How To Lose Weight - Part 3

A weight loss message from Coach Tonda...

Hey!  Thanks for sticking with me for part 3!  Now let’s talk about the real cornerstone of how to rebound from the gluttony that is the holidays – and yes, I’m absolutely including myself in that category haha!!  How do we eat now to get ourselves back on our healthy eating path?  Well, for me it’s just getting back to preparing my own food – staying away from quick and convenient.  Especially since ‘quick and convenient’ food is really no quicker and only slightly more convenient than eating real food!

I was at a gathering yesterday where guests brought a lot of food and one guest brought cookies and sweet baked goods.  Honestly, I ate so much of that over the holidays the thought of eating it almost turned my stomach!  So, good on my body to give me a clear signal, but that doesn’t always happen.  Because sugar has a very addictive property, it might be hard to break that cycle once the decorations come down!

One of the biggest issues over holidays is not so much that all of the food is ‘bad’, we just eat too much of everything!  This taxes our digestive systems, and then mixing in refined sugars, and take-out food, and baking, and, and, and, well, we’re all feeling the result!

Please resist the diet bandwagon!  Diets don’t work, under any circumstances, in a sustainable manner.  In my opinion, they do nothing but incite obsessions – about food, about weight, about failure, about perceived success.  They are not sustainable long term, but eating sensibly most of the time is.  Notice I did not say all of the time.  Expecting ourselves to make perfect food choices 100% of the time is unrealistic and setting us up for failure.  SO – what do we do?

We eat.  Simple, whole food.  We prepare it ourselves.  It is not rocket science.  Go to the grocery store, or your natural food market, or farmer’s market, wherever you purchase your food and BUY FOOD.  Not boxes of stuff, not packaged diet meals, not meal replacements – FOOD.  There – wasn’t that easy?  Okay there’s more to it, but nothing really difficult, I promise!

Little sideways jog here – let’s talk about enzymes.  We rely on enzymes for all the functions of our bodies; those that use energy, and those that create energy.  Billions of enzymes are used constantly in our bodies to ensure these processes continue uninterrupted.   Whole foods, especially raw, are rich in enzymes, and if they come with their own, these are used in the digestive process instead of ‘stealing’ them away from other functions in your body.  These foods will tend to energize you, as food should!

Have you ever had that meal that made you really sleepy and lethargic afterwards?  Chances are that meal had something processed, and devoid of nutrients and enzymes.  When we eat these foods, we create a nutritional ‘deficit’.  In other words, we owe our bodies nutrients and enzymes to pay back the ones stolen away by that food so we can digest and utilize it.  Okay back to topic.

One word: salad. (I can hear Andrea laughing right now...) That is an easy way to get raw veggies into your regimen and is easily prepared beforehand for a couple of days worth at least.   There are many types of salads, it doesn’t have to be lettuce-tomato-carrot.  You can throw whatever veggies you like in there!  What?  Don’t like vegetables?  Okay, I’m calling you on this right now – there are oodles of vegetables out there, have you tried every single one and can’t find even one or two that you can tolerate?  I’m sorry, but saying “I don’t like vegetables” is just lazy.  If your issue is you don’t like cutting them up, or don’t know how to cook them, well there are some really easy remedies for that!  You can often buy broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and the like in bags already cut up.  There is salad in a bag ranging from lettuce based to wild spring herbs, to coleslaw or broccoli slaw and all you do is add dressing.  Please choose a ‘clean’ dressing, organic preferably, or make your own.  At least start there.

Vegetables are really an easy thing to prepare.  Cut them, put them in a steaming tray in a pot with about an inch of water, put the lid on, bring to boil and ignore for 5 – 10 minutes (depending what they are and how big you cut them).  See?  Simple.  Oh but I don’t have time to cut them up!!!  Nonsense – it takes literally less than 3 minutes.  You want your steamed veggies to still be slightly crunchy but warm through.

Soups are a nice light food, and comforting in cold weather.  While raw foods are definitely more enzyme rich and that is the crux of the ‘raw food movement’ (if that is your choice, great!), we live in a cold place, so I, for one, like to have some hot food to balance out the minus 30 with the wind chill outside!  Prometheus gave us fire for a reason (haha)!  Luckily, most of us have a turkey carcass or a ham bone we could use to make a homemade soup stock.  No it’s not a lot of work.  Get a big pot, put in bones, fill with water, add herbs (cumin gives it a really soupy flavour, and bay leaf – anything else, up to you!) bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for at least a couple of hours.  No, you don’t have to stand there and watch it.  Prep time – about 5 minutes.

This is a good time of year to explore your farmer’s market, or local butcher to find less commercial meat sources (if you are a meatatarian as Andrea is).  Purchasing organic or at least local sustainable proteins are a good way to lessen the toxic load of your food.  Eggs, chicken, meats (and explore other types of meat for variety such as game meats like elk, or bison, even ostrich – don’t laugh, it’s really tasty!!) can contribute to toxicity of the body due to injection of hormones and antibiotics in commercially raised choices.  

Preparing animal protein is still pretty easy – you don’t need to make a stuffed turkey with all the trimmings every single day.   Braise meats and poultry (even fish) slightly in a pan (maybe 2 minutes each side – don’t let it burn!) and finish it in the oven.  Again – 4 minutes that you need to deal with it, and the rest of the time you don’t have to peer through the oven door window – that’s what timers are for!

If you do not eat meat, then look to legumes, nuts, and seeds for your protein sources.  Grains are in there, too, but are mostly starch, so can be used to round out the amino acid profile of other vegetable sources of protein to make them complete.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and to be complete, protein must contain a specific nine that our bodies cannot make (not going to bore you with details – that’s what Google is for if you really want to know).  Vegetable sources rarely are complete on their own – soy is, and quinoa (a seed, not a grain) is pretty close.

If you use dried legumes (pod vegetables), put some cumin in the soak water.  This helps to cut the ‘gassiness’ that we often experience from eating beans.  If you use canned, make sure they are organic!  Organic canned beans are more available and affordable than you’d think these days!  Even mainstream grocery stores are starting to include them in their in-house brands!

Even meat-eaters could stand to include vegetarian meals periodically just for variety.  We tend to gravitate to the same foods over and over, so could develop sensitivities around certain foods when we eat them too frequently.  Variety is the key!!  And more fun, anyway!

Starches are an integral part of our regimen also!  They are what I call an ‘intermediate’ carbohydrate as they have both long- and short-chain sugars in their structure.  Please don’t vilify starch and think you must stop eating them.  It’s the new year and you have probably jumped into your fitness program with a vengeance, so you need these for energy!  While fruit and vegetables are also carbohydrates, they are either too simple (fruit) or too complex (fiber) to refill the used up glycogen (remember from part 1?) in your muscles.  Only starchy carbs can do that.

Starch in itself isn’t a problem.  Biggest issue with starch is that it largely comes from grains.  Grains in themselves are not bad, they just tend to be the most processed of foods since we can’t eat these raw very easily – or at all.  But potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes, some squash (even legumes are a bit starchy) and whole grains fall into this category, so you can find variety here as well. 

The trick with starch is not to stop eating them altogether, but eat them in proportions matching the amount of activity you perform.  The longer duration OR higher intensity OR combinations thereof of your exercise, the more starch you will require to replenish depleted glycogen stores.  The less active you are, the smaller the portion of starch should be on your plate.  Your brain and nervous system are very reliant on carbohydrates for fuel (and yes, you can fool them for a while with a high-fat ketone diet, but it’s not sustainable since it could result in severe consequences such as organ failure or death) because unlike muscle cells, which can burn anything, brain and NS cells can only use carbs.  The beauty is, the more you exercise, the larger the storage tanks become and the more starch you require to fill them up!  Comfort food definitely falls under this category!

Potatoes are awesome baked or roasted; avoid deep-frying (not stop – avoid) and keep the skin on if possible.  There are tons of nutrients in the skin – minerals to help alkalize the body’s environment and more!  Switch that up with sweet potato, yams, hard squash (butternut, acorn, etc) – they can all be prepared in a very similar way.  I like to cube potatoes (about 1 and a half – 2 inch cubes) and toss them in olive oil, garlic powder, and dill and roast them in a covered baking dish at 350 for 45 minutes or so.  Again prep time – maybe 5 or 6 minutes, the rest of the time you can ignore them, just set the timer!  Well, give them a mix every so often.

Fruit, nuts, seeds – these are excellent between meal snacks or fruit can be helpful pre-workout for quick energy.  All are good post-workout for recovery.  Nuts and seeds provide protein for repair of lean tissue, and because fruit mostly contains fructose, which has to process through the liver, it can replenish glycogen lost from that organ at forty times its normal rate during exercise.

A few last points to remember: reducing calorie intake is a tricky business; you have a certain requirement just to function, and then you must add your activity on top of that.  It will result in more volume of food than you would think to meet your personal requirement.  If you need some guidance to determine roughly the amount of food you need in a day, enlist the help of a natural nutritionist like Andrea or myself, or nutritional advisor to help you.   Eating less food than you need could result in a ‘storage’ effect that is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.   Whole foods as much as possible is the key, so minimize your intake of processed and ‘fast’ foods and start eating and preparing food at home.  Pre-prepare some things, like cutting up vegetables to save you those precious few seconds at suppertime.  Make extra at evening meals so you have something healthy to take for lunch if good food isn’t readily available where you work, or the option would be either take-out or skipping lunch.  It takes the same amount of time to make 3 chicken breasts instead of two, for example.  Things like brown rice can be made in fairly large amounts and will keep in the fridge for 5 – 7 days to be easily reheated as you need it.

If you are freaking out right now thinking, “But I don’t know how to cook!!!” – there are books for that!  And websites!  If you can read (and I assume you can since you made it to the almost end of this article) you can follow a recipe.  As time goes by, you will understand simple procedures and do it on your own.  But in the meantime, my favourite website is ‘’.  It’s free to sign in and you can create your own recipe box to save ones that you like and categorize them as mains, side dishes, breakfasts, etc.  You can search by ingredients you want in or don’t want in.  Everything you need to know to become the culinary master of your kitchen!

Most important, food is our friend; it is necessary for us to live; it feeds our bodies and our minds; it is not something to be feared.  Traditionally, it is where families and friends come together to enjoy company and the wonderful, delicious flavour of food.  Symbolically it is social; the act of sharing.  Let’s bring that back to our consciousness and enjoy food for what it is – all of what it is!!

Tonda McGillis BASc. (Nutrition), OHP/NCP

For 30 years Coach Tonda has been active in the industries of natural health, nutritional supplements and fitness.  First certified as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer in British Columbia in the 1980’s she then developed an interest in and pursued education in natural health and human sciences, eventually achieving a Bachelor’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition.  She is an Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (OHP) and Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (NCP) and is completing a Master’s Degree in Holistic Nutrition. Tonda works side by side Andrea Thatcher and leads programs for Andrea and canfitpro.

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