Hi everybody!

This is Chef Isabella. Let me tell you a little about me.

I was born and raised in Italy; I knew I wanted to be a chef at the age of 8. I come from a family of cooks (but nobody in the business). You know how those Italians are–all about food and wine! I went to culinary school and I started working in restaurants at 17. It was a passion of mine then and it’s still a real passion. When I get to cook and be in the kitchen, I’m a happy girl.

I was the chef at an Italian restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan when Florine asked me to work for her, I have to tell you that I was a little hesitant and I’m not afraid of too much. I knew she’d want me to create and prepare low PointsPlus® value meals.  This was something I wasn’t used to and I didn’t want to have to change the way of expressing myself with food. But, I ended up embracing the opportunity and went into my new career with gusto.

To start off on the right foot (and with Florine’s foot giving me the little kick I needed), I joined Weight Watchers®. The first time I got on the scale and looked at the ‘number,’ I remember swearing to myself  (my one vice!) and asking “How did I get to weigh this much?” Then I took a deep breath and said, “OK, Isa, go sit down, be quiet and see how this whole Weight Watchers thing goes.”

I remember one day during my first week as a member looking at fresh fruit and a box of cookies in my kitchen. I kept going back and forth, thinking what to do. Finally, good sense prevailed and I grabbed the fruit. UMMMMM! Really good! (“I made the right choice, good job Isa, you did it!”) Ten minutes went by and I found myself devouring a chocolate chip cookie. What? Whatever!

The truth was that I wasn’t really taking the program seriously enough.  I knew I really had to change my mindset and start doing what I learned at the meetings. Baby steps, just like Bob, (Remember Bob? You know, from the movie “What About Bob” with Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss?) So that’s what I did; I took it slowly. I began to change my eating routine one step at a time. (I really believe that the slower the change, the better chance you have to keep the changes. I incorporated more proteins, (a good thing if you work out on a regular basis) and made sure to eat more fiber, complex carbs and those fruits and vegetable things. Sure I like pasta, but I don’t have it five times a week now and being the Italian that I am, I still get to have my wine. Oh yeah, and dessert. The difference now is that I write what I eat (and drink) down, stay within the plan and really watch my portion sizes.  I’m proud to tell you that after I “got serious,” I began to lose weight and I’m only a couple pounds away from my “dream” goal weight!  I love what Weight Watchers has brought into my life!

Now, with my culinary expertise, my Weight Watchers expertise and my gift of gab, I’m committed to offering members, and anyone else who wants to learn more about healthy cooking, what I know and love. I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking and meal prep doesn’t have to be boring, stressful, costly and time-consuming. I promise.  In fact, it can (and is) quite the opposite of all those things!

As you embrace a healthier lifestyle, you really need to understand how things work and realize that YOU actually have the POWER to change things and still enjoy life pleasures (food in this case). It might be hard at first especially if you’re the only one in your house who is making the commitment to eat right. Believe me, I hear it all the time! You feel like you have to buy and make different food to accommodate everyone in the family. You mission is to ask yourself, “why?” Ok, you might be saying to yourself, “Hey, that’s easy for you to say,” but it really isn’t all that complicated. I have a husband and 3 cats. Whatever food I make, he eats! Sure he can have an extra piece of garlic bread. I WON’T. He can have 4 ounces of pasta; I ONLY HAVE 2. He will eat 8 pieces of bacon, I WILL HAVE ONE AND A HALF. And there are things that he doesn’t like at all, like ground turkey, I make it only for myself and I can enjoy it for the next couple of days. Like ourselves, we need to train our family to eat better.. Don’t give up too soon, take a break with them once in a while, and bring food back in a different way.

Be organized. Members tell me, IT’S EASY FOR ME to prepare meals because I’m a chef.  Well, guess what? YOU are your own personal chef (and maybe your family’s or partner’s, too) so you better get organized. That’s really the hardest part. Plan your meals for the next 3 to 4 days and then go grocery shopping for whatever you need to make these meals. Remember to put POWER FOODS in your cart. When you can, prepare a few things ahead of time and always have some backup plans to use leftovers. The more you exercise your mind with this kind of mentality, the easier it will get.

Look at food magazines, cookbooks and the internet, not only for healthy recipes, but for inspiration. Try new foods and new ways of preparing foods. If you try a new recipe and it goes wrong, well, suck it up and move on! You’ll know what to do or not to do next time! Think outside the box! If you don’t start changing your way of thinking and doing things, you will fall into a boring routine. Boredom can lead to self-sabotage!

Cooking at home is a real plus. It’s cheaper than going to a restaurant and once you get the hang of cooking, it tastes much better too. Preparing food in your own kitchen is easier on your budget and the biggest plus is that you have all the control under YOUR fingertips. You know exactly what you put in a dish and can figure out the PointsPlus value.

Hey, we always seem to be able to adjust to change, especially if the change will bring about something we really want. Well, we want to be healthy, within our BMI range, happy and in control of food, instead of it controlling us. We want to look good in those jeans! Yeah, we love food and we’re not embarrassed by that or going to change our appreciation of it. We’re just going to enjoy it in a way that is good for us AND our taste buds. Start making the program work better for you today! No matter if you’re a man, woman or teen, get in the kitchen and start stirring some exciting things up in your life!