Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Oatmeal, Sweets & Workouts! Oh my!

Q&A Wednesday: Oatmeal, Sweets & Workouts! Oh my!

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Let’s go!

Q: Is it better to change my diet and lose weight THEN work out, or do them both at the same time?

My personal opinion is to slowly accommodate both at the same time. Make one modification at a time, see how it feels in your life and change it accordingly, then slowly add to or modify the other. So for example, if you begin with walking, see how you can fit that into your life. Then, spend time slowly converting to brown rice and finding ways to enjoy it. Then venture out into weight training.

The goal is to avoid overwhelming yourself, because this is about a sustainable lifestyle commitment.. not “losing 5lbs to fit into that dress.” ‘Cause even if it was just five pounds, you’d still need to make some changes in your current lifestyle to make sure that you don’t put on or keep those five pounds again. Make sense?

Q: How effective is oatmeal in a diet? Does it make you gain weight?

First, to clarify. When I, personally, talk about oatmeal, I’m not referring to those packets with the “fruit” and sweet flavors. I’m talking about plain oatmeal, possibly with cinnamon or a little vanilla extract.

Anything in unnecessary excess will make you gain weight. That said… because oatmeal is usually replacing something much more sugary, much more fatty, much less healthy… adding it to the diet for breakfast will absolutely serve as a tool for weight loss. A half cup of regular slow cooked oats is something like 150 calories? Shoot, go for it.

Q: How do you control cravings for sweets?

I find that I had a much more difficult time controlling my cravings when I was eating processed foods. I mean, my baking is awesome (humble much?) but because it doesn’t have the chemicals that you’d find in most processed foods – chemicals that are engineered to make it difficult to resist those foods – I’m able to better control my cravings for sugar. Shoot, I have a much harder time with salt than I do anything else! (And for that, I keep cashews and sunflower seeds on deck!)

So for starters, I’d learn to appreciate your own baking ability. If you can’t do that, seek out less addictive means of getting your sweetness – fruits! They have the natural ability to sweeten your tongue, along with the natural combination of nutrients to help you feel satisfied without quite the same negative affect on the body.

Q: What’s better – weight training or cardio?

In short? Both! Get some of both of ’em!

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Thembi May 12, 2010 - 11:42 AM

I, begrudgingly, subscribed to your blog a few weeks ago. Me? Guide to weight loss? You mean I need such tools? Hunh?

Not only do I LOVE what you’re doing here but getting daily tips and commentary really help me stay on track with my journey. You’re a great writer and such an inspiration!

That said, you could write a whole post about oatmeal. I add applesauce, raisins, a tbsp of crushed nuts, honey and/or a banana to mine in different combinations every day. It never gets old and always ends up with 6 weight watchers points or less!

Erika May 12, 2010 - 12:16 PM

Aww, wowzers (yes, I’m a nerd)! Thank you so very much for that! 🙂

We might just have to do a post about oatmeal! I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who’d love to get away from the processed cereals. Shoot, breakfast in itself would be a good thing to discuss.

Thanks so much for commenting! I hope to see ya around more! 🙂

Joy May 12, 2010 - 12:30 PM

I absolutely LOVED this post. No shade at your other posts; they’re all awesome, but this one struck a nerve. I tried Weight Watchers and while it gave me some great information, I took on too much at one time. I had goals that were way too big (lose 5 pounds) and failed to understand that I have to start small and change one thing about my lifestyle at a time. I managed to curb my soda habit from a MINIMUM of 2 a day to 2 a month. If I want a soda, I drink Canada Dry Cranberry Ginger Ale. Not sure about the WW points, but it’s really good. I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing:)

Erika May 12, 2010 - 12:35 PM

LOL Joy, I understand! Thank you so much for the comments!

I have my personal gripes with Weight Watchers, but I agree that there’s nice information in there.

Seriously, KUDOS on being able to kick the soft drink habit – the stuff (unless diluted by alcohol – I’m just keepin’ it real) burns my nose and is far too salty for me, now. I JUST got my Mom to get closer to kicking the habit.. and the first thing she said? “Gosh, the less I drink pop, the better water tastes to me!” Go figure, LOL.

I’m glad the Q&A helped! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

Kaneka August 20, 2013 - 9:56 AM

Love the fact that you said “pop” here!!! Such a midwestern term!

Tasha May 12, 2010 - 12:34 PM

Thanks so much for this ENTIRE website! I t-totally agree about the breakfast post. I usually fall HARD at breakfast time and it messes up my whole day. I have the mentality of “oh well, I messed up breakfast I may as well eat what I want today and try again tomorrow”…well we know that tomorrow NEVER comes and next thing I know I am on the scale looking at 260lbs AGAIN! uggggghhhhhhhh

I tried to do the egg/whites and oatmeal for breakfast as suggested on another site, and found myself BORED within a few days. Once I got to that point I didn’t feel bad eating the bacon, texas toast, and scrambled eggs that I REALLY wanted LOL. However, the variations described above by Thembi seem doable!

Thank you again Erika 🙂

Erika May 12, 2010 - 12:46 PM


Thanks for commenting! I’m very familiar with the egg whites/oatmeal breakfast deal. It’s a common bodybuilder diet. They eat an extremely structured diet – strict and regimented – and after they compete… they binge. It’s the “off season vs in season” routine. Unfortunately, [while the average American DOES have unhealthy habits they need to get in check,] the average American can’t live like that for the rest of their lives.

The reality is that ALL diets work – if, by work, you mean assist in weight loss. The PROBLEM with that reality is that diets are SO structured that there’s a sustainability issue. This is why we keep talking about lifestyle changes, not diets. Maybe we really DO need an oatmeal post? LOL!

Bluebee May 12, 2010 - 1:23 PM

I started Oatmeal breakfast in the morning at the beginning of 2010 and it has done wonders. I’ve actually lost 10 pounds that I’ve been struggling to loose for 1 year and now the weight keeps coming off. (I also swim a half a mile every morning and just added running/walking 3 1/2 mile a day too)
I take Raw whole oats,put it in a bowl and pour boiling hot apple juice (unsweetened) over the oats and let it sit for a few minutes. You can add nuts, raisins, etc whatever you want(no brown sugar, the apple juice sweetens it up nicely. It’s so good.
I love your blog.. Keep up the good work.. 🙂 and THANK YOU for helping everyone with a healthy way to loose weight.

Erika May 12, 2010 - 1:47 PM

You know, I was actually glaring at the raw oats yesterday in the store, because I need to prepare once my current bag of oatmeal is done. I may have to give that a shot once I finish up with what I’ve got.

Thanks, Bluebee, for sharing that AND for the kind words! I’ll definitely have to give that a shot. 🙂

JoAnna May 12, 2010 - 2:07 PM

I just love your blog!
I worked on my diet first, then added exercise. I got suckered into yoga with a good friend. Who knew that stretching and holding positions would cause major sweating and soreness? I looked like I had hiked 2 miles! After he quickly moved up to the next class level (leaving my coordination challenged butt behind), I dropped it as I wanted a workout partner to keep me committed. After trying in vain to find a regular exercise buddy, I just started swimming solo laps in a local pool. I plan on adding 2 laps per week and different strokes. The pool is free, and I don’t get that awful knee pain from walking around the track that I did with another exercise buddy. Also, lots of my Black women friends have hair issues when it concerns a pool, or sweating and perms. ‘Nuff said. Mine is cut really short so I don’t care. Can’t wait until I can yoga back into my weekly exercise schedule!

I’m also finding out that my Blood glucose levels are smack in the middle of normal (like 80-100) on the days I swim. When I eat a good breakfast (Kashi cereal/granola or yogurt and a protein and fruit), I don’t crave Frankenfoods or surgary snacks the rest of the day. Smelling grilled meats from a restaurant will always draw me but I can now tell the difference between hunger and just wanting to eat it. My one weakness is thick cut smoked bacon. I don’t need eggs or pancakes. Just bacon! But as long as I don’t buy it, I don’t eat it.

I have a friend who is very BAD for my diet. She wears a size 8, and is 5’10” and can eat anything. Just before I cleaned out my cabinets, she fried green tomatoes, baked 2 lbs of thick baconsprinkled with brown sugar, and made pancakes. I told her that this was our last meal together until I lost the first 25 lbs. And then only once a month. She’s a sweetheart, but doesn’t get how easy it is for me to fall back into my old Popeye’s, mac & cheese, double Coldstone scoop ways.

I think the nicest thing about this lifestyle change is when people who haven’t seen me a while ask me what new diet I’m on and how did I lose my weight and then don’t believe that I only changed my diet a bit, added exercise and started doing things that made me happy that weren’t food based. I was even asked if I had a lapband or got perscription drugs! I used to be a size 30/32. I’m down 70lbs to a 22/24, which averages out to about 1 dress size every 20lbs. Looking forward to slipping into a pair of size 20 jeans by Christmas!

Erika May 12, 2010 - 6:44 PM

Wow, Joanna! You said all KINDS of good stuff in there. I’m impressed! I have yet to learn to swim, but with moving closer to the coast now it’s definitely on my list!

Talk about a testimonial! Thank you so much for sharing all this! I KNOW you’re gonna get to where you’re going if you keep up THAT mentality!

Kellye February 28, 2011 - 12:56 PM

Wow! JoAnna, I’m embarking on a similar journey and would like to talk! [I hope this isn’t breaking any rules, if so, my bad Erika :o)] but my email is salserakonsabor AT gmail.com…

cjbrownsc May 12, 2010 - 2:54 PM

Ah yes, I really do love oatmeal!
I eat it about 5 days a week with mostly brown sugar, nuts, and dried fruit. But Starbucks will not be getting my $2.65 for oatmeal any longer. I bought my own raw oats today (2 boxes for $5) and will be cooking it myself.
I haven’t tried it with cinnamon or vanilla, but that along with the unsweetened apple juice sounds like a winner.
But I’ve noticed that it keeps me full until lunchtime where the sugary cereal that I was previously eating had me craving more sweets before 10:00am!

Erika May 12, 2010 - 6:45 PM

LOL Yes! Shoutout to saving an extra $8 dollars a week buying your own and making it the homemade way! And they say you can’t save money eating healthier. 😉

Rita May 12, 2010 - 4:46 PM

I’m a fan of oatmeal! I usually do it very simple thought, raisins and a drop of honey but I’m curious to try it with apple juice.

Another great post Erika!

JoAnna May 13, 2010 - 12:33 AM

I like hot oatmeal when it’s cold outside. Do you have a recipe for homemade granola? There’s just something about crunchy cereal and cold milk (or Lactaid for me now that I’m older)when the temperatures rise above 50 degrees. Crunchy box cereal is the one thing I don’t know how to make at home.

Erika May 13, 2010 - 11:20 AM

I sure do – I’ll have to post that to the site. If you’re subscribed (either via e-mail or by RSS feed) you get all of the recipes right when I post ’em. 🙂

Bluebee May 13, 2010 - 11:20 AM

I know for me when I started swimming every morning in 07 I was totally in to fast food, fried food, the big fancy drinks from Starbucks with extra whip cream…. then as time passed on I slowly started loosing the taste for the drinks from Starbucks….I still need my coffee, but now it’s coffee,a little milk and some sugar, then I started loosing the taste fast foods. I think for me that the more I exercised the less I craved all the things I loved in the past. Don’t get me wrong I do get a craving for some of those things from time to time but I’ve found that if I do try to satisfy those cravings even with a half a can of soda or a kids meal from a fast food restaurant I feel bloated and sick for a few hours after and I regret it. I’ve found other things and snacks to cure my cravings. I do notice the more I exercise the less I crave.

Tiffany April 11, 2013 - 1:35 PM

I am going through the EXACT same thing. I don’t crave fast food often but when I do I get a kids meal, but then I’m in a fetal position nursing my stomach for the rest of the night because my body cannot handle those types of foods any longer. It is frustrating sometimes though, especially those times where ur not sure if your body is going to agree with the food and I’m paying for it for the rest of the night.

Gail June 29, 2010 - 10:57 AM

HI, I do not have the craving for sweets, but I just have to have something going into my mouth. What can you do about snacking all the time. All I crave to do is snack, I do not know why.

Naa-Dei September 10, 2012 - 5:14 PM

Thanks for the info. I’ve been struggling with my weight on and off for years. I do have a serious sweet tooth and I do love baking. 🙂

Marquita September 12, 2012 - 10:29 AM

I just recently got the quacker oates oatmeal (from sams club if ure wondering). i decide to place a teaspoon of peanut butter just a tidbit of brownsugar and a few rasins for sweetness. Im gonna try this for two weeks just to see if it helps with cravings, fullness!!

FelicityR January 7, 2013 - 4:49 PM

Super excited for the Clean Eating Boot Camp! Question: I typically eat oatmeal for breakfast, but it’s the instant kind because I eat breakfast at work. Is this terrible? Is there any way that I can prepare the regular old oats at work? lol

Erika Nicole Kendall January 7, 2013 - 10:38 PM

Gosh, it is SO bad. No country for instant oatmeal. Do it the old school way. Really, you’ll be happier for it.

LJ January 8, 2013 - 9:11 AM

@Felicity; regular oatmeal does not need to be cooked to be eaten. I sometimes leave my oatmeal soaking overnight in a bowl of water and add cinnamon, chopped pecans and chopped dried fruit in the am. It can be eaten cold or heated up but I take mine to work in a small stainless steel thermos. I thinking of soaking it over night in unsweetened apple juice.

Tiffany April 11, 2013 - 1:26 PM


This is a very good post and I LOVE your website. My parents are from Panama so I grew up on hot cereal/porridge (oat meal, cormeal, rice, etc) so I can definitely appreciate all the good ideas from everyone. My question is, what is the difference between raw oatmeal and the Quaker Quick Oats or Old Fashion Oatmeal? Sorry if this is a stupid question…

Erika Nicole Kendall April 11, 2013 - 10:02 PM

WHEW. There is a MAJOR difference.

It’s not a stupid question at all. There’s a major difference between Quaker Instant Oats and Old Fashioned Oatmeal, let alone raw oats and Quaker Instant Oats.

For starters, the amount of sugar is incomparable. Secondly, the lack of fiber is ridiculous. The amount of excess unnecessary chemicals, too, is a big problem.

I guess this, too, could be a blog post. LOL

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