'The Calendar Diet' Offers 365-Day Guidance for Weight Loss and Maintenance

Melina Jampolis, M.D., provides simple tenets to healthy eating and weight loss in "The Calendar Diet," with recipes from Karen Ansel, R.D., and exercise circuits from Ami Jampolis, C.S.C.S.

We’ve been eager to read The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life (Wagging Tail Press, 2012). Not only is it an extremely practical, concise and comprehensive guide to losing weight (and keeping it off), but the new book is written by two of our favorite nutrition experts — VIVmag Advisory Board member Melina Jampolis, M.D., and VIVmag contributor Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.

As the name implies, The Calendar Diet goes beyond advice for losing weight, serving as a doctor-designed guide to weight management year-round, with research-based tips from Jampolis, easy and delicious recipes from Ansel and exercise routines from personal trainer (and Jampolis’ sister) Ami Jampolis, M.S., C.S.C.S.

Melina Jampolis says that she wanted to put the guidance she gives her patients on paper. “I see patients year-round for weight loss and spend a lot of time coaching them through challenging eating situations, waxing and waning motivation levels, exercise boredom and weight-loss plateaus,” she says. The seasonal eating approach, with relevant recipes, is “a great way to boost nutrition, save money and save the environment by buying locally whenever possible,” Jampolis says.

What can you expect to eat on the diet? Lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains and plenty of vegetables. In the “Getting Started” chapter, you’ll also discover advice on helpful tools, from a food journal to small bowls for portion control. (For a guide to portion-control bowls, check out Ansel’s VIVmag story “Safe at Home Plate.”) The six principles of the diet, which include eating three meals and one to two snacks per day and including protein in most of those, are based on something Jampolis observed in 10 years of working with patients: “The simpler I make the principles of losing weight, the better.”

Each season has its own chapter (plus a special section devoted to the holiday season) with an overview, tips for building an exercise routine, behavioral strategies for the season and a list of seasonal produce. Plus you’ll find tips for navigating every eating holiday, from big food days like Thanksgiving and Super Bowl Sunday to Mother’s Day and Columbus Day.

Special occasions hold pitfalls for dieters who use them as an excuse to cut loose, Ansel notes. “That can really burn some people,” she says. “Not only do they have trouble resisting temptation during those roadblock occasions, then after they do, they feel like they’ve blown their diet entirely. Then they get stuck in a rut where they can’t find the motivation to get back on track.” The recipe sections provide healthy, tasty alternatives, so dieters don’t feel deprived and can stave off temptation without feeling like they’ve blown it.

The exercise component of the book includes photos of the moves demonstrated by Ami Jampolis. Readers can design their own circuit from a variety of exercise combinations; each circuit includes nine exercises of six-strength based exercises and three cardiovascular exercises. These include tried-and-true squats, lunges, planks and crunches to the creatively named spine strengthener Superman (lying facedown with hips touching the floor and arms and legs raised for 3-second intervals) and the Fire Hydrants (a knee lift on all fours).

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, a diet roadblock featuring American versions of Mexican food, such as nachos and other cheese-drenched dishes. Here’s an easy-to-prepare, nutritious dish from The Calendar Diet that’s rich in fresh Latin flavors. And go easy on the margaritas, of course — and not just for your head’s well-being on May 6. The Calendar Diet recommends a limit of three alcoholic drinks per week, and skipping sugary cocktails when possible. Margaritas typically have an average of 300 calories, but if you want to celebrate, try making your own margarita without the mix, using tequila, fresh lime juice, club soda and a pinch or two of sugar.

Chili Lime Chicken
Serves 2
2 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 pinches salt, divided
2 pinches, pepper, divided
1 pinch garlic powder
½ teaspoon plus 1 pinch chili powder, divided
4 teaspoons canola oil
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
2 radishes, thinly sliced

1. Season chicken with 1 pinch each salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 10–12 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165° F, turning halfway. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. While chicken is cooking, whisk together lime juice, honey, cilantro and remaining canola oil, salt, pepper and chili powder.

4. Toss romaine, cucumber and radishes in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with half dressing and toss well.

5. Divide salad between 2 plates. Top each with 1 piece of chicken and drizzle with remaining dressing.

NUTRITION SCORE (per serving)
279 calories
Fat 13 g
 (1.7 g saturated)
Carbs 10 g
Protein 30 g
Fiber 3 g
Calcium 61 mg
Iron 2.2 mg
Sodium 239 mg

What are some of your own biggest healthy eating pitfalls?