8 Pounds And Counting

Every time I speak to my mother-in-law the first question after she asks me how I am is “so, how much weight did you gain so far?” This isn’t your typical catty-woman question. That’s not why she is asking it. She is Ukranian, and Ukranian women are supposed to have a little bit of meat. They’re not crazy like us Americans. A little bit of meat means your healthy. Plus, if you think about it, a country where you had to stand on line for rationed toilet paper means that you most likely didn’t let a lot of things, especially food, go to waste.

So, on Friday, I was happy to report to her that I have gained a total of 8lb. so far. She was happy and I was happy, because I know I’m supposed to be gaining weight, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that my former devil-Dani self wasn’t nagging at me in the back of my head a little bit. That little putrid voice that tells me, however irrationally, that I can’t gain an ounce of weight ever. Even if there’s a baby inside of me. It’s just not allowed. It’s not according to the “rules”. The rules I so strictly lived my life by for so many years. And then the fear sets in…

I have to remind myself that these arbitrary rules I once put into place are no more real than an imaginary friend. I’m growing a baby – of course I need to gain weight. Of course it’s ok. Of course it’s healthy and expected. Nevertheless though, I still get that twinge of fear – what if I end up gaining way more than is healthy. What if I get out of control and start bingeing again? What if I can’t lose it after this little girl is born?

And then, that’s exactly what snaps me back to reality – those three amazing words… “this little girl”. Actually, it’s not just a little girl, it’s my little girl, and I would never want her to have this kind of voice in her head. I didn’t work so hard to overcome my eating and body image issues so that she could see me loathing myself because being pregnant with her made me gain weight. I never want her to model me constantly looking in the mirror to see where the fat settled, feeling depressed when I get dressed in the morning because I hate how everything looks on me, or obsessively counting calories all day because I have to look a certain way.

My little girl is never going to grow up with a Mommy like that. No, she is going to learn that happiness doesn’t come from a number on the scale or the compliments of other people. It comes from being ok and loving who you are. So, today, as I leave you, I am fully acknowledging the fact that I gained 8lb. and it is ok.

Slash Holiday Calories In Half

The average person gains at least one pound between Thanksgiving and New Years. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? One pound isn’t bad at all and it should be fairly easy to take off, but the problem is that most people never do take that pound off. 5 years of holiday seasons equals 5 pounds and ten years equals 10 pounds! Most people tell themselves that they’ll wait until after New Years to do something about the thousands of extra calories they’ve eaten, because what’s the point if you’re just going to go to yet another holiday party next week? And besides, you have that New Year’s Resolution you’re planning on tackling (yet again this year) to finally take off the weight you gained last year, so why not have one last hurrah before buckling down.

The more you put it off, the less likely you’ll be to actually follow through with your plan, so here are some ideas to get a jump-start on your resolution, but still enjoy the parties and food.

Wine – There’s about 100-120 calories in a 4 oz. glass of wine (more for dessert wines), so if you know you’re going to have more than one glass slash the calories in half by turning it into a wine spritzer. Mix half wine with half seltzer and top it off with a slice of lime.

Looks pretty yummy and festive!

Cheese & Crackers – One cracker with an ounce of cheese will run you about 125 calories. Yikes! And you know you won’t be able to stop at just one. Cheese is usually pretty pungent, so you know that a 1/2 ounce portion can go a long way. Cut the calories even further by having the cheese with veggies instead of the crackers.

Mashed Potatoes – Heap a 1/2 cup on your plate and pile on 120 more calories. Lighten it up by leaving the butter out and using skim milk or chicken broth to smooth it out. For a bonus, leave the skin on the potatoes and it’ll look like you’re a gourmet chef. You’ll get an added boost of fiber too.

Gravy – There’s 50 calories in a 1/4 cup serving. But who can really tell how much we pour on anyway? The more the merrier, right? Well, yes, but only if you’re skimming off the fat. Use a bit more chicken broth and a little less of the turkey drippings to cut down on unnecessary calories. Secret tip: Place the gravy in a Ziploc bag, seal, and snip a tiny corner off the bottom. Squeeze the gravy out of the bag and watch the fat rise to the top. Stop squeezing as soon as you reach the fat and throw away.

There are too many things to list in this post, so check back later in the week and I’ll have some more for you! Happy Holidays!

Face Your Biggest Fear

I’m hooked on this new VH1 show called “The OCD Project”. It’s about 6 patients who suffer from debilitating obsessions and compulsions, ranging from terrifying thoughts they can’t get out of their heads to rubbing their faces, tapping surfaces, counting light switch flicks, and washing and rewashing their hands over 20 times a day. Last night’s episode was really crazy for me, because while I was watching it I realized that although I may not suffer from OCD my eating patterns and behaviors in the past seem very much along the line of obsessive or compulsive. And even now, after having gotten over so many of my issues there are little things that linger that I wish weren’t there. For instance, I have a habit of eating at night. If I’m away somewhere I don’t really feel the need to eat, but when I’m at home it’s like something comes over me and I’m pretty much compulsively eating even though I’m not all that hungry. I’ll go from one snack to another to another even though I’m fully aware that I’m going to feel horrible and guilty about it soon after, and that it’s going to be my first thought when I wake up and it will spill over into the next day. I’ve been aware of this problem for quite some time now and I’ve tried various things to stop, but I realized the other day that I need to treat this exactly as I have treated all my other eating issues. And that means I have to get so utterly frustrated and sick and tired of living this way that nothing will come in the way of getting rid of it. No matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

It’s hard to describe in words what that frustration is like, but if you can catch the clip of last night’s episode and watch Jerry (he’s scared that he’s going to harm someone, even though he’s the nicest guy and has never even killed an ant) you’ll see what I mean. He has to face an uncomfortable exposure, something that makes him face his fear, in order for him to see that his anxiety and fear is only in his head. Watch the 9:30 mark and hear what he has to say about his OCD and how he describes being so angry, frustrated, and upset at it. He is so angry that he’s willing to do anything to get over it, because he just doesn’t want to live like that anymore. And you’ll see later at the 35:50 mark how he’s willing to do something so drastic to finally get rid of this problem that he’s had for most of his adult life. Listen to how he describes it – “his absolute biggest fear in life” – and then after the exposure he says “it was no big deal”.

See, we build things up in our head irrationally, because we feel like we can’t control it. But we can! You just have to get frustrated enough and be willing to struggle through it for a bit. It’s only temporary. So, how does this tie in to you and me? If you have a weight problem, you’ve probably been engaging in so many destructive behaviors and either don’t realize it yet or you do, but don’t know what to do about it. Yo-yo dieting, restricting, bingeing, compulsively eating, emotional eating, etc. are just manifestations of stress and/or anxiety. We do it because it soothes us, but the crazy thing is that every time you give into one of those behaviors it only sets up a pattern in your brain for the next time and the next and the next. Each time you do it that connection doesn’t just linger, it gets stronger, making it harder to break. So, the next time you see yourself falling back into an unhealthy pattern, sit with the discomfort and wait it out. Using me for example, when I felt like eating last night I said to myself, “you’ve proven to yourself before that you can get over anything, this night-time eating isn’t serving you any purpose except to make you upset and regretful. It doesn’t have to be this way. Have your snack, but that’s it! If you can do this for a few days those few days will turn into weeks and then months, and you will feel so much better.” I have a few ideas about why I eat this way at night when I’m home, but those reasons are arbitrary. All I need to know is that when I don’t do it I’m uncomfortable and it’s hard to fight it, and that shows me that I MUST fight it. So I did, and I feel fantastic today! And it’s only fueling my fire to try even harder tonight and tomorrow and every night from now on.

Think about what you need to work on and choose just one of them. Sit with your anxiety or discomfort and ride it out. Talk to yourself if you have to. Write it down. But whatever you do, don’t give into it! The more you give into it the longer it will stay. Get mad at it and get rid of it once and for all!

I’m here for you!

There Are No Shortcuts

Losing weight isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s not even something that happens in a week. It’s something that takes a significant amount of desire to change for a lifetime and the motivation to stick through it even during the most difficult of times. It’s also something that takes the willingness to dig deep within yourself to uncover why you gained the weight in the first place. To figure out what your sabotaging behaviors are and why you do them. Are you obsessed with numbers on the scale or are you unhappy with yourself and think that you don’t deserve to be thin? Are you a perfectionist that can’t ever seem to get this losing weight thing right, because you have every intention if being “good”, but then end up “slipping up, so you think you just threw the whole day away”? Whatever your reason is if you want to truly lose the weight for good you need to let go of that tendency to think that there’s some quick fix that’s going to help you lose those love handles. You have to learn to let go of those negative behaviors. The only way to really succeed is to know that you’re going to have to give it time and do some homework, but also know that in the end it’ll be so worth it, because once the hard part is over you’ll never have to do it again.

I’m starting a 12 week weight loss phone group beginning July 11th where you will uncover your hidden behaviors and learn to set up new helpful ones. It’s a baby-steps approach based on the Glycemic Index that will help you get to your goals without feeling overwhelmed. Clients of mine who have done this program have lost over 25 pounds, stabilized their blood pressure, and overall felt better about themselves. The best part is that you don’t have to go anywhere, so it won’t take hours out of your day. Just one hour every Sunday and a telephone is all you need. Plus being in a group with other people just like you will help you feel understood and supported in a way that going it alone can’t. If you’d like to join or just want more info, please click here and then leave a comment so I can send you the sign up info. Get a friend to join and you can both take 10% off the total price of any package!

Beat It or Eat It – Amazing Chocolate Souffle Swap Inside!

Beat It:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! Did I say chocolate souffle? Uh-huh! It’s on the dessert menu of any restaurant worth eating at and most likely someone at the table will order it. Problem is a single serving can be as much as 676 calories, 58.2g fat, 51.4g carbs, 14.2g fiber, and 17.7g protein! And you know you can’t stop at just one bite. Fabulously enough though I have the perfect swap for you.

Eat It:
- 4 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp dutch process cocoa
- 2 tbsp. skim milk
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 (6 oz.) ramekins with cooking spray. Sprinkle each with 3/4 tsp. granulated sugar.
2. Combine 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until smooth.
3. Spoon chocolate mixture into medium bowl. Cool 4 minutes and stir in vanilla.
4. Place egg in medium bowl and beat with mixer at high speed, until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 tbsp. granulated sugar , 1 tsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir 1/4 egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.
5. Spoon into prepared ramekins. Sharply tap dishes 2-3 times to level. Place on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, until puffy and set.
6. Sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar. Serve immediately. (Serves 2)

Here’s the fabulous part….one serving (an entire ramekin to yourself!) is only 79 calories, 0.6g fat, and 16.5g carbs! That means you don’t have to share it with anyone! Ok, I have to admit, I haven’t actually tried this baby out yet, so feel free to be the first and let me know how it is.

Dear Dani – Desperate Doctor!

Dear Dani,
I’m starting a new job in July (I’m a first year doctor) and I’m worried about fitting my healthy lifestyle into my new schedule. In the past few years I’ve gotten really good about my food and finding the time to exercise – I even took off 60lbs! – but now I’m worried that it’s all going to go down the toilet, because I’m not going to have any time to even breath. What can I do to make sure that I don’t lose everything that I’ve worked so hard for and still stay sane about it all?
Thanks, Desperate Doctor

Dear Desperate Doctor,
Firstly, I want to tell you how awesome it is that you’ve worked so hard and took off 60lbs! Secondly, you should know that taking off 60lbs isn’t easy and that you’ve already gotten through the really hard part, which is creating the habits and behaviors necessary to accomplish that. Your new schedule is just going to take a bit of adjusting to, but it’s nowhere near as hard as beginning from scratch (can you remember what that was like?). Speaking of starting from scratch, I’m sure that when you started all of this “healthy stuff” you began little by little, by taking baby steps, until you got to where you are now. So, starting your new job is going to be the same thing. Pick one thing that you are going to work on every week to make the transition as comfortable as possible.

Here are some of my survival tips:
1. Be kind to yourself and be as realistic as possible. Meaning, have the goal of maintaining your weight when you first start your residency. If you’re too hard on yourself and want to try to lose weight while you’re having so many changes in your life you’ll be really disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
2. You’re probably going to be faced with lots of new and stressful things, so make a note of the behaviors you engage in when you’re stressed, so that you don’t fall into their traps. If you tend to reach for food during difficult times be aware of this and catch yourself before it gets out of control.
3. Keep lots of prepared foods, such as cut up fruits and veggies, Kashi Bars, portioned out servings of cereal, yogurt, etc. on hand, so that you don’t reach for that Snickers bar out of the vending machine when you get off your shift and you’re starving.
4. Plan what you’re going to eat the night before. Having a plan for the next day will keep you from scarfing down poor choices in the cafeteria.
5. Take the stairs! You’ll keep your heart rate up, which means you’ll be burning calories throughout the day.
6. Keep a jump rope and resistance bands in your locker, so that you can sneak in mini workouts whenever you get the chance.
7. Get sleep whenever you can! When you’re tired your body will secrete hormones that make you want to eat, so whenever you get the chance to sleep, grab it!

Ok, so there you have it. My 7 survival strategies to help you get through this tough first year. I’m always hear, so give me a holler whenever you need anything!
Good luck, you’re going to be great!

Have a question that needs answering? Send em in! Every Thursday I ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

The Dieter's Dilemma

Last week I read an article in one of the health newsletters that I get about staying away from red meat. While they did differentiate between fatty meats and lean meats, their overall outlook was to stay away from it all together, because even lean meats have the potential to raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Wait, and here s the best part, they gave some meaty alternatives &.ready for it? Instead of sausage links at McDonald s, drive into your nearest Starbucks and pick up fresh hot oatmeal – just 140 tasty calories of hearty, whole-grain goodness. You can even ask to have it made with nonfat milk or soymilk. If your waistline is in good shape, ask for the Nut Medley or Dried Fruit Toppings.”
I don t know about you, but oatmeal doesn t even remotely remind me of a yummy juicy steak. And I love oatmeal!

Or, how about a big Granny Smith apple chopped into bite-size pieces and blended in a bowl with a half cup of cottage cheese (nonfat, low-sodium). umm, that s definitely not going to do it.

I m totally down with being as healthy as possible, but I m also human and know that you can t be on your game all the time. Hey, it s summer, and summer means grilling and the beach, and unless you re some sort of superhuman dieter (which isn’t great either) you most likely won t be able to abstain completely and you ll risk going overboard when you eventually give into your craving. If I were to give you one rule to follow, even though it s super clich

The Dieter’s Dilemma

Last week I read an article in one of the health newsletters that I get about staying away from red meat. While they did differentiate between fatty meats and lean meats, their overall outlook was to stay away from it all together, because even lean meats have the potential to raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.

Wait, and here’s the best part, they gave some “meaty alternatives”….ready for it? “Instead of sausage links at McDonald’s, drive into your nearest Starbucks and pick up fresh hot oatmeal – just 140 tasty calories of hearty, whole-grain goodness. You can even ask to have it made with nonfat milk or soymilk. If your waistline is in good shape, ask for the Nut Medley or Dried Fruit Toppings.”
I don’t know about you, but oatmeal doesn’t even remotely remind me of a yummy juicy steak. And I love oatmeal!

Or, how about “a big Granny Smith apple chopped into bite-size pieces and blended in a bowl with a half cup of cottage cheese (nonfat, low-sodium).” umm, that’s definitely not going to do it.

I’m totally down with being as healthy as possible, but I’m also human and know that you can’t be on your game all the time. Hey, it’s summer, and summer means grilling and the beach, and unless you’re some sort of superhuman dieter (which isn’t great either) you most likely won’t be able to abstain completely and you’ll risk going overboard when you eventually give into your craving. If I were to give you one rule to follow, even though it’s super cliché, I would tell you to do EVERYTHING in moderation and follow the 80/20 rule. You have to restrain yourself in moderation as much as you have to indulge in moderation, so eat white meats and fish 80% of the time and indulge in your lean red meats the other 20% of the time. It’s absolutely important that you have some fun once in a while and don’t feel like you’re holding yourself back too much, because if you love it enough, you’re going to wind up eating everything else that’s around just to avoid the “forbidden” food, but in the end you’re just going to have it anyway. So avoid that by allowing yourself to have it, but only in moderation.

Happy barbecuing to you!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!

Memorial Day Survival Guide

Yay, it’s Memorial Day weekend, which means summer is almost here! It also means lots of BBQs and parties this weekend, so don’t let one weekend blow months of hard work away. You still want to have a fabulous time though and not be the boring girl eating one lettuce leaf, so read on to find out how to navigate through all the fried chicken and burger-y goodness and still have fun.

1. Instead of heading straight for the burgers go towards the cut up veggies and salad first. Filling up on water packed foods will make you less likely to overeat the fat packed foods.

2. Speaking of burgers, if you’re making your own BBQ or you can bring something to someone else’s try my Turkey Burger recipe. It is D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and I promise you won’t miss the beefy kind! Also make sure to go easy on the mayo if it’s not low-fat. Better yet, stay away from it and try some avocado instead. Keep in mind that a full fat burger with all the fixings is 511 calories! That’s 58 minutes of stair climbing**!

3. If you’re going to drink and you’re a beer kind of girl stick to a light beer. If you like something a bit harder stay away from the sugary cocktails which are usually loaded with extra calories. Drinking your calories isn’t very satisfying and a margarita has 200 of those suckers, which means you’ll have to wash the dishes from your little party for 92 minutes! Instead swap the sugar for diet soda. My favorite mix is Stoli vanilla vodka and Coke Zero. Another good one is something we’ve named The Chilly Willie, which is mandarin vodka and diet root beer (I promise, it’s delicious!).

4. Who doesn’t love some good potato salad? I know! But, 1 cup will set you back 358 calories and 20g of fat! And you guessed it, I’m going to tell you what kind of agony you need to put yourself through to burn it off… That’s 81 minutes of mopping up after the guests leave! If that’s your kind of fun then go for the potato salad. If it’s not, then try grilling up some corn on the cob. I know it’s not potato salad, but I promise you’re going to want seconds! And good thing is that you can have seconds!

5. You scream, I scream, we all love ICE CREAM! I love ice cream as much as the next girl, but I have to keep my cravings in check, because I can easily devour an entire container all by myself in one sitting. Take this: a 1/2 cup serving of vanilla Ben & Jerry’s equals 240 calories and 16g fat. You’d have to do 30 minutes of push-ups to take that off! Have a Skinny Cow Truffle Bar for just 100 calories instead. They are YUMMY!

So, those are my tips. If you do give into temptation though don’t worry too much about it. It’s only one weekend and it’s hard to keep on track all the time. Just make sure that when you wake up the next morning you rededicate yourself to eating right and getting into gear. Don’t let one day turn into 1 week, and then a month, and then a year.

** All calorie counts are based on a 130lb. person

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An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Dani,
I’ve been a dieter my whole life. I’m 36 and have gained and lost the same weight for as long as I can remember, and every time I lose weight and regain it, it seems like a little more creeps on. I don’t know what to do anymore. I want to take this weight off and keep it off for good, but it seems like that’s never going to happen. I’m always having to watch what I eat and it’s exhausting. Any advice?
Thanks, An Exhausted Yo-Yo

Dear Exhausted Yo-Yo,
I want to let you know that you are not alone. So many people out there are just like you struggling to keep their weight off. Dieting seems like the logical thing to do when you want the scale to go down, because it would make sense that if you’re eating less then their won’t be anything inside of you to gain. Now, I’m not sure if you’re a regular reader or not, but I often talk about how dieting will slow your metabolism down. When you’re cutting out food groups or drastically reducing your calorie intake your body will hold on to whatever you feed it, because it doesn’t know when it’s going to get more (which is sort of how dieters usually are when they finally give into their craving – one cookie turns into 10, right?).
I don’t have any specifics on exactly what kind of dieter you are, but first I want to tell you that if you have a scale I want you to throw it out. It’s only going to make you obsess more about taking the weight off, which will sabotage your efforts (you know how they say that you find love when you’re not looking for it? Losing weight is sort of the same thing. If you think about it too much it most likely won’t happen, because you’re not being intuitive about it). Instead, focus on the waist of your clothes. If they feel looser on you than you know you’re doing the right thing!
Secondly, I want you to write your Victory Vision. Be completely honest with yourself and write down why you want to lose weight. If you’re doing it for other people then it’s going to be hard to keep the weight off, you have to do it for yourself.
Lastly, make a list of your negative behaviors that keep you on the yo-yo diet roller coaster and then write down ways to overcome those behaviors the next time you’re faced with them.

Just know that you’ve lived a lifetime like this, so you’re not going to be able to undo it overnight. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself when you slip-up – nobody and no body is perfect. You can do this!

Have a question that needs answering? Send ‘em in! Every Thursday I’ll be answering a new question, and it might just be yours!