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Home cooked weight-loss clicks with blogger Audrey Johns

Published September 24, 2012
Paso Robles Press/Atascadero News

It’s amazing what a little home cooking can do – both for your wallet and your figure.
Local health blogger Audrey Johns knows this secret all too well. After dropping 150 pounds in 2011, she vowed to share her clean-cooking weight-loss approach with the world.
The best part? Johns encourages you to actually eat, not just diet.
Her health blog, www.tonetiki.com,  is chock full of tasty, healthy recipes, step-by-step cooking videos and no-nonsense tips focused on putting real-life ingredients to use. Her recipes are purged of chemicals, preservatives or artificial sweeteners, focusing instead on nutrient-rich, naturally satisfying foods. Johns said making the switch to three home-cooked meals a day took some trial and error, but it paid off.
“I enjoyed the ritual of cooking and taking better care of myself, but, most of all, I enjoyed the food,” Johns said. “I started with a simple toast with almond butter and bananas for breakfast to now a bowl of slow-cooked steel cut oatmeal with nuts and fruits soaked in almond butter. I taught myself to cook, and with that, how to lose weight.”
Johns has faced her fair share of weight troubles.
At her largest, the Atascadero resident and mother of one weighed in at 275 pounds, donning a size 20. Seeing the slender, bubbly woman today, you’d never know. Johns is now just 120 pounds with a svelte, size four frame. Most importantly, she looks happy
“I hated how I looked and how I felt. I have tried every diet out there, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Atkins, sugar-free, fat-free, calorie counting, you name it, I’ve tried it,” Johns said. “Sometimes I would lose a little weight, but inevitably something happened; I gave up and gained it back, plus more.”
Clean, home cooking finally gave Johns the results she so desperately hoped to achieve. The amateur cook said a lot of the credit goes to cutting out frozen “health foods,” her beloved Diet Coke and Lean Cuisines included. The first week Johns gave up Diet Coke, 10 pounds fell off.
“I found that when I stopped eating all processed foods  anything with chemicals, preservatives and artificial sweeteners  and increased my water intake, the weight just started to fall off,” Johns said. “I had been struggling to lose weight eating frozen ‘diet’ meals and diet sodas all day every day, eating under 1,000 calories all along starving and gaining weight. Now, I was eating real food every day and drinking lots of water. My calorie count went up to 1,200-1,400, and the weight flew off and has stayed off.”
Johns now invites others struggling with their weight to take a cue from her success story.
“I wanted to tell people that a diet that leaves you feeling deprived is not a diet you be a part of because feeling deprived for the rest of your life is not a reasonable way to eat. I started by sharing my recipes, and in nine months it has evolved into a Virtual Cookbook/ Weight Loss Book/ Cooking Channel with more than 1,200 followers and 650,000 views,” Johns said. Her Facebook page boasts 850 followers.
If her online testimonials are any indication, she’s doing something right. Johns gets about 20 emails a day from people all across the globe looking for help.
Last June, one of her blog followers posed a bit of thanks.
“This approach to nutrition is so rational and seems very doable, I love it! I started with the chocolate syrup last night, and it is perfect in my coffee this morning. I’m thinking your pizza crust is next, and I can’t wait. You have given me just the inspiration I needed to make some common sense, healthy changes for myself and my family.”
Johns started the blog with her recipes for whole-cooked chicken, fresh salad dressings, baked goods and even delicious, low-calorie cocktails. Then, she moved on to health philosophy. A few tips she tells all her followers are as follows: Drink more water (as close to a gallon as possible), cut out processed foods and fake sugars (that goes for 100 calorie snack packs and other so-called diet foods) and move your body more.
“Instead of having a 100 calorie snack pack, have a banana: nature’s 100-calorie pack,” Johns said. As for moving more, the blog isn’t hyper-focused on working out, although it does promote healthy activity. Johns suffers from a rare nerve disorder that prevents her from working out on a regular basis.
“I can hardly walk some days or shake someone’s hand some days,” she said. “My workout is my physical therapy or running after my daughter. All it you have to do is move your body more. If you make an effort every day to move a little bit more, it’s better.”
Johns focuses more instead on what she puts into her-and her family’s- bodies. Her husband dropped quite a bit of weight after the switch to home-cooking.
“My lifestyle now is so much cheaper and such a better way of life,” said Johns. “I love that I am teaching my daughter how to be a better person and how to eat better. My husband and I have always had weight problems, so I want to give her the tools young.”
At age 3, John’s daughter helps her mom cook around the kitchen. She even makes a few cameos in her mom’s how-to video blogs. This, coupled with the emails and responses she gets on a daily basis, make John’s work worth it.
The blogger encourages locals to get involved (she hosts weekly weight loss competitions for her followers). Sponsorships and maybe even a cookbook may be in her future, but Johns said she’s already done what she set out to do.
“If I get to give back to people, I am so happy with that,” she said. “My goal is just to help people and teach them what I learned. I want to help them by allowing the lose weight.”
Watch out for John’s video blog coverage of Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast. All the juicy tidbits, recipes and even tips on “skinny wine tasting” can be found at www.tonetiki.com.