How to Lose Weight WithOUT Dieting (Part 2)

How to Lose Weight WithOUT Dieting (Part 2)

High fructose corn syrup. Sodium Hexametaphosphate. Caramel color.  These are the ingredients listed in Aunt Jemima syrup. The syrup millions of people, mostly kids, smother their pancakes with every day. Want to know the one thing missing in the list of ingredients in Aunt Jemima Syrup? Syrup. It’s actually missing syrup.  How did they forget to add syrup to the syrup?  They managed to add Sodium Hexametaphosphate (whatever the hell that is) but they didn’t add syrup?!?

Is anyone else disturbed by this? The truth is there is so much shit in our food these days that we’re not even eating real food anymore. And it’s making us sick, over-weight and miserable.  Chemicals, pesticides and hormones have been linked to serious diseases like cancer and behavioral disorders. The highly processed foods we’re consuming by the truck load are rapidly digested, often causing a spike in blood sugar followed by weight gain, fatigue and over-eating. Disease and obesity rates are through the roof, even in young children.

But there is some good news. Currently, there’s a massive movement happening right now in response to all of the artificial food we’re eating.  If you haven’t yet heard the term, “eating clean” consider yourself informed. It’s all the rage and unlike most ridiculous diet trends, this one actually has merit.  Here’s why.

Eating clean can:

  • Improve your health
  • Possibly help to prevent certain diseases
  • Make you feel better (less pain, headaches and inflammation)
  • Stabilize your blood sugar more efficiently
  • Help you to burn more body fat and lose more weight
  • Help you to build lean muscle mass more efficiently
  • Improve digestion
  • Improve your performance and energy

Sounds impressive, right? But like any other nutrition topic or trend, you gotta know what you’re doing to make it work.   Before we get into how to eat clean, I highly recommend that you read Part 1 of How to Lose Weight Without Dieting first.  Why?  Because all of the clean food in the world won’t get you fit and looking and feeling your best if you don’t know what to eat and when.   This article will teach you your first step:  how to stabilize your blood sugar with balanced meals to naturally burn fat, build muscle and increase metabolism and energy.   Then it’s time to move on to the clean eating info below.

So, what does it mean to “eat clean?”  As a Nutrition Coach and Chef for the past thirteen years, to me, eating clean means choosing mostly all-natural, un-processed (or barely processed) foods the majority of the time. Notice I said majority.  Ideally, we would eat all-natural, all day long (nothing processed at all.)  We would fill up on all-natural chicken, beef, eggs, seafood, fruit, veggies and sweet potatoes.  But let’s be honest; for most of us that’s not real life.

In thirteen years, I’ve yet to meet a single person that has never had a slice of bread, tortilla chip or a cookie.  So I like to take a modified, real-life approach and eat mostly un-processed (not man-made) foods most of the time.

However, I also eat foods that may be man-made but they are the cleanest, highest quality and most delicious man-made products you can buy.  For example, I like to cook with cooking spray which is man-made (cooking spray doesn’t grow on a plant.)  But the chemicals and propellants found in cooking sprays like Pam scare the crap out of me, so instead I choose all natural, chemical free cooking sprays like the ones in the picture below.


Here’s what I aim to avoid when choosing man-made products:

  • Heavy processing (if there’s lots of ingredients I can’t pronounce I don’t eat it)
  • White sugar
  • Preservatives
  • Chemicals / Pesticides
  • Propellants
  • Hormones
  • Artificial ingredients
  • GMOs (genetically modified organisms that may cause disease)

Want to avoid this stuff too and eat real food?  Here are a few easy tips to make it happen.

1.Pick whole, unprocessed food as often as possible.  For example, an egg is just an egg.  We humans didn’t make it into an egg.  It’s just an egg.  But cookies, however, are made of a bunch of ingredients all put together by a human. Same with bread, pasta, crackers or processed deli meat. Eggs are better for you than cookies for many reasons, but an egg is considered a whole food while cookies are processed.  Whole food keeps blood sugar stable and increases satiety because it’s not rapidly digested and the body has to work a little harder to break it down. So it helps you to burn fat, lose weight and boost your metabolism better than processed foods. Whole food also typically contains way more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber for improved health and disease prevention.

So instead of having a processed deli turkey sandwich on bread, try packing grilled chicken (whole food) on a colorful salad (whole food) with an all-natural salad dressing or a homemade salad dressing (whole food) for lunch. Or pair fresh fruit (whole food) with a side of eggs (whole food) for breakfast.  Makes sense, right?

I also like to keep things realistic. For example, I eat protein bars and powders regularly because real life is busy. I just choose the best ones. I also eat bread and cereal occasionally, but again I choose the better ones. More on that in a bit.

2.Next, purchase organic but only when you need to. Remember, when I said an egg is whole food?  It is and that’s a great thing. But what if the chicken that lay that egg was given steroids and hormones? Those hormones may now be floating around in your omelet. Yikes.   Organic eggs, however, were hatched by normal chickens not pumped up with steroids. Does organic cost more? Yes.  And it completely sucks that we have to pay more as consumers to not have poison in our food, but when you consider the long term health issues associated with ingesting these artificial ingredients, it’s so worth it.  Like you, I’m on a budget, so I only purchase certain ingredients organic including eggs, poultry, beef and dairy as well as the following highly contaminated produce: peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, imported grapes, nectarines, cherries, pears, red raspberries, celery, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers,  spinach, kale, collard greens, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, imported snap peas and cherry tomatoes.

3. Read the ingredient list on food labels.  Remember the Aunt Jemima “syrup” example I used earlier. Most of us just grab a bottle of syrup when shopping. But if you read the label, you would have the same questions I do like “where the hell is the maple syrup in this thing?” The truth is, there are a ton of 100% pure maple syrup options sitting on the supermarket shelf right next to Aunt Jemima.  And these pure maple syrups contain one ingredient only:  100% pure maple syrup. That’s it. No Sodium Hexascarythingidontwanttoeat.

I realize that this step can be confusing (a brand will say anything on their label to get you to buy their product) and time consuming.  So I have created an in-depth Healthy Shopping List and Product Guide that lists everything I buy and why. This list includes aisle-by-aisle recommendations on truly healthy products that contain only actual real food (imagine that!)  It even includes a convenient mobile-friendly shopping list.  You can get this awesome guide HERE.  This guide will save you time at the supermarket, it will save you time in regards to reaching your health goals faster and it will save you money.  Because buying products that aren’t really clean and healthy but are pretending to be is a huge waste of money and potentially harmful to your health.

Those are the three ways to incorporate real food into your diet so you can start feeling better, losing weight and improving your health the natural way. Because we’re talking “eating clean”, I need to also mention the power of going gluten free and possibly dairy free as well. I definitely want to explore these topics with you in more depth in a future blog, but because they can impact your results, I want to briefly cover them here.

Simply put, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It’s everywhere including places you wouldn’t expect like condiments.  For many people, gluten can cause or exacerbate digestion challenges, inflammation, pain (headaches, back pain, joint pain), bloating, weight gain and mood disorders.  I personally am mostly gluten free, though I occasionally indulge.  You’ll find that my Recipes include gluten-containing and gluten-free options and you’ll find gluten-containing and gluten-free options on my Healthy Shopping List and Product Guide as well (I’m a realist and like to provide options for everyone.)  As a Chef who loves delicious food, I can tell you that even if you’re not gluten free, there are so many delicious gluten free, clean products available today that you’ll want to give them a try!

Going dairy-free can help you if you struggle with congestion, sinus issues, bloating, digestion challenges and pain or inflammation.  I personally eat clean whey-containing protein bars and powders and occasionally cheese or Greek yogurt but for the most part I try to avoid it.  Like gluten, you’ll find that both my Recipes and Guides include options with dairy and without.

Now, on to the personal stuff.  The most important thing that has happened this week though was I got the chance to teach 50 firefighters at the Boston Fire Department how to eat to naturally burn fat, boost metabolism and improve health and performance.  These men and women are real-life heroes and it was an honor to teach them how to eat balanced meals and get fit without dieting.  We even made Buffalo Chicken Chili which everyone loved. And I had a blast- mainly because the firefighters were so kind, funny as hell and really open to learning.   I had the opportunity to work with the Boston Fire Department through O2X, a unique human performance company run by a group of Navy Seals.  They’re an unbelievable crew with a mission to cover conditioning and resilience plus nutrition, stress and sleep within organizations.  You can check them out here.  Here’s a picture of me with the firefighters and O2X.


I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned that eating clean doesn’t have to be difficult or too expensive.  We should all be thinking about what’s in our food.  Please SHARE this article via the social media icons below, then tag a friend who you think could benefit from this info. Most importantly, please reach out in the comments below and let me know what YOU think! I promise to always write back.

Xx Valerie

  • Maggie
    Posted at 22:47h, 05 January Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I have lost 63 pounds. And it has taken me a while. I have struggled with food my whole life. I find myself to be stuck no. I think that I am in a mental battle so to speak and I am losing. Any advice would be great. I live with my in laws so I do not control what is cooked. Please tell me how to save myself.

    • Valerie Cogswell
      Posted at 21:17h, 06 January Reply

      Maggie – thank you so much for reaching out! And congrats on losing 63 lbs! That’s amazing and you must be so proud. I too struggled with food issues growing up. I was worrying about how much fat was in a slice of cheese when I was 10! I believe that one of the first steps to getting past the struggle and getting to where you want to be both physically and mentally is understanding exactly how your body works. What to feed your body and when without dieting. How to fuel your body properly. And how to eat delicious food that your actually excited about..that also nourishes your body and stabilizes your blood sugar levels so you can naturally burn fat, build muscle and boost your energy. Once you have this knowledge, it’s so much EASIER! It’s empowering and you’ll never diet again. And never struggle with “what should I be eating to lose weight/get fit/feel better, etc.?” I would recommend that you go to my BLOG page and start from the first blog and then keep reading…you will learn a TON about stabilizing your bloods sugar with balanced meals and how your body works. I’ll also be posting Part 3 of the blog trilogy on How to Lose Weight Without Dieting this week some time so keep an eye out :). To start working with the mental battle and improving your relationship with food and yourself- write out your goals. And get as specific and realistic as possible. List everything you want to accomplish and be realistic. Then write down the top 3 reasons why you want to achieve these goals (I want to feel good about myself, I want to get in shape for my kids or family etc,….). You may also want to consider working one on one with a Nutrition Coach. You can reach out to me at if you are interested in phone coaching with me. I’m currently taking on a few clients. Maggie- you can do this! Understand your body, get comfortable with your goals and you can make it happen. And keep reaching out!
      xx Valerie

  • Maggie
    Posted at 14:22h, 18 January Reply

    Thank you so much for getting back to me. How much do you charge for a Nutrition coach session.
    Food has been the one thing I don’t know how to gain control over. But I have not given up.

    • Valerie Cogswell
      Posted at 17:45h, 18 January Reply

      Hey Maggie!

      Thanks for the reply. And I’m glad your not giving up- it’s never too late to grab the reins on your health and nutrition. Please email me at We can set up a call so I can learn more about what your looking for and discuss options. Thanks again!

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