Tina Hess is a lifestyle and weight loss consultant in Hayden. She coaches body-builders on nutrition: “I love bringing out an extremely lean, strong body on stage, especially someone who never dreamed their body could be like that.” She also helps other clients transform their eating habits to shed pounds and be healthier. Here’s an edited version of a conversation about eating well:
Q. What’s the hardest habit for people to break?
A. Not planning. People don’t take time to plan out their meals, and when you don’t plan, you’re constantly sabotaged. You miss breakfast, so you run to the coffee shop or the drive-thru for a latte and a pastry. Four hours later, there goes your blood sugar. And then you’re wondering why you’re craving carbohydrates.
Taking that little bit of time, a few hours on a Sunday, to plan for the week is critical. And the whole family needs to be involved. Don’t just leave it up to Mom.
Q. Besides a smaller waist, what are other benefits of healthy eating?
A. Weight gain is just one side effect of unhealthy eating. Nobody knows where they’re pre-diabetic. Nobody knows when they’re about to have a heart attack or a stroke. You don’t see those things coming, but you do see weight gain.
One of my clients was “genetically gifted.” He was lean and he literally ate gummy bears and ice cream. … They’re thin, so they think they’re getting away with it. But they’re tired. Their skin doesn’t have that bright, healthy glow.
Q. What’s the most common misperception you hear?
A. People think they need to starve to death. I’m not starving. I love food. There are healthy alternatives to things like chips and ranch dressing.
Q. How can people be savvy label readers?
A. Focus on the ingredients. They’re more important than the nutrition facts or calorie counts. If it says sugar or high fructose corn syrup, put it back. It doesn’t matter how many calories it has. Watch out for sugar, hydrogenated fats and enriched flours. Those are all highly processed ingredients. They make us crave more processed ingredients.
Q. Do you have a food indiscretion to confess?
A. I was a “sugaraholic.” Not candy, but cookies, donuts and chocolate. I finally realized that I was making myself sick. To kick the habit, I eliminated all sugars, even fruit for a short time. Then I incorporated naturally occurring sugars back into my diet.
Q. What do you say when clients tell you they don’t like broccoli?
A. When you’re eating a highly processed diet, your palate is so covered up. You’re not even tasting food.
I show people how to really enjoy food. It’s not a lot of preparation – nobody has that much time. But it is a lot of chopping. It’s whole, fresh foods.
Q. Describe a recent success story.
A. One of my clients dropped from 201 pounds to 133 pounds over the course of a year. She’s kept the weight off for nine months. It was great to watch her transformation. She’s 36, an ex-smoker and (ex)-Pepsi drinker. Now, she and her 16-year-old daughter are sharing the same size 5 jeans. Just getting out of the car is easier for her.