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New Year, New (Slim) You

Joy Bauer discusses how to budge the bulge in four easy steps.
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Quick Takes

What motivates you to accomplish all you do?

I truly love w hat I do! There is nothing more rewarding than helping people change their lives for the better.

How do your start your day?

With a strong cup of joe! Then, I prepare and pack lunches for my children. At least two days a week I have the Today show, so I'm out the door at 6 a.m. On non-Today show mornings, I get the kids off to school, grab a quick breakfast, and hit the treadmill.

What's your favorite way to unwind?

I cook and cook and cook! Whipping up fabulous, healthy creations is my therapy, and my husband and kids reap the benefits.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one food and one supplement would you want to have with you?

Cashews. For the supplement, a multivitamin for sure.

What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

Sugar cookies (hard and crunchy), vanilla soft-serve ice cream, and red wine!

Anyone who has seen the Today show is familiar with Joy Bauer, the show's resident nutrition and health expert, and founder of one of the largest nutrition centers in the country. Bauer is also an associate faculty member at Columbia University and the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The 90/10 Weight Loss Plan and Joy Bauer's Food Cures. Her most recent, Your Inner Skinny, focuses on following four steps to achieve weight-loss goals: release, relearn, reshape, and reveal. Just in time for New Year's resolutions, Bauer discusses these steps, and shares other tips for losing and keeping off stubborn extra pounds.

Q: How is Your Inner Skinny different from other diet-nutrition plans?

It's an extremely practical diet plan. The meals are tasty, and convenient. And the plan features regular, whole foods-no purifying tonics you have to mix up, no hard-to-find ingredients, no special packaged foods-so it's easy to shop for and stick with for the long term. Also, it's not a deprivation diet; you don't have to give up your favorite foods.

Q: What are the four steps in the book and why and how do they work?

STEP 1: Release is a single intensive week of stripping away negative habits. During this phase, you eat three meals and one snack per day, plus "unlimited foods" at any point during the day.

STEP 2: Relearn is two weeks during which you "reprogram" your appetite. During this phase, you continue with step 1, but you also add one "healthy extra" from a list of options that includes dark chocolate, wine, popcorn, and low-fat ice cream.

STEP 3: Reshape lasts until you reach your goal weight. Along the way, you learn how to create physical, psychological, and nutritional wellness. Instead of your healthy extra, you now get to enjoy a 150-calorie "everyday extra."

You are free to spend your 150 calories on any food or foods you desire. Dinners begin to include quality starches, like whole-grain pasta, baked potatoes, and brown rice. Restaurant options are expanded.

STEP 4: Reveal is about reveling in your diet success. This is the maintenance phase of my plan. You continue to eat a diet based on whole foods (quality carbohydrates like fruits, veggies, and whole grains; lean proteins; and healthy fats), but you are allowed a little more leeway with your everyday extras.

Q: Can anyone follow this plan?

Yes! This is really a general, overall healthy eating plan that will work for anyone looking to lose weight (whether it's 5 pounds or 200!). It's also safe for people diagnosed with chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes. (I even provide a few minor tweaks for individuals with diabetes.)

Q: What is the best way to deal with cravings?

If you're truly hungry, munch on low-cal foods, like nonstarchy vegetables (cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, celery, etc.), to fill you up. Or have a calorie-free beverage, like naturally flavored seltzer or a mug of tea. The best thing you can do is distract yourself. Call a friend, go for a walk around the block, paint your nails.

Just remove yourself from the kitchen and find something else to consume your time so you're not thinking about food. It's best to keep yourself really busy when you're trying to lose weight.

Q: What are some of the most important supplements for weight loss?

I encourage most people to take a basic multivitamin, just as an insurance policy to fill any gaps in your diet, especially while you're limiting food intake. Look for one that contains about 100 percent daily value for vitamins and minerals listed on the label.

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