Melissa d'Arabian keeps her focus on small goals

Posted 6:06pm on Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013

Melissa d'Arabian can confirm that the old saying is true.

"The TV camera really does add 10 pounds," she says. "I know because almost everybody I ever meet says, 'Oh, wow, compared to TV, you're so tiny in real life!'"

The irony is that the camera adding 10 pounds does so on a show titled Drop 5 Lbs With Good Housekeeping.

D'Arabian, a former Keller resident who hit it big after winning The Next Food Network Star in 2009, is in her second season as host of Drop 5 Lbs, airing at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on Cooking Channel.

She also hosts Food Network's Ten Dollar Dinners.

When we chatted with d'Arabian this week about Drop 5 Lbs, she stressed that it's more than just a hosting gig for her. It's an opportunity to help people change their lives.

Do you like the fact that Drop 5 Lbs is about setting smaller, attainable weight-loss goals? Do you prefer that approach to, say, making a show called Drop 50 Lbs?

You've hit on it exactly. Half the battle is getting up in the morning and putting one foot in front of the other and focusing on these small goals. It's five pounds at a time. It's a small, achievable goal.

Long-term weight loss really involves a shift in lifestyle. It's not just a fad diet where you lose "x" pounds in 10 days. It's about a lifestyle that celebrates and honors health and feeling good about yourself.

It's about understanding what these vitamins and antioxidants are. Why are you eating all these vegetables anyway? Is it just because you want to be skinny? No. It's because they're health-supporting.

How did you happen to wind up hosting this show?

The show started out as a magazine column at Good Housekeeping. It was so popular that it became a book. And then, as with all good books, it became a movie. Well, a TV show.

Good Housekeeping and Cooking Channel partnered on that, and I got involved because the executive producer is also the producer of Ten Dollar Dinners. Also, I had met Rosemary Ellis [ Good Housekeeping's editor in chief] when she judged one of the challenges for Next Food Network Star.

I wanted to do it because I love Good Housekeeping. I love what they stand for. The magazine is about more than just recipes. It's about partnering with their readers on their paths to success.

What kind of feedback do you get from viewers? Do you get personal testimonials about how the show has helped people achieve weight-loss goals or helped them to maintain?

If it were just five years ago, the answer would be so different. But now, because of Twitter and Facebook and my website, I get immediate feedback. People have immediate access. No sooner has the episode aired than I'm getting emails and tweets from people using this show as an injection of inspiration.

They're pulling recipes for their menu plans for the week and they're building a tool kit for how they're going to lose the next five pounds and stay on their weight-loss goals and, even bigger, stay on their health goals. So, yes, I get immediate feedback and quite a lot of it.

There are a lot of people who think of the show as their partner in this journey.

There's been a bit of a format change this season. Do you like it?

This season runs almost like a talk-show format now. Aarti Sequeira [a fellow Next Food Network Star winner] is there and we have guests coming in. It has the feel of women hanging out together and sharing experiences. And the response has been tremendous. People are loving the feeling that they're hanging out with friends who want to help them succeed.

Given that the camera adds 10 pounds, is there pressure to watch your weight as host of a weight-loss-themed show?

Actually, for me, I think it adds 15! But no, I don't think there's pressure. The show is about being imperfect. I'm just like the people watching at home. I'm in my mid-40s and I have four kids.

When I see stories about this celebrity or that celebrity had a baby and now they're back in a bathing suit just three months later, well, great, good for them -- but that was not my experience at all. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, since I was 15.

And I think people like knowing that I'm imperfect. I think that's one of the ways I connect with other women: We're all the same. We're all just doing our best.

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