Healthy Food Blog

I want you to live better. Blogging about how you can.

My Weight-Loss Fail - Why a Personal Trainer Didn't Work

There have been two times in my life where I was so desperate to be thin I spent thousands (yes thousands) on a personal trainer.

I walked around the gym looking for the most ripped up guy and said "I want him!"

And here's the thing.

After $6,000 I didn't really look any different.

I worked out like I was supposed to and all the trainers marveled at how much stronger I became. and I WAS stronger. But I didn't pay $6,000 and haul all my cookies to the gym 3x a week at 7am because I wanted to be able to benchpress 60lbs.

I wanted to look HOT in a bikini. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

My things weren't smaller. I still had rolls in my midsection. WTH?

One trainer convinced me I needed to do "carb cycling" which was thorny as a vegan, but I did it. No change.

Eventually I couldn't justify the expense any longer. I was spending more on personal trainers than my car payment. Or my rent. I had a second job just to pay for this indulgence!

I resented myself, and my fat for not budging.

And why was I so vain?

It all felt so hopeless.

I kept beating myself up.

That's when I cancelled my gym membership, cancelled the personal trainer, and bought a big bag of kale.

When the weight started coming off, at first I thought I was just losing muscle from not working out, but so much of it was coming off, and in all the right places, that, frankly, I didn't care! I was getting the results I wanted.

I also felt a lot better (low carb is for the birds!). I started eating tons of potatoes, and felt happily satisfied, even though my ex-trainer would have died.

About a month later I ran into the check-in clerk from the gym and he said "Daaamn girl! you look so good! [Name] has really been working you out! What time are you comin' in honey? Haven't seen you in the mornings!"

I didn't have the heart to say "Actually I quit the gym. And the trainer. I've just been eating a lot of potatoes and kale!"

I just smiled, hugged him and carried on with my shopping.

Of course I didn't learn my lesson the first time, or the second. It took years for all this to sink in... including me gaining and losing the same 10lbs for years.

But what I know now is that very truth from some many years ago. It has always been about my diet. What I was eating has always mattered more than anything. and I've seen that with hundreds of clients.

Exercise can be good for toning after loss, and keeping your mental health + joints healthy, but when it comes to losing weight, for me, and the vast majority of my clients, the secret has always been *what* goes in the mouth.

In December 2012, I started strictly following meal plans. No more half-ing it, or kinda sorta doing it, or doing it when I felt like it. I just made the commitment and amazingly, it's the first time I've ever maintained my weight so consistently... and more importantly, I feel awesome. I feel amazing. And I'll never spend $6,000 on a personal trainer again. But I will eat my potatoes!

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8 Creative & Healthy Snacks To Celebrate Spring

After a long winter, spring has finally sprung!

Here are some fun (and healthy) ideas on how you can usher in the warm weather with fruit and veggies!

Put healthy snacks in plastic eggs for a festive lunch! (Source)

Carrot pizzas! (Use hummus as the "sauce")

How cute is this rabbit made out of a melon rind? It makes the perfect basket for melon balls and fruit!

Cucumber slices and watermelon make cute tulips.

Bunny made out of fruit and veggies. (Source)

A carrot patch made out of hummus and carrots (Source)

Fruit or veggie egg pizzas are not only beautiful to look at, but also tasty! (Use hummus or vegan yogurt as the "sauce")

Peter Cottontail looks even cuter as a cinnamon roll! (Use the HH cinnamon roll recipe)

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How I Stopped Yo-Yo Dieting

A meal plan user emailed:

"I was wondering if you could address the yo-yo diet effect. I've been trying to lose the same 20lbs that have come and gone from my body for years."

I did talk a little bit about yo-yo dieting in my post about my experience with it here:

I Have a Confession... (my battle with weight, yo-yo dieting and food addictions)

For me (and the majority of my clients who are former yo-yos) I found we had to come to a place where we accepted some things were just off limits, and that we also had to stay with whatever was working for us. (For me, that's following the meal plans strictly).

Any time I slip and start eating a lot of nuts or avocado, my stomach hurts, and I gain weight. I can't deny that anymore.

I also can't deny what vegan junk food does to me (physically and emotionally) now that I've faced it. And I think THAT is what needs to happen to break the yo-yo cycle. That breath of personal honesty, and then, a serious commitment to do what's right for us.

AND when the temptation hits, I think back to all of my past indulgences. How awful my stomach hurt, the 2-day headache, how I beat myself up as soon as I was done eating, and then bonked myself over the head for days for eating junk, and so on. That helps me grab the strength not to fall down the slide again :) Plus I know I could never stop at one bite, or one brownie. It's not worth opening pandora's box!

The truth is, and I say this as a former yo-yo, there are reasons I gained it all back, or some of it back, and most often, (okay always!), it was my diet. I'd changed my diet. Slipped on my nutritional excellence. Now that I've accepted this, I've maintained my loss for 16 months! And I feel better than ever! (physically and psychologically).

You can do it!

Having a plan in place makes it so much easier -- the meal plans save me from my bad habits!

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Why You Shouldn't Rely on the Scale For Results

A client emailed:

"I am trying to lose 15 lbs. I do some running/walking and some exercise most days just because it makes me feel better, but my weight is creeping up! Could the exercise be a factor?"

It's hard to say much without knowing your stats, and seeing a precise food journal. I'm sorta shooting blind here ;)

What I can say is: Numbers on a scale aren't terribly helpful if that's how you are measuring -- especially if you are exercising, because you could be putting on muscle, which will make the scale go up, but it's muscle, not fat, so you're not *really* gaining. Similarly, you could be retaining "water weight" if there is any sort of inflammation from exercise.

More reading: What Weighs More: A Pound of Fat or Pound of Muscle? (& Why the Scale is a Frenemy!)

That said, exercise *can* inhibit weight-loss efforts (there are just so many ways it can go wrong). I generally advise my clients to lose weight through diet on the meal plans, and then when they reach their goal, to start incorporating more exercise, though it wouldn't cause a gain per se, except in the case of added muscle, as discussed above. Light walking and gentle yoga is fine, however.

More reading: Why Exercise Doesn't Help With Weight Loss

More reading: Why you can't lose weight from exercise combined with caloric restriction

How clothes fit is typically the best indicator, though that can be problematic for women who are lifting weights or doing activities that power up big muscle groups, like, say, training for a marathon or triathalon. Although uncommon, I did have a few clients who worked out against my suggestion to lose weight first, and they came back complaining that while they felt better, their legs/stomach/etc got bigger. Measurements explained the phenomenon: They increased muscle under the curtain of fat which explained the larger physical appearance. (Once they shed the fat through diet, the problem resolved itself and they had very shapely, fit bodies). Though these were isolated instances and as I mentioned, typically only happen with weight lifting or endurance activities.

In nearly every instance of every person I've worked with -- it all came down to diet. Diet was the problem and the solution with weight-gain and weight-loss.

More reading: Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet? Here's Why (How to Lose Weight)

Good luck!

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My Secret to Losing Weight Without Hunger or Deprivation

If you were given the option of eating 400 calories worth of vegetables or 400 calories worth of chicken, which one do you think would leave you feeling more satisfied?

If you said vegetables, you're correct! But why is that?

While they may contain the same amount of calories, there's one BIG difference: caloric density, or the concentration of calories in a portion of food.

I talk about this in detail in my latest cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. In fact, caloric density is the principle on which I base the 7-Day Meal Plans.

I get SO many emails from meal plan users saying how big the portions are and they can't believe how full they feel after each meal. It's simple: More food, fewer calories.

Want to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived? Focus on foods with lower caloric density (like vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits) and you won't have to worry about how much you're eating. Or get the meal plan and let us do the work for you!

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Should You Eat When You're Not Hungry?

A meal plan user emailed:

"How do you feel about eating when you are not hungry? Sometimes the day goes by and I realize I am not hungry enough for all the food on the plan for that day. Is it more important to get the 1200 calories each day or eat according to hunger?"

Generally, you shouldn't force yourself to eat if you're not hungry, though since the meal plans are only 1200 calories, which is usually too few calories for most people, you should be eating the entire meal plan (and have the appetite for it). Eating too few calories won't leave you feeling your best.

If you can't eat the entire meal in one sitting, you could try breaking the meals up into little meals over the day.

That said, you should also never force yourself to go hungry. Most people need more than 1200 calories a day, so it's okay to add a side of greens, a salad, another potato, a can of beans, etc. See the welcome letter with each meal plan for more information, as well as the "add on" suggestions attached to each recipe.

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