I just spent two days shooting a new episode for the Rachael Ray Show.
At the same time, I was originally supposed to meet with Ben Missbach, a Ph.D. eating researcher who was visiting me from the University of Vienna. My solution? Take him with me. When he asked, “Who’s Rachael Ray?" I said, “She’s like the fun, happy girl next door who’s also a great cook.”
The Rachel Ray Show is an hour-long mix of cooking segments, guest segments, and maybe a remote segment filmed elsewhere. Her executive producer had an interesting plan. Instead of having to choose between either doing a remote segment or a guest segment, she wanted to do both. Here’s the plan:
 Send me to a sight-unseen home of one of their audience members,
 Teach that person how to do a Slim by Design Kitchen Makeover,
 Do it for them while its being filmed by two camera crews
 Show up to the show and the next day and report back
Less than 20 minutes after checking into our New York City hotel, we were car-napped off to a home in New Jersey. There I met Peggy – a happy, photogenic mother of 5 teenagers – and 6 guy camera crew.
These Kitchen Makeovers are eye-opening to homeowners. While the basic ones only take an hour or two, the more thorough or complicated ones (like for celebrities) take about 4 hours. For Peggy, they wanted me to do a basic one. But since they wanted to film it from three different angles, so after I did it, I did it again, then again. Five hours later, Ben and I were back in the hotel.
That night their editing crew cut 5 hours of tape down into a one 3-minute segment: Meet Peggy and her family, Brian invades her kitchen, changes are made, Peggy & Brian high-five or hug (depending on which cut they decide to use).
The next day, our segment with Rachael and 140 jacked-up, happy audience members was filming at 3:30. The car picked us up at 2:00. The rest of the day went like this: traffic jam, backstage entrance, make-up, meet Peggy again, sound check, Dos and Don’ts (let Rachael take the lead, stay on track, don’t look at the cameras, and so on), and . . . GO!
Our cue to go out on stage had been when Rachael starting introducing Slim by Design. As we walked out, they rolled the 3-minute segment of the makeover. Peggy and I were led out to one of the 2 stages and positioned on either side of Rachael. After the segment ended and people were applauding, Rachael talked briefly (totally off-script) about my Smarter Lunchroom program and how it helped support the great work she was doing in schools. [It’s this sort of candid, off-script enthusiasm that makes her popular with so many people like me.]
She then asked me, “Dr. B., how can a person eat better and lose weight without dieting?” I said that it's better to change your immediate environment than to change your mind, and it's easier to become slim by design than become slim by willpower -- willpower has to last for ever, 24/7.
She then pointed to five different props that were sitting out (a bulk package, strange vegetables, a side-by-side refrigerator, a divided plate, and so on), and asked me to explain how they could be used to help people cook more and eat in balance. She ended by plugging Slim by Design again (the Kitchen Makeover approach I did for Peggy is described in Chapter 2), and giving copies to each audience member. Yumo!
From start to finish: 9 minutes.
When I got backstage, Ben and I said good-bye to Peggy and her daughter, and we said goodbye to our Producer and Associate Producer. Within 4 minutes we were headed home.
This segment airs on the Rachael Ray Show on Tuesday January 24th (10:00 AM on CBS in some markets and different times and places in others). Even if you only make 4-5 of the changes I made to Peggy’s kitchen are relevant to your kitchen, you’ll be pounds ahead even if you only do two of them.
Let me know what two changes you’ve put into action and how they work for you.
If you want to do your own Kitchen Makeover:
1) Watch the Rachael Ray Show video and adopt 2-3 ideas
for one month
2) Read the Chapter pdf posted above the photos to see why this also works in
schools, where you work, and where you shop
3) Check out Chapter 2 of Slim by Design. The 100-point scorecard on
pages 60-63 will tell you whether your kitchen is working for your diet
or against it. It also tells what to do to change.
4) If you want to go really deep on this, sign up for the
Slim by Design Course, which is being released this Spring.
Sign-up for the newsletter, and we'll keep you posted when it's
“Losing weight is easy. It’s keeping weight off that is hard.”
I didn’t believe this the first time I heard this. But I became a convert.
It happened a few years back. Washington Post columnist, Jennifer Huget, started her “Me-minus-10” program. To help her, my Cornell Food and Brand Lab worked with Jennifer to find 3 easy changes that she could make each month to lose these stubborn 10 pounds. We analyzed photographs of her kitchen, dining room, cupboards, and refrigerators. We went over daily patterns of her and her family, and we asked how she would respond to different eating scenarios. Based on this we used our Slim by Design approach to suggest find easy, daily changes she should consider.
After 3 months, Jennifer had lost 12 pounds. Now comes the difficult part.
When we accomplish a goal, it’s easy to backslide because the race is finished. Losing 10 or 30 pounds is a reward unto itself. You did it; you won the race, and you want to staop.
The problem is that keeping 10-30 pounds off isn’t easy to celebrate. There’s no reward, or change, or progress to see. Without the motivation to keep the change, how do you do it?
There are two different options. One is to find a support group for maintaining weight loss - the TOPS program (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is one of my favorites (for people on a budget). A second option is to adjust your goal.
With Jennifer, we helped her adjust her goal. Instead of having the goal to “Lose 10 pounds,” she changed it to “Get my family to eat healthier (without them knowing it).” She kept focusing on making three small changes that would benefit her family, but also help keep her on track. For instance, she put a piece of fruit next to her husband’s car keys every morning. She put 20% of any dinner entrée into the refrigerator before serving the rest for dinner. She made there were little baggies of cut up fruit or vegetables on the middle refrigerator shelf.
Any daily change that keeps you just a little bit disciplined ends up keeping you a lot disciplined. The key to keeping the change, is in making a related change.
[There's a nice related video right here]
Bon Jour! Here’s an international question for anyone who’s ever lived in a foreign country for more than a couple months. Did you lose or gain weight?
Some people gain weight and some people lose weight. Some move overseas and they walk a lot, and they pocketfuls of funny-looking money on tiny portions, and they lose a lot or weight without realizing it. Or they don’t really like eating yak meat, and they lose a lot.
Others eat with abandon until they need a new passport photo.
It doesn’t matter what country you’ve lived in – US to Brazil, Australia to Taiwan, Germany to the US, North Korea to South Korea – we’d love to hear your story. Ben Missbach (an amazing new post-doc from Germany) and I have put together the short survey at the link below. If you can fill it out, we can see if we can put together some rules of thumb to help out the future world traveler in you.
London, Tokyo, and Topeka – across the globe, this past week was the worst week for our diets. In no single week does our planet gain more weight.
Here’s the good news: That all ended yesterday – on January 3rd. That’s when our collective worldly wait peaks and starts to decline. We know this because we studied the up and down weigh-ins of 10,000 people around the world that had bought wireless scales (focusing mainly on Americans, Germans, and Japanese) and we published it in New England Journal of Medicine.
It doesn’t matter if you live in Tokyo or Topeka, you start to increasingly gain weight on December 10, and it keeps climbing until January 3rd, After the 3rd, it slowly started to drop for these people. Especially for those who weighed themselves often.
Besides Tuesday being the last heaviest day of this holiday season, the study also has another silver lining. People who weighed themselves at least four times a week, lost half of their holiday weight by the end of January. If you don’t hide from the bad news, it won’t be bad news for very long.
These discoveries are important because they show that the more weight you gain during the holidays, the longer it takes to lose it. Instead of beating yourself up for not shedding holiday weight this year, we would be better off making a resolution to keep weight gain down during the next holiday season,
Here's the New England Journal of Medicine article
Here's the Cornell Food and Brand Lab webpage