Diet Program?

I personally have tried Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and Volumetrics. Volumetrics in my opinion is great to use with whatever diet you are on. It is common sense portion control! You can also use the calorie counting method of dieting which is what I used, but if you are new to dieting or have been unsuccessful with dieting in the past then, in my opinion,  an organized diet program is best for you.
  1.  The first thing you should do is your research. There were two recent studies done one by Consumer Reports and another by US News and World Report. I featured them both in past blogs. You can start there. You should also, of course, visit the websites of any diets that sound interesting to you and get more information. In addition speak to friends and colleagues and see what diets have worked for them.
  2.   Second, keep in mind your lifestyle when choosing a diet. For example if you have a family at home Weight Watchers might be the right choice because you can cook the meals for your entire family. Whereas, if you are a single professional Jenny Craig might be the right choice for you because the meals are pre-packaged and taste great!
  3. Third, keep in the mind the type of support you need. Do you want to meet new people and share your successes and difficulties or would you prefer to meet one on one with a counselor for individualized support. If you want the “fellowship” Weight Watchers might be the right choice for you because after you weigh in you sit down with a group of individuals led by a diet counselor and have the opportunity to share and ask questions.  Whereas if you want one on one attention Jenny Craig might be the right choice for you because you get to sit down with a weight loss counselor one on one in her office for support and the weigh in.
  4. Lastly, keep your taste buds in mind. Your diet will be more successful if you enjoy the food! Jenny Craig meals taste great! It’s like gourmet pre-packaged dining. Whereas, with Weight Watchers you can cook your own food and there is the option of WW frozen meals which taste pretty good. Nutrisystem in my opinion needs to work on creating tastier food!
So do your research, think about your lifestyle, the support you need and your taste buds when choosing a diet plan. If you choose a diet and it doesn’t work for you then try another! But, once you start a diet program it is important that you follow it to the tee! You cannot make an educated decision as to whether it works for you if you don’t follow the plan properly!

Book Review: The Ultimate New York Diet by David Kirsh

I just finished reading the book, "The Ultimate New York Diet” by David Kirsh. The author is a celebrity fitness trainer who works with stars such as Heidi Klum and Ellen Barkin. The book includes an eating plan, supplement plan, fitness plan, walking plan, meal plan, recipes and information on how to eat out. There are some amazing recipes in the “Ultimate New York Recipe” section such as sesame chicken fingers, salmon cakes, cauliflower mushroom mash and power pancakes. 

His diet plan is low calorie, low carb, low fat and high protein. If you are following his plan you are consuming only 560- 1099 calories a day! He claims his diet plan will cause you to eat less- because you feel satisfied with fewer calories, will speed up your metabolism, will preserve muscle mass and help you burn fat rather than store it.  

Chapter 1 of the book includes “David’s Principles to Live By”. He recommends making the following 10 promises to yourself and that you revisit them often:
  1. I will take charge of my life. Today is the first day of the rest of my life
  2. I will be accountable. I will no longer be a victim of circumstances, my surrounding or others influences.
  3.  I believe in the importance and value of self- improvement.
  4. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Rather than allow myself to feel like a victim of bad circumstances, I will look beyond everyday challenges to figure out why they happen and how I can better control them.
  5.  I love and accept myself. Among everything else I rank myself first.
  6.  I will incorporate good living, healthy eating and spirituality into my everyday life. I’ll make it ritualistic like brushing my teeth. 
  7.   I am the captain of my own ship called destiny
  8. I make health and wellness my top priority
  9. Failure is not an option for me. If I set attainable goals and reasonable expectations, I will succeed.
  10.   I live in the present. I do not live with,” I should haves” or “I could haves”.
In the book he cites that studies published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the New England Journal of Medicine show that carb cutting generates twice as much weight loss within six months as fat cutting even when participants consume the same amount of calories. 

One of the most interesting tenets of the book, in my opinion, is that high protein diets generate more weight loss and preserve muscle mass. The reason he states high protein diets generate more weight loss is because protein burns more calories during the process of digestion (thermic effect of food). He states that researchers now know that your body burns 40 more calories per meal if it is high in protein rather than high in fat or carbs! During digestion,  he says, your body wastes just 2-3 percent of fat calories as heat, 6-8 percent of carb calories and a whopping 25- 30 percent of protein calories.

He also states that every pound of muscle that is lost results in 35- 49 fewer calories a day that the body burns for energy. He claims that numerous studies however show that increasing the amount of protein in the diet helps preserve muscle mass even when calorie intake is very low.

In addition to following his diet plan he also recommends taking supplements. He recommends ginseng as an energy booster and hoodia, 5-HTP and fiber (methylcellulose, guar gum, chromium) as appetite suppressants.

So if you’re looking for an interesting healthy living book to read this month, this may be the one for you!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Consumer Reports Named Jenny Craig the #1 Diet!

Jenny Craig lunch with a potato and side dishes
Tater and sides
This Jenny Craig lunch is loaded with vegetables.
Our latest diet Ratings update (available to subscribers) has produced a new winner: Jenny Craig, a commercial program that combines personal phone or in-person counseling with a portion-controlled regimen of premade foods supplemented with homemade side dishes. 

What gave it the edge over the other big names we assessed—stalwarts such as Atkins, Ornish, and Weight Watchers—was a 332-person, two-year study of the program published in the Oct. 27, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association. Ninety-two percent of participants stuck with the Jenny Craig program for two years—a remarkable level of adherence—and at the end of that time weighed an average of about 8 percent less than when they started.

When we last rated diets four years ago, the winner was the Volumetrics diet, based on eating high-bulk, low-calorie food. In a sense, it's still a winner: The Volumetrics brand is now part of Jenny Craig, which is why we're not rating it separately this time. As for taste, Jenny Craig's prepared food was decent, though not great, as we noted in "Diet taste-off" in our February 2011 issue.

So if you need to lose weight, should you immediately sign up for Jenny Craig? It's obviously worth considering, but if you don't like the idea of eating pre-packaged meals, it might not be for you.

The diet that works is the one you can stay on, says Kathleen Melanson, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island and director of its Energy Balance Laboratory. "If you're forcing yourself on a diet you hate, it's going to be really hard to stick with long-term," she says.
And these days, choices abound. You can follow the Ornish diet, a near-vegan plan with very little fat, or its diametric opposite, the Atkins diet, which allows almost two-thirds of your calories from fat. Or you can settle somewhere in between with the moderate regimens offered by Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. As you make your decision, bear in mind some basic realities about weight-loss diets.

Calories, with an asterisk

To lose weight, you have to burn up more calories than you take in, no matter what kind of diet you're on. "The first law of thermodynamics still applies," says Dean Ornish, M.D. But emerging evidence shows that some forms of calories are more filling than others. Protein is the most satiating nutrient, followed by high-fiber grains, fruits, and vegetables.

"We used to believe that it was the same if you ate 200 calories of a cream puff or 200 calories of a chicken breast," says Karen Miller-Kovach, R.D., chief scientific officer for Weight Watchers. "But people would ask, ‘Why do I feel hungry sooner after eating the cream puff?'?"

Diet creators are taking advantage of this new insight to tilt their menus toward foods that will enable you to shed pounds with the fewest hunger pangs. For instance, most of the diets we rate feature liberal amounts of fiber and/or fruits and vegetables.

In late 2010, Weight Watchers unveiled PointsPlus, a major revision of its venerable Points system of calorie-counting, to steer hungry dieters to the most filling foods. That chicken breast will use up only three points of your daily allowance, but the cream puff for dessert will cost you nine points.
(The company has completed clinical trials of the new diet, Miller-Kovach says, but the results haven't been published yet, so we couldn't incorporate them into our Weight Watchers Rating calculations.)

It's OK to go low-carb

The 2010 edition of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which we've used as the basis for the diets' nutrition Ratings (available to subscribers), still frowns on eating 10 percent or more of calories from saturated fat from meat and dairy products and more than 35 percent from fats overall. So the Atkins diet, which is 64 percent fat calories overall and 18 percent saturated fat, ends up with only a Fair nutrition score.

But there's more to the story. Evidence is accumulating that refined carbohydrates promote weight gain and type 2 diabetes through their effects on blood sugar and insulin. "If you have insulin resistance, your insulin may go up to 10 or 20 times normal in order to control your blood sugar after you eat sugar or carbs," says Eric C. Westman, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Duke University who co-wrote the newest version of the Atkins diet. "But the insulin also tells your body to make and store fat. When you restrict carbs, your insulin goes down and you can burn your body fat, so you eat fewer calories and aren't as hungry."

Isn't it dangerous to eat so much fat? That's still a subject of vigorous scientific debate, but it's clear that fat is not the all-round villain we've been taught it is. Several epidemiology studies have found that saturated fat doesn't seem to increase people's risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. Other studies suggest that you might be even better off if you replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat instead of with certain carbs, the ones that turn to blood sugar quickly after you eat them, such as white bread and potatoes.

A nutrition researcher, Frank B. Hu, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, recently wrote that he believes "refined carbohydrates are likely to cause even greater metabolic damage than saturated fat in a predominantly sedentary and overweight population."

Moreover, clinical studies have found that an Atkins or Atkins-like diet not only doesn't increase heart-disease risk factors but also actually reduces them as much as or more than low-fat, higher-carb diets that produce equivalent weight loss.
On the other hand, the Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which includes a low-fat diet along with exercise, stress management, and group support, has proven so effective that Medicare now covers it for cardiac patients.

While scientists sort this out, what's a low-carb dieter to do? Michael L. Dansinger, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University and a longtime weight-loss researcher, suggests this middle ground: "a low-ish carbohydrate diet that's high in vegetables and lean protein, including dairy; moderate in fruit; with nonsaturated fat from sources such as olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish."

Support matters

Our past reader surveys have found that the overwhelming majority of people who succeed at weight loss do it on their own. But don't discount the impact of a good emotional support system.

The Jenny Craig diet, for instance, includes weekly counseling sessions, and group support meetings are the foundation of the Weight Watchers plan. Dean Ornish's program has run support groups for decades to help people follow his rigorous program. "Most people think they're going to have the hardest time with that support group, and yet it's the secret sauce that makes the diet sustainable," he says. "We have people still meeting 25 years after our first study ended."

*Editor's note: We received some criticism for not having mentioned that over the course of the two-year study participants didn't have to pay for the prepackaged food that is the backbone of the Jenny Craig program, which may have improved adherence. Read our response to that criticism as well as our review of the study data, which again placed the Jenny Craig program on top of the Ratings.

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.

See If Overeaters Anonymous Is For You!

I went to several OA meetings during the first week of December to see what OA was all about. I also read numerous OA pamphlets and books. There are meetings throughout the US and different groups have different focuses (i.e. newcomer, literature study, OA steps), so there is a meeting for almost everyone’s needs. The meetings are especially good for the type of overeater who likes community and fellowship and enjoys sharing in groups. If you are not the type of individual that likes sharing in groups, like me, there are also online and telephone meetings available.  You can also read their literature which is phenomenal. When I read the book, The Twelve Steps and The Twelve Traditions of OA I was faced with the realization that the cause of being overweight or obese is not “willpower” but can be for many people addiction. 

Overeaters Anonymous has 12 steps that guide the program. The OA website states the following:

"The Twelve Steps are the heart of the OA recovery program. They offer a new way of life that enables the compulsive eater to live without the need for excess food.The ideas expressed in the Twelve Steps, which originated in Alcoholics Anonymous, reflect practical experience and application of spiritual insights recorded by thinkers throughout the ages. Their greatest importance lies in the fact that they work! They enable compulsive eaters and millions of other Twelve-Steppers to lead happy, productive lives. They represent the foundation upon which OA is built."

The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  
If this sounds interesting to you you can go to the Overeaters Anonymous website for more information.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Are You Addicted to Food?

I watched an episode of Dr. Oz this week on food addiction. The main question of the episode was,” is food addiction a real disease?” Dr. Oz stated 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese. He had Keri Gans, Dietician and Neal Bernard, Adjunct Professor on the panel.

Keri Gans, Registered Dietician said no, it’s not addictive. She said the cause of overeating is either a learned behavior or feelings. “How can you be addicted to something your body needs?”

Neal Bernard, MD, Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine, George Washington University, said yes food can be addictive. “The brain has opiates that are released when eating certain foods. Some also release dopamine. The same pleasure receptors in the brain are triggered when you eat salty, sweet, and fatty foods as when you take drugs. Certain foods can be as addictive as drugs and alcohol for some people.”

Dr. Oz gave a survey asking the following questions: 
  1. Do you think you are addicted to food? 63% said they may be addicted to food.
  2. Do you think people use the term food addict as an excuse?  48% said yes.
  3. Do you think food addiction is as bad as alcohol and drug addiction? 77% said yes.

Dr. Oz recommended taking the following food addiction quiz to see if you may be addicted to food:

  1. I spend a lot of time thinking about food although I’m not hungry.
  2. I get more pleasure from food than anything else.
  3. When I eat certain foods I eat more than I had planned
  4. I hide food in my car, home and workplace
  5. My relationship with food interferes with my life

Steps he gave to help viewers change their addictive food behaviors include:

  1.  Know your body’s cues and when you truly need to eat.
  2. Wean yourself slowly off addictive foods. Do not go cold turkey. This will increase your trigger points.
  3. Know your trigger time
  4. Know your trigger emotions

If you believe you are addicted to food I  recommend “Overeaters Anonymous”. They wholeheartedly believe there are those that are powerless over food and have a program to help you fight your food addiction. “Overeaters Anonymous is a Fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. They welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively (”

I went to several OA meetings during the first week of December to see what OA was all about. I also read numerous OA pamphlets and books. There are meetings throughout the US and different groups have different focuses (i.e. newcomer, literature study, OA steps), so there is a meeting for almost everyone’s needs. The meetings are especially good for the type of over eater who likes community, fellowship and enjoys sharing in groups. 

If you are not the type of individual that likes sitting in a circle and sharing your feelings, like me, there are also online and telephone meetings available.  You can also read their literature which is phenomenal. When I read the book, "The Twelve Steps and The Twelve Traditions of OA" I was faced with the realization that the cause of being overweight or obese is not “willpower” but can be for many people addiction. 

In closing, I believe that there are a multitude of reasons people overeat. Some overeat because of emotions, some overeat because of learned behaviors, some overeat because they love food and some overeat because they are addicted to food. When you begin your diet journey it is important that you figure out what your reason is. Once you know why you overeat you can move towards fixing the problem!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

U.S. News & World Report Best Diets Overall!

U.S. News evaluated and ranked the 25 diets below with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe, and effective for weight loss and against diabetes and heart disease. The government-endorsed Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) snagged the top spot. Rated 1-5 (5 being best)

4.1= Dash Diet
4.0= TLC Diet
3.9= May Clinic Diet, Mediterranian Diet, Weight Watchers
3.8= Volumetrics Diet
3.7= Jenny Craig Diet
3.6= Biggest Loser Diet, Ornish Diet
3.5= Vegetarian Diet
3.3= Slim Fast Diet
3.2= Flat Belly Diet, Nutrisystem Diet
3.0= Abs Diet, South Beach Diet, Vegan Diet
2.9= Eco-Atkins Diet, Glycemic Index Diet, Zone Diet
2.8= Macrobiotic Diet
2.7= Medifast Diet
2.3= Atkins, Raw Food Diet
2.0= Dukan Diet, Paleo Diet

*See the list with descriptions at

Don’t Mindlessly Snack!

One of the major issues I had when I began my diet was my late night snacking. I would come home from a long day’s work ravenous. I would then eat a late dinner and keep snacking while relaxing or watching TV until I went to bed. In addition, I would “get hungry” in the middle of the night and snack on my main “trigger” food, nuts. Nuts are healthy but are high in calories and need to be eaten in moderation. Then, because of all the food I ate in the evening and during the night I wouldn’t be hungry at breakfast time. And, there began the vicious cycle.

There are several things I do now to ensure I do not mindlessly snack:
  1.  I ensure I plan out my meals ahead of time. I put what I plan to eat during the day into my "myfitnesspal" tracker and stick to it. If I decide to change something  last minute, which is rare, I just adjust it in "myfitnesspal". The great thing is that the minute I put the item in the tracker it gives me subtotal of calories consumed. 
  2. I do not keep “trigger” foods in the house. Instead, if I am really craving something I go to the corner store or deli and buy a small “one portion” bag or container of the item. I’ve learned that if you are really craving something you should allow yourself to have it once in a while, but make sure that it is only one serving worth. Completely removing it from the foods you eat will cause you to eventually binge and you don’t want that!
  3.  I keep fruit and water on my night table. This way if I get up at night and am “really” hungry, which is now rare, I will eat something healthy and low cal.
  4.  I always eat at the table, especially when I eat my evening snack.This for some reason makes me think more about what I am putting in my mouth.
  5.  I eat slowly and enjoy every bite of what I’m eating. This gives my stomach more time to feel full.
  6.  I always ensure if the food leaves the kitchen it is only one serving worth (i.e.  I don’t bring the box of Wheat Thins to the coach. I take 16, 1 serving, out of the box, put it on a plate and bring it to the table).
  7. I eat 3 meals and three snacks every day (and limit my calorie intake to 1300). This keeps my metabolism up and ensures I am not ravenous in the evening.
These strategies have allowed me to stop snacking mindlessly. For more strategies on how to stop mindlessly snacking check out my blog “Stop Those Cravings” from January 18, 2012. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Share Your Successes No Matter How Small They Are!

Changing your relationship with food is hard work. When you work that hard to change something major in your life you need to make sure that you take time out to “pat yourself on the back” or better yet let someone else “pat you on the back”. Each time you reach a milestone mention it to a family member or friend and see what happens. You will be pleasantly surprised. 

When I started my diet I was annoyed some people didn’t notice each pound I lost. I think to myself now, I should of just let them know. The great thing about sharing small successes is that it is rare that someone won’t compliment you on it after you share it. Sometimes, you just need small words of praise to keep you moving! Sharing your hard work is gratifying!

Last Saturday when I went to the gym I bumped into one of the instructors on his way out and he had a few friends with him. His words to me, “ Hi skinny.” So of course, I say those magic words. “Yeah, I lost 65 pounds”. Everyone smiled and patted me on the back. One woman even gave me a hug!

The feelings one feels when their being complimented for “work well done” is unexplainable. It just feels damn good! It validates you and gives you the power to continue. So, if you are partaking in a weight loss journey, don’t forget to share each success no matter how small it is! You deserve the words of praise!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Surround Yourself with Positive Weight Loss Imagery!

It's important that you regularly 1) think about your weight loss goals and why you made them and 2) envision yourself at "your perfect weight". Two ways I do this is by displaying pictures and quotes.

I have pictures of myself when I was at "my perfect weight", pictures of bodies I persevere to have, and weight loss quotes in well-traveled areas throughout my home. Three key areas I house "weight loss" pictures and quotes is on my refrigerator, my full length mirror and the notebook I keep in my night stand. The refrigerator is key for me because I am reminded of my goals each time I go to get food. The mirror is key for me because I like to be reminded of my goals each time I look at myself. So, if you haven't done so already, add some positive weight loss imagery to your home! Feel free to use some of the quotes I've collected during my weight loss.They are listed on the side bar just above the "My Favorites" section of this site.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Diet on a Budget!

Healthy eating can get expensive but it doesn’t have to be. If you are on a budget there are three words you need to ingrain in your mind: sale, coupons and Costco.

Each week I look at multiple supermarket fliers and figure out what items will be purchased at which supermarkets. For example this week the Pathmark in my area has Weight Watchers Smart One meals for $2.00 each and fresh broccoli is 99 cents!!!  The local Fine Fare has La Yogurt on sale 10 for $3.99 and fresh 2 bunches of Cilantro are 99 cents!!! For items that are not fresh I purchase large quantities, usually a months worth. For items that spoil I buy as much as I can eat before the anticipated expiration date. So, it is important you know how long each fresh fruit and vegetable you buy lasts. 

You can get coupons online and in the circular section of the newspaper. Coupons can be helpful, but only cut coupons for items you regularly eat and/or you would like to try. Do not buy things just because you have coupons for them! Also, make sure you shop at stores that offer double coupon days. This doubles your savings!

Costco, what would I do without Costco. This is where I buy most of my food. You cannot beat the prices and since everything is large in size it limits the number of days each month I need to go food shopping. You can save even more by looking through the monthly coupon circulars they send to your home. Lastly, you get to try free samples of the food they sell each time you go shopping there! Whenever I go shopping there I don’t each lunch and eat the samples as my lunch, estimating the calories as I go limiting myself to 300 calories! So, use these three tips and you can eat healthy and save money!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Get An Exercise Buddy!

One of the great things about going to the gym regularly is the same people tend to come to the same classes every week. Since you see the same faces in your classes it is almost impossible for you to not become friendly with some of them.

My suggestion is to start scoping out the individuals in each class that impress you (work out like they are pros).When regularly going to the gym you will see there are people that work hard in each of your classes (i.e. ones that do great in kickboxing, ones that do great in yoga and ones that do great in every class) and those that are slackers. Seek out the pros! It's a bonus if one of these individuals have lost weight over the time you have seen them in your classes.

Once you know who the pros are, stand next to them in class and talk to them. Suggest working out together. Your new "workout buddy" can  give you the impetus you need to get to the gym each day.

Important Note: Do not make friends with someone at the gym that does not give 100% of themselves when working out. This can slow you down. I made this mistake when I first started working out and I regretted it.

Use Fat Busting Supplements!

An episode of Dr. Oz last week discussed the use of fat busting supplements. There are four “fat blasters” that he recommends: safflower oil, calcium pyruvate, chitosan and GLA.

  • Safflower Oil- may reduce belly fat and increase muscle
  • Calcium Pyruvate (1000 ml before meals)- calcium helps pyruvate get into the fat cells and burn fat more effectively
  • Chitosan (1000 ml before meals-comes from the skin of shrimp). It acts like a barrier and keeps fat from absorbing into the walls of the intestines. 
  • GLA (800 ml a day) reduces inflammation and convinces fat cells to get rid of fat Dr. Oz recommends you try this one first.

I don't currently use any supplements for weight loss but, I plan on doing more research on each one of these and choosing one to try.  As any person who has been through the weight loss process before knows, it gets harder to lose weight the closer you get to your goal weight. At the start of my diet I was losing 2-3 pounds a week. Now I'm losing 1-2 pounds a week. This may give me the extra oomph I need!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stop Those Cravings!

One of the many things I found intriguing about the book "How the Rich Get Thin" is the chapter on cravings.

Recommendations to Stop Cravings at Night:
“High calcium power snacks stop cravings. Make sure your night time snack is calcium rich- dairy products are high in L-tryptphan and calcium. Calcium has been shown to benefit weight  reduction and it is also a natural sleeping aid. Skim milk sprinkled with cinnamon, fat free yogurt and low fat cheese stops cravings, strengthen bones and help you lose weight while you sleep.” Jana Klauer M.D. (How the Rich Get Thin)

Recommendations to Stop Cravings During the Day:
“Avoid simple carbohydrates (i.e.cookies and cake) and chocolate during the day. These will raise blood sugar and stimulate hunger.”

“A study of overweight adolescent boys found that when they started the day with a breakfast of eggs they reported less hunger before lunch and consumed fewer calories than did a comparison group of boys who had cereal for breakfast. Make your breakfast high protein and you will cut your desire to eat snacks!” Jana Klauer M.D.(How the Rich Get Thin)

I tried her night time recommendation and it works! I will try her daytime recommendation next!