The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper (Book Excerpt)


This has got to be the easiest rule there is. Which is a good place to start. But it’s also one of the most important rules there is. You simply must stay hydrated. At a minimum I want you to drink a large glass of water before every meal. But I’d prefer that you drink at least five glasses of water a day, the first one within fifteen minutes of waking.

Now, do I really need to harass you about this? I do. Because during the process of losing weight, nothing is so crucial to your success. Water keeps your organs healthy while you’re sweating, keeps food moving through the system, and makes you feel full.

Let me put this plainly: drinking water helps you lose weight. You can see this most vividly in very overweight children. Recently, a group of Israeli researchers examined the resting energy expenditure (REE) of twenty-­one obese children. REE refers to the rate at which you burn calories when you are sleeping, watching TV, or just simply sitting there and staring into space. The researchers gave the kids a large serving of cold water, then began measuring the REE every 10 minutes. The reaction was more robust than anticipated. Within 24 minutes, REE began increasing. By 57 minutes, REE had increased by 25 percent, and this effect lasted 40 minutes.

Did you get that? Just by drinking water, your body increases its burning of calories. The scientists estimated that, if you just do this, you’ll burn off an extra three pounds over the next year.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ll take it. Won’t you?

Simple Hydration Tips

Make it your premeal policy: drink a large glass of water before every meal. No excuses.

End the day with preparation for a good start to the next: put a large, full glass of water on your bedstand every night and drink it when you wake up, every morning.


Caloric beverages steal your health and they steal great food from you. That’s right. They steal it because they are so heavily caloric themselves and will fill you up with all the wrong stuff. Think of the kinds of caloric beverages all around you.

Soft drinks: As you heft one of those cans or buckets of sugar water to your mouth, consider that you are actually eating the equivalent of what should be your entire lunch.

Think of it this way: all that corn syrup? It’s a bushel of corn! And remember, when factory farms want to fatten their cattle, what do they do? They feed them corn. So if you are drinking things with corn syrup, think about that. Are you a cow? No you are not.

Moreover, when you drink soda, you are ingesting what just about every legitimate medical authority in the world has named as suspect number one in today’s sprawling diabetes epidemic.

If, like most Americans, you are used to drinking lots of liquid calories, cutting out soda might be a tough adjustment. But it’s essential that you kick your soda habit ASAP.

Juices and juice drinks: Most juices have exactly the same number of calories—­and the same amount of simple sugars—­as a cola. Oh, you’ll protest, but doesn’t the fiber in a “natural” juice obviate that problem? No. That’s just what you’ve been told. It is the same as drinking a soft drink. You want fruit? Eat fruit. The whole piece of fruit. Not the extracted and manipulated juice.

A latte on the way to the gym? Sorry. Milk also has a tanker-­full of calories. True, coffee itself—­which most of the world drinks without milk, by the way—­is turning out to be a positive dietary element, although it’s still unclear why and how much. I’ll get back to that later, but for now, no lattes or chais, frappes, or mochas. If you must get something Euro, get a cappuccino, which contains very little milk (if made the right way), or even an Americano, in which you can better control the amount of milk. And if you must add milk, opt for the low-­ or no-­fat varieties. No cream. No half and half. Whole milk? No again.

In the same way I want you to step down from soda, I want you to immediately lay off the cream or half-­and-­half in your coffee. Don’t even go for the whole milk. Step down, step away! Start putting 2% milk or nonfat (skim) milk in your coffee and ordering any coffee-­based drink that way too. Today.

Now, why am I so down on liquid calories? Most of us know the basics: sugary drinks contain, uh, sugar, and sugar is made up of molecules that encourage the formation of new fat cells, as well as keeping existing ones filled. 

Low Cal Meal Ideas (Good Housekeeping)


  • 3/4 cup bran flakes (ex: Fiber One), 1 banana, 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Smoothie: Blend 1 cup frozen berries, 1/2 banana, and 8 ounces fat-free milk.
  • 1 cup Cheerios, 1/2 cup berries, 1 tsp. slivered almonds, 8 oz. fat-free milk
  • Oatmeal: In the microwave, cook 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats with 3/4 cup fat-free milk, 1/2 apple, chopped, 1 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • 1 toasted frozen waffle, spread with 1 tablespoon peanut butter and topped with 1/2 sliced banana


  • Sandwich: 1 mini whole wheat pita, 3 oz. turkey breast, 1/2 roasted pepper, 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce; 1 stick part-skim mozzarella string cheese; 2 kiwi fruits
  • Tuna pita: 1 mini whole wheat pita, 2 ounces water-packed light tuna, 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise, mustard, cucumber and onion slices; 10 baby carrots; 6 ounces light yogurt mixed with 1/2 banana
  • 1 cup tomato soup; sandwich: 1 mini whole wheat pita, 3 ounces thinly sliced roast beef, 1 teaspoon horseradish, mustard, tomato slices, lettuce; 1 cup raw veggies; 1 pear


  • 4 oz. broiled flounder or sole; 2 sliced plum tomatoes sprinkled with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, broiled until just golden; 1 cup cooked couscous; 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • 4 oz. steamed shrimp; 1 baked potato topped with 3 tablespoons salsa and 1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream; 3 cups spinach, steamed
  • 3 oz. poached salmon; slaw: Toss 1 1/4 cups coleslaw mix and 2 sliced green onions with 2 tbsp. fat-free dressing; 3/4 cup cooked brown rice

Health & Beauty Tips Almost ANYONE Can Follow

1) Drink 2 glasses of water right after you wake up.  Many Hollywood celebs, who bank on their looks (as well as talent) have mentioned this habit.

2) Eat breakfast whenever you can!  In a time crunch, I suggest a banana and a cereal bar (Trader Joe’s has a good selection).  Below are some other easy options:

  • Cheerios w/ 1% milk (or ANY type of milk you like)
  • Fiber One cereal w/ almond milk (I STILL need to try this type of milk!)
  • Quaker Oatmeal (My dad loves most of the varieties; it has helped him lose a bit of stomach weight.)
  • Whole Foods granola (YOUR choice of flavor) w/ Fage 2% Yogurt (or ANY type of plain yogurt)

2) Moisturize your face, BUT don’t forget the neck!  (This is esp. important for women.)  Below are some good choice:

  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (Yes, it’s pricy, BUT a fab product.  I recommend Clinique line for women w/ acne-prone/combination/oily skin.)
  • Oil of Olay (My mom says you can’t go wrong w/ this brand, and I agree.  She’s going to try the Total Effects line soon.) 
  • Nivea (My dad loves this product; he has naturally dry skin.  I recommend it for men, esp. during Winter months.)
  • Ponds (It’s not as thick/rich as Nivea; I use it in the Winter mos.)

3) Use an organic shampoo & conditioner.  It’s esp. good for those w/ fine/thin/fragile hair.  Just be on the lookout for deals, so you don’t spend too much.  If you can’t find an organic product, use those that are labeled “sulfate-free.”  

4) Take a lunch (from home) whenever possible!  (I’m terrible at this- need to get back into the habit this Fall.)  Not only will you save money, you’ll save calories.  

5) If you do NOTHING else, eliminate soda (including diet ones) from your diet.  I usually drink Coke once a week, but am trying to get rid of that habit (easier in the Winter season). 

Update & Few Tips on Health & Beauty

Hey readers,

Hope your Summer is going well!  Life is going great (VERY rare for me to admit) so far this year- it may be my best yet!  I don’t think the 25 y.o. me would recognize the person that I’ve (slowly) become. The confidence factor is key, I feel, b/c I didn’t have much of that as a younger person.  I may be unusual, BUT I think life really starts after age 30.

As you may have noticed, I was VERY busy from mid-March to early July, esp. w/ work.  I have a different role (but w/in the same company); it’s been a BIT of a challenge (at times), and also a GREAT learning experience.  I have MORE to learn, I’m certain.  Since I took on this role, I’ve learned more about my company and dealt w/ many people (including consultants and partners).  I really enjoy that aspect (now); as an older teen/young adult, my part-time jobs helped me slowly get out of my shell and not be fearful of strangers. 

Thanks for reading!



Don’t worry about your looks; worry about your health.

Don’t only change for men, you have to be healthy for yourself.

Above are two of my mom’s fave sayings; I’ve been hearing them over the years.  I must add that my mom has ALWAYS been a moderate eater.  She doesn’t believe in diets, fads, or even spending 2 hours ea. day at the gym; her chosen exercise is walking and yoga.  After several  years of yoga, Mom branched out to Zumba and few other aerobic classes at her (no-frills) gym. 

The few other South Asian women at her gym were happy to see a friendly face; exercise is not often at the top of  our lists.  We want the younger gen to have their heads in books.  (Sidenote: If you can read on treadmill, then you’re not going fast enough.)  Most desi kids, even in the US, don’t grow up playing a sport, which can be benefit when they get older.  Now, we don’t need to be GREAT at sports, but why not attempt it more often?  My little brother and a 2nd (girl) cousin are the only ones I know who played sports after elementary school age.

If you want to lose weight, cut down on the following foods:

  • Bread (white) – I can’t even recall when I ate white bread; I like flatbread now. 
  • Candy/Desserts – We now know that (a BIT) of dark chocolate can be good for us.  However, the I feel that MOST of the US indulges too much in sugary foods.  We must (slowly) train ourselves to get out of the habit of turning to sugar; try some different fruit instead (if available).  Save desserts for rare/special occasions. 
  • Pasta (white) – I used to be a BIG fan of pasta, but rarely eat it now.  Wheat pasta is not bad tasting, IMO. 
  • Potatoes – I eat potatoes RARELY; I do like fries.  Mom suggests baking sweet potato fries; she did that before it became popular.
  • Rice (white) – This is a tough one for me (as well as MANY South Asians)!  Since I hate brown rice, I choose couscous instead.  My family liked brown rice, for the most part.  Good for them!
  • Soda (esp. dark-colored ones that are worse for health and teeth) – I have a love of Coke (trying to cut back to once a wk); Mom does drink Sprite and Ginger Ale (on rare occasions). 

The BEST tip- don’t beat yourself up for having a bad meal… or even a bad day! 


I don’t like that stuff [makeup].

Don’t use so many different brands. 

These are my mom’s thoughts on beauty.  Everyone says that Mom has natural beauty.  Growing up, she would use Ivory soap, Oil of Olay (face cream), and Ponds (face cream for the Winter).  On rare occasions, she would (reluctantly) put on some eyeshadow and lipstick.  Things that looked fake were NOT for her; the inner self was reflected by her outer self.

Is Mom’s idea of staying as natural as possible old-school?  Hmmm… maybe not!  After all, many of us see more breakouts when we use foundation.  And NOT all mascaras last ALL day; it’s not good for Spring allergies either.  Many surveys have shown that a clear, fresh complexion will get you noticed than ANY type of makeup.  I feel that makeup is good for dates, weekends, and special occasions.  The key is to know your skin type, what colors suit you, and how to apply the makeup.  I suggest talking w/ a few makeup artists (Ulta, Sephora, etc.)- they can guide the total newbie (like I was a few yrs back).


DC Food Trucks

Since I work in L’Enfant Plaza, I have MANY food options, including the food trucks that are usually parked at Maryland Ave & 7th St SW from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. during weekdays.  A couple of my co-workers are fans of the trucks, esp. those that sell spicy food.  Below are some of my favorites. 


Are you looking for an alternative to your regular sandwich?  The ficelle is a light/crispy type of bread that looks like a baguette.  You can choose turkey, roast beef, chicken, etc., with different types of seasoning and veggies.  My favorite is the Newman Ficelle.  The guy who runs it is from Italy (I think) and always remembers the regulars.

Fojol Brothers

Merlindia (Indian), Benethopia (Ethiopian), & Volathai (Thai) are the trucks run by the Fojols.  My fave is Volathai; it comes to my area on Fridays (ANOTHER reason to love Fridays)!  I prefer to get the Pick 2 w/ Green Curry and Penang Curry (if available).  Otherwise, I’d get green curry (comes w/ rice) and mushroom drunken noodle (NOTE: It’s spicy for most folks who I’ve spoken to).  Sometimes Pad Thai and Beef Massaman Curry are available, BUT these aren’t at the top of my list. (Interestingly, the Massaman sauce was inspired by the first Indians who traveled to Thailand to do business, and wanted a taste of home.)    

Other reasons I enjoy the Fojols are their friendly demeanor, interesting ethnic wear, and generous portions.  Unlike some trucks, they haven’t made their portions smaller over the year.  One guy (who’s married) often tells me that he plans to name his daughter Emma, if he ever has one.  Awww!   

Lobster Truck DC

Yes, this food is pricy, BUT it’s VERY good/fresh!  Sarah, a new friend of mine (who also blogs), REALLy enjoyed having a Maine roll at the recent Trucko de Mayo festival.  She said it reminded her of home (she’s from the Boston area).   Another friend, Lana, liked the root beer.  My fave is the vanilla creme soda. 


This truck is CUTE; it has light blue, white clouds, and cows painted all over it.  There are cookies, sodas, sorbets, & different types of ice cream.  I tried the 2 scoops (vanilla & cappucino crunch) at the food fest and LOVED them both!  It was well worth the wait, as several folks said.  A gal raised in Arizona will ALWAYS love ice cream…


This truck is run by a wiry-framed blonde (who looks like she NEVER eats dessert)- LOL!  My fave is the Red Velvet; the Cookies & Cream is great, too.  She usually has 5-7 different choices available.  The portions are not too big or too small!       

Tasty Kabob

This truck is green and white, denoting the colors of Pakistan (at least in my mind).  It’s run by Middle Eastern guys of different ages, some American and some immigrant.  The portions are VERY generous, so check it out when you’re VERY hungry.  (You can share w/ a co-worker or take home, too.)  I like the lamb w/ rice & 2 veggies, though I have tried the gyro also once or twice.  I think the food is NOT spicy, but then again, I’m a desi gal!     

You can follow the trucks at the site below or on Twitter.