featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Contemporary romance author Rebecca J. Clark is also a personal fitness trainer. Her nonfiction book The Checklist Diet is the same basic, no-nonsense information she’s been teaching her clients for the past 13+ years. When she’s not training, teaching, working out, or deciding whether or not she really needs Cheetos, you can find her in her office penning her latest romance novel. Learn more about Rebecca and her books at her website.  

Baby Steps to a Healthier Diet
Are you one of those people who keeps meaning to start a diet on Monday or the first of next month or some other date in the future? If so, why wait? Why not start improving your diet right now?  

When I say “diet” I just mean the way you’re eating. I don’t want you to go ON a “diet” because that infers that you’ll eventually go OFF it. Instead, start incorporating some simple changes into your life that you can follow indefinitely.

Here are some good habits for a healthier diet:

Eating Your Fruits & Vegetables
Make a big salad and have it with lunch and/or dinner three times a week.

Cut up a bunch of raw veggies every Sunday, and strive to finish them by Wednesday. Then cut up some more and finish by Sunday. Repeat.

Use vegetable purees (baby food is a great way to do this) in your everyday foods. Like adding pureed carrots or sweet potatoes into your spaghetti sauce, or adding pureed spinach into your meatloaf, or pureed cauliflower into your soup.

Have a fruit smoothie each morning to start your day. Add a handful of spinach and you’ll never even taste it. I swear.

Reach for a piece of fruit and a handful of nuts for your afternoon or evening snack.

Cutting Back on Junk Food
Before reaching for junk food, ask yourself if you really want it. This might sound silly, but sometimes the simple act of stopping and asking yourself that question is enough to stop you.

If you “must” have junk food, eat just one portion. Look on the package—it’ll tell you what one portion is. Eat it and enjoy. There’s no use eating junk food if you’re going to feel too guilty to enjoy it.

Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand. If all you have on hand is junk food, guess what you’ll reach for? Yeah.

Tell yourself you can have X servings of junk food a week. How many is X? Depends on how much you’re eating now. If you’re eating junk food every day, cut back to every other day. If you eat it several times a week, cut back to twice a week.

Cutting Back on Alcohol
First, let me tell you what a “healthy” amount of drinking is. For women, one drink a night is fine. For men, two drinks a night is good. If you drink more than that, I’d strongly suggest you start cutting back. I don’t want to be preachy, but I care about your health. More than that amount is bad for your health and your waistline. Alcohol is empty calories. Your body doesn’t metabolize it well. So any excess will go to your gut or your butt. You really don’t want a Beer Butt, do you?

So...if you’re drinking more than you “should” – and only you know the answer to that – start cutting back just a little at a time. Cut back from three drinks to two. From two to one. From every night to three times a week. I had one client recently who dropped eight pounds just from going from drinking three glasses of wine a night to one glass a night.

Drinking More Water
If you’re even slightly dehydrated, you won’t feel your best. You might be tired, or get headaches, or feel bloated, or have a scratchy throat, or be depressed. Or all the above. Your body also won’t digest food as well.

Have a bottle or glass of water with you at all times: at your desk, on the coffee table, in the car.

Create reminders for yourself to drink your water. For instance, if you watch a lot of TV, drink half a cup every commercial. If you spend a lot of time at the computer, set a timer to go off every 30 minutes and drink half a cup. If you’re driving, every time you stop at a light or stop sign, take a few chugs. If you’re driving long distance, every time you approach an exit, take a few chugs.

Buy yourself a really cool water container. You’re more likely to reach for water if it is in a container you like. Sounds silly, but it’s true.

Keep an 8 oz. glass of water on your nightstand. Drink it as soon as you get up, before even getting out of bed.

Have 8 oz. of water with every meal.

It’s all about small changes. Pick one or two things you want to change and focus on those. When those become habit, pick one or two more things. Keep going until you’re eating a healthy diet most of the time. That’s right, I said “most of the time.” Life’s too short not to enjoy the occasional cheeseburger or Cheetos.

The Checklist Diet
Are you confused by all the contradictory diet information out there? Do you just want a simple and easy and FUN way to lose weight and improve your diet? Do you like making lists? Well, look no further than The Checklist Diet. 

No more counting points or calories. No more depriving yourself of your favorite foods. No more dealing with hunger pains, because guess what? On The Checklist Diet, if you’re hungry, you get to eat! How cool is that? 

This is the last diet plan you’ll ever need, because it’s not a diet. Diets are meant to go on and off of. This is a way of eating you can stick with for life because it’s so easy, it’s so basic, and it’s so fun.

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Angela Adams said...

Thanks for the tips, Rebecca!

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

Very good tips here. Thank you!

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Thanks, Lois, for having me on your wonderful blog!


Rebecca J. Clark said...

You're welcome, Angela and Judy! It's all about taking baby steps to improve our health.

Have a great rest of your week.