Local author's 'Healthy You' plan has tips for all types of dieters

Published Jan. 8, 2015

No sensible person would look at Dawna Stone and think she needs to diet. Nonetheless, she is joining about 2,100 Facebook friends this week on her latest Healthy You 14-day challenge.

The program starts with a week of gradually eliminating stuff like sugar (real and fake), red meat, processed grains and alcohol, followed by a week of what the St. Petersburg healthy living entrepreneur calls "clean eating.'' After that, you gradually reintroduce foods that might be fine in moderation for your weight management efforts, whether you have more to lose or plan to maintain your weight for decades, as Stone has done.

Monday, as she was dashing across Tampa Bay to a TV interview to promote her new book, The Healthy You Diet, we talked about her postholiday cleanup.

"I don't need to lose any weight, but I started again today (by eliminating sugar),'' she said. "Every time I do it, I just sleep better, my skin clears up and I have more energy.''

Stone will need that energy as her first book for Rodale gets its national launch. The New York Post chose Healthy You for a reader weight-loss challenge. HSN will feature Stone and her book twice on Wednesday (at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.). One day this week, she had 20 radio interviews with stations around the nation scheduled. Today, she'll be at a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in Tampa.

It's been more than 20 years since Stone devised what would become the Healthy You plan to tackle the 40 pounds she gained while working on Wall Street right after college. Since then, she has been deeply involved in fitness both personally and professionally.

After moving to St. Petersburg, where she lives with her husband Matt Dieter and their children Kaelie and Luke, Stone started a women's sports magazine. Then she won TV's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, developed a magazine for Stewart's empire, and created the Women's Running Half Marathon series of races. All the time, she says, she was helping people lose weight, whether through her Sirius Satellite Radio health program, television segments on wellness or one-on-one.

She produced her first Healthy You book late in 2013 and has been offering the free Facebook challenges ever since. She figures by the time the current challenge ends, 10,000 people will have banded together on social media to drop pounds and get healthier. Another challenge starts in March.

The Healthy You plan is simple, but, of course, people are not. That's why I was especially interested in Chapter 2, "What Kind of Eater Are You,'' which Stone and Rodale agreed to excerpt today in the Tampa Bay Times.

Stone bets most dieters will see themselves in the five types she writes about, based on her years of experience helping family, friends and total strangers lose weight.

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"I'm the Food Abuser,'' she told me, describing the type that exercises regularly — and uses that as an excuse to eat too much, often at night.

"I have a hard time at night,'' Stone said. "I can't just eat one cookie. I'll have five cookies and then I'll want something else.''

So she has learned to break the nighttime snacking habit altogether in favor of a soothing cup of herbal tea. "People like me just need something to do,'' she observed.

Maybe you're a Remote Controller, a Nonbeliever, a Flip-Flopper or an Almost Achiever — pick your situation, and you'll see tips tailored to you.

The book is packed with beautifully photographed recipes that are fairly simple and appealing even for nondieters.

That's entirely by design.

"This is permanent,'' Stone said a few minutes before yet another interview. "It's a lifestyle you can maintain, even with a crazy busy schedule.''