Devin Alexander is a chef, author and TV personality who believes that you don't have to deprive yourself of great food to be fit and healthy. Her bestselling books and involvement in the reality TV show The Biggest Loser are part of her mission to end the obesity epidemic in America. We caught up with Devin to learn more about her healthy eating philosophy.
Naturally Savvy Guide, Andrea Donsky: Devin, can you tell us about your approach to eating?
Devin Alexander: I always say "the more wholesome the food you eat, the better". I've catered parties that are all-natural, vegan, for all different types of diets. I believe people should do what's best for them. My personal way of eating is to eat as natural and organic as possible. I understand everyone still gets cravings for their favorite treats - I do too - but for the most part I try to keep with this principle.
Andrea: How did you become interested in cooking?
Devin Alexander: I have two Italian grandmothers. In high school I didn't make the cheerleading team and was ostracized for it. So I was at home a lot baking with my grandmothers and as a result I got heavy. Then I heard about about a theory - if you cut just 100 calories from your diet every day you can lose 10 pounds in a year. I thought this sounded like a really easy way to lose weight, especially after the yo-yo diets I'd tried previously. I started with simple things like grilling a chicken breast and adding marinara sauce and cheese instead of eating fried chicken Parmesan. Once I lost about 25 to 30 pounds I realized I could really do this. As the years went by, I started re-creating original, calorie-dense recipes so they tasted exactly the same but were much healthier.
Andrea: Like us, you are fortunate to have made your passion your career. Can you tell us how you went about doing this?
Devin Alexander: Studying theatre in college, I thought I was going to be a screen writer. So when I was recruited to L.A. by the TV Academy for a script I'd written, I was sure that was going to be my career. But when I started volunteering at charity events to make friends in L.A., celebrities figured out I could make healthy food that actually tasted great. They wooed me to be their private chef. Within months, I was in culinary school and fell into owning a catering business. After nine years of working for myself, I got tired of lugging groceries so I started writing for magazines. The next thing I knew, I had a book deal was the result of a column I wrote for Muscle and Fitness Magazine. I then started landing TV spots, which lead to my being on The Biggest Loser and to my cooking show Healthy Decadence with Devin Alexander on FitTV. Now, I can't imagine loving anything as much as I love my work today.
Andrea: How did you become the chef on The Biggest Loser?
Devin Alexander: I had been writing for magazines for years - which eventually led to my first book, Fast Food Fix. Meanwhile, I had appeared on Good Morning America and many other shows. So when the producers of Biggest Loser approached my publisher looking for someone who made healthy food fun and who had numerous TV appearances under their belt, they referred me.
Andrea: Besides your eating habits, what else do you do to stay healthy?
Devin Alexander: I don't spend hours in the gym. Instead I opt for more creative ways to remain active. Instead of sitting, I walk around the airport while I'm waiting for a plane. I have very little time to exercise so I wear a BodyBugg which tells me how many calories I am burning during the day. The BodyBugg is pretty elaborate if you take advantage of all its features. It's great because it monitors your activity levels. If you want to lose a certain number of pounds it will tell you what your calorie deficit should be. Now when I'm tired from flying all day and don't feel like going to the gym, I order take out as soon as I arrive in my hotel room and challenge myself to burn 200 calories before the food even arrives. The BodyBugg is great for Type A personalities, like me.
Andrea: How do you maintain balance in your life?
Devin Alexander: I go through phases when I actually don't maintain as much balance as I'd like to. But honestly, it doesn't always bother me because I LOVE what I do. I have a great team working with me who actually turns off the lights at the end of the day so I'll go home. I schedule appointments to work out. I make my social life about something more than sitting and having a coffee or a martini - we will go for walks or do something healthy. Walking around with friends and breathing in the fresh air recharges me.
Andrea: Tell me about your charity work. I heard you are working on a program for young girls.
Devin Alexander: Kitchen Butterflies...Transforming Lives with Cooking is a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of America. I'm going to be mentoring six girls, showing them how to lose weight the same way I did. We are filming the whole thing. This to me is so much fun. We will also be working out with the girls. Not only will I be working for a worthy cause, but I'll be exercising at the same time too!
Andrea: Thanks Devin for speaking with us and sharing your recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Brownie Cups.
To learn more about Devin's story and her approach to eating, check out her book The Most Decadent Diet Ever!. You can also visit www.DevinAlexander.com to see what new things she's working on, including an upcoming line of baked goods for restaurants.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NaturallySavvy.com. She is passionate about living a natural and organic lifestyle and reading food labels. She is a mom to three beautiful children who love ground flaxseed & fish oil.
As a pioneer and visionary in the health food industry, Andrea Donsky’s passion is to inspire people to make enlightened choices for healthy living. Andrea has combined her background and expertise as both a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and an entrepreneur, to educate the public on living an organic and non-GMO lifestyle through the creation of her businesses, books, articles, videos, speeches, and media appearances. Among her numerous publications, Andrea co-authored Unjunk Your Junk Food published by Simon & Schuster, as well as two e-books entitled “Label Lessons: Your Guide To A Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.”
Andrea Co-hosts Naturally Savvy Radio on RadioMD.com, a live show every Wednesday. She appears regularly as a healthy living expert on TV and radio across North America. Her segments have aired on all major networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, Univision, WGN, Better TV, City TV, CTV, CBC, and Global.
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