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Resolve to get in better shape in 2014

Personal trainer Melissa Panzarella, of Getzville, suggests eating more foods like this, a capered quinoa salad, with lemon wedges. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

Want to feel better during the new year?

For many of us, that will lead to resolutions to lose weight and exercise more.

That’s where folks like Melissa Panzarella – the subject of today’s “What are you eating?” feature in WNY Refresh – comes in.

Panzarella, 38, lives in Getzville with her husband C.J. and their children, Mariana, 12, Ava, 9, and Tommy, 6.

Melissa is a personal trainer and nutrition consultant who started as a running group coach, a specialty she continues. She will run a New Year’s Boot Camp and “Biggest Loser” competition starting Jan. 6 and said interest has been brisk. Find out more at

Meanwhile, here are some tips she will give to folks in those classes:

1. Track your food: “It’s really a great tool to see what you’re eating,” she said. “Nobody wants to do it. It is a pain in the neck to do, but when you track your food, if you’re writing it down in a journal, you just know what’s going in your mouth.

“There’s also so many different apps you can use. I always tell people to use myfitnesspal. That’s the one I tend to use. I don’t think people realize what they’re eating until they start tracking it. You put one of your kid’s Cheese Puffs in your mouth and you don’t realize you’re eating it if you’re not writing it down. My clients have a lot of success with tracking. People tend to eat pretty much the same and after a month you know what you're taking in. If you stop and gain weight, you can track again.”

2. Eat clean: “My diet consists of a lot of chicken, a lot of fish, a lot of green vegetables,” Panzarella said. “I try to put spinach and kale in different protein shakes. I’m trying to get my kids to do it, too, but as soon as I see that it’s green, it’s a little bit of an issue. I also love sweet potatoes. I eat a lot of nuts, a lot of raw almonds, walnuts. I eat a lot of lentils and black beans. I eat a lot of quinoa. I eat a lot of eggs.

3. Eat enough: “I think people think they have to be hungry and that’s the only way they’re going to lose weight,” Panzarella said. “When I help people with their nutrition plans, they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a lot of food!’ You have to feed yourself. You’re exercising, you have to make sure that you’re eating right, you’re eating a healthy amount of food."

4. Embrace – don’t cringe over – a healthier lifestyle: “Some people feel like, alright, I’m on this diet, I can never eat another cookie,” Panzarella said. “Ninety percent of the time, I stick to a good, clean-eating diet and the other 10 percent, I like to live my life, too. If I want to have fun and have a glass of wine, I’ll have a glass of wine. If I’m at a party and want one of my cookies, I’ll eat one of my cookies. I’m not going to eat a plate of them. I feel a lot of people, if they don’t have it and they feel like they’re depriving themselves, they want even more. But if you know you can have one, you’re going to have one and then you’re going to be done with it.”

See more tips in today's WNY Refresh in The Buffalo News print editon.

Why don’t most people stick with their New Year’s resolutions?

“I feel like it’s just not interesting to them,” Panzarella said. “When I go into my gym, there’s so many people there in January and February, and in March you can have any treadmill in the place. I just feel like people don’t know what to do, they don’t know where to begin. People my age, who are moms, feel like we get to the point where you want fitness to be a bit of a social outing and you want people to help you and tell you what to do. That’s why I feel my groups have really started to grow.

“The women and the men who come in, they hold each other accountable, they’re all motivating. We’ve become this great group of friends, and a I think that’s what keeps people wanting to come back. They enjoy it, they have fun.”

What’s the healthiest way to lose the weight you may have gained over the holidays?

“Just being dedicated, being consistent,” she said. “It’s not about losing weight or dieting, it’s about changing your lifestyle and just being healthier. It’s about thinking about being around longer, being around to do stuff with your kids. All of a sudden, it changes your perspective.”


Twitter: @BNrefresh

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh |