Healthy Food Blog

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

Not Seeing Results? Here's Why

I recently received an email from a client, who had struggled with her weight for years, saying she didn't see results until she made health a priority, not just weight-loss.

I've actually seen this with a lot of clients, and it's why I preach "lifestyle" and not "diet" because diets only work as long as you're on them.

Sure, weight-loss is one of the many benefits of going plant-based, but there are so many more advantages like better health and overall quality of life.

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I love Pam Popper’s combination lock example from her book Food Over Medicine:

“The [plant-based] diet is like a combination lock. If you have to dial four numbers to open a combination lock and you dial up three correctly, you don’t get 75% of the results. You get nothing until you get that fourth number right. And so, we have a society filled with people who are doing 75% of what they need to do or 50% of what they need to do. They don’t get 50% or 75% of the results; nothing happens until they get the whole thing right.”

When I was a personal trainer, and my clients asked me about "cheating" or "cheat" days, I always told them "cheats cheat you." The decision is always yours :)

If you're not sure where to start, try the meal plans! They're great for both individuals and families!

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How To Blast Belly Fat

A client emailed:

"Over the course of a year and a half I have managed to lose over 50 lbs. However, I still have quite a bit of fat on my belly. I've tried different exercise routines in an effort to lower my body fat percentage, but with no results. I eat a plant-based diet with no oil and lots of vegetables. Any ideas as to what's the problem?"

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Congrats on the loss -- that's terrific!

See this post about how to lose belly fat: How To Get Rid of Belly Fat (and All Trouble Areas)

If you're not already doing the lower fat meal plan options, try those. It could also be helpful to try the gluten-free options on the meal plans as well. Some users report wheat causes belly inflammation. I have not experienced this personally, but like to pass on their experiences in case it's helpful.

This post might also shed some light: How to Avoid (and Fix) Loose Skin After Weight-Loss

Exercise also complicates things and often makes it harder to lose fat, especially when you don't have a lot left to still lose. There are just so many ways it can go wrong. Exercise creates all these crazy variables. I ran into this all the time with my clients. It got to the point where I wouldn't work with them until they achieved their desired weight-loss through diet alone (or diet + walking or light yoga).

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Why Eating a Variety of Food is Better For Your Health

A meal plan user emailed:

"If I really like one of the meals, can I just repeat it all week long? Or do I need variety for weight-loss?"

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Setting aside the weight-loss issue, you want to eat a variety of foods for your health. A wide variety of foods helps ensure you're getting everything you need to be healthy and feel your best.

I've also found variety makes it easier for my clients to keep eating well. Different meals and flavors keeps it interesting. It never feels like a "diet" when you're always trying new things! Variety is the spice of life, right?

For ease, I suggest meal plan users make all their meals ahead for the week (it only takes a few hours), then grab-n-go and reheat all week long. That way meal times are fuss-free, but you're not eating the same thing over and over. Say no to human kibble :)

If you're looking to lose weight, I can't recommend the meal plans enough, especially the lower fat options. It makes it so easy, and it's fun to try new things.

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Is Low-Fat Required For Weight-Loss?

A meal plan user emailed:

"I am currently reading The Starch Solution and finding it very interesting. I know that his and your recommendation is to limit fats (non-oil) when losing weight. What I am wondering is how much fat is too much fat? Is there a certain percentage or number of grams that you've found is your 'limit'?"

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I defer to Dr. McDougall here, which is that you shouldn't eat any added fats if you are trying to lose weight. Once weight-loss is obtained, you might be able to add a little fat here and there back in, though Dr. Essy recommends avoiding all added fats for life for maximum heart health. Individuals with or at risk for heart disease or t2, should stick to low fat for life.

I've never had much luck adding fat back in. Even small amounts like a 1-2 tbsp of nuts, or 1 avocado across and entire week, seems to make me gain, but my husband and many of our meal plan users can have a little here and there. You can see the amounts of fats in the recipes to gauge how much we add in terms of appropriate portion size.

The meal plans do have lower fat options, though -- not nuts, seeds or avo -- which is inline with Dr. McDougall and Dr. Essy's recommendations.

The Starch Solution is a great book! I based the meal plans off his teachings.

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Weight Maintenance: When Can You Start "Cheating"?

The following email recently popped up in my inbox:

"Have you written any blogs about maintaining your weight? Or do you feel like it is just permanent weight loss mode with more occasional baked goods or other otherwise "off limit" foods? I am 15 pounds away from my goal and am working on my mindset so it is a permanent weight loss. I am sick of yo-yoing. And I just wonder if it will be different when I reach that weight or if I need to stay at a low calorie diet always."

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Congrats on all your success this far!

That said :) One of the reasons I preach "lifestyle" and not "diet" is because diets only work as long as you're on them.

As soon as someone goes off a "diet" and back to their old ways of eating and bad habits, they start letting things back into their diet. The diet is over and the weight comes back. I've seen this so many times with my clients and even with myself. I've had to re-lose the last 10 lbs at least twice and every time the culprit was me getting a little more relaxed.

It's never a whole cheesecake that sends you off course and brings 5 lbs back, it's the little things here and there that add up.

With my meal plan users, for example, even once they hit their goal, they stay on the meal plans.

I tell my clients: If it's working for you, why stop it? Keep doing what's working for you. If you've lost as much as you need to, your body will regulate. You won't lose anymore weight and if you do, and you feel like you've lost too much, add in more calories. Eat more beans, more grains, more fruits. If you don't have heart disease, diabetes or other medical conditions, you can try adding some fats back in like nuts or avocados, but just a little. Putting slices of avocado on my salad every day and eating PB&Js is what caused me to regain 10 lbs. (As soon as I stopped eating those foods and went back on the lower fat meal plans, the weight slid off). (See this post: Not Losing Weight on a Plant-Based Diet? Here's Why. 10 Culprits)

Also, here's what Dr. McDougall says in his book, Maximum Weight Loss:

"One of the most common concerns I hear from people who follow the McDougall Program faithfully is "I've lost too much weight." Many people just think they're too thin when they're really not. For years, their mirrors reflected an image of a much larger person. Now this new, thin body looks unfamiliar."

I find a lot of my clients are surprised that they continue to lose weight, even after they reach their goal, too. Sometimes they worry they've lost too much, but they haven't. I had one client who dreamed of her ideal weight as 135 lbs. She got there, then kept up her good practices and found herself down to 125. She said to me, "I never thought this was possible. At 135 I would have said 125 was grossly thin, but here I am and my god, look at me! I've never felt so good! All my friends say I'm hotter now than I was 25 years ago in my 20s!"

It's also really, really important not to get caught in the numbers game because the numbers on a scale really mean very little in terms of your health and your appearance.

If you are really unhappy with your appearance and you feel you really are too thin, start adding in high fat foods like nuts, soy and avocado. Add dense calorie sources like flours and dried fruits. See this post: How to Gain Weight on a Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet.

If you're looking to lose (or maintain!) I can't recommend our meal plans enough!

They're how I lost the 10 for the third time, and have now kept it off for almost a year! Success feels sexy!

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Does Size Matter When It Comes To Veggies?

A meal plan user emailed:

"When potatoes are on the meal plan, how big are they supposed to be? I have seen some really big potatoes at the grocery store. Same question for tortillas, what size do you normally use?"

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Any size potato is fine. The calorie difference between a small and large aren't terribly drastic. If you want to be super strict, we use Calorie Count to compute recipes, and you can look on their website to see exactly the weight/size of any individual ingredient. At the end of the day, you don't really need to limit your potato! They're good for ya! It’s more important to limit fats, or make sure something is 100% oil-free. Added oil, or too many added fats can cause weight gain and/or derail loss, but a little more potato won’t. Plus, the meal plans are 1,200 calories and most people (especially if you're active) need a few hundred more, so a little bigger potato, or a slightly higher or bigger tortilla won't be the end of you.

Note: The "tortillas" on calorie count seem lower in calories than most tortillas I find at the store, so we usually count "2" for "1" in a recipe when computing, just so the estimates are more accurate.

For more info:

List of Oil-Free, Plant-Based/Vegan Brands (Happy Herbivore Approved!)

The Brands I Personally Use

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