The Saturday Skinny: Forget the weight loss ads and focus on yourself to make positive lifestyle changes

By: Don Chaddock, Managing Editor
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I’m sure you’ve received an e-mail or seen an advertisement claiming you can lose inches and pounds with little or no effort. The old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” applies to these gimmicks seeking to take advantage of people who only want help and answers. Losing weight requires two things: effort and determination. These can’t be bought in a store or on TV; you already have them, even if they are in need of a good dusting from lack of use.

I recently came across an ad claiming you can “lose weight while you sleep” and fit into the clothing you’ve always wanted to wear by simply forking over your hard-earned cash, rather than putting down your fork.

I’ve been down the road of fad diets, supplements and shakes. The problem? As soon as I stopped those extreme methods, the weight came back on with a vengeance. It took me two decades to figure out my problem was deep inside, not something “happening to me.” I wasn’t a victim of the weight-gain fairy, who flies around from house to house at night, waving her wand and adding five or 10 pounds on a whim. My problem was what I put in my mouth and how much I moved my body. My problem was my own attitude and behaviors. My problem was me.

Once it sank in my thick skull, the weight melted away. Over the last 12 months, I lost 96 pounds. The 10 months before that, I lost 20 pounds. Why the drastic change from one year to the next? Because I changed the one thing I could: me. I changed what I ate, how much I ate and how much I moved my body. Those first 10 months were a struggle. I frequently fell off the “chuck wagon.” The critical acceptance of my problem still wasn’t clicking for me. It was in October 2011 when I “got it” – I need to work for the results I want to achieve. Much like blaming my heavy weight on other factors (too busy to eat right and exercise, stress, being a parent, not enough sleep to exercise, not knowing what to buy at the store, too busy to pack lunches for work, fast food is easy and cheap, not enough money to buy healthy food), losing weight seemed impossible and I could find every excuse for not truly changing my lifestyle.

But, once I committed to moving forward and getting off my butt, that’s what I did. Excuses were not an option.

Effort is important

I need to have a particular mindset when going into something. If I doubt myself or my abilities, I’ve already lost half the battle. Put in the effort for cooking, eating and exercise to get results.

If you don’t have time to cook, try these options the next time you’re at the grocery store: Lettuce for salads (try something other than iceberg, which offers no nutrients), canned cooked black beans (rinse them and use in salads or on top of brown rice), frozen cooked brown rice (perfect for quick meals or lunches), quinoa (cooks like rice, quick and easy), frozen vegetables (non-starchy, so go for cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), grapes (take home, rinse and put in a freezer bag and stow in the freezer as they make great snacks), bananas, apples, carrots, bagged kale (tear into small pieces and add to salads or throw into smoothies), bagged baby spinach (for salads or smoothies), frozen fruit (berries, strawberries, peaches, mango are all great for smoothies or take pack frozen peaches in your lunch and sprinkle with a little cinnamon for dessert), whole wheat tortillas (for sandwich wraps or burrito nights), canned tuna (only about 100 calories and 20 grams – or 36 percent – of your recommended daily allowance of protein for two servings) and low-sodium deli-style turkey (or chicken) lunch meat.

Exercise at least 30 minutes daily (can be broken into three 10-minute chunks) with at least one day each week devoted to a minimum of two hours of exercise. For me, that’s Saturday (hence this column’s title, “The Saturday Skinny”). You don’t have to live in the gym to lose weight, but you do have to make an effort.

Cooking is easy

I’m not a chef and can’t spend hours fussing over complicated dishes with a lot of components. I like easy. One way to handle easy cooking is to choose easy methods of cooking. For me, that includes roasting and grilling.

I can roast about anything in a 350-400 degree oven for 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the dish. A little olive oil, salt and pepper are my usual flavor enhancers. Depending on what you’re roasting, try garlic, paprika or other spice to kick things up a notch.

But more importantly, try exploring this method with foods. Find out what you like. Make healthy choices when selecting your roasting subjects. Bacon? Not healthy. Asparagus spears are a much better choice.

My plan

Readers have been asking for a plan, so here it is. Make healthier choices. That’s it in a nutshell. But if you want something more definitive, here’s what works for me. I eat five to six times daily, filling up on fresh fruit and raw vegetables. I limit my lean meats to 4-6 ounces daily and try to get the rest of my protein from plant-based sources (such as black beans). Exercise as I described earlier (30 minutes daily, with one “hard-core” day each week of about 2-3 hours of exercise), but do more if you are able. Avoid alcohol, bread, sweets, ice cream, cookies, bagels, donuts and anything else you know is a poor choice. I eat three main meals daily with small snacks of fruit or yogurt between, with a bed-time snack (1-2 cups of frozen grapes). For exercise, I walk or hike and use small hand weights.

Starting out weighing 303 pounds, I’ve lost 116 pounds over the last 22 months. I did it through hard work, proper diet and exercise, as I’ve described above. If you have questions or a story to tell, feel free to contact me at the e-mail below or through I know if I can lose weight, so can you.


Pumpkins are plentiful this time of year. Depending on the variety, this is a quick and easy way to prepare them for something other than a pie.

Cut in half and hollow out the seeds and strings. Then cut into strips, leaving the peel on. Place them on a cookie sheet with and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the pieces. Roast until tender with a fork and carmelized. Turn halfway through the process. Serve as a side dish or main course.

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