Category Archives: Weight Loss & Maintenance

Do YOU Have It In You?

I really enjoy watching other people change their lifestyle. I love it when The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss Edition, or any other program that showcases those who have changed to a healthier lifestyle is in season. I can’t help but feel inspired. I also feel that way about others who I socialize with everyday. People who surround you may even inspire you.  They may inspire you to lose some weight, become more active, try a new exercise class, try new recipes, etc. It is nice to have people who make you want to try new things and help you reach your goal(s). However, it is not those people who ultimately help you succeed. It. Is. YOU.

YOU have to have the determination, drive, and will power to help yourself. Only so many people can motivate, encourage, and support you. I firmly believe having a support system is crucial in making lifestyle changes, but you and you only can help yourself. Being in the career that I am, I see several people who think they are ready to make a change. They are pumped up about changing their diet, exercise habits, and much more. However, what some of these people don’t know is that losing weight and becoming more active is not short term, you need to be in it for the long haul. You are making a lifestyle change. You are not just losing some weight just to gain it back. You are changing, and hopefully it is for good. I understand change can be scary and frightening, but it can also be rewarding as well.

In order for change to happen, you have to dedicate yourself to it. Know things are not going to always be the same. You have to honestly want it more than anyone else. Becoming “healthier” is a way of life. It takes sacrifice and time. If you are not willing to dedicate yourself and give up sleep/tv time for exercise, begin counting calories, and changing your eating habits, then don’t start. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you have even begun. When you do fail because you were not mentally ready for the change, you become even more resistant to give it another shot. Remember, I discussed in an earlier post; small goals are the key to long term success.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from changing his or her habits; I am just being completely honest. I want to see people succeed and feel better about themselves. If I can help inspire, encourage, motivate, and be a part of their success, then sign me up! I have been able to work with people who go at it 110%. They start off small and then accomplish great things in life. They surpass goals they never thought they could even reach. It’s incredible; but it had nothing to do with me yet everything to do with them and the commitment they made to their self when they began their journey. People can help you and encourage you, but no one can help you if you don’t want to help yourself.

So, do you have what it takes? Are you ready to commit yourself to change?


The Truth About Snacking

It seems like most people try and avoid snacks because they can pack on the calories or because snacks = junk. That’s not true. Yes snacks have calories in them; but if you are using portion control and watching how many calories you are eating throughout the day, then snacking is a great idea! My husband Craig loves to snack! These two snacks are “staples” in our home.


Snacks help us get through the day and let us not over eat at meal times. They are vital to children, so shouldn’t they be vital for us as adults?  Of course! Snacks provide energy for activity throughout the day as well as curbing our appetite. You know how it is after you eat lunch and then 4 o’clock rolls around; you get tired, hungry, and so when you get home you attack the pantry and fridge before you start cooking dinner. Probably not a good idea because you have now spoiled your dinner and second, you added more calories than what was intended. Therefore,  if you ate lunch and then ate a snack around 3:30-4:00, you most likely won’t raid your pantry and fridge when you walk through the door. Snacks help us with our weight if eaten properly. Snacks should help you, so don’t abuse them.

So, how do you make sure you are eating snacks worth your calories? Eat snacks that are full of nutrients. For example, fiber is a wonderful nutrient- it helps you feel full for a longer period of time. Food also gives us energy, so eat snacks that your body can use and not store it as fat. Now, if someone in the office is having a birthday and you want some of that cake, go for it. Just be aware of your portion size and calorie count. I would suggest you log it and know how many calories you have left. Also know foods such as cake, cookies, chips, soda, and candies are empty calories. They are full of calories and that’s it. They don’t provide sustaining energy or help curb your appetite. I am not saying don’t eat them, but they shouldn’t make up your entire snack.

Now is the time to start planning. Plan what snacks you are going to have throughout the day and when. I choose to eat a mid morning snack as well as an afternoon snack. It is nothing huge, but enough to keep me going. Find out what works for you. You might not need a mid morning snack every morning. Remember to log your snacks and measure your portions! To help get you started, I have listed 20 of my (and Craig’s) favorite nutrient rich snacks.

The Cohen’s Top 20 Snacks

  1. Popcorn (I choose the light 100 calorie bags)
  2. 1 apple with 2 Tbsp of natural crunchy peanut butter
  3. Yogurt with 2 Tbsp of granola
  4. Trail Mix (almonds, peanuts, raisins, mini choc. chips, cashews)
  5. 1 slice of whole wheat toast with 1 Tbsp PB and ½ banana
  6. Pretzels and string cheese/peanut butter
  7. String cheese and a piece of fruit
  8. 2 corn tortillas with ½ avocado
  9. Peanut butter crackers
  10. 1 serving of cereal (I like dry cereal)
  11. String cheese or hummus and whole grain crackers
  12. Reduced fat cottage cheese with fruit
  13. Mixed nuts with a small piece of fruit
  14. Celery, carrots, tomato with ranch or hummus
  15. Oatmeal with a tbsp. of dried fruit
  16. 1 serving of whole grain tortilla chips with ½ avocado and salsa
  17. 1 small (or ½ large) bagel with low fat cream cheese
  18. English muffin with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter
  19. Granola bars/Snack bars
  20. Fruit with a yogurt dipping sauce

Snacking is good for you so don’t abuse snacks by eating empty calories and adding to your waistline. Smart snacking is key to success!

Snack Smart

Do you have WHO it takes for success?

Post #5

 In the last post of the weight loss series, I would like to focus on an important variable in successful weight loss/maintenance. Support and accountability.

When I council clients; I find it’s extremely difficult for an individual to change and make modifications to their lifestyle if they don’t have support and accountability. You can definitely do it on your own, but it helps when you have people who can identify with you, push you, and encourage you. It can be one person or an entire community. I think the most important thing is to have someone who is willing to do what it takes to help you reach your goals. Sometimes when people want to give up, it’s those who have supported you who give you the encouragement to keep going. If you are in a weight loss support group (such as weight watchers), then you have other people who are going through the same thing as you and probably the same feelings you feel. Change is difficult, scary, and frustrating at times; and it is nice to have someone who has been through your journey or who is experiencing the same thing you are. They will be able to help, because they will be able to understand what is going on. Even online, there are support groups to help keep people on the right track to reach their goals. You can find a friend(s), weight loss group, or a wellness coach who will encourage and keep you accountable. When you have support, then you usually have accountability near by. Accountability helps keep you on the right track and your eyes on the prize.

When someone begins to hold you accountable, you no longer think about yourself, but your accountability partner as well. For instance, my husband Craig is my accountability partner. There are some days when the alarm goes off at 4:30 (in the morning!) and I don’t want to get up and exercise. However, he always gets me up and even encourages me by telling me “you will feel so much better”, “you know in an hour you wish you would have gotten up”, or remind me of what I am striving for. Those are the things that definitely get me up and going! If he is holding me accountable, I don’t want to have to tell him I haven’t done my exercises or change my eating habits. I feel like I not only let myself down, but him as well. You should want your accountability partner to encourage, motivate, and be proud of you. They should not be afraid to tell you to suck it up and stick to it. Set backs are normal, but push through and make sure you have your partner to help push you to be your best. When someone is holding you accountable, it changes your outlook on what you are doing. It seems as if you are no longer doing it for yourself, but for someone else as well.

If you do not feel like you have support, then I would encourage you to find someone/group to help you. People who can keep you going and help you reach your goals. Support can be beneficial to  I also encourage you to find an accountability partner. Someone who will be honest with you and let you know when you are slacking. Someone who cares about your goals and success. Someone who will be there every step of the way. Having support and accountability will help you reach your weight loss/maintenance goals.

In conclusion of the entire series, remember that weight loss/maintenance is always dependent on you. You control your weight. Your weight shouldn’t control you. Your goals are worth fighting for. You can change, you can make sacrifices, and you will. Remember five simple factors to help you succeed in long-term weight loss:

  1. Set goals
  2. Be aware of portion sizes and logging your food
  3. Find your motivation and stay dedicated
  4. Individualize your diet & don’t get caught up in fad diets
  5. Find support and accountability. If you already have support and accountability, then make sure they are helping you fight for change.


Which Diet Should You Choose?

             That diet, This diet, Your diet?

                Post #4

 For post #4 today, I would like to highlight the importance of a diet that works specifically for you. You should create the diet and it should be something you can achieve on your own. After all, it will be your personalized diet.

There are several fad diets out there and other diets in which other people make up and advertise. I am not saying these diets don’t work, but you need to see if they work for you. If someone can eat a low carb diet for the rest of his or her life, then go for it. If someone only wants to eliminate process foods in their diet, then I am a full supporter. Just because one person does it doesn’t mean it will work for you. In order for a “diet” to work, you have to be dedicated. You have to commit and change your eating habits.

I think the best “diet” to practice is no diet. Your diet is not something you will do for the next year, but it will be what you do for the rest of your life. Therefore, instead of getting caught up in low carb, no meat, no fruit diets; focus on well-balanced meals. Eat all foods; don’t restrict yourself if you don’t have too. Be aware of the amount of food you are eating. If you want to lose weight and you are watching your portion sizes as well as calorie intake, then you should be able to eat breads, dairy, fruits, meats, etc. Stop thinking about going on a diet and start thinking about making a lifestyle change. If you are not ready to change your eating habits, then you are not ready to start losing weight. As in post #3 you have to be motivated and dedicated to lose weight. You have to be willing to sacrifice time to make an effort to reach your goal(s).

So, don’t get consumed with trying different diets, really think about what are you willing to do to make a lifestyle change. You shouldn’t have to try all these different diets to see which one works for you. If you are watching your portion sizes and calorie intake, then you should be able to lose weight. Eating low fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, and fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables is not difficult to do. It is just actually taking the time to incorporate them into your diet. Remember, losing weight is not a science, it is basic math. Calories in versus calories out. Try to make small changes and soon it will become habit and you won’t even have to think about it.

Eating Right

We should always enjoy food; don’t eliminate foods from your diet if you don’t have to. Find what works for you and what doesn’t. Your eating habits should be created by and you and not someone else.

Weight Loss = Dedication

Dedication and Motivation

Post # 3

 In order for someone to succeed at anything in life, there has to be motivation as well as determination. Those who are not motivated/determined by anything will simply not accomplish what they are set out to do. This same principle applies to maintaining your weight as well as losing it.

It is extremely easy for us to tell ourselves we can start a diet tomorrow and lose weight in two weeks or a month. Some of us are great about talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Actually wanting to lose weight is extremely different from doing it. I am not saying your intentions are right, but you have to have a reason for why you want to lose or maintain your weight. That reason is what keeps you going. That reason is what keeps you fighting for success. We know what it is like to be motivated as well as fight for something to attain it. Some of us have worked hard to become debt free, some have worked to get a degree from college, and some of us want to feel confident in the clothes we wear. In all of these circumstances, you were motivated. There was a key factor that kept you going and kept your eyes on your goal. Motivation pushes you; it makes you want to change and to do things differently. It can have you take risks and walk out of your comfort zone. Motivation helps you stay dedicated and focused on your ultimate goal.

Motivation and dedication go hand in hand together. In order for success, you have to work at it. You have to give it all you have and make sacrifices. We have all lived long enough to know you have to work for what you want and nothing in life comes easy. The same applies here. If you are not dedicated to lose weight and change your lifestyle, then most likely you will not succeed. Once you begin to lose weight and feel good about yourself, it is easy to keep going and changing. It is when things start to slow down, your weight plateaus, you are tried of logging your food, and exercising that you begin to lose the dedication and then tell yourself you are failing. When most people feel like they are failing, they tend to give up. When in all actuality you are not failing, but experiencing common, normal feelings. We all get tired and we all need a break from things, it is completely normal. However, there has to be dedication there to actually get back to your lifestyle changes and sustain them. Maybe you need to change up your routine, try different exercises, different foods, etc. Be creative, be spontaneous, whatever you do, don’t give up. Remember why you started this journey.

I am a big believer in writing down goals (mentioned here in post #1). I am also a believer in writing down what you are fighting for. What is it that makes you get up early or stay up later to exercise? What is it that makes you add more nutrient rich foods to your diet? Whatever it is, write it down and put it in a place where you can see it every time you feel like giving up. Before you start on your weight loss journey or to continue to maintain your weight, you should always ask yourself if you are willing to sacrifice your time and give it all you have. If you are, then go for it and know you are changing your life for the better.


Portion Control-Size Matters!

It Is All About The Portion Control

Post #2

A key factor in helping you to lose weight permanently and/or maintain your weight all has to do with how much you eat throughout the day. Sounds simple right?

Not exactly. (However, it is not difficult either.)

Portion control helps with weight loss. We all know the principle of calories in and calories out.  If our bodies only need 1500 calories a day, but we feed it 2300 calories, and don’t burn off the excess calories, then we end up gaining weight. This is exactly why portion control AND keeping a food diary is extremely important.

I am a realistic dietitian. I love to eat and I really enjoy sweets. I do not avoid certain foods in my diet because I think it is important to enjoy all foods. As you can see here, this was when I was in Cake Boss Bakery last month and of course I couldn’t resist trying a cupcake there.


As you can probably tell, I love cupcakes! Now, I had the choice of getting a cupcake that was about three times as big as this one, but I didn’t. I didn’t need a large cupcake to satisfy my sweet tooth. This smaller cupcake was a perfect portion for me and I enjoyed ever last sprinkle. I think one of the most difficult things in maintaining your weight is finding a balance. I don’t want to give up foods because they are “bad” for you. I want to eat them, but I have to eat them in moderation.

Therefore, to help control your portions, you need to realize how much you are actually eating. When you buy chips, yogurt, breakfast bars, or anything, it will have a nutrition label on it. Pay attention to the label. How much is a serving? How many servings are you going to have? I know it seems like an ordeal to actually measure out your food. However, if I eat goldfish and want a full serving, I measure out all 55 crackers so I know how many calories I am eating. If you want to maintain your weight or try and lose weight, then measuring out your food should not be a big deal. If you want something this bad, you will do it!

So, read those food labels. It is also important to be mindful of what you are drinking. Do you drinking juice in the morning, soda in the evening, wine/beer, etc.? All of those beverages have calories. Make sure you count those as well!  You are only allowed so many calories a day and you should be aware of how many you are putting into your body. You should know exactly how many calories you have eaten throughout the day if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight.

How do you keep up with what you are eating? You can either do it two different ways. The first one is to write down everything that passes your lips. Not only do your write down the food or drink, but you write down how many portions you had and the calories of that portion. This is a great way to become more mindful and aware of what you are feeding yourself. The second way to do it is through apps such as My Fitness Pal. You can log in your food dairy as well as your exercise. It also has a great tool where you can scan barcodes and it gives you all the nutritional information. This app is extremely user friendly and easy to use. The only difficult part about keeping a food diary is that you actually have to log in your food yourself. Dedicate and commit yourself to your food journal. Losing weight shouldn’t be easy; you have to work at it every single day.

I have to share a story about my sisters. These are my sisters, Mandy and Kimberly. Both of them had average BMI’s and were in the healthy weight range. However, at the time neither one of them felt like they were at a healthy weight or liked the way clothes fit or how they felt. So, they made a change. A change to feel better about their bodies and themselves. They began tracking their diets through My Fitness Pal and both have lost weight and are now maintaining it. They still use My Fitness Pal every day. Mandy and Kim are keeping themselves accountable through their food diary and it helps them reach their health & fitness goals. It takes work to lose and maintain weight; however, it is all about making one change at a time.

Here are their before picture and then their after. You can definitely tell a difference!


Mandy 3    Kim3


This is your challenge: try and keep a food diary for the rest of this week. If you miss a day, or two, or even three, it is OKAY! Just get back to it and start again. I am sure you will be surprised at how many calories you actually eat throughout the day.


Losing Weight does not have to be Difficult

Weight loss is something people seem to always be working on and wanting to achieve. I see people who have a difficult time with losing weight as well as keeping it off long-term. Some people want to lose weight to feel better, physically look better, and/or because losing weight will improve their health. Therefore, if you are planning or trying to lose weight, this week I am going to do a post a day with tips to help you succeed in permanent weight loss.

Post # 1 – Goals

Diet. No one likes the word and everyone wants to do anything other than “diet” to lose weight. So many people look for an easy and fast way to lose weight. This is the problem. To lose weight, it takes work, effort, discipline, and consistency. I am assuming when most people lose weight, they want to maintain their goal weight for as long as they can. So, the questions is: Are you going to “diet” forever, or are you going to change your eating habits and make a permanent lifestyle change?


Changing your eating habits long-term does not have to be difficult or challenging. Start off slow. Several people give up on losing weight and changing their eating habits because they start off trying to change too much at one time. With changing several new things at one time, it can be overwhelming and difficult to maintain which then can lead to failure.


Therefore, make small changes at a time; a change such as incorporating exercising at least four times a week for 30 minutes a day. This would be a realistic change and just one change you have to focus on. After you have met this goal, you can keep adding more. Losing weight is takes time and you have to give yourself time to adjust and get used to it. Soon, you will have made these changes and it will become a daily habit and part of your normal routine.


When making goals, make sure it something you are willing to actually do. If you don’t feel like making that change, then you won’t. You have to be motivated to make change. Make sure your goals are specific and realistic. Make sure your goals are written down and visible to you. You want to be reminded of what you are fighting for and trying to accomplish. When you have your goals written down and you reflect upon them, you will be more likely to maintain and reach those goals.


So, I challenge you to make a new goal. A goal that is specific, realistic, and one you know you can start as soon as possible. Change starts one step at a time. 🙂