Emily Wyckoff

How to Lose Five Pounds – No Lemonade Fast or Cabbage Soup Required

Ok, so I am one of the masses who, with the dawn of each New Year, decides to try and lose a few pounds. Although I consider myself a healthy person – I exercise regularly and intellectually know the right way to eat, I have noticed pounds slowly creeping on. It is imperceptible to most except me, as I struggle to button my favorite jeans and shy away from tucking shirts in.  Not good.

I have fallen prey to pretty much every diet out there – of course without lasting results as here I am still trying to lose those five pounds. In high school I dabbled in some some dreadful diet where you ate something like nothing but lettuce on day one, canned tuna on day 2, and canned beets on day 3 (I haven’t been able to look at a canned beet since). In college I did go down the Weight Watchers road, which is one of the smartest ways to go, yet had a hard time balancing all of the fruits and veggies with my beer and pizza consumption (my will power was at a low point at that time).

In my 20′s I experimented with the Cabbage Soup Diet, where you could eat an unlimited amount of a cabbage, tomato and onion soup, combined with, mysteriously, a giant steak on day four. I didn’t make it past day two and a half when my co-workers forced me to walk down to the newspaper stand and buy a pack of peanut M&Ms. And I have had a tough time with tomato based soups since. Then in my 30′s I decided if Beyonce could do it, I could too and tried out the Lemonade Fast diet where you exist on warm water mixed with a lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper concoction. Yes, the pounds fell off, but I was living in some alternate fugue state and went to bed every night by 7pm for 4 days. Oh, and the weight of course came racing back.

I also tried a gluten-free stint (no, I don’t have a gluten allergy – don’t ask). Then just last year I bought out my local grocery store’s supply of green algae powders – I decided I could look like Gwyneth Paltrow too if I followed her recommendation of various green smoothies and raw foods (gag). This was another short-lived experiment. Oh, and I forgot about my multiple trips to carb-free South Beach (wow, this diet catalog experiment is enlightening – and embarrassing).

So what is my take away from all of these failed attempts at diets? Don’t diet. I have realized I don’t do well on diets and I don’t like someone else telling me what to eat. I need to eat foods that are non-processed and as close to their natural state as possible. And my latest conclusion? It’s the calories, stupid (thanks James Carville).   So join me and just say no to diets and hello to healthy eating and portion control. To lose five pounds, the average person needs to cut 500 calories from their diet each day, which will allow you to lose about a pound a week. Here are some easy ways to do it:

Measure your portions. While I am a healthy eater, I wasn’t paying any attention to my portions. Another helping of rice at dinner? Sure, thanks. No clue that a recommended serving was 1/2 cup (120 calories). I was easily eating three times that. If you want to have seconds, opt for veggies or salad. A good rule of thumb when serving yourself a meal is that one half of the plate should be veggies, one fourth protein, one fourth starch. Measure while cooking too. I was extremely heavy handed with the olive oil when roasting veggies, for example. Had I measured the amount of oil I was using, I bet it could be up to 1/4 cup (475 calories) or more when I could have gotten by with half that amount.

Sit down to eat meals and snacks. I was of the school that if you are standing up and eating, the calories don’t count. No such luck. I don’t think your body or mind registers the food either if you don’t sit down and really enjoy it. Plus, if you sit down and put the six cookies on a plate that you would stand up and eat in front of the fridge, it’s a reality check.

Stop eating your kids’ leftovers. A quarter of a grilled cheese here, leftover mac and cheese there – it all adds up. A lot. And it doesn’t taste that good.

Keep a food log and take advantage of online calorie counters. I like www.the caloriecounter.com which is a free website that is a comprehensive database of all foods. I use an iPhone free app called Lose It! where I log food and exercise each day to track where I am for the day based on a set amount of calories to lose a pound per week.

Bump up your exercise to create a calorie deficit. For example, just an extra 30 minutes of walking burns another 120 calories.

Easy food substitutions (to reduce calories) that have worked for me:

  • Drink your coffee black and save as much as 75 calories per coffee cup from dropping cream and sugar
  • Ditch the mayo (100 calories per tablespoon) on your lunchtime sandwich for light mayo (50 calories per tablespoon), fat free mayo (11 calories per tablespoon) or mustard (20 calories per tablespoon)  and save up to 90 calories. Take the top piece of bread off the sandwich and save another 70 calories.
  • You can still have chips but make them baked (56 calories for ten) vs. regular fried (120 calories).
  • Choose the right salad dressing. Ranch dressing is 148 calories for 2 tablespoons while a fat free Italian has 14 calories for the same serving size. A squeeze of fresh lemon with the tiniest drizzle of olive oi is a delicious option.

So I will keep plugging away and continue to be vigilant with my portion control. I will eat a cookie if I want, yet I will probably have to skip the roll at dinner. I lost a pound last week – so far so good……

358 Responses to “How to Lose Five Pounds – No Lemonade Fast or Cabbage Soup Required”

  1. grannylove2 says:

    I am cutting down on portions, too. However, I am taking it to the next level. I am taking a page out of the gastric bypass surgery page and only eating 1 bite every 15 minutes or so. Like I will take a Gwaltney Chicken Frank and take a small bite, chew it up real good and swallow. Then I may take a swallow of my coffee. This goes on all morning long and when I get to lunch, I am not starving so I eat a Healthy Choice Steamer selection. In the afternoon, I will take some fruit (maybe some grapes, canteloupe and strawberries or combinations thereof) and have just a bite or two off and on until supper. For supper, I will eat some homecooked fresh veggies and half a hamburger steak or baked tilapia that I pick up from our cafeteria at lunch since I work 10 hour days and it closes at 1:30. I lost 27 lbs. 2 years ago but never finished the job so I am starting back. I am planning to add some more things as I go along so that by the time I get where I want to be, I am eating a totally new healthier way and can keep it off.

  2. Diane says:

    1. Reduce your portions. 2. If it is a junk food DO NOT eat it. 3. Get off your butt and walk. It’s in your head. You CAN do it. Walk 5 min ONE WAY and 5 min back for 7 days. It’s only 5 Minutes. Next week do 10 min. Pretty soon you’ll enjoy walking. But get off of your LAZY BUTT and DO something!

  3. grannylove2 says:

    I also use http://www.myfitnesspal.com to track my calories, protein, carbs, etc

  4. lydiajane says:

    Sounds like Weight Watchers behavior, my weight management program of choice after my trying every crazy everything (including the cabbage soup thing). Go go Rachael, if it works for you and is healthy, that is so good! In the meantime, check out Jennifer Hudson, Chicago hometown girl and WW recent spokesperson. I love how Jennifer’s involvement could draw in enthusiasm from the African American population, in addition to all who love her and her music. Anything to improve quality of life and a med-free life as long as possible!

  5. wendy says:

    LISTEN to your body! If you stop and ask yourself – am I full, is my stomach asking for more? You will realize you don’t need to eat so much. Common sense and paying attention to when you are full are so simple and easy – it will pay off. No need to “diet”, just eat vegetables, protein and stop when you’re full. It’s just changing the way you eat – not stopping eating or feeling like you have to punish yourself by withholding!

  6. Hope Rosales says:

    hello Rachel, thank for the tips that you wrote , im going to seriously that your advice on that,, i have also done the yo=yo diets and they were not for me,, i enjoy eating bread and sweets those are my weakness.i do try the protion control but the sencon helping sounds good, so i get up and reserve myself..
    thanks Rachel you are AWESOME……

  7. Rilea says:

    Your success story practically mimics mine using Myfitnesspal.com. I started with portion control and making healthier choices with regular exercise. Good for you, keep it up.

  8. Rilea says:

    PS: Yup ‘fad diets don’t work, when I want PIE I have PIE, just a smaller portion! ;-)

  9. Virginia says:

    I love to cook and by looking at me eat too in the past year I have gained about 30 lbs which I really need to get rid of because of my health Im diabetic the problem is my husband if I diet he says who are you losing the weight for have you found someone else and need to look good for him HELP I know Im not the only one with this problem

  10. Lil says:

    I am 52 and just found that 1300 calories a day of very healthy foods no processed along with one cup of hot water with juice of one lemon and three green tea bags has got me losing about 1/2 to 3/4 lbs a week. I have tough metabolism and have already had a hystorectomy and my metabolism is junk! Good points I picked up from here..thanks!

  11. Robin says:

    Portion size has aways been my problem too. I use to burn it because I was so active. I have always been a health eater like you. I however am not as active as I used to be and I waited until the tail end of my thirties to have children. Now I can’t seem to get rid of the lbs. I packed on. I like your tips and will put them into action. I would however like to take off more like 60 to 70 lbs. maybe I need the Biggest Loser.


  12. kerry says:

    love the advise i have been putting myself on diets for the past few years, but i always side tract….then i had my baby, so i had my hands full for a while….i’m not overweight just need to lose the stomach fat so i’m sure to give it a try and i will let you know how it goes….thanks
    p.s i loveeeee your show


  13. peggy says:

    love u girl hope i can loose some of this fat watch u ever day my favorite cook .

  14. peggy says:

    enjoy your show hope i to can loose this Fat u my favorite cook

  15. A friend says:

    Which ever way you cut the dice, to reduce, one needs to have basic self control. To me this is a diet. Yep, there’s no magic.

  16. Ivette says:

    I will try this new tips and keep track on the junks that i have been trying to lose, By the way I love your show and have been making some of your Qick Dinners thank you rachel Ray

  17. Mary says:

    I too have tried every diet out there. When the weight falls off fast once has a few months at most to enjoy the new body, then like magic the amount lost and a little more is back. Over a lifetime one gets heavy. The plate of vegetables, carbs and protein is the answer. The slower weight is lost, the less one’s body wants it back. Now if I could do something about the face, a problem Rachel doesn’t have. She is a lovely lady.

  18. Barb says:

    I was recently a stay at home mom on a dairy farm, now I’ve been working part time thinking the exercise I get from walking around the store and stooping and stretching would help melt off the lbs. Eating healthier, fruit and veggies are the snack of choice, but so far no lbs are coming off.

  19. Lana Guess Thompson says:

    Rachael, I just read this blog and it is matching everything I have learned over the past year or two. I never had a weight problem until after menopause, so it is relatively new to me, but I want to stay healthy and look good, too. Adding more water and healthy fiber while eliminating processed food and adding more exercise is what I would add to what you have already said. I don’t know if you read these, busy lady that you are, but I am Jeff Weaver’s Mom and have been following your career since $40 a Day. You are awesome. Keep up the good work.

  20. Corinna says:

    I have lost over 200 lbs. in about 4 yrs, I still would like to lose an additional 25 lbs, I have 3 daughters and a husband as well. I used South Beach and it worked well for me, I also run now at least 3 days a week, on top of chasing my girls lol. Thank you for the tips, I have never tried the lemon and olive oil but I will, I love a good salad, we grill alot year around and fry very little. I love your show and Ive noticed some changes in you over the yrs including some great recipes, Thanks and I look forward to the posts!
    God Bless, Corinna in Oklahoma

  21. Melanie says:

    rach, i have tried eating healthier but i am such a picky eater… no tuna or pork. i love most vegies and fruits. chicken and steak, do you have any “specific” ideas

  22. Madeleine says:

    I gave up the sugar in coffee long ago. The unfortunate part of ditching the cream is that your teeth will likely stain more quickly from the coffee. For a long time I drank it black, and my dentist came up with that little factoid. Always a tradeoff, always a tradeoff . . .

  23. Melissa says:

    I am going on a real foods diet. No sugar or fake sugar. No hydrogenated oils and no packaged food. Real veggies, real fruits, real dairy and lean meats. I cut out wheat mainly because it eliminated the temptation to eat processed foods. I lost 3 pounds the first week. I have no cravings for junk food and I found it has been really easy to eat less. Without the sugar and the wheat I am not craving food all day long like I did before. It’s so much easier to eat fewer calories when I am not starving for sweets.

  24. Hello says:

    I lost to many lbs on calorie counting….am satisfy with my body now…but I realized that I want to be more thinner now that I now how to do it…I have like 2 days off the diet coz u know the body gets used to the diet and thats how I tricked it…all I need to do is exercise and just maybe I can get in more shape…very important to do 5 meals a day…u have to have alot of will power to do so coz this diet thingie ue gonna do it the rest of ur life and belive me u get used to it its just a matter of time….replace old habits with new ones thats all that u have to do….will power is the key otherwise the calorie counting will not work….good luck everyone!!! :D

  25. nora walter says:

    I lost close to 100 pounds simply by cutting out white flour, potatoes{only once a week}and by walking alot. You have to change your lifestyle, not diet, they set up up to fail. It works, im living proof.

  26. rose says:

    Try the hcg diet. I was stuck at the same weight for a long time then I tried the hcg diet. I lost ten lbs in ten days. I am now eating better and doing small excersizes about 3 times a week and have managed to maintain my weight. The program is a 30 day program or so, but I just did 10. If you do the month diet you can lose 30 to 40 lbs. Check it out, the success rare is so high.

  27. Jes says:

    Hi –

    I too dropped weight on the HCG diet — 30 pounds. I went through the full 26 days, waited two months and did another full round. And now, six months later, I’m still a size 6!

    I was never hungry, and was a bundle of energy throughout the diet.

    Worked great for me!

  28. ann says:

    Diets i tried them all, would like to know. ( why ). 8 to 9 PM..run to the store before
    closing time .. buy 2 or 3 package’s of cookies..unfortunatly I finish them ( used to )
    I am going to see my grand-son, he is 3 and I would like to pick him up..I am 75
    year young…would like to be healthy for many more years to come..

  29. Maggie says:

    I too have struggled with fluctuating weight all my life, love to cook, love to eat good food, love to walk and practice yoga – poblem today is a dodgy ankle possibly needing corrective surgery … result? not enough exercise and too much comfort eating which means the weight is increasing – again! So depressing! I too have tried all the diets, they all work up to a point, but counting the calories and portion control is the only way that really works – “calories in, calories out” is what an old friend used to say and he was so right! What you advocate Rachel is just common sense, really, it’s certainly not rocket science! Good luck and thanks!

  30. rachael f says:

    Hmm, You know really interesting talking about diet because since I was a child I have had an allergy to yeast…Would get bladder upsets, especially if I ate too much sugar. This intolerance i have tried very hard to ignore, but now in my 30s I cannot any more. Not without feeling like i have a permanent bladder infection and a sore stomach….I wander if there are others out there like me that just cannot tolerate the yeast and excess sugar in our diets. I just start vomiting if I eat too much of this sort of food. Includes alcohol as well. Just not worth the grief….Good luck people whole foods with good glycaemic factor the way to go…keep up the good work Rachael Ray!!!!

  31. Lauren says:

    Love the tips, Rachel, but I really boil at the way your show strays so far from this. Your pasta servings are way too big, burgers are loaded with fat and too many ounces of meat, and the list goes on. Measuring the EVOO that you (and I as well) love so dearly for both it’s flavor and healthy properties, makes a big difference. Until you actually measure ingredients, it is hard to realize how much you are consuming. Please show more real portions on your show so that people can see a famous foodie doing it really right.

  32. Ragu says:

    Hate to break ur bubble, but it sounds like Weight Watchers which really works !

  33. Wendy Johnson says:

    Hi Rachael,
    Thanks for the great tips! I am on my way to a great new me!
    I have been trying to drop some wait & have lost 34.5 lbs. so far.
    I am going to start right now with your tips & hopefully get to my
    goal of loosing 125lbs.
    Love your show! Keep up the great work.

  34. Cindy says:

    I started taking oral HCG drops mid June of this year. Round one was 6 weeks consisting of 2 fat loading days & then a 500 calorie a day diet the remainder of the diet. I just completed round two (only did the 3 weeks this time). I have lost a total of 27 lbs. Not as much weight as I had hoped but only 2 lbs away from a healthy BMI now. I realize this may not be for everyone & there is alot of controversy surrounding this diet but it worked for me.

  35. Lisa says:

    What fantastic advice! Its TOTALLY more important to watch what we put into our bodies, and if we do it right, we can USE food to help us lose the weight, not restrict restrict restrict. All the best and good luck! I’ve done a lot of research and Dr. Don Layman (University of Illinois) has been studying the metabolism and how to make it work for you for over 35 YEARS. Youtube him and hear what he has to say. Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your meals (especially the morning!) so that you reset and recharge your metabolism. That’s the key! Been there, done that – its so important, and that’s the key to giving you life-long-lasting results. Put an end to the YOYO weight and just be HEALTHY! Cheers!

  36. sylvia says:

    Hi I did not read all of the blogs here so i do not know if i am posting a unique situation or not. I am bedridden with very limited movement. talk about problems losing weight! If i went by the school of eat less than you can burn off by regular movement i wouod have water and look at hubbys’ supper. I have come up with a few solutions that anyone of any pain level or lack of mobility can try. I lay on my b ack put on youtube and dance to the music 5 mins each hour. Good days i sit up and dance for 10 mins an hour. I also do as many slow stretches to keep muscles active. If you suffer from muscle cramps use vitamin c (i take 1000mg split into 3 times a day) and i have been able to go off dangerous muscle relaxers. I have a coffee beam grinder by my bed and grind up a bit of carrot green or other peppers celery and lettuce to mix on sandwitches instead of mayo or butter.

    pass these on to anyone you know who has these issues they will hopefully thank you for them it is very easy for muscles to waste away but this has kept me (tho overweight) having great muscle tone for the little i have.
    God bless you all.

  37. Cheryl says:

    I too tried every diet known to man then Jan 2010 I actually started a sensible diet watching calories and fat …. It took 18 months but I have lost an embarrassing 80. Pounds AND I will be 65 in Dec!. At my ideal weight( 122 @ 5ft 3) I joined a ladies workout place and have since lost 5 lbs. I didn’t know my starting weight… My friend weighted me every week and told me my loss until I accidentally saw my weight at 155… I then began to weigh myself and to this day I dread stepping on that scale but I’m bound and determined to keep this off…OH AND … I can move again and not huff and puff. The foot operation that I had to delay is no longer needed…. Amazing what 80 lbs less can do for foot pain. You and your head just have to make up your mind and do it….IT CAN BE DONE!!!!!!!!

  38. K-Lee says:

    My sister wrote a book about being a foodie and its called “Every Excuse In The Book” and its pretty funny and also about weight loss. She has experienced all you have and tried everything and is still always trying. Am sending this to her (Sue Brennan) so she can become inspired again or one more time actually. Thanks

  39. karen says:

    Love Rachel, her enthusiam is awesome. Have always done better than most eating right, wondered if she would do what she did, and she did, amazing woman. Hopefully she’ll work even more on directing America to EAT Right

  40. Joan says:

    Rachel, I have been fortunate enough to win Wish of a Lifetime and my wish is/was to lose 100#.. and so far I have lost 43#.. all based on what you have said. It sounded like an echo in my ear, as my trainer from 4Ever Fit, Brenda, has been telling me the same identical thing! It works, it is slow, but it STAYS OFF. iT is not a diet, it is a way of life change, so educational. Thanks for sharing this to all who struggle with weight loss!

  41. At 52 I FINALLY realized that it is simply a matter of eating less and exercising more. Period, end of story. Rachel’s advice is perfect. There is plenty of science to prove that dieting only causes more weight gain in the end, and never works. It is essential to alter your habits bit by bit until you can find a way of eating that you can sustain for the rest of your life.

    Weight Watchers provides a good training ground. But if you view it as a diet and want to lose weight fast you will ultimately fail again. Be kind to yourself, make changes slowly, give yourself a good length of time to achieve your goal (I gave myself two years for 35 lbs) and you will be successful. I have lost 14 lbs. in five months, and I am NOT suffering.

    Good on you Rachel, for using your position to educate people on the importance of NOT DIETING!!

  42. Deanna says:

    I’ve been on Weight Watchers for years and they teach pretty much what you are saying. It is a lifestyle change. Watching your portion control along with carbs, fat, protein and fiber. I am so glad you are there for us. It is nice to see and have the help of healthy meals. I can still enjoy what I love by counting my points. I love my glass of wine in the evening and I changed my foods to be able to have that.

    Keep up the great job! We need you out there to help us along.Take Care and God Bless

  43. Judi says:

    I am a 59 yr old woman who is a ambutee and in a wheelchair all the time.
    I do some chair exercises, but they don’t seem to be enough. I watch what
    I eat, but I don’t seem to be able to loose any weight. I am about the same weight for the last 3 years. Need something to help..thank you for your information.

  44. Patty says:

    First Rachel, thank you for not being another influential person “selling” us on another product, that will eventually fail. Thank you!
    Second, I totally agree with you but for me, it’s almost impossible to cut out 500 calories. To maintain my weight, I eat 900-1200 calories a day. Most days are around 1100. This again is just to “maintain” weight. If I could handle 500-900 calories a day, yes I’d lose weight, but I’d be going to bed with a massive growling tummy LOL. I think I can handle about 100-150 calorie reduction, so I’ll try that for a week, but I tell ya, this weather makes want to eat eat eat LOL. I’m very happy for you Rachel and just want you to know, you are very admired here. I love watching Rachel Ray! Happy Holidays

  45. Denise says:

    Wow! Simple yet effective way to lose weight. Thank you Rachel, for your success story and encouragement. Happy Holidays to you and yours; and may the New Year hold good health and MUCH happiness.

  46. Dora says:

    I was always thin, I weighed 102 lbs until just recently when I turned 72 and just like
    that gained 30 lbs. I um uncomfortable in my skin and nothing fits me, I have a
    closet full of clothes I can’t wear. My biggest problem is the dreaded belly fat and
    contrary to what I’ve read you can’t walk it off, I’ve tried. Right after the holiidays
    I am going to weight watchers, I’ve already signed up, I have heard a lot of good
    things about them, of course it will be up to me to follow the program and stick to it.
    I’m looking forward to it. Wish me luck….thanks

  47. Hey Rachael,
    May I add a tip to that? Dr. Ann De Wees Allen, the head of the Glycemic Institute of Washington D.C. came up with products to help even out the cravings and help Diabetics. It is called BSkinny Coffee and is delicious, Double A arabica organic beans. The only fat burning coffee in the world! Please look at my website or go to BoreshaResearch.com and then my website. I’ve burned 25 lbs of fat and going for 40 more so I appreciate your tips on food intake.
    You look fantastic! Will take on all of your plan, thanks!!!

  48. Vicki Rogoff says:

    Could I have all your facebook or twitter? Hunting forward to the response!

  49. Hi, i recently wished to declare we truly appreciated your post, i which i expertise i could typically be in a position to take some ideas from it Cheers.

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