If you watch NBCs Today, youre probably familiar with Joy Bauer. Shes the shows diet and nutrition expert, and for the past four years, she has introduced viewers to inspiring people who have lost incredible amounts of weight anywhere from 100 to 300 pounds on a regular segment known as the Joy Fit Club.
There is much to be learned from the members of the Joy Fit Club, and Bauer profiles 30 of them including Lexi Majors, a 25-year-old who dropped 122 pounds, and 43-year-old Anita Mills who lost 242 pounds in her new book The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration.
As the title implies, the book is also full of recipes for healthy dishes.
We recently interviewed Bauer, a registered dietitian, to find out more about her book and get some diet and exercise tips.
Q: There are so many people who want to lose weight. Is there a particular segment of the population that this book is for, or will people of all sizes no matter how much weight they want to lose find it valuable?
A: This book is for everyone! The strategies and diet plan in this book can help you lose weight efficiently and effectively, whether you have five pounds to lose or hundreds of pounds to lose, like the members featured in the book.
Q: Why are so many of us overweight to some degree?
A: Theres no simple answer to that question. There are a lot of factors at play. For one, we are living in a toxic environment where food is everywhere. And the food that were eating is high in calories, fat, sugar and salt all the wrong things. On top of that, we are more sedentary than ever before not getting enough physical activity. And in some cases, genetics are working against us, too. These are all contributors and help explain why today two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
Q: Many people want to lose weight so that they will look better or be able to wear certain clothes. Do you think people are cognizant of the health effects of slimming down? And what kind of health transformations have you seen among the members of the Joy Fit Club?
A: Of course youll look and feel better, but thats really just the beginning. Losing weight can help increase your energy and mood, and it also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, manage or reverse type 2 diabetes, improves sleep quality, alleviates arthritis aches and pains it improves virtually all aspects of your health. Members of the Joy Fit Club have gone from taking five, six or more different pills a day to being completely medication-free. Theyve gone from having sky-high blood pressure to healthy, normal blood pressure. Theyve lowered their cholesterol by 100 or more points. Theyve reduced knee pain and turned around their depression, and theyve added years to their life. Its truly remarkable.
Q: How important is it for people who want to lose weight to have a hand in preparing their own food as opposed to eating out at restaurants all the time or relying on frozen food?
A: You can still lose weight if you eat out a lot provided you make the right choices. I always say that its about what you eat not where you eat. That said, by making most of your meals at home, you control what goes into your food and what stays out. By following the diet plan in the book, youll be eating meals that are perfectly formulated for weight loss. Theyre low in calories, sugar and bad fats and provide the right mix of protein, fiber, high-quality carbs and heart-healthy fats to help you feel satisfied and full. And theyre easy to prepare and completely delicious. Youre not sacrificing anything.
Q: What do you say to the person who says, Oh, but I dont know how to cook, or I dont have time to cook?
A: I totally get it. Were all dealing with hectic, overbooked schedules, juggling a million balls and totally exhausted by the end of the workday, and none of us have time to prepare gourmet, three-course meals every day. Thats not realistic, and youll never be able to make that stick. So I made sure the recipes and meals laid out in this book are easy to shop for and cook and dont require a lot of prep. So you can throw them together any day of the week, and once youve tried the plan and decided which meals are your favorite and the easiest for you to prepare, you can repeat them as often as you like.
Q: Do you have to give up dessert to lose weight?
A: Definitely not! I like to allow people one splurge meal per week when you can enjoy a dessert or any other special foods you enjoy like pizza or burgers. I even provide some slim-style dessert recipes in the book like Decadent Chocolate Mousse and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bread Pudding, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing your diet.
Q: Can you lose weight by simply eating healthier, or do you also have to exercise?
A: If you are really tight with your food intake and follow the plan carefully, you dont have to exercise to lose weight. But I definitely recommend fitting in some form of physical activity most days of the week if youre physically able and can make the time. Exercise helps you burn calories, boosts your mood and confidence and puts you in a positive mindset so youre motivated to stick with your plan. Its a total feel-good, and it doesnt have to be fancy, expensive or intense. In fact, walking is my preferred form of exercise. Its free, you can do it almost anywhere, it doesnt require any special equipment, and its easy on the joints. Its really an ideal form of exercise. I advise walking for 30 minutes every day of the week aim for seven days, and youll end up hitting at least five.
Q: How important is it to feel like you have people on your team when you are trying to lose weight? And if you dont necessarily feel like you are getting support from your spouse or your family, where can you find it?
A: Having a solid support network in place is really critical to success. Having the support of individuals or a group of people to help keep you motivated, celebrate your milestones, reinforce good habits and troubleshoot challenges can dramatically increase your chances of success. Your support network could be a supportive spouse or family member, but it doesnt have to be. It can also include a therapist who helps you probe your relationship with food or a co-worker or friend you can buddy up with at the gym. Or find an online community to share your ups and downs with, especially if you dont feel comfortable discussing your diet or your weight with your closest friends and family members.
Q: Readers will get a lot out of your book, but what do you think the members of the Joy Fit Club get from sharing their stories with the public?
A: Every single one of them is a huge advocate for health and very passionate about helping others, and they all want to use their stories to help inspire others to lose weight and begin their own health journeys. Theyre all about paying it forward, and I think that is far and away the most rewarding part about being in the club and now The Joy Fit Club book. But several members have also told me that being a part of the club helps them with their own weight maintenance. It helps them to stay motivated and stick with their healthy eating and exercise plan, and they also find support by communicating with other successful members. And many of the members are even following the meal plan in the book to get some fresh, healthy meal ideas, vary up their routine and keep their menus interesting.
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