just me

5 Painless Ways to Kickstart Your Weight Loss

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm

1. Kick the cereal habit.
Cereal is delicious, and I for one could live on it exclusively, but it’s not really your friend when you’re trying to lose weight. Have you ever measured out a serving of cereal? It varies, but it’s usually about a cup. A handful. How much cereal do you eat? A bowlful? You mean like, 3 cups? Multiply that by about 130 calories per serving, and you have a 390 calorie breakfast that isn’t especially filling. You could have an egg sandwich or an enormous bowl of oatmeal for that.

And don’t get me started on granola. Filling, yes. Scrumptious, yes. But whoa – around 500 calories per cup? They fool you because the listed serving size is a quarter-cup, which is about how much you feed a toddler who’s not feeling well. Ugh. Here’s a hint – when you’re dieting, granola isn’t good for anything. Not even as a topping for your yogurt. Speaking of yogurt…

2. Enough with the yogurt already!
Real, actual Greek yogurt is very good for you – it’s got protein, probiotics, and no added sugar. Great. Use it in place of butter or sour cream if you want, but it’s still too high-calorie for a snack. And if you’re eating those little plastic cups of flavored yogurt – forget it. Stop right now. They are loaded with sugar, too high-calorie for the volume, and really not a valuable addition to your diet. And Activia is no better – it’s got probiotics, but so does real Greek yogurt. If you read the fine print, Activia is only proven to help your bowels if you eat it three times per day. That’s about 300 extra calories per day. That’s about an hour’s walk. Stop it.

3. Don’t drink calories!
Your body doesn’t register calories from beverages as nourishment, so they won’t squash your appetite. Save your precious calories for food, and drink only zero-calorie liquids. Water, tea, coffee – but no cream or sugar! Even diet soda and diet energy drinks are fine in terms of weight loss. Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap, but they’re safe if you’re not drinking 100 gallons every day.

4. Embrace the artificial.
Do you want to be all-natural, or do you want to be thin? Ideally, we would all eat local, organic food. But when you’re dieting, if eating an artificial product means the difference between blowing your diet and sticking to it, go for it. Artificial sweeteners can help wean you away from your sweet tooth, and Walden Farms has a line of CALORIE-FREE salad dressings, chocolate syrup, marshmallow fluff, and even peanut butter. Sure, it’s not as good as the real thing and it doesn’t teach you better eating habits, but if you absolutely must taste something sweet before you commit homicide, it’s better if it doesn’t throw your diet off course.

5. Get your caffeine.
This is another one of my unpopular tricks, but I still tell all of my clients to stick with the caffeine if they enjoy it. Nothing (legal and OTC) has ever been proven to help with weight loss better than caffeine. It curbs your appetite, increases your calorie burn, and helps you get your ass off the couch and to the gym. In fact, taking caffeine about 30 minutes before a workout helps you burn more calories during that workout, even working at your usual intensity. Of course, if you’re caffeine-sensitive, pregnant, nursing or have any other medical condition that makes your doctors warn you against caffeine, this particular tip is not for you. But if you enjoy caffeine, drink your coffee, grab that sugar-free Rockstar, chug that espresso and soldier on!


The Facts About Gluten

In Breads / Grains on November 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

ZOMG. Click the pic to buy this Tom Vano print.


Talk about demonized — poor gluten. Gluten is blamed for many things — weight gain, slow metabolism, digestive problems… Most of them are not true.

“But wait,” you say, “my friend lost a bunch of weight by giving up gluten!” Maybe she did — but it wasn’t the absence of gluten. Maybe she was eating less food overall, maybe she started working out, maybe she started making healthier choices all around.

The truth is that most people will lose some weight in the first stages of a diet, only because it’s in the forefront of their minds and hasn’t become tedious yet. It takes a while to fail. But I digress — back to gluten.

There is nothing about gluten that makes you sick, makes you fat, causes autism, etc., etc., etc. Anybody who tells you any different is trying to sell you something. There is a very small segment of the population who needs to avoid gluten, but we’ll get to that. First, let’s get on the same page about what gluten is.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and related grains. That’s it, just a protein. It’s what provides the

Yup, yeast farts! (photo from Apple Pie, Patis and Pate - click the pic.)

structure and shape. You can see it at work in a slice of bread — see the air pockets? The air is gas released by yeast, and the “walls” of each bubble are made of gluten. In fact, the whole purpose of kneading is to stretch and strengthen the gluten fibers so they can more effectively trap the yeast farts inside the bread to make a fluffier loaf.

People with celiac disease (about 1% of the population) can’t eat gluten because their immune system sees it as an invader. An inflammatory reaction ensues, and tremendous pain and (possibly permanent) intestinal damage results. As the intestines get damaged, they lose the ability to absorb nutrients from food, so the sufferer begins to lose weight despite eating normally. Going gluten-free stops the process, and in most cases returns normal intestinal function. In other words, giving up gluten helps these people GAIN weight. Ha. Tell that to your friend!

There is a condition called gluten sensitivity that affects a wider swath of the population, but it’s difficult to pin down. Instead of digestive pain, it manifests as headaches, fatigue and other general yuckiness — much different from celiac disease. People with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity don’t incur any kind of intestinal damage from the gluten, it just makes them feel yucky. It’s a big range, though — some people can’t take it at all, while others can tolerate varying amounts up to a particular threshold. It’s really very individual. Many of these people quickly learn and abide by their personal threshold, but some must give up gluten entirely.

As for the rest of us, gluten poses no threat whatsoever. Feel free to give it up if you want, but any celiac sufferer can expound upon the inconvenience of the whole thing. Gluten-free food are not lower in calories or fat — in many cases they’re higher. They’re not healthier, they’re just made with a different grain.
Now if you want to give grains up altogether, that’s a different story. I have, and I don’t miss ‘em. But that’s a post for another day.

Chicken Sandwich with Sauteed Basil

In Chicken, Sandwiches on November 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm

SO sweet and delicious...and check out that phosphorus content!


Omigod. Don’t you just want to take a huge bite out of that picture? I can still taste the sandwich right now. Possibly because it’s been a couple of hours since I’ve eaten (starving!), but more likely because it was just that good.

My thing about this sandwich is the basil. We’ve all used basil as a seasoning and a garnish, but have you ever just cooked it as a vegetable? Thought not.

And what about balsamic glaze? Oooohhh yeah. Not the homemade kind, either. I’m usually all about the making-from-scratch, but not when it comes to balsamic glaze. See, when you make it at home, it usually just involves reducing regular balsamic vinegar. Not only does it produce fumes that will stink up your house and make your eyes water like your cat just died, but you miss out on the true flavor.

See, real balsamic glaze is the result of reduced balsamic vinegar, yes, but also grape concentrate. The end product has just the right balance of sweet and tart that your tastebuds will  start squirting saliva before it even gets to your mouth. Even if you don’t like balsamic vinegar, you’ll like balsamic glaze. Promise.

Then you combine the glaze and basil with tender, moist grilled chicken and a thick, juicy slice of tomato, and you’re in heaven. So why don’t I shut up and just tell you how to make the darn thing? It couldn’t be easier.

Makes two sandwiches:
Pound 2 chicken breasts to even thickness, and rub with salt, pepper, dried basil and oregano.

Sear them on high, then reduce heat to medium until they are cooked through. Do this on a grill instead of in a pan for extra yum.

While that’s happening, saute 2 handfuls of fresh basil over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1 clove of pressed garlic. Just keep swishing everything around until the leaves are wilted and tender.

Put the finished chicken on buns (because raw chicken would be gross, and I already told you to cook them. keep up.), and  divide the basil equally between the two sandwiches. Top each sandwich with a thick slice of tomato, and drizzle with a tablespoon of balsamic glaze.

See? Simple. Easy. Not easy peasy, because I loathe that term. Unless you’re three years old — then it’s cute. If you have the ability to speak clearly, please don’t ever say “easy peasy”. I would have to ban you from polite society. Thank you.


Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving


Total Fat
4.2 g

Saturated Fat
1.0 g

Polyunsaturated Fat
1.2 g

Monounsaturated Fat
1.0 g

136.9 mg

310.4 mg

700.1 mg

Total Carbohydrate
16.2 g

Dietary Fiber
1.1 g

0.5 g

57.6 g

Vitamin A
8.8 %

Vitamin B-12
14.9 %

Vitamin B-6
66.5 %

Vitamin C
9.6 %

Vitamin D
0.0 %

Vitamin E
2.5 %

6.2 %

8.6 %

10.7 %

16.0 %

20.0 %

13.3 %

139.0 %

Pantothenic Acid
21.1 %

49.9 %

19.2 %

76.1 %

21.0 %

14.8 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.