As a 33-year-old mother of four, Josette Puig was frustrated, depressed and overweight.
But after years of taking antidepressants, Puig decided in 2004 that it was time for a change. That change would be to her diet.
“That was the beginning for me of taking control of my ways,” said Puig, a University of Miami alumna and former South Florida resident who now lives in Boston. Her family lives in Doral. “I didn’t realize at that moment what a significant thing it was be to take control of my mental and emotional health.”
Now, about eight years later, Puig, 42, is 30 pounds lighter and works as a fitness trainer.
Puig’s “Get Josette Fit” regimen has just one requirement: Make one change to your nutritional and fitness lifestyle every week.
Puig’s new book Frumpy to Fabulous: One Change a Week to a Healthier You! enumerates a total of 52 changes for the year. From sautéing with coconut oil instead of olive oil to eating small meals or snacks every two to three hours, Puig said her advice is “realistic.”
The purpose of her plan is to “create an awareness of what exactly you’re eating” in order to “take control of your waistline, but also your mental and emotional health.”
“Everybody cringes when they hear the word ‘diet’ because it involves some kind of deprivation,” she said. “There’s no ‘you can never have this again’ attitude.”
In fact, her 52-week plan advocates one “treat meal” a week, even if it’s pizza, beer and ice cream all in one sitting.
“Increasing your caloric intake one day a week is also good for weight loss,” Puig explains in her book. “This forces your thyroid to release a hormone which signals your body to work harder.”
The first tip in Puig’s book is to switch coffee creamer for unsweetened almond milk, but the order of the changes isn’t strict.
“Don’t start changing things all at once because that’s when things get overwhelming,” Puig said. “You want this to be a lifestyle.”
The underlying theme in Puig’s 52 changes is getting rid of the “CRAP,” or crazy diets, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed food. It’s not about calories, it’s about the nutritional value in food being consumed, Puig said.
Puig’s nutritional lifestyle also includes a steady exercise regimen, with strength training three times a week, along with cardio.
“Within a week, my clients feel energized,” Puig said. “Within two weeks, they look like they’ve had a microdermabrasion from head to toe. They lose grayness they didn’t even know they had.”
Miami resident Carlos Frontera, 42, has been making a change about once a month and has seen his “yo-yo” weight find consistency. Thanks to Puig, he said, he avoids fast food by packing his own lunch and keeping snacks in the car. Now, his weight has leveled off between 195 and 200 pounds, rather than between 195 and 230.
Puig has also helped a Type 1 diabetic simply by suggesting unsweetened almond milk.
“They told me, ‘It’s the first time in my 20 years as a diabetic that I’ve been able to control my sugar,’” Puig said. “That to me was priceless, that I was able to help somebody.”
When first embarking on this lifestyle change, having a good attitude and “getting real with yourself” are key, Puig said, especially in keeping a food journal.
“If you bite it, you write it,” she said. “I had one client tell me ‘I’d rather see a gynecologist then show you my food journal.’ You have to be honest, that’s the only way you can take control.”
In starting an exercise routine, Puig recommends doing something you love.
“Dancing, swimming, biking – start with that,” she said. “It has to be a positive experience so that way they can enjoy it. It has to be real so that they can be consistent.”
Puig’s regimen also highlights the importance of eating well before and after a workout. For a pre-workout, she suggests eating protein, carbohydrates and “good” fats, like Greek yogurt with berries and nuts. After a workout, Puig recommends protein and carbohydrates, but no fats, like a protein shake with fruit or skim chocolate milk.
For starting the day, Puig recommends one of her favorite foods, which is her protein pancake. Mix four egg whites, one egg yolk, half a cup of dry oats and a dab of cinnamon, and then cook it like a pancake. Covered in berries and maple syrup, the pancake “makes you feel so full and energized.”
Other similar recipes, along with a variety of other nutrition and exercise tips, are available online at getJosette.com after signing up for free. Puig’s self-published book is available in English and Spanish on the website for $9.99.