Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘weight loss’ Category

Listening to Your Body for Better Health!

By Nicki On December 11, 2011 1 Comment

I remember Christmas in 1979, it was about a year after I had gotten my health in order and lost close to 50 pounds ( weight loss followed my healthy changes). Anyway, I had been eating healthy food for about a year and I was heading to my Grandparents house prepared to overindulge in holiday fare. I felt that I had deserved it because I really hadn’t eaten any unhealthy food in so long. I picked up my plate and headed towards the buffet table. Of course my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but hey, I “deserved” to eat all of the foods I had denied myself for so long, so I took one of everything. What I didn’t realize is though I thought I wanted all of this food, the reality was my body had been trained to crave what it needs not what I wanted. I realized at that moment, it’s all about listening to my body, NOT my “diet head”, it’s about being healthy.

We are so conditioned (due to years of dieting) to listen to our “diet-head” that we are completely out of touch with listening to what our body needs. Let me give you an example:

You go to a holiday event and your diet-head says, “Hey, it’s the holidays I can have all of this food, besides once January hits, I’ll eat better.” But if you really stop for just a minute and listen to your body, it really does crave the good-for-you foods. It’s just that we’ve become accustomed to making bad choices out of guilt or “the diet starts tomorrow” syndrome. But that’s all stuff in your head, not your body. Granted, your body does become addicted to sugars and junk food, but if you become consistent with good eating habits, your body will crave the good food, that’s what happened to me. 

This week, try to listen closely to your body. Granted, this time of year poses more challenges when it comes to eating healthy, but if you’re not in the “diet-head” you’ll make better choices versus eating something you swore you wouldn’t and then living with the guilt for the next week! Whether it’s the holidays or not, do your best to eat well and remain committed to activity. Let go of the diet-head and begin to be more thoughtful about making the choices that are right for you because your body and ultimately your mind knows best. Think about it, when you eat well, you feel well – enough said.


Here’s to your health!


An Ode to Holiday Indulgence!

By Nicki On November 27, 2011 3 Comments

“Tis holiday season and a time for fun, ne’er a thought of dieting, no not even one. I’ll eat what I like,  indulge in some wine, bring on the cookies, it’s treat eatin’ time!

A bit of some pie, a slice of the cake, Januarys coming, resolutions I’ll then make. I won’t worry now, what time I would waste, I won’t eat that much, simply a taste.

I promised myself, I’d diet next year, I promise I will, you’re reading it here. In the scheme of things, what’s a pound or two? I’ve lost it before, I’m sure you have too!

The holidays bring out the child in all, naughty or nice, you make the call. Doesn’t really matter, I’ll do what I like, because after December, I’ll bond with my bike.

I’m not going to worry, I’m not going to cry, it’s easy to choose …one more slice of pie!   I won’t get caught up in this weight loss game, I’ll let the holidays shoulder the blame.

Spending my time obsessing with food, just brings out my diet ugly mood. So I’ll give up the worry, I’ll give up the fight, and after December I’ll make all this right.

Wait just a minute, let me think here, is this the way to start a new year? To indulge and indulge until I just pop, then January 1st it all comes to a stop?

Is this the way I want things to be? To have all this fun temporarily? What will it mean on January first? The thought of starvation….is there anything worse?

If I have a small taste here and there, no need to abstain come the first of the year. Surely if I practice at a moderate pace, my January weight won’t be such disgrace.

I remember past January’s, that first step on the scale, all I could think was, human or whale?  The numbers reflected my imbibing mistakes, I knew I should’ve passed on the goodies I baked. What was I thinking, why didn’t I stop?  Dial 911, call the weight loss cop!

Yeah, the thought isn’t pretty, not something I need, so maybe the following words I should heed:

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night. Do yourself a favor and simply eat right. Once in awhile a treat is just fine, yes, even the occasional glass of wine.

Just keep yourself active and keep yourself fit, I know you can do it, no magic to it.

The holidays are great as long as you know, it’s a temporary season that comes and goes. It leaves behind messes and food galore, yet without even a thought you keep eating more.

So before you get tricked into holiday fun, don’t turn from healthy eating, that’s number one. Get plenty of water, that’s number two and plenty of rest, it helps all that you do. Plenty of fruits and veggies are number four, otherwise healthy eating  just goes out the door.

Going through the holidays eating just right, won’t take the fun out of parties at night. Cause on January first when you’re feeling great, you’ll smile as you think about the over-eaters fate!







Here’s to Healthy Holidays!


Give Up Resolutions. Find Solutions.

By Nicki On November 3, 2011 No Comments

Too much of the wrong foods.

As we  shift in to the frenzied holiday season, healthy intentions are left behind. Once the chaos of the holidays takes control of our lives,  January 1st is the day of salvation. But you know, and I know,  New Year’s resolutions rarely have lasting power.

Granted, we’re far away from January 1st, however many people I work with start losing their focus because January 1st is right around the corner. I wish there never was a January 1st, simply because people give up any healthy intentions in exchange for the belief that the New Year will undo all the November/December indiscretions. Quite frankly, it’s not the way it works. If I had a dollar for every person that used January 1st as their day of redemption, I’d be a very wealthy woman. In fact, if I had a dollar for every person that crashed and burned after 4 weeks of restriction and over exercising, I too would be wealthy. But I have no desire to  make a penny off of people that are getting bad information.

I recently read an article discussing the fact that fad diets, or any kind of quick-fix doesn’t work. It’s the education and application of healthy living that gets lasting results, period, end of sentence. As you make your way in to the season of temptation and over-indulgence, check out some of my tips that offer solutions vs. resolutions designed to help you put your focus where it needs to be, on your health!

1. Do not attempt to lose weight over the holidays, rather focus on making the best choices you can, as often as you can. There will certainly be some things you are going to want, so do it, just do it moderately. After I lost my 50 pounds, my approach was 5 days on, 2 days off. In other words, 5 days a week I was very focused on getting the best nutrition possible. But allowing a couple of days to go out to dinner or for a party. It’s realistic and takes the pressure off to be perfect 24/7. Over time, you’ll find it not only gets easier but it will be more like 10 days strong, 1 day not so much!

2. Plan, plan, plan. Everyone should have their healthy food options ready. If you’re going to a party, bring your own dish. More now than ever, you should be planning your meals for the week. On Sunday, I sit down and figure out my week, when I’ll be home to eat and when I won’t. I then create my weekly menu and go shopping. I know that I’ve got meals covered and healthy snacks for the week. Planning is key to long-term success.

3. Water, Water, Water. Between alcohol consumption, too much sodium and heating, the winter is full of dehydration pitfalls. Be mindful of keeping yourself hydrated with water intake throughout the day. Further, being hydrated is noted for reducing hunger. H20 is a win-win!!

3. Don’t lose sight of exercise. I often tell my clients, “I don’t exercise for vanity, I exercise for sanity.”  During the holidays, even more so. There is a lot of stress that comes with the holidays. Everything from pressure to shop, entertaining, family gatherings, etc. Exercise is the secret to maintaining a healthy energy level and creating a positive attitude that is often challenged during the season of good cheer.

Exercise Reduces Stress

4. You’re not perfect. One of the more common reasons people drop their exercise and/or nutrition efforts is unrealistic expectations. People believe that if they don’t get perfect results from their efforts, it’s pointless. If you continue to focus solely on weight, that may be right. But if you focus on lifestyle and ongoing efforts to make good choices most of the time, you can’t fail. Perfect is non-existent in the world of diet and exercise. In fact, that word is what I believe to be the demise of women’s best intentions. So take the pressure off yourself to be perfect. Simply be the best you can be most of the time and that is better than perfect, it’s realistic.

Here’s to a healthy holiday season!



Taking the Time to Be Healthy

By Nicki On October 23, 2011 2 Comments

I’m grateful for the choices I’ve been given with regard to healthy living. The fact that I have choices, makes opting for good health a natural one.

My daughter Allison and I

This past weekend, my daughter came home from college to celebrate her older brother’s 26th birthday. It’s amazing how quickly time flies. Kids go from needing you desperately, to managing their own life. I suppose that’s the role of a parent, to raise them to be independent and a productive member of society.

I digress. Anyway, when she was home, we were out for lunch and commented that her friends thought we looked a lot alike, and I didn’t look my age. I’m sharing this because I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life choosing to take care of myself with diet, exercise and work/life balance. My other motivation to stay healthy is my family health history. My maternal Grandfather had a massive stroke at 38 which left him bedridden for 8 years until his death at 46. My paternal Grandfather was taken by a long, painful bout of cancer that took over his body and left him at 83 pounds and 62 years old when he died.

Because you cannot ignore the fact that genetics play a role in your health, it’s important to do what we can to preserve it. I know that’s been the case for me. Knowing that I needed to take good care of myself in order to have a better quality of life than my ancestors did,  I ultimately chose my profession as a way to stay on top of my health as well as educate and inspire others to do the same.

My job has been tough as the diet industry continues to override my efforts to teach people to be more mindful of health versus size. The truth is people jeopardize their health every day all in an effort to be thin. Remember, thin and healthy are about as similar as cheese and chalk. So, what I teach and what I encourage is to let go of the “thin” phenomenon and look towards a lifestyle that offers good health and opens the doors to a better quality of life.

Promoting "thin" vs. health

I can’t tell you what it will take to finally “get” that diets don’t work and weight doesn’t dissappear with simply a wave of a wand.  I don’t know what it will take to embrace healthy living and let the whole weight focus go. Don’t get me wrong, 60% of the people I work with need to lose some weight, SOME weight. The reality is this, if you focus on living a healthier lifestyle, the weight will be where it needs to be. In fact, my clients that focus on changing their lifestyle, are the most successful at achieving a healthy weight that is lasting. Of course it’s important to take baby steps and make gradual changes. Trust me, gradual is key here. For every overzealous client I’ve had succeed, five have failed. Too much to soon is a sure ticket to injury or burn out.

So, I ask you to take a look at where your health is today. Is it where you want it to be? Are you able to make choices to change?   We all have the choice to be active, and choose more nutritious foods and I consider that a privilege! Some don’t have a choice due to physical impairments or health issues.  I am hopeful, that as you stand back and look at your current lifestyle, you can begin taking the necessary steps to encourage good health. Life does move forward at an amazing pace, and the older we get, the quicker it seems to go! So why not take the opportunity to choose good health to better enjoy your life, at any pace.

Here’s to your good health!


Diet Trends Come and Go, Home Cooking is Always There.

By Nicki On October 16, 2011 No Comments

My dream job. Cooking on the Food Network!


For my 50th birthday I wanted to do something big. My choice was heading to New York City to participate in the Food Network Food and Wine Festival. An amazing gathering of food and wine designed to benefit the NYC Food Bank. Seems ironic that an event where food is seemingly endless is raising money to end hunger. Nothing like food and wine to bring people together for a good cause!

This was an incredible event that would “Wow” even the most seasoned sommelier or chef.  Aside from seeing some of my favorite chefs from Food Network including,  Guy Fieri, Giada, Marc Murphy and Aarti Sequeira, the restaurants featured were amazing. Included were, Alfama, Black Duck, reBar and SoCo, the list went on an on. At each booth, the chef would detail the samples of their creation being offered. A party for my palate, no doubt.

Joy! Meeting Aarti Sequeira, such a kind spirit.

As I walked through aisle after aisle, and chatted with some of the chefs, I found that many of the chefs had similar feelings about sustainable produce and local farms. The chefs I spoke with get much of their produce/meats from local farmers as often as possible. Additionally, many felt that there is no better meal than the one that you can cook at home. Granted, chefs would be out of business if we no longer ate meals out, but that scenario is highly unlikely. I enjoy eating out as much as the other guy, I’m just a little bit more discerning about where I eat (no fast-food and I try to frequent local independent restaurants when possible).  I also discussed with some of  the chefs the importance of getting back to “real” food vs. convenience, boxed food.  They believed as do I, that the cause of obesity and the prevalence of disease is rooted in poor nutrition.

I was able to attend a number of cooking demonstrations and I have to say, my favorite was the cooking demo with Debbie Mazar and Gabriele Corcos from The Cooking Channel. What I loved most about their demo (aside from the amazing mushroom carpaccio they created) was their banter together while cooking. They talked about the importance of using quality ingredients and including the family in meal preparation. Watching them cook together, and enjoying their time in the kitchen once again brought me back to the importance of home cooking for all areas of health!

Debbie and Gabriele share their love of cooking and eachother.

Again, the theme of the event to me, was all about getting back to basics, getting in touch with real food and connecting with the kitchen again. I guess I’m lucky because I love to cook, always have. Getting in the kitchen with a garden harvest is much like a sculptor sitting in a room with a block of marble and all of his tools. My imagination runs wild, options are endless.

We are such a diet obsessed country. We no longer place value on healthy food, simply on calories. We’ve lost sight of the importance of creating meals at home as well as sitting around the table conversing with family and friends. So many people will tell me they don’t have time to cook. For some that’s a real issue, but planning and pre-prep can make that less of an issue. Then there are others, who would rather spend hours on their computer or in front of the television versus spending time contributing to improving their health.

The trend of fast food is unquestionably a problem. From the CDC, ” Since the 1970s the consumption of food eaten away from home has increased in the United States. Eating out may lead to overconsumption and increase the risk of obesity in part because of larger portion sizes, high–energy-dense foods, and increased variety and preferred taste of the foods. Fast-food consumption in particular has been associated with poor diet quality and adverse dietary factors related to obesity, including higher intakes of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar-sweetened drinks. Fast food is associated with higher body mass index (BMI), weight gain, and less successful weight-loss maintenance. In addition, increased exposure to fast-food restaurants at the neighborhood level is associated with poorer diet quality and increased obesity. Fast-food consumption is a trend that is still rising; quick-service restaurants are expected to post sales of $164.8 billion in 2010, a 3% increase from 2009.”

Marc Murphy of Chopped, my favorite show and judge!

At the end of the day, it’s about getting back to basics. Getting back to focusing on fueling our body with quality foods. The food our Grandparents ate is significantly different from the food their grandchildren eat, both in terms of portions and quality. Seeing all of these chefs talk passionately about the quality of food they serve their guests and even the quality of food they eat at home reminded me that indeed, there is no place like home for good health!


Fall Brings an Opportunity to Set New Goals!

By Nicki On September 5, 2011 No Comments

When I got up this morning and the thermometer read 58 degrees outside, I found myself excited about the arrival of fall. Some of you may think I’m nuts, (I SO love summer), but there is something about the fall air that brings a different kind of energy to great walks or runs. The crisp air seems to energize me and the first smell of a fireplace burning, well, nothing better. Though I look forward to the changing leaves, and gorgeous fall scenery, it’s important  to consider exercise plans for the fall/winter season. After all, as the seasons change so does our lifestyle.

Truth be told, once winter weather hits, I’m a wimp. If the temperature drops below 35 degrees F, I’m subjected to my dreary basement and the mundane treadmill run,  (yawn).  But my best bet to stay motivated is to lay out my goals for spring which conveniently dictates my fall/winter exercise plan.  Not only does this strategy help to keep me consistent during a challenging time of year, when spring rolls around, I’m ready to realize my hard work through either a faster run, a further bike ride or my most recent discovery, a better triathlon. (I tried a Tri and I liked it!)  The point is,  if you have something specific that you’re planning for, you’re far more likely to stay on task and consistent with your exercise routine. We’re all too familiar with the  New Year’s resolution dissolution come February, right? The best way to avoid that is to PLAN for something special. It could be your first 5k walk. Plan for a specific time that you’d like to complete the walk, or seek to reach a certain number of walks per month. 

Along with staying focus on exercise during the winter months, don’t forget about nutrition planning as well. As seasons change, so do the foods people crave. (For those of you lucky enough to be in warm weather 365, it may not be the same ). If you’re a gardener, consider canning or freezing your harvest. If you’re not in to that, pay attention to produce that is seasonal. There is nothing better than that first roasted butternut squash!

Don’t let a change in weather derail your best intentions. A healthy lifestyle isn’t seasonal, it’s constant. Lay out your exercise and nutrition plans today to help you stay on track and get through what to some, is the most challenging time of year!


Cheers to your health,



Conscience Eating

By Nicki On July 11, 2011 No Comments

There is a great article written by Craig Harper, “How to Become a Conscious Eater.” In the article he says, “Many people eat unconsciously. They eat on autopilot. They eat what they don’t need. Every day. And then they (strangely) wonder why they’re fat. And unhealthy. They eat processed crap. They eat socially. They eat because it’s expected. Because it’s there. Because it’s free (wouldn’t want to waste anything). They eat emotionally. Re-actively. They reward themselves with food. And their children too. Sometimes they bribe (motivate, manipulate, control) their kids with food. ‘If you do… (insert task)… I’ll take you to McDonalds for dinner’.  Awesome parenting. They fantasize about food. Lie about it. They eat to ease the pain. To give themselves instant physical pleasure. To numb out. To escape. To fit in. To forget.”

When I read this article the first time, I could relate to so much of what he wrote.  There were some things that hit me hard as at one point in my life, I did bribe and cajole my kids….. I used M&M’s for potty training. O.K., I admit it,  but my kids are no worse for the wear, but I get the point that he is making. We use food for all of the wrong reasons, and if I’m using food as a tool to bribe, it’s lost its true value.

What I love most about his article is that he hits the nail on the head when he says, “We eat on autopilot.”  He’s right, I see it in my clients every day and during my dieting days, I too was guilty.  I just put food in my mouth and ate it without even questioning it’s benefits. Sure, I counted calories here and there (when I was trying to lose weight) but quality of the food? Who cares? It was low in calories and I was taught that was all that mattered. So sad.

Fortunately, since that time, I have learned and read so much more.  I have had the good fortune of knowing people who are every bit a conscious eater. I have also encountered those that are completely disconnected from the food they’re putting in their body.  I have observed and learned from watching both practices and find 30 years after losing 50 pounds, being a conscious eater is vital.  When I can “feel”  how the foods I eat allow me to be stronger and more focused, I’m grateful. When I used to snarf down a candy bar, I never gave a second thought as to how it made me feel.

In my opinion, food isn’t the culprit in obesity, it is the lack of knowledge about food and the disrespect of food that has taken obesity to the level it is at today.

Let me give you an example. When I struggled with weight, every day I counted my calories. Sure, I knew that vegetables and fruit were good for me but I was more interested in what was good for the scale, so I rarely paid attention to quality only quantity. I was sucked in to the “diet food” that promised to help whittle my waist down. So, I lived on diet food and I continued to feel lousy and deprived. During that time,  nothing ever really tasted good, but that was the price to pay for a svelte figure. Or so I thought.  Even as a young Mom, I would live on Rice Cakes (because they were low in fat) and skip meals in order to pig out at a big event. Ugh! It was what I knew and at the time what magazines told me, so I believed it!

Fast forward 30 years. Whenever I prepare a meal, I never put anything in my mouth (O.K., almost never) without thinking about the benefits derived from my food choices.  I have come to understand that the more I eat whole, nutrient dense foods, the better I feel, without question. I love learning about the benefits of fresh herbs and green leafy veggies. I love playing with new recipes and feeding it to my family and watching them enjoy every last bite. I love pulling that first leaf of lettuce out of my garden and tasting it completely. I love the first raspberries of summer, and popping them in my mouth right from the bush. Nothing tastes better.

I haven’t counted calories in 20 years. I haven’t counted calories because I realized I wasn’t learning anything about food other than which had the least amount of calories. Once I started learning about the quality of foods, and the benefits of eating “real” food, I was no longer worried about calories. You’ll find it’s very hard to overeat “real” food because it’s typically high in fiber and satiety.When’s the last time you ate 5 oranges in one sitting? But, I bet you’ve knocked off a whole bag of chips.  Get my  point?

Craig Harper defines conscious eating as follows,“Conscious eating is giving our body the nutrition it needs for optimal health, function and energy. Nothing more or less.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Eating is about giving your body what is needs to operate optimally. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, good-for-you foods were given a bad rap in that many believe healthy foods are typically bland. The truth is there is no better tasting food than that food that is fresh and nutrient rich. It’s just that so many people are used to the crazy amount of salt and fat often found in fast food. As a side note, you can season food with some unbelievable herbs and create far tastier meals than any fast food restaurant can offer.

If we continue to ignore the foods our bodies so desperately need and continue to buy packaged, processed foods, or jump onto the next crazy diet, we may never realize the benefits of eating really great foods. Once you are able to make the distinction between “diet” foods and really good-for-you foods, you will never diet again, yet you’ll be healthier than you’ve ever been. That’s my hope anyway.

In health,


Perfect Body or Money? Where’s Option C?

By Nicki On May 28, 2011 2 Comments

This past week, USA Today came out with a story that polled about 1000 people asking if they would rather have a million dollars or a great body. 1 out of 4 would rather have a perfect body than a million dollars. I don’t know about you, but I was wondering about health. Why wasn’t there an option that asked if people would like to be in great health?  In my humble estimation, that’s a two-fer. If you’ve got your health, you’ve likely got a healthy body. Would it be perfect? There is no perfect, whereas health offers a number of benefits!

There is no doubt that we live in a time when validation is often based on the external, what you have, what you look like, etc.  Have you seen the new show, The Voice? It goes against the norm of judging based on looks, etc.  The premise of the show is that singers seeking stardom audition for judges that can’t see them, they only hear them.  The idea is if they are less than attractive or super hot, it might skew the judges vote. So, they are initially judged on talent alone, (what a concept).  This is a great illustration of not judging a book by it’s cover, because we may think we know what we’re going to get, but that is not always the case.

I know for me, when I lost all my weight, people were nicer to me. The same thing happens with someone with new found fame or money, suddenly it’s cool to be associated with you. What’s wrong with that shallow picture? I’m convinced that’s why the diet industry is so incredibly successful. Each and every day people are striving to be accepted and that often comes with a visual perception. “If you’re pretty or thin or rich, you’ll have it all.”

Remember the show, The Swan ? A select group of women, down on their luck, worked with a group of experts including, a therapist, dentist and plastic surgeon to overcome their issues. Not sure how the plastic surgeon factors in, well I do, but it’s just so ridiculous.  Then there’s the show, Bridalplasty in which girls compete before their wedding day for plastic surgery. Huh? Wha? I wonder how long the marriage lasts after so much plastic surgery?  Something tells me those men wanted to marry the girl they met, not the girl that was created.  Likely, they think that perfection equates to happiness or success. I know some beautiful people and they have just as many troubles as those not viewed as “beautiful” (beautiful is relative, don’t you think?). The best advice I ever got was from my Grandmother, she always used to tell me, “It may be shiny and new on the outside, but you need to dig a little deeper to find out what condition it’s really in.”

The sad thing is many of these folks on these shows as well as people that watch them believe that, “If I only looked like that I’d be so much more successful! If I could lose weight like the people on that show, I’d finally get that job or get that guy or girl, etc.”  The Biggest Loser is a good example. Sure, they lose weight, a lot of weight, however, once they’re off  the show,  they go back home to the same stresses, the same issues sans the chef, trainer and therapist.  The only thing that’s changed is what’s on the outside. (Yes, I know, their vitals have changed) But, if it’s not permanent, and they’re not maintaining healthy patterns, then what really changed? Only the outside.

I tell my clients all the time, change has GOT to start from the inside out, period. The truth is that if you want to change your life, there has to be a major mental shift. Just because you look great, how is that going to translate to the ideal job? Get you out of financial trouble? One needs to shift the way they think and feel internally and start conveying that externally. If you wake up tomorrow and you’re an ideal size, the “upkeep” will likely throw you and you’ll be back where you started. If you win a million dollars tomorrow, it might help you pay off some bills and buy some things you’ve always wanted, but does it change the core of who you are, bring about bliss and utopia in your life? Probably not.  If you didn’t have it before, you’re not likely to have it when circumstances change, unless you realize change is an inside out process.  You can’t project what isn’t there.

No matter how great someone’s body is, you really have to come back to self, i.e., values, character, integrity and the things that really, really matter. To me, my health is what matters because having my health allows me to do all the things I really want to do. Having my health allows me to feel great and project that energy. Focusing on my health every day gets me a lot further than focusing on my 6-pack. So, I ask you, if you had to choose between a million dollars, a “great” body or excellent health, which would you choose?


Here’s to your health!



The Food Puzzle

By Nicki On May 15, 2011 No Comments

After close to 30 years of studying nutrition, I find we are no closer to a clear understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. So many agendas, so much money to be made, so many opinions, it makes it rather tough for the average American to clearly understand what the truth is when it comes to a healthy diet.  I had a couple new clients this week and all of them echoed the same concerns, “I’m so confused about what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, what’s the truth?”  Given that I am not an R.D. I’m mindful of how much information I feel comfortable sharing with my clients, so I often provide websites for clients to visit. That way, they can form their own opinions about what makes sense to them and their lifestyle. But in my years as a fitness professional, I have learned a lot and here of some of the lessons I have learned.

1. We eat too much, period. Further, we eat too much of the wrong things. We have gotten away from whole, fresh foods as the norm and ended up with boxed, processed foods as the new norm. Our foods are loaded with ingredients we can’t pronounce, along with a surplus of sugar, fat and sodium.  With the explosion of “diet food” and trends, we are led to believe that something like “100 calorie packs” are healthy for us, when it fact, it’s simply a smaller amount of processed food and questionable ingredients.  The goal should be to get as close to natural and whole food as we possibly can. It’s supply and demand, the more we seek out whole foods, the greater the likelihood of them being more readily available.Unfortunately, there is far more money to be made in processed foods that have a long shelf life.

2. All too often people confuse dieting with eating healthy, that’s not always the case. Some diets offer pre-prepared boxed foods. Weight loss programs don’t focus on quality of food, simply quantity. The truth is anyone can lose weight if they cut down the amount of food they’re eating, but if you’re eating a snickers bar because it has less calories than an avocado, you’re missing the point. Sustainable weight loss comes from focusing on quality and quantity. Reassessing what you’re eating, how you can improve the quality of the food you’re eating while reducing the quantity. It’s a common held belief that if food is “healthy” you don’t have to worry about how much you eat. Our country has become obsessed with “how much can I get away with eating without gaining weight?”  Not a good approach. The better approach is “How can I learn to eat well, feel well and sustain those healthy habits?”  But diets perpetuate the misconceptions and as long as people are losing weight (even though it’s often temporary), they don’t question it.

3. We are a powerhouse country, we are well-educated yet our country is suffering from staggering numbers of health maladies as a result of poor nutrition and inactivity.  Even worse, for the lower income families their options of fresh fruits and veggies are limited. We make it easier and more affordable to go to McD’s and get a happy meal than to receive education on how to make great, healthy meals on a shoestring budget. It’s possible, but it’s not a money making proposition for large food manufacturers that mass produce “carbage.”  We are led to believe that with busier lives and less money, the only food we can afford (both in time and money is junk food), I beg to differ. Perhaps we need to spend more money on developing programs that teach options for healthy nutrition. ”

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

4. Parents think they’re doing their kids a favor by buying in to the highly commercialized boxed, processed foods. The truth is….I did it. I shudder to think that at one time I bought my kids junk snacks masked as “natural” including those fruit roll-ups things which barely pass as food. It wasn’t until I really started studying nutrition that I came to know that the fruit roll-ups were  made up of:  corn syrup, dried corn syrup, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and a variety of artificial colors and o.k. pear concentrate. When I finally started studying what I was putting in to my child’s body, I stopped. My kids were not happy, but I certainly knew that in the long-run, it was what I needed to do to give my kids the best start possible. Just as we educate our kids about the dangers of smoking and drinking, so should we focus on educating them on healthy eating.

5. So much information so little time. Here’s the way I look at it, you can’t go wrong with whole foods, you just can’t. Granted there is the debate about organic vs. non-organic, I won’t go in to my thoughts on that now, but the bottom line is that the closer you can get to natural food, the better off you’re going to be, period. If I buy anything that is boxed or wrapped, I read the ingredients. If it has more than 3 ingredients that I can’t pronounce, I take a pass. We can take control of our health by taking control of what we put in our mouth. I don’t want my nutrition information coming from organizations that are funded by Coca-Cola, Kelloggs, General Mills, Mars, etc. how can the information be objective? Um, it’s not.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s no shortage of nutrition information out there. It’s hard to research because links often take you to places that are trying to pedal their wares. As stated earlier, I’m not an RD, I am simply passionate about seeing  the health of our country improve by educating kids and families properly. The sad truth is that if we don’t get a handle on this obesity issue due to poor nutrition and inactivity(nutrition being the biggest contributor), the future of our country will be weak at best.

Following are just a few of the websites I recommend.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Dave Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life!

Teri Gentes a Whole Self Health Lifestyle Wellness and Natural Nutrition Educator

Michael Pollan – Author of Omnivores Dilemma

How to find sustainable fruits and veggies in your community

Mark Bittman – Author of Food Matters, Food Matters Cookbook

Eric Schlosser- Author of Fast Food Nation

Morgan Spurlock – Author of  Don’t Eat This Book – Fast Food and the Super Sizing of America

Dr. Mark Occhipinti -President of American Fitness Professionals and Associates

Movies to check out – Food, Inc., Forks Over Knives, Super Size Me


Here’s to Your Good Health,


Successful Weight Loss Comes Down to One Thing….Being Ready

By Nicki On April 10, 2011 No Comments


Marty before the challenge


This past week I hosted my 6th orientation at my studio for my 6-week Weight Loss Challenge. For the orientation, I had yet another speaker that has successfully met “the challenge” to tell her story. (Check out our other success stories).  This week, Reality Fitness welcomed Marty Hammond and she shared how she has managed to lose 5 dress sizes and 30 pounds in 5 months.

” When I started this program 5 months ago, I only came to the orientation because  my husband Mike wanted to support Nicki’s program.  But as I sat and listened to Nicki’s emphasis on losing weight for better health and quality of life I thought, ‘Hmmm, maybe this is something I should try. I’ll call next month when I’m not so busy.”  Normally that call would have never happened, but having a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and struggling with extra weight, I figured maybe it’s time to make some changes.  When I started the program there were 4 things Reality Fitness gave me.

The first tool they gave me was a compass, or what I like to refer to as a GPT, Great Personal Trainer. I could not have made the progress I’ve made without Jon. Next, they gave me a map, which was my food plans. Nothing crazy, just focused on getting rid of garbage as I knew I needed some structure. I gave up a 2 pot-a-day coffee habit and drink only tea now. I would often eat in my car, typically fast food.  I was on my way with my compass and my nutrition. With those two components in place, I was then given keys, which was my journal. I liken it to AAA roadside assistance. The journal held me accountable and made me aware of what I’m putting in my mouth.  Nicki said at the orientation, ‘If you’re not willing to journal, you are not willing to be successful.’  I know how true that statement is now that I’ve been doing it for 5 months. Then, I had to have fuel, and that fuel was the Happy Monday letters Nicki sends out to those of us participating in the challenge as well as the motivation I received from my trainer.

Marty after losing 30 pounds and 5 dress sizes

After all of these wonderful tools for success I received from Reality Fitness there was one thing missing, the driver. No one would take the wheel for me and drive to my destination, it was up to me to grab the wheel and take control. The biggest benefit of grabbing the wheel and taking control was knowing that I was in charge of my destiny.

Marty is now training for 5K’s and enjoying an improved quality of life. Her husband came to support her and told me, “She’s now outrunning me!” No doubt, a couple that exercises together, stays together!

I have been in this business a very long time, I have seen fads come and go. I have seen people go to ridiculous lengths to lose weight, rarely if ever keeping the weight off. Every time they would gain the weight back, the weight of failure became heavier than the weight on the scale.  The difference with our clients success is not only their determination to once and for all make positive changes, but the support they receive long after the 6 weeks is past.  Big changes require a lot of support and our clients get that from us. I think that if we’re able to develop programming on a national scale (no pun intended) that helps put people in the drivers seat, but gives them support during, before and after, that will be the key to long-term success. I’m see it in my studio every day. There is nothing that inspires me more than seeing people that are ready to change, make the change, and finally realize change can be a very positive thing.

Congratulations Marty!

In health,