Joy Bauer

Clever diet tricks from big-time 'losers'

April 30, 2012 at 8:38 AM ET

My new book, The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration, profiles 30 weight loss superstars who have each lost over 100 pounds and transformed their lives. In the book, they share the smart, slimming strategies that helped them reach their goals. Here, you’ll find just a sampling of healthy eating and exercise advice from big-time “losers” who have achieved lasting success!

Have a great healthy recipe? Enter TODAY's "Home Chef Challenge: Joy Fit Edition"

KIM: Crush cravings with a “Bag of Tricks.”

FROM: Stamford, Connecticut

AGE: 39

BEFORE: 258

AFTER: 148

POUNDS LOST: 110

When Kim gets the urge to gobble down freshly baked cookies, ice cream, or another favorite comfort food, she pulls out her handy “bag of tricks.” Literally. It’s a bag filled with cards listing fun, motivational activities that divert her attention away from food. On the cards, she’s printed everything from “read a book” and “treat myself to a manicure” to “call a friend” and “exercise for 10 minutes.” By the time Kim has finished the activity she’s randomly selected, her desire to eat has passed, and that intense craving has become a distant memory. This clever tip has helped Kim reign in her eating and shed 110 pounds!

SHERI: Get moving during commercial breaks

FROM: Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania

AGE: 43

BEFORE: 282

AFTER: 141

POUNDS LOST: 141

Sheri takes advantage of those spare moments while she’s watching her favorite TV shows to jump up off the couch and squeeze in some exercise. She’ll do a set of crunches or lunges – or some deep squats, great for tightening up her gluts and thighs. Even walking in place does the trick! During each 2-minute commercial break, you can burn an extra 20 calories…and that could add up to a total of 100 calories during an hour-long program. Getting sneaky with her exercise helped Sheri drop 141 pounds – she’s HALF her former size!

APRIL: Add pizzazz to your salads!

FROM: Charleston, West Virginia

AGE: 33

BEFORE: 270

AFTER: 161

POUNDS LOST: 109

Salads are standard fare on most diets, but the same old pile of greens got old fast...so April started jazzing up her lettuce to make it more exciting and tasty. Some of her favorite add-ins are toasted chopped nuts, a small amount of pungent cheese (think blue or feta), and fresh fruit like grapes, sliced strawberries, or mandarin oranges (she adds fresh fruit instead of dried to keep the calories and sugar down). Get creative – you can also toss in sunflower or pumpkin seeds, diced avocado, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, shelled edamame, roasted vegetables, cubed tofu, and fresh herbs like cilantro. April also whips up interesting homemade dressings – she uses mostly vinegar (she loves flavored vinegars like raspberry) and goes light on the oil to trim calories. She also adds nonfat plain Greek yogurt to vinaigrette dressings to make creamy versions that are light in calories and fat. This strategy enabled April to increase her veggie consumption, feel satisfied on so-called rabbit food...and ultimately knock of an incredible 109 pounds.

 NICOLE: Create slimmed-down versions of your favorite comfort foods.

 FROM: Wadsworth, OH

AGE: 34

BEFORE: 460

AFTER: 160

POUNDS LOST: 300

By making smart swaps, you can concoct low-cal, guilt-free versions of treats that might seem off-limits, like burgers, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs…even cookies and fries. Nicole and her husband were pizzaholics – it was a ritual for them to eat it while watching football games on TV. To indulge without derailing her diet, Nicole came up with a slim-style individual pie. She uses a whole-grain tortilla or flatbread as the base and gets topped with low-fat cheese and loads of veggie toppings like mushrooms and broccoli. The entire pizza clocks in at just 200 calories (the recipe is featured in the book!). Making smart, satisfying swaps like this helped Nicole lose a whopping 300 pounds!

 For more weight loss tips and advice, visit joybauer.com and follow Joy on Facebook and Twitter.

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