Weight Loss Wednesday– The Best Diet

Happy Wednesday! We are just 11 days into the new year and my gym has been PACKED lately. My go-to walking path is seeing a lot more action too. I love that so many people are trying to get healthy!

But, losing weight isn’t about what you do it’s about what you eat. A wise man once told me there are 5 Steps to Weight Loss:

  1. Diet
  2. Diet
  3. Exercise
  4. Hydration
  5. Sleep

That wise man was Mr. B Harper himself. Give me a moment to collect myself after that memory…IMG_6902 (800x533)

Yep – it’s twice as much about what you eat as what you do. So even though someone like me may love running…monica is running

“If” I love food equally as much (or more!) I’m not going to lose weight. Bottom line. IMG_4434 (800x533)

But this isn’t about me it’s about diets, let’s discuss…

I can honestly say Diets Work.

For a week.

Maybe two weeks if you have killer willpower. I have zero willpower. I actually was born without the “willpower gland” so every time I try a diet with prescribed food or extreme restrictions I fail.

But, some people are awesome at doing crazy shit like drinking nothing but cayenne pepper lemonade for a week or swearing off ice cream forever or something equally as crazy and masochistic.

And then there’s people in the middle who can read some suggestions from a healthy diet plan and incorporate it into their lives. For those people, I present to you U.S News and World Ranking’s Review of the Best Diets

The #1 choice was the DASH diet – this program was actually put together to help people with high blood pressure. It’s a pretty solid plan that suggests “clean” foods, lower salt and sugar intake. First step is to determine your calorie needs. I love that these are realistic calorie numbers with 1,600 being the lowest for older, less active adults. Thank you.


You can click here for a pdf on the DASH diet with tons of information.

2. The TLC Diet is next on the list and it’s very similar to the Dash diet, so just go with #1, right? Low fat, healthy carbs, don’t eat 62 Snickers a day, you get it.

3 was a three way tie. The Mayo Clinic Diet, Mediterranean Diet and Weight Watchers – all of which are very different options!

I’ve done Weight Watchers multiple times, but every time drop out because the points counting just seems tedious and more work than just counting calories. Plus, I feel like when I first tried WW in college it was a game to see what you could eat for the least points <- this is when I started drinking diet soda and chewing a ton of gum and eating super processed foods with added fiber. It didn’t work for me, but I know it’s amazing for a lot of other people.

Info on Mayo Clinic Diet

Mediterranean Diet Info

Weight Watchers info – Every food get a point value. You eat a certain amount a day and listen to Jennifer Hudson on Pandora. Then, you look like her.

#6 is the Volumetrics diet. I always say I’m a volume eater, so this is basically what I do very very unofficially. Example: Salad served in an industrial size mixing bowl. salad in a mixing bowl

Ultimately I think the diet that works best is the one that you can realistically do long term. It’s cliché, but we really are all different. I love eating salads for lunch every single day – other peeps may hate that. I also have a very bad night time snacking habit, when others can close the kitchen and 7pm and not bat an eye.

When I talk to my clients about their eating habits I first try to figure out if there is an obvious detrimental habit and work on that first.


No Breakfast

Drinking Soda

Pounding Bear Claws

Then, we work on that for a few weeks before moving on to another improvement. This process takes longer than a quick fix, but it’s realistic and you don’t necessarily have to alter (or hate) your life to get results!

Bonus: I just got an unexpected diet tip from reruns of  Keeping Up With The Kardashians…

“Spend more time in the bedroom then the kitchen.”

Too bad it looks like Ben already has his hands full…benji and doug

Question: Have you done one of these diets? Did it work?

Got any healthy diet tips to share with the class?


  1. says

    I really can’t do diets. Ever. Like you, I was born without will-power. Why oh why are cookies/candy/cake/everything I really love not good for weight loss. Veggies should taste like frosting. Period.

  2. says

    I use Sparkpeople.com, and have for over 2 years, and it has helped me lose 50 lbs. It’s not a diet, but taught me how to change my poor eating habits for better ones. I recommend it to everyone that wants to lose weight specifically because it is NOT a diet!

    • says

      I have used spark people for several years off and on. I usually use it to track my fitness, but when I see the weight creeping up or if my scale just won’t budge I’ll use it and the android app to count calories for a few days/weeks to get back on track. This is an awesome website with so many resources and all FREE!!

  3. Pam says

    I agree that the majority of these diets work only short-term. How ’bout a “eat everything in moderation diet” or a “yogurtland diet” it’d go like this…bkfst – yogurt w/nanners, lunch – yogurt w/nuts, dinner – yogurt w/nuts & berries. Genius right?? No, for reals. I think that the nation, CEO’s will continue to monopolize and always make us feel fat to make their pockets fatter. As long as you excercise, eat healthy 75% of the time you have 25% to splurge, eat a cookie and enjoy what God has given us on this earth to enjoy. Life’s too short!

    I’m personally trying to not be too much of a snacker in the p.m. It seems I’m really good in the a.m. and lunchtime but, at night is when I want salty, sweet. I have to put a lock on the pantry or duct tape on mi boca! :) I don’t know if I helped or if I just rambled more than what I should of. :)

  4. says

    Gah diets are no bueno in my book. I agree that if you choose a “diet” you better be able to stick with it. Calorie restricting can definitely go wrong and end up slowing down your metabolism. I had a friend trying to slim down for her wedding who realized she wasn’t losing weight and was exercising and only consuming 800 calories. I’m still not sure she has the right perspective on caloric intake/metabolism and it’s so sad!!

    Another site that can tell you your recommended calories is fitday.com and it’s kind of nice to use for a little while to see how nutritious your foods are. It not only shows you calories of food but also shows you what percent of your daily vitamins you are getting. I did a little review of the site here: http://semihealthnut.blogspot.com/2012/01/wiaw-13-calorie-counts-and-fitdaycom.html

    Also…how did you meet Bob Harper??

  5. says

    I tried WW about 10 year ago – according to their measurements, I had about 25 lbs to lose. And according to my DR, I had maybe 5 to lose. What I did find valuable, though, was to keep a food journal. Kept me accountable and I could track food, cravings, exercise, weight (I’m working on a blog post about food journaling that I hope to get out soon!).

    I watched Forks Over Knives in September and my 75% plant-based diet turned into 100% overnight. I’m already comfortable with my weight/fitness level, and surprisingly have dropped another 5lbs on plant-strong and find I’m getting leaner.

    I think it’s about balance and whatever works for you!!!

  6. says

    if you bite it, write it!

    i always find that keeping track of my food & exercise shows me where i can improve: which exercises am i doing A LOT of, which ones am i not doing ENOUGH of, which foods do i tend to eat the most, if i am eating too much junk food… that always helps me keep things in check. plus i can write down my goals and keep track of my accomplishments!

  7. says

    Um, I love that you met Bob. According to me you guys are BFF’s forever. Freaking awesome.

    I have very little willpower. I love food. I love to cook, bake, etc. I have had my struggles in years past and it took a long time to learn that balance is key. It’s not always easy, but running has helped me so much. It is so hard to run if I don’t eat well.

  8. says

    I’m currently doing Weight Watchers. I can totally see what you mean in finding items with the lowest points values to munch on. I used to be guilty of that. Now I am trying to lean towards whole foods. I also just started the Tone It Up diet plan. What can I say, I’m a diet plan junkie! :)

  9. says

    I love the Kardashian tip. I just copy, pasted, & emailed that to 2 people! I haven’t really tried any specific diets other than South Beach which I did fairly well on — for a few weeks. Lol. My roommate and I also did the “nobody ever got fat by eating produce diet.” That worked super well because it was basically clean eating. Lol.

  10. says

    Honestly, the best thing for me is simply not buying junk. When I get home for the day I usually don’t leave, so that helps. I’ve really come down on myself hard this week and it’s so frustrating- not being able to go grab a handful of Christmas candy is making me seriously cranky (I got rid of it all). I guess it just goes to show I have an unhealthy, condependent relationship with sweets.

    I’m really intrigued by the Volumetrics Diet.

  11. says

    I’ve been on a ton of diets since I was 12 years old and get really obsessed until I reach my goal and then start slacking. Rather than be reasonable with what I’m doing day to day, I deprive which you know always leads to going overboard later. Plus, I love to eat. Love it. And dieting for an eater is torture, pure and simple.
    I need to learn moderation, eat pure foods, and listen to my hunger/fullness cues.

  12. Bethany says

    Over 2 years ago I had a “life style change” I started eating better, running and taking are of me, for the first time in 20 years. I lost over 40 lbs and have kept it off for 18 months. I do eat what I want in moderation, 2 cookies not 6. I do not deprive myself of much, if I want ice cream I will have it, but I also run about 30 miles a week.
    You need to find what works for you, what you can do long term, not for a few weeks. It is NOT EASY, I wish I could eat everything I wanted, but I would be a size 14 again or more.

  13. says

    I’m slowly moving my way toward a paleo diet (I drank the CrossFit kool-aid). It’s not something I intend to do for a couple months to get weight off then go back to the tube of pringles that I had after my lunch today (oops). Its how I want to eat for a good long while.

    It about killed me when I had a family member tell me she wanted to do part-time Atkins. Eat Atkins for 2 weeks to get her test results normal, then 2 weeks off. Repeat. I asked her how she would feel if her coworker wanted full-time pay for only part-time work, because she wanted full-time health from part-time effort.

    The best diet is the one that you will stick with and is well-balanced.

  14. says

    Actually, I’ve never been on any diet. I’ve tried losing weight before, but only did it informally by trying to cut back on certain foods or up my veggie intake, etc. Obviously I didn’t lose weight very fast, but I did drop a few pounds naturally without freaking out over calories or depriving myself of the things I really love. I could definitely stand to lose some weight currently even, but ya know, I just love my food too much, ha.

  15. says

    Sigh – why does diet have to be such a big factor?! I have no problems working out but it’s the eating that does me in. I eat pretty healthy during the day but I have a nighttime eating problem and a sweets problem. I have to cut back on snacking and sweets.
    I have a meeting with a nutritionist tomorrow so hopefully I can get on the right track.
    It’s not my fault that food tastes so good.

  16. says

    I’ve never tried any of the listed diets. The DASH diet has been around for a long time and is always recommended to my Cardiac patients. I don’t think many actually lose weight from but they do eat healthier foods and lower their sodium intake.

  17. says

    Diets never worked for me either. I tried a couple throughout high school and college and they pretty much made me hate my life. I think what I really needed was a lifestyle change and what brought that on was being more informed about what I put into my body. By reading health magazines and blogs I slowly learned what my body needs in a day. I also learned how to balance my meals throughout the day (this was the biggest thing for me). Instead of eating ice cream I’ll just have some dark chocolate. Helps many many cravings for sweets.

  18. says

    I pretty much feel exactly the same way as you when it comes to diets. I had the EXACT same reaction to weight watchers, I would choose diet soda and a 100 calorie snack pack over fruit. Not a great idea.

    I don’t like counting calories, but I do like to count them for a day every month to make sure I am still on track. I also know a lot of people who have had a lot of success from the 17 day diet.

      • says

        I just signed up for WW last week- I used to be a calorie counter to lose, but decided to switch to WW because fruits and veggies are zero points (except corn and peas). From what I understand it used to be different but fruits and veggies are zero points so I’ve definitely been eating LOTS- which is different from counting calories for me because 90 calories of chocolate ALWAYS sounded better than a 90 calorie apple. now the apple is free!

  19. says

    I tried WW once years ago and it worked great, I was so surprised that I actually liked it. Lost about 30 pounds…then stopped….then over the years gained it all back. Shocker. I tried it again recently and just didn’t feel like doing it so stopped wasting my money. I explained to my friend once, I have all the knowledge and skills to be a super model but for some reason I just don’t do it. Such a mental game for me! Oh well, whatever – I’ll get there!

  20. says

    I did Weight Watchers and it helped me lose about 25lbs. Right now I just try to eat a bit cleaner and I don’t count calories or points anymore. It was a great jumping off point for my weight loss though! Highly recommended. :-)

  21. says

    I agree with you and Elizabeth about the 100 calorie packs being so tempting but not worth it! I count calories with myfitnesspal, and I love the 90/10 diet by Joy Bauer. I don’t even consider it being on a diet, but it is a healthy diet to live by. That’s the only way I can survive, be healthy, and happy….with m&ms! 😉

  22. says

    I hate diets. Even the word makes me cringe. You need to make a lifestyle change that involves healthier choices that become part of your every day life. Eating out of large salad bowls is definitely part of my lifestyle 😉

  23. says

    “Plus, I feel like when I first tried WW in college it was a game to see what you could eat for the least points <- this is when I started drinking diet soda and chewing a ton of gum and eating super processed foods with added fiber."

    -that's exactly how i feel about the first time i tried weight watchers. this past year, i tried it again with their whole new points plus system and i LOVE it now. it definitely encourages healthy, whole eating over the whole cramming as much food into your points as possible. it's working well for me – i've lost 71 pounds so far!

  24. says

    I don’t do dieting either because I have always failed. I do however work better with cutting out processed foods. I stick to fresher foods and it doesn’t seem to add up as fast. I do treat myself with some sweets but after a hardcore workout I feel like I am just setting myself back if I eat too much crap.

  25. Holly says

    I’m very anti diets and restricting any food group because it’s not sustainable (I’ve tried lots in the past and had the “yo-yo” years). It’s definitely a lifestyle change in my opinion. Eating clean is something that makes the most sense to me. My pitfall is eating when I’m not hungry, but because I’m stressed, bored, tired, etc. I’ll eat an apple or a yogurt and say “it’s healthy”, but I’m not hungry so why am I eating it? Even if you can stick to a “clean diet” you can still consume too many calories on a clean diet!

  26. says

    My aunt brought up a good thought the other day. Look at kids. They. Never. Stop. I watched my friends 4 year old twins for 3 hours one day then immediately had to go home and take a nap. It was exhausting. We spend 30minute or 60 minutes working out and we reward ourselves but the rest of our lives as adults are sitting in front of a computer, in front of the TV, sitting at a restaurant or bar – why not be more like children and get up and move! Often!

  27. Jen says

    I followed the “17 day diet” this summer and dropped 13 lbs. – I’ve kept 6 of those off so far. I’ve now started back on the diet, but more so 1/2 17 day diet and 1/2 counting calories. I need to have that little ‘cheat’ everyday or I don’t think I’ll make it. I firmly believe losing weight is 30% food and 70% exercise!

  28. Sarah Williams says

    I did weight watchers and lost about 30 pounds, but I found it was very difficult to do weight watchers and marathon train at the same time. I also found I picked up ‘dirty’ habits like you, gum, diet soda, etc. So I am now trying to switch off of weight watchers and more consiously eat/calore watch!:)

  29. says

    I must say I focus to much on exercise and not AS much on diet.. I have succeeded in MANY diets.. including counting calories INTENSELY for three years! That one paid off with 35 lbs.. its so much harder now then it was then! haha

  30. helen says

    I’m going to be honest and say I’ve been on a “diet” since I was a pre-teen. I’ve tried them all; weight watchers, atkins, cabbage soup, this weird Richard Simmons one, the 48 hour juice, etc. I had a lot of success with weight watchers in high school and ended up losing about 70lbs. Looking back however, I see that I was consuming maybe 1000 calories/day and working out this a fiend. This year, I’ve decided to take a realistic approach and come to terms that I’m not going to lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks. I’m probably never going to weight what I did in high school. Instead, I’m going to focus on living, enjoying life and treating my body well. For me this means counting calories on my phone to make sure I don’t go overboard but otherwise not following a “diet”. Oh, and being active :) We’ll see how it goes!

  31. says

    Weight Watchers has actually changed their program so that almost all fruits and vegetables are 0 points now. That way, it’s a lot easier to choose the apple over the 100 calorie pack of cookies :-) They also take more than calories, fat, and fiber into account now, so the unhealthy choices are higher in points than they would have been before.I did WW about three years ago and fell into the bad habit of eating a lot of processed crap and trying to figure out how to eat as much as I could while still losing weight. Looking back, I don’t think I was really ready to commit to being healthy, and it showed – because I gained back all the weight that I lost. I tried it again last year though and I lost almost 30 pounds! The difference this time is that now I’m really focused on eating healthy meals and I’m exercising consistently. I know that I can do this forever and I credit WW for helping get me on track. I definitely needed that accountability and I didn’t feel like it was too extreme or that I was depriving myself of anything.

    I love your blog, by the way! I just found it a month or so ago and now it’s one of my favorites. Take care!

  32. says

    I signed up for WW three years ago. Over the course of a year, I lost 60 lbs. I’ve kept most of it off save for 5-10 lbs, depending on when I weigh myself. Even though I was in my late 20s when I signed up and had been overweight since I was a kid, it was my first serious weight loss effort. I didn’t think of it as a diet, and it didn’t feel like one since there was no list of forbidden foods. The program was useful because I really needed to learn about healthy eating because I’d never focused on that. I didn’t even know how to cook. I went from rarely eating breakfast and never cooking to basically cooking all my own meals and not skipping a meal.

    Tracking was a pain, but it was useful. I also found it beneficial to keep healthy snacks on hand.

  33. SueLy says

    I am a Weight Watchers lifetime member at goal. If you want to go on a diet then you probably won’t succeed. It has to be a life-change. Tracking keeps me accountable, just like a balancing a checkbook. WW may not be for everyone but whatever you choose has to be something that you can fit into your lifestyle.

  34. Rachael D. says

    I definitely struggle with food and the amount of food I eat. I have tried counting calories but become obsessive with it and it actually makes me binge eat more. Right now I am just trying to focus on portion control and trying to fill my plate with more veggies. Also, since I have no willpower I try not to bring any of my trigger foods in my house. Sometimes I want to convince myself that I will have portion control with the bag of sunchips, but it never works, so I just have to stop buying them.

  35. says

    Diet is definitely my struggle, because I’d be happy to work out every single day if that’s what it took.

    I did WW for a long time and it worked, but like you — I really had a problem with getting rewarded for eating diet food. Now I think I probably eat a diet that’s close to DASH (vegetarian, in my case) but I still carry 10 or so more pounds than I would like. I don’t calorie count, because I get too crazy with it, but I really don’t understand why I can’t seem to lose the weight.

    Fun, huh?

  36. Laurie says

    I automatically think if ‘diet’ is in anything, you can’t have this and you can’t have that, makes me fall off the diet quicker. I tried the South Beach Diet and lost 10lbs one time, but it has to be a life time change. It’s a good diet, but its easy to fail on it. I HAVE NO WILLPOWER!!! Thanks Monica for writing this, I like seeing what other people have done.

  37. says

    Never used any of those diets, but I did lost 10-15 lbs in 2010 by counting calories. I never restricted much other than just trying to keep my total calories lower than my expenditure. Came off very slowly (10 lbs over 3 months) but it did teach my brain/stomach a bit about proper portion size. I used to eat double at dinner what I do now (which would be like 600-800 cals + 2 beers – so, yeah, a lot for a 5 foot tall female).

  38. says

    I did WW and was successful at both losing 20lbs and keeping it off. Now I use MyFitnessPal to track my calories and exercise, but try to focus on eating healthy, lean food. I am a boredom eater so I do best when I find things to occupy my time.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  39. jennifer p says

    WeWa revamped to try to get away from that thing where people were just eating high fiber junk food. Now all the fruits and veggies (with a few exceptions like potatoes) are 0 points so that way people will be inclined to eat more of them. Higher fiber doesn’t always equal lower points and the 100 calorie snack packs aren’t always a good option. I cried when they changed their program, promptly gave up and then gained 10 lbs in a year. Well then. Anyway… I think they realized the way that people were sort of abusing the system and tried to work on it. I really like the IDEA of Paleo. I did find it harder some days than others and I felt good on it, but I didn’t lose a single pound. Anyway, I think once I lose this 10 lbs again that I can do Paleo 80/20 and make that work for my overall health and well-being. I have never done Crossfit, but think about it on occasion. To be honest it scares me. :-/

  40. says

    I definitely think the cliche is true. Everyone has to find the way of eating and exercising that works for them. We are all different so the same diet isn’t going to work for us all. Using SparkPeople to track my food and fitness and connecting with others was the key to my success.

  41. says

    Weight Watchers has recently revised their program to Points Plus. The focus is on nutrient rich foods that are high in protein and fiber and low in fat and carbs. There is also an option to stick to just power foods so you don’t need to track points as much. Have you checked out their new plan?

  42. Kathy R. says

    I joined Weight Watchers in February and I’ve lost 30 pounds so far, with another 15 or so to lose. I’ve also started to get more active this past year and recently started to add a little running (ok, a goofy jog)…, here and there in my walks. I hope to get better at it.

    I walked a 5k and a half marathon last year, and will sign up for more this year. I love your sense of humor, so thanks for sharing with all of us.

    That picture of you and Bob is great. Hope he was as nice as he seems to be.

  43. Candice says

    I love the Slow Carb Diet or the basic no duh diet. No crappy carbs 6 days a week, lean proteins, lots of vegetables, and beans, and 1 eat what you feel like eating day. I love it because I do a variety of endurance events every year and I only really feel like I need the extra carbs when I am mid-event. Other than that rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread can take a hike. Plus they make my tummy all bloated (slight gluten allergy).
    I do rely on Hammer Gels during long runs (90 mins or more) and I drink a protein caffeine laced drink every morning before boot camp.
    Real simple, think a burrito bowl every day minus the rice!

  44. says

    I also didn’t care for Weight Watchers. I felt like it was too tedious figuring out how many points something had. I also felt like no matter what I did I always went over my points, and I was always hungry :(

    Now I just try to eat clean, have protein and a fruit/veg with every snack and meal and don’t worry about calories. I eat when I am hungry and stop when I full and that is about all the calorie counting I do!

    I also have a cheat meal each week!

  45. says

    I’ve been using Loseit.com to help track my calories and what I’m eating. It’s a nice way to see what I’m eating and to help me with portion control. I’m not going to deprive myself of the things I like, but at least I can see how much of what foods I’m eating. I’ve actually lost a few pounds already using this, in addition to running more often :)

  46. Sarah says

    The way I view eating is that you can’t do anything temporary to get to your ideal… and expect to stay there. I think about how my everyday choices are creating the lifestyle that I’d have at that ideal weight. If I behave NOW the way I need to at my eventual healthiest, then I’ll eventually get there and STAY there!

    For my calories, I looked up the BMR for the weight I want to achieve and try to stick to that. Adding in workouts 2-3 times a week means I’m slowly but painlessly working my way down. I never get crazy-hungry or stressed because I missed a workout or had some dessert. It’s about creating and ingraining my healthiest lifestyle first, weight-loss simply follows.

  47. says

    I’m trying to follow Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners (it’s not just for losing weight, although that is in there.) I use SparkPeople’s Online Tracker to see if I’m getting the right percentages but since they have my calories a lot lower than several other calorie requirement programs I’ve seen, I ignore that part.

  48. says

    I agree, the most important part about a weight loss program is what you eat. That is my weakness tho, I love fast food. Its so hard to stay on track sometimes.

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