Joy Bauer is the nutrition expert for the “Today Show” and founder of the Joy Fit Club, of which yours truly is now a member. Joy is also the nutritionist for the New York City Ballet, author of several bestselling books and a contributing editor to Parade magazine.
Even if you’re already following a weight-loss plan or are maintaining your weight, “Your Inner Skinny” is full of no-nonsense nutritional advice, recipes, and – my favorite – real-life success stories that can inspire you, especially after the glow of starting a diet has waned. I’m honored to be one of those success stories, but mine isn’t the one I read when I’m not feeling the maintenance love. I read the lessons learned and words of wisdom from folks like Veolia, who lost 252 pounds; Howard, who lost 219 pounds; and Mary, who lost 177 pounds and says this about maintenance: “Once you get to your goal weight…you can’t revert to what you did before. It’s not a free pass…it’s a gift. No one can take it away, but you can choose to give it up and put weight back on.”
Ah…choice. That’s what it all boils down to. What we put in our mouths is always a choice. Cake doesn’t leap into our mouths. Fattening sauces don’t sneak out of nowhere and slather themselves on our pastas. So “choice” is how I decided to start this interview.
Lynn: So glad to have you on my blog, Joy!
Joy: Hi Lynn! I'm honored to be here! I love your blog. It's the perfect blend of wisdom, humor, and fun. You are an incredibly talented writer and one true inspiration. Thanks for sharing your life (and the trials and tribulations of weight maintenance) with all of us.
Lynn: I love this quote from your book: “Maintaining weight loss is about understanding the power of choice…(T)he commitment to maintenance and good health has to be as strong as the commitment to shed pounds. Stronger, even!”
So what is it about maintenance that either trips people up or emboldens them to be even more determined? Do you counsel people at the beginning of their journey that they need to rethink their entire way of eating now and in the future?
Joy: Yes!! In my experience, it’s so hard for people to adopt that mentality of permanence – that, in order to lose weight and keep it off, you have to make a lifelong commitment to eating healthy.
People like to view a diet as a short-term deviation from their “normal” eating habits, because then there’s always the promise of returning to all the junk food, take-out, and restaurant food that they know and love. But we all know this strategy never works. Successful maintainers are those who develop a completely new outlook on healthy eating, and adopt it as part of their everyday routine. So many of my Joy Fit Club members and personal clients tell me that they’ve grown to love the crisp, fresh, clean taste of fruits and vegetables, and actually prefer the taste to the heavy, salty, fatty food of their “before” days. And although it’s perfectly normal to crave fattening fare from time to time (let’s face it, we all do), the payoff we receive from fighting that urge and not eating junk on a regular basis is well worth the fight!
Lynn: In my experience, “It takes a village” to lose weight. We need role models whose eating and exercise habits we aspire to emulate. The weight-loss successes you feature in your book are extraordinary, and yet their stories reflect the stories of everyone who deals with weight issues.
Joy: I agree 100 percent. Research and personal experience has shown me over and over again that having a strong support system in place (whether its friends, family members, co-workers, or an online community) is crucial to weight loss success. These people don’t necessarily have to be health role models; they can simply be supportive people, generally speaking, who are there for you no matter what goal you’re working towards. Of course, they can also be people who are in the same boat as you and can help you creatively troubleshoot solutions to your biggest dieting challenges.
Reading others’ success stories can be incredibly motivating, especially if it’s a person whose story you can relate to (they come from a similar background or shared similar childhood experiences, for example). That’s why I love inducting new Joy Fit Club members each week. I feel like every time I share another person’s unique story, I reach another pocket of viewers at home who are watching, desperate for inspiration to make a change.
Lynn: We’ve all heard the statistic that 95 percent of people who lose weight gain some or all of it back within five years. While this stat has been proven to be not completely accurate, the odds are still pretty high that people who lose weight will gain some back. For someone starting a weight-loss program for the first or tenth time, this can be daunting.
Joy: Unfortunately, weight regain is a common problem. But you never know which time your weight loss efforts will finally “click” and you’ll finally understand and accept what you need to do to stay slim and fit forever. Just look at the Joy Fit Club members I’ve inducted over the years, nearly every one of them was a chronic yo-yo dieter who had tried and failed on dozens of diets in the past. Yet, for each one of them, something about their last attempt was different, and they finally found their weight loss groove and stayed there permanently.
At the start of the journey, it’s really hard to predict when people have found the resolve to stick with it for the long haul. Ultimately, I think it’s important to be losing weight for the right reasons if your want to make a permanent lifestyle change. You have to really want it, you need a significant and enduring source of motivation for finally losing the weight, like being around to see your grandkids grow up or preventing another heart attack. Superficial reasons like fitting into a dress for a special occasion or getting in shape for a beach vacation tend to work for the short-term (and they certainly serve their purpose), but they can also set you up for weight rebound. Once the event or vacation has passed, your inspiration is gone and you slip back into bad eating habits. I’m all for making short-term AND long-term goals.
Lynn: You’re fit and look great! I assume you practice what you preach?
Joy: Thank you!! It’s definitely something that I work at every day. And please know that I am not one of those “genetic lean machines”. In fact, after each one of my three pregnancies it felt as though I was left with 10 pounds of cement – had to fight like mad to get it off.
Currently, I walk on my treadmill most days a week for at least an hour. I’m a huge multi-tasker, so I use the treadmill time to catch up on emails, read new nutrition research briefs, or take conference calls. Lately, I’ve been increasing the amount of strength training I do as well. I aim for at least 20 minutes 3 days per week. And, of course, I make healthy food choices 95% of the time, but my soft spots are ice cream, red wine, and cookies (crunchy kind only!).
Lynn: I love many of the recipes in your book, particularly the Maple Dijon dressing, Thousand Island dressing, Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps, chocolate pudding, popcorn ideas, and cauliflower mashed potatoes. How do you create your recipes, and do you experiment on your family?
Joy: I personally love to cook! I am constantly experimenting in my kitchen and testing the results on my husband and three kids (plus their friends, extended family members and neighbors). I also work with talented chefs, often budding young culinary students in the New York City area. I give them specific guidelines when it comes to nutrition and ingredients, and they never fail to impress me with their creative and flavor-packed recipes.
I have a new cookbook coming out in April 2010 called “Slim & Scrumptious” and it’s filled with tons of recipes geared towards satisfying kids’ palates (as well as adults) with healthy, nutritious food. And yes, I tested every single recipe on my kids because they always give their honest opinion! Some of their favorites in the new book include Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Spicy Shrimp Jambalaya, and Double Chocolate Pancakes. There’s even a recipe called AJ’s Mac-n-Cheezy, named after and developed especially for my youngest daughter, Ayden Jane. It took me a dozen tries before I earned her 5-star rating! I am really excited about this new book.
Lynn: My granddaughter calls mac n’ cheese “doggies” because the pasta she likes best is shaped like dogs. I’ll definitely try AJ’s Mac-n-Cheezy “doggies” out on Claire. The Double Chocolate Pancakes, though? They’re all mine.
Joy: Claire will be in cheezy heaven! Promise! And I hope you love the pancakes. Any excuse to have chocolate for breakfast, right? You'll have to let me know how they turn out.
Lynn: What projects are you working on for 2010?
Joy: At the moment, I am very excited about my paperback release “Your Inner Skinny” and my website, http://www.joybauer.com/. The website currently provides a comprehensive diet program for a small weekly charge, and a daily newsletter called “The Daily Plum.” However, in a few months, JoyBauer.com will be expanded to provide massive amounts of free nutrition content on everything from lowering cholesterol to managing migraines, arthritis, blood pressure, osteoporosis and much more. I am really looking forward to getting science-based nutrition information out there (for free!).
Lynn: I’ll put up a link here when it’s up and running.
So…you’re a nutrition expert, you help people get healthy, you work at 30 Rock several days a week, but I know you have a family and a life beyond all the grit and glitz. Care to share the “softer” side of Joy?
Joy: Definitely! There's more to me than meets the eye.....and I bet you laugh out loud when you hear some of my out-of-the-box details.
A few JB fun facts:
I was in a rock band in both high school (called Eclipse) and college (called The Space Sharks). I played keyboards. Thankfully for our fans, I did not sing!!
I was a competitive gymnast from ages 11-18 and spent most waking hours in a gym.
I am only 5 feet tall and still praying for a growth spurt!
Joy: I was a hostess, waitress, and even a hat check girl in multiple restaurants throughout high school and college. I was NOT very good (lousy tips validated this!)
While getting my graduate degree in nutrition from New York University, I was a personal trainer and aerobics instructor – all over town. This is how I managed to make enough money to support myself while I was going to grad school. My undergraduate degree from University of Maryland was in kinesiology (combo of anatomy and exercise physiology), so I had the appropriate credentials and loved every minute of it. Go Terps!
Favorite book: “A Fine Balance”
Favorite movies: “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” (original version), “The Godfather” (all of them), “Shawshank Redemption,” and “Thirteen Going on Thirty.”
Lynn: Oh…Thirteen Going on Thirty. I watched that movie when I was on vacation in the Adirondacks in 2004, just a few months before I decided to lose weight. I spent the week contemplating whether I wanted to stay the weight I was or lose it. I had to make a choice because I was so emotionally conflicted. That movie touched something in me, something that said, “You can change and yet still be, at your core, the same person you always were.” Fun movie, but very personal for me.
Joy: I completely understand what you mean. For me, the best part about “Thirteen Going On Thirty” is that the entire Bauer brood loves it. And believe me, it's a feat to get all 5 of us on board wit the same flic!
And as far as my biggest food vices (because I know you're going to ask about that!): hard/crunchy sugar cookies, ice cream, red wine, and frozen peanut M&Ms. I am also a true nut-a-holic – I love almonds, pistachios and cashews.
Lynn: So even Joy Bauer has food vices :)
Joy: Of course! I've always supported a 90/10 philosophy: make 90% of your food choices healthy and treat yourself the remaining 10% of the time.
Lynn: Thank you for spending time with me here on my blog. Best of luck to you with the book!
To win a signed copy of Joy’s book, write a comment or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll draw a winner on Tuesday, Jan. 5.
I hope this finds you all inspired for the new year and ready to begin or continue on the path to good health and nutrition. I meant what I said earlier, it takes a village to do this. I know you’ve all helped me more than you can ever know. My hope is that my blog helps you in some small way on your own journey.
Happy 2010, everyone!