Get help from our network of more than 300 experts on changes big and small, personal and professional.
Joy Bauer on Diet and Weight Loss
Joy Bauer, a registered dietician and best-selling author, is the nutrition expert for the “Today” show and Yahoo.com, and the monthly weight loss columnist for SELF magazine. She built her company, Joy Bauer Nutrition, into one of the largest nutrition centers in the country, with offices in Manhattan and Westchester County, NY. Bauer’s clientele includes high-profile professionals, celebrities, Olympic gold medalists and the New York City Ballet. She is the author of several best-selling books, including Joy Bauer’s Food Cures: Treat Common Health Concerns, Look Younger & Live Longer and The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan: A Scientifically Designed Balance of Healthy Foods and Fun Foods. Here, Bauer shares her tried-and-true tips to ensure weight loss.
How does your program approach the mental and spiritual sides of losing weight?
We love for our clients to use yoga and meditation. That can really help people figure out how not to use food as a vice. It helps people understand their lives when they’re stressed or eating for emotional reasons. People lead hectic lifestyles. Following a healthy diet and exercise plan can definitely get you where you want to go emotionally.
In Joy Bauer’s Food Cures, you advocate big changes to one’s diet rather than small ones. How can making big changes help someone lose weight?
People like to see and feel results. When someone’s stuck in a bad behavior, changing something small doesn’t give him or her that euphoria or that satisfaction of achievement. If I can motivate someone to make a drastic change in their diet and start exercising for one week, that person will feel so much better and that’s something that can be seen and felt. Sometimes the small changes are just as hard to do. Why not go for the gusto? I can validate that this works from my years of practice.
What is the most important thing to do in the first 30 days of losing weight?
The right mindset is critical. Weight loss is 50% attitude. If you have the right mindset, anything is possible. It’s way more important than having the right food in the house. You also need to do some preplanning. Give yourself a roadmap; use my book or another diet plan. You need to know what’s happening each of those early days. Have the right foods available, the right people to psych you up and set up your environment.
You need a means of evaluating how things are going, as well. Measuring inches lost or how your clothes are fitting may help you determine how well you’re following your plan. You need to eat often to eat healthy; eat every four to five hours. Skipping meals is just going to backfire.
What sort of physical and emotional changes do you most often see in people in the first month of losing weight?
When people start to lose weight, they’re euphoric. When you’re doing it right, you feel just as good on the way down as you do when you’ve actually reached your weight goal. People who get in the groove of eating well and being active get happier and feel energetic. An important part of keeping the positive feeling going is to keep your expectations realistic and age-appropriate. If you have a goal weight that you haven’t seen in 30 years, you probably won’t like your life even if you’re able to reach that weight—you may have to give up more than you want to. Once we meet our first goal weight, we check in to see what the next goal is. If someone does need to lose more, and they’re ready for it, off they go.
What attitudes do you find in people during their first 30 days of weight loss?
Sometimes people are angry. They hate the food or hate the plan they chose. There’s a sort of reality check phase where someone is deciding if losing weight is what he or she really wants to do. It’s ironic that the person who is resistant also needs to see results, but if that person is not approaching the plan in an efficient way, he or she won’t meet their goals in a timely manner.
On the other hand, I have backpedaled for some people who just won’t jump in as fast. We do small changes for certain personalities who won’t go for the big shift because it’s too traumatic. People need to be comfortable with themselves and with the plan. Sometimes the mourning process of giving up junk food is longer and more complicated.
What’s the best way to measure success in the first 30 days losing weight?
I ask people to be flexible with their goal weights. When we get closer, we assess how they’re feeling and what the measurements are. Some type-A people need to know that definite end number. For others, a number is too daunting, so we deemphasize it. You need to know your personality and what will motivate you—listen to your gut. We use all the measurements, but primarily weight because scales are easy to find and they’re effective for the most part. I like people to check their weight twice each week. That’s enough for them to know if what they’re doing is working. Some people do daily weigh-ins, which can be a little much: It can just drive them crazy.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
When things are hectic, I get myself organized. Whatever the issue is, I write it down on paper, organize my strategy and then I go for it. I’m an outliner, and whether it’s a great article idea or a change I want to make, I plan it out and then do it. I’m not a dilly-dallier. I like to jump in and get the job done. I do try to be realistic with time frames, though.
The best thing about change is...
…how you feel physically and emotionally when you’ve achieved it.
What is the best change you have ever made?
Having kids. Besides all the personal joy, it made me much more creative and strategic in my work.
For more information on Joy Bauer, visit www.joybauernutrition.com.