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Dining on a Diet: 4 Easy Mistakes

Learn-from-mistakesOne of the things I like to do is share my stupid mistakes so YOU don’t REPEAT THEM! Yep, I am not afraid to tell you just how bad I blew it. I may be a fitness professional, and although I know a lot about nutrition, calories and weight management, I still make poor choices from time to time. The only reason I am not as big as a cow is because 1.) I look for mistakes (meaning, I hold myself accountable, I look up calories and I look for the truth (facts). 2.) I work my mistakes off. 3.) I learn from my mistakes. 4.) I apply what I learn (a lot of people learn a lot about improving their eating, but they don’t apply it).

The difference between my mistakes and other people making mistakes is I make them less often. Where I may totally blow it occasionally, some people are blowing it every week, or every other day. Those mistakes add up if going unnoticed, and that is when weight gain happens – or why people can’t lose weight despite all their work in the gym.

Dining on a DietSo, here’s the story. I had family in town last night so we all decided to go to Outback for dinner. I’m not dieting right now so I was already going in knowing I was going to treat myself – which means I plan on having that yummy salad they have and a baked potato instead of broccoli. Let me stop right here and tell you this: If I had looked up the calories ahead of time (like I tell EEEEEVERYONE else), I would have not chosen what I ordered. The damage way exceeded what I would have allowed myself if I had known in advance.

Mistake #1: I didn’t look up the calories BEFORE I ordered.

mistakesAs I’m looking at the menu, I had pretty much settled on getting just a small steak, baked potato and side salad. BUT, Steve (yes, I’m throwing him right under that big blame bus) said, “why don’t you get the Outback 4 Special, the 4-course meal for $15?“. Well, I almost felt stupid if I DIDN’T get that. What a deal right? WRONG! It was a baaaaad deal – and I have news for you! It cost WAY more than $15. It cost me $15 to eat it and it’s going to cost me plenty more in valuable time to burn it off!

Mistake #2: I let someone or something (tempting menu item or deals) to change my mind!

mistakeSo here’s what I ended up eating. NOTE: I never, NEVER, NEEEVER get dessert, BUT it came with the “package”. Thank you Outback for trying to fatten me up. You not only Biggie Sized my meal, you Biggie Sized ME! Yes, I have a choice and could have chosen better, but your “good deal” sucked me in and I took the ugly bate. Yep, you caught me, hook line, and sinker!

What I ordered:

  • Sparkling water with lime: 1 calories
  • White Bean & Sausage Soup: 162 calories
  • Blue Cheese & Pecan Chopped Salad: 559 calories (WHAT?! U HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?!!)
  • 6oz Steak: 254 calories
  • Baked Potato with Sour Cream & Butter: 313 calories
  • Carrot Cake: 320 calories


Mistake #3: By eating less, I talked myself into thinking I was doing OK. 

What I actually ate:

  • Sparkling Water with Lime: 0 Calories
  • I Ate ALL of My White Bean & Sausage Soup: 162 calories
  • I Ate ALL of My Blue Cheese & Pecan Chopped Salad: 559 calories (BIG mistake!)
  • 1/2 My 6oz Steak: 127 calories
  • 1/2 My Baked Potato with Sour Cream & Butter: 156 calories
  • 1/4 of My Carrot Cake: 80 calories

(I saved 800 calories, but STILL have to run 10 miles to erase the damage!!)

Mistake #4: I ordered something I really loved – and took it home.

Really? That doesn’t belong in my house. That’s what I call “planning to fail”. Why didn’t I just let everyone at the table taste it. Why? Because I freakin’ LOVE carrot cake.

Moral of the Story…

outback-special-sirloinListen, if I had been amazing with my diet lately, this whole catastrophe wouldn’t have mattered – but I haven’t been good with my diet. I’ve been “off” my diet for several weeks and this week was supposed to mark my start of getting my act together after my vacations and being sick.

So, this mistake set me back a few MORE days. In the big scheme of things, it really is not that big of a deal IF it only happens occasionally, but this is a perfect example of how many people are “try” to make good choices – and they wonder why they can’t lose weight.

Why Good Intentions Don’t Cut It:

The above is proof that good intentions aren’t enough even when someone:

  • Orders water instead of wine
  • Avoids the bread and butter
  • Chooses a vegetable based soup instead of a cream based soup
  • Chooses salad over blooming onions or other greasy appetizers
  • Orders grilled meat, instead of a saucy dish
  • Picks whole foods for sides, instead of casseroles or fried sides
  • Eats half the meal
  • Has only a few bites of dessert instead of eating the whole thing

Even after ALL THAT, they STILL are eating WAY too many calories. 

Next time you eat out, think of me, sitting at the computer the next morning, looking up calories from the night before and tallying the damage. Even though the food was good, I can honestly say it wasn’t worth what it will take to work it off. I see a lot of exercise in my future.



Dieters Beware: Fast Food Chains May Fool You

fast food chains mislead consumersWe’ve all been there before. That moment when you have to make a decision to either eat nothing, or eat fast food. I just recently had that dilema myself. I needed food – fast. Luckily, a Wendy’s was just around the corner. I knew, from previous calorie-counting experience, I could find a low-calorie option there, so off I went.

As I waited on the customers in front of me, I began to browse the menu (which, by the way is always a mistake). I hadn’t been to a Wendy’s in some time so there were many new items, and I decided to try something new.

Mistake #1

Fast food chains deceive consumersYou see, if you are on a diet, you should never even consider what you WANT to eat. That’s like window shopping with no money. A dieter needs to make a decision based on what they can afford to eat, not what they want to taste. So, with that said, it’s best not to look at every high-calorie tasty menu item. Stick to the plan Bonnie.

Too late, the first mistake was made. I went off plan and ordered the Baja Chicken Salad. I did, however, go on my handy dandy FastFoodCal app to check out the damage before I actually ordered it. Once I saw the half salad was only 280 calories, I made the order – BUT, several more mistakes were made without my knowledge.

Mistake #2, #3 & #4…

calories add upAfter I got home, I looked up the official Wendy’s nutritional information online to see if the calories included dressing. That would be a big fat NO. Not only did it not include the dressing, their PDF nutritional menu items did not include any toppings at all. So, I used their customizable calorie counter to add or remove toppings for an accurate calorie count. After I did the math, adding the 100 calorie dressing and the 80 calories in tortilla chips, I got the REAL total for the Baja Salad, as it was intended to be eaten. 470 calories, not 280. Big difference!

Granted, I didn’t eat the chips and I didn’t need the dressing since it had guacamole and pico de gallo, but how many other people would have taken the time to dig a little deeper to find the correct nutritional information about their meal? I was so upset at how difficult it was to figure this all out. All I could think of are all the newbie dieters who gobbled the whole 470 calories up, and put 280 on their log – and they wonder why they aren’t losing weight. They are TRYING their best, but these types of common mistakes sabotage their efforts, and restaurants aren’t helping.

Counting Calories Shouldn’t Be This Hard

dieting shouldn't be rocket science

Counting calories is already a pain but, if you really want to succeed, now you have to be a mathematician AND a private investigator – because many chains desquise calories and hide evidence. The way many chains create their nutritional graph is an irritating sneaky tactic to throw consumers off. Notice the very first number (circled below in red) is weight, not calories. They know good and well we look at that first number, expecting THAT number to refer to calories? It’s the first number on most labels, and it’s the most important number for a dieter, so why put it second? I’ll tell you why. They hope people look at that number instead, and mistake it for a lower calorie item. Believe me, I know better and I still almost got fooled.

fast food chain's nutritional deception tactic

The Truth May be Hard to Swallow, but It Leaves a Better Taste in Your Mouth

fast food chains leave a bad taste in dieters' mouthsRestaurants, you should list the calories as it was intended to be served, not list the lowest number based on what you think customers want to hear. Dishing out lies, and relying on people to be too lazy to figure out the truth, is so deceptive – and no one likes being deceived.

There will be plenty of unhealthy people who will continue to buy your greasy high-calorie food, but if you want to also capture the people who value their health more than your value meal, you need to start serving up the truth and giving us what we need to help us reach our goals while still eating on the go. The alternative is to avoid eating fast food altogether. So, do you want to help us or not? Or are you just doing the bare minimum so you can be in compliance and “appear” to be helping America fight obesity.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how tasty your food is, if you can’t be honest and more helpful to dieters, it will just leave us all with a bad taste in our mouth – and that’s something no amount of breath mints can cover up.

CLICK HERE to see 20 examples of how 1 ITEM from popular restaurants can erase 1 HOUR of hard work.

Learn more diet tips for the drive through window: Fast Food Diet Tips.

Will Run for Mexican Food: Why Dangling the Tortilla Chip Works

Motivated to Run
We all have our reasons for running. Some people run for their cardiovascular health, some run for weight loss, some run for stress relief, and others run to eat or drink. Let’s face it, most people run to make more room for calories (or to burn already eaten calories) – so they can eat what they want without getting ridiculously overweight.

Although I can honestly say I don’t run just so I can have Mexican, I’d run a little extra if I know Mexican Food is in my future. I love me some chips and salsa – so much so, I’d run a few extra miles to get it and not feel bad about eating it.

Dangle the Carrot Tortilla Chip
We all have goals, and we have to have them so we can focus on the the reward. But it’s two-fold. Often times our goal IS our reward. For many fitness people, the goal is to look good – and so is the reward. At the same time, our goal should be to feel good too – you should feel good once you’ve reached your goal, and you need to feel good along the way. Part of feeling good is not feeling deprived. You’ll never be successful if you are miserable. And, just like we save up our money for the things we want, we should save up our calories for foods we want so we can enjoy our fitness lifestyle along the way to success.

In order to do this successfully, we need to “shop” (eat) wisely, so we don’t overdo it. Many times we work very hard so we can cheat on the weekend, but have no idea the real damage we do when we go off our diet. If you can keep tabs on your cheat meals, it may be exactly what you need mentally to motivate you to keep working out.

On the Border? Or Over the Edge?

I would have to run 20 miles to afford to eat one basket of chips and salsa, Steak Fajitas and one drink.

In order for you to make sure you aren’t going overboard on calories, here are a few popular dishes from the popular Mexican Food Chain, On the Border. As you look at the calories, think about how long it would take to run, or walk, them off – typically, about 1 mile per 100 calories.

One serving of Chips & Salsa: 430 calories
The Border Sampler: 2060 calories
Steak Fajita Quesadillas: 1210 calories
Steak Fajita Nachos: 1450 calories
Queso without Chips: 430 calories

Chicken Fajita Salad with Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, 960 calories
Taco Salad with Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, 1600 calories

Popular Meals:
Steak Fajitas, 1495 calories
Dos XX® Fish Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1950 calories
Southwest Chicken Tacos w/ Creamy Red Chile Sauce, 1280 calories
Street-Style Mini Chicken Tacos (with rice, without beans), 890 calories
Enchilada Suizas (with rice, without beans), 1000 calories
Classic Chimichanga Chicken w/o Sauce, 1300 calories
Big Steak Bordurrito w/ Side Salad w/o Dressing, 1750 calories

Sopapillas, 1340 calories
Sizzling Apple Crisp, 1120 calories
Border Brownie Sundae w/ Vanilla Ice Cream, 1360 calories


5 Spicy Tips to Saving Calories:

#1 Cut Calories without Cutting Taste:
SKIP 3 Tortillas (that come with Fajitas), saves 360 calories
SKIP Refried Beans, saves 220 calories
SKIP Mexican Rice, saves 280 calories
SKIP Cilantro Lime Rice, saves 390 calories
SKIP Chipotle Honey Mustard Dressing, saves 320 calories
SKIP Smoked Jalapeno Vinaigrette, saves 250 calories
SKIP Black Beans, saves 180 calories
SKIP MIxed Cheese (topping on tacos, fajitas, salads,), saves 110 calories
SKIP Sour Cream or Guacamole – NEVER! It’s worth the calories! (sour cream: 60 calories, guac: 50 calories)

#2 Stick with Chips & Salsa:
Don’t be tempted by all the appetizers. Instead stick to the basics. Chips and salsa takes a while to eat and has fewer calories than most of the other menu items.

#3 Split a Meal:
Most people are STUFFED after eating Mexican food because they snack on so many chips. Most likely, you will eat the same amount of chips no matter what, so split a meal so you leave satisfied, but not stuffed.

#4 Add It Up, Before You Order it Up:
Decide what you want to eat before you even go to the restaurant and add it to your calorie app (like LoseIt). This way you order smart, instead of impulse buy everything that is so nicely displayed on the menu.

Taco Trivia:  If you think getting a soft taco is always better than crunchy. Think again. A chicken soft taco is 10 more calories than the crispy chicken taco at On the Border. 270 calorie per taco.

#5 Bounce Back
Once you cheat, go right back to healthy eating and exercise. Don’t start a downward spiral of cheating. The key to fitness success is how quick you bounce back after you go off course – planned or not.

What do YOU Run For? 


Need to Lose Weight? Eat Like it’s 1950

It’s no surprise that our eating habits have changed over the years. Meals used to be simple, and eating out used to be a big deal. In the 50s, you were probably lucky if you ate out once a week. Even our beverage habits have changed. Having a soda use to mean leaving the house and going to the soda shop, not grabbing a can of coke in the fridge. Also, most of our desserts were homemade, not store bought. Having ice cream at my grandparent’s house was an event. We’d all take turns turning the crank on an ice cream machine to churn the ice cream into perfection from the simplest ingredients. Now people turn down ice cream unless it has chopped up candy bars and chocolate syrup swirled in.

Unfortunately, food is all about entertainment and convenience, and less about nutrition and spending quality time with the family. Variety is a demand and eating out on the go is a daily ritual for many.

In addition, we not only eat more, we physically do less. Adults spend more time in the chair in front of a computer for work and less time doing physical work. Kids spend more time on computers too. They play computerized games instead of doing traditional activities like jumping on the trampoline, playing ball, riding bicycles and playing chase.

The Dinner Table is Empty

Dining room tables have become more of a decorative piece of furniture than a place the family gathers to eat. Why? Because the whole American lifestyle has changed. Families live fast-paced lives, more women are working, and high calorie food is more accessible to nearly everybody. Here are some other reasons why America is continuing to fatten up.

  • Families dine in a hurry
  • Eating out is the norm
  • Sweets are no longer limited to dessert after dinner
  • Weekly treats are now daily habits
  • Soda is a staple beverage
  • Families eat dinner in front of the TV
  • Furniture companies enable TV snacking, by offering built-in cup holders for the couch
  • Companies make fancier, tastier and flashier pre-packaged snacks
  • People have more access to high-calorie gourmet recipes, via the web, to cook like a chef
  • There are more ready-to-eat products to choose from
  • Restaurant chains use bigger portion sizes to attract customers

Eat Like It’s 1950

Maybe we should eat like it’s 1950 again. Bring the family back to the table, limit pre-packaged foods, save sodas for the weekends only, and cut back on eating out. Get more creative with activities and less creative in the kitchen. When it comes to fitness, there is something to say about going back to the simple life. Simple eating and living may result in a slimmer, healthier household.

Biggie Size Me

Just portion size alone has gone through quite a transformation over the years. No wonder Americans are getting bigger by the minute. Look at this graph from Making Health Easier that really puts things into perspective.


What changes have you noticed over your lifetime?

Shocking Lunches Over 1,000 Calories

So many people sabotage their diet by simply playing the menu guessing game. The game goes a little something like this. “Eeny Meeny Miny Mo, I bet the calories in this meal are low.”

As dieters look over the menu, they make 3 mistakes. One, they choose healthy sounding meals like “salads” or “sandwiches” because it sounds “light”. Second, they think anything with chicken and fish that’s not fried must be healthy. Third, they’re under the impression a lunch portion is a lot lower in calories. Although smaller portions are great, and white meat is normally healthier than red meat, your waistline deserves more than just guesses.

Applebee's Oriental Grilled Chicken SaladEating out can be dangerous for dieters – but not impossible. I always say “know what you eat, eat what you know“. I’m not sure how you feel about this, but I work way to hard in the gym to throw it all away on one bad guess. So, if I eat out, you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to look up the nutritional information BEFORE I order.

10 High-Calorie Lunches

It’s easy to waste an entire’s day’s caloric budget on one poor lunch choice if you aren’t careful. Look how fast these salads, sandwiches, wraps and lunch portions add up!

  • Ruby Tuesday’s Carolina Chicken Salad: 1,047
  • Crispers’ Citrus Chicken Wrap: $1,270
  • Chili’s Chicken Ranch Sandwhich (without fries): 1,150  Read the rest of this entry

How Good is Your High-Cal Radar?

My favorite (not-so-favorite) thing to hear, when people are talking about needing to lose weight, is when they tell me how healthy they eat or how they know they aren’t eating any more than 1200 calories a day (which is practically impossible to do and NOT lose weight). The honest truth is, if you eat out AT ALL and aren’t looking up the nutritional information for the menu items, you have NO idea how many calories you are eating.

I’m in the fitness business myself and I know I make mistakes – and I’m “supposed to know better”. It’s very difficult to guess low calories foods, even for the pros. To test your High-Cal Radar, I did a little research today using popular foods (not just the stereotypical healthy foods) to offer a little (what my history teacher used to call a) ‘multiple guess’ test.

Choosing between different menu items, which food choice is LOWEST in calories:

A. 6″ Turkey & Ham Sub
B. Turkey & Ham Wrap

A. Fried Okra
B. French Fries

A. 20 BBQ Chicken Wings
B.  6 slices of pepperoni and cheese pizza

A. Cheeseburger Mini Sliders
B. Bacon Cheeseburger Burger Read the rest of this entry

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