Monday, March 31, 2014

START HERE: 10 Weeks to a Slimmer Summer

by Rebecca J. Clark
NSCA & ISSA certified personal fitness trainer

In less than three months, it’ll be summer. Does that excite you? Or does the thought of wearing shorts and tank tops make you want to bury your head with the groundhog?

If yours is the latter reaction, maybe I can help. I have a 10-week plan to ease you into a better diet and more active lifestyle. If you’re looking for a quick fix or a way to drop a quick 30 pounds, then you’ve come to the wrong place. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle change, then keep reading.

As you can see from my blog, I am a romance author. But I’m also a personal trainer and have worked as one for more than 10 years. Recently, I published my first diet book, THE CHECKLIST DIET--10 simple steps to check off each day for a better diet.

I will be basing these next 10 weeks on that book. You don’t have to buy the book to do this plan with me but I’d sure not mind if you did. You can buy it for the Kindle here, and the Nook here; if you want the paperback copy that comes with a journal, buy it here. The book only deals with your eating. But in this 10-week series on my blog, we’ll talk about exercise, too.
Each week I will give you one step to add to your day, one lifestyle change to focus on. Each week builds on the last until the end of 10 weeks, when you’ll have completely overhauled your diet and activity levels.


Step One from The Checklist Diet
Keep track of what you’re eating in a journal or online app

Starting from this moment on (no, you can’t wait until tomorrow, or next Monday or next whenever), you will keep track of everything you eat. Every meal, snack, bite, taste, sip. Track in whatever way is easiest for you. I like,, and (all free). You can also do it the old-fashioned way and write it down in a notebook or journal. Or, if you want to spend the money, you can order my Checklist Diet & Companion Workbook here.

Why is this the first step? Well, it’s going to hold you accountable, for one. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much we are eating until the evidence is staring at us in black and white.

Several studies have shown that people who keep track of what they’re eating are more likely to lose weight and keep it off. Dieters who keep a food diary six days a week will lose about twice as much weight as those who track their food one day a week or less. I know that’s true for me. If I track my food, and write down EVERYTHING I eat, I will lose weight and/or maintain (depends on my goals); once I stop keeping track, even if I’m choosing healthy foods, I tend to eat more than I should.

At the end of each week, review your food diary. See if you can find any patterns — you can’t make a change if you don’t know the problem. For example, do you mindlessly reach for food at night before bed even though you’re not hungry? Do you reach for something sugary every day mid-afternoon? The first step to fixing a problem is identifying it.

That’s it for the diet this week. I'm not telling what you can and can't eat. Just write it down. How’s that for easy-peasy? All I ask is that you’re completely honest with yourself. No one else will see your food diary. But if you want, imagine I am staring over your shoulder to make sure you write everything down.

Now, for the fun part. EXERCISE.

What? You don’t think exercise is fun? Well, I may or may not be able to change your mind, but I can help ease you into it. This 10-week plan is geared toward those of you who aren’t exercising at all (or very little). If you are already working out regularly, good for you! Keep doing what you’re doing.

Week One Workouts:
Don't worry--you can do this. I'm assuming you either don't exercise now or aren't exercising much. 

Five days this week, choose one of the following cardio workouts. Feel free to mix and match, or do the same one each day:

Walk out your door. Walk for 5 minutes. Turn around and come back.

Get on a cardio machine of choice (treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc). Go slow for two minutes. Pick up the pace a bit for 6 minutes. Cool down at a slow pace for 2 minutes.

Pick three of your favorite fast-paced songs. Crank the speakers. Dance around your house until the songs are over.

Two days this week, do the following strength moves (can be done on the same day as the above workouts)

10 Pushups (against a wall, counter, or on the floor)
10 Sit and stands from a chair or bench
10 seconds of elbow planks (lie on the floor on your belly, propped on elbows. Lift your body up until you’re balancing on your elbows and toes. Hold.)
Repeat those three exercises 

That’s it! See? I told you I would ease you into this. You can totally do this. You’re on your way to a slimmer, fitter body.

As we get started, I’d love for you to tell me your goals. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want more energy? Do you want to develop an exercise habit? Whatever your goal is, please let me know in the comments. Tell me where you are now, and where you’d like to be 10 weeks from now.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Soup's On!

Healthy Minestrone Soup
This is a great way to get your veggies.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees if warming up bread*

2 tsp olive oil
1/8 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups finely chopped vegetables of your choice (ie: zucchini, broccoli, carrots, green beans, cabbage, asparagus) Use at least 4 varieties.
4 cans beef or vegetable broth
1 can diced tomatoes, pureed (I like the Italian style tomatoes)
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup elbow macaroni noodles

2 tbsp. basil pesto
Wheat sourdough bread (*optional)

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add chopped vegetables, broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add pasta. Cook until pasta is soft.  Put *bread in the oven to warm as pasta cooks.

Ladle into bowls and top with  1 tsp pesto. Use the *bread for dipping.


If you want more healthy recipes and fitness tips, and to learn about my next book release, please sign up for my newsletter. Click HERE. To learn more about my books, check out my website.

Do you want to learn more about following a healthy diet? Then you might want to check out my new diet book (I'm a personal trainer of 10+ years as well as being a romance author).