Success Story: Sarah Hiller...Totally Loses It!

by smart 1. April 2014 06:21
Meet Sarah!

Age: 29     School: SDSU

 Here's a liitle bit of fun information I found about Sarah...

Sarah's Favorite Vegetable:
My favorite vegetable... does white cheddar popcorn count? I love eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus roasted in olive oil, raw tomatoes, greens... I mix spinach, kale, chard, or bok choy into meat, pasta, and rice dishes. Even though it has a bad reputation, I really like iceberg lettuce- its cheap, keeps fresh longer, and it still has benefits- high water content, and it still has some nutrients. Plus it doesn't overpower other salad ingredients like greener greens do sometimes. 

Sarah's Favorite Exercise:
Lately I've been big on doing side and front planks to improve my core strength. They're quick, powerful, and you actually get better at them pretty quickly if you're consistent. I've read that other ab exercises can work your muscles unevenly or even mess with your back, and they're boring. Planks are intense, but a couple minutes and you're done. Over 3 weeks, I worked my way up from doing 2 or 3 30-second planks to doing 6 1-minute planks. I'm kind of a clumsy person, and I feel like my balance has gotten better and when I go on my walks I feel stronger. 

Sarah's new and/or favorite hobbies:
I like to craft things. I bought a big bottle of modge podge recently and have been on a modge podge rampage- lampshades, picture frames, little boxes.

Alright, on to my interview with Sarah! I asked her the same questions and as with the other Success Stories we've highlighted, the insights are nothing short of fabulous! We learn so much every time we hear from you all and this is no exception. Read on and hear Sarah's story!

HC: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?
SH: I wanted to join the SMART study because I had been having trouble losing weight. What had been a struggle before was now just not happening. I had been seeing no progress no matter what I tried. 

HC: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?
SH: I think the most important ways ThreeTwoMe helped me was providing me with multiple tools (like a pedometer and a new scale), current information (via the library), and reminders to track my weight, exercise, and set goals. I used that to seek out other information on the internet which has helped me a lot. The majority of my weight loss occurred since September '13, and 2 years is a very long time- you go through personal issues, school stress, many things that can throw you off your plan. In September, I finally hit on a combination of strategies that worked for me. 

HC: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?
 SH: I'm most proud of figuring out that I need to approach this as a very long term project- its got to go on for years, if not the rest of my life. That included moving the way I think from weekly or monthly goals to just maintaining my behavior changes over time- overcoming stress eating habits, keeping placeholders in my week for physical activity, and figuring out what I could change about how I approach food in a way that didn't require too much mental energy. When I was calorie counting and tracking exercise every day, my maximum time I would keep with it was maybe 8 weeks, then I'd gradually stop. Now, I follow a plan that fits better with my variable schedule as a student and working from home- for exercise, this includes walking my dog for longer periods of time, going on longer more intense walks for exercise 2-3 times a week (sometimes jogging a little), and fitting in some mat exercises when I can for strength training. As far as eating goes, I still log my calories when I feel like I'm getting off track, but mostly I "cycle", where I eat less on weekdays, and eat more (but still healthy food) on weekends. I think this has helped my metabolism stay more regular, compared to times I've tried to hit the same calorie goal every day.  

HC: What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?
SH: The biggest barrier is still definitely stress eating. I try to address it by drinking water, walking the dog, taking a nap, or eating a healthy alternative snack. I have also modified my eating to include more protein and less sugar, which includes eating a lot of vegetables, but little fruit. I have found that for me personally, I love fruit and will eat it with abandon, thinking it won't affect my weight loss. But it does. That said, if I really want a milkshake, I'm gonna go get a really good one, made with real ice cream, and enjoy it. Now I crave sugar less and I often don't even finish that delicious small milkshake. I also snack on white cheddar popcorn a lot- I'm probably going to try buying a big bag and putting it in portioned zip lock baggies.

HC: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors?
SH: My "a-ha" moment was figuring out that the "cycling" method was working for me (eating less on weekdays and more on weekends), and realizing how much sugar was in many foods claiming to be low fat. I actually still eat a good amount of good fats (earth balance buttery spread is amazing), but I've cut back on sugar. I've also been eating less gluten and dairy because of dietary restrictions for other people in my household, and I'm not sure if that has been helping. When I do eat dairy, I've been going for smaller portions of regular fat stuff- it tastes better, you feel more satisfied, and it has less sugar/preservatives/chemicals to make it palatable. 

HC: What is your advice to others?
SH: My advice to others is that if you work at it and think analytically about what you're doing, you will find a combination of behaviors that work. Don't deprive yourself, and use your patterns of hunger and energy to your advantage to find out how to schedule your meals and physical activity. If you aren't seeing a change, switch it up for a couple weeks. Unfortunately, there is nothing more motivating than seeing you've made progress, and nothing more defeating than working hard and seeing nothing. Try to keep yourself motivated however you can- I find it helps to look around online, on Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Livestrong, or other sites, for healthy food ideas, strategies for weight loss and fitness, and other people's success stories. Be careful though- I love to cook and if I'm hungry and looking at recipes I'm probably going to make something delicious and eat all of it. Meal planning and budgeting at the grocery store have helped too. I also like the "said no one ever" meme... for example, "I'm so bummed I went on that super long walk and got in a lot me-time, relaxation, and exercise... said no one ever". Helps me get going if I'm waffling over whether or not to go for a walk.

Here is Sarah's Before and After photo...WAY TO GO!!!!

Wow! Those are some amazing insights, don't you think. One of my highlights is the milkshake comment! I have commented on this same concept many times...depriving yourself usually backfires, so if you want that milkshake, go get the best one you can find and savor it all (or like Sarah...maybe not even all of it...because when we do consume less of these foods, over time we do "crave" them less often!)

I want to thank Sarah for sitting down with me and sharing her story. She has found her recipe for success and we couldn't be happier to have helped her along the way.

As always, if you have your Success Story to share, please send us an email. We'd love to highlight your story!!!
Best wishes to Sarah and all of you, keep it up!!



Success Story: Naomi Totally Loses It!

by smart 20. February 2014 09:23
Hi All! It's been a little while on our success story series, but that's just because I've been saving up for a big one for you! And boy does this one deliver. Today we are highlighting the many successes of Naomi, a graduating senior at UCSD who has just finished the study and has lost a whopping 46 pounds since she started 2 years ago!!!! I am so proud of Naomi's commitment and dedication to her new lifestyle. I chose the picture above for a very specific reason. Naomi has struggled with that inner voice, we all have. That inner voice that can beat us down and tell us we can't or its too hard. But we all know to shut this voice down, because it IS a liar and we don't have any room for such nonsense, right?! That is what Naomi has done and she's a new person for it! She has worked so hard and really found her love of health and fitness over these two years. She is confident, as am I, that this new lifestyle is here to stay! Read on to find out more about Naomi's's a good one!

Meet Naomi!

Naomi is a UCSD student, in her fourth year. She will graduate this spring and then it's off to Pharmacy School!!

I always like to ask a few fun questions to start off...

What is your favorite vegetable (and if you have a reason, why?):
Carrots and Cucumbers! They are easy snacks and I can eat them with lemon, salt and chili powder!

What is your favorite exercise (and if you have a reason, why?): 
I like the elliptical. I love it because it tells you an approximate amount of calories lost and the distance. It comes in handy when keeping track of calories.

What is your New or favorite hobby:
Looking for healthy snacks and baking healthy alternatives! I love going to the gym too. It helps me get through the day without so much stress. I go first thing in the morning every day.
I love that her new hobby involves getting in the kitchen and baking healthy alternatives - she is mixing in something she has loved doing but with a healthier twist! You know I'm a big fan of that! Getting back (or into for the first time) into the kitchen and COOKING for ourselves is definitely one of THE MOST important things we can do to take charge of our health and ensure we stay on track. LOVE that she's doing this!
OK, here are the 6 questions I asked her and her wonderful answers:

HC: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?

NV: Initially I joined out of curiosity. I was a skeptic and I never really thought that it would help me as much as it has. I joined not knowing what
the program was exactly. I was very pessimistic about my weight and I would always put myself down. Before the SMART study, I thought that it was impossible to change.

HC: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?

NV: ThreeTwoMe taught me that such a thing as portion control and calorie counting exists! I think what helped me the most was questioning my myself when I started counting calories. I began to estimate the calories I ate vs the calories I burned off in one day. When I did this, I realized that the amount I ate exceeded the amount I burned off by way too many calories. I thought of it as a math problem and gradually started decreasing the amount of calories I consumed. I began weighing and measuring everything and getting a feel for what the right portions looked like. After some time, I got used to the new portions and I realized that it wasn't so hard. In fact, I was used to eating amounts that were so excessive that when I started controlling my portions, I lost weight pretty easily. I also realized that most of the time I over ate, it wasn't because I was still hungry, but because I was just used to eating so much I thought I had to do so all the time in order to be satisfied. It was impossible for me to leave food on my plate even if I was already full, but that has changed.

HC: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?

NV: I am most proud of being able to control myself around sweets! I love baking and prefer desserts to anything else. I had the most trouble trying to decrease my sugar intake, but I discovered a ton of alternative, still yummy, snacks that I could eat without feeling guilty. I limited all my snacks to 100 calories or less, less than 10g of sugar and fat. I found that there are plenty of desserts out there that meet these requirements and are still really yummy. Trader Joes became my favorite store.

HC: What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?

NV: I already mentioned my issues with sweets, but another barrier was my life back home. My parents are used to eating massive amounts and whenever I go home, they would expect me to eat like them. It was hard to refuse when my mom makes food for me and expects me to eat it all. When I would go home for the weekends, I would come back weighing more than when I left. In a span of two days, I could see and feel the effects. Eventually though, I began to teach my mom about calorie counting. She was not as receptive to the idea, but she is much more conscious about portioning now. My family saw that I changed a lot. My sister and brothers began to watch what they ate as well. They watch their portions and their sugar now too. My family has a history of diabetes, so they were most concerned about their sugar intake.

HC: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors?

NV: Just realizing that most of the time I ate just to eat. Not because I was hungry, but mostly out of boredom or depression. When I felt stressed, I reached for a cookie, but now I go to the gym! I exercise everyday for 1.5 hours - it is a part of my life. I work hard at the gym. I walk more now and I made it routine to do ab exercises before I go into the shower everyday.

HC: This ab exercise routine is fantastic! We have talked a lot about creating healthy habits and routines that are short and become a part of your every day showering or bathing. I am so glad to hear that you are doing this!

NV: Thanks! It really has worked. I think I started it during one of the Facebook challenges, it was a suggestion you gave and it has stuck!

HC: What is your advice to others?

NV: Keep at it! It seems like it is a really long road, but it is not. I used to think that I couldn't do it and that there was some magic behind losing weight. There isn't, basically, just treat it as a math problem! 1 pound is 3500 calories. Just portion control and COUNT CALORIES!! It makes all the difference in the world. Oh, and I really like the pointers on the ThreeTwoMe website. I read all the documents and printed them out. One more thing that really helped me was the realization that if you don't buy unhealthy snacks at the store, you wont have them at home when you're craving them. DON'T BUY THEM! I shop with a list and I never buy junk food. If I don't buy it, I don't eat it. Basically, count calories, reduce the amount of junk you eat, and exercise! I love the challenges on ThreeTwoMe as well. I'm super competitive, so they really helped me.


We asked her to share a Before picture and other active shots that show the transformation Naomi has made:

Naomi at the start of the study (Feb, 2012):


Naomi's entry into our Summer Olympics Facebook Challenge back in July 2012: Getting in her parallel bars routine! ;)


Getting in Some Minature Golf with our "ThreeTwoMe Around the World" Campaign!


Thanks Naomi for sharing your struggles and successes with us. You have had quite a journey and I am so glad to hear that your family is right there with you. You have become their teacher and improved their lives for the better too - what an accomplishment!



ThreeTwoMe's 2014 Winter Olympics Decathlon

by smart 7. February 2014 09:22

It's WINTER OLYMPICS time, woohoo! I know that the winter olympics aren't as popular as the summer but they shouldn't be in my opinion. Have you seen the things these athletes do on snow?!! on SNOW?!!! It's insane and I truly believe that downhill skiing is the ultimate extreme sport...60-80 mph downhill, on skis?! What?!!!! No thanks for me, but I'll gladly watch in awe and root for a gold for the USA!


As it's the Winter Olympics we want to encourage you to reach deep to find your own inner Olympic Athlete in YOU!!! We have a really fun challenge, much like our Summer Olympic Scavenger Hunt back in 2012. This time we are calling it a Decathlon (much more fitting) and have prizes for Gold, Silver and Bronze "medals"!

Here's how it all works:


It’s Winter Olympics time and just because we live in sunny San Diego, it doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the fun and be our own Olympic athletes! Just as we did for the 2012 Summer Olympics, we have created a list of 10 fun activities for you to complete by documenting with a photo and/or video. Some of these activities are super-easy and silly, while others will take a little more guts. Some elements will be "required" while others will enable you to earn more points toward the grand prize.

There will be three primary winners for Decathlon completion: 

Gold: The person who accumulates the MOST points by the last day of the contest

Silver: The first person to complete all 10 required elements

Bronze: The person with the most “liked” entry for creativity. For this one, your vote will decide the winner. We’ll compile the top 4 entries that received the most likes. From there, you’ll vote on the most creative/best one!


*We will also raffle 3 smaller prizes away at random each week of the Olympics. Any entry will get your name in this raffle.  



Entries will be accepted 12:00 am Feb 7th - 11:59 pm February 23rd. Winners will be announced by Tuesday, February 25th.  


Decathlon Activities 

Each activity must be captured by photo and/or video and submitted through one of two methods:

  1. Submit on the ThreeTwoMe Facebook page
  2. Submit directly via email to  
    1. Use subject line: "Winter Olympics" (We will then post these videos/pictures to the ThreeTwoMe Facebook page)


Each activity has a number of points attached - you can accumulate as many or as few points as you'd like. More difficult tasks have more points.

Note: **Points only come into play when awarding the GOLD MEDAL.

Required Elements

NOTE: You do not have to do all the extra things to complete an activity; those are meant to give you more points for the grand prize total.


1.      Watch the opening ceremonies to the 2014 Winter Olympics. (1 point) Add 1 point if you do 1 set of 30 crunches, lunges, squats and a 1-min plank during them. Add 2 points if you eat something Russian while watching it.


2.      Go Ice Skating (3 points). Add 2 points if you wear something sparkly.


3.      Make a meal fit for an Olympian (1 point). Add 2 points if it is red, white and blue themed.


4.      Do 2 sets of 15 Russian Kicks and 2 sets of 25 Russian Twists (3 points). Add 1 point if you do them outside or at a track.

Here’s a link to what Russian Kicks look like:

Here’s a link to what Russian Twists look like:


5.      Do 1 minute of speed skaters and 1 minute of mogul jumps. (2 points). Add 1 point if you listen to Russian music while doing it. Add 1 point if you share your favorite winter Olympic sport when you make the post.

Here’s a link to what speed skaters look like:\

Here’s a link to what hop jumps looks like: (note: you can jump over anything or even just jump side to side)


6.      Complete a Biathlon (3 points). We want you to complete any 2 cardio exercises in a row. Do each one for at least 15 minutes. So for example: 15 min run on treadmill, followed immediately with a 15 bike ride on a stationary bike.  Add 2 points if you do each activity for 30 minutes.


7.      Hit the slopes. (3 points) Add 1 point for each friend you go with.


8.      Play a Team Olympic Sport (3 points). **Any Olympic team sport counts here, summer or winter! Add 1 point if you can get your team to chant “U-S-A”. Add 1 point if you wear red, white and blue.


9.      Buy a fruit/vegetable big enough for curling (1 point). Add 1 point for getting it at a farmer’s Market – must document the purchase.  How big is the curling ball? It is about 10” wide and 5” high (think melon or large head of cauliflower)!


10.   Hike or go for a trail run (2 points). This activity is aimed to mimic x-country skiing by getting outdoors. Add 1 point for pretending to x-country ski while on your run/walk.


Okay, that's it! Get out there and have fun. Remember to take pics or videos!  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let us know.


Note: The ThreeTwoMe "Olympics 2014" Virtual Fitness and Nutrition Decathlon is intended to be a fun and completely voluntary event.





School Steps Challenge - Which School Will Win??

by smart 3. January 2014 04:58


Hi All!!

Happy New Year! Did you read my email? I hope so, it's chalk full of fun things...the main one being our NEW challenge! The School Step Challenge!!! I'm really excited about this one! It's perfect timing, right? Everyone is hitting the gym, re-commiting themselves to their health and wellness and wanting to start 2014 off right. That's fantastic! But, I don't want any of you to fall into the 92% of people who lose track of their intentions within the first few weeks or months of a new year. I know that each and every one of you belongs in the 8% that succeed. So this challenge is designed to help you do that and have some friendly competition along the way! 

So how does it all work?

1. Make the commitment to get more steps in this month! Like all of our challenges, we ask you to make the pledge. Why? Because, when we write down, verbally or publically commit to our goals the chances of reaching them increase exponentially. So, make your pledge. It's easy and fun. Grab your pedometer or whatever you use to track your activity and snap a pic. Send it our way.

2. Remember to wear your pedometer daily and enter your steps on through TrendSetter or the widget or through SMARTxT (just enter your steps like this: S#####).

3. Check in on Facebook and here for tips and motivation and see how your school is doing compared to the others.

4. Win prizes!! (always a fun part, right??) :) I am sure some of you are ready to check out because you don't use a pedometer, right? Well, NO!!!!!! This challenge is still for you because we know how to translate many different activities into steps. We have an answer for everything, haha! But in all seriousness, this challenge is for you too and we'd love for you to participate! So, Click HERE for the conversions (click on the "Activities to Steps Chart").

Helpful Tips:

  • About 2,000 steps = 1 mile
  • 10,000 steps is about 5 miles, this is the recommendation for weight maintanence!
  • For weight loss we urge 12,000 + steps per day.
  • 200 steps is one city block
  • Most people will get about 1,200 steps in 10 minutes.


**So remember, if you only log your minutes of physical activity you can still participate by using the above conversions!! k? great!

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's steps and school spirit! Let's have some fun!!



Are you a "Food Pusher" or a "victim" of it?

by smart 18. December 2013 05:31

  This is a posting I got emailed to me from a local fitness and personal trainer. I just loved it and wanted to share it with all of you. I think the comments will resonate with most, if not all of you, I know it did for me. To be honest, I am guilty of being a food pusher (as well as a "victim" of it)!! The suggestions are really great and of course, make them your own. I also love this message because it makes me think twice about what I say to others. I don't want to be a food pusher. I love to cook and try to cook healthy items but I don' t ever want to feel like people "have" to eat my food or "guilt" people into eating what I make. That's not fun at all. So next time you make something remember this post and remember to not take refusals personally, that person may be just like you and is trying to achieve some major weight loss and lifestyle change goals! :) Happy reading...



Just Say NO to Food Pushers (from Fit Body)

This time of year it seems that everyone turns into a food pusher. 

You know what I'm talking about... 

"Here, taste these cookies, I know they're your favorite!"

"I got you this tower of chocolate for Christmas."

"Here's a dish that you have to try...I made it myself!"

Unfortunately, the holidays are a time when food pushing is not only accepted, but is expected. Rather than give in, and end up gaining 5-10 pounds of fat this holiday season, arm yourself with these 5 clever ways to stop food pushers in their tracks. 

Food Push #1: "Try this new treat I made, you'll love it!" 

      I'm Stuffed Response: "I wish that I had room right now, but I'm stuffed." 

Why being stuffed works: Your delightful food pusher cannot refute your statement about being full. If they persist, then let them know that having one more bite would push you over the brink of being uncomfortably full. 

Food Push #2: "I know this dish is your favorite! Hand me your plate." 

     Stalling Response: "I really can't wait to try some in a little bit." 

Why stalling works: You didn't directly turn down the pusher's offer, so they feel that they've won and will likely drop the subject. Later you may decide that you want a small portion of the offered food, or you may decide to skip it, the decision is yours. 

Food Push #3: "Take these treats and leftovers home!" 

     Take a Break from Cooking Response: "Thanks, but I want you to keep the food so that you can take a break from all the cooking you've been doing." 

Why saying they'll get a break from cooking works: Every good host wants to send their guests home with something, but given the option they'd really love to have leftovers for themselves. Compliment their cooking and let them know that you think they deserve a break over the next few days, then stick with your clean eating plan. 

Food Push #4: "You are obsessed with dieting. Just take a break today." 

     Thank You For Noticing Response: "Thank you for noticing all of the healthy changes I've been making! It's not easy, but I'm on track with my goals and it's all worth it. Your support means a lot." 

Why saying thank you works: True, the dieting comment was probably made passive aggressively, but you are free to take it as a compliment. Seeing you make healthier choices may be intimidating for friends and family, so approach the subject with understanding rather than defensiveness. Your good influence may even rub off! 

Food Push #5: "I only make this dish once a year – you MUST eat some!" 

     I Want to Live Long Response: "Wow, that looks amazing! I'm going to skip it this year so that I can live to see many more wonderful holidays with you." 

Why wanting to live long works: When said with good humor, this drives home a serious point. You are eating healthy so that you will be around for many more holidays to come to enjoy with your loved ones. No one can deny the importance of this! 

Take control of your eating this holiday season, and don't ever let food pushers decide what you're going to eat. By using the responses above you'll be able to eat fewer calories and will avoid the typical holiday fat gains in order to start the New Year off right! 

Remember that exercise is just as important as healthy eating when it comes to achieving your fat loss and fitness goals. During the next few weeks it's more important than ever to stick with a regular exercise program that you enjoy doing and will stick to. 

So, what did you think? Will you adopt any of these suggestions this holiday season??



Cookies, Sweets and Drinks Ahhh They're Everywhere...Holiday Survial Guide

by smart 11. December 2013 05:26



Do you feel like this?

Everywhere you turn there's cookies or brownies or some holiday party with fun punches and booze? I am sure some part of this is happening in your life, or wil as soon as finals end. Are you ready to scream if you see one more cookie recipe or holiday sweet that will just derail all of your hard work? Unfortunately, this is the norm around this time of year and so we, as people who are trying to lose weight or maintain a new healthy (lower) weight, have to be smarter and stronger than the average bear!

So, it's okay. Scream it out.  Get it out of your system and then take a deep breath, because, we're here for you and you WILL get through this holiday season!

Feel better? Great. Now lets get down to how you're going to shine this holiday season.


As I said, most people lose sight of their fitness and fat loss goals entirely during the months of November and December, and some start in October, only to have a rude awakening when their clothes are snug come January. (That's three months, 1/4 of the year!! Yea, you will have a rude awakening) If this is the case, it's really no wonder most people gain weight during the holidays. Now, I'm willing to bet the farm that you don't want to be like the norm. You want to sidestep the holiday pounds. And I'm glad you feel this way. 

I want to be your voice of reason and make sure you don't forget your goal(s) and all the hard work you've been doing. Sound good?!

Here are my steps to keep you fit and on track this holiday season:

Step #1: Get Re-Focused

The focus in so many of our holiday traditions is on food. This holiday season try to re-focus your attention away from food and back on to what's really important—friends, family, giving, and religious traditions. Stay focused on the reason for the season rather than the plate full of hors d'oeuvres in front of you. 

It's important that you don't lose sight of your dieting goals. Remind yourself of all the progress that you've made. Keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. Be aware that the holidays can be a time of emotional eating. Sometimes stress, family conflict, or even depression can be triggered. If this happens to you, try to address the root of your problems with solutions other than food or drink. Staying active is always a good way around this, a win-win in my book!

Step #2: Use Strategy

It's important to use strategy when approaching the many celebrations held this time of year. With night after night of parties and events, you'll need to pace yourself in order to keep your diet on track. 

The most obvious, and effective strategy is to not arrive at the party hungry. Instead, eat a small low-calorie snack ahead of time to prevent overeating. When it's time for extreme measures, consider wearing tight-fitting clothes around your waist so there's not much room for expansion! (I know this may seem like a stretch, but it works for some!)

Another idea is to chew gum before and after a meal, so you won't be tempted to overindulge in appetizers and desserts. During the party, don't stand right next to the food table, instead keep a safe distance. And before you get a plate of food, choose your selections wisely. Use a small plate instead of a large dinner plate and don't go back for seconds! 

Another important strategy is figuring out how to get in the gym between parties. Finding room in your busy holiday schedule for exercise will help you fight off the extra weight trying to attach itself to your midsection and rear. As you know, exercise is a huge part of the equation when it comes to achieving weight loss.


Step #3: Moderation, Moderation

I'm not suggesting that you deprive yourself of all the foods you love, as this will likely lead to a splurge that ruins all your good intentions. Be smart about what you choose to eat. Enjoy the goodness of the season, but in moderation. Trim calories where you can by limiting your trimmings-cheeses, gravy, sauces, creams, and nuts. 

Some of your favorite indulgences may only come around this time of year. This may cause you to want to overindulge before it's too late. Instead of stuffing yourself, survey what foods are available and make your choices. Indulge in your favorites and leave the everyday dishes for another time. Only eat what you love, and don't just eat something because it's on the buffet.

Also, be sure to limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you drink. While you may not know it, they're filled with calories, too. Try alternating an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic non-caloric drink (water or diet soda come to mind as the easiest options. Go for sparkling water if you like it, you can still feel a little fancy!).

What do you think? Can you promise me that you won't say the following: "Bring it on! It only happens once a year!"

There is no reason to throw in the towl as most people do. You can do this. Follow these simple tips and you will avoid holiday weight gain this season and start 2014 off right!





Just Hatched - Adopt a Chicken App is HERE!

by smart 4. December 2013 06:02



We have a new app...and it's different. A lot different.

So what is it all about? Why are we testing this app out as part of our weight loss study and ThreeTwoMe? All great questions...and I'm here to shed some light and encourage you to give the app a go!!

Adopt a Chicken is what I like to call a "journey, wait and see" app (for lack of a more official term). It takes you through the life of a chicken that is sent to a factory farm. It goes on for 7 weeks, at which you'll see what happens to your adopted chicken from birth to... You will have short interactions with Chicken throughout the week, learning about where she is and what is happening to her.

Why have we created this app may be your first question, and a good one it is. The app is designed, through your "adoption of Chicken," to inform you about how one particular part of our food system works, that of the factory farm.

It informs you about the foods you may or may not eat at fast food restaurants and at our grocery stores, with a chicken as the example. It could have easily followed the life of a young calf or piglet...maybe those are to come later. But the idea is the same, we all need to know what we are eating, for better or worse, and from knowing we can then make more informed decisions, after all it is your decision! You may finish the app and find it intersting but not change your behaviors or food choices and that's okay. Others may make some changes, and that's okay too. It's new and we are research after all. (Now of course, as a weight loss study, we do hope that you will (and hopefully already have) eat less fast food as it is higher in fat and calories making weight loss we are a little biased...not too surprising, right?) ;)   

How Does the App Work?

To start: You will get a text message about your Chicken (you should already have received some, they started on 12/3) and at the end of the message it will have the link: This text message is your notification that something is going on with Chicken and she needs your attention. You will NOT get this message every day. Usually it will be every other day or so...she keeps you guessing a little. ;)

Once you open the app (by going to the link) then you will "talk" with Chicken. Sometimes she has questions for you and other times she needs your help or just wants to share with you what is going on. You will go through a series of conversations that will end with Chicken going to rest. At this point the app is over for that day. And you will wait to hear what is up with Chicken in a day or so.

You will go through the life of Chicken and see what happens to her and her friends. You can also check on Chicken yourself in between messages from Chicken. She should respond to you...unless she's just too sleepy or... :)

Intrigued?!? We hope so! Start using the app today and start your journey with chicken!

Go to:

You can also get to the app by clicking on the post-it note on the home page of ThreeTwoMe!


As a side note...since I have you here! :) I want to share something that has helped me make healthier choices in my life. Have you seen this short video on what's really in a chicken nugget?  

What did you think? Were you surprised? How crazy are those lists?!'s madenining! Totally unnecessary! And this is just one example of one highly processed food item out of thousands. Reading food labels and paying attention to what is going into my food has really changed the way I eat and it continues. I admit to sometimes getting lazy or being "fooled" by labels, because the food industry is really good at it, I mean REALLY! So we have to all be smarter. I know that nobody really walks into (or drives through) a fast food restaurant expecting to order a health food. But you might, at the very least, expect that what you order is, well, what you order. Chicken is chicken and beef is beef, right? Well...not so much as it turns out. And this doesn't even touch on what the life of the chicken (the little amount that was actually real chicken) used was like. I guess that is where our "Adopt a Chicken App" comes in. We want to share this side of the story, after that, it's up to you. :) Please know that going vegeterian after using the app is not our goal, so don't let that deter you from using it. We are informing you on one side of the story. Maybe you'll look at the factory farming industry a little differently, maybe you won't. That's for you to find out. :)


As a side note to the whole chicken nugget do know you can make your own "nuggets" at home right? ...they would look more like "chicken fingers" but the ingredients would be less than five (not 35!): chicken, flour, bread crumbs, seasonings/herbs. done and done. Bake in the oven and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.

Just say no to chicken nuggets!! haha...but seriously... ;)



Success Story #4 - part 2 - Christian Reaches his Goal Weight!

by smart 21. November 2013 10:46

Hi All - I am thrilled to give you part 2 of our Novemeber Success Story Series! Are you getting inspired by these great stories from your peers? I sure hope so! Today, I am sharing with all of you, Christian's story. Please read on to see how he has made lasting changes and is feeling more energetic than ever (does the picture below give that away?!) ;) We are so proud of Christian and we hope you enjoy his insights and journey as much as we have!

Meet Christian!


What is your favorite vegetable (and if you have a reason, why?)?
     Broccoli! It's easy to cook and eat. 
What is your favorite exercise (and if you have a reason, why?)?

What is a new or favorite hobby of yours? 
    Running and weightlifting now. Weightlifting because it forces me to think about how I want myself to look and feel when I get older. Running because it has now become something I enjoy.


Here are the questions I asked him, his responses and a picture showing how far he's come! Congrats again Christian!! 


TTM: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?

CW: I wanted to see how social media could keep me motivated in being healthy.


TTM: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?

 CW: It has helped me by consistently reminding me recording my steps, weight, caloric intake, exercise time, and foods I ate. It made me organized and realize what I was doing to my body. 


TTM: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?

CW: Keeping a consistent weight of 197 for months instead of fluctuating so much like I used to before this program. 


TTM. What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?

 CW: The greatest barrier was adjusting to a more physical lifestyle along with all the classes, work, and studying. It helped that I graduated from college, but attending school for graduate school has kept me busy with studying and somewhat active. 


TTM: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors? 

CW: The step counts. I was motivated to always strive for more than 10k+ steps.  


TTM: What is your advice to others? 

 CW: Find something you like doing, either it is walking, running, swimming, tennis, or whatever, and do it consistently. For me, it was running. I began by running at a very slow pace and gradually, through my own determination (you must not   give up, unless you injured yourself) of signing up for 5Ks and training for them, I was able to make running a routine. 




We have provided a number of stories since we started this summer and there are definitely some common threads throughout our success story contributors. Here's my summary of the top 3 take home points (at least in my opinion, and of course there are more!):

1. They all realized the importance of tracking their progress - whether that be in counting calories, keeping a food diary, wearing a pedometer, weighing themselves weekly or ALL - in the research world we call all of this "self monitoring" and it works! When we commit to paying attention to what we eat, how we eat, what we do for exercise and how we spend our days (sitting and moving) we become aware of how we can do more, make smarter choices and challenge ourselves. If you have stopped doing some of these things, I encourage you to choose at least one of these "tools" to get back on track and reach your goals. It is never too late! If you need some assistance, contact me - I'm here for you!

2. They have all found something they like doing. Plain and simple. If its walking, running, swimming, biking, martial arts, dance - must be enjoyable to you or it just seems like another assignment, another chore and thus a pain that you'll find an excuse for. Exercise can't be excused. It must become a part of your life and you ALL can find something you can enjoy. I won't take no for an answer and neither should you! Seriously.

3. They have something to be proud of, even if the journey is continuing. I think this is a big one and probably the most overlooked. With so much focus on the tracking and watching (which are important) we sometimes forget to notice the small successes - a half pound lost, maintained weight, ability to run for 5 minutes more than you did the week before, being able to grab the 10lb weights instead of the 8 or 1 more rep with the 8lb weight. The list goes on and on because when we are trying and staying consistent we are achieving hundreds of successess - big and small - that go way beyond a number on scale.


Would you agree? I know I couldn't be happier and I know there are a lot more of you out there taht I'm not hearing from and that makes me happy. BUT...if you would like to share you story I'm all ears and I know others would love the inspiration!


Contact me if you'd like to share your story or if you have any questions at all - like I said earlier, I'm here for you! We've got under a year to go and many more "Totally Lost It" T-shirts to give out! :)

Have a fantastic Thanksgiving Holiday and don't forget to pledge to EAT MINDFULLY this Thanksgiving Holiday and join our Facebook Challenge: 10-Day Mindful Eating Thanksgiving Survival Challenge (STARTS THURSDAY 11/21)!



Success Story #4 part 1 - Eugene Totally Loses It!

by smart 12. November 2013 10:33

Hi All!

It's been a few weeks since we had some success stories to share, so I'm so happy to bring you two exceptional stories this week, in two parts!! 

This is really turning out to be a favorite segment of mine on this blog and I hope you are enjoying it too and feeling inspired by your peers.

Today we are hearing from Mr. Eugene Sato.

Eugene has graduated from our study 21 lbs lighter!! We are so proud of the achievements he has made and those he continues to strive for! He has fully embraced a healthier lifestyle of greater fitness and healthy eating. From my own experiences with Eugene over these two years, i have seen him use the program to its fullest - interacting on Facebook with our challenges (see pictures below) and asking us for advice and direction on his own findings - it has been such a joy seeing him reach his goals. 

I had a chance to "sit" down with Eugene before he left the program, to ask him some questions about how he has achieved his weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes! Please read on to hear Eugene's he was sick of being overweight and not as fit as he knew he could be and how he revamped his health for the longterm! Congrats again Eugene, you are an inspiration to us all!!


Meet Mr. Eugene Sato!

Age: 25 years old

Graduate Student: UCSD

Hobbies: Judo/martial arts (and I'm sure a lot more!)


My interview with Eugene...

1. What made you initially want to join the SMART study?

 I think at that point, I was finally sick of being overweight and out-of-shape. San Diego is quite an active town and I wanted to be able to participate in those activities and the extra weight was holding me back (it hurt my endurance, and definitely wouldn't help my joints in the long run).  Although I'm not a natural athlete, I felt that I had hit a point where a lack of physical fitness was holding me back from being better at the activities that I liked to do (martial arts, recreational sports, etc.).  At the time, I was hoping the SMART study would be an opportunity to push me in the right direction and help me set a goal that I could work towards.

2. How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?

The first aspect was the goal setting at the beginning of the program and the accountability that came with the weekly weigh-ins and the reminders from the e-mails and apps.  These little reminders, contests, and suggestions for living a healthier lifestyle made me more conscious about it throughout the day, so at the end of the day I would remember to fit in some exercise or when I'm at the grocery store I'd remember to buy (or not buy!) the proper foods that would help me towards my goals.

The other major part was being able to have a sounding board off of which I could throw ideas or new trends that I had been discovering on my own on the internet. Being able to post an article that talked about new foods (chia seeds, flax seeds, quinoa, etc) or workouts (HIIT, Tabata,...) on facebook/e-mail and get another perspective from Christina was extremely important in deciding what was best for me.

3. What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey?

 Reaching one of my goals of getting below 160lbs for the first time since junior high, and just the general increase in physical endurance that I experienced when I'm in full training mode. 

4. What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?

Overeating.  I don't necessarily eat junk food, but I will still overeat on healthier foods as well.  I just like to eat and that's something that I've just had to be conscious about and every once in a while say "do I really need to get that extra plate?"  Getting exercise during the busy times of the year is also another challenge, and even if I'm not exercising as intensely or as much, I still try to make sure that I get some activity in by staying active in martial arts classes or walking/biking to school.

5. What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors? 

I'm not sure I had an "ah ha" moment, although realizing that I was below 165 lbs was major proof that what I was doing was working!

6. What is your advice to others? 

Be diligent and smart. Not everything will work for you, but every little bit counts.  Find what works best for you and maximize that, but continue being open enough to try some of the little things that ThreeTwoMe might suggest. It adds up over time.  In the end, I think the transition is definitely worth it, I feel a lot better not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. 



I asked Eugene for a before picture as well, the change is truly evident. He looks fitter, stronger and even happier (didn't know that was possible!). Thanks Eugene for sharing this. I also shared a few other pictures from our Facebook Challenges that helped encourage Eugene along the way, I love the Olympics ones!

Eugene at the start of our study (2 years ago!):


Eugene taking part in our Summer Olympics Facebook Scavenger Hunt or the better named "Decathalon" (which Eugene suggested, such a better name, ha!)

Eugene getting the 1600m run completed!

Is that Phelps?! :) The challenge was to do all four strokes, done and done!


Eugene is particularly interested in Judo - here is showing us his skills!

THANKS Eugene for participating in our study! We're glad we were able to help you in acheiving a healthier lifestyle!!

**If you would like us to feature your success story, we'd love to! You can email me at: or message me on ThreeTwoMe's Facebook page. We will get as many as we can out there for otehr to read and be inspired by! Thanks!!



Success Story #3 - Aquabike Medaller!

by smart 10. October 2013 10:09


Hi All!

I am SO excited to share this month's ThreeTwoMe Success Story! These are truly my favorite posts to write because it's all about you guys and gals and all the hard work you are doing! I get weepy with each one I read, seriously. I know, get a hold of yourself Christina...but I'm sorry. This is why I do what I do. This is why I am in this line of work and why I try to be the best I can be...for you! So once again, thank you for being my teachers!

Ok, let's get to it and learn a little more about all of the amazing progress and successes that Ms. Erica Bender has made!

Erica wrote us recently to thank us for helping her reach a longtime goal of do an aquathon race. Once we got that email, I knew without a doubt, that we had to share her story with all of you! Erica has truly embraced her new lifestyle and is challenging herself everyday to be the best she can be! I had a chance to "sit" down with Erica, and ask her our 6 questions about how she has achieved her healthy lifestyle goals!

Please read on to learn about Erica's journey, how she revamped her health and the amazing "ah ha" moments she has had so far as she continues to reach new goals and maintain her new healthy lifestyle! Congrats Erica, you are an inspiration to us all!!


Meet Erica Bender!


Age: 26

School: UCSD Graduate School


Favorite vegetable: "It is an even tie between Kale and different types of squash. I love making kale and banana smoothies for breakfast because it gives me such a boost. And squash is just so versatile. I’ve used different kinds of squash in so many different recipes I’ve lost track! I think my favorite squash is spaghetti squash, with butternut squash a VERY close second."


Favorite exercise:  "Swimming and cycling, of course! I’ve always enjoyed swimming because it comes easily to me and there’s something about it that makes me feel strong. I love the tranquility I feel when I first start my swim on smooth water, and I love the power I feel when I push through a tough swim set. Even though I just started cycling this year, it is easily one of my favorite activities. I get a sense of freedom on my bike, like it’s just me, the bike, and the road. Plus, when you’re flying down a hill you can’t help but feel completely invigorated!"


New or favorite hobby: "Knitting. I find that it’s a good activity to do while I’m watching TV because it keeps my hands busy, meaning I’m less likely to start snacking mindlessly. I’m planning on making some scarves and then donating them to homeless shelters for the coming winter." (ThreeTwoMe side note: love this!)



ThreeTwoMe: What made you initially want to join the SMART study?

EB: I had been unhappy with my overall health for a little while. I not only wanted to lose weight but I also wanted to find ways to lead a generally more healthy lifestyle. I felt like I had been stuck in the dieting rut for a while, and knew that the key was making “lifestyle changes.” Even though I had heard the phrase, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” a hundred times, I didn’t really know specifically what that would entail or where to get started. I saw an ad on the UCSD campus shuttle, and was intrigued by the notion of being part of a research study. The two-year time period was also appealing to me, because I knew it wouldn’t be a ‘fad’ and could really help engrain new habits over a long period of time.


ThreeTwoMe: How has ThreeTwoMe helped you achieve your weight loss (or healthy lifestyle) goals?

EB: First, ThreeTwoMe has taught me the “science” of goal setting and paying attention to my own habits. I have responded very well to setting SMART goals and tracking my food and exercise. These seemingly simple habits can, over time, make a huge difference if you’re willing to stick with them. I have also found that ThreeTwoMe reminds me that sticking with these small changes is useful, so it helps me on those days where I lack motivation and/or willpower. In many ways, ThreeTwoMe helped me ‘crack the code’ for the ‘lifestyle change’ I had always heard about.


ThreeTwoMe: What is the one thing you are most proud of that you've experienced or accomplished during this journey? 

EB: I recently finished an Aquabike event in Santa Barbara. Aquabikes are biathlon (swim and bike) sporting events hosted by USA Triathlon. For as long as I can remember, I had dreamt of doing a triathlon. Because I have severely pronated ankles, I am unable to run without having a lot of pain; I assumed triathlons would be forever out of my future. But when I discovered that there was an event that had swimming and biking, I immediately wanted to try it. I have spent the last several months training, and in the process have even competed in a few Sprint Triathlons to get the feel for competition. I was very nervous going into the event at Santa Barbara because the bike course has been known to be very challenging even for experienced athletes. But, I managed to finish the race and I wasn’t even last! Crossing the finish line was the best feeling in the world, I had finally achieved something I had only dreamt about doing for my whole life. I already have training goals for the same race next year, and will compete in even more triathlons and aquabikes next summer!  

ThreeTwoMe: What has been your greatest "barrier" or "challenge" to reaching your weight loss goals and how are you working to overcome it?

EB: My greatest challenge has definitely been maintaining a food record and carefully monitoring portion sizes. As a grad student on the go, I sometimes forget, but most often I am just too lazy to pay close attention to these things. However, when I do them I see what a tremendous difference they make! I’ve learned that I have to work with myself, rather than against myself, to reach my goals. So if I have a hard time tracking and monitoring portions, I need to make changes that will work for me. I have found that using a food tracking app is immensely helpful, and I monitor my portion sizes by learning cognitive ‘cheats’ that don’t require me to pull out the measuring cup (like using smaller plates or that 3oz of meat is approximately the size of your fist). Luckily, ThreeTwoMe supplies me with plenty of tools to make it easier!


ThreeTwoMe: What was your "ah ha" moment (if you had one) in changing your behaviors? 

EB: When I realized that mindfulness, self-acceptance, and positive self-talk are just as critical tools for health as diet and exercise. I think our society places a lot of emphasis on our external behaviors. We ask ourselves questions like, “How much food do I eat? What should I each less/more of?” or “How often did I exercise this week? What exercise should I try?” Less often are we encouraged to look inside ourselves and examine our moods, motivations, worldviews, and thought patterns. When I realized that my mindset played just as big of a role in my journey as these external behaviors, I really began to approach the whole process differently. I strive to become more mindful of how my foods really taste, how my breath feels when I’m on my bike, how strong I feel after a swim. I also strive to understand myself from the inside-out and in so doing, accept myself and use positive rather than negative self-talk. I think this holistic, both internal and external, approach keeps me grounded and motivated.


ThreeTwoMe: What is your advice to others? 

EB: My advice would be to listen to yourself and not to feel guilty or useless if you find yourself struggling. As mentioned above, I think we spend a lot of time looking at our external behavior when, in reality, we would all benefit from more introspection. How do you feel about your health? How do you feel about your body? If your first reactions are negative, find things about your health and body to feel grateful for and then get to work trying to understand why you feel that way. Once you have a firmer understanding of yourself, you can see how and why you might be struggling and, most importantly, what you have that makes you STRONG and POWERFUL.


Aren't these amazinging responses?! Thank you for sharing with us Erica!


I hope you are inspried by Erica's journey, I know I am! Here is Erica at the finish line of her Santa Barabra Aquathon happy lady!! This race consists of a a 1-mile ocean swim followed by a 34-mile bike ride (with some crazy hills)!! What an achievement. We're so proud of you!!




I want to Thank Erica again for sharing this information with me and wanting to share it with all of you! She is an inspiration and source of motivation for us all!

Congratulations on all of your hard to work, keep it up!


**If you would like us to feature your success story, we'd love to! You can email me at: or message me on ThreeTwoMe's Facebook page. We will get as many as we can out there for others to read and be inspired by! Thanks!!