Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guest Post: Weight Loss Tips from Crostini and Chianti


When I came across Crostini and Chianti a blog about good food and weight loss, I couldn't resist asking for a guest post, Greg has lost a staggering 125 lb and kept it of for 4 years. I have been a dietitian for over 9 years and know the struggles folks have with weight it is often such a battle. His story is inspirational, he has wonderful tips and is a great person

Rebecca asked me to write a guest blog about weight loss tips. Before I go into that I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself so you can see why I am qualified to write this guest blog. I am will be 49 years old on Monday. On my 45th birthday I decided that my life was about to change, so I might as well make the change for the better. The company I had been working at for the last 12 years decided to outsource my department. I went from the newbie to managing the department and had 27 people reporting to me. My day typically began at 5:30 AM and went until 11:00 PM. The job was IT related so I sat in front if a computer all day long.

My weight went up to 311 pounds; my blood pressure was so high that when I went into the doctor’s office for a physical the doctor called for a portable EKG machine to decide if they should admit me to the hospital. I ate a bottle of Tums every couple of weeks in addition to the prescription to Zantac the doctor prescribed for my stomach issues. My dad had passed away but before he did he was diagnosed with diabetes and my brother was also diagnosed with diabetes. In short I am not sure what was keeping my body from having some kind of malfunction, I was a heart attack/diabetes/ulcer waiting to happen.

As I was trying to decide what to do with my life since my job was about to be terminated, I decided to take a good look at my whole life and decided I was heading for disaster. My wife and kids deserved better than that. I started researching diets but was not fond of any of the diets I found. They all seemed to be based on somebody else making money off from me getting skinny. I talked to my doctor at my annual physical and she told me that I did not need to go on a diet. I needed to get a new lifestyle. I needed to change just about every aspect of my health. So I switched gears and started a new approach to my “diet”. I went out to the government’s food pyramid site and started studying what I needed to do. In January I started my life style change.

In a nutshell I lost 75 pounds the first year and 50 pounds the second year. The third I have been working on toning up and have actually put on about 15 pounds but it is muscle not fat. I haven't been on the medication for my stomach issues in a year. The I took 2 medications for my blood pressure, I am completely off one of them and the other one I take 1 pill once a day instead of twice a day. I am hoping that I will be able to come off the blood pressure medication completely when I go for my physical in November.

Now that I have bored you, I will tell you the stuff you wanted to hear to begin with. I may say a few things that will surprise you. Remember if you are going to lose weight you should consult a doctor not me, I have no medical training, nutritional training or initials of any kind after my name.

I don't like the word diet; anything that starts with the word die is just too intimidating. I usually use lifestyle change, even though that is very cliché it is what you need to do if you are going to lose a lot of weight. If you have a better phrase please let me know but Chocolate Deprived, Calorie Deficient and Feed Me I am Starving have already been tried and weren't found to be very inspiring.

Go for the Goal! The first thing that I recommend is setting goals. In the past I have set out to lose 25 pounds and always made that goal, then a year later I was back at the original weight plus some additional weight. This time I did not set a goal for total weight that I wanted to lose, other than to lose as much weight as possible. Instead I set smaller goals like to lose 8 pounds this month or 1 pound this week. Little goals give you more victories and more victories inspire you to keep going. If you meet a monthly goal reward yourself a new book, CD, workout clothes, a piece of chocolate whatever will make you happy. Losing weight is about you and what you really want, if you do it for someone else the weight will come back. Remember it is considered safe to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You may lose more weight in the beginning but eventually it will even out.

Write on. Track everything that you can. Write down what you eat, how many calories it has, when you eat it and how you were feeling when you ate it. Yes how you were feeling, you will probably see a pattern in your eating fairly quickly, something that you might not have realized before. You will notice that you eat when you are bored, when you are angry, when you are by yourself or when you are with a specific person. Then you can use that information to avoid those triggers. Also keep an exercise log. Track how long you ran, how many repetitions you did of each exercise, how many calories you burned. There are many online sites that will allow you to input a food or exercise and find out about calories burned or consumed.

Size Matters. Before you start your lifestyle change weigh yourself and keep weighing yourself at a regular interval weekly, daily once a month. I started out daily to keep myself on track but after I lost the weight I only check weekly now. Your body weight will fluctuate naturally influenced by the food you eat (salty foods will make you retain weight) etc. so don’t panic if you gain a pound but ate correctly. Besides weighing yourself measure your neck, each arm around the bicep, your waist and each of your thighs. Track these measurements weekly. You may have a week where you don’t lose weight but you may drop inches. I suggest measuring each arm and leg because they may lose inches at different rates. The more ways you monitor your body the more chances you have for victories and victories keep you inspired and on track.

Play with your food! I know your mom told you not to do this but it is important. In order to lose weight you will cut back on the fats you eat. Fat adds flavor to food. If your new food has no flavor you won’t stick to your diet. So you have to replace the flavor from the fat. Add spices, herbs, lemon or try low fat versions of foods but find someway to get flavor into your food. By the way some no fat foods add a lot of chemicals to get rid of the fat; you may be better off going with low fat or small quantities of the full fat versions.

Eat More Meals. This sounds weird, but it works. By eating your 3 regular meals and then sticking in mini meals between breakfast and lunch and then another between lunch and dinner your metabolism does not slow down. The extra meals are not real meals but healthy snacks. Examples of the extra meals could be a piece of cheese and a piece of fruit, nuts and dried fruit, etc.

Don’t Trust Your Loved Ones. The people that will gain the most by you succeeding will be the ones who will tempt you the most. Here try a bite, Aunt Martha won’t let anybody turn down her Death by Chocolate Triple Fudge Cake, One piece won’t hurt you, Try it you’ll like it. You will hear them all, how you react will determine your lifestyle success. That does not mean you have to turn everything down, it just means you have to learn to take bites not pieces, how to eat less and how to eat better at other meals if you know you are going to be tempted at another meal. It has been proven that when people get a craving for a specific food the first bite is the one that counts the most in satisfying them and by the 5th bite the craving is completely gone. Learn to satisfy the craving without indulging. That's right I am saying you can eat the foods that tempt you, just don't do it daily and plan to eat less at the meal before and after if you need to make up the calories. I believe in eat everything in moderation. Diets that restrict foods are usually diets that eventually fail and diets themselves usually have a beginning and an end. Lifestyle changes are a way to deal with what you eat everyday and last a lifetime.

The Dreaded Plateau. Everyone will eventually hit a plateau, when people tell me they are at one I always say congratulations. A plateau is your body realizing what you are doing. Your body is programmed to protect itself and if you start losing too much weight it will go into protection mode to preserve itself and start storing calories. You need to change your exercise plan and/or diet when you get to the plateau. Run further or longer, lift the weights for more repetitions or lift heavier weights, change something about your diet, but change what you are doing. In a couple of weeks you should have it figured out.

Make sure you measure up. Learn portion sizes. Practice serving correct portion sizes. Use measuring cups, scales etc. but learn the right amounts to eat. After a while you will get so you can estimate by looking at the food, but in the beginning measure the portions out. Portion control is one of the main reasons diets fail.

The next section is a few thought that I have about current food trends.

100 Calorie Packs. Did you ever notice that nothing healthy comes in 100 calorie packs? Do you know why that is? 100 calories if carrots would be approximately 1 pound, it would last you a week! It has been proven that people who eat the 100 calorie packs tend to eat more because they view 100 calories as a small amount, so it is ok to eat more. If you can hold yourself to 1 pack then use the 100 Calorie Packs to satisfy your craving.

But Wait That’s Not All. This is the new trend in food. Take something that is not healthy for you and add something good to it. For example sugary cereals with fiber added or soda with vitamins added. Adding something good for you to something that is not good for you does not make the bad thing good for you. Besides that, do you really want fish oil added to your milk so you can get Omega 3 fatty acids?

Wow amazing


  1. I agree with the 'size matters'.... that is one of the most memorable statements I have heard in a long time!

  2. This is wonderful, I have bookmarked this page so that I can read it over and over again to digest the tips. Thanks Rebecca and the guest! Bravo!

  3. What a beautiful post!
    Greg, thanks for sharing your experience.
    Rebecca, thanks for inviting him.

  4. Excellent post....
    I am actually looking to shed about 4 kilos .But find it very hard.. Dunno wot to do with respect to food??
    Could you suggest me some websites tat will help me.. look into food categories..
    Mail me to

  5. Congratulations Greg! Such wonderful tips, and most especially the last two. I think people get really confused by fancy advertising and media pushing fortified foods as "healthy" when they're still junk... just with vitamins.

  6. Congrats Greg! The tips are so good and now I realize my flaws:)
    writing down the calories consumed will definitely help.
    Wonderful post . Thanks Rebecca.

  7. After working at a weight loss clinic for two years now, I have to say these are some GREAT tips!! Thanks for sharing, Greg.

  8. This is a great and useful post. I love his story, it is inspirational for many people!

  9. This is a great and useful post. I love his story, it is inspirational for many people!

  10. I agree totally, and myself just spent some time with a friend who has never been over weight and does not understand my struggles, but this is a great post, and I am referring others to come read it!

    Thanks Crostini and Chianti!!!

  11. Nice post Rebecca...
    Of course Rebecca,u can certainly add my Fish biryani..and thanx for adding my salmon post..

  12. Dana: I agree
    Kenny T: will pass it along
    Dajana: will pass along
    Sophie: oh I am so pleased he agreed what a treat
    Sandyha: look at my last post, it may help, email for personalized tips rebecca
    Palidor; will pass it along
    Viki: no probs
    the Candid RD, they are the best I have seen as an RD
    Kelsey: smiles
    chef E: will pass along lol
    Vrinda: thanks

  13. Oh, I am trying to lose 5-6 lb ... not that easy for a gourmand like me!

  14. great post.

    head on over to Basil to see your article in the Live Section. not sure yet if we'll have room for the diabetes article, but i'll keep you updated.

    have a great day!!

  15. Laura: I'll help ya lol
    Rebecca: oh thanks will do


  16. Great guest post. Thanks for the good information. The hardest part, for a lot of people, it seems, is to get it in their heads that it is a lifestyle change. That in order to keep weight off, you have to plan your meals, be aware of what you're eating, and you can't just "clean your plate" at every restaurant. My issues are more from the fact that I love to cook, and while we eat a very balanced, healthy diet, I still have more calories in than out! I'm not overweight, so I shouldn't complain, but it's always difficult when those last 10 lbs won't budge. Thanks Rebecca!

  17. You're right, regarding the constipation in elderly, WATER is the best medicine!!

  18. Thanks, Greg for sharing your wonderful story and knowledge. -Tien

  19. tasty eats at home; very true its a mind set, will pass comments along
    Tien; will tell Greg

  20. Great guest post and so realistic. This is good, sound advice. Thanks!

  21. Thanks for all the wonderful tips! I love the last one! I bet your family is very proud of you. Your awesome!

  22. I am glad that so many of you found my story and tips helpful. The company I work for just decided to use my story and tips at our health fair at the end of the month. I still find it hard to believe that people find my story interesting.
    Tasty Eats At Home my passion is cooking as well. I just learned a new style of cooking, I mainly focus on Italian/Mediterranean food now. Meats are more of an ingredient instead of the "rock star" of the meal. Sweets focus more on fresh fruit. Check out my blog, Rebecca posted a link to it, and you will see what I mean.
    I agree with a couple comments made about success being a state of mind. I have went on a diet many times, but only been successful once, the time I stopped dieting and changed my whole lifestyle. Mind over fatter. :-) Sorry, I have a very strong sense of bad humor.

  23. I need this for sure and thank you so much for sharing it! Sure will be able to shop for nice clothings very soon...ha ha!



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