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July 1, 2014

Vegas, baby

12:24 pm - Posted by Gregg

This past weekend I flew to “fabulous” (or so they tell me) Las Vegas, where I was honored to attend the American Librarian Association’s annual Conference and Exhibition, where I got to sign advanced copies of my brand new book, Weightless: My Life As a Fat Man and How I Escaped.

I am so excited about this upcoming book, which details my journey from my birthweight of 8 lbs. and 6 oz. to over 450 pounds and then back down (and a little up and down) to a healthy 175 pounds. The book chronicles all of my “Before, During and After” adventures in a very humorous, harrowing and candid way — and even includes a bonus section with all kinds of helpful hints, recipes, tips and more for anyone who might be looking to take their own journey to a healthier weight. The book even features a foreword by the esteemed (and hilarious and inspirational) Joy Bauer.

The book comes out on September 9th and I promise to share more about it between now and then. But if you’d like, you can “like” the Weightless Facebook Page, where I’ll also be posting updates. In the meantime, here are a few pics from Vegas that I wanted to share with you. Hopefully I’ll have future signings in your area (once the book comes out) and I might get to meet you in person. But be forewarned, as the librarians attending the conference in Vegas will tell you, I don’t shut up when signing your book and ask a lot of nosy questions! Hey, that’s just me!

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June 12, 2014

Joy to the world

11:50 am - Posted by Gregg

I first met rockstar diet and nutrition guru Joy Bauer when appearing on NBC’s Today Show to mark my 250+ pound weight loss by being inducted in the Joy Fit Club, which celebrates people who’ve lost over 100 pounds of weight through common sense diet and exercise.

Having been a lifelong dieter (and someone who still has to think about health and nutrition daily in order to maintain the weight loss), I was in awe of Joy, knowing that the kind of information she shares on the air and writes about in her New York Times best selling books are helpful morsels of knowledge that anyone can use to get or to stay healthy. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Joy also has a razor sharp wit and is as energetic off the air as she is when cameras are rolling.

Besides being NBC’s Today Show nutrition and health expert, Joy is also a contributing editor and columnist for Woman’s Day Magazine as well as the resident nutritionist for the New York City Ballet. Her recent book releases include The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, Slim & Scrumptious and Joy Bauer’s Food Cures.

Joy has a new television special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, currently airing on PBS stations that focuses on easy nutrition fixes for various health ailments and issues. In celebration of this, I recently sat down with Joy to not only get the scoop on her TV special and pick up a few tips we can all use to win the battle of the bulge, but also to find out about Joy, herself — including which food tempts her the most.

Gregg McBride: Joy, you have a lot of initials after your name (when seen in print) — MS, RD, CDN. Do you think these professional affiliations are important for someone letting people know how they can lose weight and get healthier?
Joy Bauer: I’ve met a lot of wonderful counselors and people who can guide others to better health who do not have professional affiliations. There are individuals who have an innate gift for helping others as well as knowing which articles and books to recommend. But at the same time, there are certain advantages to working with an RD (Registered Dietitian) or an RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) because it means they’re affiliated with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) and can apply that level of nutrition and even medical education to peoples’ needs.

GM: What will people learn when tuning into your PBS special?
JB: I’m really excited about Food Remedies because for the first time I have more than 2- to 3-minutes to share how approaching food differently can change someone’s life for the better — both mentally and physically. People are used to seeing me via small segments on the Today Show. But in this new special I have enough time to show how various foods and food combinations can boost energy, increase memory, get rid of unwanted weight, alleviate aches and pains, assist with Type 2 Diabetes and more. It’s a fresh approach everyone can implement to feel and look markedly better. In fact, people that watch will get a lot of the same benefits and knowledge I give to my one-on-one clients. Everything I discuss in this special is on the cutting edge of science and nutrition and has the potential to change viewers’ lives starting almost immediately. I even share a recipe I call my “Pretty Potion” (or “Handsome Helper” for the guys) that can help give people a glowing complexion, thicker hair and improve overall appearance, naturally.

Why do you think there are so many confusing messages about how to successfully lose weight? And how can people clear the clutter?
JB: Sad to say, but freedom of speech can be a potential culprit when it comes to weight loss and health-related advice. Anyone can say, write or publish virtually anything they want. This equates to a lot of confusing — and often incorrect — messages about what it really takes to get control of one’s health (whether to look better, feel better or both). At the same time, there are experts out there who have all the book knowledge, but don’t necessarily communicate it in a way that people can easily apply to everyday living. This is why I’m thrilled to be part of the Today Show and Woman’s Day. Both provide me with opportunities to take complicated information and deliver it in a way that’s inviting, realistic and helpful (not to mention easy to digest — often literally).

What do you think the biggest mistake people embarking on a diet plan commonly make?
JB: Without a doubt, it’s having an “all or nothing” mentality. In other words, people starting out on a healthier eating (or living) routine without allowing any leeway. Then, once a cheat (or momentary binge) has occurred, these people give up and go hog wild in the other direction — as far away from common sense nutrition and good health as they can. But the fact remains that no one gains weight from a couple cookies or a slice or two of pizza. In fact, every one of my success stories admits to yo-yo-ing in the past (going up and down the scale). It’s when they learned to forgive and even allow themselves the occasional treat or slipup that they finally began to win the battle of the bulge. Eating well and living a healthy life isn’t about 100% perfection. It’s about balance, forgiving yourself and getting right back on track once the slipup has occurred. Too many people wait for the next week, next month or even next January 1st to try again. I promise that getting right back to your commitment to better health will definitely be the differentiator from all the other times you’ve tried to lose weight in the past.

GM: If someone wanting to get healthier was only going to make one change, what would you recommend that single change be?
JB: I would suggest incorporating produce into every meal — mainly because produce offers high volumes of food at lower and better-for-you calories, while also being loaded with fiber and other nutritional benefits. For breakfast, add sliced tomato to a toasted English muffin with melted cheese; or simply add fresh berries to your bowl of cereal. At lunch you can add roasted peppers to virtually any sandwich. Grab a handful of baby carrots as an afternoon snack. And try my Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna recipe or something similar at dinner time. Produce instantly ups the health quotient of a meal and is easier to incorporate than people might think.

GM: Which of your many best-selling books is your personal favorite?
JB: That’s a tough question because I have different reasons for loving each of my books. Your Inner Skinny is a great resource for dieters, while Slim and Scrumptious offers a bunch of great recipes that anyone (even people who aren’t trying to lose weight) will enjoy. For the “feel good” and “inspiration” factors, I recommend Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, which features amazing success stories, tips and recipes from the very people who lost incredible amounts of weight. But if I had to choose one of my books as the crown jewel, it would likely be Joy Bauer’s Food Cures, which I poured every bit of of my 20+ years of experience into — making it a go-to resource for anyone who wants to increase bone strength, improve mood, lower cholesterol, take off unwanted pounds, boost memory, reduce risks for certain kinds of cancer and more — all through different foods and easy-to-whip-up recipes.

GM: Do you test out recipes on your family (husband Ian, daughters Jesse and Ayden and son Cole)?
JB: In a word? Yes. But I can never trust my husband Ian’s opinion because he attests to liking every new recipe I try (and he’s a wise man to do so). Because of this, I rely a lot on my kids, meaning two out of the three have to be won over by my new creation in order for me to pursue it further or present it publicly. At the same time, I have a whole extended family (including friends) who live close by and who I often refer to as my “Guinea Pig Taste Testers.” I’ll throw big picnics and encourage people to fill out anonymous comment cards so I get their feedback on what they liked or didn’t like about a new dish. (And yes, there have been a few duds! But don’t tell my husband that.)

GM: What is your go-to snack for filling up without filling out?
JB: My name is Joy. And I’m a nut-aholic. Whether it’s walnuts, pecans, pistachios — you name it — I’m nuts for nuts. Seeds, too. I love sprinkling pumpkin or sunflower seeds on salads, Greek yogurt and just about any other kind of food. They’re packed with nutrients like omega-3 fats, zinc, niacin, and vitamin E, nuts and seeds can help boost eye health, reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, and slow the progression of vision loss — not to mention reduce your risk for a slew of other health conditions.

GM: Aside from the PBS Special, what else is coming up in the world of Joy Bauer in 2014?
JB: I’m actually jumping out of my skin with excitement over my very first food venture, Nourish Snacks. For the past two years, I’ve been searching the globe for the most premium and mouth watering ingredients including naturally-sweet pineapple from Sri Lanka, crunchy chickpeas from 4th and 5th generation family farms here in the United States, and rich dark chocolate made in France from the highest quality share of the cacao bean crop. Now I’m using these ingredients to create snack blends with the perfect mix of nutrition and flavor. There’s an amazing variety including Posh-tashios spiked with EVOO and Mediterranean spices, Cashew Colada made with roasted cashews, toasted coconut and dried pineapple, and Cocoa Loco which is loaded with dark chocolate, cacao nibs, chia seeds and puffed quinoa. Each is formulated to keep people feeling energized and full — all for no more than 200 calories. There are no GMOs, no artificial sweeteners, no harmful preservatives, no soy protein isolate, no hydrogenated oils — in other words, no B.S. Plus, all Nourish Snacks are naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan.

GM: Do you ever have days when you feel like your clothes are too tight?
JB: [Without any hesitation] Absolutely. Doesn’t everyone?

GM: If I wanted to make you gain 5 pounds, which tempting food would I need to send you that you wouldn’t be able to resist?
JB: Please promise not to tell anyone — but it would be vanilla ice cream with some sweet mix-ins on the side (chocolate crunchies, peanut butter chips, granola, coconut… Yum!).
GM: Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.

You can click here to find out when Joy Bauer’s PBS special, Joy Bauer’s Food Remedies, is airing on your local PBS affiliate. You can also pick up more of Joy’s recommendations, recipes and tips by visiting Joy’s website.

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1:26 pm - Posted by Gregg

Memorial Day is behind us… And you know what that means: Summer’s finally here!

And this makes it a great time to get outdoors to add even more physical activity to your day. Not only will being outdoors add to your bottom line (or lack thereof) when it comes to your healthy life outlook, but it will also allow you to soak up some healthy Vitamin D in its natural form from the sun.

But whatever your outdoor activity, make sure you remember the sunscreen. The FDA recommends that we apply SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 at the very least. But that rule doesn’t apply to everyone. Thus, you’re encouraged to take your own “sun history” into account.

If you rarely burn and tan easily, SPF 15 is likely right for you. But if you are very pale, have numerous freckles and/or red hair, then you should use a much higher level of SPF. If you’re not sure which level of SPF you should be using, make a quick call to your doctor or dermatologist to get their professional opinion. After all, the skin you save may be your own.

And no matter which level of SPF you’re using, this same rule applies to us all: Reapply the sunblock every 2 hours (more so if you’re sweating or just getting out of the pool or ocean).

To find out which SPF level is right for you, click here

For more information on the FDA Guidelines regarding SPF levels, click here

And finally, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

Photo Source: Wikipedia

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May 21, 2014

Snack attack

4:10 pm - Posted by Gregg

What’s worse? Cheating on your diet? Or not enjoying it when you do?

Okay, first of all, let’s drop the word “cheating” from our lexicon. Dieting isn’t about being “on” or “off.” This is real life. And whether being careful about our food intake to lose excess weight or doing it to maintain the weight we’ve already lost (and don’t want back), there are going to be times that we have a cookie or some other kind of treat — whether planned or not. (For more on this, see my recent post on the topic of being “on” and “off” of a diet.)

The question then becomes, are we really enjoying the treat? And I mean really-really. Too often, those of us with a dieter’s mentality will devour a decadent food without enjoying the actual consumption of it. It’s as if we go into some altered mental state while chewing the cookie or whatever the said offender-to-our-diet is (or was — burp!).

I remember back in the day, when I was attempting (over and over again) to lose 250+ pounds of excess weight. While trying every kind of diet out there (usually on a Monday or Tuesday and then again the beginning of the following week), I would often catch myself standing at the kitchen counter, chewing the remnants of my treat (AKA “cheat“) and realize I hadn’t even enjoyed the full experience. I was eating as if I was a caged animal that had broken into the kitchen (“the forbidden zone” as it were) and snuck a treat before being caught. When a better tactic would have been to take the cookie, chocolate bar — or whatever — and put it on a plate, then sit down and enjoy every last decadent morsel of deliciousness.

Do you understand the difference between these two scenarios? One is about ravenous eating before getting caught (or, perhaps, catching ourselves) and one is about true enjoyment. And no, it’s not “wrong” to enjoy a treat even when you’re on a diet of one kind or another. Life is about moderation. So if you’re going to treat yourself, do so in the healthiest mental state possible. This could equate to meeting a friend at an ice cream parlor to split a sundae, getting a freshly baked cookie at the mall and sitting down near the fountain to enjoy it while people watching or even (gasp!) picking up a delicious looking apple at a farmer’s market and then enjoying it with a few teaspoons of all-natural peanut butter.

Yes, that’s right, healthy snacking should be as enjoyable as the more decadent kind of snacking. But no matter which type you’re doing, you really should be enjoying the whole experience and not eating like a vampire that’s afraid of dawn’s first light. It’s this kind of eating (scared, fast, unconscious) that’s one of the likely reasons we’ve ended up at the undesirable end of the scale in the first place.

So next time you have a craving, take a breath. Decide if you’re really hungry and then if you really want the treat. And if it’s really worth it. Assuming it’s a “Go,” then make the actual eating of the treat a metered and enjoyable experience. Really savor every moment as much as you’re savoring every morsel. Then, when it’s over, take another breath. There. Now you’re eating (and treating) like a “normal” person. And that’s what you are. Normal. Whether you have some excess weight you want to lose or not.

(And remember you can always feel free to go for a walk after the snack to burn off some of those decadent calories.)

Snacking should never be about guilt, anxiety or desperation. Put the full range of enjoyment back into snacking and see how much it can help your overall eating plan and goals.

Oh, and if you need someone to split that ice cream sundae with, I’m definitely available.

Photo Source: watchfit.com

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9:24 am - Posted by Gregg

As a lifelong “dieting type,” I learned about being “on” and “off” of a diet from an early age. And I mean really early – from around first grade, when I began to show signs of gaining excess weight. Because of this, my parents — thinking it was for the best — put me on an overly strict diet. (Burger patty and cottage cheese, anyone?)

Even though very young, I realized that being “on” the diet that my parents prescribed was very different than when I was “off” of it. In fact, as a way to reinforce their strict eating rules, my parents removed all junk food and candy from the house and even put a lock on the cabinets containing crackers and other carb-esque contraband. (True story.)

We can debate my parents’ war against moderation all we want, but suffice it to say, I taught them a thing or two about being “off” of my diet. Not only did I start eating cake, candy and other kinds of junk food at every opportunity that presented itself (thinking I might never have such food again), I eventually began stealing money from my dad’s wallet in order to buy my own supply of sugar-tastic food from the local market. Of course, I could never let my parents find my secret stash, so I would eat most of it in one sitting (no matter how stuffed and miserable I felt afterward).

OnOff.

And the pattern continued. All the way up until post-college, during which time I weighed over 450 pounds. I know it was over, because my scale would only read ERR (short for “error,” I later learned after consulting the manual, since this particular electronic scale wasn’t programmed to register anything over a certain weight).

I’m happy to say that I eventually did take off all the excess weight (over 250 pounds of it) and have kept it off for over a decade. But along with healthy eating, plenty of exercise, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water, I also had to tame my on-off-itus. And no, that didn’t happen easily. Even as I successfully dieted, I would have “on” days (on which I didn’t eat a morsel of food that wasn’t part of my eating plan) and “off” days (on which I would eat enough for two — myself and the state of California).

Being “on” or “off” usually leads to a cheater’s mentality. And that doesn’t serve us well whether we’re trying to lose the excess weight or simply working to maintain the weight loss.

It took years to retrain my psyche, but eventually I learned to “just have the cookie” if I really wanted one. Now, I should point out that we’re talking a cookie, as opposed to a bag of cookies (sprinkled over a vat of ice cream, in my case). The key is thinking like someone who eats and enjoys food in a healthy fashion. Yes, we really can have one cookie. Or one helping of potato chips (or whatever) on occasion and not wreck our commitment to eating healthy and looking amazing. And that’s because we can learn that unlike what we think when “on” our diets, we can have another cookie (or whatever) in the future, when a healthy opportunity presents itself.

Let’s face it — one cookie did not make us fat. It was eating whole bags full that did that. And much of our binge-worthy behavior is a result of the “on/off” mentality that being on and off diets has taught us over the years.

Remember that you and I are not trying to “cheat the system” by maintaining that old standard which dictates that being “on” a diet today means we’ll be “off” of it come the weekend. Instead, join me in learning that fine art of balance. Sure, that means sometimes saying “no” to decadent foods. And that’s because we want to be able to breathe after zipping up our jeans.

But at the next office birthday celebration, we can have a reasonable slice of cake. Not the whole cake. And not with a bevy of “secret licks of frosting” when no one’s looking. One delicious, treat-worthy slice of cake — and then we might even do a little power walk after we get home from work. That’s balance. That’s moderation. And that’s putting on-off-itus where it belongs — in our rearview mirrors.

Do you struggle with the “on/off” complex? Or do you have successful way of combatting it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. In the meantime, do me a favor and save a piece of that reasonably sliced cake for me.

Photo Source: DavidReport.com

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