JJ Virgin has unlocked the secret to obesity and – in many cases --- extra weight doesn’t have to do with overeating.
Virgin, one of the nation’s foremost fitness and nutrition experts for the past two decades, has published the best-selling Virgin Diet, a book that is more about eating right than it is about tips and tricks for dropping a few pounds.
But follow her advice and you will lose weight – it’s a byproduct of eating right and avoiding the “problematic” foods your body cannot process properly.
JJ recently sat down with eDiets and answered these seven questions.
During your 25 years in the business, how has your approach to weight loss changed?
When I started out as a personal trainer 25-plus years ago I was using what I was learning in graduate school, which is if you want to lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more. It became very clear very fast that, while this works for some, it doesn't work for all and usually not for most AND it is not sustainable.
I started researching all of the things that could make it difficult for someone to lose weight or even cause them to gain weight and I identified seven different factors. Diet makes the biggest initial impact on weight loss so I focused on that and the foods that could cause you to gain weight and make you hungrier as the starting point so that my clients would lose weight fast.
The research shows that people who lose weight fast lose more weight and keep more off. After the initial elimination of these seven top potentially problematic foods, I have them re-challenge the top four so that they can customize a diet that supports their ideal weight and optimal health for the long haul.
How have you been able tackle the most challenging weight loss resistant cases and transform them into stunning successes?
I treat the body as a chemistry lab rather than a bank account and evaluate all of the different factors that can be causing someone to be weight loss resistant. The top factors that are easily handled are food intolerances, sleep issues, chronic stress, insulin resistance and the wrong exercise. By making simple adjustments, I can help someone shift from a sugar burning, fat storing machine to a fat burner so that dieting no longer is their hobby.
What do you consider the major causes of our nation's obesity problem? What steps can be taken to get the nation back on the right track?
We’ve got copious misinformation from so-called experts circulating as gospel. Much of it is conflicting: one person tells you to cut calories, another to go vegan, and a third to stick with a low-fat diet. No wonder we’re more confused and overweight as a society than ever before!
The truth is many people are following the wrong set of rules that either don’t work for them or don’t work period. I know sugar and artificial sweeteners are easy culprits, but they are in nearly everything and we’ve got to be aware of how they convert to fat and literally shut our fat doors so we can’t burn the fat we need to lose.
As for getting back on the right track, we need to look at what our ancestors ate. I’m not talking about our grandparents, although that couldn’t hurt. I’m talking about thousands of years ago before processed, sugary foods and “whole grain goodness” became the norm. Real, whole, unprocessed foods are naturally free of added sugars, gluten, and other food intolerances.
What inspired you to enter this line of work -- and what keeps your passion alive?
I have been passionate about nutrition and fitness my whole life. This is what I was put on earth to do. On a day-to-day basis, my clients’ successes keep me going.
Nearly every day I hear from someone on Facebook or on my forum about how for the first time in nearly forever they feel confident enough to go to a social gathering, or how they can run in the park with their grandkids and not become out of breath. Something like getting in your skinny jeans might sound trivial, but it does wonders for your happiness and self-esteem.
Better yet, these folks have become role models for their friends and family. When I talk about changing a million people’s lives, I couldn’t possibly do it alone. Fortunately, I don’t have to: I have these successful folks to do it for me!
In your new book, The Virgin Diet, you say you've discovered the real secret behind weight gain -- and it isn't calories, carbs or fat grams. Please explain.
This is what I mean about the wrong set of information. We’ve been diligently counting fat grams, carbs, calories, whatever, and it isn’t working. You could be well within your calorie or carb allotment and still encounter weight loss resistance. Why? Because you’re eating the wrong foods. Gluten, dairy, soy, and even super-healthy foods like eggs could be creating food intolerances that lead to inflammation, an immune reaction, symptoms like fatigue and bloating, and fat gain.
What are the 7 foods that are most likely to cause food intolerance -- and how did you come up with this list?
The 7 foods are gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, sugar and artificial sweeteners (I lump the last 2 together). I didn’t come up with this list myself. It was the result of years testing clients and working with top docs to determine the top foods that create food intolerances.
Over 70% of my clients, for instance, tested positive for egg intolerances. So they’re eating this food every morning that is perfectly healthy, but they aren’t losing fat and they feel lousy. Can you imagine how frustrating that can be? That’s why my motto is test, don’t guess: once you’ve pinpointed the culprit, you can eliminate it and finally meet your goals.
What's next for you -- any hot projects in the works?
Well, I have this cookbook coming out February 2014 that I know my followers will love. Many of the recipes evolved out of my own kitchen, and developed with my team who more-than-willingly tested them. If ever someone thinks The Virgin Diet means deprivation, this cookbook will change their mind.
After that comes my sugar book that I’m currently researching. You won’t look at sugar in quite the same way after reading this book. I sure didn’t. I think my readers will be surprised what so-called healthy sweeteners and foods are actually creating weight loss resistance. This is a whole different way of thinking about sugar, and I haven’t read anything else like it.
eDiets Chief Editor John McGran has an extensive background in online dieting and tabloid news. He covers the celebrity beat for eDiets.