Healthy Family Challenge

10 Weight Loss Tips To Help You Stay Motivated

Tilapia with Lemony Herb Salad

1. Don’t skip breakfast.
Remember it gets your metabolism going and gives you energy; it also prevents you from overeating during the day.

2. Fill up on nutrient (not calorie) dense foods.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks and skip the crackers, candy and chips. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber so they help to keep you full longer.

3. Make time to work out.
Even a short session will help you burn calories.

4. Have it your way.
Prepare as many meals as you can from scratch—this way you’ll know what goes into your food.

5. Don’t skip the homemade dessert.
Do pass on all the other junk food that’s not worth the calories.

6. Control your plate.
Make 1/2 your plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 of your plate protein and 1/4 grains.

7. Avoid drinking your calories.
Save your calories for eating and chewing—they’re much more satisfying

8. Don’t let fun equal food.
Try not to make all of your social plans around eating and drinking alcohol.

9. Drink first.
Try drinking something instead of eating when you think you are hungry—remember you get the same cue for hunger that you do for thirst.

10. Give yourself a break.
A splurge one day it’s not the end of the world, just get back on track the next day.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Challenge #6: The Grand Finale

healthy family challenge 2012

It all comes down to this. After five months, the Lehmans and Avaglianos will have to use all the skills they’ve learned before a final weigh-in. Who will come out victorious? And who will win the entire Healthy Family Challenge 2012? Check in every day as our families head toward the finish line.

The Exercise Myth: You Can’t Eat Whatever You Want

peanut butter toast and grapes

Just because you’ve started a workout routine, doesn’t mean you can suddenly eat whatever you want. In fact, people who are just starting out may only be burning 200 or 300 calories in a 30-minute routine. The latest research shows that diet is most important when it comes to losing weight and unless you are working out for more than 60 minutes at a high intensity, you’re not going to burn a lot of extra calories.

But that’s not a reason to stop! The physical and mental benefits of exercise are immense. Exercise can help your mood and self-esteem, keep your heart pumping strong, and assist your organs with functioning better. People who exercise have been shown to develop less cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. Research also shows that people who exercise are better able to maintain their weight loss. But you’ve got to watch those post-workout splurges and night-before carbo-loads.

Here’s how easy it is to eat the calories you’ve burned (and more):

  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 200 calories.
  • Gatorade G03 Recover has 220 calories in 16 ounces.
  • A Starbucks Blueberry muffin has about 380 calories
  • A low fat yogurt and a large banana have about 200 calories.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Is It Ever Okay To Drink Your Calories?

Kiwi-Honeydew Smoothie

After reviewing the Lehman family’s food journals the past few weeks, I’ve found that they get more fruit servings a day when they drink a smoothie for breakfast. Their smoothies usually contain a banana, a cup of berries and orange juice—3 servings of fruit! Sometimes they put spinach in their smoothies, adding a serving of vegetables.

Although smoothies can be a healthy drink, some are better than others. In fact, I usually tell people to eat, not drink, their calories. I say this because beverage calories add up quickly and for many of our favorite drinks–sodas, caramel lattes, shakes, energy drinks, cocktails–those calories come in the form of sugar.

Plus, it’s easy to forget those calories and not count them. In fact, drinks are often left out even when people keep a food journal. When I review logs and ask people about their beverages intake, they are shocked to find out how many calories they’ve been drinking each day.

So if you want to jump on the smoothie bandwagon, here are the top two smoothie do’s I shared with the Lehmans:

Do Ask How it’s Made. Smoothies sold at shops or health clubs may be comprised of sugary mixes rather than real fruit. Ask about the ingredients before ordering or, better yet, make your own smoothies at home so you know exactly what’s in them.

Do Add in Protein. That makes it more filling. To boost the protein, pour in some regular milk, soy milk or plain Greek yogurt.

Go here for more smoothie do’s and dont’s.

What’s your favorite smoothie combination? Post a comment and tell me!

Have You Done A Plate Check Lately?

Portion sizes

Stephanie Karpinske, R.D. is the Lehman family’s nutrition coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

You always hear that you should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. But what’s a serving? Five baby carrots? Half a banana? Serving sizes can be confusing because they vary for different fruits and vegetables. So rather than trying to figure out how much lettuce equals a serving or how many grapes fill a cup, simply do a quick “plate check.”

Before you start a meal, review what’s on your plate. Half of it should contain fruits and veggies. If it doesn’t, you need to make some adjustments. I asked the Lehmans to do the “plate check” at every meal as a reminder to eat more fruits and vegetables. If their plate was mostly meat and grains, they could see that they needed to add more fruits and veggies to their meals. If they had vegetables at a meal but no fruit, they knew to include fruit as a snack later in the day.

The “half-plate” rule is easy to remember so it’s great for kids. It’s also helpful when you’re eating out. For instance, if you have a choice of sides and you’re thinking of the “half-plate” rule, you may decide to order a vegetable side dish or a salad instead of rice, pasta, or bread.

Give the “plate check” a try. And if you want to see a visual for how to divide your plate, go to

What’s the usual make-up of your plates? Post a comment and let me know!

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.