Devin Alexander likes to admit that she's a loser.
In the best possible sense of the word.
She lost 70 pounds – and insists that you can finally lose the weight and keep it off. Even better than her initial pound dump is the fact that Devin, who writes "The Biggest Loser Cookbooks," has kept the weight off for over 16 years.
"You need to let go of all the dieting. That's the first goal." Devin exclusively tells Style Goes Strong readers who are trying to skinny into their jeans for fall.
"You don't have to deprive yourself to be fit and healthy," says Devin who insists that with very little sacrifice you can be wearing a slinky wrap dress for the holidays or a gorgeous, form fitting skirt.
By the way, now she's a media personality, healthy comfort food chef, weight loss expert and New York Times bestselling author.
She's the author of seven current cookbooks including the "Biggest Loser Cookbook" series that accompanies the hit NBC show returning this month.
She's also the host of "Healthy Decadence" on Fit TV.
First lesson: Just say no to fad diets. In other words, woman cannot live by cabbage soup alone.
"I did the eat-five-bananas-a-day diet and the grapefruit diet. I figured out if you put Slim Fast in Fat Free Cool Whip, it tastes like chocolate mousse." She cautions that she did this when she was much younger and NEVER does this anymore nor does she recommend it.
She stays away from diet meal replacement shakes.
"I needed real food – and eating real food helped me lose the weight," Devin promises.
HOW TO LOSE 40 POUNDS AND KEEP IT OFF. START TODAY.
"To lose 40 pounds in a year, all you need to do is cut 400 calories a day," she says.
Let that sink in for a moment. That's not a huge sacrifice. Add up your cheese, sauces, high cal dressings and extra bites of dessert. Skip the croutons, mayo, ketchup and high cal coffee drinks.
It's easy to add up to the 400.
"It's pretty simple. That way you don't have to give up eating a brownie if you want it. You just don't eat in with chicken parm that day," Devin says.
She says to watch out for high calorie traps.
"I was using full fat sauces and eating full fat cheese when I was heavier," she says.
"That's just not necessary."
"At the same time, you don't have to deprive yourself. "If you give yourself permission to have what you want then you won't crave it. You just work it into your life with healthy recipes and small portions."
BABY STEPS TO LASTING WEIGHT LOSS
Let's say you want to start your weight loss plan today. Devin says just do one thing.
"Start by figuring out what you're really eating," she advises. "Write down everything you eat for three days. Be honest."
Do you use real Thousand Island dressing at 100 calories a tablespoon? Do you grab six Twizzlers without thinking? (Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Call the Twizzler police.) Do you use three pats of butter for an extra 300 cals a day?
At the end of those three days, it's time to think about what you can give up to eliminate those 400 calories.
"Think about what you could give up forever," she says.
"Sometimes it's something so simple that you'll never miss. I knew someone who had handfuls of granola as a snack. She was eating six hundred calories of granola a day."
Other people eat over 700 calories of muffins and fancy coffee drinks for breakfast.
Did you know that a standard omelet at a restaurant typically has 200 calories of butter in the making of it? You can cook a better one at home.
"At home, you can eliminate that butter. Then you have room to put some goat cheese on your salad later for 70 calories," she says.
The beauty of this diet is that you sub out what you mindlessly eat and build in room to have the treats you crave.
HOW TO EAT LIKE A "LOSER"
Devin says to eat out less. In other words, no more kidding yourself that your low cal veggie omelet or salad is helping your weight loss plan.
"In restaurants, they put so much fat into all their foods," she says. "Even healthy restaurants use too much olive oil."
She says to also rethink your carb free diet.
"I know people who say, 'If I touch a carb, I'll gain five pounds. Yes, some bodies are gluten resistant or insulin resistant. I know if I eat too many carbs, I crave crazy things," she says. "But I do eat carbs all the time."
"Yes, it's true that you lose weight faster when you do the no carb thing. You're basically losing a lot of water."
She will eat a baked potato.
"A medium baked potato has more potassium than a banana," she says. "If you're someone who craves French fries then take half a pound of potatoes, put a little bit of olive oil on them, stick them on a baking tray and have delicious French fries."
She says to watch your fats because you're adding back in those hundreds of calories you're trying to avoid.
"I think one of the worst offenders is olive oil. Yes, it's a good fat," Devin says. "But there is a point where even a good fat can be added in excess. A good fat can enter the 'too much' zone."
TOMORROW: BIGGEST LOSER BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND DINNER WEIGHT LOSS PLANS AND RECIPES– INCLUDING DESSERT