Quest for healthier living

Those people on The Biggest Loser. I want to be them. I want to take six months off work, workout all day long, and eat 1,200 healthy calories a day until I lose this __ lbs. I need to, to get my BMI L.O.W. P.D.Q.

Since that's not feasible from a financial standpoint, I've resorted to goals of 50 minutes of exercise daily (a combo of spin, walking, running, cardio machines, and yoga). I am eating 1,200-1,400 calories per day, focusing on eating 5-9 fruits and veggies a day and sticking with the following percentages: 45-65% of calories from carbs, 20-35% from fat, and 10-35% from protein. And I'm trying to rid myself of habits that seem to be my dietary downfall: emotional eating, lazy snacking (hello, couch potato), and fast food restaurants.

I'm keeping track of everything on www.fitday.com. It's a free site that calculates, motivates, and offers space for a daily journal entry. At the end of week 1, I've lost 2 pounds.

Meantime, I'm trying to stay motivated by reading success stories online and figuratively devouring Prevention magazine. It's 99 cents an issue, a steal these days. Parts of the publication are online, too.

I ran across one article I was particularly attracted to for obvious reasons. "Eat Like Skinny Women: 8 Secrets of the Naturally Slim" The headline goes on to say: "Act like you're a size smaller, and you'll be a size smaller. How thin women thrive in a supersized world."

Running the risk of copyright infringement, I'm going to reveal these 8 secrets. I had a lot of "well, duh" moments reading it. I'll never be "naturally" slim. But I'd get a kick out of being a poseur.

1. They choose satisfied over stuffed. On a fullness scale of 1-10, skinny women stop eating at a 6 or 7. Suggestion: halfway through your meal, put down your fork and rate your level of fullness.
2. They realize hunger isn't an emergency. It's not a condition that needs to be cured. Suggestion: Try skipping an afternoon snack one day.
3. They don't use food to cure the blues. Or if they do, they recognize the signs and stop. Suggestion: Add the word "halt" to your vocabulary: acronym for hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If you truly are hungry, eat a handful of nuts until your meal. Otherwise, blow off steam, exercise, call a friend, or sleep.
4. They eat more fruit, more fiber, and less fat per day. Suggestion: Tinker with your diet, figuring out how to add more whole fruits.
5. They're creatures of habit. Majority of meals for them consist of well-planned staples with a surprise thrown in here or there. Suggestion: Try to eat as consistenty as possible with your major meals - cereal for breakfast, salad for lunch, etc.
6. They have a self-control gene. Seriously, women with low disinhibition (finely tuned sense of restraint) have the lowest BMI. Suggestion: Prepare ahead for these moments of low restraint -- promise yourself you'll only eat every fourth hors d'oevre.
7. They're movers and shakers. Skinny women are on their feet an average of 2 1/2 extra hours a day. Suggestion: wear a pedometer. See just how much you move. Move more.
8. They sleep -- WELL. Skinny women snooze two more hours a week compared with the rest of us. Lack of sleep is linked with lower levels of appetite suppressing hormones and increased levels of appetite boosting hormones. Suggestion: work toward 8 hours of sleep a night.

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