We’ve all seen the commercials and read the ads touting women who have dropped several pants sizes in less time than it takes to find form-fitting jeans.
Well my friend Katie managed to do just that – and melt 26 pounds off her body – in the time it took to plan her wedding.
There were no diet pills, exercise DVDs, or radical workout regimens involved.
She shed the weight naturally with a few key lifestyle changes and supplements to stay healthy.
I was in awe of her transformation both for how quickly it happened and for how sparingly she hit the gym.
Inspired by a reader’s comment on my nutritionist vs. trainer post to learn more about Katie’s weight loss journey, I sat down with her for an interview.
Read on to find out how she did it.
What motivated you to slim down?
When my hubby-to-be and I set a date for our wedding, I didn’t think I would need more than six months for me to get everything ready, including my body.
But then I weighed myself for the first time in a long time and came to the sickening realization that I had gained 33 pounds since my thinnest point during college.
What had happened?
I was a RELIGIOUS exerciser, running anywhere from 5-30 miles a week, taking spin classes, supplementing with weight training, and doing everything I thought I needed to do.
Needless to say, something was wrong – whether it was my habits, my metabolism, hormones, or maybe just my perception of what I was really doing!
What was your daily routine during the period of weight gain?
Over the past five years, my weight has fluctuated between those 33 pounds, reaching highs and lows and places in between. I have had personal trainers, gone on marathon-training benders, followed Weight Watchers, flirted with South Beach – you name it.
Sometimes the diet and/or exercise thing worked, sometimes it didn’t.
The first personal trainer I hired in my post-college years was a former NFL football player who used to kick my butt with weight training. I definitely saw results, but my appetite grew and when I finally stopped working out with him, I started to put the weight back on.
When I realized what was happening, I decided to go back to running – first 2 miles, then 5, then longer 8-10 mile runs.
All the running burned so many calories that I pretty much ate whatever I wanted (within reason), got to a fairly comfortable weight, and stayed there.
But over time, my now-husband and I settled into comfortable evenings together with dinner and a bottle of wine.
And once work became really busy, going to the gym and the long runs fell completely by the wayside.
So when I stepped on the scale last summer and realized where I had gotten myself, I decided I HAD to get a grip and get myself back in shape.
How did you get started?
The first thing I did was consult a physician.
I needed to make sure I didn’t have some sort of thyroid problem or other hormonal imbalance that had caused the weight gain.
A trip to the GP and Endocrinologist later, I learned that I was fine and would have to monitor my diet and exercise more carefully.
So I initially tried to make lifestyle changes on my own.
I started going back to the gym, cut out that glass or two of wine and dessert that I had become comfortable with every evening, realigned myself, and dropped nearly ten pounds in just a few weeks.
But those first ten pounds were easy.
I had 15-20 more lbs to go before the wedding (now five months away) and needed someone to seriously help me get in gear and stay in gear.
Where did you turn for help?
I went to my gym and met with a trainer.
Ironically, the first guy I met was another former football player.
I knew that he could get me into shape, but I was worried that it would send me on a whole repeat of the cycle I had experienced just a few years prior.
So I started talking to him about nutrition and asked what advice he could offer me.
He stated the obvious: egg whites, turkey, veggies, fruit…duh. When he realized that I needed more specialized help, he turned me over to his female colleague, Jen.
At first I was wary of working out with a female trainer.
I had watched the female trainers in my gym and their clients never really seemed to sweat it out the way I wanted to.
I was a generally athletic person, and I wanted to be sure I would get my money’s worth.
DID I EVER!!!
What made you click with this trainer in particular?
Jen turned out to be not just a personal trainer, but a personal trainer AND nutritionist combined.
One of the most important things which I firmly believe contributed to my ultimate success was that Jen was 1. also a woman and 2. also built kind of like I am.
We could commiserate about food and exercise and social eating and wine and going out with friends and how it all affects the waistline.
It was like a diet/exercise/nutrition/social support system all in one.
How did her plan for you work?
The first thing Jen had me do was keep a food journal.
Keep in mind that I was already trying to be healthy and push past that 10 lb-loss I had already achieved.
But when she finally reviewed my week-long journal, she pointed out something which wasn’t initially obvious to me: I was eating TOO MUCH SUGAR!
A tiny bite of candy here, cereal (even the stuff that seems “healthy”), dried fruit, fresh fruit, wheat bread, whole grain waffles… they all sound okay in moderation, but I needed to work on what I was eating and when I was eating it.
The change in diet also meant I needed to start taking some supplements as well as my aging body needed different nutients that I hadn’t needed when I was younger.
So she sat down with me to go over some guidelines and how I could make better choices.
What were the general rules?
– Try to cut out dairy (cheese, cow milk etc).
– Move towards more organic, less processed foods. If what you’re about to eat says “Natural Flavoring” on the label, you should put it down because it’s not natural at all.
– Stay away from “white” foods – i.e. refined breads and sugars.
– Replace regular bread with Ezekial bread.
– Cut out meat and move towards more vegan options, though fish and turkey or chicken are okay in moderation.
– Drink a ton of water.
– Cut out caffeine and sodas (even diet), and replace with herbal teas or fresh juices.
What were some sample meal plans?
– Protein shake with soy or almond milk and frozen fruit OR
– Ezekial bread with natural almond butter and jam OR
– Amy’s Organics tofu scramble
– Green tea (coffee with soy milk on occasion)
– I had a lot of Amy’s Organics meals because I knew how many calories were in them and could regulate.
I also cooked grilled chicken with re-fried beans and steamed spinach/broccoli on the side to take to work with me.
For something quick, I would grab a bowl of soup.
I also frequented an all-natural Mediterranean take-out place by my office that has falafel salads with fresh hummus, beets, cucumber, tomato, olives, and avocado.
Or I would substitute dinner options below for lunch.
– Stir-fry with tofu, veggies, Tamari soy sauce, and agave nectar
– Brown rice pasta with Rao’s tomato sauce
– Quinoa with lentils
– Soups, salads, etc
– More Amy’s organics
– Popcorn with nutritional yeast
– Raw veggies with hummus
– Fruit with a protein like peanut butter or nuts
– Hard-boiled egg
– Blue corn chips on occasion with guacamole or re-fried beans and soy cheese.
Any other diet tips?
Jen highly recommended the Skinny Bitch recipes – I tried a couple and they are actually pretty good.
I also did cleansing/juicing days where I would eat only fruit and raw vegetables and some nuts, and drink a ton of water.
I never did a great job at these, but if I were hungry, I’d throw in some low fat re-fried beans or an Ezekial wrap to fill myself up.
By no means was I perfect at the diet thing.
I had a glass of wine or a beer here and there and I couldn’t give up my dark chocolate-covered almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt from Trader Joe’s.
But I got in the habit of picking healthier options like Tofutti cream cheese and Tofutti ice cream sandwiches.
Making these small adjustments definitely made a difference.
How did your exercise regimen change?
As far as working out, Jen and I met twice a week – once for an hour session and once for a half an hour session.
During our sessions, we would do sprints on the treadmill, squats, lunges, free weight training, floor ab exercises, work with the Bosu ball, balance exercises, various types of push-ups (who would ever think regular push-ups are the easy choice!), plank, 100s, bicycles, etc.
She told me I should be working out a couple of days a week on my own, but I honestly did not have the time to do it that often.
Sometimes I would squeeze in a run on the treadmill or go for a walk, but I mostly relied on my sessions with her.
What results did you see?
Jen and I would weigh and measure my body every couple of weeks to track my progress.
It was a great way to stay on target and, even if the scale didn’t budge, to see the inches come off.
I found it really fun and fulfilling. What surprised me throughout the whole experience was that I was now working out less than I had been previously, but seeing more results.
For me, I think working out less was important because it helped curb my appetite. And working out less was realistic for me at that point because of everything going on in life (work, graduate school, wedding planning).
I just didn’t have a ton of time on my hands. Overall, I lost 26 lbs and multiple inches from my body.
I’m firmly back down to a size 8, though I can wear a 6 in certain clothes, which is super exciting given where I started (12).
How will you maintain your weight loss moving forward?
For me the key now is keeping up the lifestyle and hard work to keep the weight off.
I will say, though, that the biggest change has been a lifestyle overhaul – I have changed the way I eat, the way I look at food, and the way I look at exercise, and I think I’m much more balanced now.
Working out is important, but it is not everything. Having the time to run 5-8 miles a day is just not an option for me given my career path, family obligations, and current school obligations.
I love to exercise, but the most important thing is finding the right combination of nutrition and fitness to suit your body at certain points in your life. I weigh myself religiously right now (as I transition out of working out with my trainer), and hope to hit my stride soon.
I’ve gained back one pound since my lowest point before the wedding, but I am committed to staying within a five pound range going forward.
Xanax (alprazolam) and valium (diazepam) are in the benzodiazepines family.
Disontinuing either medication can be difficult due to withdrawal symptoms and their are addictive issues and warnings to be aware of.
Side effects, abuse and addiction are important to be aware of with these medications.
They each can lead to an increased tolerance which then requires a higher dosage for the same results.
Often xanax abuse symptoms are not recognized or admitted by users.
The dopamine centers are effected and this is part of the hooking quality.
Valium is a known medication for the treatment of anxiety, back pain and for those who have trouble sleeping (insomnia).
We have often heard of our mother or our friend’s mother taking Valium to calm themselves down.
This drug is still prescribed for people who have a hard time coping with stressful situations.
This drug can and has been over used by those who just want to get relief.
Though xanax and ativan are have been prescribed more lately, some physicians as well as patients prefer valium.
Xanax is prescribed for certain types of anxiety like panic attacks and mild to moderate states of depression.
Your physician will make a determination of what he thinks is best.
Both drugs affect your brain and spinal cord which is needed to reduce the effect of anxiety and depression.
These drugs do contain side effects that you should be aware of.
Valium users can experience some mild drowsiness, tiredness, weakness of the muscles, or feeling uncoordinated.
If any of these common side effect become overly irritating or won’t go away, consult with your primary physician.
Definitely seek medical help if you experience any rash, itching, breathing difficulty, swelling, a sore throat, chest tightness, memory loss or confusion as this is serious.
Xanax use can cause you to experience mild side effects like a change of appetite or sexual desire, dry mouth, lightheadedness, dizziness, and constipation.
Severe side effects are similar to valium but also include decreased urination, hallucination, changes in menstruation, and muscle spasms or twitching.
Dealing with anxiety can be difficult without assistance.
Whether you take prescription medication or not, it’s critical to develop techniques to reduce stress.
Try to use natural methods before opting to use any medication.
The main conclusion was that organically grown foods are not healthier nutritionally than non organically grown foods.
Another important conclusion that came from that same study is the one major difference that is even more important to parents.
The tipping point for parents opting to feed their children organic fruits, vegetables, milk and meat products is the amount of pesticides added to non organic foods. That’s why I use a local catering Houston company to supply all the food in our company now.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made it perfectly clear that in spite of the Stanford study, they are uncomfortable with any amount of pesticides added to foods especially where young children are concerned.
According to pediatricians, very young children are highly susceptible to foreign toxins because their immune systems are not fully developed.
On the other side of the coin, the amount of “allowable” pesticides in foods, according to the federal government is not enough to cause harm to either children or adults.
Pesticides and Child Development
Pesticide spraying – Opting to shop from organic grocery store for pesticide free organic foods.
Hard alcohol is a liquor that contains more than 20% alcohol by volume.
These include vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cognac, and other distilled alcohol.
Sometimes hard liquor is consumed in small amounts like 2 ounce shot glasses, buy many times it is consumed as a mixed drink.
The danger with drinking hard alcohol is when it’s mixed to create a drink that has a high alcohol content, but it has the taste of the mixer.
You then become unaware of much you’re actually drinking.
If you were to combine vodka with cranberry juice, even a small amount of cranberry juice will lessen the taste of the vodka.
Thus, you will have a high volume of alcohol but it won’t have the harsh taste of drinking the vodka in a pure shot glass.
If you were to consume it by sipping it over time, then more than likely the alcohol’s effects would be kept in check.
That’s because you’d be very conscious of the amount of hard liquor that you would be drinking.
Hard Liquor Alcohol Content Compared to Beer
Also, a recipe for a mixed drink varies depending on the bartender and also on the establishment that is serving the drink.
There are different types of hard alcohol and brands with different alcohol content.
Some hard alcohol can have up to 51% of alcohol by volume.
When you compare that with beer which is usually anywhere from 4 to 6% alcohol, you can see that one mixed drink can contain as much alcohol as up to four beers.
Dangers Of Drinking Hard Liquor
This can become very dangerous especially if you’re driving a car.
You could have just one mixed drink and that could be equal to having consumed four beers in a relatively short period of time.
This could make any person be over the alcohol limit in most jurisdictions.
It also greatly impairs your ability to drive and you can cause an accident. Even if you’re not the one hurt, worse, you can end up killing someone else.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want the realization that I’ve killed a child or someone’s son or daughter let alone an adult. I don’t want the responsibility of coming up with ideas for memorial service either.
So, just be careful when drinking all types of hard alcohol.
If you have a history of addiction, then this is something you need to avoid all together.
If you can drink socially, be aware of the proportions that you drinking and the actual amount of all alcohol that you’re consuming.
Everyone is a product of their family background and family therapy is used as part of a drug addiction recovery program in many cases, even if it’s for a short period of time.
Individual psychotherapy for addiction assists someone in getting less guarded and looking at the underlying causes for the drug or alcohol problem.
With family therapy, additional progress can be gained for a number of reasons.
Family members often can have insight into the drug user’s history as well as coping skills.
For instance, recently when I spoke with a client who smokes pot daily, his mom mentioned that her son seems to get very down when his best friend Rob calls a different friend to hang out with on weekend evenings.
My client hadn’t realized that this triggers feelings of rejection and low self-esteem in him which results in him taking a walk outside and getting high.
When your loved one is in a rehab clinic, usually are asked to attend family therapy sessions at some point in the healing process.
This is an extremely important part of the recovery process.
You may be hesitant to attend these sessions, but rest assured that they will be a helpful support for him or her.
If it is a volatile situation, the therapist will be able to pick up the family dynamics and how these interactions can negatively create the cycles.
Substance abuse is individual, but it can be impacted by one’s family to a large degree. Family therapy will help everyone to see if the addict feels alienated, judged, insecure and what his role is in the home.
The best thing you can do in these sessions is to be honest and look at how you all treat each other, what expectations you place upon each other and how the patterns get created.
In certain cases gynocomastia can take place, which is the development of breast tissue in the chest area.
While this is not a common reaction, it can occur if steroids are abused over a long enough period of time.
Some people also have bad breath and thinning hair as a result of using them.
The side-effects depend on the person who is taking them; however there can be an extreme change in appetite, either decreased or increased.
Dizziness, tremors, nausea, and vomiting are some of the other come side-effects that you will want to keep an eye out for.
Keep your eye out with anyone you know for unusual signs as other types of addiction such as benzo addiction are also common.
Other signs of steroid abuse include jaundice, which presents as yellowish-colored skin and eyes. This is a sign of serious liver damage and if a person has becomes jaundiced immediate treatment is necessary.
Leaving this side-effects untreated can result in even more serious health problems and even death.
Some people also experience an increase in acne and cysts on the skin, although this is not always the case.
The truth is that the reactions are different for everyone, but with regular use almost always comes at least some side-effects.
This is why it is important to pay close attention to the behavior and appearance of the person you may suspect who may have signs of steroid abuse .
They can be extremely dangerous and cause serious health problems that can take quite a toll on the body over a long period of time.