Book Review and Giveaway: Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off by Lisa Tillinger Johansen

Have you tried too many "diets" over the years in a never-ending battle to lose weight?  I will admit; I have.  I will also admit that most of them were either impossible to incorporate into my lifestyle--or they failed miserably.  I saw some weight loss with some of the fad diets--but, typically regained that loss and more the second I attempted to eat "normally" again.  I was very interested to read and review Lisa Tillinger Johansen's book, Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off.  What did I think of the book?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my blog review.  All opinions and experiences are my own.  I have also joined the iRead Book Tour Giveaway--where you may enter to win a copy of this book at the end of this post!

Quick Summary of Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off by Lisa Tillinger Johansen. The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts.

With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.
Johansen Breaks Down the Diet "Cycle". Throughout the first part of Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off, Johansen shares the many (many, many, many) fad diets, celebrity endorsed diets, and unhealthy diet plans that have circulated over the years. She defines the pros/cons--and dietary realities of them. While we all know that our body needs certain key nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and caloric intakes to function properly--we still fall into the fad, quick-fix, diet traps. She breaks down diets that I have never even heard of--as well as popular plans like Atkins and Jenny Craig. She also considers factors such as cost of the diets and expectations (like exercise) that dieters sometimes ignore when participating in "diets".

Johansen Offers a Plan. Readers--especially those seeking a quick fix or instant success--may be disappointed in the plan offered in Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off. It isn't a diet--it's a lifestyle change. Healthy eating, incorporating exercise, watching portion sizes, and changing the mind's perception of "comfort food" are all key to stopping the diet cycle. Lifestyle changes are difficult and this book compiles a lot of useful information for readers. It also has a very large resource section reflecting many of the ideas presented in this book--and offering readers additional resources to make some diet and lifestyle changes.

Would I Recommend Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off? Johansen offers a lot of insights into why diets (and dieters) fail. I would recommend this book to anyone planning to become serious about a healthy diet rather than a fad diet. If you are well-versed in nutrition, exercise, portion sizes, and dietary needs--this book may not offer you many more insights. However, if you need an eye-opener to help you estimate portions, plan meals, and change your food lifestyle; this book is a great starting point for that.  

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About the Author

Lisa Tillinger Johansen is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues. Her debut nutrition book, Fast Food Vindication, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, Kirkus and The Huffington Post). 

She lives in Southern California.

Connect with the author: 
 Website   Twitter   Facebook

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Ditching the Drive-Thru Book Review and Giveaway

As a society, we have become more and more concerned about the quality of the foods fed to our families. Unfortunately, so many of us fall into the busy-family trap and find ourselves giving in to the pull of fast food and processed convenience foods to simplify our overloaded schedules.  While my family does skip the drive-thru meals and we do work really hard to cut most of the processed foods from our diets; we still have a lot of opportunities for improvement. I was interested in reading and reviewing J. Natalie Winch's tips in her latest book. What did I think of Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch?

I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my review. All opinions are my own. I have also joined the book tour giveaway for this book--and you may enter to win a copy of this book or an Amazon gift card at the end of this post.

Quick Summary of Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch. After an exhausting day at work, hitting the drive-thru or nuking a pre-fab meal is all too often the go-to decision for feeding a family. Cooking a meal from scratch using fresh ingredients can seem beyond the average person’s time, energy, or financial means. But with mounting evidence pointing to processed food and our industrial food system as the culprits behind many of our nation’s health problems—including obesity, diabetes, and cancer—it’s now more important than ever to be fully informed about what goes on your family’s dinner plates.

If you’re ready to take control of your food choices but don’t know the difference between grass-fed versus grain-fed, pastured versus free-range, or organic versus sustainable, read this book to discover:

• How to create your own thirty-month plan to convert your family from junk food to real food, without a revolt!

• Recipes and advice on planning and prepping meals so you can make homecooked a habit for your family

• Instructions for getting the most out of produce using techniques such as lacto-fermentation, dehydrating, and canning

•  introduction to the world of farm-direct sales, including tips on locating local farms, seeing through marketing buzzwords, and shopping with CSAs Ditching the Drive-Thru exposes the insidious hold the commercial food industry has taken over the fast-paced lives of the average American and the danger these processed foods and diet plans pose to our health, environment, and emotional wellbeing.

Learn how to break free from the grind and return to a simpler relationship with food from farmers, not factories, and home-cooked meals that are created in your kitchen, not on a conveyor belt.

Ditching the Drive-Thru explains the many problems or our "busy" diets. Winch puts a great deal of effort into the research and development of this book. While she immediately informs the reader that she is not a nutritionist or dietitian--she is obviously very well informed and passionate about whole foods and the benefits of a truly healthy diet. She explains and defines the many terms bombarding us at the supermarket and delves extensively into the dangers of our commercialized food system. Rather than simply slamming the food industry and modern diets, Winch backs up her many findings and claims with cited sources throughout the book. She explains the problems of our busy diet in an easy to follow manner--and includes easy to verify sources behind her statements.

Ditching the Drive-Thru doesn't take readers on a guilt trip. The author acknowledges that changing our long-time, bad-food habits is a major lifestyle change for many of us. She even admits that busy schedules have pushed her toward the drive-thru line as well. Rather than laying on another working-parent with not-enough-hours-in-the week guilt trip; Winch encourages small steps and offers tips and tricks to make slight changes toward a long term plan. I will admit that planning and prepping home cooked, whole food meals alone is daunting on a working parent's schedule. So, there were a few times when Winch discussed her large garden and preserving her own foods, that I felt myself feeling a little overwhelmed. I had to stop and put the text into perspective: Winch has developed her food production and processing patterns--and worked them into her lifestyle--over time. She didn't begin these habits all at once. She is illustrating the many possibilities readers may someday do with their foods--not what they should do, all at once, this weekend. 

Would I recommend Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch? Even as much as I already know about processed foods and the effects of those foods on our health; I was able to add a few new terms and many new ideas to my ever-growing diet/lifestyle change. This book is packed with information to inform those just beginning to learn about processed foods--but, offers a lot for those at later stages of diet transformation as well. I originally wondered about Winch's 30-Month Plan for readers seeking to implement diet changes. But, she is spot on with the fact that Ditching the Drive-Thru is a difficult, lifestyle change and readers will need to plan many, many small changes over time to reach their long-term diet goals. I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand the need for change in our "fast food" diets--as well as for those continuing to develop their own 30-month (or longer) changes. While Winch doesn't offer a cookie-cutter, 30-day plan for readers; she offers a lot of ideas, tips, and resources to help readers set their own goals to fit their own lives.

Buy the book:    Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Read an Excerpt from Ditching the Drive-Thru
Making Informed Food Choices
by J. Natalie Winch
In science the phrase “a just-noticeable difference” refers to the exact moment an observer can tell the difference between two stages, when white becomes gray, or when a sound can actually be perceived as louder. I traveled through life doing the same-old, same-old, until one day I hit that just-noticeable difference, that point where I realized definitively that things had changed and felt compelled to say enough is enough. I think most of us are like this—you can tolerate someone giving you a bad time for a little while, but eventually you get to the point where it must stop.

The just-noticeable difference for my family and our impetus for change began with the birth of our daughter. She was a very healthy newborn, with fat pink cheeks and big blue-green eyes, and I was breastfeeding her. Things were going along fine, and then she got colicky. We tried the gas drops. They worked a little, but she was still colicky. We tried infant massage, we tried spacing out her feedings, we tried feedings that were closer together, but she was still colicky. The child seemed to cry, cry, and cry, and that was all. Sleep? Not much. Not for any of us.

At the time, my favorite breakfast was a grapefruit, peeled like an orange. Nothing was a better wake-up for me than the zesty aroma of grapefruit. One morning we were out of grapefruits, so I had oatmeal instead. And my daughter was less colicky. When I mentioned this to one of my friends, she told me that when she was nursing her son, he would spit up whenever she had eaten broccoli.

I began experimenting. In the end, I had to avoid onions, garlic, broccoli, and cabbage; I gave up my precious grapefruits; and I sacrificed even my beloved chocolate for my daughter’s comfort and an end to sleepless nights.

One mournful, chocolate-free night, after rocking my daughter for what felt like halfway down the Mississippi River, I rocked right across that just-noticeable difference: if what I eat passes through my milk to my daughter, wouldn’t the same hold true for the cows from whence we get our milk? If what I ate had such an immediate and detrimental effect on our daughter, do the dairy products we consume have such an effect on us? And what if, because we had been consuming these tainted products for so long, all of this has built up in our systems so that we wouldn’t notice enough to make a connection between the dairy and feeling poorly? I ran down the steps to share my revelation with Greg: He considered, we discussed, and I began researching.

What I discovered left me rather disconcerted: even the perimeter of the store can be polluted and deceptive. The perishables found around the perimeter of the grocery store in refrigerated or freezer cases are mass-produced. If I am looking at a cut of meat, and it looks nice and red, and the best-by date is over a week away, it should be fresh, right? But some meats are sold in modified atmosphere packaging to increase the amount of time the meat is red and looks fresh. Farmed fish is displayed on a bed of ice to make it look just caught. Unsustainable and inhumane concentrated animal feeding operations supply our beef, pork, chickens (and therefore eggs), and dairy found around the perimeter of the store.

As consumers we have become comfortable with anonymity. Even when we have knowledge, we choose in ways seem counterintuitive. When Odysseus traveled to the Underworld, the blind prophet Tiresias warned him not to slaughter the cattle of the Sun god, a warning that Odysseus passed along to his men. The men however, did not listen. They feasted on the forbidden cattle and paid with their lives. We know that perishable food production is an industry. And just like all industries, the corporate structures within that industry are out to make a profit. When we are hungry we want to eat, not taking into consideration the consequences of the choices we make.

Ditching the Drive-Thru by J. Natalie Winch (2015, Spikehorn Press, ISBN 978-1-943015-06-1, $19.95)

Meet the Author:

J. Natalie Winch lives in southern New Jersey, not far from where she grew up, with her husband, two children, and dogs. 

When she isn’t mothering, teaching, grading, or making lesson plans, Natalie runs the Hebrew School at her synagogue, coaches soccer, teaches lacto-fermentation classes, writes the occasional entry for her blog Food Empowerment (tradsnotfads.com), and fights the dust bunnies that threaten to take over her family room.

Connect with the author:   Website 

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Restaurant Review: Burntwood Tavern in Solon Ohio

Stop and Smell Your Children by Leah Spina Book Review

While my three girls are finally beyond the baby and toddler stages; there are still some fairly mundane, daily mom-adventures consuming my days. The title of Leah Spina's book, Stop and Smell Your Children, made me smile--so I was excited to read the author's perspectives on appreciating and thriving during those early parenting years. What was my review of Stop and Smell Your Children? 
I received a complimentary copy of this book for use in my blog review. All opinions are my own.

Quick Summary of Stop and Smell Your Children. Ready to laugh about motherhood and be encouraged? Tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out in the baby and toddler season? Need some fresh vision and perspective so you can enjoy—not just endure—your young children?

Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years offers moms-to-be and moms of young children short, real-life parenting stories that encourage and inspire. Leah Spina, mother of three children ages five and under, and former journalist, unleashes humor and perspective for tired moms who are parenting the “little” years. From the excitement of the positive pregnancy test to morning sickness and the banes of pregnancy, to childbirth, babies, toddlers and new parent struggles, the stories will make you laugh and see beauty in the chaos. Each story also includes thought-provoking takeaways to help busy moms gain a fresh outlook.

Strangers remind us that our children will be small only for a short time and to enjoy each moment. But then we return to the wild reality of parenting young children! All-night crying sessions. Never-ending laundry. Every-three-hour feeding schedules. Diaper explosions and projectile spit-up. Teething. Potty training. Yes, we enjoy our children, but we’d also like to enjoy a shower that lasts more than two minutes, or a meal that isn’t lukewarm (if we’re lucky). The truth is, pregnancy and parenting young children can be hard at times. But it can also be one of the best chapters of our lives, if we can learn to laugh and change our mindset.

Young children are one of life’s greatest gifts. Each page of this easy read will help you truly enjoy the “little” years!

Spina offers wonderful reminders and insights throughout this book. I spent months without sleep after our middle daughter developed severe reflux. During those early years, I was exhausted by the constant demands of family life. That time, as Spina reminds, is really a very short one--and I find myself missing the times when the girls not only needed my input--but, wanted it as well! Spina shares a host of humorous stories--and tips for turning those exhausting days into more memorable moments.

Stop and Smell Your Children is the perfect gift for parents. While the book is certainly geared toward the parents and caregivers of young children; it offers a special look at parenting for parents of older children to enjoy too. While my diaper changing days are over; I still find myself buried in laundry and working through tween-aged tantrums and mood swings. This book brought so many smiles--and brought back so many memories for me. The author's writing style is conversational and funny--but, her insights are spot on and intelligent. 

Would I recommend Stop and Smell Your Children by Leah Spina? I highly recommend this book for parents of any age or stage! It would make a wonderful gift for new parents--and for more "experienced" children suffering through the tween/teen years as well! Parenting is not an easy job--and it doesn't come with award ceremonies or a lot of recognition at times. Stop and Smell Your Children uses humor to remind us that the difficult periods of parenting are actually short lived--and should be enjoyed rather than wished away!

Buy the book:    Amazon     Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly magazine and also worked as a childbirth coordinator at a large adoption agency. She has her B.S in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State College. She has two adorable children – Samson and Esther – and resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband, David. When she’s not changing diapers, she enjoys singing Broadway, sun tanning on Italian beaches and riding horses.

Connect with Leah:    Website    Twitter    Facebook


4 Things That Great Plumbers Have in Common

Plumbing problems can be annoying. If they are serious enough, they can disrupt your daily routine and ruin your quality of life. They can also be extremely expensive to fix. This is why you need to find an honest and experienced plumber who is very ethical to handle all of your plumbing problems. Sadly, these types of plumbers are getting harder to find with each passing day. Honest plumbers are still out there. You just need to spend some time looking for them. Here are some of the most important things that great plumbers have in common.
They are prompt. A plumber should show up on time when you make an appointment for him to come to your home. It inconveniences you and throws off your schedule if he is late by a large amount of time. The best plumbers are the ones who take showing up on time very seriously.

They offer emergency services. There are many plumbing problems that demand immediate attention. You can't wait until next Thursday to have the plumber stop by. You need a plumber to come to your house right away to get started on fixing the problem. Great plumbers will offer emergency services any time of the day or night. This is important because plumbing disasters do not keep a schedule. They can happen at any time. You need to have someone to call if your toilet overflows at three in the morning or you need Tampa air conditioning services during a heat wave.
They have a great rating. You should always look at a plumber's Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating before you decide to hire him. The BBB has rated an enormous amount of plumbers. You can bet that a plumber who has a low rating is unethical and probably performs very low quality work. Taking a quick look at the BBB rating of any plumber you are thinking about hiring can prevent some major headaches for you down the road.

They will give you good advice.
Along with fixing your problem, a great plumber should give you advice about how to avoid other plumbing issues in the future. He should go the extra mile and make you aware of any other problem areas that he notices while he is working in your home. Getting good advice from a plumber could potentially save you thousands of dollars in the future.