Happy New Year–Strong and Lean in 2016!!


Happy 2016!! I know that like me, lots and lots of you are probably resolving for a healthier year. 2015 will always be known as the year I became not scared of the gym (major milestone, I know)–in fact, it’s kind of become my happy place. But I’m also ready to kick it up a notch for 2016.

Sara and I are hosting (and playing in) another DietBet, so we’d love for you to join us! We’ll have more details next week, including how it works if you’ve never played before and also about all sorts of awesome prizes we’ll be giving away (over a thousand dollars worth of stuff, yo!) But until then, here are a few things you can do while you’re excited about healthy living.

get motivated

You can do this. And even if you don’t do it as quickly as you’d like, you’re still transforming your life in the process. I didn’t lose as much weight as I wanted to last year, but I did lose more than I lost the year before. I’m fitter, I’m happier, I’m more confident, I eat healthier, I have more energy. There’s more to life than what the scale says and even if you don’t achieve that particular goal, there are many worthy “side effects” of a healthier lifestyle–the effort isn’t wasted.

Read about other people’s healthy lifestyle transformations–Sara has two great posts here and here. Follow people who inspire you on social media. Learn about the benefits of healthy living and how it works. But most of all, get excited!

food plan

Believe it or not (sarcasm font), food is my biggest stumbling block when it comes to weight loss. I love food. I love treats. Why eat one cookie when I can eat…a lot more?? I’ve fiddled around with a lot of different weight loss plans and one thing I’ve discovered is that just counting calories doesn’t work for me. If you know that just counting calories works for you, that’s awesome and run with it. Skip the next few rant-y paragraphs if you want.

But. If you’re frustrated that you’re eating within your calorie range every day but still not losing (or even gaining), I hear you. Ever since my pregnancy with my daughter (she was born in 2007), I feel like something in my body fundamentally changed and I cannot handle sugar/carbs the same way I used to. I’ve lost weight with South Beach, but there’s a lot there I don’t agree with like eliminating whole grains, fruits, and some veggies the first two weeks, and after that, there are still a lot of restrictions in Phase 2, plus relying more on artificial sweeteners than I like. I felt like I didn’t have enough energy to get me through the day, let alone workouts; I hated the “all or nothing” mentality–if I “screwed up” and ate a bite of chocolate, I felt like I had suddenly magically replaced all my glycogen stores and had lost 2 weeks of hard work that I didn’t want to repeat and it was all over what’s the point let’s go eat all the doughnuts.

I did kind of a modified South Beach last year, but, since I was making it up as I was going along, it was hard to figure out what rules I had made for myself; I needed more structure. I went a long time without losing any weight, just counting calories, and became increasingly frustrated. Then I heard that Weight Watchers had re-worked their program (again). (This is NOT sponsored by Weight Watchers–we have no relationship with Weight Watchers, other than the fact that I pay them money and they let me log into their app.I lost about 30 pounds on Weight Watchers years ago, right after I got married. When they changed to Points Plus in 2011, it stopped working for me. I’m not sure what the deal was, but there was something that was just off for me and it didn’t work (except for when I was nursing). Add in the fact that the points swapping was convoluted and confusing and that they were woefully behind the times in terms of fitness tracking and I gave them the boot.

Anyway. The new plan. Smart Points. As I was looking into the new program, I saw that basically, they had put structure to my own invented weight loss plan–lots of whole foods, lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains with room for occasional treats. Sweets are worth a lot more points than they used to be (a small Frosty at Wendy’s would be about half my points for the day). Protein, which used to add points, reduces points (like fiber does). It really steers you in the right direction in terms of healthy eating–180 calories of Blue Bell ice cream would be 8 Smart Points, but Skinnytaste’s Asparagus Egg and Bacon Salad, which is 219 calories, is 5 Smart Points. If you eat lean proteins, fruits, veggies, etc., you can eat a lot. If you don’t, not so much, so you’re highly motivated to make good choices (lest you be very hungry).

That’s really more than I meant to say about healthy eating (and I still have a lot to say, haha), so if you have questions/thoughts/feelings, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

400 cals

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 9.18.13 AM


Oh, hey, more healthy eating! Just kidding. But really. If you don’t have our most recent book, it’s full of recipes that will keep you right on track and they’re easily modifiable depending on how you’re choosing to eat (so if you’re making Banh Mi Tacos but that tortilla isn’t worth it to you, you can eat the marinated, grilled pork and pickled veggies while everyone else goes taco-style). When we set out to write this book, we wanted recipes the whole family could eat, so Mom (or Dad) isn’t sitting over there with her (or his) sad steamed veggies and poached chicken breast while everyone else is chowing down on lasagna. That’s not practical OR a good plan for long-term success. There are several recipes in there that I make on a weekly basis and I know will become regulars in your rotation as well.


Get rid (or hide) the stuff you know will cause you unnecessary temptation and load up your house with things that you can easily make healthy meals with. You don’t have to stock up all at once–that can be expensive. But slowly over the course of the month, fill your fridge and pantry with things you’ll know you’ll eat (that big bag of kale won’t do you any good if you hate kale). Things I always try keep around (in season) are: whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats), whole grain bread, snacky cheeses, peanut butter, nuts, Greek yogurt, dips, healthy salad dressings, hummus, Sea Salt Caramel Almond Kind Bars, protein shake mix, unsweetened coconut almond milk, berries (fresh and frozen), oranges, clementines, apples, bananas, leafy greens that can’t be cooked (like salad mixes), leafy greens that can be (like spinach), cucumbers, baby peppers, bell peppers, baby tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, avocados, red onions, white onions, garlic, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, potatoes, frozen veggies (green beans, broccoli), canned beans, beef broth, chicken broth, canned tomatoes in various forms and sizes, eggs (I keep a container of boiled eggs in the fridge, too), grilled chicken and/or rotisserie chicken,, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, beef top or bottom round roast, pork tenderloin, and pork sirloin roasts. With those ingredients and basic kitchen staples, you can make so many healthy meals and snacks!

We hope you had a wonderful, happy, safe holiday season! Check back next week for lots of recipes to help get you/keep you on track and for more details about the DietBet!


  1. I participated in your last diet bet challenge and reached my goal. I thought that was a piece of cake and tried another one…well, I didn’t change anything that I had done the month before (counting calories) and lost a big 1 lb. for the whole month. I was so frustrated and didn’t know what else to do. Someone suggested I try Chris Powell’s carb cycling plan and that has really worked for me…getting me past the plateau I have been on. There are four different levels you can choose to do, each one having a reward meal or a guilt free day. I have really loved it and have seen great results. I’m looking forward to participating in your new DietBet challenge. 🙂

  2. Could I ask a favor?

    Is there any way y’all could update your printable from last year?? I’ve used it one right after the other this year. If you could just change it to say 2016? It’s adorable, and it makes me happy to look at it once a week, even though my arm fat hasn’t budged for three months! 😉

    Kate, I hear you on the carbs/sugar thing. I’ve had great success with the low carb high fat way of eating, and I rarely feel deprived, so I’m just gonna keep going with it. I’m glad that the new WW works for you, though!

  3. I find your fitness and weight loss posts so motivating! As a long time reader and owner of all 3 cookbooks, it is so nice to have healthy options and 400 calories or less has given me inspiration to make lighter versions of the recipes in your other books.
    I had a lot of success on weight watchers about 12 years ago in college but pretty much lived on 100 calorie packs and Luna bars. I tried it a few times after that without success.
    I just bought the south beach diet book, but have the same concerns expressed in your post. I’m thinking of giving WW another try. It sounds like almost a new program.
    Do you feel like you’ll be on it forever or do you think you can maintain your goal weight without it? I want to reach a place where I can maintain without daily tracking. The thought of counting points forever is my biggest concern.

    1. Also, the issue with sugar is exactly my problem too. After my son (my second) I do not lose weight unless I really cut out sugar.

      1. Yep, it was my second kid that did me in, too! I lost the weight pretty easily after my first, no problem.

        I really do feel like it’s a new program. Those bars and 100 calorie packs have insanely high points now, so it’s really steering you towards whole foods.

        I don’t know if I’ll do it forever. But. One thing I love about the program is that it teaches you *how* to eat. So the other night, I went out to dinner with some friends at a local restaurant, so nutrition information wasn’t posted. Knowing what I know about the way it works, I stuck to a grilled chicken Cobb salad with a vinaigrette. I didn’t know the points, but I knew that that was “plan-friendly” (and it was really good–actually the best thing I’ve ever had at that restaurant, but I probably wouldn’t have tried it otherwise.) It didn’t throw me off track, I felt satisfied, and I still lost. I feel like it teaches you how to pay attention to your body and the cues it’s giving you; you’re more sensitive to foods that make you feel gross, that weigh you down, that aren’t satisfying, that don’t give you energy, etc. And then you naturally steer clear of those, you know? I know I’ll fall off the wagon, but I’m hoping I’ll have the tools to get back on track.

        It’s funny because they *say* there’s still room for everything, and in South Beach/Atkins/Whatever terms, you can; you can eat a cookie (or two or three) and it’s not going to ruin your weight loss like those plans say they will. But. You won’t get to eat anything else. The truth is that any weight loss program that really works is going to require some major changes, so gone are the days of doughnuts being the same number of points as a chicken breast… 🙂

        1. That is great to hear and just what I need. I don’t mind making big hard changes, but I don’t like feeling like I’m winging it.
          Thank you for the extra feedback!

  4. I love every time you girls post about weightloss and healthy eating. You have such a realistic and healthy way of looking at it such a breath of fresh air. Looking forward to reading more next week and this year. Thank you!

  5. I’m hoping to find a solution that works for me. It’s been a long struggle and this far i haven’t had much success! Thank you for posting this. I’m hoping to start afresh! I love your cookbooks! I have all three and they are my go-to for everything!

  6. This is exactly what Beyond the Scale is all about! I’m loving the new ww program but it only works if you follow it. Thanks for giving me a little kick in the butt today Kate!

  7. Here’s a great website/source I use for lean grass fed beef. http://www.thecowshare.com
    They ship and its raised in the US and cheaper than I can find in the grocery store.
    Hopefully this is helpful since we’re talking about food! Sometimes just finding it is totally overwhelming.
    Just bought this your cookbook and I can’t wait to get started cooking my way through it. Thanks for the motivation this morning!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.