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Can’t Lose Weight Despite Healthy Eating and Exercise


I frequently get people coming up to me during my 24 Hour Fitness Club classes saying they are exercising 5 days a week and eating healthy but not losing weight. The following case study is typical.

Carolyn, a nurse, exercises early at the gym at least 5 times a week. For breakfast she ate a Lara Bar and for a mid-AM snack a cup of granola with plain Greek yogurt mixed in. For lunch she always ate low fat cottage cheese with 2 pieces of fruit. For her 4PM snack she would buy a bag of Baked Lays. Carolyn would come home starved and she would snack on baked pita chips with hummus or several handfuls of nuts where later she would have the traditional high protein-veggie-starch dinner with her family.

Carolyn fit the pattern of having frequent snacks during the day and a large dinner at night. Given her age and size I told her to lose weight she needed to keep her calories to 1500 for days she did not exercise and 1800 for when she did. In spite of good exercising she was nonetheless sabotaging herself. After an intense 45 minute exercise regimen her metabolism is revved up to 5 times the rate as before the exercise where we discussed the need for her to have a large part of her daily calories closer to the period after exercise rather than her practice of eating the bulk of calories later in the day culminating with a 1000 calorie dinner.

I recommended some dietary changes for Carolyn. At this time the Lara Bar seems to help get her thru the morning exercise routine, especially since she was still full from the heavy dinner meal. However, as she lightens up her dinner we discussed how she will be more hungry in the morning where she needs to eat more. Great breakfasts before the gym are those with protein and fiber like a hard-boiled egg or cottage cheese which she loves with a toasted whole wheat English Muffin. For Mid-AM Carolyn can have some oatmeal along with toppings of her choice such as brown sugar and raisins. I find oatmeal is too heavy before the gym but a great choice afterwards. Her Greek yogurt and granola is a great snack but the ratio needs to be reversed- 1 cup of Greek yogurt is a wonderful source of protein, and a sprinkle of granola for crunch. Carolyn also decided to try peanut butter with an apple or celery at this time as well.

We discussed why Carolyn’s cottage cheese and fruit is a poor choice for lunch and only provides 2 ounces of protein. She needs to have at least 4-6 oz of protein for lunch for instance, leftover meat from last night with a cup of veggies or a salad and a cup of whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta or couscous, barley, faro or even a sweet potato. We even included her fruit as dessert. At first Carolyn thought this was too much food but I suggested that she take it all to work and eat the protein and veggies first and keep the grains and veggies for mid PM snacks rather than her usual potato chips.

Carolyn is now arriving home without being famished and she no longer needs the after work snack and can enjoy a cup of Good Earth tea which is so sweet and pungent and referred to as dessert tea. For dinner she is no longer having a large portion of protein since having eaten enough during the day to keep her blood sugar in balance and avoid hunger. After determining her favorite foods Carolyn keeps her dinner calories to 500 which may include a 6 oz. baked potato (200 calories) with butter or sour cream (100 calories) and sauteed veggies or a salad with dressing (100 calories for the dressing or oil and minimal for veggies) where she has 100 Calories left for such desserts as a fruit juice bar or two, a half a cup of lowfat ice cream or even a slice of white cake with strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

I am thrilled to tell you that after working with Carolyn for 1 session she instantly began losing weight. I have continued to counsel Carolyn for two months via phone and e-mail and she has lost 15 pounds. By the way, she has Aetna PPO insurance which is covering her weight loss program.

Please feel free to call me at (925) 855-0150 or e-mail me at and tell me about your nutritional concerns. Refer to my website for past articles, recipes and nutrition tips.

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