My Nutritionist’s Advice: 4 Easy Steps

When we're trying to get from point A to point B it makes a lot of sense to hire a professional who can guide us there quickly and painlessly. I've been working with a nutritionist to lose 15 pounds (I'm a size 10 trying to get to a size 6 for, ahem, professional reasons).  Yesterday, she laid it on me: my full nutritional plan.  Here are the guidelines.
  1. Journal every morsel you put in your mouth.  This includes time of day, hunger level, if I'm sitting or standing, where I am and with whom, and my mood.  It's a bit eye-opening, let me tell you.  I eat more junk when I'm with my kid; I eat really well in front of friends and my peers.  I usually eat only when I'm hungry, unless I'm stressed, and then I eat a little more. If I'm sad, I eat a lot more.  (I've only been sad once so far while doing the journal, but boy did I plow through the fridge.)
  2. Do cardio four to five times per week.  We had a rather large debate about this as exercise falls into my area of expertise.  I recommend that people should do 150 minutes per week to maintain weight and 200 to 250 minutes per week to lose weight.
  3. Do resistance training twice per week.  We argued on this one, too.  She thought it was too much; I insisted we add it.  (I do it, anyway.  I love Pilates, and mostly I just wanted credit for what I was already doing.  Plus, resistance training is really important; I'll need toned abs when I'm skinny!)
  4. Eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables.  Yup, that many...
FYI, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends between 4 and 5 1/2 cup servings of fruit and between 4 and 5 cup servings of raw vegetables (or 1/2 cup cooked.)  Fruit and vegetable juices don't count! My nutritionist's theory is simple: fill up on fruits and veggies and you won't bother to eat all the starchy stuff people tend to go for.  My typical breakfast is shredded wheat, a little granola on top, and skim milk.  Today it's a big bowl of blueberries and whole wheat toast. I'll be doing the Couch to 5K training run tonight with my family so there's my cardio for today, and I'll be sneaking in Pilates between clients, as usual. I have a deadline for the fall to be at a certain weight.  It's non-negotiable and it involves a good bit of money if I get it together, so I've got a pretty good incentive to stay the course.   My downfalls are that I'm social and I go to parties where there's pretty good food to snack on and alcohol and I overeat a little at night.  For the record my BMI is at the high end of "normal weight" and I'm looking to bring it down to the low-ish end of normal. We'll see how I do.  Wish me luck.  If you'd care to join me, let me know. Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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14 Responses to My Nutritionist’s Advice: 4 Easy Steps

  1. TraceyJoy July 27, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Sounds like a good plan to me!! I’ve never heard anyone say journal the way she outlined. Something I’ll implement myself. I write down the time, what I ate and how much, never about my surrounding & things like that.

    Now when she said fruit and veggies juice don’t count, was she talking about store bought juices right? I was thinking if you used something like a VitaMix blender and put in whole fresh organic fruits and veggies and just blended them up would that be considered part of your fruit/veggie intake? I’m curious about that.

    The best to you Lisa on this journey.

  2. Diane July 27, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I’m surprised she argued with you about resistance training. Apart from staying toned, some resistance training is important for anyone over 30 (and probably under 30) to maintain bone health. I would have thought that a good nutritionist would have that in mind. And no doubt she is a good one, or you wouldn’t have picked her. What do you think?

  3. Lisa Johnson July 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Hi Tracey,

    I’m not sure about the VitaMix but I know what you mean. I made fresh gazpacho this weekend and it’s all blended up but technically it’s raw so it should be one full cup, not 1/2 a cup per serving … Also, juice not counting is from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, not my nutritionist.


    My nutritionist is very on top of all the research in her field but doesn’t cover as much in the general wellness category. So she knows gobs and gobs about balancing nutritional needs and weight loss but not so much about how to do a crunch. I’m guessing most of her clients aren’t in the fitness industry. ;-). Her main concern is that she knows I’m busy and she wants me to focus on cardio first, strength training if I have time. I wanted her to put it in as a non-negotiable because that way I’ll do it. Hold me accountable and I’ll do just about anything. LOL,


  4. Gini July 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Sounds like a plan! You can definitely do this. I’m excited for you!!

  5. amy July 27, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I have a deadline of late Sept to fit in pre- ulcer clothes and also to be able to run a 5k again

  6. Monica July 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    I’m 1/3 of the way to my weight loss goal of 90 lbs… so far I’ve managed to avoid both journaling and measuring by changing my diet to cut out all foods that make me sick. It took a full-fledged elimination diet to figure out what they were, but after cutting out a lot of things, quite frankly this is the first time in my adult life that I’m just not hungry. Now I’m teaching myself to eat only when I’m hungry, and to stop when I’m not hungry, rather than so full I can’t move.

    What a concept, huh?

    I have a feeling that I’ll need to be more strict when I get closer to my goal, so I’ll be watching how your journey goes – good luck!

  7. Lisa Johnson July 30, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Monica, thanks so much for your comments and you’re amazing weight loss! 30 pounds is fantastic! Give yourself a pat on the back and a pedicure for your hard work :-)

    So many diets ads claim, “lose weight and never feel hungry.” The thing is, we’re supposed to *get* hungry and then go eat. We’re NOT supposed to be in a constant state of satiety. There are supposed to be ups and downs throughout the day.

    What I would say is keep doing what you’re doing because it’s working. If you hit a plateau consider one of the tips as a way to break through the plateau. Also make sure you’re getting some cardio and resistance training in there. (at least a little) so you keep your metabolism up and don’t lose any muscle mass.

    Congrats! Please keep us posted on your progress.


  8. meg ford July 31, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Thanks for posting this! I had already been doing 1,2,3 with the addition of counting my calories, but I am wayyyy off on 4 (I thought it was 5 servings of fruits and veggies…together…oops :-).

  9. lorrie July 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Is walking considered cardio ive done 18 miles this week and whats considered resistance training

  10. Lisa Johnson August 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi Lorrie,

    Walking is cardio *if* your heart rate is elevated. So you want to make sure that you’ve broken a sweat and that you go at a pretty fast clip. 18 miles is amazing though! You can very roughly estimate that 1 mile is 100 calories so that’s about 1,800 calories almost a pound right there. For a more accurate idea on calories burned go to and their calculator area and look at the workouts section. It’s the one I use.

    For resistance training, you need to do something where you’re pushing or pulling something. (Your body, free weights, etc.) So this could be a circuit in a gym. At at home floor routine with things like lunges, squats and pushups, or even a yoga class.

    Hope that helps,


  11. Kris O'Connor October 6, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    Good Luck Lisa!

    This can be so hard, because we are active and eat clean and… well… for me nothing. I couldn’t figure out how I could go from couch to intense training and not be in a calorie deficit!

    Disclaimer – I’m not a pro or certified or have a degree in anything related to this. But, I made a few tweaks to my clean eating and finally saw results.
    – More veggies – not necessarily more fruit (for me) – I cut out the bananas and other high load fruit and eat apples, berries and melons.
    – I bought pretty 9 inch plates – so I feel like I’m splurging even though the portions are smaller (trickery, right?)
    – The carb thing – sigh – my meals are basically protein & veggies w a smidge of good carbs. And I snack on nuts, good yogurt & cheese. Believe it or not, it hasn’t been that hard for me – so I’m grateful.
    – In terms of the cardio (you know how I feel about that) – I do all my cardio w intervals varying either cadence or resistance – 1 min hard, 30 sec rest, or whatever just to mix it up. I’ve been pulling out old Dire Straits on my iPod and am loving it (which for me on the elliptical is a miracle)

    Please keep us posted! And, uh, would love your new recipes!


  12. Lisa Johnson October 6, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Kris, I love the plate idea! I use salad plates myself regularly although they’re just basic ol’ white ones. Maybe I should get some pretty ones.

  13. Lisa March 19, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    I’m reading this a bit after the fact and wondered if you met your goal?

  14. Lisa Johnson March 19, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Hi Lisa, I didn’t! I went down five pounds from the weight I wrote this post at fairly easily and the second five pounds have bounced up and down a few times now. Now really gaining ground, not really losing ground. I have been through a very stressful period (a death in the family) moving my studio and it’s been hectic and frankly I respond with starches … I am always a work in progress.


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