I’m Back! Here’s Where I’ve Been…

As you may have noticed, I’ve taken a short break from my blog. It wasn’t intentional; I just had several things all come to fruition at the exact same time. Sometimes that’s how life works. Sometimes you have ample time to work, play, etc. and then all of a sudden you have three or four things that all happen at the same time and the convergence can seem nearly impossible—but somehow it has to get done.

Over the past few months, I had a book manuscript due, a large 5-day festival (that I started and manage) take place, several articles due and I launched a local food magazine.

Why I bit off so much, I don’t know but somehow it all got done. My new book, Junk Food Funk: the 3, 5 and 7-Day Junk Food Detox for Weight Loss and Better Health, had a successful launch in September and is now available through Shape magazine or on Amazon.com. The St. Pete Wine & Food Festival took place at the beginning of November. The 5-day festival which included a Charity Wine Pairing Dinner, a Tacos and Tequila Festival, a Craft Beer Festival and a 2-day Wine & Food Grand Tasting was a huge success. In addition to that, I wrote several articles for Shape.com and Fitness.com while at the same time launching LocalsDISH, a local food and lifestyle magazine in Tampa Bay.

I know all the above may sound like an excuse for my social media hiatus, but I truly have never been so busy in all my life. Just trying to keep up and still be a great mom (my number 1 goal) was utterly exhausting.

I do however apologize for the silence and hope to get back on track, as I love sharing with all of you!

I have included some photos from the past few months and promise to share more about my new book in my next post.

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7 Little Choices That Helped Me Lose Weight

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Like many people, I struggled for years to lose weight. These are the habits that not only helped me shed my excess weight but also helped me keep it off for good.

1. Curbing late-night snacking

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a late-night snacker. Even if dinner was filling and satisfying, I always find myself wanting a sweet treat.

Cutting out my after-dinner snack showed immediate results on the scale. Another benefit of not snacking after dinner was getting a better night’s sleep. When I eat late at night — especially sugary or fatty foods — I have difficulty falling and staying asleep.

In order to lose weight, steer clear of after-dinner snacking during the week and only allow yourself an occasional evening treat on the weekends.

2. Keeping alcohol consumption to weekends or special occasions

Although I admittedly enjoy a couple drinks on the weekends or the occasional glass of wine with my husband, it’s undeniable that eliminating or reducing alcohol makes the weight loss process much easier.

We often only associate calories with food and forget that beverages can also be highly caloric. If you’re trying to lose weight, be smart about your alcohol consumption. Save the alcohol for special occasions, or drink only once a week.

Once you attain your weight loss goal, you should be able to drink alcohol in moderation without gaining back the pounds you’ve shed. When it comes to alcohol, moderation is key!

3. Cleaning out my pantry

Most of us have a few foods that always seem to sabotage our diets. For me, it’s anything containing chocolate, but my mom can’t resist anything salty.

I’ve learned from trial and error — some big errors, might I add — about how to cope with my trigger foods and prevent them from ruining my well-intentioned weight-loss plans.

To start, determine which foods trigger you to overeat. For example, I can keep a gallon of my favorite ice cream in the freezer for months without overindulging; I simply enjoy a scoop when I feel like it.

But I can’t keep a bag of chocolate candies or chocolate chip cookies in the house without losing control. Once you’ve determined which unhealthy foods prompt you to overeat, remove them from your kitchen.

Simply getting these unhealthy foods out of the house will allow you to make better choices and lose weight.

4. Moving a little more

Although you can successfully lose weight without exercising, you can accelerate your weight loss by incorporating a very manageable exercise program. Whenever I need to lose a few pounds, I simply add another 10 minutes to my exercise routine.

This 10-minute addition is a small change and is very manageable, but it makes a huge difference in how quickly I can lose those extra pounds and keep them off.

5. Journaling

Keeping a journal is an effective weight-loss tool. Journaling or maintaining a food log makes you more aware of what you’re eating so you can stay on track with healthier habits.

For me, recording my progress in a journal makes me more honest with myself and helped me lose weight.

Even today, when I gain a few pounds (as I did over the holidays), tracking my food for just a week or two can be enough to get me back on track and lose the excess weight.

6. Eliminating or reducing diet soda

Many people believe they are doing themselves (and their weight) a favor by using artificial sweeteners or drinking diet soda. But artificial sweeteners and diet sodas may actually work against you in the battle of the bulge.

According to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at the Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, artificial sweetenersoverstimulate our sugar receptors and may change the way we taste food — making healthy foods less appealing and even making us crave sweet foods.

In fact, a study in the Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience shows that artificial sweeteners, which people often believe help prevent weight gain, actually induce hormonal and physiological responses that can have the opposite effect.

Trying to lose weight? Ditch the diet soda and opt for water or herbal tea instead.

7. Enlisting friends or family

Try to find a friend, family member, or coworker to eat healthy with you. Over the holidays, my husband and I both gained a few extra pounds. Although I only gained four or five pounds, the excess sugar and alcohol I consumed during the month of December left me feeling sluggish and heavy.

My husband and I decided to tackle losing weight together. Doing it as a team made it so much more fun. We were able to plan special dinners with each other and even made it a point to visit restaurants that offered healthy fare. Doing it together made it that much easier to stay motivated.

Want a little extra motivation to eat better and lose weight? Join me for my new mbg video course: A 14-Day Clean-Eating Program: How to Kick-Start Weight Loss in Two Weeks. I will personally walk you through the program and provide you day-by-day meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists!

6 Foods To Keep In Your House To Help You Lose Weight

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As a health coach and cookbook author, I provide weight loss and healthy eating tips every day. When someone is struggling to lose weight, it’s very common for me to suggest removing his or her “trigger” foods from the house.

For me, that’s anything that contains chocolate — chocolate chip cookies, ice cream bars, etc. I believe in the saying “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to junk food.

What people often forget is that “out of sight, out of mind” can also work against us. If your healthiest food is hidden in the back of the pantry or refrigerator, or isn’t even in your house, you’re less likely to eat it.

Having healthy options in your refrigerator or pantry and having them readily available can help you make better choices.

Losing weight isn’t always easy, but keeping your pantry and refrigerator stocked with these six foods can help:

1. Leafy greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and collards provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, K, and B6. They’re also rich in foliate, potassium, and calcium. A salad loaded with leafy greens and other fresh vegetables is a great way to fill up without a lot of calories.

Keep it interesting and find other healthy ways to incorporate leafy greens into your diet like juicing, adding them to soups and omelets, or topping a healthy flatbread. Try making your own kale chips for a savory and healthy snack.

2. Nuts

People often steer clear of nuts when they’re trying to lose weight due to their high-calorie and -fat count. However, adding a small amount of nuts to my diet actually keeps me satisfied longer and allows me to eat less overall.

Enjoy a small handful every day for a dose of healthy fat. Try adding walnuts to a healthy cookie recipe, use almond meal in your muffin or bread recipes, or sprinkle pistachios over your afternoon salad.

3. Seeds

Seeds such as pumpkin, flax, sunflower, chia, and sesame are not only rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat, but they also provide a satisfying crunch to salads, cereal, oatmeal, and yogurt.

4. Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit is a healthy and natural way to curb your sweet tooth. I love kiwi, watermelon, and just about any type of berry: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Try adding berries to your morning oatmeal or using them in baked goods. Does that midafternoon lull have you searching for a candy bar or cookie?

Have one piece of fruit or a half-cup of berries instead — it’s sure to keep you satisfied.

5. Dried fruit

Dried fruit, although high in sugar, can find its way into a healthy diet. In fact, I’ve found that it can help when trying to lose weight, as it can be a great alternative to other sugary treats.

A small handful of dried cherries or a sprinkle of plump raisins on your salad or mixed into some plain yogurt can help keep you from feeling deprived when on a weight-loss diet.

6. Eggs

With their abundance of high-quality protein, eggs can keep you full longer, helping you reduce your overall food intake. Although an omelet or scramble is a great way to start the morning, eggs can also be added to lunch or dinner.

Try adding a hard-boiled egg to a salad, or make healthy cookies with egg whites, banana, and oat flour as your base.

For more on healthy eating, check out my video course: A 14-Day Clean-Eating Program: How to Kick-Start Weight Loss in Two Weeks.

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Want To Lose Weight? Eat More Of This Food

Everyone’s looking for a magic weight-loss pill, but maybe we should be looking for the one food that can help us lose or manage our weight instead.

Take a minute to watch my video below (in previous post) for the one food I believe can help you on your way to reaching your goal weight! If you want more info about what to eat for weight loss, check out my video course: A 14-Day Clean Eating Program: How To Kick-Start Weight Loss in Two Weeks.

What I Eat in a Typical Day

I love food! So when I needed to lose weight, I couldn’t find a program that would satisfy my need for great-tasting food. Every diet I tried offered bland meals that always left me wanting more.

It wasn’t until I developed my own clean-eating program that the meals satisfied me and the weight came off — and stayed off. Even though I lost 40 pounds on my clean-eating diet and reached my goal weight many years ago, my food choices today still adhere to the same principles I developed to lose the excess weight — eating clean, wholesome, and lip-smacking-delicious food.

Although I still enjoy a glass of wine, piece of chocolate, or after-dinner dessert on occasion, here’s what a typical day looks like for me.

8:30 AM: Breakfast

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I usually wake up around 6 a.m., get my kids ready for school, and then work out. I rotate between group fitness classes, yoga, or running by myself.

Once I’m back home, I like to refuel! A smoothie made with almond milk, fresh berries, and a scoop of protein powder has me starting the day off right.

10 AM: Breakfast

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I used to be a huge coffee drinker, and although I still grab a soy or almond latte about once a week, I often choose a cup of dandelion tea. I get the roasted variety and it actually tastes a little like coffee.

12 PM: Lunch

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By the time lunch rolls around, I’m usually ready for a healthy but hearty meal. If I have the time, I’ll make a large salad, which usually contains dark leafy greens like kale or spinach, a healthy carbohydrate like roasted sweet potatoes, and a healthy fat like avocado. I also enjoy making my own salad dressing. It’s one of those things that only takes two or three minutes but tastes 10 times better than bottled dressing.

3 PM: Snack

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Like most people, I tend to experience a midday lull, and if I don’t have a healthy snack on hand, I’m afraid I might run down to the corner store for a chocolate bar. That’s why I always bring a healthy snack with me to the office. My go-to snack is a homemade trail mix made with all my favorite ingredients: almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, dried apricots, figs, and coconut flakes.

6:30 PM: Dinner

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Weeknight dinners always seem a little more hectic than lunch. After picking up my kids from after-school club or sports, I empty lunch boxes, get showers and baths started, finish homework, and make dinner. Luckily, both my husband and I are big fans of stir-fry. My favorite is my shrimp and snow pea stir-fry, but I also make it with ginger chicken or salmon. I like how easy stir-fry is to make, and I love that it gets my husband and kids to eat more vegetables than they would otherwise.

8 PM: Dessert/Snack

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Kids are finally in bed and have stopped making excuses for why they have to get out of bed and come find me. I’ve always been a “snacker,” and although I’ve tried to forgo any after-dinner eating, I’ve always found it extremely difficult.

Instead of struggling to skip an after-dinner snack, I try instead to find healthy alternatives like a yogurt and fruit bowl made with plain yogurt, honey, vanilla, and warm blackberries.

To get more healthy-eating tips from me, check out my online course with mbg, A 14-Day Clean Eating Program: How To Kick Start Weight Loss In 2 Weeks.

 

How I Lost 40 Pounds By Eating Clean

As originally published on mindbodygreen:

Since the new year began, many readers have reached out to ask how they can lose weight in a healthy way. That’s why we’re re-sharing this piece by best-selling author and weight loss expert, Dawna Stone. It has inspired thousands of readers over the years. And if you’re looking for a more detailed action plan, check out Dawna’s new course A 14-Day Clean Eating Program: How To Kick Start Weight Loss In Two Weeks. It’s simple, straightforward and, most importantly, effective.

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In my 20s, I was fat, exhausted and desperate to lose weight. Even though I was 40 pounds overweight, I was much more concerned with fitting into the clothes in my closet than I was about my health.

I had gone from being an extremely fit teenager to being a somewhat fit college student to a 40-pound overweight working woman. I still remember turning down company get-togethers and blind dates because I was so uncomfortable with the way I looked. Desperate to lose weight, I tried just about every diet available.

Unfortunately, none of them satisfied my craving for good food. On each weight loss attempt, I’d lose a few pounds only to give up and gain all the weight back and then some.

It wasn’t until I realized that fad diets weren’t a viable solution for me that I started to work on a solution. After years of failed attempts to lose weight, I finally found a way to drop all 40 pounds and keep it off for good — in fact, I’ve been at or near my goal weight for nearly 20 years!

The solution wasn’t about depriving myself of treats or starving myself. The solution was simple: clean eating.

I started by eliminating excess sugar, processed foods and artificial sweeteners. I also quit eating anything with chemicals or preservatives.

When I finally found a way of eating that had me dropping the pounds quickly and allowed me to eat good food (like fish tacos with mango-avocado salsa, kale and maple-roasted sweet potato salad, 3-bean chili and even gluten-free, dairy-free triple chocolate brownies), I knew I’d found my weight loss silver bullet.

I know what it feels like to be overweight and unhappy but I also know what if feels like to finally fit into a smaller size pair of pants and smile when you step on the scale. I wish everyone who is struggling with their weight and feeling hopeless, like I felt, could know what it feels like to finally lose all the excess weight.

I know what it’s like to lie in bed and cry, thinking you’ll never lose weight. I know what it’s like to turn down invitations because you have no clothes that fit. But I also know how great it feels when the weight starts melting off.

If you’ve just about given up on ever reaching your goal weight, if your tired of depriving yourself of good food and if you’re tired of seeing the number on the scale creep up rather than down, clean eating may be just what you need to jump start your weight loss and once and for all reach your goal weight.

Now that I’m in my late 40’s, I believe the most important benefit of being a healthy weight and eating a clean diet is countering disease and keeping your body working well and healthy. But I can’t lie: I also love the feeling of fitting into my skinny jeans!

Whether you pick up a copy of the, The Healthy You Diet, (and/or join me for my video course The 14-Day Clean Eating Program) or embark on another clean eating program, I hope you’ll give clean eating a try.

You have nothing to lose but your excess weight!

Photo Credit: Sheri Kendrick

What I Tell My Clients To Eat In A Typical Day To Lose Weight

As originally published on mindbodygreen.

As a certified health coach and author of an award-winning weight loss book and cookbook, I always get asked for quick tips on how to lose weight. Check out the short video below (in the previous post) for my ideal day of eating for weight loss.

If you want even more info about the relationship between food and weight loss, check out my course A 14-Day Clean Eating Program: How To Kick Start Weight Loss In Two Weeks.

Pardon the Interruption (I’ve been busy putting on the St. Pete Wine & Food Festival)

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet on the blog these past couple of months. My passion for food and the culinary arts combined with my love for producing large-scale events, inspired me to create the first annual St. Pete Wine & Food Festival. My goal was to highlight the emerging culinary scene in the Tampa Bay area, while creating a premier wine and food event like the city has never seen before.

The event was a huge success! We partnered with over 35 restaurants, 30 breweries, and 40 wineries to create a memorable four-day festival including a Charity Wine Pairing Dinner, a craft beer festival (BEER Night St. Pete), and two-day Grand Tasting.

The Grand Tastings featured some of the best food from local Tampa Bay area restaurants. The chef demos added a nice touch for the foodie, like me, who loves to cook. And the variety of wines from all over the world provided something for everyone. The culinary emergence is happening everywhere and it’s worth celebrating!

I am honored to work with the talented group of chefs, brewers, and vintners who helped bring this event to life. I hope you’ll consider joining me for the 2nd annual St. Pete Wine & Food Festival in 2016 (date to be announced soon). In the meantime, enjoy the photo highlights below.

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Energy-Packed Breakfast

While there is no doubt that eating breakfast is important, what you eat for breakfast is a key component. I rarely miss a morning meal and neither do my kids. Although the kids eat a hearty meal in the morning, I find my body responds best to a small and healthy meal—a cup of organic granola cereal or muesli with almond milk, a cup of low fat or non fat greek yogurt and fresh fruit, or a fruit and vegetable juice (in the juicer). When I start the day with one of these options, I feel refreshed and ready for the day.

A typical breakfast in our house looks like this:

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Some people may argue that they are too rushed in the morning to make breakfast and get out the door in time for work, school, etc. Others may argue that they skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight. Whatever the excuse or reasoning, I urge you to make time and give yourself a wholesome and nutritious breakfast. It will get your day started on the right foot by recharging your brain and body and allowing you to be more productive and efficient throughout the day.

With regard to weight loss, research shows that skipping meals, especially breakfast, can actually cause weight gain! Focus on eating a small, healthy meal in the morning – you may find that this helps, rather than hinders, the weight loss battle.

Pressed for time in the morning? Here are a few tips for choosing a healthy, wholesome and fast breakfast:

  • Pack a brown bag breakfast the night before and take it with you
  • Make a smoothie the night before and freeze for morning
  • Eat cereal or yogurt for a fast morning option
  • Set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier. How you feel throughout the day after a healthy breakfast is worth the 10 minutes!

Do you eat breakfast in the morning? Does it make a difference in your day? Do you have a favorite healthy breakfast you want to share?

 

Clean Eating Helped Me Lose 40 Pounds and Keep it off!

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I originally wrote this piece for MindBodyGreen.com and when it received such an enthusiastic response, I decided that I also wanted to share it with you here. Read my weight loss story below and how I achieved my goal through clean eating.

As seen on MindBodyGreen.com:

I was fat, exhausted and desperate to lose weight. Clean eating changed my life and my weight!

I know being overweight is unhealthy but when I was in my 20’s and 40 pounds overweight my health wasn’t my main concern. I was more concerned with fitting into the clothes in the closet than I was about the health consequences of being overweight. My minuscule clothes budget couldn’t keep up with my ever-expanding waistline. My closet became a war between my “fat” clothes and my “skinny” clothes and unfortunately my fat clothes were winning the battle.

I went from being an extremely fit teenager to being a somewhat fit college student to a 40-pound overweight working-woman in my 20’s.

I still remember turning down company get-togethers and blind dates because I was so uncomfortable with my weight. I was fat, tired and unhappy. I was desperate to lose weight and I tried just about every diet available.

As a true lover of food, none of the fad diets satisfied my craving for good food. On each weight loss attempt, I would lose a few pounds only to give up and gain all the weight back and then some.

It wasn’t until I realized that the media-hyped fad diets weren’t a viable solution for me that I started to work on a solution. After years of failed attempts to lose weight, I finally found a way to drop all 40 pounds and keep it off for good—I’ve been at or near my goal weight for nearly 20 years!

The solution wasn’t about depriving myself of good food or starving myself in order to see the number on the scale drop. The solution was simple—the solution was clean eating.

Eliminating excess sugar, processed foods and artificial sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives was just the start. When I finally found a way of eating that had me dropping the pounds quickly and allowed me to eat good food (like Fish Taco’s with Mango and Avocado Salsa, Chicken Skewers with Chile-Lime Sauce, Kale and Maple Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, Wild Rice and Spinach Soup, Three Bean Chili and even wheat-, gluten- and dairy-free triple chocolate brownies) I knew I found my weight loss silver bullet.

I know what it feels like to be overweight and unhappy but I also know what if feels like to finally fit into a smaller size pair of pants and smile when you step on the scale. I wish everyone who is struggling with their weight and feeling hopeless, like I felt, could know what it feels like to finally lose all the excess weight.

That’s why I wrote The Healthy You Diet: The 14-Day Plan for Weight Loss with 100 Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating. I know what it’s like to lie in bed and cry—thinking you’ll never lose weight. I know what it’s like to turn down invitations because you have no clothes that fit. But I also know how great it feels when the weight starts melting off.

Nearly twelve thousand people have already found success with my free 14-Day Healthy You Challenge—the jump-start to clean eating.

If you’ve just about given up on ever reaching your goal weight, if your tired of depriving yourself of good food and if you’re tired of seeing the number on the scale creep up rather than down, clean eating may be just what you need to jump start your weight loss and once and for all reach your goal weight.

Now that I’m in my late 40’s, I believe the most important benefit of being a healthy weight and eating a clean diet is countering disease and keeping your body working well/healthy. But I can’t lie; I also love the feeling of fitting into my skinny jeans!

Whether you pick up a copy of the, The Healthy You Diet, (and/or join me for The Healthy You Challenge) or embark on another clean eating program, I hope you’ll give clean eating a try. You have nothing to lose but your excess weight!