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Animals at the Philadelphia Zoo the latest beneficiaries of PECO’s tree trimming maintenance program

PHILADELPHIA The twigs, leaves and branches collected as part of PECO’s preventable tree trimming program are headed to the Philadelphia Zoo where they will now be devoured by giraffes and other animals.

PECO and the Philadelphia Zoo have launched a new initiative dubbed the Philadelphia Zoo Browse Program, where PECO provides the Zoo with weekly deliveries of leaves, twigs and branches – collectively referred to as ‘browse’. The trimmings will serve as a portion of the animal’s daily dietary selection, and offer substantial nutrients and a variation to their normal food options.

The kickoff event featured remarks from Craig Adams, president and CEO of PECO, and Dr. Andrew J. Baker, COO of Philadelphia Zoo. Following the announcement, both men fed the giraffes fresh browse delivered by PECO.

Philadelphia Zoo currently houses 330 species of animals 40 of which has browse formulated into their diet, ranging from the eight ounce degu to the 1,750 pound giraffe. Animals that benefit from browse are gazelles, kangaroos, tortoises and numerous primates including the gorillas.

Vegetation growth causes about one-third of all electric outages, and PECO’s comprehensive vegetation management program is vital to safely keeping the lights on for our customers. The partnership will allow PECO to ship browse weekly – of what would have previously been turned into mulch – to Philadelphia Zoo.

Currently, the Zoo receives its browse from multiple partners throughout the region, including the Zoo’s own browse farm, Variety Club Camp; and Koala Browse, a Florida-based farm.

As the only corporate browse-providing partner of Philadelphia Zoo, PECO has contracted with Asplundh Tree Expert Company and assigned a dedicated crew manager who will coordinate the browse cut and delivery for the Zoo.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with Philadelphia Zoo, one of the area’s foremost conservation organizations, through our new Browse Program,” said Adams. “When trees and branches come in contact with overhead powerlines, they can cause extended outages. Now, we are not only providing a benefit to our customers, we are also creating a positive impact for the animals at one of the region’s most premier attractions.”

Incorporating browse into animals’ diets provides additional nutritional value including fiber, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. What’s more, browse allows the Zoo to offer foods that are more consistent with what animals would likely consume in the wild, which encourages natural behavior and provides organic enrichment as both mammals and reptiles eat the leaves, play with sticks, or peel bark off branches. Zoo animals experience healthier teeth and digestive tracts, improved cognitive function, increased activity levels, and enhanced overall wellbeing, as a result.

“We are happy to partner once again with PECO on the Zoo’s Browse Program,” says Vikram H. Dewan, president and CEO of Philadelphia Zoo. “Browse provides a valuable food supply for our animals by offering substantial nutrients, a high level of animal activity and a variation to their diets. It is a fantastic program and we are thankful to PECO for their participation.”

PECO has been a proud partner of Philadelphia Zoo since 1999 when they joined forces to create the reimagined PECO Primate Reserve, which shares stories of primates from around the world and helps spread the important message of how energy efficiency protects wildlife.

The PECO-Philadelphia Zoo partnership is just one of many steps PECO takes to give back to the community as a responsible corporate citizen. To learn more about PECO’s commitment to the communities it serves, visit www.peco.com/community.

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I Tried Adriana Lima’s Nutrition Plan and Lost 7 Pounds in a Week

“I’m really concerned about the no-coffee thing.” Those were the first words that flew out of my mouth when I got on the phone with Dr. Charles Passler, nutritionist to the stars—his roster includes Adriana Lima, Bella Hadid and the Victoria’s Secret Angels—and founder of the Pure Change Program. If you know me, that line doesn’t phase you, but for those who don’t, it may signal a red flag that something is up with my nutrition and caffeine intake.

Polite in every way, Dr. Passler took the opportunity to ask if he could make some “personalized suggestions” for my diet instead of speaking generally about the plan. I started taking quick notes, trying not to miss any of the information he was giving me, and it suddenly seemed like my seven-day challenge began before the call had even ended. But little did I know the true challenge would come as soon as the Program’s box of goodies arrived at my desk and I summoned enough courage to begin.

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Simply put, the Pure Change Program goes like this: You’re eating something every two and a half hours, whether it’s a protein shake, protein bar or vegetables—no exceptions (or caffeine, hence my reluctance), only water (2 liters of it daily, to be exact)—and almost everything you’ll need is in the box you’ll be mailed upon purchase. However, the proper nutritional supplementation is also of high importance during your weeklong challenge, as a “Detox Support Pack” should be taken with every lunch (which consisted of a 100-calorie portion of vegetables with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, as did dinner) plus the probiotic and magnesium supplements required before your head hit your pillow at night.

After the week was over—yes, it was was difficult, yes I lost seven pounds in just one week and yes I cheated on day six (you can’t not have a piece of cake at your nephew’s birthday party)—I surprisingly learned more about myself and overall nutrition than I did about portion control or hunger. Below, the top lessons Dr. Passler told me I would learn when trying the Program, and they’re sure to stick with me (and you!) for far longer than the cravings or caffeine headaches ever could. 

A post shared by Pure Change by Dr. Passler (@pure_change) on Mar 3, 2017 at 10:03am PST

Your p.m. pills are just as important as your morning ones. 
Multivitamins are an essential part of any morning routine, but after incorporating magnesium and probiotics into my diet at night, I realized that a p.m. supplement routine was something that’s barely been tapped into (with the exception of melatonin) and I’m not sure why. The probiotic helped with digestion and keeping a flat tummy (though the all-veggie diet did, too) while the magnesium aided with relaxation, sleep, healthy bowel movements and better muscle function. Dr. Passler explained that ingesting a combination of the two every night drastically aids with metabolic and enzymatic processes, along with helping the body make the “switch” over to a nighttime rhythm. 

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Never underestimate the power of water—seriously. 
We all know the benefits water bring to the skin, digestive system and overall health of our bodies, but I still wasn’t full-on relying on it until I had absolutely no choice but to quit or go thirsty. “If our cells don’t have enough water to operate, they, and in turn, we, become dehydrated,” Dr. Passler told be before I started the Program. “Even at 2-percent dehydration, your cognitive balance will suffer.” To combat any sort of dehydration (or thirst, really) the plan suggests you intake a minimum of two liters of water a day, which will leave you walking to and from the restroom like a maniac all day, but your skin will glow, you’ll feel fuller for longer, and you’ll feel more awake and alert, too. 

Read your protein shake’s fine print. 
There’s so much more to your protein shake then whether or not it’s plant- or whey-based. Dr. Passler explained that his formulation contains a blend of pea and rice proteins plus branch chain amino acids to help build up overall health and “feed muscles exactly where they need it.” He compares drinking the shakes to “putting fertilizer on a plant that didn’t have any before,” which is so true, that many of his patients ask him why they built up so much healthy muscle in a week when they stopped working out and cut their diets in half. (I have to say, my arms had an impressive amount of lean muscle mass after just one week of using this protein powder—I’ll absolutely be ordering more once I run out).

Cut down on the caffeine. 
Before I got started, Dr. Passler told me that the two areas where people always report feeling a night-and-day difference are the caffeine and alcohol departments. For me, caffeine obviously meant coffee, and because only water and herbal tea were allowed during the week, my withdrawal migraines were serious the first two days, but it left me feeling great the third and fourth days. I had more energy throughout the work day, especially in the mornings, and now when I have a small iced coffee (I would drink two ventis a day pre-cleanse), I feel like my fingers are moving too quickly for my body. If you’re looking to reset your body, a few days is truly all you need.

Eating late is never a good idea. 
When Dr. Passler let me in on the secret that the first tip he gives his celebrity clientele that are looking to bulk up for an upcoming role is telling them to eat late at night and snack if you ever get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night, my eating habits immediately changed (whose wouldn’t?). According to Dr. Passler, it’s also crucial for your body to “fast” for a full 12 hours at night—he calls this a “microfast”—so if you eat dinner at 7 p.m., the first time you eat should again would be at 7 a.m. the next morning. If not, your body will seriously suffer. 

Not all vegetables are in the green. 
When I first found out that the Pure Change Program relied heavily on vegetables, I thought I would eat sweet potatoes and be fine (that’s a true story)—until I read the “approved vegetables” list, that is. Among those approved are asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, mushrooms, romaine, tomatoes and zucchini (there are 31 in total), so it was definitely doable (maybe even easy!) if you’re a fan of vegetables, but if you’re not, my tip would be to become very familiar with Pinterest. Either way, definitely know the nutrition value behind your favorite veggies—just because you can find it in the produce department, doesn’t necessarily mean its healthy. 

A post shared by Pure Change by Dr. Passler (@pure_change) on Feb 6, 2017 at 7:58pm PST

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A convenient way to eat healthy

By Zsarlene B. Chua, Reporter

Food delivery services have always hinged on serving the need for convenience, especially for those who can barely find time to cook or do their groceries. And while fastfood options abound and beckon — because a two-piece Chickenjoy is a great temptation — there are those who look for healthier options.

Enter diet meal delivery services: these are services which offer a week’s worth of healthy meals for a set price, delivered to your home or office, which can sometimes be customized depending on the customer’s dietary needs or restrictions.

A cursory search would reveal more than a dozen healthy meal delivery options, ranging from those offering affordable yet healthy meals to those that cater to people who want to follow a specific diet regime.

“Filipinos now are generally more health conscious,” chef Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck, owner of the Sexy Chef, told BusinessWorld during a July 28 interview at their commissary in Quezon City.

Now more than a decade old, the Sexy Chef, which specializes in specific diet plans from South Beach to Paleo, is inarguably one of the pioneers of the movement but Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck admitted that it was an uphill climb. “A decade ago, a service like us was unheard of… we were the only diet food delivery service [in Metro Manila],” she said.

“And it’s only now that Filipinos have started to become health-conscious. Millennials now, everything they post is about them working out or eating healthy. It took a long time for us to catch on. So it was good we started out small,” she said.

The company — inspired by Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck’s need to adopt a healthy lifestyle after years of being sickly — grew from serving meals to friends and cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen, to having its own commissary which employs 40 people in the kitchen and eight in-house delivery riders.

“My first recipe was a simple pasta pomodoro dish which I had Rachel [Alejandro, her sister] try and she loved it. That positive response encouraged me to create more healthy recipes,” she said.

Singer/actress Rachel Alejandro co-manages the business with Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck.

“Back in 2004, South Beach diet was all the rage and Rachel bought me a cookbook and since there were quite a few ingredients not readily available in the market, I decided to ‘Filipinize’ it a bit by substituting more common ingredients,” Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck said.

The South Beach diet was introduced in 2003 by Arthur Agatston, an American cardiologist and celebrity doctor, and is mainly comprised of high fiber, low glycemic index carbohydrates and lean protein.

“At that time, both Rachel and I were following the diet and she told me that since I was cooking for her, for her manager, and a few of our friends, it may be time to make it into a business as the people I was cooking for were losing weight,” she said.

During that first year, they had about 20 customers because that was all their grandmother’s kitchen would allow — they had to move to a bigger space after six months of operation.

Now the Sexy Chef offers seven core diet plans: their signature South Beach Diet, Belly Trimmer (which includes superfoods), Pounds Away (which provides 1,200 to 1,400 calories a day), the gluten-free Paleo diet, the Eat Clean Detox, Fat Flush with Sexy Beast (which includes all-natural cold-pressed juices), and Keto (based on the Ketogenic diet which follows a low-carb, moderate protein, and high fat principle) alongside the more affordable Fit Meals which only include lunch and dinner and are customizable based on preference.

The Sexy Chef — which also caters — currently provides meals for more than 100 diet plan customers and 100 Fit Meal customers every day.

“We cook and deliver around 1,000 meals a day,” said Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck.

While the Sexy Chef was once the only service of its kind, it has since been joined by other players, many of which offer lower-priced meals which admittedly lured away a lot of its customers.

“The business was good until 2013 because there were no competitors,” Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck admitted, adding that their competition started gaining ground in 2013.

One of those competitors is Plan:Eat Program which considers itself the most affordable healthy food delivery service in the Metro as its week-long meal plans start at P1,200 for five days.

In comparison, five days of Sexy Chef’s Belly Trimmer meals cost P5,125.

“My first customers were my sister’s barkada (group of friends),” Patricia Quizon, owner and dietician of Plan:Eat Program, said in an interview on July 26 in Makati.

Much like Ms. Alejandro Rennebeck, Plan:Eat started with a personal need to find healthier food options — this time, the owner’s sister who needed to lose weight. Back then, Ms. Quizon’s sister was subscribing to meal delivery services but Ms. Quizon found that the portions were too small for her sister and that she was starving.

“She was losing weight but not the healthy way,” she said. After pointing this out to her, Ms. Quizon was encouraged to create a menu that would better suit her sister and she did.

After a while, her sister started to lose weight and her friends got interested. Soon, Plan:Eat was born.

“In 2013, postpaid plans for mobile phones were all the rage, right? So we decided to tailor our menu the same way,” Ms. Quizon said.

The Plan:Eat Program offers meal plans from P1,200 (which serves meals with a total of 1,200 calories a day) to P1,800 (which serves meals totalling 1,800 calories).

“Being a dietician, my biggest pet peeve is people complicating nutrition. Nutrition isn’t ‘cakes are bad,’ ‘white rice is bad,’ ‘bad this,’ ‘bad that.’ It’s just everything you eat, you need to moderate it,” she explained.

So unlike other services, Plan:Eat usually offers white rice, sometimes sprinkled with bacon, and panna cotta for dessert. It recently introduced themed weeks: Mediterranean, Filipino, etc.

It currently serves 800 to 900 individuals a day, excluding companies that order lunches for their teams for the day (“around 200 corporate meals”).

Again, similar to the Sexy Chef, Plan:Eat started in the Quizon’s home kitchen but it will be moving to a new commissary by 2018. Plan:Eat currently employs 30 individuals in the kitchen and outsources around 40 riders who deliver meals across Metro Manila.

For busy office folks, meal delivery services provide convenient and nutritious meals for an entire day as many services offer meals from breakfast to dinner with small snacks in between. The services are particularly convenient because meals are typically delivered the night before or in the very early morning and the only thing a customer needs to do is to pop it in the refrigerator and heat it up when it’s time to eat.

“I’m very happy with the food. With the service, it varies. They are a small group, with a small outlet. So sometimes there are inevitable delays,” said Marco Sindiong, a PR executive, in an online interview.

Mr. Sindiong has been ordering his lunches from a small service in Makati called the Greenery Kitchen since February and each meal costs P100 and is delivered fresh to the office.

“For a vegan in Makati, they are a godsend,” he said, adding that he will continue ordering from this particular service.

“I tried Diet Diva for two to three weeks then when I got sick, I had my vegetarian meals delivered by V Kitchen. It was a bit pricey: V Kitchen was P3,500 a week and Diet Diva was P1,900 — but it’s okay if you’re single because instead of going outside to eat, it’s cheaper and healthier,” said Pola Esguerra del Monte, BusinessWorld SparkUp multimedia editor.

Diet Diva was launched in 2012 by TV host/theater actor Kakki Teodoro and nutritionist-dietician and fitness instructor Clark de la Riva, while V Kitchen touts itself as the “first plant-based meal delivery service” as it offers vegetarian and vegan options.

“It’s convenient but waiting for delivery is a bit of a hassle and sometimes I get spoilage,” Ms. Del Monte said.

“I think the best contribution [of diet meal plans for me] is I was encouraged to try and cook healthy meals for myself,” she added.

Since food companies, especially delivery ones, have to deal with transporting meals in an uncontrolled environment — under various weather and environmental conditions — spoilage is a real problem.

“We had a problem with spoilage during our early years, mostly because of delivery times as riders have to deliver several meal packages a day and sometimes the meals delivered are left at the guardhouses or lobbies for too long [and] they spoil,” said Ms. Quizon.

She added that it became a huge problem for them as almost “30%-40%” of the meals they delivered spoiled which isn’t good for business — they had to process refunds.

“I was at a loss because I didn’t want to use preservatives so I called my old boss and asked for advice and I was advised to invest in a blast freezer,” she said.

The use of the blast freezer almost entirely solved the problems for them as less than 10% of the meals they deliver are reported to have spoiled.

“It took us many years to perfect and prevent spoilage,” said Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck, noting that now less than 5% of their meals spoil and that the problem is, most of the time, not due to them anymore.

“We don’t leave meals at lobbies, at guardhouses, but if we had to, we get the customer to sign a waiver,” she said.

She added that her staff are often the ones who have to try and see if their current menu items would easily spoil during transport, and since she didn’t want to blast chill their meals (“especially for rice dishes, the quality lowers”), they decided on limiting the number of deliveries their riders make and pack everything with ice from top to bottom, with instructions to the customer to immediately refrigerate the meal.

Because of the popularity of meal delivery services, competition became stiff. The Sexy Chef’s Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck admitted that in 2013, when many new players entered the market, business went down and she toyed with the idea of closing shop.

“We were losing customers, and as I was looking at how [the competition] can keep their prices lower, I realized other services were offering ensaymada (a sugary local bun) for [a] snack among other things. I thought then, ‘should I sell out and sell ensaymada as well [to attract more customers]?’ but I decided I’d rather close down than not be able to stand by my principles,” she said.

The Sexy Chef hired a consultant who helped them re-brand and re-package the business.

“I was told by our consultant that we didn’t need to lower our prices. We had to remind our customers why we’re the premium choice,” she said.

What it did have to do was pare down the selection to the core diet plans and introduce the more affordable Fit Meals. Packaging was also improved and Ms. Alejandro-Rennebeck said she had to take mobile photography classes and lessons in food plating

“[After the changes, customers] returned,” she said, adding that the key to surviving this business is to “keep evolving.”

“Of course people always want to try something new [but] the customers are not stupid, they will go where they feel service is good,” she said.

“Now? Competition doesn’t bother me so much anymore. We have our fair share of that pie,” she said.

Plan:Eat’s Ms. Quizon said that while there are many players in the market now, she isn’t especially bothered by the competition because she still offers one of the most affordable options.

Having been in the business for almost four years now, Ms. Quizon has begun to look beyond Metro Manila, planning to expand into other metro cities in the country like Cebu and Davao. She feels “there is a market to be served in other cities.” No definite date has been set for this expansion as they are currently talking with several prospective partners.

Aside from expanding beyond Metro Manila, Plan:Eat is also looking to create ready-to-eat meals which will be sold in healthy grocery stores as a way to reach more people and have them try Plan:Eat’s food.

The Sexy Chef meanwhile, expects to evolve into a “one-stop-shop for healthy [pre-prepared] meals and healthy products,” and is currently “looking to partner with a company early next year.”

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I’ve got my Gwyneth Paltrow-body…but the Tracy Anderson Method left me so starved I suffered blackouts

Rebecca Wilcox



Gwyneth Paltrow calls personal trainer Tracy Anderson her ‘pint-sized miracle and the exercise genius of all time’.

And who can blame her? After all, Tracy is responsible for giving the 38-year-old actress and mother of two the kind of bikini body an Amazonian tiger-wrestler would be jealous of.

So when Gwyneth went on Oprah last year and revealed the painful lengths she goes to to maintain her Hollywood figure  –  with Tracy’s help  –  I wondered, could I do that? 

Rebecca Wilcox

Gwyneth Paltrow

Rebecca Wilcox (left) after following the 30-Day Method. Gwyneth Paltrow (right) showing off her toned body during a beach holiday in the Caribbean last month

And I wasn’t alone. Tracy, a former dancer, and savvy Gwyneth are now business partners. Together they’ve produced four exercise DVDs  –  each of which has sold in excess of 20,000 copies in Britain alone  –  and a book, Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method.

Released in December it is shifting around 1,000 units a week, a number no doubt boosted by Tracy’s A-list clients who include Madonna, Shakira, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Richie.

According to Tracy all we have to do to get Gwyneth’s figure is exercise for two hours every day, six days a week for the rest of our lives. Oh, and eat only according to her strict diet plan.

But who has the time and inclination to do that? Well, me. I work from home a lot, I have no children and only a small flat to look after.

I also had a size-12 body that wasn’t getting any slimmer despite owning more than 100 exercise DVDs ranging from faddy to fantastic. I have done yoga, pilates, jogging, weightlifting, swimming, aerobics and dancing.

I even had a personal trainer at one point and, before you ask, yes, I have also tried several diets, including a hideous, practically food-free 10-day detox after which I didn’t lose a single pound.

Working out: Gwyneth in the gym with fitness guru Tracy Anderson

Working out: Gwyneth in the gym with fitness guru Tracy Anderson, whom she has called her ‘pint-sized miracle and the exercise genius of all time’

Maybe my goal to get a celeb’s body is a little too ambitious. But my job involves me looking good on TV presenting on the BBC’s Watchdog programme, and I really wasn’t happy with my figure (something I have in common with most women, according to every survey published on the subject).

So I bought into the Tracy Anderson Method, got hold of her DVDs and books, and ordered her latest boxed set, Metamorphosis: A Complete Body Transforming System, a 90-day programme you graduate to after completing the 30-Day Method, and which is available only from Tracy’s website.

I have to say, Gwyneth made it look rather too easy. On the 30-Day Method you have to do to three hours of exercise a day, which decreases to one hour on the 90-day plan.

It basically involves doing jazzy leaps, star jumps and aerobic moves in my living room.

Tracy is totally against other forms of cardio, such as running, where you repeat your movements over and over. That, she says, will bulk muscles.

Along with the aerobics you must do a series of 40 toning Pilates-style moves, which change every ten days. It is gruelling and also mind-numbingly boring. I find myself staring at pictures of Gwyneth in her bikini for ‘thinspiration’.

Yet all this would have been bearable if it hadn’t been for the diet part of the regime. On the first week of the plan I’m only allowed to eat seven different foods, mostly blended.

These include the dreaded Power Juice made from kale, spinach, beetroot and apple. It is so disgusting I drink it over the sink in case my body rejects it (which happened on several occasions).

Then there is the Sweet Potato Corn Pudding ( one cooked sweet potato, one raw corn on the cob  –  blended together till smooth); the carrot parsnip puree (carrots and parsnips  –  blended); the blueberry and apple sauce (blended until smooth); the gazpacho (also blended until smooth) and protein soup ( surprisingly not blended).

My day on the Method

Tracy says eat when you feel like it but I try to divide the foods as equally as possible into breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Apart from the protein soup, which is carrots, celery, broccoli and chicken breast cooked in low-sodium stock, I don’t actually chew anything for a whole week.

This was excruciating. It took the best part of a day to make everything in preparation for the week and after all that I didn’t feel like I had any real food. I was starving.

But then with the onset of week two the diet only got harder and had me yearning for the good old days of pureed spinach.

Breakfast is two eggs (boiled or poached) or turkey bacon with a small amount of fruit.

Lunch is a protein bar. Dinner is a small amount of protein and veg. For example, I could have half a chicken breast with a handful of spinach. I would go to bed so hungry that I could hardly sleep.

I feel faint on several occasions and in the middle of Oxford Street everything starts to black out.

Thankfully, week three goes back to the blended foods-only phase.

Everything is grilled, steamed or poached. There seems to be a ban on starches in general. No bread, potatoes, pasta or rice. There are no fats, no dairy, no salt and no red meat.

Having completed the 30-Day Method I am currently on the 90-day plan. The results?

Well, I’m no Gwynnie but since January I have lost a stone in weight and dropped from dress size 12 to 10. I am happier with my body than I have been for a long time.

Those are the positives.

On the downside I feel woozy and find it difficult to concentrate. At first I had loads of energy but now I’m always tired and am told I’m horribly grouchy to boot.

Tracy Anderson's latest book

Tracy Anderson’s latest book

My skin is terrible and my nails are flaking and weak. And  –  how can I put this  –  my system has become, shall we say, somewhat sluggish. Normally I’m as regular as clockwork. Not any more.

I am encouraged to weigh myself daily and measure my results with the ‘Tracy tape measure’ every ten days.

At first this made me feel quite uncomfortable but now I’m fanatical about my daily weigh-in and refuse to eat or drink anything until I know my weight first.

Tracy makes no mention of the amount of calories or fat you are supposed to consume a day so I take my plan to Catherine Collins, principal dietician at St George’s Hospital, London, to get it analysed. The results are shocking.

She told me I had existed on less than 700 calories a day for the past two months  –  no wonder I felt terrible. Catherine was extremely concerned.

‘I see patients suffering with anorexia nervosa and now I’m reading their diet in pamphlet form,’ she says. ‘It’s immunosuppressant due to its lack of calcium, iron, carbohydrates, proteins and salt.

‘If you followed the regimen you would risk developing hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood). The diet is also very low in iron, which could lead to anaemia and problems with balance, muscle strength and exhaustion.

‘The lack of absorbable calcium (less than 300mg  –  the body needs 800mg a day) means you risk earlyonset osteoporosis and osteopenia too  –  something that Gwyneth has been diagnosed with.

What’s more, the protein levels are low  –  less than 1.7oz per day, which can be dangerous if prolonged.

‘Even the vitamins that are available cannot be absorbed since there is no fat present in the diet to act as an absorption vehicle, so they will just be excreted from the body.’

As part of the Metamorphosis plan you gain access to an internet chat room devoted to Tracy and her Method. It is filled with adoring fans sharing tips for weight loss and offering support. Many women on the Metamorphosis website are also concerned about the diet and opt to only follow the exercise element  –  something that Tracy opposes.

‘If you only follow the food plan partially or not at all I cannot promise results,’ she writes.

I went on the forum to voice concerns about the wisdom of the diet and was told sternly to ‘trust in Tracy Anderson’ and ‘believe in The Method’. I noticed my comments were later removed.

Dr Susan Jebb, head of Nutrition and Health Research at the Medical Research Council, was not surprised by my weight-loss results.

‘Of course you’re going to lose weight  –  you’re eating 700 calories a day,’ she says. ‘People who are not overweight shouldn’t go on these crash diets. They can be useful for patients who are very obese but not for someone like you.’

According to Dr Jebb, I should be consuming around 2,400 calories a day to maintain my weight when exercising as much as I am.

She explains: ‘A deficit of just 1,000 calories a day means you will lose 2lb a week. On this diet you would have a deficit of 1,700 calories a day.’

Dr Jebb went on to explain that there are guidelines for such low-calorie diets which mean you should be monitored by a health practitioner to make sure your heart and other major organs don’t suffer any consequences.

A sustained calorific intake at this level would mean a loss of nearly 4lb a week. And as Catherine Collins explains, it won’t be just fat that starts to disappear.

If you exercise at the rate the plan demands and eat less than 2.1oz of protein a day your body will then cannibalise your organs  –  your kidneys, liver and heart  –  to get the protein it needs,’ she says.

‘This is why anorexia sufferers can die of heart attacks. The low level of carbohydrates (only 1.6oz on some days) is well below the 2.4oz that an average woman would need if she were exercising.

‘This could also lead to a breakdown of the muscles, a deterioration of motor skills and a diminished organ size. It’s the worst thing to do when you’re exercising.’

Jo Doust, professor of physiology at the University of Brighton, says there’s nothing new or magical about Tracy Anderson’s exercises.

He says: ‘She claims you can re-engineer your muscular structure and defy your genetics through her programme, but you just can’t do that.

‘You can develop your muscles but you can’t defy your genetics. Her exercises aren’t special  –  you could get a similar plan from any trainer in any gym.’

When I started the Tracy Anderson Method I was a massive fan and I wanted to tell everyone that I had found the holy grail of dieting. But now I see how wrong I was.

The exercises have worked for me so I’m going to keep going with them for as long as the novelty holds out but I have stopped the diet.

For now I can only wonder at the stamina needed to get the body that Tracy’s method promises.

Representatives of Tracy Anderson did not respond to requests for a statement about Rebecca’s experience.


Bill Belichick Explains Intricacies Of Training, Diet For Patriots Players

BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady’s diet and exercise routine have become so well-known in recent years that “avocado ice cream” has become a common household term throughout New England. It’s so popular, in fact, that all-world tight end and oft-injured Rob Gronkowski has jumped aboard the Brady train to perfect health.

Considering Gronkowski made the news with his diet and exercise choices, the topic was raised during Bill Belichick’s session with reporters on Wednesday morning. And the coach offered some expansive answers.

While Belichick passed on the opportunity to speak specifically about Brady’s workout and diet plan, he did explain in great detail how much work the Patriots put into training all of their players in whatever works for the individual.

“Well, we tailor everything we do to each individual. So we train players that are 185 pounds, we train players that are 350 pounds. We train players that have a lot of different things they do on the football field,” Belichick said. “Some are very specific, like specialists, like quarterbacks, kickers, snappers, things like that. Some players have a very extensive role – special teams, offense or defense, first, second, third downs – so we have different training programs. And again, each individual is different – their age, their physical makeup, their build and their strength and explosion and power and so forth.

“We have a certain general way of training everybody, but it really becomes pretty specific depending on the individual and what we ask them to do,” he continued. “So, we don’t want to train a player to do something that we’re not going to ask them to do. Unless it’s just part of the general training, we want to train players to do things that fall in line with what we would see them and ask them to perform on the field. So, depending on what the player is, then probably his age, his experience, his physical makeup, other medical issues if there are any, his role and so forth all is part of what we look at for each individual player.

“So, what’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for the next person. Not saying it’s wrong, but maybe there’s something better we can do for the other person.”

And when it comes to certain players suffering muscular injuries with some regularity, Belichick discussed the adjustments that are made to players’ programs.

“We’re always looking to improve, so I mean that never stops,” Belichick said. “Certainly, if a player has a condition that there’s a history of or there’s a concern with, whatever that is, then we try to address it on the preventive end rather than sit in the training room and wait for somebody to come in with a this or a that or a something else – a tight back or a soft tissue injury or foot issues or whatever. If we know that there’s something that we’re concerned about – either they’ve had it or we think that because of the way they perform or their build or whatever that there’s a risk. And our testing will sometimes tell us that, too, relative to leg length – lower leg strength versus upper leg strength, or right leg strength versus left leg strength, or right leg flexibility versus left leg flexibility and things like that. We do that type of testing. If we see that there’s an imbalance, then we would try to straighten that out rather than sit in the training room until the guy comes in, and then OK, here’s the problem, now we’ll try to fix it. We try to get those things taken care of before they become a problem.

“So that’s really the idea. The idea is for the wellness to be on the front end of as much of these things as we possibly can,” he added. “So, guys that are involved in more contact, like a lineman, for example, there’s certain things we do to train and I would say prepare them and try to keep them out of potential injuries and situations that we’ve identified. We try to stay in front of everything as much as we can. If something comes up, then we address the problem to try to get the player back to being a full participant. But, we try to stay ahead of those things so that they don’t occur.”

While no such program in a sport like football can prevent injuries, Belichick indicated that players are generally accepting of the Patriots’ planning.

“I think a lot of the players feel good about that, that something that was maybe a little bit of an irritant – maybe it didn’t keep them off the field, but it was something that they noticed – has now been addressed, hopefully eliminated or minimized and they’re able to perform at a higher level and the issue hasn’t reoccurred,” he said. “So, that’s our goal, but when you have a lot of new players on your team like we do, then that process of finding out what it is – again, doing the testing, seeing where the potential problems or imbalances may be – and I think our strength and training staff do a good job of that and try to address them, make the players aware of them so they’re working on them and then, for the most part, we’ve been able to avoid things in that area.”

‘There’s nothing more annoying than a friend on a diet’

Is there anyone more annoying than a friend who has just lost weight and feels amazing?

Rhetorical question.

Because while some of us are still safely ensconced in layers of clothing, snug and warm in the comfort of denial about the inevitability of summer while eating carbs with sweet abandon, OTHERS are making their summer bodies, right as we speak, IN WINTER.

I found myself dying midway conversation with a friend who was on week three of the “new” version of the HCG Diet [an extreme diet involving injections of HCG, the hormone women make when pregnant].

She had just lost five kilos and was now perched high on a soapbox and offering unsolicited diet advice.

Not wanting to rain on her parade at all, because as if I would want to do that, I carefully enquired: hadn’t she been on the old HCG roundabout before? And hadn’t she, after she returned to eating like a normal person, regained all the hard earned lost kilos with maybe a couple of extras for good measure?

Oh, pardon me, sorry, this is the HCG you get from the doctor. Right. Is it still 500 calories a day? Hello obviously – that’s why it works. My mistake. And how fabulous that we’re giving it another go – the third time is always the charm.

Look, I don’t mean to be negative-Nancy but I was born a Size 14 and I certainly know my way around a calorie-restricted, protein-laden diet and exercise program like the very best of them.

Which is why I was a little surprised when Missy continued in her sermon. “Do you know why French women don’t get fat?”

“Um, because they are on drugs and they smoke?”

“No. Because they’ve identified their food culprits. What are your top five food culprits Aleesa?” Oooh. The big questions. “Champagne…food, which has cheese on it and is like not a protein?”

Well that answer opened a can of worms: “Champagne – sure have that glass but then get on the treadmill for half an hour to burn it off. Because that’s how much it takes to work off the calories of just one glass of Champagne.”

Firstly, what idiot is going to sit on one glass of Champagne and then excuse herself as she darts upstairs to the home gym filled with washing to do a quick sesh on the treadmill, WITHOUT having another glass of said Champagne on her return as a reward? Spare. Me.

I then get a follow up text message with the suggestion to “Find a PT and do weight resistance training at the gym because it will burn fat and tone”. Knock me down with a feather — weight training burns fat and tones! I had no idea. And I’m kind of pissed that not one of my six trainers over five gyms during this last 15 years told me this. Seriously. And I paid these guys good money.

See, people like myself and my dear friend who have always had that extra 10kg plus to lose, have done it all – the fasting, the meal replacements, the tablets instead of food (hello Herbal Life – can’t believe that wasn’t sustainable), the shakes, the drops, the potions and let’s not forget exercise (I mean we’re not idiots).

We’ve bounced up and down through the step classes of our youth, done the grapevine right up to Body Pump, intermittent training, Spin and Barre — I mean I have had a Fitness First membership for a generation. Indeed – we seasoned dieters have been around that block many, many times. Which begs the question: Why, after having made a career of dieting and exercise, are we are still not our taut and trim best? 

So, I did my Googles, found an article that really spoke to me, and guess what? I discovered that diets don’t work (I bet you didn’t know that either. GIVE ME BACK MY LIFE)!

Well, of course the basic science of eating less than your body burns, works – you will lose weight.

But keeping the weight off for the rest of your life? I think we all know the answer to that one. However, there are some people who have been very successful long term.

A few of my friends have lost weight and kept it off for many years (I don’t speak to those people anymore) but the data reveals that this is the exception, not the rule. Is it lack of motivation, will power, discipline? Why do our bodies kind of spring back to their natural size 16 states in no time at all?

Scientists have found that a weight-reduced body behaves very differently to a similar-size body that has not dieted – it is metabolically different (like not good different).

Dieting puts a person who has gone down this slippery road into a state of always wanting to eat while their metabolism is slower than someone at the same weight who has never dieted. I kid you not. It’s pure biological sabotage from the get-go. 

“After you’ve lost weight, your brain has a greater emotional response to food,” Rosenbaum says. “You want it more, but the areas of the brain involved in restraint are less active.” Combine that with a body that is now burning fewer calories than expected, he says, “and you’ve created the perfect storm for weight regain.”

How long this state lasts isn’t known, but preliminary research at Columbia suggests that for as many as six years after weight loss, the body continues to defend the old, higher weight by burning off far fewer calories than would be expected.

The problem could persist indefinitely. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to lose weight and keep it off; it just means it’s really, really difficult. 

Aren’t we up against it, friends? Our very own bodies literally setting us up to fail. So, do we just abandon that second round of Michelle Bridges? Cease the Ketosis?

Stop donating money to various fitness establishments? Or do we just press on with that dream, and keep chipping away at our life’s work of actually losing weight and keeping it off? It’s very tempting to throw in the towel. But I’m no quitter. It does make me wonder though…maybe ignorance really is bliss after all. 

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