Lose Weight By Eating
By Audrey Johns
Suzy Chase: Welcome to the Cookery by the Book Podcast with me, Suzy Chase.
Audrey Johns: I'm Audrey Johns, and my cookbook is "Lose Weight by Eating."
Suzy Chase: At one point in your life, you are inadvertently killing yourself with food. I think this resonates with so many Americans. At nearly 300 pounds, what was the turning point in your life?
Audrey Johns: You know, I would have to say it was my daughter. She was nearing the two-year mark, and I realized she was going to start remembering me as I was, and I really wanted to be a good example to her. I wanted to give her a good positive self-image. I wanted to show her that a woman can be strong, and I wanted to show her that eating healthy was really important. It was kind of like I had kept putting it off for years, and once I realized she was going to start remembering me heavy, I realized this has to change, and it has to change now.
Suzy Chase: The timeline of your weight loss starts with removing diet soda, my biggest vice. How did you do that?
Audrey Johns: You know what I realized, when I started to crave the diet sodas after I had given them up, was that it was the bubbles that I missed. It wasn't actually the flavor or the caffeine. Well, okay, honestly, sometimes it was the caffeine, but you can easily have a cup of coffee there instead. But usually it was the bubbles that I craved, and I started to get some Perrier or Pellegrino, and I would sip that in a wine glass, to be extra fancy. I found that that took care of all the cravings.
Later on, I started adding fruit to it to add sweetness, but it was exactly really easy once I found that substitution. Later on, I ended up buying one of those make your own sodas at home, because I was really into doing my own sodas for quite a while.
Suzy Chase: You have a whole chapter of skinny drinks, too.
Audrey Johns: I do, and there's actually one of those soda recipes in there. It actually is a take on the fruit-infused waters that I've been doing for years. The one that's in here is a homemade blueberry orange soda, and it's just delicious. It will completely take care of those cravings, and it will naturally boost your metabolism.
Suzy Chase: Talk a little bit about your stint on ABC's The Taste. How was it meeting Nigella, your mother's favorite?
Audrey Johns: Oh my goodness, that was just the most incredible moment of my life. I was sitting around the pool with all of the other taste contestants the night after we all tried out. It was like, I'm here with my people. I'm finally here with people who are completely obsessed with food like I am. Then later on, getting to work so close to Nigella and so close to Anthony Bourdain, and Marcus Samuelsson was just such an amazing mentor and such a kind spirit. It was an amazing experience, and I'm still friends with quite a lot of The Taste contestants, still to this day.
Suzy Chase: How exciting was it when Marcus Samuelsson picked you?
Audrey Johns: It was kind of like a dream.
Suzy Chase: I would've died.
Audrey Johns: I completely ... It was like I didn't realize what was happening, and still to this day, I really don't believe it. There were some amazing, amazing cooks and amazing chefs that came on. I just got lucky. I really did.
Suzy Chase: There's a line in your cookbook that says, "Food is not the problem. Food-like products are." Can you address processed food?
Audrey Johns: Absolutely. I used to be the Shake N Bake girl, the frozen quote unquote healthy meals girl, and obviously you already know about my diet soda, my early diet soda addiction that I kicked. Those processed foods actually, they're really bad for weight loss. First of all, the preservatives in them, most of them will actually tell your body to hold onto fat and to store it. It's really going to hinder your weight loss results. I find that as soon as you take those out of your diet, you're going to see an immediate result in weight loss.
Suzy Chase: I think what's different about your cookbook is that you touch on the chemicals in food, and I've never heard other weight loss people or books address that. It's really, really fascinating.
Audrey Johns: Thank you, and thank you for pointing that out. I'll go out, and I'll buy a weight loss cookbook, or I'll read a weight loss blog, and I see them promoting the use of fake sugars, and just any kind of calorie cutting possible. Sure, we do want to cut the calories down, but we don't want to get to the point where we cut them so low, we're replacing them with chemicals. Because just like an animal, our bodies need to eat what comes from the earth. If you really just take it back to the basics and think about the fact that we used to be hunters and gatherers, we did not used to eat out of a laboratory, and we should not be doing that to our bodies now.
Suzy Chase: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What are some of your go-to breakfast meals.
Audrey Johns: I love the oatmeal. I continuously tell people that I feel like I was put on this earth to convert people who don't like oatmeal. I actually got a comment on my Facebook page yesterday saying somebody had finally started loving oatmeal for the first time in her life. I absolutely adore it.
A funny story, I used to always get those little packets, the strawberries and cream, the blueberries and cream, and those are just ... First of all, there's not enough in them, so you need two or three to actually fill up your tummy. But they're packed with fake sugars, and they really hinder your weight loss. In my book, I went ahead and created those four that everybody loves so much, the strawberries and cream, the peaches and cream, the blueberries and cream, and of course, everybody's favorite, the maple brown sugar oatmeal. Those are all in the book so that if you still do love those packets, you can easily make these. To be honest, they're cheaper, when you get down to it.
Suzy Chase: What are a few examples of reasonable weight loss goals?
Audrey Johns: Yes, I love to talk about reasonable weight loss goals. Often, people come, and they get on my plan, and they lose 15 pounds right off the bat. Then the next week, they only lose one pound. Or sometimes people expect, "I'm going to lose 15 pounds, because my friend next door did," and then they end up losing just two pounds. What I'd like to remind people is, if you go for a two pound a week goal, you'll end up losing, and you'll end up staying more committed to the weight loss.
I have actually two clients I talk about in the book. The first client lost a lot of weight the first week, gained a pound the second week. In the end, over eight weeks, she ended up losing 20 pounds, which is, on average, a 2.5 pound per week average. Then her friend only lost three pounds, two pounds, three pounds, one pound. She also ended up losing 20 pounds in the end, same exact average.
Every single person is going to lose weight at a different rate, and you just have to be okay with that. What I recommend doing, like I said earlier with the average, instead of being so strict on yourself to constantly lose that two pounds or that three pounds per week, take an average. Especially for women, it's just our nature, just our bodies, there's always going to be one week a month where we're a little bit heavier than the other weeks. If you take an average, you'll start to see those patterns, and you'll be like, "Okay, no big deal. Next week I'll end up losing three pounds."
Always, always pick a reasonable goal. You can always beat that goal, and always take an average, and give yourself a break on the bad weeks. It's going to happen. It happens to all of us.
Suzy Chase: Talk to us a little bit about your blog.
Audrey Johns: Lose Weight by Eating, I started it back in 2012. I was actually at my daughter's dance class. She was like two years old, so I use the word dance lightly. All the mommies in there and I were talking, as we do, and they were just freaking out on how much weight I had lost. They kept asking me how I was doing it. I would explain I took fake sugars out, then I took processed foods out. They didn't get it, so I said, "You know what? I'm very visual. Maybe you are, too. I'm going to write it all down, and I'll just start a blog." If nothing else, this is the place where I can collect all the recipes I'm starting to create.
One day, somebody contacted me and said, "I really hate water, and you constantly tell people, 'Drink more water. Drink more water.' And I just cannot stand the taste of it." I said, "You know what, I'm going to go ahead and create some recipes that will make water taste better." This is something I have been doing for years, and I created the apple cinnamon water, which is now a huge internet sensation. Once I posted that, people started to sit up and take notice. Within a month, I started seeing up to 12,000 people a day on my blog.
Suzy Chase: Wow.
Audrey Johns: I know, it was like, wait, what happened? It just became such a huge success on Pinterest. It just spiraled out of control, in a good way, from there. Soon after, I had eHow calling, and then The Taste calling, and now we're here.
Suzy Chase: The other night, I made your recipe for chicken tortilla soup on page 182.
Audrey Johns: I love that one.
Suzy Chase: It was the perfect dish, because I was under the weather, and our little boy was under the weather. It's definitely ... It's funny, because you wrote in the cookbook it's a healing dish, and it really was. I felt a lot better after we had it, and it was really filling.
Audrey Johns: Good, I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. I love that one, and it's funny that you mentioned that you were under the weather. In the little intro part, I talk about I made it for my family, because we were all sick. As the over-caring, loving to cook mom, I was the one who wanted to take care of all of us, even though I was sick. I went to the farmer's market, and I picked up a ton of really just healthy and vitamin C packed ingredients. I made this, and it's just so easy and so delicious. If you're sick, you can make it. Then even when you're not, just as a lovely lunch or to go with, say, a salad, like a Mexican Caesar salad. There's a lot of great things you could do with this one.
Suzy Chase: I got so many comments saying, "How did you make that?" I said I just made it in 10 minutes. It's the easiest, best thing ever.
Audrey Johns: Absolutely. Like I said, I was sick, so I was like, let's get this done as fast as possible. I need to go back and lie down. Yeah, this is perfect. There's a lot of recipes like that in the book. There are certainly some that take longer than others, like the skinny lasagna, but then there's an entire sandwich chapter, and you can make every single thing on all of those pages in a matter of minutes. I wanted to make sure there were a lot of really quick meals in here and then some for that day that you have a few extra minutes.
Suzy Chase: Where can we find you on the web?
Audrey Johns: You can find me at loseweightbyeating.com. You can find me on Facebook at Lose Weight by Eating with Audrey Johns. You can find these books pretty much everywhere where books are sold, Barnes and Noble, and it's on Amazon right now. It's at the lowest price it's ever been, so check it out. It's doing really great on Amazon, so I highly recommend you check it out there, and check out all the awesome reviews.
Suzy Chase: You've definitely inspired us to bring our body back to nature and let nature do the work. Thanks so much for coming on Cookery by the Book Podcast.
Audrey Johns: Thank you so much, Suzy.