Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating: Great Food for Good Health

Overview

Bob Greene's bestselling Get With the Program! showed hundreds of thousands of people how to make a habit of healthy living and fitness. Now, in The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating, Greene presents a blueprint for a lifetime of healthful eating, with detailed, easy-to-follow guidelines and 85 delicious recipes.
Greene knows that you're not going to stick to an eating plan if you're bored or feeling deprived, so he's developed a program based on balance, moderation, ...

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Overview

Bob Greene's bestselling Get With the Program! showed hundreds of thousands of people how to make a habit of healthy living and fitness. Now, in The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating, Greene presents a blueprint for a lifetime of healthful eating, with detailed, easy-to-follow guidelines and 85 delicious recipes.
Greene knows that you're not going to stick to an eating plan if you're bored or feeling deprived, so he's developed a program based on balance, moderation, flexibility, and variety. After you make the commitment to Get With the Program!, you'll discover the keys to boosting your metabolism. Next you'll take the four steps to healthy eating, making one change at a time: eating a nutritious breakfast, setting an eating cut-off time, redistributing your calories, and making healthful food choices. Greene shows you how to determine the perfect way to eat for your unique needs, how to stock a healthy kitchen, how to dine out enjoyably, and how to "cheat" without guilt.
Finally, there are 85 easy-to-prepare recipes that are as full of flavor as they are good for you. Try a Peaches and "Cream" Fresh Fruit Smoothie or some Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes for breakfast. Salmon Burgers or Tomatoes Stuffed with Couscous, Cucumber, and Mint make a satisfying lunch, and how about Spinach Penne with Spicy Roasted Pepper Sauce or Baked Lemon Herb Halibut for dinner? Hungry for more? Satisfying soups, tasty side dishes (including luscious Mashed Potatoes), and tempting desserts, like airy Pavlova with Raspberry Sauce or Chocolate Almond Angel Food Cake, make healthful eating a pleasure.
The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating is an effective and enjoyable approach to good health, good eating, and weight loss that you can trust.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In Get With the Program!, Bob Greene advocates a regimen of aerobic exercise and strength training, and helps readers understand and overcome emotional eating. With this book, the charismatic guru (and personal trainer to Oprah) enhances his program, prescribing an eating plan that will provide you with the nutrition and energy you need to maintain a fitness program and achieve your weight goals. Eating breakfast, redistributing calories, and getting an abundance of fruits and veggies are key components of the plan, and Greene even throws in 85 yummy recipes as a temptation. The nutritional information here is far from groundbreaking, but Greene has a proven knack for getting through to readers, so for many who have tried before and failed, this readable guide just might do the trick.
Publishers Weekly
Oprah's longtime personal trainer expands his "Get with the Program" product line with this calm, supportive guide to healthy eating. Greene reaffirms the tenets of last year's Get With the Program!: Getting Real About Your Weight, Health, and Emotional Well-Being-stay hydrated, exercise aerobically, strength-train and eliminate "emotional eating"-before turning his attention to good food habits. Eating breakfast is essential, he says, as is establishing a cutoff time at night (try not to eat 3 hours before sleep); numerous small meals and smart food choices round out his four main steps to healthy eating. Greene's recipes, which take up the latter half of the book, are easy and pleasing: Broccoli and Swiss Chard Cannelloni is full of the beta carotene he espouses in an earlier chapter, and Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes provide "a healthy shot of antioxidants." He also presents deceptively healthy recipes for Paella, Wild Mushroom Grits and a delicious Eggplant and Zucchini Poor Boy Sandwich. Greene's tone remains encouraging throughout, and his cool dismissal of fad diets and quick fixes should soothe those who have hyperventilated for diet revolutions in the past: "Powerful change occurs...by taking small steps...each day of your life." (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743243100
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.58 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Greene

Bob Greene is an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer specializing in fitness, metabolism, and weight loss. He holds a master's degree from the University of Arizona and is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise. For the past seventeen years he has worked with clients and consulted on the design and management of fitness, spa, and sports medicine programs. Bob has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He is also a contributing writer and editor for O the Oprah magazine, and writes articles on health and fitness for Oprah.com. Greene is the bestselling author of The Best Life Diet Cookbook, The Best Life Diet, Revised and Updated, The Best Life Diet, The Best Life Diet Daily Journal, The Total Body Makeover, Get With the Program!, The Get With the Program! Daily Journal, The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating, and Make the Connection.

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Read an Excerpt

Part One: Committing to a Healthy Lifestyle

Getting to where you want to go in life is a process. It takes time, commitment, and a series of accomplishments — some big, some small, but each important. Change is a progression, and each bit of progress you make gives you confidence to take on the next challenge. In Get With the Program! I introduced readers to several important behaviors that would powerfully alter their physical and emotional well-being. In case you missed Get With the Program, I'll quickly go over four of the most crucial of those behaviors in order to bring you up to date. If you read the previous book, this will serve as an excellent refresher course and help you stay on or get back on track.

Among these behaviors are two different types of exercise: aerobic workouts and strength training. You might wonder what exercise is doing in a guide to good eating, but I strongly believe that you can't separate the two. If you want to achieve wellness and weight loss, you have to do both: eat well and exercise. So why am I discussing exercise first? Because exercise can provide you with a powerful incentive to eat well. When you exercise, you really feel it if you're not properly fueled — it's hard to keep your energy up. Knowing that good nutrition will give you the strength and stamina you need to perform your workouts properly is going to make you want to eat well. You'll become much more conscious of what you're consuming. And exercise keeps your metabolism revved up, helping to counteract the metabolic slowdown that naturally occurs when you start cutting calories.

Exercise is an important part of the foundation upon which to build healthy eating habits. But another important — in fact, absolutely essential — component is your attitude. Your level of motivation and the way you think about your prospects of success are key. Just by reading this far, you're moving in the direction of change, but before you go any further it's time for an "attitude check."

Attitude Check

  • Reaching a certain size or weight won't necessarily make me happy. Not unless you identify and deal with any underlying problems that have made weight an issue in your life.
  • There are no shortcuts to achieving what I want. Dedication, commitment, and effort are needed to accomplish anything worthwhile.
  • Excuses ("I don't have time," "I'm too tired to exercise," "I've already blown it today, I'll start again tomorrow") just won't wash. If you're ready to change, you're ready to stop making excuses.
  • Each improvement I make, not just pounds lost, is worth acknowledging and praising myself for. Feeling better, sleeping better, feeling stronger, being less stressed, looking healthier — focus on these aspects of improvement, and you will keep your motivation up.
  • Setbacks are going to happen. Setbacks are a natural and inevitable part of any progression and are no reason to throw in the towel. If you can overcome setbacks and reach your goals in spite of them, you have shown true strength of character. Ultimately, your sense of accomplishment will be that much greater.
  • Losing weight takes willpower. As much as some people (those selling gimmicks under the guise "Weight Loss Made Easy") would like you to believe that you don't have to give up anything to slim down, the truth is that you do. Your commitment to your health and well-being will require some small sacrifices, but the return on your investment will be large.
  • Physical activity is nonnegotiable. You have to move to improve.
  • I can love my family and friends and be a good employee and still take care of myself. Get those close to you to support your program, and from this point on, consider your health and well-being sacred. Don't let your obligations to others interfere with your obligations to yourself.

If any of these statements makes you feel unsure about whether you can truly make a commitment to yourself right now, I recommend that you consider holding off until you feel ready to handle the challenge. And you will eventually feel ready — but you need to do it within your own time frame. If you do feel prepared for the challenges to come, keep reading. Some of what lies ahead may be tough, but it will be very rewarding.

Maximizing Your Metabolism

Let's talk about your metabolism. You're going to be hearing a lot about metabolism throughout this book, because the rate at which you burn calories (that's the definition of metabolism) is critical to maintaining a healthy weight. And increasing your metabolic rate is critical to losing weight permanently. Everybody burns calories at his or her own individual rate; if you've always had a sluggish metabolism, you'll probably never get it to run at the same speed as that skinny girl's from high school (who turned up at the class reunion twenty years later looking just as skinny). But you can maximize your metabolism's potential so that it burns at its highest rate for the largest number of hours per day.

One thing we know about metabolism is that it changes throughout the day; it is slowest when you're sleeping (even though you're asleep, you still must burn calories to maintain your body's basic functions, such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion). We also know that certain things you do can give your metabolism a boost. Eating is one of them. Exercise is another (although exercise raises your calorie-burning rate much more than eating). As soon as you begin exercising — whether doing aerobic exercise or strength training — your metabolism increases, and it continues to increase in direct proportion to the length and intensity of your workout. Best of all, the boost your metabolism gets from exercise can last for hours after you've stepped off the treadmill or put down the weights. But the really good news is that you can increase your metabolism 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with consistent exercise. This is how dramatic weight loss occurs.

In the pages that follow, you'll learn a lot more specifics about your metabolism and how you can change it. You already know that burning calories through exercise and eating fewer calories will help you lose weight. But metabolism is another and entirely separate piece of the puzzle. Boosting yours is the first order of business. Let's identify the four behaviors that make up the foundation of good eating and that will keep your metabolism running efficiently.

1. Staying Hydrated

GOAL: Start drinking a minimum of 6 eight-ounce glasses of water a day, and work up to 9.

Since water has no calories, most people think it doesn't have anything to do with weight loss. But it does, and it's essential for good health. When you're dehydrated, your body's ability to perform virtually every physiological function, including the important process of fat metabolism, decreases. Dehydration can make your body go in search of water, signaling you to eat more, a phenomenon I call "artificial hunger." Dehydration also causes your digestive system to work at a diminished capacity, potentially preventing you from getting the nutrients you need and triggering unnecessary eating to make up for the shortfall. On the other hand, if you drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day, it'll not only keep all systems functioning smoothly, it'll fill you up, helping to curb your appetite so you eat relatively less, not more.

It's especially important to be hydrated when you exercise; your body can't cool itself adequately when it's low on fluid. What's more, being adequately hydrated during exercise will help you stay energized so that you can maintain an appropriate intensity and not quit early, and end up burning fewer calories both during and after your exercise session.

If you can work up to drinking nine eight-ounce glasses of water a day, great. But at the very least, try to get up to eight glasses — you'll need at least that much if you're moderately active. (When you exercise more and at a higher intensity, you may need even more.)

Most people drink only when they're thirsty, but by the time you feel thirsty, your body may be already dehydrated. Drink water throughout the day, and don't consume too much at once: drinking more than one to two glasses at one sitting stimulates the body to rid itself of the water.

Your water requirement is over and above the water you get from foods such as soup and other beverages. What counts as water? Fresh, noncarbonated water. Carbonated (or sparkling) water, which can have somewhat of a diuretic effect, doesn't count. Neither do drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, for the same reason. Remember, active people need more fluids than people who don't exercise, and pure water is your best source.

How to Work More Water into Your Day

  • Start the day with a glass of water. Drink another glass before you work out, then two afterwards. Have another one a half hour before lunch, then one at lunch, and you'll already have had six glasses by midday.
  • Buy a water filter for your home. Filtering makes your water taste better. It's also safer than drinking unfiltered water and cheaper than buying bottled water.
  • Carry a bottle of water with you at all times. You don't have to buy bottled water to do this; just use a refillable sports bottle.
  • Any time you see a water fountain, stop and take a few sips. Every little bit helps!

2. Working Out Aerobically

GOAL: Perform aerobic exercise for a minimum of 50 to 150 minutes per week, depending on your goals.

Aerobic exercise — the kind of exercise that makes your heart beat faster and your breathing accelerate — is one of the cornerstones of an effective weight loss program. For most people, changing their eating behavior means eating fewer calories, a move that can cause their metabolism to drop. If you bolster your metabolism with regular aerobic exercise and then begin to gradually eliminate unnecessary calories, your weight loss results will be dramatic.

That, though, is only one of several significant reasons for adding aerobic exercise to your life. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness. That is, it improves the ability of your heart, lungs, and arteries to deliver oxygen to working muscles, as well as your muscles' ability to use that oxygen to fuel its efforts. By getting your cardiovascular system into shape, you'll bump up the total number of calories you burn in a day. You'll also receive the other perks of cardiovascular fitness: lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease (and some cancers), better toned muscles, increased energy, and a more shapely body, just to name a few!

What Kind of Aerobic Exercise?

When weight loss is your goal, it's critical to choose a form of aerobic exercise that is highly aerobic. The more highly aerobic an activity is, the more aerobic enzymes it will cause your body to produce. These enzymes, found mostly in the muscles, help you burn fat, so you want your body to produce as many of them as possible.

The workouts that I consider the most effective forms of aerobic exercise — my A list — are powerwalking, jogging, aerobic dancing, and stair climbing. On the B list are stair stepping, elliptical exercise, spinning, stationary cycling, indoor rowing, and indoor cross-country skiing. Other workouts can help keep you healthy and contribute to weight loss, but these give you the most bang for your buck.

How Much?

One well-kept secret is that many of the beautiful bodies you see in movies, on TV, and in magazines, are the products of hours and hours of exercise. It's not that the glamorous owners of these bodies aren't busy, but often before being photographed they put a considerable amount of time into refining their shapes. It's part of their job.

In the real world, most people don't have that much time to devote to exercise, and I'm not expecting you to work out for hours at a time. But if your goal is to lose weight, you'll typically need to do at least fifty minutes a week of aerobic exercise. (Many people need to do more.) You can break up those minutes to best fit your schedule, but keep in mind that you'll need to do at least ten minutes of continuous exercise at a time to make any appreciable increase in your aerobic enzymes and thus your metabolism. If you hit a plateau in your weight loss, try adding more minutes of exercise each week; that should stimulate your body to start shedding pounds again.

How Hard?

The more aerobic work you perform in a given amount of time, the better cardiovascular shape you'll be in and the less body fat you'll retain. Perhaps you've heard that if you want to burn fat, you should stick to low-intensity exercise, but the rationale behind that recommendation is faulty. It's true that at higher intensities your body tends to burn more carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen, stored in the muscles and liver) than it does stored body fat. However, it doesn't matter that much which fuel you burn the most of during exercise. What does matter is that by exercising at a higher intensity you'll increase your metabolism, thus burning a higher rate of calories 24 hours a day!

The difference in the amount of fat you burn if you go slowly for thirty minutes and the amount you burn if you go at a moderately high pace for thirty minutes is pretty negligible. But the difference between the amount of fat your body will burn if you have a highly fit cardiovascular system and a system that's just so-so is significant. In the end, a revved-up metabolism will play a bigger part in ridding your body of excess fat than a low-intensity workout ever could.

So what is the ideal intensity? One that gets you "in the zone." Being in the zone means exercising at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum ability. There are two ways to figure out if you're reaching that goal.

The first method is a numerical equation that calculates what's known as your "target heart rate range." This is the recommended range of heartbeats per minute that you should achieve during exercise in order to train your cardiovascular system safely. To estimate your target heart rate range at 75 percent of your maximum ability, start by figuring out your target heart rate: 220 - your age x 75 percent (.75). So if you're forty years old, your target heart rate is 180 x .75 = 135 beats per minute. To get the target heart rate range, add and subtract 5 (beats) from your target heart rate. For a forty-year-old, that comes out to 130 to 140 beats per minute. So if you're forty, after you warm up for five minutes or so, your heart rate should be between 130 and 140 beats per minute for the duration of your workout.

The thing that's difficult about monitoring your heart rate this way is that you have to take your pulse during exercise, which can be sort of tricky. That's why I prefer that clients use the second method of determining if they're exercising in the zone: perceived exertion. (Of course, if you've been told by your physician not to exceed a certain heart rate, then stick with the first method.) Perceived exertion is a subjective measure of how hard you're working, based primarily on your breathing. The scale goes from zero to ten, with level zero being how it feels to be at rest and level ten being an exertion so difficult you could probably maintain it for only a few seconds. On this scale, being in the zone means being at level seven or eight. At level seven, you feel fatigue but are certain that you could maintain the pace for the rest of your session. Your breathing is deep, but you can still carry on a conversation. Level eight is slightly more vigorous. If you asked yourself if you could continue at that pace for the rest of your workout, you might not be 100 percent sure. You could still carry on a conversation, but you wouldn't feel like it.

It may take you a while to consistently maintain level seven, but don't be discouraged. If you can't exercise at that pace for your whole workout, start at a lower level of exertion, then increase to seven for one or two minutes at a time. Probably within a week or two you'll be able to exercise at level seven for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Remember that highly aerobic exercise isn't supposed to be completely comfortable. You need to challenge yourself if you want to see some results.

3. Eliminating Emotional Eating

GOAL: Begin to understand the causes of and eliminate your emotional eating.

No matter what you learn in this book about nutritious eating, it will be difficult for you to apply the information to your own life if you are struggling with emotional eating. If you sometimes (or often) eat because of how you feel rather than because you are truly physically hungry, you are an emotional eater. You may do it at meals, in between meals, at social occasions, or late at night (for more on the connection between emotional eating and late-night snacking, see page 42). You may do it for any number of reasons. Some people eat to comfort themselves in stressful situations. Some eat due to boredom and/or loneliness. Others eat when they experience turmoil or disappointment. Often people eat to fill a void when something or someone is missing from their lives.

Whenever you do it and whatever the reason, if you can eliminate emotional eating, you will achieve weight loss success and feel a greater sense of self-worth. Emotional eating is a viscious cycle. You eat to make yourself feel better but just end up making yourself feel worse by giving in to self-destructive impulses. But you can break the cycle. It does take time, and you must be gentle with yourself as you go along. However, with diligence, you can find other, healthier coping mechanisms and slowly but surely begin to understand and alter this behavior.

Overcoming emotional eating requires making some changes — some subtle, some bigger in scope. Here are the ones that I think will help you achieve success.

  • Organize your eating, and eat consciously. When you don't have a plan, it's easier to give in to an emotional impulse and eat haphazardly. Limiting yourself to three meals and two snacks a day, as well as not eating at least two hours before bed, will give your day some structure. That structure will make it easier for you to take the time to enjoy each meal and snack as a conscious act. By a conscious act, I mean that you should make each meal an enjoyable event — whether it's with music and candles or just the company of someone you like. Reading, watching TV, or working while you eat doesn't allow you to register the experience and will leave you hungry and yearning for more food later on.
  • Learn the difference between physical hunger and emotional eating. If you feed yourself out of emotional need, it's possible that you may have lost the ability to recognize what physical hunger feels like. Choose a day and delay your normally scheduled mealtime so that you can feel what it's like to be hungry. (If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, you must consult a physician before you try this.) Being familiar with this feeling will help you be a better judge of why you're eating whenever you eat. If you don't feel physical hunger, don't eat.
  • Identify the reasons why and occasions when you eat due to emotions. If you're not hungry, why are you eating? This is an important question to ask yourself since it will help clue you in to what triggers your emotional eating episodes. I strongly suggest you keep a journal so that you can write down what you're feeling instead of eating. A journal is a great tool for identifying patterns and behaviors that you may not even be aware of — and of course you need to know what they are before you can change them! (See page 47 for more on keeping a journal.)
  • If you're depressed, consider seeking professional counseling. There are many issues you may be able to deal with on your own and others that you can manage with the help of family and friends. But if you are continually and deeply depressed — or even if you just feel overwhelmed by life and need someone impartial to talk to — it's a good idea to seek the help of a professional counselor or therapist. For some people, this is a very hard step to take, but sometimes an outsider's insight is just what you need.
  • Use the moment of temptation to learn what needs to change in your life. Eating can be an anesthetic. Sometimes people eat because they don't want to think, but thinking is exactly what I want you to do. Every time you're tempted to eat and you know it's not because you are physically hungry, you have a golden opportunity to learn something about yourself. Go to your journal. Think about why you are eating, and write it down. This is your chance for change — seize it!
  • Look for healthy outlets for your emotions. There are many enriching alternatives to eating, and it may be helpful to keep a list of them handy to remind yourself of what they are. What do you like to do? It could be anything from reading a book to phoning a friend. Taking classes, taking up a craft, surfing the Web — all these can help. Perhaps the best substitute is exercise, even if it's only a walk around the block. Exercising won't just distract you, it will improve your mood and help counter the effects of stress.

4. Strength Training

GOAL: Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine three times a week.

Men and women have been strength training for years, but it's only recently that we've come to understand how beneficial strength training can be. If for no other reason, you should strength-train because it combats two profound effects of aging: muscle loss and bone loss. But strength training also has significant weight loss and weight maintenance benefits. The strength you gain from working with weights makes you capable of doing aerobic exercise at a higher level so that you ultimately burn more calories. Usually, lifting weights will also cause you to build muscle tissue, and since maintaining muscle requires a lot of energy, this will increase the number of calories you burn. At the very least, just by helping you retard age-related muscle loss, strength training will keep you from losing much of your body's natural calorie-burning ability.

When you strength-train, what you are essentially doing (or should be doing) is fatiguing your muscles to the point where they will rebuild themselves in order to handle the strain better next time around. Each exercise builds only certain muscles, so you need a regimen that includes exercises for all the major muscle groups in your body.

It's very important that no matter what strength training exercises you perform, you perform them properly. At the very least, bad form while exercising can cause aches and pains, and in the worst case it can cause injury. I give detailed instructions for an effective, easy-to-follow routine in Get With the Program!. You might also consider consulting a personal trainer or exercise specialist to teach you some weight lifting basics. If you do, I recommend that this person be certified by either the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

How Often?

If you strength-train once a week, you will maintain your muscular strength, though your muscular endurance might decline some. Training two times a week will improve your muscular strength and more or less maintain your muscular endurance. Three times a week — the magic number — will improve both your muscular strength and your muscular endurance. (If you want to work up to four times a week, great, but it's not essential.)

How Many Sets and Repetitions?

A repetition (or rep) is one completion of a given exercise. If, for instance, you're doing a biceps curl, every time you raise the weight to your shoulder, then lower it back down to the starting position, you've completed one rep. Sets are groups of repetitions. I want you to do between eight and ten repetitions per set. Take a break between each set — but not too long a break. Limit your rest to fifteen to thirty seconds in-between sets. When you allow too much time to elapse, your muscles recover too quickly, lessening the effects of training. Begin by performing one set of each exercise; then, after about a month, progress to two sets. After another month, consider progressing to three sets.

How Much Weight?

To have an effect, the weights you use must cause fatigue in your muscles. But you don't want the weights to be so heavy that you strain yourself attempting to lift them. My suggestion is that you begin using a very light weight that you know you can lift without much effort. Increase this weight gradually until you arrive at a weight that makes you feel fatigued (or gives you a slight burning sensation in your muscles) after eight or ten repetitions. Before you go into your regular routine, do a warm-up set, which will help you avoid injury: using half the amount of weight that you've selected for the exercise, do four or five repetitions. Then proceed with the actual set.

Which Exercise?

The beauty of strength training is that it really doesn't take very much time and you don't have to do a million different exercises to get results. I've gotten great results with what I call the Essential Eight. These are basic exercises done with dumbbells that work all the major muscle groups and are relatively uncomplicated. If you're not familiar with strength training exercises, I refer you back to Get With the Program! or to an exercise professional for details. The Essential Eight are:

The Squat

The Lunge

The Chest Press

The Shoulder Press

The Butterfly

The Dumbbell Fly

The Biceps Curl

The Triceps Extension

Copyright © 2003 by Bob Greene

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

PART I Committing to a Healthy Lifestyle

Attitude Check

Maximizing Your Metabolism

1. Staying Hydrated

2. Working Out Aerobically

3. Eliminating Emotional Eating

4. Strength Training

PART II The Guide to Good Eating

Four Steps to Good Eating

Step 1: Eat a Nutritious Breakfast

Step 2: Set an Eating Cutoff Time

Step 3: Redistribute Your Calories

Step 4:Make Healthful Food Choices

Creating a Healthy Kitchen

Eight Great Choices

Where to Shop for Good Food

Tips for Making Healthful Choices

Dining Out — And Staying on the Program

Being Good — But Not Perfect

PART III Recipes

Breakfast

Soups

Salads, Small Plates, and Sandwiches

Entrées

Side Dishes

Desserts

Index

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First Chapter

Part One: Committing to a Healthy Lifestyle

Getting to where you want to go in life is a process. It takes time, commitment, and a series of accomplishments -- some big, some small, but each important. Change is a progression, and each bit of progress you make gives you confidence to take on the next challenge. In Get With the Program! I introduced readers to several important behaviors that would powerfully alter their physical and emotional well-being. In case you missed Get With the Program, I'll quickly go over four of the most crucial of those behaviors in order to bring you up to date. If you read the previous book, this will serve as an excellent refresher course and help you stay on or get back on track.

Among these behaviors are two different types of exercise: aerobic workouts and strength training. You might wonder what exercise is doing in a guide to good eating, but I strongly believe that you can't separate the two. If you want to achieve wellness and weight loss, you have to do both: eat well and exercise. So why am I discussing exercise first? Because exercise can provide you with a powerful incentive to eat well. When you exercise, you really feel it if you're not properly fueled -- it's hard to keep your energy up. Knowing that good nutrition will give you the strength and stamina you need to perform your workouts properly is going to make you want to eat well. You'll become much more conscious of what you're consuming. And exercise keeps your metabolism revved up, helping to counteract the metabolic slowdown that naturally occurs when you start cutting calories.

Exercise is animportant part of the foundation upon which to build healthy eating habits. But another important -- in fact, absolutely essential -- component is your attitude. Your level of motivation and the way you think about your prospects of success are key. Just by reading this far, you're moving in the direction of change, but before you go any further it's time for an "attitude check."

Attitude Check


  • Reaching a certain size or weight won't necessarily make me happy. Not unless you identify and deal with any underlying problems that have made weight an issue in your life.

  • There are no shortcuts to achieving what I want. Dedication, commitment, and effort are needed to accomplish anything worthwhile.

  • Excuses ("I don't have time," "I'm too tired to exercise," "I've already blown it today, I'll start again tomorrow") just won't wash. If you're ready to change, you're ready to stop making excuses.

  • Each improvement I make, not just pounds lost, is worth acknowledging and praising myself for. Feeling better, sleeping better, feeling stronger, being less stressed, looking healthier -- focus on these aspects of improvement, and you will keep your motivation up.

  • Setbacks are going to happen. Setbacks are a natural and inevitable part of any progression and are no reason to throw in the towel. If you can overcome setbacks and reach your goals in spite of them, you have shown true strength of character. Ultimately, your sense of accomplishment will be that much greater.

  • Losing weight takes willpower. As much as some people (those selling gimmicks under the guise "Weight Loss Made Easy") would like you to believe that you don't have to give up anything to slim down, the truth is that you do. Your commitment to your health and well-being will require some small sacrifices, but the return on your investment will be large.

  • Physical activity is nonnegotiable. You have to move to improve.

  • I can love my family and friends and be a good employee and still take care of myself. Get those close to you to support your program, and from this point on, consider your health and well-being sacred. Don't let your obligations to others interfere with your obligations to yourself.



If any of these statements makes you feel unsure about whether you can truly make a commitment to yourself right now, I recommend that you consider holding off until you feel ready to handle the challenge. And you will eventually feel ready -- but you need to do it within your own time frame. If you do feel prepared for the challenges to come, keep reading. Some of what lies ahead may be tough, but it will be very rewarding.

Maximizing Your Metabolism

Let's talk about your metabolism. You're going to be hearing a lot about metabolism throughout this book, because the rate at which you burn calories (that's the definition of metabolism) is critical to maintaining a healthy weight. And increasing your metabolic rate is critical to losing weight permanently. Everybody burns calories at his or her own individual rate; if you've always had a sluggish metabolism, you'll probably never get it to run at the same speed as that skinny girl's from high school (who turned up at the class reunion twenty years later looking just as skinny). But you can maximize your metabolism's potential so that it burns at its highest rate for the largest number of hours per day.

One thing we know about metabolism is that it changes throughout the day; it is slowest when you're sleeping (even though you're asleep, you still must burn calories to maintain your body's basic functions, such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion). We also know that certain things you do can give your metabolism a boost. Eating is one of them. Exercise is another (although exercise raises your calorie-burning rate much more than eating). As soon as you begin exercising -- whether doing aerobic exercise or strength training -- your metabolism increases, and it continues to increase in direct proportion to the length and intensity of your workout. Best of all, the boost your metabolism gets from exercise can last for hours after you've stepped off the treadmill or put down the weights. But the really good news is that you can increase your metabolism 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with consistent exercise. This is how dramatic weight loss occurs.

In the pages that follow, you'll learn a lot more specifics about your metabolism and how you can change it. You already know that burning calories through exercise and eating fewer calories will help you lose weight. But metabolism is another and entirely separate piece of the puzzle. Boosting yours is the first order of business. Let's identify the four behaviors that make up the foundation of good eating and that will keep your metabolism running efficiently.

1. Staying Hydrated

GOAL: Start drinking a minimum of 6 eight-ounce glasses of water a day, and work up to 9.


Since water has no calories, most people think it doesn't have anything to do with weight loss. But it does, and it's essential for good health. When you're dehydrated, your body's ability to perform virtually every physiological function, including the important process of fat metabolism, decreases. Dehydration can make your body go in search of water, signaling you to eat more, a phenomenon I call "artificial hunger." Dehydration also causes your digestive system to work at a diminished capacity, potentially preventing you from getting the nutrients you need and triggering unnecessary eating to make up for the shortfall. On the other hand, if you drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day, it'll not only keep all systems functioning smoothly, it'll fill you up, helping to curb your appetite so you eat relatively less, not more.

It's especially important to be hydrated when you exercise; your body can't cool itself adequately when it's low on fluid. What's more, being adequately hydrated during exercise will help you stay energized so that you can maintain an appropriate intensity and not quit early, and end up burning fewer calories both during and after your exercise session.

If you can work up to drinking nine eight-ounce glasses of water a day, great. But at the very least, try to get up to eight glasses -- you'll need at least that much if you're moderately active. (When you exercise more and at a higher intensity, you may need even more.)

Most people drink only when they're thirsty, but by the time you feel thirsty, your body may be already dehydrated. Drink water throughout the day, and don't consume too much at once: drinking more than one to two glasses at one sitting stimulates the body to rid itself of the water.

Your water requirement is over and above the water you get from foods such as soup and other beverages. What counts as water? Fresh, noncarbonated water. Carbonated (or sparkling) water, which can have somewhat of a diuretic effect, doesn't count. Neither do drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol, for the same reason. Remember, active people need more fluids than people who don't exercise, and pure water is your best source.

How to Work More Water into Your Day


  • Start the day with a glass of water. Drink another glass before you work out, then two afterwards. Have another one a half hour before lunch, then one at lunch, and you'll already have had six glasses by midday.

  • Buy a water filter for your home. Filtering makes your water taste better. It's also safer than drinking unfiltered water and cheaper than buying bottled water.

  • Carry a bottle of water with you at all times. You don't have to buy bottled water to do this; just use a refillable sports bottle.

  • Any time you see a water fountain, stop and take a few sips. Every little bit helps!



2. Working Out Aerobically

GOAL: Perform aerobic exercise for a minimum of 50 to 150 minutes per week, depending on your goals.


Aerobic exercise -- the kind of exercise that makes your heart beat faster and your breathing accelerate -- is one of the cornerstones of an effective weight loss program. For most people, changing their eating behavior means eating fewer calories, a move that can cause their metabolism to drop. If you bolster your metabolism with regular aerobic exercise and then begin to gradually eliminate unnecessary calories, your weight loss results will be dramatic.

That, though, is only one of several significant reasons for adding aerobic exercise to your life. Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness. That is, it improves the ability of your heart, lungs, and arteries to deliver oxygen to working muscles, as well as your muscles' ability to use that oxygen to fuel its efforts. By getting your cardiovascular system into shape, you'll bump up the total number of calories you burn in a day. You'll also receive the other perks of cardiovascular fitness: lower cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease (and some cancers), better toned muscles, increased energy, and a more shapely body, just to name a few!

What Kind of Aerobic Exercise?

When weight loss is your goal, it's critical to choose a form of aerobic exercise that is highly aerobic. The more highly aerobic an activity is, the more aerobic enzymes it will cause your body to produce. These enzymes, found mostly in the muscles, help you burn fat, so you want your body to produce as many of them as possible.

The workouts that I consider the most effective forms of aerobic exercise -- my A list -- are powerwalking, jogging, aerobic dancing, and stair climbing. On the B list are stair stepping, elliptical exercise, spinning, stationary cycling, indoor rowing, and indoor cross-country skiing. Other workouts can help keep you healthy and contribute to weight loss, but these give you the most bang for your buck.

How Much?

One well-kept secret is that many of the beautiful bodies you see in movies, on TV, and in magazines, are the products of hours and hours of exercise. It's not that the glamorous owners of these bodies aren't busy, but often before being photographed they put a considerable amount of time into refining their shapes. It's part of their job.

In the real world, most people don't have that much time to devote to exercise, and I'm not expecting you to work out for hours at a time. But if your goal is to lose weight, you'll typically need to do at least fifty minutes a week of aerobic exercise. (Many people need to do more.) You can break up those minutes to best fit your schedule, but keep in mind that you'll need to do at least ten minutes of continuous exercise at a time to make any appreciable increase in your aerobic enzymes and thus your metabolism. If you hit a plateau in your weight loss, try adding more minutes of exercise each week; that should stimulate your body to start shedding pounds again.

How Hard?

The more aerobic work you perform in a given amount of time, the better cardiovascular shape you'll be in and the less body fat you'll retain. Perhaps you've heard that if you want to burn fat, you should stick to low-intensity exercise, but the rationale behind that recommendation is faulty. It's true that at higher intensities your body tends to burn more carbohydrates (in the form of glycogen, stored in the muscles and liver) than it does stored body fat. However, it doesn't matter that much which fuel you burn the most of during exercise. What does matter is that by exercising at a higher intensity you'll increase your metabolism, thus burning a higher rate of calories 24 hours a day!

The difference in the amount of fat you burn if you go slowly for thirty minutes and the amount you burn if you go at a moderately high pace for thirty minutes is pretty negligible. But the difference between the amount of fat your body will burn if you have a highly fit cardiovascular system and a system that's just so-so is significant. In the end, a revved-up metabolism will play a bigger part in ridding your body of excess fat than a low-intensity workout ever could.

So what is the ideal intensity? One that gets you "in the zone." Being in the zone means exercising at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum ability. There are two ways to figure out if you're reaching that goal.

The first method is a numerical equation that calculates what's known as your "target heart rate range." This is the recommended range of heartbeats per minute that you should achieve during exercise in order to train your cardiovascular system safely. To estimate your target heart rate range at 75 percent of your maximum ability, start by figuring out your target heart rate: 220 - your age x 75 percent (.75). So if you're forty years old, your target heart rate is 180 x .75 = 135 beats per minute. To get the target heart rate range, add and subtract 5 (beats) from your target heart rate. For a forty-year-old, that comes out to 130 to 140 beats per minute. So if you're forty, after you warm up for five minutes or so, your heart rate should be between 130 and 140 beats per minute for the duration of your workout.

The thing that's difficult about monitoring your heart rate this way is that you have to take your pulse during exercise, which can be sort of tricky. That's why I prefer that clients use the second method of determining if they're exercising in the zone: perceived exertion. (Of course, if you've been told by your physician not to exceed a certain heart rate, then stick with the first method.) Perceived exertion is a subjective measure of how hard you're working, based primarily on your breathing. The scale goes from zero to ten, with level zero being how it feels to be at rest and level ten being an exertion so difficult you could probably maintain it for only a few seconds. On this scale, being in the zone means being at level seven or eight. At level seven, you feel fatigue but are certain that you could maintain the pace for the rest of your session. Your breathing is deep, but you can still carry on a conversation. Level eight is slightly more vigorous. If you asked yourself if you could continue at that pace for the rest of your workout, you might not be 100 percent sure. You could still carry on a conversation, but you wouldn't feel like it.

It may take you a while to consistently maintain level seven, but don't be discouraged. If you can't exercise at that pace for your whole workout, start at a lower level of exertion, then increase to seven for one or two minutes at a time. Probably within a week or two you'll be able to exercise at level seven for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Remember that highly aerobic exercise isn't supposed to be completely comfortable. You need to challenge yourself if you want to see some results.

3. Eliminating Emotional Eating

GOAL: Begin to understand the causes of and eliminate your emotional eating.


No matter what you learn in this book about nutritious eating, it will be difficult for you to apply the information to your own life if you are struggling with emotional eating. If you sometimes (or often) eat because of how you feel rather than because you are truly physically hungry, you are an emotional eater. You may do it at meals, in between meals, at social occasions, or late at night (for more on the connection between emotional eating and late-night snacking, see page 42). You may do it for any number of reasons. Some people eat to comfort themselves in stressful situations. Some eat due to boredom and/or loneliness. Others eat when they experience turmoil or disappointment. Often people eat to fill a void when something or someone is missing from their lives.

Whenever you do it and whatever the reason, if you can eliminate emotional eating, you will achieve weight loss success and feel a greater sense of self-worth. Emotional eating is a viscious cycle. You eat to make yourself feel better but just end up making yourself feel worse by giving in to self-destructive impulses. But you can break the cycle. It does take time, and you must be gentle with yourself as you go along. However, with diligence, you can find other, healthier coping mechanisms and slowly but surely begin to understand and alter this behavior.

Overcoming emotional eating requires making some changes -- some subtle, some bigger in scope. Here are the ones that I think will help you achieve success.


  • Organize your eating, and eat consciously. When you don't have a plan, it's easier to give in to an emotional impulse and eat haphazardly. Limiting yourself to three meals and two snacks a day, as well as not eating at least two hours before bed, will give your day some structure. That structure will make it easier for you to take the time to enjoy each meal and snack as a conscious act. By a conscious act, I mean that you should make each meal an enjoyable event -- whether it's with music and candles or just the company of someone you like. Reading, watching TV, or working while you eat doesn't allow you to register the experience and will leave you hungry and yearning for more food later on.
  • Learn the difference between physical hunger and emotional eating. If you feed yourself out of emotional need, it's possible that you may have lost the ability to recognize what physical hunger feels like. Choose a day and delay your normally scheduled mealtime so that you can feel what it's like to be hungry. (If you have a medical condition such as diabetes, you must consult a physician before you try this.) Being familiar with this feeling will help you be a better judge of why you're eating whenever you eat. If you don't feel physical hunger, don't eat.
  • Identify the reasons why and occasions when you eat due to emotions. If you're not hungry, why are you eating? This is an important question to ask yourself since it will help clue you in to what triggers your emotional eating episodes. I strongly suggest you keep a journal so that you can write down what you're feeling instead of eating. A journal is a great tool for identifying patterns and behaviors that you may not even be aware of -- and of course you need to know what they are before you can change them! (See page 47 for more on keeping a journal.)
  • If you're depressed, consider seeking professional counseling. There are many issues you may be able to deal with on your own and others that you can manage with the help of family and friends. But if you are continually and deeply depressed -- or even if you just feel overwhelmed by life and need someone impartial to talk to -- it's a good idea to seek the help of a professional counselor or therapist. For some people, this is a very hard step to take, but sometimes an outsider's insight is just what you need.
  • Use the moment of temptation to learn what needs to change in your life. Eating can be an anesthetic. Sometimes people eat because they don't want to think, but thinking is exactly what I want you to do. Every time you're tempted to eat and you know it's not because you are physically hungry, you have a golden opportunity to learn something about yourself. Go to your journal. Think about why you are eating, and write it down. This is your chance for change -- seize it!
  • Look for healthy outlets for your emotions. There are many enriching alternatives to eating, and it may be helpful to keep a list of them handy to remind yourself of what they are. What do you like to do? It could be anything from reading a book to phoning a friend. Taking classes, taking up a craft, surfing the Web -- all these can help. Perhaps the best substitute is exercise, even if it's only a walk around the block. Exercising won't just distract you, it will improve your mood and help counter the effects of stress.


4. Strength Training

GOAL: Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine three times a week.


Men and women have been strength training for years, but it's only recently that we've come to understand how beneficial strength training can be. If for no other reason, you should strength-train because it combats two profound effects of aging: muscle loss and bone loss. But strength training also has significant weight loss and weight maintenance benefits. The strength you gain from working with weights makes you capable of doing aerobic exercise at a higher level so that you ultimately burn more calories. Usually, lifting weights will also cause you to build muscle tissue, and since maintaining muscle requires a lot of energy, this will increase the number of calories you burn. At the very least, just by helping you retard age-related muscle loss, strength training will keep you from losing much of your body's natural calorie-burning ability.

When you strength-train, what you are essentially doing (or should be doing) is fatiguing your muscles to the point where they will rebuild themselves in order to handle the strain better next time around. Each exercise builds only certain muscles, so you need a regimen that includes exercises for all the major muscle groups in your body.

It's very important that no matter what strength training exercises you perform, you perform them properly. At the very least, bad form while exercising can cause aches and pains, and in the worst case it can cause injury. I give detailed instructions for an effective, easy-to-follow routine in Get With the Program!. You might also consider consulting a personal trainer or exercise specialist to teach you some weight lifting basics. If you do, I recommend that this person be certified by either the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

How Often?

If you strength-train once a week, you will maintain your muscular strength, though your muscular endurance might decline some. Training two times a week will improve your muscular strength and more or less maintain your muscular endurance. Three times a week -- the magic number -- will improve both your muscular strength and your muscular endurance. (If you want to work up to four times a week, great, but it's not essential.)

How Many Sets and Repetitions?

A repetition (or rep) is one completion of a given exercise. If, for instance, you're doing a biceps curl, every time you raise the weight to your shoulder, then lower it back down to the starting position, you've completed one rep. Sets are groups of repetitions. I want you to do between eight and ten repetitions per set. Take a break between each set -- but not too long a break. Limit your rest to fifteen to thirty seconds in-between sets. When you allow too much time to elapse, your muscles recover too quickly, lessening the effects of training. Begin by performing one set of each exercise; then, after about a month, progress to two sets. After another month, consider progressing to three sets.

How Much Weight?

To have an effect, the weights you use must cause fatigue in your muscles. But you don't want the weights to be so heavy that you strain yourself attempting to lift them. My suggestion is that you begin using a very light weight that you know you can lift without much effort. Increase this weight gradually until you arrive at a weight that makes you feel fatigued (or gives you a slight burning sensation in your muscles) after eight or ten repetitions. Before you go into your regular routine, do a warm-up set, which will help you avoid injury: using half the amount of weight that you've selected for the exercise, do four or five repetitions. Then proceed with the actual set.

Which Exercise?

The beauty of strength training is that it really doesn't take very much time and you don't have to do a million different exercises to get results. I've gotten great results with what I call the Essential Eight. These are basic exercises done with dumbbells that work all the major muscle groups and are relatively uncomplicated. If you're not familiar with strength training exercises, I refer you back to Get With the Program! or to an exercise professional for details. The Essential Eight are:

The Squat

The Lunge

The Chest Press

The Shoulder Press

The Butterfly

The Dumbbell Fly

The Biceps Curl

The Triceps Extension



Copyright © 2003 by Bob Greene

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Introduction

Introduction

As far back as I can remember, I've been interested in the connection between food and good health. Even at the tender age of nine, I'd read in the paper about the health hazards of nitrates, then lobby my parents to banish bacon from our table. Though I was just a kid when word about the harmful effects of pesticides hit the headlines, I took the news to heart and worried about the quality of the produce my family was eating. What about the news (which turned out not to be true) that margarine is better than butter? I pestered my mom until she finally bought a tub of it. Or that salt causes high blood pressure? I warned my dad about using the shaker so liberally.

I guess you could say I was kind of an alarmist kid, but as the self-appointed guardian of my family's well-being, I took nutrition news seriously. And I still do, though I've learned that not everything you read in the papers and hear on the news is good solid advice -- or that just because friends are into a new eating fad, you should be, too. I've also learned that while the more the average person learns about nutrition, the better, the sheer amount of information out there can be confusing. People are perplexed by all that they read and hear about nutrition and weight loss. Whenever I have a speaking engagement, I'm often bombarded with a million questions about crazy diets, "revolutionary" new foods and supplements that supposedly melt off pounds. People will also ask me for sound nutritional advice: Should I limit the amount of carbohydrates I eat? How many fat grams should I allow myself each day? Should I be taking nutritional supplements?

Nutrition, relatively speaking, is a very young science. But although we don't yet know everything about how good nutrition can help us stay healthy and lose weight, we do know a few key things. Foremost is that eating moderate amounts of nutritious foods -- in combination with exercising regularly -- is the number one way to ensure our well-being and fight the accumulation of body fat. Eat sensibly and exercise. It's a relatively simple prescription -- and we know it works.

We also know what doesn't work, particularly in regard to weight loss. Americans have been dieting since the early 1900s (if not before; however, it's the crash diets of the last forty years that have really given us a crash course in what to avoid. I hate the idea that a lot of people (and possibly even you) have tried to lose on many of these programs, perhaps even gaining more weight in the process of yo-yoing from one diet to another. But these programs have at least taught us that going to extremes is an impractical -- and clearly inadequate -- way to slim down. And looking at them, you can see why.


Learning from Past Mistakes

Take The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet, which helped to kick off the whole very-low-carbohydrate, high-protein approach to weight loss. Published by Dr. Irwin Stillman in 1967, The Doctor's Quick Weight Loss Diet dictated that its followers survive mainly on cottage cheese, eggs, seafood, poultry, and meat; fruits, vegetables, and grain foods were virtually forbidden.

Twenty million dieters tried Stillman's plan. The next fad: Dr. Robert Atkins's 1972 Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, another highly touted low-carbohydrate plan. This one let you eat just about all of the fat you wanted (and was the precursor of the diet Atkins still promotes today). It was followed in 1978, by The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, also low-carbohydrate, high-protein, and another top contender for American dieters' dollars.

What was the appeal of these low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets? For one thing, they seemed to work -- but at what cost? People lost weight on them because eating high doses of protein causes the body to eliminate a lot of water weight. However, a very high-protein diet can also strain the kidneys and the liver and create a substance known as ketones. Ketones suppress the appetite (another reason the dieters might have lost weight). They also make you feel dizzy, cause bad breath and gas, and may contribute to gout and heart and kidney diseases.

Another problem associated with low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating is that it makes it harder to exercise effectively. That has to do with glycogen, a form of carbohydrate stored in the muscle and liver, and a primary source of fuel for exercise. If you don't have much glycogen left (which can easily occur if you are existing on a low-carbohydrate diet), you're not going to be able to exercise to the best of your ability -- or, as a result, burn very many calories. The depletion of glycogen stores is also what causes low-carbohydrate, high-protein dieters to lose so much water and exaggerates their weight loss: for each gram of glycogen you use for energy, you give up about two and a half times that in water. The loss of glycogen and water makes it virtually impossible to exercise effectively.

Most people who were on these diets in the 1960s and 1970s weren't aware of what was going on in their bodies as they skimped on carbohydrates and filled up on protein. But even if they were cognizant of the health risks (and it's hard not to be aware of unpleasant side effects such as gas and bad breath), what ultimately made most of them throw in the towel was the fact that these diets, which restrict beloved foods such as bread, rice, and pasta -- not to mention fruits and vegetables -- are just too hard to stay on. Emotionally and physically, they're cruel deprivation. Few people can live on almost all protein. Eventually they give up and gain back all the weight, usually very quickly.

A lot of people got wiser after these failures, but some just went on to more extreme measures. In 1981, an even more restrictive low-carb, high-protein plan called the Cambridge Diet was introduced, and it quickly became all the rage -- with dire consequences. This novel diet ensured that nobody had to worry about making the right food choices anymore because it involved no food -- you had to consume only a couple of protein-rich liquid meals a day, totaling a mere 320 calories. Not surprisingly, the FDA and U.S. Postal Service quickly clamped down on mail-order sales of the diet, but its creators found a way to sell it through other means. At least until disaster struck. Many people on the Cambridge Diet started having health problems ranging from upset stomach to gallbladder problems, and then, sadly, about thirty of the dieters died.

There are still plenty of liquid diets around today, and, in fact, the Cambridge Diet is back, albeit reformulated and reportedly safer. In the 1980s, many people tried the medically monitored Optifast diet. Again, they shed pounds, only to put them all back on again -- and then some. Liquid diets, regardless of how conscientiously they're created, rarely work over the long term. Nothing about a liquid diet prepares you to deal with the real food challenges you face once you stop sipping your meals. And trust me, eventually you'll have to start eating real food again.

Later in the 1980s (and into the 1990s), fat became diet enemy number one. Suddenly carbs were in and fat was out in a big way. Now, there is some legitimate concern about having too much fat in the diet. A high fat intake -- especially a high saturated and hydrogenated fat intake -- is linked to a variety of maladies, including obesity, cancer, and heart disease. But we do need some fat in our diets -- it's essential for certain physiological processes to take place and it plays a role in how satisfied we feel after a meal. When you eat fat, your body gets the message that its needs are met and signals your brain to tell you to stop eating.

But even more significant is the fact that fat makes food taste good. Eating needs to be enjoyable as well as fulfill your nutritional needs, and fat plays an important part in making food not just palatable but delicious. If you take away all the fat, you take away much of the pleasure. Who can stay on a diet like that for very long? A plan that includes healthy fats in moderation (while limiting or eliminating the unhealthy saturated and trans-fats ones) offers you a much better chance of success.

Given all that, it's not surprising that despite the rash of diets that preached cutting fat to rock-bottom levels and the wave of fat-free foods that came onto the market to make it easier, many people still struck out; the diets were just too rigid and boring. Quite a few dieters even gained weight because they ate massive quantities of fat-free foods, not realizing that while the foods might have been free of fat, they were still chock full of calories, mostly from sugar. Like the very-low-carbohydrate diets before them, many of these very-low-fat plans have fallen out of favor.

Just about the time that fat was being cut from diets left and right, another option became available: sophisticated and heavily marketed pharmaceuticals that promised to help people slim down dramatically. It seemed as though the prayers for a magic pill that would burn off fat had finally been answered. Of course these drugs didn't work like magic, and some of them even turned out to have serious side effects. Most notably was Fen-phen, a weight loss drug cocktail that had to be pulled from the market because it was found to cause heart valve abnormalities. Even when people who took the drugs suffered no adverse side effects, they usually gained back the weight they'd lost when they went off the pills. Like the liquid diets before them, drugs can help you slim down, but they can't teach you to eat right or make you exercise. Unfortunately, some of these pills are still out there, and we are likely to see more come onto the market in the next few years.

But even as diets and drugs come and go, there is always something new to replace them. Anyone who wants to lose weight is still faced with a lot of enticing come-ons that can be hard to resist. Lately, it's been the promise of quick loss on (yes, they're back!) low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets. These new versions aren't as extreme as the ones from the 1960s and 1970s, but they're similar. Some of them let you eat all the meat, fat, and eggs you can stomach and claim that you'll be healthier for it. Never mind that this simply goes against reason (not to mention an extensive body of research). When all evidence points to the fact that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains lowers the risk of many diseases, including various cancers, and that a diet rich in animal foods increases the risk, it doesn't make sense to substitute steak for salad. Is it worth risking your health just to be thin? And temporarily thin at that?

The diet industry often asks you to suspend logic. Could taking a tablespoon of something called Dream Away before bed really help you shed pounds overnight with no effort on your part? Of course not, but the very idea that it might work can make even a rational person take leave of her senses. The fitness industry also plays into our hopes. You may know in your heart of hearts that a piece of exercise equipment can't help you lose something unbelievable like twenty-five pounds in fourteen days. Yet there they are on the TV, men and women with cut bodies, looking as if they're having more fun exercising on a cheap piece of equipment than they would picnicking in the South of France, and promising to change your life. For many people, common sense be damned -- it's hard not to buy into the dream.


An Approach to Good Health and Weight Loss You Can Trust

It's easy to knock the people in the diet and fitness industries who have led consumers down the wrong path. But the failures of all these diets and exercise gizmos bring us full circle to where we started: nothing works better than eating healthy foods in reasonable portions and exercising. That's what worked in 1960, and it's what works now. These days, though, we have significantly more information about the process of weight loss to guide us. We have a better understanding of how the body responds to food and exercise and greater knowledge about how big a role emotional eating and metabolism play in the whole equation. So while moderate eating and regular exercise are still the basic prescription for good health and weight loss, we can now also supplement them with other strategies that increase the likelihood of success.

In Get With the Program! I covered the first steps you need to take in order to lose weight: making a commitment to yourself, getting a grip on emotional eating, and becoming stronger and healthier through exercise. This companion book The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating, builds on those steps by giving you nutrition information that will show you how to choose good-quality food in reasonable quantities and how to reach your weight loss and fitness goals: by eating breakfast, having a cutoff time for eating, and redistributing your calories throughout the day.

Most weight loss programs start by addressing food, but I addressed it only briefly in Get With the Program! because I believe that first adopting positive behaviors such as exercising and dealing with emotional issues makes it easier to change your eating habits. It's also very important to rev up your metabolism with exercise before you start cutting calories. Cutting calories slows down your metabolism, but if you're already exercising, your metabolism will resist the slowdown and stay strong. If you aren't exercising yet (and by exercising I mean engaging in aerobic workouts and strength training), I suggest that you go back to Get With the Program! for guidance on how to get moving, or check out the recap in Part I of this book to "move" you in the right direction. Then, when you feel you're ready, begin taking steps toward more healthful eating.

There are plenty of misconceptions out there about what constitutes a healthy diet. We all hear a lot about nutrition, but often the information is misleading or even downright inaccurate. This book is devoted to setting the record straight and helping you make the right choices. It will help you lose weight. It's important, though, to keep weight loss in perspective. You may dream of being supermodel thin, but if it's not in your genetic makeup, you never will be. Nor should you want to be. This program is geared toward helping you realize your potential, and that means helping you become stronger and healthier. That may include losing a substantial amount of weight, or it may not. What's most important is that you find the courage to make the meaningful changes in your life. This will allow you to feel good both physically and emotionally as you reach the weight that is correct for your body type.

One thing I know for sure is that by following this sensible plan based on moderate eating and exercise, you will reach your goals. You may not reach them as quickly as you'd like -- almost nobody does -- but you will reach them. I'm not going to throw anything crazy at you, and I'm confident that you can handle all the steps to good eating that you will encounter in this book. That's because I'm not asking you to change your life overnight; that simply doesn't work. For change to really take effect, it has to be gradual. Quick fixes are seductive, but doing things the right way requires more time and quite a bit of patience. But it's worth it. You'll get the best results if you take it slowly, waiting until you master one step before moving onto the next.


What Lies Ahead

The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating is divided up into three main parts. In Part I, I go over the core principles that were described in Get With the Program! If you've read that book, this is a perfect opportunity for you to refresh your memory and check up on how you're doing. You may even want to renew your commitment to yourself by re-signing the "Contract with Myself" that was included in Get with the Program! If you're unfamiliar with the earlier book, Part I in this book will familiarize you with the behaviors that were integral to that program: increasing your water consumption, exercising aerobically, getting a handle on your emotional eating, and performing strength training exercises.

In Part II, I'll talk about why eating breakfast matters (I think you'll be surprised at how much it does) and why you need to cut out late-night eating. I'll also go over the importance of distributing your calories properly throughout the day and give you a quick course in nutrition to help you understand how different foods affect your body. After reading this, you'll better understand how to divvy up carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in your diet and how to make choices that will keep your energy -- and your metabolism -- revved up.

Finally, in Part III, you'll get some real specifics on how to eat well. Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know that you should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but how can you actually incorporate them into your diet in an interesting and appealing way? Over the last few years, some foods have gotten a bad rap; I want to restore their reputation and tell you how they can be part of a healthy diet and even help you to lose weight. In Part III, you'll also learn how to dine out wisely and how to shop smart: when you're trying to drop pounds and eat healthfully, probably the most critical move you can make is simply to not put certain foods into your shopping cart.

In addition to all this, I am excited to bring you eighty truly wonderful recipes. These delicious dishes will quickly lay to rest the notion that healthy food is dull. For primitive men and women, the purpose of eating may have been simply to stay alive, but we are highly evolved beings! For us, eating is -- or least should be -- a pleasurable experience. It's part of our culture; many friendships and family relationships have been cemented over the sharing of good food. I hope that you won't let wanting to improve your health and lose weight exclude you from the joys of eating. It's time to take the guilt out of consuming good food, and these satisfying recipes do it beautifully. They'll help you enjoy yourself, safe in the knowledge that you are also eating intelligently.

I'm happy that you have made the choice to forgo get-thin-quick schemes in favor of The Get With the Program! Guide to Good Eating -- it's your ticket to better physical health and well-being. In my years as an exercise physiologist, personal trainer, and author, I've had the good fortune to help many people reach their goals. You're next, so read on!

Copyright © 2003 by Bob Greene

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2003

    Gourmet Healthful Dining with No-nonsense Ingredients!

    If what is motivating to you are easily prepared meals that are proportioned properly, seasoned perfectly and use basic ingredients, then this is the book for you. There are more than 80 recipes in this book and I have served them with rave reviews!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2010

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