Diane Carbonell has done what many of us only dream of doing – lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. She lost half herself, an amount equal to an entire person, and has maintained that 150-plus pound loss for 13 years through multiple pregnancies and as the busy mom of seven kids. If she can do it, WE can do it!
And in her new book, “150 Pounds Gone Forever,” Diane tells us how. Part memoir and part self-help guide, the book is filled with vivid stories from Diane’s experience, like the time she made her first plus-size clothing purchase and how she got stuck on top of a carousel horse. She goes beyond the anecdotes she shares on her blog, Fit to the Finish, and outlines the key steps in her plan for a healthy life that is more than just a traditional diet. She asks the reader questions that encourage introspection. She describes how to handle many of the challenges that one would face following her example and shares some of her favorite recipes. As in her blog, she writes clearly and with honesty and is both thought-provoking and relatable.
Diane and her publisher asked if I’d like to read the book and share my thoughts with you here. (Disclaimer: the book was provided to me at no cost.) Rather than give a traditional review or summarize the book’s content beyond what I’ve already said, I’ve asked Diane some questions and will share her responses below.
Q. If you could get one and only one point across to someone with weight to lose, what would it be?
A. To never give up on yourself. It does not matter if it takes you a long time to get to a healthy weight – the main thing is that you keep trying.
Q. If you could go back to when you first started your plan, what advice would you give yourself thanks to the benefit of hindsight?
A. That’s a great question. I think I would have kept a more detailed record of how quickly the weight came off, how I felt physically, and what emotions I dealt with. Those things would have give me a more complete picture of my journey.
Q. You have developed and adhere to a “plan.” When did you start viewing this as something other than a diet and what advice do you have for someone who hasn’t made that paradigm shift yet?
A. I call it a plan, but in reality it is just a lifestyle shift. When I lost the weight I did not want to have to follow a set of rules for the duration of my weight loss experience and then try to follow a different set of “rules” after I lost the weight. So instead the plan that I used to lose weight is now my life plan.
Q. I love that rather than thinking in terms of numbers, as many dieters are prone to do, you think instead about how you feel and your life, and that you’ve used this in explaining how to set goals. Tell us more.
A. I really believe that looking at our weight in terms of our overall life is a sound mental health strategy. Instead of being held hostage by one number, I try to set goals in a variety of areas in my life. I have spiritual goals, relationship goals, fitness goals, and personal goals. A personal goal this year is to read at least 25 books, while a relationship goal is to reach out to new friends I meet in a deliberate way.
Q. Have you set any new goals for yourself as relates to a healthy lifestyle?
A. I am working on two things. One is reducing how much refined sugars I consume and another is to be more consistent with strength training.
Q. You have great success with portion control and being very selective with eating treats. As someone who has struggled with moderation, I wonder if there are any foods that you just don’t eat anymore because they might trigger cravings or overeating.
A. No Snickers bars, no goldfish crackers, and no Oreos! Other “treats” such as brownies, cookies, or cakes are occasional parts of my diet. The first three I listed are foods that I still have a tendency to overeat, so I just say “no” to those.
Q. As a classic yo-yo dieter, I’d love to know more about how you made the change from “losing weight” to maintaining, both in terms of behaviors and thinking.
A. Because I did not have to shift from one “plan” to another once I hit my goal weight, the transition from being in weight loss mode to maintenance mode was seamless. The only thing I did differently once I reached my happy weight was to eat a tiny bit more a day in order to stop losing. I did not change how much I exercised or the types of foods I had been eating to lose weight. I think that strategy really helped me maintain my weight and gave me a solid basis to continue a healthy eating plan through tragedies of life that occurred, pregnancy, stressful moments, and busy times.
Q. Where did the name “Fit to the Finish” come from?
A. I was standing in my kitchen in Tallahassee, Florida trying to think of a name for the weight loss class I had just written. It just popped into my head and it has been what I have called my weight loss plan ever since!
Q. What are you most often asked about your journey and how do you answer?
A. Two questions: What about the skin? I tell them that yes, it can be an issue, but no, it should not be so much of a concern as to make them not try to lose weight.
Second question: Do I ever cheat? I tell them no. Because in my life, cheating implies that there are set rules that cannot be broken. Instead I tell them that I do have moments where I eat too much or fail to eat healthy, but I don’t let those times define the rest of my day or derail my desire to live a healthy life.
Q. What do you WISH you were asked?
A. I wish people asked me how my weight loss has positively affected my family. Because the truth is that I am a better mom and wife now because I feel better physically and emotionally.
If you’d like to read Diane’s book for yourself, let me know in a comment below. Diane has graciously offered to give her book to one lucky reader and I’d also love to pass on my copy to someone. And, of course, you can purchase one for yourself from Sunrise River Press. And you also can read my recap of Diane’s 2010 appearance on the Dr. Oz Show; I’ve been following her as long as I’ve been blogging!