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Introducing the Foodist Podcast!

by | Mar 8, 2016

Foodist_Podcast

In just over two weeks Summer Tomato will celebrate it’s 7th anniversary. I’m deeply humbled that so many people have trusted me as their guide to getting healthy and losing weight in a sane, positive way.

But every once in awhile I wake up in the morning and all I can think is: good gawd I’m sick of writing about myself!

This is why I’m thrilled today to announce the launch of the Foodist podcast.

Finally, the spotlight is on you guys.

In the Foodist podcast I interview real people on their healthstyle journey so you can see real life examples of how people-who-aren’t-me have managed to find health and happiness without dieting.

There are countless ways to get healthy and lose weight. As a foodist, it’s your job to find the way that works for you. My goal for the Foodist podcast is to show you what has and hasn’t worked for different people, to give you both inspiration and guidance along your own healthstyle journey.

Currently there are three types of episodes on the show:

  • Ask Darya: Short 5-10 min segments where I answer simple questions that have been submitted by readers here at Summer Tomato.
  • Success stories: Interviews with people who have achieved some type of healthstyle success. I’ll help dissect what did and didn’t work for them along the way. (30-40 min)
  • Troubleshooting: Live coaching sessions where I help someone figure out a particular issue they have been stuck on and come up with a solution. (30-60 min)

I decided to make the show audio only, so guests could feel free to share their stories somewhat anonymously. I’ll continue to post the Ask Darya videos here on Summer Tomato.

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Soundcloud

Subscribe via RSS

Give the shows a listen and please leave a review over at iTunes and let me know what you think.

This is an experiment for now, so I need your feedback to decide if this is something I should keep doing. Is there something you’d like to see more or less of? Please let me know.

If you’d like to submit a question or be a guest on the show, head over to the official Foodist podcast page for more details.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

xo

Darya

 

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Foodist Diaries: Escaping Mom’s Diet Mindset

by | Feb 9, 2015

Photo by musicfanatic29

Over the years I’ve been writing here at Summer Tomato I’ve had hundreds of people share their stories of success with me. Some have lost a hundred pounds, while others have finally gained weight in a healthy way without resorting to junk food and empty calories.

Some people have overcome a life of picky eating, some have learned to cook, and some have raised children who love kale and cauliflower.

Everyone’s journey toward health and happiness looks different, but all are inspiring. This year I want to share more of these stories with you so you can see how different people learn to optimize their healthstyle.

Cassie T grew up much like I did, with a mother who instilled a dieting mindset at a young age. Overcoming the restriction mentality and learning to really listen to her body was one of the pivotal challenges she overcame.

Thanks Cassie for sharing your inspiring story.

Read the rest of this story »

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In Better Shape at 35 Than at 17? Definitely.

by | Nov 17, 2014
35 beats 17

35 beats 17

I turn 35 tomorrow, or as I like to call it: halfway to 70.

Haha.

Seriously though, 35 feels significant. For one thing, people ask me when I’m having kids on a near daily basis. (Please stop). I’ve also been living on my own longer than I’d lived with my parents.

I was 17 when I left home to go to Berkeley, and it’s weird to reflect on what I was like back then. On one hand, I was the same cerebral introvert who cared deeply about food and my body. On the other hand, those qualities manifested in all the worst possible ways.

On one of the first days of school we did an ice breaking exercise in one of the classes I was taking (Music 27). The Grad Student Instructor running the section asked us to go around the room and introduce ourselves by saying our name, where we were from, and our favorite cuisine.

This was clearly no big deal for most people, but it put me into a heated panic. What was I going to say? I had never thought about my favorite cuisine before.

As my turn approached I heard people saying they loved Italian food, Chinese food and Indian food. I couldn’t even imagine eating those things, since I basically lived on Diet Coke and non-fat yogurt.

Read the rest of this story »

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How to Kill Cravings, Reduce Your Appetite and Lose Weight Without a Magic Wand

by | Aug 18, 2014

Photo by charliebarker

Last week I received a comment on an older blog post that really took me off guard. The post was about 9 Simple Tricks to Eat More Mindfully and Kelsey, a recent foodist convert, had one of the strangest problems I’ve ever heard after implementing some of the tips.

Read the rest of this story »

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It’s my birthday, and I only want one thing…

by | Nov 18, 2013

Photo by Will Clayton

I’ve never been one to make a fuss about my birthday. Honestly, it was rarely an option.

As someone who spent far more of her life in school than she cares to admit, it didn’t take long to realize that the week before Thanksgiving usually meant only one thing: midterm exams.

Somehow champagne, parties, presents, and birthday cakes rarely percolated to the top of my to-do list on the day of my birth. (Well maybe champagne, but not usually until after school got out for the holiday.)

Now that I have more freedom in my schedule I decided to ask myself: what would I really want to spend time doing if it were entirely up to me?

I realized that since I spend so much of my time thinking and writing about how to help you solve your health problems, what I would really love is to know how it is working for you guys in your daily lives.

This year for my 34th 29th birthday my wish is to hear about any of the successes you’ve had as a result of my work here at Summer Tomato, or in Foodist.

Have you lost weight? Lowered your blood pressure? Learned to cook? Convinced your kids to eat cauliflower? Reached one of your dreams?

I would love to hear your stories and triumphs, if you’d be willing to share. Not only will hearing from you totally make my year, but I’m sure others will gather inspiration and motivation from your success as well.

Read the rest of this story »

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Moving Portraits: How Food Saved My Family

by | Dec 5, 2012

Darya Pino: Sharing Good Food at the Holidays from Moving Portraits on Vimeo.

My friends over at Moving Portraits asked if I would share one reason the holidays are special to me, so I sat down with them (and Toaster) last week.

The holidays are one of the few times in the year I get to visit my dad, whom I love more than anything. This is the story about how my trips home for the holidays helped him transform his diet, and save his life. This is the success story I’m most proud of at Summer Tomato by far.

Moving Portraits is a San Francisco based production company specializing in micro-documentaries for individuals, families, and small businesses. Moving Portraits transforms clients’ stories into vivid films, integrating intimate interviews, stunning visuals and personalized music.

Co-founders Simone and Haley Jude have more twenty years of filmmaking experience between them, and they love showcasing the beauty of stories on film. You can find them on Facebook at facebook.com/movingportraitssf and on Twitter @movingsf.

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Gateway Vegetables: My Story As A Born Again Foodie

by | Jun 20, 2011

Photo by woodleywonderworks

Cheryl-Ann Roberge lives in Seattle and enjoys dining with strangers at restaurant bars, yoga and sea salt caramels. Follow her on Twitter @Pigeon_Feather.

Gateway Vegetables: My Story As A Born Again Foodie

by Cheryl-Ann Roberge

If you had told teenage me that she would one day be a vegetable lover, spice fanatic and adventurous eater, she would have sent her canned ravioli flying towards your face.

My name is Cheryl-Ann Roberge, I reside in Seattle and I am a born again foodie. This is my story.

The nineties were an underwhelming time in my food life. Eggs were one of the few things I enjoyed eating that didn’t come from a box or can. Even at a young age I tried to pick all of the oregano out of my spaghetti. I hated fruit and veggies. I tolerated apples and canned vegetables when required.

At age seventeen, I proudly declared that I would never learn how to cook and that I would live solely on canned ravioli.

It was simple: I didn’t like anything that had real flavor.

Epiphany

Two years into my “adult life” I was existing on of a steady diet of Easy Mac and cafeteria food.

Vegetables were the most difficult for me. But ironically, veggies were also the key that would open the doors to foods I would never have been interested in otherwise.

I went on about my business of eating meat with noodles or meat with rice or meat with bread and I was pretty happy with the rotation. I worked in the dorm cafeteria circuit at the university I attended in Milwaukee, WI and I liked telling people I was a lunch lady.

On a hot July day, my world was changed. A special picnic for new student prospects was being served outdoors and I was staffed to work. The picnic served food much different from the typical cafeteria fare. After the new students had been served, the cafeteria workers breaked for a meal together. I loaded my plate with a burger and whichever pasta salad I knew I wouldn’t eat much of.

I made my way to the grill and found it covered with a vegetable medley that I’d never seen served before. I kept walking. Mike the chef called me back and stuck veggie-filled tongs towards me. “I don’t do veggies, Mike.”

“These are different,” he explained. He was excited that he’d been allowed to make food he thought tasted good. Mike had once opened his own restaurant, but failed and ended up as a chef at the cafeteria where creativity was always superseded by budget. This was his banner day.

I declined once more before he gave the overhaul speech that broke me down. He lowered juicy, grill-marked asparagus, onion, zucchini and squash onto my plate as I shot him a look of disinterest. The veggies were cooked very simply: tossed with oil, salt and pepper and flung onto the grill. I’d never had something like this before.

I didn’t come away with a huge affinity for onions that time, but I had my first ever delightful experience with something I’d always found disgusting. I suddenly loved squash and zucchini, and thought asparagus was okay too.

Mike told me that I’d made his day. I raved for a week. My whole idea of food turned upside down, and it was just the beginning of a ten year revolution.

I’ve since learned to like onions, spinach, fish, shellfish, beets and strawberries. After discovering sushi, wasabi became my gateway into loving spicy food, which I’d never been able to tolerate.

My journey hasn’t ended. Last fall I took my first trip to Italy where I discovered cantaloupe served alongside dinner entrees. I had always been lukewarm about the fruit, but something about having light, juicy melon after a slice of delicious lasagna made me appreciate its sweetness in a way I never had. Now my least favorite fruit salad element has become a favorite.

It is difficult to express to you just how surprising and lovely these realizations can be. I live for them, and I try every new food I can. I plea bargain with other picky eaters I meet. I pester them to try new things. I invite them over for dinner and try to introduce them to something they’d never try.

Why should you try and try again?

As children, most of us are naturally adverse to beer, coffee and wine. A sip might be granted by a grandpa wearing a grin, which of course is followed by a grimace from the grandchild.

So how do most of us end up liking all three beverages despite the horrible trials we go through?

Practice, exposure and repetition are the keys to comfort. I expanded my taste in music the same way. I started listening to any music I could get my hands on and, as with food, I started having mini music epiphanies too.

Consider this: Why did most of us enjoy listening to the radio when we were children? We knew the songs and they were comforting, like canned ravioli.

How do country music haters end up enjoying Neko Case or Ryan Adams? It’s fresh and it didn’t come out of a can. You get the point.

A Simple Request

As a born again foodie I sit here in Seattle writing to you, Picky Eater. I’m late to work, because I care that much about your palate. I want you too to discover the pleasure of new foods. It has changed my life and given me unforgettable experiences with old friends and new.

As a bonus, it’s easier to get out and exercise because I’m not so weighed down by the processed junk food that I used to love. And my waistline is trim now.

Change your ways for those last two reasons if you must, but try new foods because they will eventually taste good and the rest will follow. Just don’t expect it all to happen over night.

What’s your gateway veggie?

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How I Lost 60 Pounds In 1 Year With A New Healthstyle

by | Mar 23, 2011
Patrick in Sept - 20 lbs ago

Patrick in Sept 2010 (20 lbs ago)

I recently learned about Patrick from a comment he left here at Summer Tomato. I was astounded by his tremendous weight loss success and touched by his story of how he got there.

Patrick describes himself as “just a regular guy that works a corporate job who decided to educate himself with the internet and use the knowledge to upgrade my healthstyle.”

I hope he inspires you as much as he’s inspired me.

P.S. Because of Patrick I’m now doing interval training again, and I’ve noticed a difference in less than a week. w00t!

How I Lost 60 Pounds In 1 Year With A New Healthstyle

by Patrick Birke

My journey really began two years ago with the birth of my daughter. She was born in March, and the following summer my wife and I bought out a friend’s CSA (community supported agriculture) summer share who was moving out of the neighborhood. With ¾ of the summer season left, we received more vegetables than we knew what to do with.

We began making our own baby food for our infant daughter. Steaming fresh veggies, pureeing them and freezing it into ice cube trays was the perfect way to feed her over the next year without the need to ever buy store bought baby food. By the time the season was over we were hooked on the CSA. The three of us even went to visit the farm for their annual fall harvest celebration, we picked our own pumpkins and saw where all of our yummy veggies were grown.

This was the first step to the new me. I was introduced to fresh vegetables that I would normally pass right by at the grocery store (things I didn’t even know they had, but have now noticed) such as kale, swiss chard, fennel, leeks, rutabaga, turnips, squash, brussels sprouts, rhubarb, just to name a few.

That fall we ran out of our CSA stock but we did purchase a half cow and half pig from a local farmer to get us through the long Minnesota winter.

Local grass-fed beef is great, but I quickly learned that it cannot be the only thing in my diet.

By spring 2010, I was up to 200 pounds. We signed up again for the CSA summer share but I knew if I wanted to lose weight and gain muscle, that diet alone would not do it. So I joined a gym. I have belonged to various gyms in my life and even have an elliptical in my basement, but I never lost weight in the past because I hadn’t changed my diet.

I started out slowly, going only once or twice a week. I would use the elliptical for 50 minutes while watching an episode of True Blood or other action show where the cast is ripped. This was great motivation to get to the gym—I could go get bad Chinese food with my co-workers or I could workout and see what trouble Sookie Stackhouse was in today.

In summer 2010, we began receiving our CSA summer share again. We made it a fun weekly routine to pull our daughter in her wagon to the CSA drop off location in our neighborhood. We would also stop by one of the dozens of farmers markets around Minneapolis to fill in what we needed.

I was back on a balanced vegetable diet and increasing my gym time to 2-3 times per week, but the picture was still not complete. The next piece of the puzzle was to start cutting things out that I don’t need. This includes soda, fast food, frozen pizzas, delivery pizza, milk, juice, processed and packaged food, etc.

Breaking these habits did not happen overnight, but over the course of the year I’ve done pretty well. Cutting out soda was easy, especially when I gave up coffee (which was not for weight loss reasons, but for caffeine withdrawl headaches). Since I spend my lunch hour at the gym, I no longer get fast food for lunch. Instead I bring a sandwich (tuna, turkey, chicken, etc.) and a piece of fruit. There are times when I do buy my lunch, but I get a salad instead.

I still enjoy going out to dinner with friends or family and am not too concerned about what I eat there, but I am mindful of the pitfalls (dinner rolls, buffalo wings, movie popcorn, cookie dough Blizzards, etc.). At home we occasionally get take out, but it is just as fast to cook something than wait for delivery or pick up take out.

By cutting these things out, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, I started to really see some progress. I lost 40 pounds by the fall of 2010 without starving myself or counting calories. I am conscious of portions and always read food labels, (especially for the first few ingredients) but it does not rule me.

By fall, I had run out of True Blood and switched to shorter television shows on the elliptical, using the remaining time to lift weights. Again I started slowly with just a few weight machines. I also went back to the internet and read about the benefits of mixing a lifting routine with interval cardio.

I decreased my time on the elliptical, increased my time lifting and started experimenting with intervals on the treadmill. Some people might call it HIIT (high-intensity interval training), but I like to think of it is as MIIT (moderate-intensity interval training). I could always run faster but I am not interested in blacking out or throwing up after a workout, because I do have to go back to work!

Over winter 2010-2011, I was doing a 10 minute warmup on the elliptical (now watching The Tudors in 10 min intervals), then lifting for 20 minutes (I mix in free weights with weight machines), then 20 minutes of intervals (one minute walk, @ 4 mph, one minute jog @ 6 or 7 mph, one minute run at 9 or 9.5 mph, repeat).

Although the treadmill calculates less calories burned doing intervals verses just running @ 8 mph for 20 minutes, I get super sweaty and feel great! Again, I use my phone to motivate me, I listen to Stuff You Should Know or other podcasts while lifting, and Girl Talk or other up tempo music while running.

I now go to the gym 3-5 times a week as my work schedule allows. I work in a very tall building in downtown Minneapolis, so the days that I cannot get there (due to lunch meetings or other) I run/walk up the stairs between meetings, sometimes more than 10 flights at a time. It gets the heart pumping, but I don’t even get winded anymore.

From fall 2010 until now, I have lost another 20 pounds bringing the total to over 60 pounds. My weight has plateaued again, but that is fine. I am slowly gaining muscle while losing the remaining belly fat, which means my weight is pretty stable.

For the winter, we signed up for a winter share from the same CSA. We received a lot of root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc.) along with fruits and vegetables they saved from the summer and froze. We include spinach, kale or chard in almost every meal we can. The CSA also includes really good bread and granola they make on the farm.

These days it is all about routine and spending time cooking with my family. We plan a vegetarian night (Meatless Monday!), a fish night (ahi, salmon, sword fish, etc.) and a meat/pasta night (local beef, pork or chicken). With enough leftovers to get us through the rest of the week. My wife and I both bring our lunches and snack on nuts or fruit between meals.

Although I have cut out a lot of junk food, I don’t feel like I am missing out. I still enjoy alcohol and have a glass (or two) of wine or Scotch almost every night. I try to stay away from sugary desserts, but do have the occasional piece of cake or ice cream.

By reading Summer Tomato and the links that Darya provides, I have started to incorporate other foods such as white beans, lentils, quinoa, etc., especially on vegetarian nights. I’ve learned to love food and really pay attention to it instead of just cramming anything into my mouth. I’m always looking for new and interesting recipes. I’m even starting to get to the point that I can make dinner without having to pre-plan it, just by using what is on hand.

This summer we’re signed up with the CSA for our 3rd year, and have added a fruit share. I’m on the look out for an egg share and possibly a bread share, though I might try to start baking my own bread instead.

To summarize, I attribute my weight loss success to a combination of diet, exercise and cutting out the junk. Each one of those things alone would not (and have not in the past) accomplished it. The love of my family and cooking together keeps me going everyday.

Thanks,

Patrick Birke

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A Year Of Summer Tomato Inspiration

by | Sep 8, 2010
peaches

Peaches on Farm To Fork Tour

It is amazing to me that what I write here can have such a tremendous impact on people’s lives without me even knowing. I got an email from an old friend a few weeks ago telling me how much Summer Tomato has influenced her life over the past year, and I was so touched by her story I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing it here to inspire others.

Virginia Griffey is an editor in Oakland. She spends her time running, snowboarding, cooking, and hanging out with her friends and dog, Pebbles. Virginia is currently training for her third marathon while trying to raise $1,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Donations of any size are greatly appreciated.

Follow her on Twitter @virginiagriffey.

A Year Of Summer Tomato Inspiration

by Virginia Griffey

A few months ago, while enjoying a delicious dinner I’d made of steak, roasted potatoes and chard, I realized just how effective Summer Tomato had been in helping me become a healthier person. I discovered Summer Tomato last October after getting in touch with Darya again over Facebook. I checked out her blog and immediately was hooked.

I’ve spent the past year developing my own healthstyle based on numerous tips from Darya. Now I weigh 22 pounds less, I feel a lot more energetic, I’m a better athlete and I’ve tried a bunch of new vegetables that I never would have thought to eat.

When I came across Summer Tomato, I’d been wanting to lose some weight for a while. I ran my first marathon in October 2008, and I gained five pounds while training. I hear a lot of people say they run so they can eat whatever they want, and that’s the way I had been thinking. Clearly, eating whatever I felt like didn’t work, regardless of how much exercise I was doing. It took my 150-pound body nearly seven hours to complete the marathon. I knew losing weight would make me faster and less likely to get injured.

I’d also been curious about eating and its effect on health. Another thing I hear a lot of people say: “I’m only going to live once, so why restrict what I eat and drink? I’d rather die a little younger and happier than live to an older age while not really enjoying life.” I think what many of these people don’t understand is that when you die younger because of diseases that often are tied to nutrition (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.), it’s not a quick death. It’s a slow, painful process of hospitalization, surgery, expensive medical bills, stress for you and your family, and the inability to do the things you once loved.

I know this from experience because I’ve had to deal with several kinds of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke in my own family. I’ve seen the attendant suffering, and it’s not something I want to go through as I get older, nor is it something I want my family to have to worry about.

The first thing Summer Tomato helped me change was the way I thought about eating healthfully. Diets are restrictive. People give up on diets or can’t maintain their weight loss, because of the restrictions. I don’t think about restricting myself. I think about what kinds of delicious foods I can add to my diet. I think about simple ways to integrate nutritious foods into what I’m already eating. For example, I’ve often turned to legumes and rice as a simple meal for eating at work. Instead of starting over from scratch, I began to add vegetables to the dish or bring a salad as well. Later, I started cooking new kinds of dishes that were based on vegetables.

Darya also has helped me understand the importance of meal planning. If I take the time on weekends to think about meals for the upcoming week and go grocery shopping, I’m set. Breakfast is usually steel-cut oatmeal with plain full-fat yogurt and fruit or muesli with yogurt and fruit. Lunch is usually a salad (greens, nuts, dried fruit, homemade vinaigrette and occasionally some cheese as a treat) and a one-pot meal like a soup or stew that I made myself over the weekend. Dinner can be a wide range of things depending on what groceries I’ve picked up. One of my favorites is fried eggs on top of chard.

There are plenty of things I need to work on: eating slowly, shopping more at farmers markets (Summer Tomato did inspire me to visit Oakland’s Grand Lake farmers market for the first time after living nearby for more than a year), avoiding the processed foods that beckon from around the office (they’re rarely as good as I think they’ll be), planning meals based around what I’ve bought rather than buying food based on meals I’ve planned. I have been making slow progress on these things, and that’s what is so great about the Summer Tomato Philosophy. It’s all about making gradual, small, permanent changes rather than doing a whole bunch at once and then going back to your old ways.

I’ve made so much progress in the past year. I weigh about 128 pounds, but I’m wearing clothes sizes that I wore when I weighed 110 in high school, so I know the weight lifting has built up lean muscle that’s keeping my metabolism up and giving me sexier arms and legs, and a thinner physique. I finished my second marathon about 40 minutes faster than my first, and I’m training for my third marathon now. I’m really enjoying what I’m eating, which is essential to eating healthfully. I’m cooking a lot more, and I’ve found great joy in cooking for myself–though it’s fun to impress my friends with amazing and simple dishes too.

Here are some more of the wonderful things Darya has brought to my life:

Delicious foods I’ve started eating: sardines, fennel, chard and fried eggs with smoked paprika.

Cooking tips: toasting nuts in the pan before adding the veggies and chiffonading basil and mint.

Exercise: weight training. I had been doing this consistently for a few months before I found Summer Tomato, but Darya’s discussion of its benefits has kept me committed.

NEAT: I wear a pedometer now, at least on weekdays. I know I get a lot of exercise on my own, but my goal is to make sure I’m not otherwise sedentary, so I don’t count my running. Things like giving my dog a long walk every day and walking up one floor to use the restroom at work go a long way.

Knowledge: I know a lot more now about how the foods I eat affect my health and how the industrial food system affects my health, public health and the environment. Darya has inspired me to go beyond what I read on Summer Tomato and pay more attention to food-related news. I even went on a Farm to Fork Tour a couple of weeks ago in Brentwood, where I learned more about local agriculture and sustainable farming–and ate delicious food!

Darya’s dedication to Summer Tomato has improved my health and my life. I’m not missing out on anything by choosing to eat nutritious food. I want to enjoy a long life of running, snowboarding, cooking and eating amazing meals, and spending time with family and friends. What I’ve learned on Summer Tomato is helping me do just that.

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Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

by | Mar 22, 2010

I used to look like this. Not anymore.

Nothing makes me happier than helping someone discover real food. Not only does their health physically transform, but they learn about a world of tastes and flavors that can be truly life changing.

My friend E began her healthstyle upgrade at the beginning of 2010, and I’m delighted that she agreed to share her story with Summer Tomato readers.

E. Foley is a geek girl extraordinaire. She writes amazing online dating profiles for geeks and non-geeks, helping clients all over the world find love. Her writing can be found at Examiner.com, Dating Sites Reviews, and elsewhere as a ghostwriter. By day, she is the Copywriter at ThinkGeek.

Follow her @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.

Dating profiles for geeks = http://geeksdreamgirl.com

Why I Love WeightWatchers But Would Never Go Back

By E. Foley

My name is E and in 2003, I became a Lifetime Member of WeightWatchers after losing nearly 50 pounds and reaching my goal weight of 145.

Fast-forward to 2010, and I now weigh over 230 pounds. I’m 5’7″.

I gained back every pound I lost on WeightWatchers and then some. I did try to lose it. Over and over and over again I rejoined WeightWatchers and lost a handful of pounds before slipping back into bad habits and regaining them.

There is so much I love about the WeightWatchers program, but in the end, it’s Darya’s Healthstyle that has been the best choice for me.

Things I Loved About WeightWatchers

Weekly accountability

Knowing that I had to step on the scale in front of a staff member every Saturday motivated me to stay on track.

Group support

It may sound dumb, but it really felt good to have the group applaud for me when I had a good week. Knowing they’d be there to support me on a bad week was also comforting.

Balanced nutrition

I’ll get into this more later, but the WeightWatchers program, if followed to the letter, is nutritionally sound.

Role models

All the staff members are Lifetime Members, and there are always a few Lifetime Members who attend weekly meetings.

Things to ponder

Every meeting gave me something to think about, a food or recipe I wanted to try, or a warm fuzzy feeling that propelled me into the week.

Reasons Why I Can’t Go Back to WeightWatchers

Gaming the System

When I achieved Lifetime status, it was on the Flex plan. This plan allows you a certain budget of Points per day which you can spend on various types of food. The Points value of the food depends on its calories, fat, and fiber. Many vegetables are zero points, which you’d think would encourage their consumption. Not so. When I reached my goal weight, I was burning calories like mad at a gym. Some days I did two cardio classes in a row and then yoga or Pilates. This allowed me to earn Activity Points which I then spent on those tasty (but sugary!) Milk & Cereal bars that are anything but healthy.

When I regained the weight and went back to WeightWatchers, I jumped back into the same Flex program. The game for me was figuring out how to play the numbers so they added up on paper to the magic number. It got to the point where I could be “perfect” on paper but not lose a single pound.

Frustrated, I’d quit.

WeightWatchers’ Attempt at Healthstyle Fails

Later, WeightWatchers rolled out the Core program and I saw success again. Core allowed members to eat lean meats, fat-free dairy, fruits and vegetables “until satisfied.” A weekly Points budget allowed eating things that weren’t Core (namely carbs, sugars, and fats). Also included on the “free to eat” list was your daily serving of heart-healthy oils.

But Core wasn’t popular among the WeightWatchers membership. In my meetings, I’d often be the only person in the room on Core, so advice in the meeting was tailored toward Flex members. Sometimes I’d get lucky and have a leader who was on Core, but not always. Even though I was losing weight regularly on Core, the lack of support for the program made going to meetings not as helpful or motivating. WeightWatchers finally eliminated the Core program, going back to a One-Plan-Fits-All mentality.

Eat Healthy OR Filling

Remember how I said that the plan is nutritionally sound if followed to the letter? The problem with WeightWatchers is that as long as you lose weight, no one questions what you’re eating. I wish I still had my food journals from those days, because I can tell you I went full weeks without consuming a vegetable or fruit.

In the meetings, the leader would talk about getting your heart healthy oil in every day, and inevitably, someone would complain about having to “waste Points” on olive oil, when they could just use a few spritzes of aerosol cooking spray instead. When you’re working with 20 points per day (which is what I was eating when I was close to my goal weight), it does seem like a waste to use 4 of those points for a tablespoon of olive oil. Especially when 4 points could be spent on bread or meat or cheese. Or a Milk & Cereal bar.

Diet For Life?

My biggest problem with WeightWatchers is that it never felt like a way to eat for the rest of my life. Maybe it did for a while, but once hard times hit, I didn’t have the incentive to stick to my guns and eat healthy, mainly because what I ate when I was on program wasn’t all that tasty. (WeightWatchers has tons of recipe books, but all the recipes are pretty bland and uninspired.)

Finding Darya Was The Best Thing That Happened To Me

Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating, says that “the best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on.” This is exactly how I feel about my new healthstyle.

I don’t feel stressed out about food.

I don’t feel deprived of things I want to eat.

I don’t look forward to the day I get to “eat normal” again.

I don’t feel like the way I am eating is a ball and chain.

I don’t eat food that doesn’t taste delicious.

My Healthstyle

Breakfast: Every other Sunday, I make a giant batch of breakfast hot pockets from scratch. I have played with the dough recipe a bit to decrease the white flour down to 5 cups white, 3.5 cups wheat, 1.5 cups almond meal. Since my boyfriend is vegetarian, we use the sausage substitute. They freeze well and reheat in the microwave in 95 seconds. I love them because I am not a morning person, so I wake up as late as possible and eat on my drive to the gym.

Exercise: I am blessed to have a work schedule that allows me to work out from 8:30-9:45 a.m. just about every day. I do miss the gym from time to time, but I’m there more days than I’m not, which is a great start!

Lunch: I love salad bars, but they’re so expensive. So I started up a Salad Club at my work! We have anywhere from 4 to 6 people who participate each week, pitching in various veggies and fruits and toppings and dressings. If you’re curious, follow me on Twitter and you can see a picture of my Salad Club every weekday. When I’m lunching at home, it’s usually kale with toasted nuts and garlic and whatever leftover grain I have in the fridge.

Snacks: Back in my WeightWatchers days, I avoided nuts. Too high in calories, too high in fat, too many Points! Now, I have a variety of nuts on my desk at work and usually eat an ounce or two of nuts every day. They really help bridge the gap between meals and prevent me from snacking on the junk food in the office kitchen.

Dinner: I make all sorts of great things for dinners now. We still have our old standbys (vegetarian tacos & Annie’s mac n’ cheese), but more often than not, I’m surfing the internet for recipes after buying whatever looks good in the store (Sadly, being on the East Coast makes the farmers market thing a little less feasible in the winter. But spring is almost here!!). I think my favorite so far is the stuffed portobello mushrooms (pictured here).

The Bottom Line

I don’t feel like this is a diet. I feel like I’m eating better and tastier foods than I have in my whole life. I’ve eaten more nuts and olive oil in the past 3 months than I have in 3 years. But I’m losing at a steady rate of about a 1/2 pound per week. No, it’s not fast or impressive. But I’m eating amazing food, I’m never hungry (for long!), and I’m not killing myself at the gym to do it. If it takes me 3 years to get down to 140-150 again, that’s fine by me. The weight loss is just a pleasant side effect of my healthstyle, and I have Darya to thank for all her advice and personal coaching.

If you’ve been lurking on the blog and wondering about working with Darya to get your healthstyle on, take the step and do it. I feel so much better and the weight is melting off while I’m eating the most delicious food of my life. You can do it, too.

What is your healthstyle?

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