Sunday, January 9, 2011

Book Review: Cinch! by Cynthia Sass

When I was selected by the One2One Network to review Cinch! by Cynthia Sass, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Reason being, I've never read a diet book and I think I may have really only participated in one diet in my life (which I failed miserably after the first day). But I was open to it, even more so because she packed quite a credential-filled resume punch!

I'm an athlete. If I ever wanted to lost weight, I just got my booty to the gym and worked out until I would burn mad calories. It wasn't until I met Don that I realized I had poor eating habits and was very limited in my diet, in terms of flavors I would actually be willing to try. I was a beef and carbs kind of girl. Steak? Yes! Eggs? Yes! Potatoes? Yes! White bread? Yes! Sushi? NO! Fresh Spinach or Broccoli? NO! Rum & Coke? Yes! Wine? NO! Upon meeting him, I drastically changed my eating habits primarily because I wanted to spend time with him. Heck, one of our first dates was him making me a breakfast burrito to eat: egg whites, fresh spinach, whole wheat tortilla. At the time, a breakfast burrito was a flour tortilla, scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, and cheese. He was unaware how poor my diet was until we actually moved in together. It was in saving money for our wedding that we saw the most benefit of healthy eating. We had very limited outings where we went to a restaurant, our meals were cooked at home, many with fresh ingredients that we had purchased on our trip to the Farmer's Market. I specifically attribute this as the very reason I shed 25-30 pounds before our wedding day (yes, stress had something to do with it, but that wasn't until the final week leading up to it). When I was pregnant with Mari, again, I became very conscious of what I ate. I ate an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, including Palak Paneer because I couldn't get enough Indian food. Yes, I gained weight, but within 9 months, I was not only down to pre-pregnancy weight, but my wedding weight (thank you marathon!), which I attribute to diet & exercise.

And then I hit a plateau.

I stopped running with regularity. I stopped paying attention to all of the things I should be doing. I was blessed to have gotten pregnant, but really, it wasn't until this book that I realized just how much I had checked out. Cupcakes were a regular part of my diet. I didn't bat an eye at the thought of drinking a Ginger Ale or a Sprite. Don't even get me started on carbs! Ugh...But reading this book, I realized that I had gotten off track. We were eating out waay too often and I was over indulging in everything that I said I didn't like. But the more of it I had, the more of it I seemed to want. Scary how artificial sugars and sweeteners do that to you. First off, I need to state that I didn't follow this book to lose weight. I'm pregnant and in no way should I be attempting a drastic change like weight loss. Instead, I used this book as a guideline of healthier eating, not just for myself, but for my family as well.

Immediately upon reading this book, I found myself nodding my head in agreement with Cynthia. I'm not a certified nutritionist by any means, but I do have some core beliefs when it comes to foods and I was ashamed to admit that I had turned my back on those beliefs in the past few months. She doesn't ask you to eliminate carbs, eat only protein, or any gimmicks whatsoever. What she does ask you to do is shift your perspective and consider alternatives. You can have chocolate, but go for the dark chocolate full of anti-oxidants instead of the milk chocolate full of calories and sugar. She actually insists on indulging in dark chocolate once a day. I used to dislike dark chocolate, but like wine, I have learned that it is pretty good, especially the types that have a hint of other flavors. Thank you Dude Sweet Chocolate for an ample supply of variety! Instead of loading up on three meals a day, she asks that you eat four balanced foods that include a produce, lean protein, whole grain, plant-based fat, and SASS.

What is SASS you say? SASS is one of the simplest ways of adding a flavor punch to your foods, which opened my eyes to new cuisines when I changed my eating with Don. SASS stands for slimming and satiating seasonings. They include: vinegar, citrus juice/zest, hot peppers, tea, herbs & spices. I didn't grow up eating a whole lot of salt. I did grow up eating garlic and little did I know how much I enjoyed it until I started cooking with it. Fresh garlic was the best! In her book she writes:
Slash Calories without sacrificing flavor
A tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar has a mere 15 calories, one ounce of lime juice 8 calories, a cup of brewed tea just 2 calories, a whole jalapeno 4 calories; and herbs and spices such as mint and turmeric contain zero calories. In contrast, one tablespoon of butter, one tablespoon of mayo, two tablespoons of ketchup, and one-quarter cup of Ranch dressing-condiment amounts that you could easily include in a single day if not a single meal-add up to a whopping 500 calories. A surplus of 500 calories a day is enough to pack fifty extra pounds on your frame over one year. Using the five SASS seasonings in place of sauces, condiments, and dressings immediately cuts several hundred calories from your meals while helping trigger your body's "I'm full" mechanism.
Incredible how small changes can mean big results in the long term. And I can attest to those changes. Once I started to incorporate different flavors into my meals, I didn't eat as much and I was genuinely more satisfied after my meals. Not to mention our sex life spiced up once we spiced up the kitchen. (Sorry family if you are reading this, but it is true!)

Also, two more things that appealed to me about this book. It is vegan friendly and I can easily prepare these foods for my entire family, which includes our nearly 3 year old daughter. I firmly believe that because I ate such a varied diet while pregnant and breastfeeding, she, in turn, has not been a familiar picky eater. She refused cereal. Couldn't stand eating it. We gave up and attempted avocado. She gobbled that up. Soon after, she was eating guacamole, salsa, and chutney. We would dine with friends who didn't have children and they were impressed that they didn't have to prepare a separate kid-friendly meal for her. Heck, they were even more impressed that she had a serious desire to eat spicy salsa! As she's gotten older, she has since pulled back the intensity of spicy foods, but she really enjoys a wide variety of foods. I like that this is vegan friendly because when we have vegetarian friends who are over, I don't have to drastically alter a meal I have prepared or ask that they bring their own meal. It works for all of us.

The final thing about the book that I found appealing were the beverages. While she does not allow for ANY alcohol until you reach your goal weight it doesn't matter to me right now because I'm not drinking. Heck, I won't drink a full glass of wine until at least a while after Tesla is into her feeding routine. Regardless, you are allowed to drink 1 coffee and lots of fresh brewed tea. My boss has recently gotten on a fresh brewed tea kick and I have seen the benefits of it from when he insisted I sip on a cup when I was feeling particularly under the weather. It was a lime-green tea and was so absolutely divine and amazing, I instantly felt better after that one glass. Our neighbors have invited us over once a week for a chat over green tea in the afternoon. Not only is the conversation good for the soul, but the fresh brewed tea is to die for. None of which is sweetened with any sweetener. Just fresh tea. That's a big deal coming from a gal who prefers at least 3 packets of sugar to make some down home goodness, sweet tea. She also ask that you COMPLETELY eliminate all sodas, both regular and diet She says:. A higher intake of added sugar is tied to nearly every chronic disease, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, even Alzheimer's. One can of sweetened soda a day can turn into fifteen pounds of body fat a year! But I drink diet soda, so that's better. Um...no! Statistically, the human risk of obesity actually increases with each daily serving of diet soda, even more than it does for regular soda drinkers! One study found that for people who drank one to two cans of diet soda a day, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was 54.5 percent, compared to 32.8 percent for people drinking the same amount of sugar-sweetened soda. Pay attention to that statistic, "for sugar-sweetened soda." I think she means specifically artificially sweetened sodas, which diet sodas are, and our regular sodas that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar, not Mexican Coke, which is sweetened with cane sugar. Any artificial sweeteners are bad for our bodies because they were not built to process it. I'm especially aware of high fructose corn syrup because it is in EVERYTHING! I have to check labels to be sure that I'm not pumping Mari with it because more often than not, it is in the foods she eats and the drinks she drinks, but that is a separate post all together. Needless to say, cut out the artificial stuff and stick with natural and organic when possible. In the summertime, I'm especially excited to try out her Zesty Cinnamon Basil Berry Tea. I'll put the recipe at the end.

In any case, this book is written with someone like me in mind and for those of you who are new to the whole dieting and changing of lifestyle with meals. It is easy to read, easy to follow, and a great jump start to a whole new lifestyle. She is very honest with how much organic costs and realizes that it is a deterrent for some people with fixed incomes.She always recommends organic, but has done research on which organic items really make a difference as opposed to non-organic. (organic eggs, soybeans, tofu) More often than not, you can get away with using frozen fruits and veggies too! This is especially helpful when those fruits and veggies aren't in season. (Speaking of which, she is constantly citing resources on the web for even more information and she even has real world scenarios of what to choose when you dine out. Chipotle choice for the win!)

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking for a change in your foods. Check it out today and you can order your own copy at Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble. Definitely make the investment for a healthy new you!

**As a member of the One2One Network, I was asked to review this book. As such, I am eligible to receive one of five $50 gift cards for my participation, but in no was was that an influence in my review. The opinions in the review are my own.**

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