Tag Archives: diet

How (Not) to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week

4 Mar

I rarely gamble. I’m not a fan of it. I play the lottery maybe twice a year. I rarely go to casinos, and when I do, I don’t gamble. There’s a higher chance of failure with gambling than there is of winning. My money does better for me when it’s in my pocket.

I liken gambling to get-rich-quick schemes. There’s always a hidden cost that you weren’t prepared for. Those emails from Nigerian princes asking you to hold their millions in your account? Those phone calls from random utility operators saying you’re paying too much, even though you’re using the only utility available in your area? Publisher’s Clearinghouse? It’s all a scam to make you think that hard work isn’t the way to get things done.

The same thing goes for quick-fix diet scams. “Eat this, lose 10 pounds in a week.” “Just five minutes a day and you’ll drop 20 pounds in a week.” “The only diet pill you’ll need to get bikini ready in just two weeks.” I call bullshit.

Nothing worth having is easy to get. If you read the small print on these ads, they’ll always say the results aren’t typical. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be the rule, not the exception.

People often ask me how I lost the weight. The simple answer is diet and exercise. But if you have a half hour, I can give you a rundown. I started preparing my meals at the beginning of the week and portioned them out so I wouldn’t overindulge. I made sure to schedule my workouts into my day, leaving room for the sudden happy hour or late night at work. I always had a Plan B if my scheduled workout wouldn’t work out that day. I can mentally calculate all the calories I’m consuming versus the amount of energy I’m expending.

That’s just the truncated version, and I still never lost 10 pounds in one week.

You’ll see shows like “The Biggest Loser” and think to yourself, if they can do it, why can’t I? It’s because you have a life outside the show. While you’re sitting at home watching these people’s journey toward a healthier life, they’re on a treadmill or eating one egg white every five hours, with a handful of raw almonds in between. It’s not practical.

We all have lives to lead. I’m not saying losing 10 pounds in one week isn’t possible. Anything’s possible. But does that make it right? I don’t think so.

This journey is a rough one. It is filled with starts and stops. The thing I want people to realize is that you should start with realistic expectations. Ten pounds in one week? Sure…if you chop off your arm. Ten pounds in two weeks? Very possible with a very strict diet and workout regimen. Ten pounds in three weeks? Totally doable, still with a strict diet and workout regimen. Plus, if you hit your target in two weeks, the third week’s weight loss is bonus points (if that’s what you were looking for).

Think about short-term and long-term goals and what’s achievable in that time. Don’t let the stress of losing weight make you gamble on a magic pill.

What quick-fix routines have you seen lately? How do you keep focused on your short- and long-term goals?

No Excuses

28 Jan

I’m a strong believer in the “no excuses” philosophy. I always say that if there is something that’s important to you, you’ll find a way to get it.

A couple of women have come under fire for preaching “no excuses.” They’ve been labeled fat shamers because they’ve made no excuses for taking active roles in their health.

I understand both sides because I’ve been there. I’ve been daunted at the thought of all the work I have to do. I’ve looked at how much weight I need to lose, what clothes I want to fit in, where I want my cholesterol and blood pressure to be and made exhausted  at the sheer thought of what was before me. It took me almost two years from the time I decided to start taking better care of myself to actually setting a plan in motion.

Once I was far along in a healthy-lifestyle routine, I realized that I’d really had no excuses. Everything that was keeping me from achieving my goals was in my head. If I really wanted to start working out, then I needed to start walking. If I really wanted to start eating healthier, then I had to stop making brownie sundaes.

No excuses as a philosophy is meant as a reminder that no one can stop you from achieving your goals. No one was forcing me to remain sedentary. No one forced fattening foods down my throat. Despite being overweight, I was in good health. My doctor saw no reason I shouldn’t get involved in a strenuous workout plan. I’d never had any injuries, and my ticker was ticking just fine. The only thing keeping me from moving was me.

Everyone could make excuses, too many people think it’s easier not to try than to risk failure. It’s not the case. I don’t want to make other women feel bad about themselves, I want them to look at me and think, if she can do it so can I. Because you can!—Abby Pell

We all make excuses for why we choose not to do what’s best for us. I know for a fact that life would be much simpler with a bag of Goldfish crackers and a glass of Simply Raspberry lemonade. But that’s only for the moment. In the long run, I’m going to want to still be active. So, for me, there’s no excuse not to start today.

It is in your best interest to take an active role in your health. No one knows your body like you do. And no one will be able to see what your body is capable of doing better than you. There are no excuses for not trying to do your best.

How do you feel about the term “no excuses?” Do you think it’s meant to uplift or put down?

The Long Game

5 Jan
photo credit: Bringsverd via photopin cc

It’s a long road to maintain the weight-loss lifestyle
photo credit: Bringsverd via photopin cc

I got my first grown-up job almost nine months after I graduated college. When I was hired, I was told there would be a six-month waiting period before I was eligible for health benefits and 401(k) enrollment. Health benefits I was familiar with. A 401(k) was a foreign concept. Like any young person confused about the world, I called my father. Daddy explained that I needed a 401(k) to help me save for retirement so that, in his words, I “wouldn’t have to work well into old age.”

At 23, old age was far, far away and having the company deduct even more money from my already meager check seemed like a rip off. But after a few more conversations, he convinced me that it was better for the long run. Over 10 years later, I’m still amassing a nice little nest egg for myself.

Your weight-loss journey is a lot like putting money away in savings or a 401(k). You hit little milestones along the way—10 pounds here, a new dress size there, a great photo every once in a while—but those can be minor victories in the long run. The weight-loss journey isn’t just about vanity, it’s about health. In the long run, you want to pocket away lessons that will ensure you’ve done everything possible to live a long, healthy life.

It’s easy to look at that new bikini as the goal, but what about fitting into that two-piece in another 15 years? Your waist is smaller now, but how is your cholesterol and blood pressure? You’re the envy of all your old friends, but how was your last physical?

I started my weight-loss journey with the short-term goal of losing at least 20 pounds. Then I got on a roll and continued losing until I’d dropped 60. Maintaining the loss was the hard part, but it also taught me valuable lessons about maintaining a healthier lifestyle, especially diet-wise.

While New York is famous for its abundance of restaurants, I know in the long run that my home-cooked meals will serve me best. Re-learning how to cook for myself, using fresher ingredients and less processed food, has helped grow my appreciation for different types of food. I wasn’t making curry before I started this journey. Now it’s one of my go-to recipes. I know that sauteed fish can be just as good if not better than it’s deep-fried. And 30 or 40 years from now, I’ll still have that lesson under my belt.

There’s a saying: It’s about the journey, not the destination. That’ is what your weight-loss journey is—a long-game plan. You’ll reach your destination, but the journey is what teaches you the most about yourself.

Enemies and Side Pieces

11 Dec
This is just a misunderstanding. The treadmill is not your enemy, despite this guy's unfortunate incidence. Courtesy of Tumblr

This is just a misunderstanding. The treadmill is not your enemy, despite this guy’s misfortune.
Courtesy of Tumblr

When you’re an able-bodied person who’s not exactly physically fit, one of the hardest mental hurdles you’ll have to jump is realizing that there are things you’re capable of doing. You’ll tell yourself over and over again that walking up stairs gets you out of breath. Parking the car further away seems like a waste of time. Baked chicken is OK, but the winner will always be fried yardbird.

You’ve essentially made exercise your enemy and fattening food your side piece.

It’s easy to see exercise as the enemy. You end up sweating, hurting, aching and, occasionally, smelling. You have to set aside time in the day to physically exert yourself. If exercise hasn’t been a part of your lifestyle in, like, ever, the idea of physical activity could turn you into a rage monster.

“Why do I have to work out in order to lose weight?” you might ask yourself.

The answer is: you don’t. Exercise is an added bonus to the weight-loss process. My homie Dr. Ian Smith said it best:

Imagine owning an expensive sports car that can top speeds of 100 mph and more in just a matter of seconds. Now imagine four flat tires on that shiny red sports car. How fast do you think that car will be able to go now? The engine is fine, the tank is full of gas, and all of the electrical components of the car are like new. But with four flat tires that sports car will move up the road slower than a 10-ton cement truck. This is exactly what it’s like to diet without exercise. You need to have both working together to get the best results.

—Extreme Fat Smash Diet, 2007

Seeing exercise as the enemy can only hold you back. It is a good companion to take with you on your journey. Exercise likes to do the things you like to do. Sure, you enjoy Netflix marathons and naps, but maybe you also enjoy nature. Walking (exercise) can give you a better glimpse of it. Maybe you like lounging on the beach. Swimming (exercise) loves the beach. Or maybe you just really enjoy peace and serenity. Have you met my good friend yoga (exercise)?

Before labeling exercise your enemy, get to know it. Try to understand the activities that work best with your lifestyle and personality. Your enemy can become your best friend when you’re trying to lose the pounds.

Not as good a friend as your current side piece: fattening food. While you and exercise may have a relationship based on misunderstanding, you and and your dietary companion may need to think about a trial separation.

We’ve all taken health class. We’ve all heard our doctors tell us that the pizza, McDonald’s and Popeye’s aren’t doing us any good. But just like Pookie and his crack, it just keeps calling us.

Let me be your sponsor and tell you to let the bad food go. Make dishes like brown rice and sauteed fish your main boo. It’s hard to remain monogamous to the food that’s doing you right when the food that does you wrong is so tempting. But remember that the bad food is a side piece. It knows its place.

It knows that soon you’ll get tired of the runaround and have to choose. And after turning exercise from an enemy into a friend, you won’t want to cheat on your main boo. You’ll want to do right because it feels good to you. There will always be another fast-food restaurant or cream-covered casseroles to tempt you away. It will be on you to make your good-food main boo stick around.

How have you contended with exercise as your enemy? What’s your favorite side piece (mine is Popeye’s)?

To Diet or Not to Diet?

21 Nov

…all about striking a balance.


To diet or not to diet? That is the question a lot of us on our weight-loss journeys will ask over time.

To get into the shape I’m in now, I have been using the “Extreme Fat Smash Diet” by Dr. Ian Smith. It entails a pretty strict diet. The meals are small, the condiments are few and the salad, beans and veggies are aplenty. There are four small meals a day, each one with a guideline for what you should eat. For example:

Meal 1—one egg, one piece of fruit or 1/2 cup of juice

Meal 2—1 cup of sliced fresh fruit

Meal 3—small salad with 3 tablespoons of low-fat or fat-free dressing

Meal 4—1/2 cup of beans, 2 servings of vegetables

That’s on top of the 55 minutes of cardio you have to do, and that’s only Day 1 of the first week of a three week program. The system I used is not easy and it is not for everyone. But what I’ve loved about it—and why I keep coming back when I feel I need to lose a few extra pounds—is that it taught me how to eat differently.

For most of my adult life, food was a crutch. It made things easier. I used to keep at least two pints of of cookie dough and strawberry ice cream in my freezer, along with chocolate sauce in my fridge. I had a steady rotation of brownie mix and cake mix in my cupboards. And the large box of Xtra Cheddar Goldfish Crackers knew they would have a place in my home.

It’s not so much that I grew up with bad eating habits. We didn’t order out a lot in my home growing up. Both of my parents cooked and taught my brother and me how to boil water and make burgers. It was moreso that I didn’t know there was another way.

Over the years, I’ve learned that my childhood habit of steaming a frozen bag of veggies can still be useful; melting a slice of American cheese over it…not so much. Fried chicken was and forever will be some of the best chicken you’ll ever have. But sauteeing some chicken breasts in onions, peppers and garlic with light salt and pepper will still fill a chicken craving.

Dieting serves a purpose. There are people, like myself, who had no concept of small meals and truly thought holding the fries was enough when ordering at Five Guys. There are others whose systems can’t break down complex carbohydrates as quickly as others and have to cut them out altogether. And still there are others who just don’t know what a healthy diet consists of.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, a diet is not a bad thing. But there is always a need to strike a balance. Sometimes you just want a cookie. Sometimes you’d like to have a burger. Other times you just want that slice of cheesecake after your meal. This isn’t cheating, it’s allowing yourself the freedom to have something else. There’s no rule that you have to have a burger or cheesecake. It is the exception. The rule is that you should be fueling your body with the nutrients you need. The cookies and cakes aren’t necessary, they’re a treat.

To diet or not to diet? I say there’s nothing wrong with it. The diet I’m using isn’t sustainable. It is, however, the perfect tool I need to know how to eat clean. It worked for me because I opened myself to the possibility that what I’d been doing before wouldn’t work with what I wanted to get done.

How do you feel about dieting? Have you learned anything about past eating habits that you eventually changed on your weight-loss journey?