May 15, 2012

It’s 1-2-3 Easy to Drop 5 Pounds Before Summer

Gearing up for summer? Want to fit into that two-piece by the middle of June? You really can drop five pounds (and maybe even a pants size) in six weeks!

This 1-2-3 plan has been adopted time and time again by thousands of successful dieters, including those in the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) that tracks successful individuals who have lost a little to a lot of weight, and more importantly, kept it off.

Food JournalCut a few calories. Weight loss is more about calories than fat grams or carb counting. Cut your current intake by 250 calories and you’ll lose about 2 to 3 pounds in six weeks. For a moderately-active woman, that means a calorie drop to no less than 1,200 and no more than 1,600 calories a day. (Hint: If you can’t lose weight on this calorie range, you need to exercise more, not cut calories further.) Focus on fiber and water-packed foods that fill you up without filling you out, such as steamed vegetables, salads with low-fat dressing, broth-based soups, nonfat milk products, soymilk, and fruits. Don’t deprive yourself, but do go easy on portions of whole grains, legumes, and extra-lean meats or fish. Seriously cut back (or cut out) sweets, refined grains (from pasta and muffins to doughnuts and bagels), and fast or convenience foods. Take a moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in nutritional gaps.

2) Increase exercise.
To lose the remaining pounds (total = 5), increase your current activity level by 250 calories a day with a combination of weight lifting to boost metabolism and aerobic activity to burn fat. Add to your current exercise plan – two or more 20-minute weight-lifting sessions. The rest of the week add extra aerobics with a brisk walk or golf (no cart, please!) for 45 minutes; jog, bicycle, or swim for 30 minutes; or run or play racquetball 20 minutes a day. Gardening, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, taking the stairs, and washing windows also count. Break it up into 10 to 15 minute sessions if necessary.

3) Get Support. Don’t go it alone – you need help, encouragement, understanding, and maybe even a little competition! To set up a life that supports weight loss, switch from the cafeteria crowd to the walking group at work, join Weight Watchers or Overeaters Anonymous, sign up for a 6-week aerobic class at the Y, or ask your partner not to bring home tempting foods and ask your kids to bicycle with you on weekends.

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight

Just Do This Today

1) Eat breakfast. This early-morning meal restocks dwindling glucose stores, the brain’sBreakfast is sliced sole source of fuel. Breakfast should be light and comprised of complex carbs and a little protein, such as a bowl of shredded wheat, non-fat milk, and a banana; or oatmeal topped with wheat germ and nonfat milk and served with a glass of orange juice.

2) Eat regularly. Skipping meals or eating erratically can undermine clear thinking. So, provide your brain with a constant supply of high-quality fuel by spreading your food intake into 4 to 6 mini-meals and snacks evenly distributed throughout the day.

3) Include at least 8 servings of fruits and/or vegetables in the daily menu.bell pepper party
The antioxidants – vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and the 100s of phytochemicals – in these foods are suspected to help prevent premature aging and possibly maintain a well-functioning nervous system and brain. Excellent antioxidant sources include: green or red bell peppers, orange juice, grapefruit juice, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, apricots, wheat germ, and broccoli.

4) Think iron. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen to and within the brain’s cells and it works closely with the nerve chemicals that regulate all mental processes. It’s no wonder swiss chardthat low intake of this trace mineral results in shortened attention span, lowered IQ, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, poor educational achievement, and reduced work performance. Premenopausal women should include at least four iron-rich foods in the daily diet, including extra-lean meat, cooked dried beans and peas, oysters, dried apricots, dark green leafy vegetables, and lima beans. Also, cook in cast-iron pots and drink orange juice not milk with high-iron meals.

4) Drink coffee in moderation. Caffeine in coffee and a related compound called
theobromine in tea directly stimulate the nervous system and can sharpen your reaction time and improve concentration, alertness, and short-term memory. But more than about three 5-ounce cups of coffee can give you the “coffee jitters,” and muddle your concentration and thinking.

Hot Off the Diet Press

1. Glug, Glug, Glug: Don’t think you are doing your kids any favors by serving sweetened fruit drinks. These beverages are the nutritional equivalent of soft drinks, according to several studies. The sugar content of many bottled fruit drinks is excessive and contributes to dental caries, state researchers at the University Lille-2 in France, based on a review of 187 different beverages and 21 fruit-flavored waters. Grape juice was one of the worst and almost 72% of fruit-flavored waters contained sugar. Six out of every 10 sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed in the home, according to a study from the University of Western Australia.

2. Thumbs Up for Summer Fruit:
Two compounds in watermelon, arginine and citrulline, might explain why extracts of this fruit lowered blood pressure and improved blood vessel function in a study from Florida State University.

3. Healthy Heart, Healthy Mind:Hatha Yoga Video - Revolving Lunge Pose Researchers at the American Heart Association warn that the same clogged arteries that lead to heart disease also affect blood flow to the brain, leading to dementia. Dr. Philip Gorelick, a co-author on the study, says, “…cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease may work together to cause cognitive impairment and the mixed disorder may be the most common type of dementia in older persons.” The researchers suggest that people can significantly reduce their risk for developing dementia down the road by taking the same steps they would take to lower heart disease risk, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a desirable weight, and exercising daily. Other important habits to adopt include not smoking and controlling hypertension, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Food & Mood Tip

Lunch Rules: You need to eat and you need to eat well at the mid-day meal, but that doesn’t mean lunch must take hours of preparation. Basically, you want lunch to be light in both calories and fat. A low-fat meal that supplies 500 to 600 calories helps you stay alert through the afternoon hours, boosts energy, and fills you up without filling you out. Heavy or calorie-packed meals this time of day will leave you feeling sluggish, both mentally and physically.

Lunch also should supply a balance of quality carbohydrates (whole grains, starchy vegetables, or legumes) and protein-rich foods, such as lean meat, chicken breast, fish, legumes, or nonfat milk products). The carbs supply fuel your brain and body need throughout the afternoon hours, while protein helps you feel full longer, so you are less likely to visit the vending machine for a candy bar or bag of chips. Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on carbs. A high-carbohydrate lunch, such as a plate of pasta with marinara sauce and a tossed salad, raises brain levels of the nerve chemical serotonin, which leaves you relaxed and perhaps a bit sleepy. Combine carbohydrates and protein, such as a chicken breast sandwich on whole grain bread and a spinach salad or a black bean burrito and carrot/raisin salad.

Eat Your Way to Sexy This Week

Add dark greens to the daily diet: These are some of the most mood- and energy-enhancing foods on the planet. Calorie for calorie, you get more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber than almost any other food. Greens clean arteries, protect brain cells from aging and depression, and improve blood flow to all body parts, thus lowering the risk for heart disease, cancer, vision loss, stroke, dementia, high blood pressure, wrinkling and skin cancer, erectile dysfunction, and loss of libido. They are rich in antioxidants, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, chlorophyll, and a host of phytonutrients from carotenoids to polyphenols and betaine. You honestly can’t get to sexy without them! You need at least two servings a day of the darkest greens you can find. A serving is 1 cup raw or 1 /2 cup cooked. So, include a spinach or baby greens salad at lunch. Mix greens into other foods, such as mashed potatoes, soups, or stews. Layer into sandwiches. Saute chard, kale, mustard, collard, or beet greens in olive oil and garlic.

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the Week

Sesame Salmon and Spinach Salad with Asian Vinaigrette
From The Food & Mood Cookbook by Elizabeth Somer and Jeanette Williams

This salad is a meal in itself. Serve with crusty French bread for lunch or dinner. You can prepare the onion-pea pod mixture ahead of time and reheat just before serving. Go easy on the dressing; it may be almost fat-free, but it’s packed with flavor!


4 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 1 /2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
pinch of red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 1 /2 cups corn kernels (fresh is best, but frozen will do)
1 1 /2 cups Chinese pea pods, de-veined and rinsed
16 ounces salmon fillet
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
10 cups baby spinach, washed, stemmed, and patted dry
1 cup jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
24 cherry tomatoes, halved


Preheat broiler.
1) Dressing: Combine all ingredients and set aside for flavors to blend.

2) Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn and pea pods and continue to saute over medium-high, stirring frequently, for an additional 8 minutes or until corn kernels are toasted and pea pods are cooked but crispy. Set aside.

3) Rub salmon with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sesame seeds. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet and broil for 4 to 5 minutes or until meat flakes easily with a fork (middle may be just barely done).

4) Divide spinach onto four plates. Top with equal amounts of onion-pea pod mixture and jicama. Place 12 cherry tomato halves around sides of spinach and top salad with 1/4 of salmon. Drizzle with dressing to taste, approximately 2 to 3 tablespoons. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional Analysis per serving: 365 Calories: 31 percent fat (12.5 grams); 2 grams saturated fat; 2 grams omega-3 fats; 34 percent protein; 35 percent carbohydrate; 9.5 grams fiber.

Answers to “Do you know?” from Last Issue:

How many calories there are in an ounce of cholesterol? Cholesterol is fat-soluble, but it is not a fat. It is a sterol. Therefore it has no calories and cannot be “burned” for energy.

What is the average fat content, in teaspoons, of the following yogurt toppings: 1/4 cup of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Yogurt-covered peanuts, M & M peanuts, or M & M plain candies?

While these desserts seems sweet, they actually get even more calories from fat than from sugar. Each of these candies at this amount contains at least 3 teaspoons of fat or almost 110 calories coming from fat.

Do You Know?

1. You have a hankering for an Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger with fries. How many calories, grams of saturated fat, and milligrams of sodium will you get if you eat the whole thing?

2. Many of the entrees served at Cheesecake Factory top well over 1,000 calories. Can you guess the calorie content of a serving of Biscuits and Gravy at this national chain?

Check next issue for the answers….

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut an additional 250 calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 large carrot oat muffin

2/3 cup low-fat fortified soymilk
1 banana, sliced
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup blueberries

Spinach-Chicken Wrap: Fill one whole wheat tortilla with 3 ounces grilled or roasted chicken breast, 1/4 cup baby spinach leaves, 1/4 cup roasted red peppers (from jar), and 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese. Heat in microwave. Top with 2 teaspoons salsa.
1 cup mandarin oranges drained and topped with 1 teaspoon candied ginger
1 cup 1% low-fat milk

4 cups air-popped popcorn (it’s a whole grain!)
1 cup tomato juice

1 serving of Sesame Salmon and Spinach Salad with Asian Vinaigrette
2 slices French bread
1 thin slice of low-fat cheese
4 large slices cantaloupe

1 cup hot cocoa made with 1% low-fat milk
3 fig bars

Nutrition Score: 1,910 calories, 19% fat (40 g; 12 g saturated), 59% carbs (282 g), 20% protein (105 g), 1,237 mg calcium, 36 g fiber.