Chelle Stafford went from looking like this… to looking like this (see jaw-dropping before/after photo). The mother of four from Phoenix dropped 71 pounds and 16 dress sizes in 18 months. Crazy, eh? Yes, hard work and willpower helped her ditch the fat for good (good riddance), but she also smartened up her diet, going from a fast food-eating, soda-guzzling queen to a calorie-cutting fit machine. Thankfully we can all learn a thing or two from Chelle’s mistakes… and even more from her fixes.
Diet Mistakes & Fixes by Chelle Stafford
Diet Pills / Fat Burners
THE MISTAKE: I was a sucker for every gimmicky pill on the market. If it promised fat loss, with a skinny, sexy woman on the ad, I headed to the store and bought it. When the product failed to produce my expected results, I went in search of the next miracle pill. What I didn’t understand is how fat-burners actually work. Typically, the product is engineered to make stored body fat available to the metabolism to be burned as fuel (hence, “fat-burner”). Sounds great, right? Here’s the catch – if the fuel isn’t burned, that fat is simply re-metabolized back into storage (along with any other excess calories that have been consumed). My mistake was in depending on a pill to do what I needed to do myself: exercise and eat right.
THE FIX: Get off my derrière. Taking a pill wasn’t my problem – supplements can be helpful, but expecting a pill to miraculously turn my 5’2” overweight body into a svelte 6 ft. fitness model with abs of steel – well, duh. I changed my diet (nixed the fast food), I increased my exercise, and guess what? The fat started burning.
THE MISTAKE: I swapped out regular soda for diet and thought the pounds would drop off – they did at first, and then crept back on. While I was in fact reducing my calorie intake (*0 calories vs. 250 calories – per can), and my sugar intake (*0 grams vs. 27 grams – per can), I was still flooding my system with excess caffeine, artificial flavorings & colors, and synthetic sugar (aspartame) – which, FYI, produce the same “cravings” as real sugar.
THE FIX: I took baby steps to ease off my soda-addiction (and I was addicted, drinking 6-12 cans each day). First step was moving from regular to diet, second step was to move to powdered mixes I could add to my water bottle (ie Crystal Light), and the third step was to move to water – flavored naturally with lemon slices, cucumber slices, or strawberry slices. Once I re-trained my taste buds, I found myself craving water itself (and feeling better, with fewer headaches)!
THE MISTAKE: Taking my lifestyle change to heart, I ditched the fast food, but still needed quick meals. I began loading up my grocery cart with diet frozen entrees. I never thought to look at the label beyond reading the calorie count. Those convenient packages soon made up the bulk of my “healthy” diet – and they were easy, but I found myself hungry, bloated and craving anything that didn’t come out of a microwave. [Do you mean craving junk?]
THE FIX: Label education. I learned how to read the food label: to look at the amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as how much sodium was packed into each meal. I also started looking at the ingredients list. Back then (2007/2008) those meals were more frankenfood than anything naturally occurring. Chemicals, fillers and sodium were the main ingredients. Thankfully, today there are more and more convenience foods available that are natural, have balanced nutrition and low sodium – it just takes reading the labels to find them. Life can get busy, and even now I always make sure I have a few acceptable frozen meals available – just in case. The second part of the fix was learning to pre-cook. As I took more control over what I put in my mouth, I developed a system where I do all my cooking one day a week, portioning it out, so that it’s ready and waiting when I need it. It takes a few hours, but it saves me countless hours during the week. (My simple step-by-step system is available free online at http://www.recipeforfitness.com/food_prep.html )
THE MISTAKE: I stuck to my diet – faithfully. I ate my spinach, broccoli, chicken breast, brown rice and apples Monday through Friday. Then came the weekend. I ate whatever I wanted thinking that all my hard work in the gym and clean eating during the week entitled me to cheat. My weight loss progress slowed, and my cravings for junk increased – enjoying a weekend full of French fries and cookies made me want them during the week.
THE FIX: At the urging of my trainer (read: “hello???? Are you listening to me????”), I realized that while I could indeed enjoy a cheat each week, it should be one meal. Not a day. Not a weekend. One Meal. Period. I learned to plan it – to view it as a treat, not a cheat. I spent time during the week deciding exactly what I wanted to indulge in when the time came, and then I stuck to that plan. I learned to savor every bite and keep it to proper serving sizes (slice of cheesecake, not the whole pie), and when it was over, my next meal was back on track. When I implemented this, my weight loss surged and I started feeling better about myself, my control, and my ability to reach my goals.
(*based on Diet Dr. Pepper vs Dr. Pepper. Source: www.DrPepper.com )
*Do you have your own success story to share? I’d love to hear your story and feature you—and your dream bod—right her on the blog. Email me at email@example.com
To learn more
Check out Chelle’s website RecipeForFitness.com – it’s chock full of fitness tips and healthy recipes