Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Note From Bob
Ready for a Challenge? That’s exactly what losing weight and becoming healthier is—a challenging journey with highs and lows and life-changing rewards Many of you have been on this journey before and may be wondering: What’s so different about my approach?
The major difference is that I don’t hand you a diet and expect you to completely overhaul your eating and exercise habits overnight. Instead, I’ll guide you through gradual changes that will take off the pounds, and will keep your weight down next year, in 10 years, and even 50 years down the road. I’m not fixated on shedding pounds quickly—instead, I’m focused on helping you find a way of living that will keep you at a healthy weight for life. Hence, the Best Life Diet.
I’ve developed a program based on decades of experience helping thousands of people lose weight and get in shape. Here are the nuts-and-bolts of the program, which is divided into three phases.
• The first phase is less about what to eat, and more about adopting healthy habits that will get your body ready for major weight loss: Eating breakfast, drinking more water, refraining from eating two hours before bedtime, moving your body a little bit more, taking a multivitamin. I want you to start identifying—and dealing—with emotional issues that contribute to weight gain.
• In the second phase, your weight loss will accelerate. You’ll be controlling portions, and temporarily eliminating foods, like soda and fried foods, that can stall your weight-loss efforts. You’ll also be introduced to the “Hunger Scale,” a tool you can use to help you gauge when you’re truly hungry. If you want, there are meal plans and recipes to follow—optional, not mandatory.
• Phase Three is, basically, the rest of your life. You’ll continue losing weight, if you need to, while minimizing your intake of sodium, saturated fat, and other unhealthy components that cause disease. Meanwhile, you’ll be bringing in more fruits, vegetables and foods that help prevent illness and infuse you with energy.
Learning and practicing the life skills that keep you trim requires a little help. You’ll find some guidance here in the articles and meals plans. Want more? Check out my book or website, TheBestLife.com. Joining the online plan offers a number of benefits, including:
• Extensive menu plans tailored to your specific calorie needs and food preferences
• A comprehensive recipe database
• Interactive food and exercise logs—Enter what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve exercised, and we’ll give you feedback on how you’re doing
• Support from thousands of members who can offer advice and companionship
• Help from a team of dietitians and exercise experts who will personally answer all your questions
Over the course of this Challenge year, you’ll be exhilarated when you see the numbers drop on the scale, and frustrated when they don’t. You’ll be proud of yourself when you’ve had a week of eating well and exercising, and upset with yourself when you don’t. This will be a challenging year; my hope for you is that you don’t give up. Remember, the longer you practice healthy behaviors, the easier it gets. And the reward—living your best life—is invaluable.
Reorganize Your Eating Patterns And Move More
You’ve already signed the Contract with Myself, and you’re all fired up to make 2008 the year you lose those excess pounds and gain health and energy. Let’s take advantage of that enthusiasm and motivation! For the next four weeks, you’ve got a mission: Adopt the slimming habits outlined below. Don't worry. You don't have to make all these changes overnight. In fact, you shouldn't. Take your time—we're giving you four weeks to get started, and then you've got the whole year to perfect them.
• Weigh yourself once. Wouldn’t it be nice if you ate a little less, exercised a little more and the weight started peeling off tomorrow and just kept dropping steadily? Weight-loss veterans know it doesn’t work that way—the scale moves in fits and starts. It can take a while for the scale to move at all when you first start changing habits. So, spare yourself the emotional roller coaster of living by the numbers. Instead, weigh yourself the first day of the program, and then wait for at least four weeks to get back on the scale. By then, your body should be in weight-loss mode. Then, you’ll weigh in once a week to monitor your progress.
• Be more active. How active are you? Find out where you fall on The Best Life Activity Scale by clicking here. If you're at Level 0, 1 or 2, challenge yourself to move up to the next level this month. If, on the other hand, you’re at Level 3 or higher, and that’s truly the most exercise you can fit into your life right now, your goal is consistency. Make sure you’re meeting the criteria for your level each week without fail.
• Eat three meals and a snack or two every day. Setting up a consistent meal schedule trains your body to eat when you’re hungry, but not too hungry. Besides, skipping meals only sets you up for overeating and bingeing. For more on the slimming effects of three squares, read The Power of Three.
Unlike many diet plans, you’re not going to be told what to eat at each meal (except for breakfast, see below). Instead, you’ll be asked to simply organize your eating habits into three meals and one or two snacks. OK, “simply organize your eating habits” may not be so easy if you’re a constant nibbler, a starve-and-binger, or if you have other entrenched bad habits. But you can do this! For at least five days each week for the next four weeks, commit to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. If you’re still hungry between meals, have a snack or two. Need some help with meal ideas? Click on the Menu Plans tab. And for examples of healthy snacks, check out Snack Time.
• Eat a “Best Life” breakfast. Bob’s Best Life Diet plan is filled with great-tasting and healthy breakfasts. You’ll find a sampling of these breakfasts by clicking the Menu Plans tab, above. For more examples, look in his book or join TheBestLife.com.
So, what does a Best Life breakfast look like? They are about 400 calories and consist of: 160 to 190 calories of high-fiber cereal or whole-grain bread or crackers; 100 calories of dairy or calcium-enriched soymilk; a piece of whole fruit or a cup of fruit, and about 90 calories of nuts or margarine (with no partially hydrogenated oil). If you’d like to have an egg, then have just 80 calories of cereal, bread or crackers.
• Stop eating two hours before bedtime. Nighttime nibbling is another hard habit to break, but if you’re an evening eater, this goal will result in immediate weight loss. Plus, it sets up a healthy chain reaction: You’ll wake up feeling hungry for breakfast (a great way to start your day), and then you’ll be on track to hit your three-meals-plus-a-snack goal.
• Drink six 8-ounce glasses of water daily. Being well hydrated is not only good for your health—it may help you lose weight. People tend to confuse thirst and hunger, and often grab a snack instead of a low-calorie or calorie-free drink. You could avoid a lot of unnecessary calories simply by staying on top of your liquid needs. Another perk of staying hydrated: More endurance when you’re exercising. Come back to this site in the next few weeks for tips on getting in those six glasses.
• Eliminate alcohol—for now. Alcohol doesn’t just loosen up social inhibitions—it can loosen up your resolve to eat moderate portions and choose healthy foods. It’s also loaded with calories. And, if you’re hung over, odds are you’re not going to be eager to exercise! Removing alcohol from your life for the next four weeks will prove to be an enlightening exercise. In fact, some of you will see an immediate slimming effect. Later in the program, you can bring alcohol back.
• Take a multi. Even on the most balanced diets, it’s hard to take in 100 percent of all the vitamins and other nutrients you need. It’s even tougher when you’re cutting calories to lose weight. So, for insurance, take a standard multi-vitamin/mineral tablet. (Later in this Challenge program, you’ll find out whether you need to take a calcium or omega-3 tablet—the only other supplements Bob recommends.)
• Evaluate your relationship with food. If you’re eating for any reason other than hunger, you’ll need to do some digging to figure out why, and find healthy ways to deal with these eating triggers. Many people eat for emotional reasons, such as stress or loneliness, but obviously, this will prevent you from reaching your weight-loss goals. Throughout this program, we’ll offer support on tackling emotional eating. Start now, with Bob’s Circle of Life Exercize
The Power of Three
By Janis Jibrin, R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist
Years ago, an actress came to see me. She wasn't interested in losing weight, but was hoping I'd be able to help her find out why she was feeling faint and tired. In fact, she could barely make it through a long scene; immediately afterwards, she'd rush backstage to stuff her face. Her diet record was a "who's who" of health: Broccoli, carrots, apples, whole-grain crackers and skim milk. Her problem? She'd nibble on these healthy foods all day, but never sit down to a complete meal.
Another client, a dietitian of all people, had a nearly identical food record—lots of vegetables, no real meals. But she was 20 pounds overweight. I gave both women the same advice: Eat three complete meals with sufficient fat and protein and a healthy snack or two each day. Soon after, the actress got her energy back and the dietitian lost 15 pounds.
You've heard this advice before: Eat three square meals. But it's tempting to ignore this rule when you want to lose weight. Skipping a meal or eating only a small salad may seem like an easy way to cut 500 or more calories, but this approach always comes back to bite you. As research shows, skimping on calories triggers a series of physical reactions that actually encourages weight gain. An eating schedule of three squares and a snack or two can help you drop pounds because it:
Quells appetite. Having a light meal, like plain toast and coffee or a green salad with low-fat dressing, or skipping it altogether may seem virtuous. But later, your hunger will come roaring to life and suddenly you'll devour everything in sight. Eating a complete breakfast (about 400 calories), an adequate lunch (at least 450 calories) and complete dinner (500 calories or more) about four hours apart prevents that dangerous hunger attack. And when between-meal cravings mount, a healthy snack does the trick.
Increases insulin sensitivity. Eating triggers the release of the hormone insulin, which aids in both burning and storing carbs, protein and fat. People who are insulin-sensitive require only moderate amounts of the hormone. However, overweight and obese individuals often have lower insulin sensitivity, which basically means that the body must produce more insulin to do its job. In a series of studies at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, both obese and lean women went the three-squares-two-snacks route for several weeks and then tried a more erratic meal pattern. The first approach improved insulin sensitivity and lowered levels of harmful blood fats, while the erratic approach made things worse.
Speeds up metabolism. The Nottingham Study also found the three-squares-two-snacks schedule revved up the rate of calorie-burning after a meal. This "thermic effect" of food as it's called, burns up about 10 percent of a meal's calories.
Of course, you still have to watch what you eat for those three meals and snacks. Studies show that obese people snack more than slimmer people, and that common snacks include cookies, cakes and candies. (Not hard to figure out why that's not working.) Keep your meals and snacks in check by following these simple rules:
1. Eat only when you're hungry and serve yourself reasonable portions. Have no more than 1 cup of rice, pasta or potatoes (about the size of two tennis balls). Keep meat, poultry and fish to about 3 to 5 ounces; salad dressing to about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons; and candy, chips and other treats to about 150 to 200 calories. You can also control calories by using the Hunger Scale, a tool that helps you gauge your hunger levels and prevent overeating. For more details on the Hunger Scale, buy The Best Life Diet or join www.TheBestLife.com.
2. Wait 20 minutes after eating to decide whether you want more. That's how long it takes the brain to register fullness.
3. Use snacks only when you're actually hungry between meals. And when you do snack, keep it light. For a list of nutritious nibbles, read Snack Time or check out our meal plans.
Bob Greene's Circle of Life
By Bob Greene
You know the pattern. You're angry about something, so you grab a fistful of chocolate chip cookies. You're down in the dumps for no particular reason. Nothing Ben & Jerry's can't fix. One of the greatest obstacles to weight loss is emotional eating—impulsive, unhealthy snacking triggered by stress, boredom, depression and other factors. To halt these cravings that can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, you first have to determine what triggers those episodes of late-night cookies and straight-from-the-carton ice cream binges. What are you angry or depressed about that makes you turn to food for comfort?
A great self-discovery exercise, which can help you overcome emotional eating, is the Circle of Life. It pinpoints your life's most important areas, determines their current status (going well or needs improvement), and then helps to develop a plan to correct the problem areas. It can put an end to your emotional eating and help you address other troubles spots that may interfere with your health and wellness
Here's how it works: Draw a large circle on a blank sheet of paper. Divide the circle into several sections so it resembles a sliced pie. Each section represents an area you feel is an integral part of a fulfilled life, such as career, family, health, fitness, friendship, romance, finance, relationships, etc. Aim for at least six categories and write one in each pie slice.
Next, ask yourself how everything is going in each area—and be brutally honest. If things are going well, write a positive sign; not so well, make a negative sign. Then, examine the slices with a negative sign; spend some time thinking about how you could improve that area. What is something you can do every day to stimulate positive change? For example, if a friendship has soured, write a letter, send an e-mail or pick up the phone to try to repair the relationship. If your fitness has stalled, rejuvenate it: Start an exercise journal or buy some new workout clothes. Not eating healthfully enough? Clean out the refrigerator and fill it up with fruit and vegetables. Relationship woes? Consider joining a social group or bond with co-workers after hours. Revamp your financial situation by meeting with a financial planner, updating your resume or reviewing your household budget. Write at least one thing in each section that you can do right now to improve that category, and then commit yourself to it. You'll discover that once you've addressed negative feelings about a relationship or money worries, your emotional eating episodes will vanish.
People who struggle with weight gain often want instant gratification. But if you're patient and take small steps everyday, the results can be amazing. If you can consistently do at least one thing daily to change a negative into a positive, I promise that powerful change will occur in your life after one year. If you can do three things daily, you won't recognize your former life. The philosophy is similar to losing weight: If you eat healthfully and exercise, you don't feel any change on a day-to-day basis, yet you can look back a year later and see a profound transformation.
Three Day Meal Plan
Here’s a sample of the meals you’ll find on thebestlife.com. This plan works out to approximately 1600 calories. To find a plan tailored to your calorie needs, turn to the menu plans in The Best Life Diet or join TheBestLife.com.
You can mix and match these meals—for instance have Day 1 breakfast with Day 3 lunch and Day 2 dinner.
Best Life Cheerios Mix with strawberries, almonds, and nonfat milk
In your cereal bowl:
Almonds, 2 tbsp
Best Life Cheerios Mix, 1 serving
Milk, nonfat, 1 cup
Strawberries, 1 cup, halves
In a blender, combine:
8th Continent Soymilk, Vanilla, 1 cup
Orange Juice, Calcium Fortified, 1/2 cup
Chicken sandwich and a banana
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices
Spread with mayo. Fill with chicken, cheddar, and veggies:
Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise, 2 tsp
Pulled from a rotisserie chicken, light meat, 1/2 cup
Cabot 75% Reduced Cheddar, 1 oz
Romaine Lettuce , 3 LeafsOnions, red, 1 thin slice
Red Ripe Tomatoes, 2 slice, medium (1/4" thick)
Serve with a:
Lean Cusine Spa Cuisine Salmon with Basil served with sliced tomatoes and grapes
Lean Cuisine Spa Cuisine Salmon with Basil, 1 meal
Serve with sliced tomatoes drizzled with oil and vinegar:
Balsamic Vinegar, 1 tsp
Olive Oil, 2 tsp
Red Ripe Tomatoes, 6 slice, medium (1/4" thick)
Grapes, 1 cup, seedless
Caramel Popcorn, 3/4 cup
Fried egg with whole wheat toast, served with berries and nonfat milk
Egg, 1 large
Margarine, Zero g Trans Fat, 2 teaspoons
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice spread with one teaspoon margarine
Raspberries, fresh or frozen and thawed, 1 cup
Milk, nonfat, 1 cup
Low fat yogurt and almonds drizzled with maple syrup
Almonds, plain, 1 tbsp
Low fat, plain yogurt, 1/2 cup
Maple Syrup, 1 tsp
Peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich served with nonfat milk
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices
Fill sandwich with peanut butter, honey, and sliced banana:
Banana, fresh, 1/2 fruit, sliced
Honey, 2 tsp
Peanut Butter, 1 1/2 tbsp
Milk, nonfat, 1 cup
Chicken Cacciatore with mushrooms served with a side of zucchini
Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms, 1 serving
2/3 cup cooked Barilla Plus penne (1/3 cup dry) and sprinkled with one tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Served with steamed zucchini spritzed with lemon juice:
Zucchini, 1 cup, sliced
Ginger Snaps, 90 – 100 calories (about 3) and a cup of tea (herbal, black or green)
• Almonds, plain, 1 tablespoon
• One Fiber One Chewy Bar, any flavor
• Milk, nonfat, 1 cup (pour into a thermos or grab a small, 8-oz. carton)
Strawberry-Vanilla Soymilk Shake
In a blender, combine:
8th Continent Soymilk, Vanilla, 1 cup
Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened, 3/4 cup
Chickpea salad served with Wasa crispbread
For the salad: toss ingredients with a splash of white wine vinegar and ground pepper:
Beans, canned, low sodium, chickpeas, 3/4 cup
Hard Boiled Egg, 1 large egg, chopped
Olive Oil, 2 tsp
Onions, sweet, 1/4 cup finely chopped
Parsley, fresh, 1 tsp
Red Ripe Tomatoes, 1 cup, chopped
Serve with crispbread:
Wasa Crispbread, Multigrain, 2 pieces
Tangerine, 1 fruit
Steak Wrap with Roasted Onions and Peppers served with a salad
Steak Wrap with Roasted Onions and Peppers, 1 serving
Serve with oil and vinegar-tossed salad:
Mixed Greens, 2 cups
Olive Oil, 1 tsp
Balsamic vinegar, 1 splash
Frozen Fruit Juice Bar
Frozen Fruit Juice Bar, 3 - 3.5 oz, about 80 - 100 calories, such as Edy’s or Dreyer’s Whole Fruit Bars
Best Life Cheerios Mix
A nice mix of textures and super-high in fiber
1/2 cup Cheerios
2/3 cup Weetabix Crispy Flakes&Fiber
1/4 cup All-Bran Original
Combine and serve.
To make in bulk, combine 4 1/2 cups Cheerios, 6 cups Weetabix Crispy Flakes&Fiber (the entire 12-ounce box), and 2 1/4 cups All-Bran. Ladel out 1 and a heaping third cup per serving.
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Calcium: 119 mg
Sodium: 312 mg
Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4, 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh white mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 small garlic clove, crushed thru a press
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup apple juice
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) Italian-style plum tomatoes with juice
1/3 teaspoon dried (or 1 teaspoon fresh) oregano
2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
In a large skillet, heat oil; add the chicken and mushrooms. Cook over medium-low heat until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste and stir until blended. Transfer the chicken and mushrooms to a side dish.
Add the apple juice to the skillet. Increase the heat to high and bring the apple juice to a boil, scraping up any browned pieces from the bottom of the skillet, until reduced to a thin film. Add the tomatoes and heat to boiling, breaking the whole tomatoes into pieces with the side of a wooden spoon or spatula.
Return the chicken, mushrooms and any juices to the skillet. Add the dried oregano or, if using fresh oregano, add later. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occcasionally; cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter.
Boil the tomato sauce over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Spoon the tomato sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.
Saturated Fat: 1g
Calcium: 64 mg
Sodium: 248 mg
Fiber: 3 g
Total Carbs: 13 g
Protein: 42 g
Total Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 97 mg
Steak Wrap with Roasted Onions and Peppers
16 oz eye round steak sliced thin
4 multi grain Flatout flatbreads
1 large sweet onion sliced
2 sweet peppers- red, orange or yellow
8 teaspoons guldens mustard
For the marinade:
1/4 c lemon juice
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley and Italian parsley
1.Mix marinade ingredients and place in a shallow dish, add sliced meat and if it is not covered by marinade stir often (you can let marinate at room temperature while you prepare other ingredients or in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours)
2.Preheat 1 very large or 2 large skillets over medium flame
3.Lightly coat onions with oil spray and put in hot pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes, add peppers and continue to stir for 3 more minutes
4.Drain meat and cook with pepper mixture (or in the second skillet if you do not have room in one pan) for 3 minutes stirring constantly
5.Spread 2 tablespoons of mustard on each Flatout flatbread
6.Distribute meat mixture evenly between the four flatbreads and roll
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Calcium: 52 mg
Sodium: 556 mg
Fiber: 10 g
Total Carbs: 28 g
Protein: 36 g
Total Fat: 20 g
Cholesterol: 65 mg
Contact us | Privacy
I hereby commit to living my Best Life. I will participate in a program of regular exercise,
including a minimum of 80 minutes of activity over the course of four days each week.
I will focus on challenging my abilities in the pursuit of elevating my physical performance.
I will endeavor to be conscious of when I eat, and consistently terminate the consumption of
all food two or three hours before bedtime. I will also be aware of why I eat, and will, to the best
of my ability, eat primarily to satisfy my nutritional needs as opposed to my emotional needs.
I will do my best to make healthful food choices by substituting foods that are nutritionally
empty with those that are rich in nutrition.
Furthermore, I realize that this contract carries no promise of rewards, penalties or punishments
other than those associated with the reflection of the strength of my character and of my health
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