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Ever wonder how diet and fitness gurus stick with their eating and exercise plans? To find out, we quizzed five busy pros. What we found was that these experts truly are "expert" at maximizing nutrient intake while managing their daily fat and calorie budgets. (They're also sticklers for daily exercise.) Here, their most successful strategies for keeping fit, no matter how crazy their lives get:"I count colors, not calories."
The Expert: Claudia Gonzalez, R.D., 37
Height: 5'5" Weight: 135
When she isn't dispensing healthy-eating advice all over the country as an American Dietetic Association spokesperson, this Miami-based mother of three counsels patients on managing diabetes, reducing cholesterol and losing weight. Gonzalez is also a specialist in preventing and treating childhood obesity.
Her Workout: 45 minutes of walking or biking; 15 to 20 minutes of weight training daily.
Trade Secrets: Eat by color. "I try to include at least three different hues in every meal-leafy greens, red tomatoes, yellow peppers, whatever's freshest at the market on a particular day. That way, I know I'm giving my body a wide variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including trace nutrients like phytochemicals and other antioxidants."
Substitute fish for red meat and chicken twice a week. "Fish is lower in saturated fat than poultry, beef or pork, and studies have shown that the type of fat found in fish-polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids-can help protect you from heart disease."
Snack on fruit. "I'm not a big snacker, but if I'm too busy to sit down for a proper meal, I'll have one or two servings of fruit. A slice of melon or a fruit shake keeps cravings at bay."
Adjust your workout according to your needs. "I used to Rollerblade a lot, but as I get older, I prefer the extra stability that a bicycle provides. I keep weights at home so that when I'm running late at the office, I can skip a visit to the gym and still get in a good strength-training routine."
The Expert: Brooke Siler, 35
Height: 6'0" Weight: 140
Owner of re:AB, a New York City Pilates studio, Siler trains up to 100 clients a month in the increasingly popular muscle-conditioning technique. She's also the author of The Pilates Body (Broadway Books, 2000).
Her Workout: A combination of Pilates, weight training and running three to five days a week.
Trade secrets: Satisfy thirst first. "I always have a large glass of water before I sit down to a meal or a snack. It replenishes any fluid lost during exercise and, most important, helps control my appetite."
Fuel up with protein. "Since I'm so active, I need more protein than the average woman, but I always try to balance it with a little healthy fat and carbohydrates. A great meal for me is a large salad with grilled chicken breast and a few slices of avocado."
Seek out healthy snacks. "I tend to crave anything salty, like potato chips, so I search out healthier versions of my favorite snacks, like baked rice puffs flavored with powdered broccoli, kale and other veggies. I also love fresh, crisp apples spread with a little all-natural peanut butter.""I eat a different cuisine each week."
The Expert: Kate Hamilton, Ph.D., 41
Height: 5'8" Weight: 130
A licensed psychotherapist and behavioral eating specialist at Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Tucson, Arizona, Hamilton lectures on the relationship between food and mood and helps people struggling with food-related psychological issues, including disordered and emotional eating.
Her Workout: Weight training and walking five to seven days a week.
Trade Secrets: Eat often. "I keep my blood-sugar levels steady and minimize cravings by eating small meals every three to four hours."
Sample different cuisines. "I'll have a spicy Thai meal one week, then Italian the next. Eating such a variety of foods makes every meal an experience. It also helps me to be more conscious of the flavor and texture of everything I'm putting in my mouth, and I find I don't need to eat a lot to feel satisfied."
Satisfy your cravings-in moderation. "I'm a sucker for peanut butter cups and caramel popcorn-whenever I'm feeling stressed, that's what I tend to reach for. To keep my cravings under control (even when my work schedule isn't), I'll set a single handful of these fun foods out on my desk and resolve to eat only that amount.""I focus on vegetables."
The Expert: Kathleen Daelemans, 40
Height: 5'2" Weight: 120
This star of the TV Food Network's Cooking Thin With Kathleen Daelemans doles out cooking advice and low-calorie recipes to people of all sizes on a weekly basis. (Visit foodtv.com for a schedule.) She herself lost more than 70 pounds by eating healthy food and exercising daily.
Her Workout: Strength-training three times a week; Spinning, walking or working out on the elliptical trainer twice a week.
Trade Secrets: Use vegetables as the main event. "Most people think of dinner in terms of the main course-chicken, beef or fish. Then they add a few side dishes and accompaniments. I try to think of the vegetables first, then incorporate protein-rich foods later. It helps me keep the fat content of the whole meal at a healthier level. And by focusing on vegetables, I also boost my chances of meeting my recommended fiber intake every day."
Treat yourself. "Eating out is an indulgence I don't want to forgo, and really can't, since cooking is my livelihood. So when I'm at a restaurant, I try to focus on the one thing I want most. I always ask about dessert before I order my entree. If the pastry chef's creations sound great, I'll have a modest meal and splurge later. If the special entrée sounds delicious, I'll have that and skip dessert.""I don't consider any food off-limits."
The Expert: Joy Bauer, R.D., 39
Height: 5'1" Weight: 100
Owner of Joy Bauer Nutrition, a nutrition counseling center in New York City, this mother of three is a prolific author. Her most recent books include The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan (St. Martin's, 2003) and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition (Alpha Books, 2002). Bauer has been a member of FITNESS's advisory board since 2001.
Her Workout: 45 minutes on the treadmill at home three or four times a week.
Trade Secrets: Follow the 90 percent rule. "If your diet's 90 percent healthy, you can afford the occasional splurge." Just keep it under 250 calories. Never skip a meal. "I almost always work through lunch. To make sure I eat, I bring something from home and stick it in the fridge. Or, as a last resort, I keep an emergency stash of nuts and energy bars to nibble on."