How to Shed the Pounds When They Won’t Seem to Budge

Cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream

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Little Black Dress Personal Training is based out of New York by Anne Marie. Anne is a personal trainer who writes about practical ways to include fitness into our daily routine, staying motivated, and eating healthy. Follow Anne on Twitter or Facebook.

How to Shed the Pounds When They Won’t Seem to Budge

Sometimes you do all the right things and yet, you’re still not losing weight. It’s frustrating and annoying to say the least, and it causes a lot of people to mosey on down to the Golden Corral, pausing ever so slightly before opening the door to reconsider, and then pushing forward and diving head first into buffet bliss. I can’t blame you. Many times I’ve been equally frustrated and annoyed and drowned my sorrows in chocolate covered caramels and white chocolate truffles. (Shockingly those did nothing to make me feel better afterwards.)

If you feel you’re in a weight loss rut, there are a few things you can review about your lifestyle that maybe with a minor adjustment here and there can translate into newfound weight loss joy. With me, once I started keeping a food journal I found that I was able to shed a few of the stubborn pounds, plus I ate much better (because who wants to see buttered popcorn, chocolate chip cookies and three glasses of wine staring back at you in your own handwriting? It’s eye-opening when you begin to become accountable for what you ingest!)

So here’s another list (before starting this blog earlier this year, I was never a list person… and now I’m all about them, a rabid list maker if you will) on things you should take a look at to see if maybe a little adjustment is all you need to get your body burning those calories again!

1 – Are you getting enough sleep? Big important question here. I pretty much always get eight hours of sleep. I’m a sleeper, I love my bed and I love being in it. Now some people are five to six-hour sleepers and then set off for a marathon kind of day, shuttling kids off to school, attending all sorts of work meetings, then preparing dinner and helping with homework. Half way through the day they’re bleary eyed looking for their next caffeine fix. Your body needs rest and relief from the day’s activities. Some proper sleep just may be the ticket that will allow you to eat better and exercise more.

2 – You’re skipping meals. Going too long without eating sends messages to your brain that you’re in starvation mode and guess what? It’s the fat cells that bunker down and refuse to burn off in times like these. Instead your body starts looking at your lean mass as proper food and starts churning away at it. Not good. Don’t go too long without eating, it messes up your metabolism and your blood sugar levels. Eat every three hours so you never hear the rumbling of the belly beast…  besides, it leads to embarrassing moments and comments/smirks from others!

3 – You’re not exercising enough. Or at all! Please don’t be an “or at all” person, that just makes me sad. If you’re consuming calories on a daily basis, then you should be burning some of those same calories on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be anything major, just look at what Monday’s blog suggested (another list) and try to incorporate some of those fabulous ideas into your life. And for the casual exerciser, once a week ain’t gonna cut it if you’re looking for weight loss. It’s commitment time and your number is up. Make it a point to attend more classes or hire a personal trainer, they’ll help keep you honest and motivated. Exercise does a body good so make sure you’re getting in enough of it.

4 – You’re ODing on mocha frappucinos. Calories galore lurk in all sorts of creative drinks that specialty shops create in some ill-conceived effort to inject the population with sugar, causing them to all come back for more. (Sugary drinks = More money for the Man.) Just the other day a barista informed me before I ordered that they were out of the gingerbread flavor so he couldn’t make a gingerbread latte but he happily suggested a peppermint mocha latte with a shot of caramel and whipped cream on top or a creme brulee latte with the caramel and whipped cream additions, they’re both delicious he said. No kidding. A drink with a bucket of sugar thrown in would probably taste great and get my head and body spinning in all sorts of directions for the next hour. I declined both offers for an iced tea (but not after having to say no six times to the dude… he was very persistent that I consume a bucket of sugar. My guess is he was flying high from a caramel mocha creme brulee peppermint gingerbread—that’s where it must have all gone—latte himself.) Be careful what you drink, those calories count just the same as food calories.

5 – Your weekends are an orgy filled food fest. I used to be of the thinking that since I was so good all week-long that the weekends didn’t count, like the calories lifted magically off my body and into the vast black hole that was my weekend. Not the case. Dinner and drinks with friends on the weekend add up big time. Going out to dinner can easily lead to an extra days worth of calories being consumed and you don’t even realize it because, hey, it’s the weekend… I deserve a little fun. If your weekends are turning into diet pitfalls, you need to rethink your plan. Don’t ‘save’ your calories for when you’re out, that’s bogus and doesn’t work. Eat throughout the day and even right before you go out because a slightly filled belly won’t have you jumping into the bread basket when it rears it’s warm, soft and crusty head. You’ll have more control and will feel much better come Monday.

This post was originally published on December 7, 2010.

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VIP Yoga, Meditation, and Swag Bag Giveaway with Malika Chopra!

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I am giving away 8 VIP passes to “Seren-i-Tea in the Square,” an interactive event featuring music, meditation, yoga, education, natural refreshment and inspiration – all aimed at encouraging people to take time out to achieve balance in their hectic lives. The event, hosted by Mallika Chopra, daughter of famed author Dr. Deepak Chopra and founder of

Anyone can register for the event, but each Club Dine In VIP will receive a custom tote that contains a yoga mat, a designer scarf and other items, a total value of $75. Also, each Club Dine In member will receive a $50 Whole Foods gift card.

All you have to do is go to Club Dine In’s Facebook page and leave a comment with a positive message. I will randomly pick 9 fans to join me for this exclusive event in San Francisco.

What   Seren-i-Tea in the Square,an interactive midday event featuring meditation, yoga, education and refreshments.

Who        Registration for this event is open to the public, but 9 of my readers get to attend with me as VIP guests!

Featured guests include:
Mallika Chopra – The daughter of Deepak Chopra, Mallika Chopra is a mother, author, blogger and founder of She will serve as event keynote to guide participants in finding serenity in their daily lives.
Stephanie Snyder – Well known for her unique ability to infuse her challenging classes with strategic sequencing, yoga philosophy, technical alignment, and heart-felt humor, Stephanie has been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal Magazine, has been a contributing writer to Yoga Journals’ “Home Practice” and was named San Francisco’s most sought after yoga teacher by InStyle Magazine.

When: Saturday, June 25, 2011 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Where  Union Square, 333 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
Why        Our hectic days are consumed with jobs, loved-ones, everyday pressures and obligations. Often the last obligation we think about is the one we have to ourselves.
This event is aimed at providing a real-time “self-moment” for participants and will offer tools and techniques to make “me-time” a deliberate and important part of daily routines – helping us achieve balance from within.

About Seren-i-tea
Sokenbicha will donate $5 for every person who attends Seren-i-Tea to nonprofit partners making a significant impact in San Francisco:

  • Headstand brings stress reduction techniques and yoga to youth in economically-disadvantaged communities.
  • Off the Mat uses the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change in the world.

About Sokenbicha

  • Sokenbicha combines the refreshing taste of water with the flavor and goodness of all-natural, authentically brewed tea and botanicals.
  • Each of the five varieties of Sokenbicha is unsweetened, zero calorie and made with natural botanicals sourced from around the globe.
  • One of Japan’s largest tea brands, Sokenbicha is created in partnership with and endorsed by Japan’s revered natural health and wellness experts – Nihondo.
  • From the packaging to the process of developing the beverage sold inside, Sokenbicha reflects a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Be sure to follow @SokenbichaTea on Twitter and Liking Sokenbicha on Facebook. Also, guests can register for the event here:

Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events. Be sure to sign-up to receive posts and updates straight into your inbox!

Fitness Fridays: Using Geo-Location Apps to Keep Me Honest

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Last year, I excitedly started using FourSquare. I thought it was cool to check-in to places and share it with my social network.  There was a lot, a lot of hype surrounding geo-location apps. And living in San Francisco, it’s hard to not get caught up in it. Though, after awhile, I got the check-in fatigue. Not all of my friends were using FourSquare and then Facebook Places rolled out, and I didn’t know which service would reap the highest rewards in the long-run. Also, coverage in SF often times really sucks so checking in isn’t a smooth, quick process. Then I heard from a trusted source that mostly only guys check-in and noticed that  most of the pending friend requests on FourSquare were from guys I don’t know. Naturally, I was creeped out  and decided checking in wasn’t so cool anymore. Also, I am not a fan of re-creating a new social network on every site, platform, and app.

It was expected that the geo-location apps would roll out new location based  services that made sense of all the check-ins, so the places I check-in into now are the gym and places related to my start-up or Club Dine In.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to workout four times a week, and checking into the gym or Marina Greens helps me keep track of that goal. Also, it makes me a little more motivated to actually leave my apartment and workout. (The gym is too far from my apartment for me to fake a check-in). I have tried becoming the mayor of the gym, but a personal trainer of the gym is holding onto that mayorship. IMHO, employees should have a different mayorship for working there and checking in. It’s annoying.

Anyway, I am really liking Foursquare 3.0, because now all of those check-ins make sense and are going to result in real-life rewards like personal recommendations. Though, until I am assured that checking in is leveled by both males and females and enough of my real friends join in on checking-in, I will keep my check-ins reserved for Glamour Games and Club Dine In purposes (which includes fitness and eating well).

Do you use FourSquare, Facebook Places, or any other geo-location apps?

Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events. Be sure to sign-up to receive posts and updates straight into your inbox!

Fitness Fridays: What’s In Your Backayard

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Going for a hike does not have to be a big excursion (like hopping on a plane and traversing through a thick rainforest)- all you need are shoes with good grip and a park. The world is full of natural and man-made parks.  Don’t feel like you need to an expert about trees and birds to go on a hike. It really is about just getting out there, taking in fresh air, and getting some exercise. Also, you can experience what your neighborhood/city has to offer in a different way. Bonus, you can hike solo or with family and friends. Hiking provides quality bonding time (no cell phones or computers) and it doesn’t cost much. Find the closest park or trail near you, put on your shoes, carry water and nuts, and get out there!

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Fitness Fridays: What’s Your 10 Minutes?

Little Black Dress Personal Training is based out of New York written by Anne Marie. Anne is a personal trainer who writes about practical ways to include fitness into our daily routine, staying motivated, and eating healthy. Follow Anne on Twitter or Facebook.


I’m a big proponent of getting in at least 10 minutes a day of exercise, be it cardio or strength training, or a combination of both. I advise all my clients to do it, despite hectic schedules and attention-seeking kids. It’s 10 minutes, you can carve it somewhere out of your day, I know you can. (Quit with the excuses, we all got ‘em… this is a matter of taking control and time for yourself and we all deserve that!)

How to make that the most effective 10 minutes of your day may be the problem for most, but it’s really quite simple; you push yourself right out of your comfort zone and into that freaky, sweaty place which some may refer to as the twilight zone – no hot Twilight vampires here though, or werewolves.) For many this may be walking briskly for 10 minutes while for others it may be doing an all out sprint on the treadmill for 10 minutes. If you’re at a loss for ideas though, don’t worry, I’m just full of ‘em.

The best thing to do in your 10 minutes is to incorporate plenty of combination moves. Example: A squat thrust. Many may remember those from high school gym class. It’s a simple move but works the whole body. Basically you start in standing position, squat low to the ground, place both hands on the ground in front of you and then thrust both legs out behind you, ending up briefly in full plank position (wrists below shoulders, hips, knees, ankles aligned, balancing on toes.) Then you quickly thrust the legs back underneath you and return to standing. Do a set of 10 reps and I’m certain your heart will jump out of your chest!


via Google Images


Another great combo move I do is a reverse lunge with a shoulder press and front kick. Sounds like a lot but again, it’s using all the muscles of your body and making your 10 minutes super effective! Here’s how you do it: From a standing position, step right foot back about 3 feet behind left, then bend both knees 90 degrees. While bending knees, raise both arms up straight overhead (either holding weights or not). As you come back to standing, lower hands back to shoulders while kicking the right leg forward. Then from the kick go right into the reverse lunge and repeat move. Work up to 10 reps and then repeat on other leg. (Again, heart rate will shoot right up and those calories will be a’burning off.)


via Google Images


One more great move is the plank. It’s full body pose and is great for toning your core. You can do either the modified version (which is placing your forearms on the floor) or regular, which is balancing on your hands and toes. There are all sorts of variations you can play around with once you’re in plank pose, like twisting the torso from side to side to work the obliques a little more, or lifting a leg and holding it up for a certain amount of time. Play with stability and place your feet up on a stability ball and hold the position for 10 to 30 seconds, working your way up to 1 minute.

So there you have three great, full body moves that you can do just about anywhere at anytime of the day. Try doing 2 sets in a row followed by jumping rope, jumping jacks or any other cardio move and you’ll be well on your way to tightening up any wobbly bits you may have in no time!

If you already have a 10 minute routine, then please share with me, I’d love to hear the creative ways people are getting in their cardio and strength training!


Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded individuals and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

A New Way To New Year’s Resolution

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Every year, we make a few resolutions and many of those are repeat resolutions (the same ones we make every year in hopes of a different result). The most common resolution, which I am certainly guilty of making, is losing weight. Loosing weight is a great goal to have but the term is very broad and doesn’t leave you with any direction on how to lose weight. Actually, when I used to say “I need to lose weight” or “My goal is to shed some pounds” I would feel overwhelmed and depressed. It seemed like a big goal, with 12 months to achieve it. So there was the “I just can’t go on another diet” feeling and the “I will start tomorrow” sentiment. By mid-March only a guilty, hopeless, self-deprecating feeling would be left. The problem starts at the goal setting itself. We do not outline how we will make the goal achievable nor do we set the intermediary goals that will make the big goal possible.  Instead of  just saying, “I will lose weight” or “I will eat healthier”, make resolutions that will help you achieve these big goals. Think about the steps you will need to take to achieve weight loss, eating healthier, or making a million dollars, and then set those steps as goals. Once, you can achieve the smaller goals, the big goals will fall into place. For weight loss, diet and fitness are both important. Increased cardiovascular activities and strength training will help you burn fat and put on muscle needed to continuously burn fat. Though, eating unprocessed, whole foods will keep you satiated, energized, and improve your workout. Eating fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, legumes, and even clean animal protein in moderation will help you lose weight. Though, in turn, you will need to reduce the amount of junk food you eat. The foods you eat determine how much harder you have to workout. For instance, if the majority of your caloric intake is from junk food, processed meats, and refined sugars and flours, you will have to work out much harder to burn calories and lose weight.

When it comes to health, I am only making three resolutions  this year. In the past, I’ve always almost failed at “eating better” and “losing weight” until I changed my goals. My new New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. To lose weight. To go to the gym 4 times a week for cardio and strength training. If I cannot make it to the gym, I will go for a 20 minute jog outside or run up and down our apartment building’s stairs. Big goal results: stronger body, more energy, glowing skin, and weight loss.

2. To eat better. To limit my intake of desserts and food with added sugars to once a week. Big goal results: more energy, weight loss, and improved mood.

3. To eat better. To eat slowly and mindfully. I don’t have to eat everything put in front of me and should recognize when I am truly hungry. Also, even if I am starving, I will slow down and try to enjoy each bite, instead of gobbling it all up at once. Big goal results: positive relationship with food and weight loss.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Any tips or ideas?

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Eating Rules: Guide to the Nutrition Facts Panel

When I met Andrew Wilder, he was gearing up to launch his October: Unprocessed challenge and I knew we had an instant connection to demystify food and health. Andrew  is a healthy foodie who believes that although diet and nutrition information is complicated, eating healthful, delicious food doesn’t have to be.  He writes about all this and more on his blog, Eating Rules. Follow Andrew on Twitter @eatingrules or find him on Facebook.

Guide to the Nutrition Facts Panel

Once you get in the habit of reading nutrition labels, it becomes like a game. If you know what to look for, you’ll start to see patterns emerge and will be able to tell very quickly if a food is good for you or if it’s full of junk. So before you put that new box of food in your shopping cart, please ignore all the marketing claims on the front, flip the box over, and check out the nutrition facts.

My introductory guide to reading the nutrition facts label is a fun, one-page diagram, designed to give you a quick overview of what I look for on the label. I’m grateful to Nimisha for giving me the opportunity to expand a bit on a few of the points here. I’m a big believer that “knowledge is power” — so I hope that you’ll find some power in the information below.

1. Read the ingredients list first.
This is the best way to know what you’re putting in your body. Ingredients must be sorted by order of descending quantity, so there’s more of the first ingredient than any other single ingredient.  Some ingredients may have sub-ingredients, which are indicated in parentheses or brackets.

TIP: Different types of sugar can be listed separately. In the sample label on the PDF, Enriched Flour is followed by Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and Dextrose. It’s very likely that there’s actually more sugar than flour in that product.

2.Memorize the footer information.
The “footer” information is identical on every label. Although it’s generic, it works well as a basic guideline.  In general, women should consume around 2,000 calories a day, and men around 2,500.

Many factors influence this number, including gender, age, activity level, general health, etc., but this is a good place to start. Memorize the appropriate column for you, and then you never have to look at this section of the label every again. (Find some online calorie calculators here).

3. Servings vs. Portions.
There are no precise rules about what companies can say constitutes a “serving,” so it’s sometimes hard to compare products. They are, however, required to show the number of servings per container. Keep in mind that a serving may be different than a portion.  An appropriate serving of meat is four ounces — but a steak served at a restaurant may be eight or more ounces. Be realistic about how many servings you’re actually going to eat.

4. Calories are still king.
If you know how many calories you should eat in a day, and you know how many calories are in a serving, then it just takes some basic math to figure out if this food fits well into your overall diet  A snack should probably be no more than around 200 calories.  TIP: Most whole fruits — a perfect snack from mother nature — are around 100 calories.

5. So much salt!
Sadly, most packaged foods have waaaaaay too much sodium. If a product has more milligrams of sodium than it does calories, it’s probably too high. It’s somewhat unrealistic in the current food climate to think you can do better with packaged foods, but it’s still a good guideline to keep your eye on,  TIP: Breads and soups are the worst offenders, so watch those extra carefully.

6. Fiber is fabulous.
It’s generally true that the more naturally-occurring fiber in a food, the better it is for you. But beware: Manufacturers now add fiber to many products, and there’s no distinction on the label.  If you see inulin, polydextrose, maltodextrin, or modified wheat starch in the ingredients list, it’s got added fiber. Though it’s not likely to hurt, and may indeed be good, the benefits of this extra fiber are not yet proven. Aim to eat 25-38 grams of naturally-occurring fiber every day from whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruits & vegetables. Learn more from my Fiber Primer.

7. Sugar is sugar.
Unfortunately, the nutrition label doesn’t distinguish between naturally-occurring sugars and added sugars, so it’s simplest just to assume less is better.  TIP: There’s about four grams of sugar in a teaspoon of regular table sugar, so divide the number shown on the label by four and visualize that many teaspoons of sugar. Still hungry?

8. Pack on the protein.
Dietary recommendations on protein vary widely, but the easiest guideline I’ve found is to aim for about ½ gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. (Example: A 160-pound person should eat about 80 grams a day). Remember, it’s important get your protein from a variety of sources. Look for beans & legumes, nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and smaller portions of lean meats.

9. Fat Fallacy.
Not all fats are bad (and some are even good), and eating fat doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get fat. Avoid man-made trans fats like the plague, and watch out for the trans fat loophole: If a food has partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils in the ingredients, it has trans fats! (The number shown can be rounded down to zero). Polyunsaturated fats are the good stuff, but mono-unsaturated fats are okay, too. TIP: Fat has 9 calories per gram (carbs and protein each have around 4), so more fat does mean more calories.

10. Vitameatavegamin?
Of course it’s important to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, but I don’t usually give this area of the label more than a passing glance. Are you really going to sit there and tally up your vitamin and mineral intake?  If you know you’re deficient in a particular one (or more), then you should definitely do it.  But otherwise, if you’re going to count something, it’s probably more worthwhile to count calories and naturally-occurring fiber. Eat a lot of different whole fruits & veggies, and you’ll do better than trying to get all your vitamins and minerals from a packaged food.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide or to replace any qualified medical advice. It’s just an overview, and I’ve left lots of important stuff out. For more in-depth information, check out the FDA’s Consumer Nutrition and Health Information.

What’s It Good For? The Short & Long-Term Benefits of Exercise

Little Black Dress Personal Training is based out of New York by Anne Marie. Anne is a personal trainers and writes about practical ways to include fitness into our daily routine, staying motivated, and eating healthy. Follow Anne on Twitter or Facebook.

What’s It Good For? The Short & Long-Term Benefits of Exercise

What's It Good For? The Short & Long-Term Benefits of Exercise Oh the merry holidays are peeking around the corner and next thing you know it’ll be 2011! What’s to be in the new year? Will it be a year to finally get in shape? Sure, why not right? Gym memberships always increase tenfold once January hits, it’s as sure as Christmas occurring on Dec. 25. For all those health bugs out there ready to mak … Read More