Recapping a year’s worth of diet and fitness advice

Those who refuse to learn from their fitness past are doomed to get fat.

The new year is fast approaching. Congratulations on surviving 2018 and tolerating yet another 12 months of me bloviating about proper eating, exercise dos and don’ts, weight loss myths, healthy aging and body image. I never shut up, I know.

So what better way to send off this year than with a recap of my 2018 dietary sermons?

Here goes:

Don’t repeat past failures. This is the most common blunder I witness. Repeatedly, I hear from new clients that they can’t lose weight despite their best efforts. That’s because they put themselves on the same diet over and over again, even though it does not work for them. They also engage in ineffective workouts, or choose an exercise format they despise, which is a shoe-in for quitting.

Have a specific method of attack. Planning to lose weight simply by eating less and exercising more doesn’t cut it. Like any other goal-setting project, you need a detailed plan of action.

Set objectives, not hazy goals. A mission of losing one big chunk of weight is overwhelming and far too easy to lose sight of. The final goal has to be broken down into smaller objectives.

Keep your objectives realistic. Embarking on a low-calorie diet with a goal of losing 5 pounds per week will never get you to your destination. Nor will frantically working out four hours a day in an attempt to burn calories.

Don’t omit whole food groups or all of your favorites from your diet. Permanently eliminating your favorite food — say, bread — inevitably leads to cramming an entire loaf down your craw in one sitting.

Prep snacks and meals in advance. I spend an hour or so each Sunday afternoon prepping food. I slice veggies and fruit, make salads and sandwiches, boil eggs and blend breakfast smoothies. But don’t stop there: Once everything is prepared, portion it all into serving-size Tupperware containers and place them front and center in the fridge, including salad dressings and dips. Each day, just grab and go. This saves an inordinate amount of time throughout the week and ensures you will eat healthy most of the time.

Get yourself a portable cooler. Buy it and use it. Pack it full of healthy snacks: nuts, yogurt (low sugar, please), cottage cheese, instant oatmeal (again, low sugar), fruit, raw veggies with dip, a protein bar. If you don’t have wholesome food with you, you are far more likely to eat junk or fast food.

You can eat healthy when dining out. Focus on lean protein and veggies. Skip fried foods, high-calorie salad dressings and sauces and mayonnaise. Request a salad, veggies, fruit or cottage cheese in exchange for more caloric options like french fries, coleslaw or potato chips.

For crying out loud, EAT. If you are regularly going hungry in an attempt to lose weight, your body will rebel and you will without a doubt pack on the pounds you lost, and then some. For a holiday feast and special occasions, indulge in whatever you wish with the promise that you will stop eating when you are comfortably full.

Get over your mistakes. If you do end up gorging on an entire platter of Nachos Grande, move on and get right back to your healthy eating program. Getting emotionally attached to the deviation is what messes us up.

Be patient. Lasting weight loss takes time; there are no quick fixes.

We’ll pick up again in January, when I will give a recap of my 2018 exercise and fitness tirades. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season: Laugh, love, eat, exercise — and shake me up a gin martini, would ya?

Catherine Bongiorno is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and owner of Lift To Lose Fitness & Nutrition. Email her at or visit for more information.

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