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Gina Cousineau

By Gina Cousineau

Hopefully, you can hear me chanting, “Lions and tigers and bears … oh, my!” as you read the title of this month’s column. People continue to be “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” when it comes to the latest and quickest way to weight loss.

I am completely capable of helping my clients take the weight off, but as everyone knows, keeping it off is a whole other ball game. And, unfortunately, this game is lost by most—that is, until they go on the next punitive and restrictive diet plan, and try, try again.

That being said, 99% of my clients come to me for weight loss. My hope, once I have had the privilege of educating and influencing them, is they not only win the weight loss game, but they gain so much more, including improved health and vitality.

Looking to the definition of “vitality,” we see the meaning to be “state of being strong and active,” and “the power giving continuance of life.”

That’s it, folks; if you knew you could finally feel comfortable in your own skin and completely shift the trajectory of your life by modifying your food and exercise with a different strategy, could you really say no to this proposition?

I say “no way.”

Before I tell you a little secret, first answer whether you have made these statements:

1. I know what to do; I just don’t do it.

2. The diet worked, I lost the weight (except you have now found the weight).

3. I eat a clean diet; I don’t know why I can’t lose weight.

4. Once I hit menopause, I just look at food and gain weight.

5. I would like to weigh what I weighed in high school or college or on my wedding day.

6. I’d rather just work out than change my diet.

OK, the dirty little secret is that the key to your weight loss does not live in trying to “out-train that bad diet” or “how healthy your food choices are.” Rather, it’s the almighty “calorie deficit” directly related to your food intake.

While this sounds easy enough, there is a fine line between too many calories, too few calories, how food choices make you feel both physically and mentally, and the satisfaction that these calories can provide, even when you are desiring to lose weight.

Step one is finding a diet approach that you can enjoy forever, and that means regardless of whether you are in a calorie deficit (for weight/fat loss), calorie surplus (for weight/muscle gain), or homeostasis (equilibrium)—the latter being my desire for us all.

Your food choices and ability to balance meals and snacks start with foods that are wholesome, as close to nature as possible, with the perfect amount of calories; macro nutrients (foods that provide calories, as well as water and fiber); and micro nutrients (foods that provide vitamins and minerals); and variety to bring joy to you psychologically, as well as physiologically.

Step two, finding a nutrition professional who is both educated and experienced enough to help you execute this in your kitchen, navigating our daily lives, and the obstacles that keep getting in our way (i.e., convenience foods and lack of exercise).

Next month, we tackle the “exercise” piece of the puzzle; this cannot be ignored, but until then, sign up for my weekly newsletter by visiting my website at, and join me for complimentary virtual cooking classes, webinars and more.

Gina Cousineau sees clients virtually and in person out of her San Clemente office. Her extensive education—a BS in dietetics and MS in integrative and functional nutrition—chef training, and 30-plus years as a fitness professional allow her to help clients lose weight and improve their health. You can reach her at, 949.842.9975, and on Instagram and Facebook @mamagslifestyle.

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