Longer Reads

Healthy Ways to Drop the Weight: As Featured in NY Press!

Lisa Held, editor over at NY Press, recently interviewed me on healthy ways to drop the winter weight and get svelte for summer. Check out my answers in the article below, or click here to see the article in NY Press: Healthy Manhattan: Healthy Ways to Drop the Weight

Healthy Manhattan: Healthy Ways to Drop the Weight

By Lisa Held

Last month, on one of the first days that the temperature rose above 60 degrees, NYU students sprawled out in bikinis in Washington Square Park, soaking up the sun next to signs that warned them to keep off the freshly seeded lawn. Young women in sundresses scoured the aisles of DSW in Union Square for sandals to show off their brand-new pedicures. All of this compulsive skin baring associated with the first hint of summer’s approach comes with a related phenomenon—an obsession with weight loss. The sun is out in New York, and so are carbs.

At gyms like Equinox, there’s a huge bump in business that starts in March and climaxes in June, according to David Harris, vice president of personal training.

“My business takes off this time of year,” said Christy Maskeroni, a registered dietician who is the nutritionist-in-residence at the luxury fitness center CLAY on 14th Street.

Maskeroni said that 80 to 85 percent of her clients are women, and they come to her already seeded with the latest ideas about weight loss. Should I try the Dukan diet like Kate Middleton? Should I start a juice cleanse?

While juice cleanses are more mainstream, and diet pills are still out there, increasingly, nutritionists are focusing less on ways to help their patients lose as many pounds as possible for that week in the Hamptons, and more on helping them make a complete lifestyle shift in which healthy habits based on whole, unprocessed foods rule out the need for dieting.

“In my eyes, people still want the quick fix—what can I do as quickly as possible,” said Maskeroni. “My goal is to explain the importance of food as fuel and the process of how weight loss works.”

Even Weight Watchers, which used to assign the same amount of points to an Oreo as an apple (because the calorie counts were the same) has jumped on the whole foods bandwagon. Last December, they updated their system for the first time in 14 years, allowing participants to enjoy unlimited fruits and vegetables and assigning higher point values to processed foods.

“We had to change the system because of what we now know about nutrition,” said Janice Mielarczyk, the head of New York City Weight Watchers. “There’s so much information about how our bodies process the food, and it’s not just about calories.”

Andrea Moss, a health counselor and founder of Moss Wellness who specializes in weight loss, welcomes this change. Before she attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she was 45 pounds heavier and had tried every diet out there, including one that only allowed her to eat for one hour per day. Now, she helps her clients achieve balance over dieting. She calls whole foods like produce, whole grains, nuts and fish “honest foods” because the body knows how to get nutrients from them and is left feeling satisfied.

“If you’re eating an imbalanced diet— for example, not getting enough protein or complex carbohydrates—your body may send up sweet cravings all the time,” she explained, “and it’s very hard to deny those cravings since your body can be screaming them at you.”

For example, lots of women trying to lose weight reach for artificial sweeteners like Splenda, but the body recognizes the sweet taste and prepares itself for sugar intake. When it doesn’t get it, it craves sugar for the rest of the day, making weight loss harder.

Some of Moss’ top tips for safe, healthy weight loss are to increase fiber intake, switch to wheat bread and brown rice, eat healthy fats found in fish and nuts and to switch from refined sugar to a natural alternative like honey, maple syrup or stevia. Plan ahead, and choose healthy foods and exercise that you enjoy.

If you really need to drop more weight quickly, juice cleanses can be OK, but listen to your body. If you feel faint, make a beeline for the nearest Shake Shack.

Another unlikely component to weight loss? “Most importantly, sleep, sleep, sleep,” stressed Maskeroni. “The hormone that makes you feel hungry is elevated in those that aren’t sleeping enough, so you’ll feel hungry more often.”

Following an integrative nutrition plan like Moss’ or Maskeroni’s will allow you to shed about a pound per week. So, you may not be the svelte figure you’d imagined by the time you make your first trip out to Long Beach in June, but it will likely last much longer.

“If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it has to always be about a lifestyle shift,” said Moss. “There is no quick fix that will last forever.”