Everyone knows why “diets” don’t work. Diets are just rules that deprive people of things they love.
No carbs? No meat? No dairy? No full plate? Forever? No one can follow those cruel rules for life.
Which is why 95 percent of “dieters” gain back the weight they’ve lost within 5 years. And why Jenny Craig never has to worry about job security.
But The Skinny is not a diet. It’s just a way of life, one that focuses on what you WILL eat… instead of what you won’t.
And while you don’t have to follow someone else’s complex rules, you do have to face some truths.
I know what you’re thinking, “Potato-Potahto.” But there really is a difference.
Unlike rules, a truth is not something you choose, or something you can break. It’s simply a reality, a law of the universe that you just can’t argue with.
And as I began cooking and eating a new way and watched–in amazement–as the weight fell off of me, and my whole family, a set of undeniable truths about food and weight loss became obvious to us all.
By understanding The Skinny Truths, you will be free from diets, forever. And, instead, you’ll be able to make your food choices instinctively…choices that will make you happier, healthier AND thinner!
Think of the first 3 truths as The Holy Trinity of The Skinny: Honesty, Effort and Inventory.
TRUTH #1: TO LOSE WEIGHT NOW AND KEEP IT OFF FOR LIFE, YOU NEED HONESTY.
There is a size that a person of your height, build, gender and age should be. But you’ll never get there if you don’t get honest about the size you are now and how far away you are from your true goal.
I say true goal because most of us rationalize how much weight we really need to lose…saying we’d be happy to lose 15 pounds when we really need to lose 30.
Trust me, I know. I WAS that person! And as long as I was rationalizing my unwanted weight as an unavoidable consequence of motherhood or middle age, I didn’t lose it.
So, if you really want to lose ALL the weight you need to lose, and keep it off for good, you need to promise yourself that you’re going to stop rationalizing and get real.
To find out where you are now, and where you should be, go to this Body Mass Index calculator and plug in your height and weight.
The calculator won’t show you one exact weight, but a very broad range of weights considered healthy for your height. And when I say broad, I mean broad. At 5’5 and 40 something years old, my “normal weight” range goes from 111 to 150 pounds!
But don’t think for a second that hitting the highest number in that range means you’ve reached a healthy size. Unless you’re Michael Phelps–with a shoulder span of 4 feet–or you’re hoping for a career as a professional wrestler, that high end is not for you. The same goes for the low end. Unless your name is Posh, the very bottom of the range shouldn’t be your goal, either.
Instead, go the number right in the middle of your healthy weight range and then be really honest about your build.
If you’re bigger boned, broad shouldered, and have more muscle mass than most people of your height, gender and race, go up 5 or 10 pounds. If you have a tiny little frame, you can go down a few.
Only you are able to judge where you should be. But be honest about it. It shouldn’t be spitting distance from “medically overweight,” and it shouldn’t take you to the netherworld of scary skinny, either.
Once you’ve hit that goal, you may decide to maintain that weight, gain a pound or two back or lose a little more.
To be really honest with you, I have to confess that I’m a little (okay, a lot) bow-legged….and after getting down to a solid size 2, I saw a photo of myself with the sun behind me and realized I looked like a wishbone (or the entrance to the Holland Tunnel) and consciously gained a few pounds back to become a more healthy looking size 4.
I know you’re thinking it can’t really be as easy as that but, trust me, once you really get the hang of The Skinny way of cooking and eating, it will be.
And to help keep yourself honest, get a scale, and use it every single day for the rest of your life. Knowing how much you weigh, and how it changes, day in and day out, will empower you!
TRUTH #2: TO LOSE WEIGHT NOW AND KEEP IT OFF FOR LIFE, YOU NEED TO MAKE AN EFFORT!
Of course, just being honest about how much you weigh, and how much you need to lose, isn’t going to magically make you shrink.
In order to reach that great place where you have the body you want, the energy you need, and the longevity you deserve, you have to control what goes in your mouth again. And the ONLY way to do that is to cook as much of your own food as possible.
If you’re already a cook, then learning how to cook skinny will actually be fun for you. Whether you make the recipes my family loves, or you use the tricks I use to make skinny versions of your own family favorites, once you get the hang of making the foods you want in this new way, you’ll see it’s no more difficult and, in many ways, much easier than how you did it before.
And, for those of you who don’t like cooking or just don’t know how, in order to lose weight, you’re just going to have to get over it.
By starting with some of the quick and easy recipes, trying out new flavor combinations and a few simple techniques, over time, you’ll actually learn how to cook.
I promise you, it’s NOT hard. It just takes a little effort.
Remember, McDonald’s is effortless, Dominos is effortless, Applebee’s is effortless…and we all know where that got us.
And, once those pounds start falling off, without anyone going hungry or feeling deprived, I won’t have to convince you that little bit of effort is worth it.
TRUTH #3: TO LOSE WEIGHT NOW AND KEEP IT OFF FOR LIFE, YOU NEED INVENTORY!
That’s why building an INVENTORY of delicious but guilt-free foods you can have at your fingertips whenever hunger strikes is going to ensure your success and your sanity.
But I do have to warn you, if you don’t already have a Tupperware Lady, this is a good time to find one.
When you open your fridge, freezer or pantry, you want to see it loaded with your new “fast foods.” You want to be able to reach for a skinny soup, snack, entree or a side dish that you’ve prepared ahead and that you can eat hot, cold or take with you on the run.
And, in The Skinny Strategy, you’ll see that having more food (and better food) doesn’t necessarily mean more time in the kitchen. You’ll learn new ways to make as much food as possible, in the least amount of time, and with the least amount of clean up, so that you never make a bad choice again.
From now on, think of your INVENTORY as your ARSENAL, your SMART WEAPONS, because THIS IS WAR!!
TRUTH #4: EAT MORE THINGS THAT GROW AND FEWER THINGS THAT WALK!
When it comes down to what actually goes in your mouth every day, at every meal, with every snack, this is the most important truth of all.
Look, in the last 20 years, we’ve all been hypnotized by fad diets (I’m looking at you, Atkins!) which preached that cutting all carbs and eating ridiculous amounts of animal protein–meat and dairy–was some sort of magical way to lose weight.
If that were true, we’d be looking a a graph showing our animal consumption going up and our weight going down.
It hasn’t happened that way.
In 1950, Americans at about 144 pounds of meat a year. Today, we’re eating a whopping 222 pounds a year, twice the amount of meat eaten by people in the rest of the world. And cheese? In 1970, it took us a year to eat 10 pounds of cheese. Now, we’re eating 10 pounds of cheese every 4 months! And there’s no doubt that overeating the animal, particularly red meat, has directly impacted our weight, our health and our environment.
I’m NOT saying you have to give up meat and dairy forever. Trust me, I tried, and I couldn’t do it for life. But, by simply “easing up on the animal,” you can have it both ways, satisfy your inner meat lover and still lose weight!
It’s an easy formula: 80/20.
It’s my “Omnivore’s Solution.”
And for weight loss, it’s a miracle.
It’s as simple as this: foods that come from plants have far fewer calories, less fat, and are much better for our bodies than any of the foods we get from animals.
So, if 80 percent of what goes in your mouth each day comes from plant foods–which works out to be about 8 servings– you will lose a ton of weight, improve your health and help the planet without ever feeling hungry.
Some dishes, of course, will look like vegetables, fruit or grains. But by learning new ways to prepare them, they’ll now hit all of your taste buttons… sweet, savory, crunchy and creamy.
And in other dishes, you may not recognize your veggies or fruits at all!
By simply reversing the proportions of recipes– cutting the amount of meat and dairy and bumping up the plant foods like veggies, fruits and whole grains–you won’t have to worry so much about the portions. You will still be able to enjoy lasagna, enchiladas, chicken salad and even shepherds pie but with a fraction of the fat and calories.
Every day, by “filling yourself up and faking yourself out,” you’ll wind up eating far less meat and dairy and far more things that grow without even trying. And, if you do that, studies prove you WILL lose weight!
TRUTH #5: WHITE BREAD IS YOUR BAD EX-BOYFRIEND…YOU CAN HAVE A ONE NIGHT STAND WHEN YOU NEED TO, BUT YOU ARE NOT GETTING BACK TOGETHER WITH HIM!
If you knew me a couple of years ago, you know I would have been happy to eat every meal, for the rest of my life, out of a sourdough bread bowl…and then be buried in a sourdough coffin.
But addictions, whether to bread or bad boyfriends, are usually just caused by habits. And habits can be changed.
Breaking up with my bad boyfriend of daily bread only took about 2 weeks. I started by substituting low-glycemic Ezekiel bread when I absolutely needed a piece of toast or a sandwich. In the afternoon or evening, I’d use light Wasa bread to make “Skinny Crostinis.” Before long, by using those fabulous fakes instead of the real thing, I got over the gluten and just didn’t crave it like I used to.
But, even though I’ve broken up with the dough boy, occasionally, in a moment of passion, I do want a one-night stand.
An artisan pizza at one of my favorite restaurants, with paper-thin crust, topped with duck confit or fennel sausage, fresh burrata and chanterelles?
That is SO worth it.
But cold Dominos at kids’ birthday parties, giant bagels at PTA meetings, a dry scone at Starbucks or the slices of stale baguettes in the bread baskets of most restaurants? Nope. Not worth it.
Look, those bowling ball sized bagels can have 300-400 calories! And those little 2 or 3 ounce slices of bread at the corner cafe can have as much as 150 calories each. If you nibble on 3 before your meal shows up, even without butter or olive oil, you’ll have mindlessly consumed almost 500 extra calories, and you’ll still be hungry!
So, when your Grandma makes her famous hot rolls at Thanksgiving or your Southern Fried Girlfriend pulls her homemade cornbread from a hot oven, don’t make yourself miserable, just have it! But only when it’s worth it!
(There is a caveat for convenience. If you have to pack lunches, use 45 calorie a slice Light Bread instead of 85 calorie a slice regular bread. And, if you need to take breakfast to work, a Skinny Egg and Veg Bagel made with a 110 calorie Bagel Thin has a fraction of the calories and fat of a fast food restaurant’s version. And a homemade Veggie Burger with an 80 calorie Light Hamburger Bun has just one third of the calories of a Whopper. Still, even though they are low calorie bread products, they’re still processed carbs and, if you eat them every day, they may slow down your weight loss. So if you must have them in the house, keep in the freezer so that you only pull them out when you absolutely need them.)
TRUTH #6: DAIRY IS NOT THE DEVIL…(BUT THAT VENTI LATTE DOES MAKE YOUR ASS LOOK FAT.)
When I was riding the roller coaster of weight, I’d often skip breakfast and, thinking I was being clever (which always spells doom), I’d make a Starbucks run instead. My regular order was a Venti Latte, Low-Fat, Low Foam. Sometimes I’d order two.
As it turns out, one low-fat latte has 276 calories! Which means, if I had two (which I often did), I’d swallowed almost a third of my daily calories before eating a bite!
That’s not to say you have to lock dairy out of your house completely. It can still live there, just in smaller amounts. Parmesan, Romano, Feta and 2% sharp cheddar cheeses are key to adding richness and taste to lots of skinny dishes. You just have to use them by the spoonful, rather than the handful.
And low-fat and fat free cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream and whipped cream are great substitutes for the real thing.
But when it comes to cow’s milk as a beverage or something to pour over cereal, there are far better choices out there. Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, for example, has only 40 calories a cup and 25 percent of your calcium and 50 percent of your vitamin E.
Now, I happily have a couple of lattes every morning but, by making them at home with Almond Milk, I not only save 500 calories, I also save 8 bucks a day!
TRUTH #7: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MATH
I really hate math. But, when it comes to weight loss, it’s ALL about the math.
If you eat more calories a day than you should for your ideal weight, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories a day, you lose weight. Period. End of story.
But a recent study shows only 1 in 8 Americans have any idea what that number should be!
To find out how many calories you should have, go to the Mayo Clinic Calorie Calculator and plug in your age, height, and gender. Then, instead of plugging in your current weight, plug in your “goal weight.” When the calculator tells you how many calories you need to consume each day to hit that goal, memorize that number because that’s the one number you need to aim for each day to hit and maintain your goal weight for life.
You also need to start getting acquainted with how many calories are in the foods you eat. By making sure 80 percent of what goes in your mouth each day comes from plants, it’s going to be much, much easier to keep track than it was before. Except for beans, potatoes, nuts and certain high calorie fruits like avocados, I never count the calories in plant foods anymore.
But it’s the other things you eat–like meat, dairy and especially packaged foods–that you really need to watch.
When you’re at the market, start reading those nutrition labels and be aware of the calories, fats and sugars.
And, even though some low fat foods are better, don’t be fooled by all “low-fat” banners. Most of the time, packaged foods–like crackers and cereals–were low-fat to begin with. And for things like cookies, manufacturers often just add more sugar to compensate for lost taste, which means they’ll probably deliver the same number of calories as the original versions but the high sugar content will cause you to feel hungrier, sooner.
And, whatever you decide to bring home, before you serve it, pay careful attention to serving size. Cereals, for example, all give you a calorie count for a serving but that serving may range from 1/4 cup (for granola) to 1 and a half cups. Most people, without measuring, pour 1 to 2 cups to fill their bowl, which can double the calories you think you’re getting. So, from now on, just measure your cereal and add fruit to fill up the rest of the bowl.
And, if you eat out a lot, start looking on the web for the calorie counts of the things you might want to order before you go out, or ask for the nutritional guides when you get there. Most chain restaurants have them.
Just know, to lose weight and keep it off, you want to have a rough idea of the number of calories going in your mouth each day and keep that number hovering around that magic number of the daily calories you need to hit and maintain the weight you want to be.
That, by the way, is not dieting. That’s just paying attention.
TRUTH #8: EAT LIKE YOU SHOP!
I don’t know anyone, rich or poor, who doesn’t love a great deal.
Whether it’s buying a designer dress for 70 percent off, or just getting free minutes on your phone, everyone likes paying less for the things they want.
From now on, you need to apply that same instinct to what you eat…and hunt for the most bang for your calorie buck.
When I began to re-design my favorite dishes, I started with my old lasagna recipe which called for 5 pounds of sausage, lamb and veal, plus 4 cups of ricotta, a cup of Parmesan and a box of dried noodles. When I did the math, I found out it was more than 700 calories a serving! But, by simply substituting vegetables for most (but not all) of the meat, using a combination of fat-free cottage cheese and tofu for the ricotta and using oven fried eggplant in place of pasta, the new lasagna recipe has only 250 calories a serving!
My old curried chicken salad recipe clocked in at 300 calories a cup. Now, by bumping up the fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of chicken, and using fat free yogurt and and fat free whipped cream to make mock mayonnaise, my new Skinny Chick Salad has only 120 calories a cup…(which means I can have two~!)
Even little steps you take, by choosing 45 calorie a slice bread instead of 85 calorie a slice bread or 40 calorie Veggie Slices soy cheese instead of 100 calorie conventional cheese to make a sandwich can make a big difference at the end of a day…and a pound at the end of the week.
Remember, it’s all about the math, so look for bargains!
TRUTH #9: EAT LIKE IT’S YOUR JOB!
Getting skinny–and staying skinny–means you have to make sure you NEVER get so hungry that you lose your mind!
That means you’re going to focus on what you WILL eat each day instead of what you won’t. And you need to eat those foods like it’s your job, regularly and with a purpose.
By making sure you have a few 100 and 200 calorie snacks, and a few 300 or 400 calorie meals, 5 or 6 times a day, you’ll keep your blood sugar on an even keel and won’t end up crashing or cranky–or pulling into the nearest McDonalds.
And, remember, once you have your new skinny inventory up and running, it’s not only easy to eat well when you’re at home, you’ll also have foods you can take with you so you can have them whenever, and wherever, you need them–at work, jury duty, or even in the carpool line!
TRUTH #10: IF IT’S NOT HELPING YOU, IT’S HURTING YOU!
Once you have delicious foods at your fingertips that are going to fill you up and slim you down, you have to get ruthless and get rid of all the other foods that are going to get in your way.
The ice cream in the freezer, the potato chips in the pantry, the pound of bacon in the fridge or the loaf of sourdough on the counter? It’s all just clutter that’s going to trip you up if you let it hang around. I promise, in The Skinny Shopper you’ll find a list of new foods that will take their place and make you thinner. But if you don’t get rid of the old, the new kids won’t stand a chance.
If you can’t bear to waste what you have now, call a too-skinny friend or neighbor, or fry up the bacon and give it to the dog. Just get it out of your kitchen. If you don’t, you’ll eat it.
By the way, this truth applies to your closet, too. As soon as you start shrinking and clothes feel too big, get rid of them! If you don’t, you’re telling yourself that you plan on gaining that weight back again. Don’t let that be an option!
In fact, this truth is so universal that it even applies to relationships. Life is short. Keep only those things, thoughts, or people, in your life that make you better.
TRUTH #11: THE WEIGHTS CAN WAIT
I know this is rather blasphemous talk, and Jillian Michaels may show up on my doorstep calling for my head (or for me to tug a car up a hill), but if you’re starting from a stand-still and have not been exercising at all, please, don’t rush out and join a gym at the same time you’re learning this new way of cooking and eating.
That’s NOT to say moving your body isn’t important. Of course, it is! And, as you lose weight, you’ll want to move and find more and more ways to get exercise.
But, for now, if you’ve been doing nothing at all, start slowly. You can go for a 30 minute walk while you’re roasting vegetables. You can do stretches and deep knee bends while you’re in the shower. You can do little lunges while brushing your teeth or drying your hair. You can simply start by taking the stairs instead of elevators or parking further from the door when you go to the market or the mall.
The bottom line is, research proves that weight loss is more about what you eat, than what you lift. And if you only have a limited amount of time in your day, I’d rather you spend most of that time learning a new way to cook, shop and feed yourself for now because you MUST master that if you’re going to lose weight.
You can always join a gym, or tug a car up a hill, later.
NEXT: THE SKINNY STRATEGY
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