It's difficult to imagine that Ms. Tosca Reno was once a 40 year old fat housewife who transformed not just her body, but also her life. This is the author of The Eat-Clean Diet, a best-seller. Read it. You'll find the tools to empower your own lifestyle makeover.
I spoke the other morning with Ms. Tosca Reno, a “Formerly Fat Housewife Turned Fit” from her home in Canada. Ms. Reno, at the young age of 40, whipped herself into shape with The Eat-Clean Diet, a lifestyle makeover which allowed her to become a swimsuit model, cover model for Oxygen magazine, and a spokesperson for fitness on numerous TV and radio shows.
What did she do that we are not doing?
KJ: Ms. Reno – tell me, what is The Eat-Clean Diet?
T. Reno: My book, although titled a diet is really more about a healthy lifestyle. Results are long term and sustainable. I have kept my weight off for 8 years and counting.
We have been collectively misled that what sits on the shelves in grocery stores is food. Amongst the many healthy choices available at supermarkets there is a surplus of garbage foods that have steadily undermined the health and vitality of this country. Clean Eating aims to enlighten the reader about what constitutes healthy food choices versus otherwise.
KJ: I understand that you provide a consultant service to readers who would like to speak with you directly.
T. Reno: Yes, I contract out phone consults. About a week in advance, I ask my phone-in visitor to prepare a list of questions. In return I provide an hour of customized, personalized advice. The questions run the gamut of, “What kind of exercise should I do daily?” to “How many chicken breasts should I eat each day.” Other queries are about the body and are much more personal.” I enjoy this type of work because I stay in touch with those not yet in shape and it rounds out my thinking.
KJ: Ms. Reno, how did your family upbringing influence your eating? Healthy eating begins with you the mother, father, and the young adult – you the owner of that body.
I had no excuses. My parents were great examples – Dad had an enormous vegetable garden and my mother, now age 73, was ahead of her time. Our evening meals were light on carbs, and there was always an emphasis on veggies; once a week Mom would give us a cold plate for dinner, consisting of cottage cheese and vegetables.
KJ: When did your weight problem begin?
T. Reno: After the birth of my three daughters, I began to lose sight of my marriage. Marital problems arose. Instead of having a relationship with my husband, I developed a relationship with food. One day I spoke to my mom. “I don’t know what I’ve become,” I sobbed.
This is a bad place to be, it creates emotional problems.
KJ: How heavy were you?
T. Reno: At that time, prior to the year 2000, I was over 200 lbs.; at 5’8” that’s not hugely obese, but I was big all over. I didn’t like it.
KJ: When did you begin to get back into shape?
T. Reno: When the millennium arrived, I went back to school for a teaching degree. I wanted to be able to support my girls after I left my husband. I didn’t want to be the miserable vindictive ex-wife; I preferred to leave with dignity.
So, I began running. I was obese, and lost 70 lbs. I left my old self in the dust behind the treadmill. Today, at age 48, my weight is consistently 138lbs, 8lbs of it muscle.
KJ: The title of your book is The Eat-Clean Diet. Exactly what is eating-clean?
T. Reno: Eating-Clean is a lifestyle change – a new way of eating, more frequently, 5-6 small meals daily, every 2-3 hrs. This includes complex carbs, and lean protein at every meal. I urge those making the change not to skip even one meal – this is worse than skipping a workout.
Going without the right foods for long periods of time causes insulin to drop.
The combination of complex carbs and lean protein keeps blood levels steady. There are no hormonal changes and no horrible crashing , as is the case when bad food choices are made.
This works great when combined with weight training. Together, nutrition and weight–bearing exercise build muscle. Muscle burns ten times more fuel than one pound of resting fat. It’s money in the bank. And, continues working when we’re asleep or sitting.
The metabolism stays charged too. This is a pitfall with yo-yo dieting. Avoiding a whole food group is not sustainable. The metabolism slows and weight is gained back. Eat-Clean embraces all food groups and is manageable.
Occasionally I need to travel or I eat a dessert and my weight goes up a little. It varies by about 3lbs., but by Eating-Clean, it’s easy to get back on track
KJ: From the physical standpoint, it is very beneficial. How did it help you emotionally?
T. Reno: I no longer had an unhealthy relationship with food. I gained control over the food. It allowed me to put guidelines and structure around food intake. Life became simpler. I no longer had food worries. Mentally, that’s liberating.
KJ: What foods should be eaten?
T. Reno: Some of us are carnivores and others vegetarians.
For those who eat meat, lean proteins I recommend are: white fish, salmon, turkey breast, chicken, bison, egg whites, and beef tenderloin.
Vegetarians should consume tofu, legumes – black beans, chickpeas, etc. Another protein and whole grain in one is quinoa – which is a superfood. Eaten by the ancient Inca civilization, it is loaded with calcium, minerals, and vitamins. Quinoa may also be prepared savory or sweet.
Complex carbohydrates, for everyone, includes: brown rice (nutritious, high fiber content, potent with Vitamin E); fruits and veggies – sweet potato, which is more nutritious than a white potato, and pumpkin, being versatile, may be prepared sweet or savory; green vegetables and greens; seaweed, a high source of calcium.
I ask those on the program to run from the white rice and to choose whole grain, complex carbs instead.
KJ: What did you eat for breakfast today?
T. Reno: This morning I ate a bowl of ½ C dry oatmeal, 1T wheat germ (for Vitamin E and fiber) and 2T coarsely chopped flax seed with 1C hot water, 1/4C mixed berries, 1C of coffee, 2T of bee pollen.
KJ: Bee pollen?
T. Reno: Yes, it’s a superfood (protein, complex carbs, vitamins, rutin, minerals). It helps increase stamina during cardio, and improves weight management, by curving cravings for large portions of food.
Wheat germ also helps mediate hot flashes which occur during the change of life.
KJ: That’s good to know.
Can I just drink a cup of coffee and eat something quick on the way to work?
T. Reno: The answer to that is yes. But what are you eating?
Here’s what I do, especially when I need to travel. You’ll see me walking around the airport with a portable container and eating breakfast. Mix the breakfast together—oatmeal, flax, wheat germ. Put lid on it and take it to go. When you can, use a cooler. Prepare food ahead, plan the food – use leftovers like extra brown rice and chicken breasts.
Most of us are very busy. I am too.
KJ: What are portion sizes?
T. Reno: Page 30 of The Eat-Clean Diet gives an example of normal portion sizes. Typically the palm of the hand is a protein serving. The remaining two-thirds of the plate should be complex carbs–whole grains and vegetables, each the size of a tennis ball.
KJ: It’s hard to believe you refer to yourself as a “formerly fat housewife.” Eating-Clean is modeled upon your new lifestyle. What else do you do to keep looking so great?
T. Reno: Eating-Clean is 80% nutritional effort, 10% genetics and 10% gym time. Five times a week, for 45-60 minutes I work with weights. My cardio is three to four times a week for 35-45 minutes.
KJ: Ms. Reno, regarding the weights – do you use free weights, machines or both?
T. Reno: Kelly, I use both. I prefer the Cybex machines.
KJ: What type of cardio?
T. Reno: I enjoy the elliptical machine, running on the treadmill with a 5% incline, running around my property, skipping, or plyometric jumping – which can be demanding on the body.
KJ: I see you feature a Boosting List in your book. What revs up the metabolism?
T. Reno: Exercise – weight training, cardio and Eating Clean foods do.
KJ: I’ve been reading quite a bit lately about having sex. Why do health experts recommend this activity?
T. Reno: It burns calories and increases the basal metabolic rate by 15%. Also the body releases sex hormones which increase the metabolic rate too.
KJ: Give me a ballpark figure for the amount of calories burned during sexual activity.
T. Reno: Around 250 calories are burned in ½ hour.
KJ: I understand that you drink copious amounts of water. In fact, your comment is, “Thirsty is too late.” How much should I drink?
T. Reno: I’m drinking water now. Chemical reactions in the body require water. It also flushes out toxins. Drink 2 liters a day. If you’re active, drink 3 liters.
I like to drink water from a glass. In my home we have a UV reverse osmosis system. I suggest that you purchase your water from a reputable source.
KJ: Are coffee and tea okay?
T. Reno: Yes, but drink it black and in small amounts. I don’t have a pot of coffee brewing all day. I do drink quite a bit of herbal teas. These are not processed in the body the same way that black coffee and tea are.
But don’t confuse tea and water. Coffee and tea are both diuretics and will remove vital minerals from the body.
KJ: Where should the 300lb woman begin?
T. Reno: At the doctor – she needs a clean bill of health before beginning a lifestyle change program.
KJ: Where should she begin in the gym?
T. Reno: She should begin by walking, completing light exercise, and swimming – to lose weight first. If she’s not motivated, she could hire a trainer. Nutrition is 80% of the change though. Trainers advise clients what to eat. Many trainers are now recommending my book, The Eat-Clean Diet to their clients.
KJ: Where can the 300 lb. woman begin in the kitchen?
T. Reno: First, she can read my book, follow the grocery checklist that’s provided, buy Eat Clean foods, and use the recipes. I have an Eat-Clean Cookbook coming soon.
KJ: We’re going out for a last minute dinner. What can I order?
T. Reno: I like to make friends with the waiter. Have a look at the menu; choose foods with out butter, sauce, mashed potatoes. Ask for everything dry, with slices of lime to squeeze on. Often I ask for a double helping of steamed vegetables. Also, avoid the bread basket.
KJ: Tell me about the UGLY foods. What makes them “ugly”?
T. Reno: I list 10 in The Eat-Clean Diet. These are calorie-loaded, nutritionally void foods which provide a burst of flavor, but for the long term are shortsighted foods. They are ruinous to the body, and contain sugar and transfats, which have no place for them in the body.
KJ: As a mom, what do you do to get the kids to eat veggies?
T. Reno: I hide them in everything. I hide squash inside tomato sauce and serve it with pasta. This doesn’t alter the flavor. Often, I roast vegetables with garlic. I have always given 2 choices of vegetables on the plate. There’s no junk in my house.
KJ: Do the kids complain?
T. Reno: No, they want to be in shape and look great. They’re teenagers now.
KJ: Would you like to say something about the childhood obesity epidemic?
T. Reno: For the first time in history there is a very real possibility that children will not live the long lives their parents did thanks to the epidemic of obesity here in the USA and worldwide. The WHO (World Health Organization) coined the new term “globesity” to describe this ever growing trend. My goal is to help North Americans lose unwanted fat one pound at a time, for good.
Note from Kelly: The Eat-Clean Diet book is softbound. I usually report on hard-covers, but this “little book that could” is not only affordable, it is a best-seller, includes dynamic photos and mini blocks of information. For improved energy and weight loss, read The Eat-Clean Diet. The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook will be available to the public September 2007.