It had been a long winter. I know that everyone has been talking about how brutal this past one was, and everyone’s tired of talking about it, but this bears repeating. It had been a long, miserable, freezing cold winter, during which the only time I ever felt truly warm was standing over my stove, cooking comfort food. But, once the weather turned, like any true Rhode Islander, I started thinking about the beach. Once that happened, I took a hard look in the mirror, and I wasn’t happy with how I looked after a winter of hibernating in my kitchen.
So, I called Melanie Lawhead of Be Fit Nutrition, a “social club” with a focus on health counseling that also serves delicious smoothies. Melanie has lost 75 pounds in just over two years, so I figured she knew what she was talking about, and could speak from experience when it came to the challenges of losing weight. She and her three partners - Stephanie Paiva, Rhonda Swain and Cynthia Paiva - started Be Fit earlier this year to help other people on their path to better health. I didn’t exactly know what my program was going to be, but I was willing to try anything if it was going to give me the head start I wanted on getting beach ready.
We met at the shop, in the Pier Marketplace in Narragansett, on a Tuesday afternoon. I was immediately struck by the entire wall of smoothie flavors, ranging from Almond Joy to Berry Lemon Cheesecake, from Mudslide to White Chocolate Salted Caramel. Melanie started by asking me about my eating and exercise habits (I bet you can guess which one was too much and which was not enough). Then she explained to me how she’d be guiding me to better health.
All of the smoothies listed on the wall were actually meal replacement shakes, that have less than 300 calories, tons of vitamins and minerals, a quarter of your daily protein and barely any sugar. As we chatted, I sipped a Caramel Macchiato shake and a metabolism-boosting green and black iced tea blend. Melanie explained that those would be my breakfast and lunch every day for the next month, supplemented with protein-rich snacks, “colorful dinners,” as she called them, with some herbs and vitamins thrown in the mix to promote healthy digestion and absorption.
If it sounds complicated, it’s not. Completely the opposite. In the morning I have a tea in place of my normal iced coffee, take two caplets and drink a shake. It takes far less time than scrounging for my normal, completely unhealthy breakfast. (The morning I met Melanie, I actually ate five Ritz Crackers and a piece of cheese for breakfast. Clearly I needed help.) The same at lunch: I don’t have to think about what I’m eating. The shakes are delicious: I alternate between chocolate and vanilla, often adding instant espresso powder to either for a caffeine boost. While other meal replacement shakes have left me starving, these are so protein rich that I actually struggle with remembering to eat my snacks before it’s time for another shake. And I don’t crave junk, because I’m getting such a complete dose of vitamins every day that my body isn’t deficient in anything.
Dinners are easy, too: lean proteins, lots of veggies, complex carbs. What I really like about the program is that there’s no calorie counting, no points - you eat whatever you want, as long as you’re mindful to limit bad stuff and hit your protein number every day. For me, that usually means having a chocolate peanut butter protein bar for dessert. Trust me, I’m not complaining.
It’s three weeks into the program as I write this, and I’ve lost over ten pounds. This is only a month-long experiment, but I have every intention of sticking with the program. I couldn’t be happier with the results so far. I look better and feel more energized. I also love how much simpler my morning routine is now. Seeing the progress that I’ve made has gotten me to join a gym, and more than that, has encouraged me to use that membership, not just spend money on it. By the time you read this, I’ll already have been to the beach. Catch me on Labor Day weekend: I’ll look like a different person.
Be Fit Nutrition. 10A Pier Marketplace Narragansett 788-0300.