Want to know how to lose weight and keep it off? Registered dietitian Joy Bauer has helped folks lose hundreds of pounds on her Today show series Joy Fit Club. I had the privilege to speak with Joy on how people can achieve long-term weight loss success.
Q: Congrats on your new book The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration. What prompted you to write this book which showcases 30 the personal stories of folks who successfully lost weight?
Thanks! I started the Joy Fit Club series on the TODAY show about 4 years ago – we were looking for a powerful way to inspire viewers and show them that lasting weight loss is possible. Every other week, we induct a new member into the club — someone who has lost at least 100 pounds with diet and exercise alone (no pills, potions, fasting, or surgeries). The series was so popular and we got so many questions from viewers after the stories aired that we decided to put together a companion book, which would allow us to go into greater depth on the strategies our members used to achieve success.
Q: In your new book, I noticed that you compared dieter’s before-and-after eating habits. Why do you think this was important to highlight?
I think these menus provide a great snapshot of the incredible transformation these individuals have gone through. Most of them were eating a lot of processed, junky food and fast food at their start of their journey – and very few vegetables and fruits, if any. Now, they tell me they crave healthy foods like juicy fresh fruit, roasted veggies, yogurt and entrees with flavorful sauces and spice rubs. Many Joy Fit Clubbers became more comfortable in the kitchen in the process of overhauling their diet and now love to cook and experiment with new healthy, recipes (in fact, they’ve shared some of their favorite slimming recipes in the book).
Q: You’ve helped many courageous folks lose 100, 200, and even 300 pounds. What do you find is the common theme to their weight loss success?
In order to lose the weight and keep it off, you have to make permanent changes to your lifestyle and eating habits – and that’s exactly what all of the Joy Fit Club members that are featured in the book did. They recognized that this was a lifelong commitment and accepted that their journey wouldn’t end when they reached their goal weight. And most of them set short-term goals along the way to help reinforce success and keep the momentum going.
Q: In your book you discuss 10 weight loss rules. Could you highlight some of these principles that you find lead to weight loss success?
All 10 are important for lasting results, but I think there are two critical commonalities that weave through all of these success stories:
- Find your meaningful reason for losing weight. It may seem like an obvious first step, but I have found that the people who are most successful at losing weight are those that have a strong, clear purpose for wanting to make a change. Do some serious soul-searching and identify a significant and lasting source of personal motivation for finally shedding the extra weight.
- Forgive your slip-ups. Nobody eats perfectly all the time, and it’s fine—totally normal, in fact—to occasionally stray from your plan. The trick is to shake off your mistakes and get right back on track at the next meal or the very next day. Don’t let one binge or an off day spiral out of control into a full week or month of splurging. It may not come easy at first, but mastering this one key strategy can help you finally break the cycle of yo-yo dieting.
Q: Dieters may become overwhelmed making many changes at once. What advice would you give them to ensure healthy habits over the long haul?
Many of the Joy Fit Club members in the book took a step-by-step approach. They started by eliminating one unhealthy food or habit – maybe they first decided to give up soda. Once they had that mastered their first step, they made another change – eliminating fried food or halving their dinner portions or skipping desserts. As the weight started to come off, they felt motivated and ready to take on bigger changes.
Q: Many folks often ask how often they should eat in order to achieve weight loss. Does it matter if you eat 3 square meals only or should people include snacks? If so, what is the ideal number of snacks they should eat each day?
The frequency of your eating schedule won’t impact your weight loss as long as you make smart food choices and keep your total calories in check. It’s really your collective daily calories that matter most – how you divide up those calories throughout the day won’t directly affect how quickly you lose weight. That said, I personally find people are most successful when they eat three traditional meals (in other words, more volume less frequently) because of hectic schedules and/or heartier appetites. So I generally recommend three meals a day, plus a small snack – this allows you to eat something every 4 to 5 hours so you don’t experience a blood sugar dip or start to feel ravenous. This is the structure I used to create the meal plan included in the book.
Q: How can someone become a member of the Joy Fit Club?
You can visit the Today show website to submit your weight loss success story – or nominate a friend or family member.
Q: Could you share a recipe from your new book?
Greek-Style Eggplant Lasagna
Makes 8 servings
Serving Size 1/8 of the pan of lasagna
Prep Time 35 minutes | Bake Time 55 minutes | Stand Time 15 minutes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 teaspoons jarred minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 14.5-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 6-ounce can no-salt-added tomato paste
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 small eggplants (about 12 ounces each), trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 egg whites
1 15-ounce container low-fat or part-skim ricotta cheese
2/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large nonstick skillet with oil spray. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add onion. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook and stir for 30 seconds. Transfer onion mixture to a blender. Add the undrained tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and blend until smooth.
In a large pot cook the lasagna noodles 1 minute less than the time given on the package (it should be about 9 minutes). While the lasagna is cooking, add the eggplant slices, in three batches, to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes per batch (the eggplant will float on top of the lasagna noodles). Remove the eggplant slices from the water and drain in a large colander. Drain the lasagna when it is done cooking.
In a medium bowl beat egg whites lightly with a fork. Stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, and half of the crumbled feta cheese.
Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular glass baking dish. Top with 3 of the noodles. Top with one-third of the ricotta mixture and spread to an even layer. Top with one-third of the eggplant slices. Pour one-third of the remaining tomato sauce over the eggplant. Repeat layers twice, starting with lasagna noodles and ending with the tomato sauce.
Bake, uncovered, for 55 to 65 minutes or until lasagna is heated through (an instant-read thermometer should read 160 degrees F in the center of the lasagna). Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Cut lasagna into 8 servings and place one serving on each of eight dinner plates. Sprinkle with remaining crumbled feta cheese before serving.
Nutrition Information: Calories: 325, Protein: 16 g, Total Fat: 9 g, Saturated Fat: 4.5 g, Cholesterol: 30 mg, Sodium: 554 mg, Carbohydrate: 45 g, Fiber: 9 g
Joy Bauer MS, RD, CDN is the nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY show, a monthly columnist for Woman’s Day magazine, and the exclusive nutritionist for the New York City Ballet. Joy is the author of several bestselling books and the creator of JoyBauer.com. For weight loss advice and healthy recipes, follow Joy on Facebook and Twitter.