I’m a HUGE fan of biggest loser. Those contestants work their asses off (literally!) and the work shows. When I’m at the gym, I pretend I’ve got Jillian Michaels telling me to push harder, do more reps, lift more than I think I can, run faster and longer than I ever thought possible. Bob’s a great trainer too, and I read his book “Are you Ready?” a couple months ago. He’s got a new book out now called “Skinny Rules” and here’s his list of rules. I’m not going to cut my copy out of the book, but I will transfer it over to a new sheet of paper and keep it somewhere I can see it. The rules are simple, and pretty much common sense, but a lot of these things I struggle with daily. Rule 1: Drink a large glass of water before every meal. I’ve claimed I would do this more times than I can count. But, inevitably, I put it into practice ONCE and forget about it. Drinking water, in general, is something I don’t do often enough anyway. Rule 2: Don’t drink your calories. Yeah… this girl is guilty as charged. I’m working on a glass of root beer right now. (Yes yes, I realize there’s sooo much sugar in there. I really should go pour it out. Am I going to do that? Probably not. Will it be my last root beer ever? No.) Wow I’m not the best role model for weight loss. Perhaps if I start drinking enough water, I won’t try so hard to hydrate myself with sugary carbonation… Rule 3: Eat protein at every meal – or be hungry and grouchy. This isn’t too difficult for me to do, I love my meats! Now, on days I feel I’m not making progress I’ll have a salad for lunch and dinner and sometimes I’ll forget to add in a protein. I definitely notice I have more cravings on those days, and less energy for workouts. Rule 4: Slash your intake of refined flours and grains. Another toughie for me. I love me some cookies, crackers and jasmine rice. I do prefer whole grain bread to white, quinoa to cous cous, and corn tortillas over flour ones, so I am aware that there are substitutions and healthier options to be had. I’ve read that many of us have addictions to sugar and simple carbs. We CRAVE them as a quick source of energy but it leaves us feeling tired near constantly. I feel like I never have enough sleep, like I’m slugging through my days. Perhaps cutting out the refined crap would help me out in that regard! Rule 5: Eat 30 to 50 grams of fiber per day. Hmm. Not quite sure how much fiber I generally consume per day, but I feel it may be low… I’m not constipated ever though, and I’m fairly regular, isn’t that a sign I’m well-fibered? Rule 6: Eat apples and berries every. Single. Day. Well this isn’t something I do, but it doesn’t sound hard! Alrighty Bobby, I shall eat apples and berries every day. Rule 7: No carbs after lunch. Mmm this is going to be a hard one. Do carrots and other veggies count as “carbs” or am I just supposed to have a slab of steak and water for dinner? Maybe a slice of cheese as snack? I hope he just means breads… Rule 8: Learn to read food labels so you know what you’re eating. I agree that this is essential. No excuses here. Learn the language and scrutinize all your packaged foods! Rule 9: Stop Guessing about portion sizes and get it right – for good. Another essential here. Our eyes are generally way bigger than our stomachs, and if you’re like me, you tend to clean your plate and fill it up again. I try to keep this in mind: 50% of my plate should be veggies, greens, herbs. 25% of the plate should be protein and the remaining space should be a grain. According to Bob, I can no longer have that grain for dinner… so I guess add more veggies? Or some yogurt? I have no idea… Oh, and don’t forget to drink a glass of water beforehand! Rule 10: No more added sweeteners, including artificial ones. Again, this goes back to my dependence on sweets. I bet cutting the added sugars would quash the cravings… but imagining going through the withdrawals holds me back here! (Okay girl, trust in Bob. Cut it back, and just think of that extra “padding” going away. You can do this, be strong!) Rule 11: Get rid of those white potatoes. Anything for you Bob. Wait… this includes French fries, doesn’t it? Yeah… that’ll be a problem. ;) Rule 12: Make one day a week meatless. I do this, but the days I spend as a vegetarian I also spend as a candy gobbler. Baby steps… Rule 13: Get rid of fast food and fried foods. This honestly is common sense to me, but it’s difficult to make the change. One thing to do is make sure you have something quick to go to during those times you’re ravenous and cooking doesn’t seem like a plausible option. I like packaged oatmeal as a quick belly-filler, and hummus on flatbread with a slice of turkey and tomatoes as a more “complete” meal. Sometimes the thought of these foods doesn’t compete with the thought of Taco Bell very well. But I spent an entire month this year with no trips to the drive-thru and felt much better for it. Just have to remember our gym fees and it seems more “necessary” to save the money. Rule 14: Eat a real breakfast. I hope bacon is part of a ‘real’ breakfast! Haha no seriously. Breakfasts are actually an easy meal for me to make good choices. Whole grain toast, one or two eggs, lots of tomato and avocado, peppers, spinach and Tillamook cheese. Yessir! (Oh, and make sure I down a glass of water beforehand. SIGH) Rule 15: Make your own food and eat at least ten of your weeks meals at home. It’s Monday, I’ve had two meals so far this week and both were made by me and eaten at home! Rule 16: Banish high salt foods. Sodium is yummy. Your body needs sodium, but many of us (especially if you eat out a lot) consume WAY too much sodium each day. Check labels! Arm yourself with knowledge! Rule 17: Eat your vegetables. This is another hard one to remember for me. I get caught up in preparing the ‘main’ dish of my meals and generally forget to include veggies. You have to make it a priority. Easiest thing to do is add a salad to your lunches and dinners – and not just a bowl of lettuce! Add bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, and other leaves like spinach, kale and arugula. It’ll add interest, texture and flavor to your salads and you’ll look forward to eating them! Rule 18: Go to bed hungry. This is counterintuitive to a lot of people. But he doesn’t mean go to bed with a growling and hollow stomach – he means don’t eat within a few hours of going to bed. Going to sleep slows down digestion and all other body functions. Any food left in your stomach won’t get used as energy and your body will put it straight into storage (read: it will convert that late-night snack into fat as you sleep). Rule 19: Sleep right. Most people need about 8 hours of shut-eye per night. Everyone is different, however, so you may function fine with 6, or you may not be able to stand less than 10. Be sure to go to bed early enough to get your zzz’s. Rule 20: Plan one splurge meal per week. For me, this meal would be Friday night and Red Robin with my fiancé, his sister, and her fiancé. We’ve had this date night nearly every Friday since mid-2008 and we don’t show signs of giving it up. I don’t make good choices at this meal, and Bob says that’s okay to have one meal a week where you go a little overboard. The problem is, this isn’t the ONLY high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium meal of my week, but I hereby make it my goal to eat much healthier throughout the week. I definitely think Bob knows his stuff, so I trust these “Skinny Rules” of his. They aren’t easy to follow, but if you’re committed to losing weight, and leading a healthier lifestyle you should make it a priority to eat better.