Eating for the Weight You Want to Be

If you’re been struggling with some extra pounds and are sick of diets that limit certain foods, Helena Collins may be able to help. With her book Nutritional Alignment (Living Your Life in Synergy Book 1), the Boston-based health expert and personal trainer educates readers on how to ditch the prescribed diet—and achieve a healthy weight.

How the Plan Works

Nutritional Alignment® presents a special formula and tips to help readers achieve and maintain their ideal weight. "The approach is about creating peace and freedom in your life while becoming empowered by all of the choices you have instead of being defeated by them," Collins explains. Her plan encourages people to eat for the bodies they want rather than the bodies they have, and allows them to indulge in their favorite foods, too.

Here's how it works: first, you identify your ideal weight, which should be in the healthy BMI (body mass index, a measure of body fat based on weight and height) range of 18.5 to 24.9. For a 5'5" woman, the healthy range would be between 111 pounds (a BMI of 18.5) and 149 pounds (a BMI of just under 25). To discover the healthy range for your height, visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's free online BMI calculator.

Once you've identified your ideal weight, multiple this number by 13 (if you're a woman) or 14 (if you're a man). The resulting number is your daily calorie target. So a woman who wants to weight 130 pounds should eat 1,690 calories (130 x 13) a day to get there. A woman whose goal is 150 pounds can eat 1,950 (150 x 13) calories per day. A man who wants to weigh 180 pounds can eat 2,520 (180 x 14) calories a day.

Eating for Your Ideal Weight

Unlike food plans like the Paleo diet, in which dairy products and refined sugars are off-limits, or the Mediterranean diet, which highlights fruits, vegetables, and olive oil, Nutritional Alignment® emphasizes not certain kinds of food but how many calories they contain. So a woman who wants to weigh 130 pounds can indulge in favorites like pizza (a quarter of a 10-inch thin crust cheese pizza at Domino's is 220 calories), wine (a five ounce glass of red or white wine is about 125 calories) and ice cream (a half cup of Edy's chocolate chip ice cream is 150 calories), and still have 1,195 calories left in her daily calorie allowance of 1,690 calories. She can spend the remainder on more nutritious foods, including protein, grains, vegetables, fruit, and plenty of water, which Collins says is important to consume every day.

Putting Experience into Action

Collins says that the premise of the book—to eat for the weight you want to be, rather than the weight you are—grew out of years of experience working in the fitness industry, as well as her own frustration living in a body that didn’t meet her own expectations.

I started in the fitness industry in a traditional way, managing a gym, building weight rooms, and training trainers," Collins explains. "Teaching a ton of cardio and doing endless silly diets. I noticed that not only was I continually frustrated, but so were my clients. No one was happy or enjoying themselves, and too often I would see a trainer screaming at the clients."

"I thought, this is abuse, not health," she recalls. "I thought about how I wanted to feel and be, and then I spent 30-plus years in research looking for a way to give me everything: A great body, a great life, and most importantly, the amazing feeling of knowing that I was in control of how I looked and felt. Once I discovered this, I could not wait to share it with others."

By using the Nutritional Alignment® plan to learn how to eat for your weight, "You learn how to live in 2016, with access to all of the delicacies that were unattainable as little as half a century ago," Collins points out. "By learning to live, you learn how to open a dialogue and real communication with your body. When I spend my calories (also known as fuel mileage) on ice cream, alcohol, cake, or pizza, the next day my body will ask me for a salad. Instead of forcing my body into a behavior, I have learned to work on my communication with it and my relationship with it."

She says that readers can expect a similar result. "As you adapt to your own Nutritional Alignment®, your own balance will emerge. One that is unique to you, your body, your life, and your emotions."

Nutritional Alignment® and Activity

While heavy-duty exercise is not a component of the plan, Collins advocates that women walk regularly and mindfully, which means paying attention to the sensations of your body as you move, grounding yourself in the moment and action. She herself walks daily, aiming for 10,000 steps per day. (You can use a fitness tracker, pedometer, or pedometer app if you want to count your own steps and aim for a similar goal.)

The bottom line, according to Collins, is that you can have it all. "You can be in control," she says. "You can live your life fully, with bacon, cocktails, pizza, kale salads, Brussels sprouts, and wine. Eating is not a challenge but a chance to nourish yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally."

Helena Collins reviewed this article.


Collins, Helena. Life in Synergy. Email interview, January 25, 2016.

Collins, Helena. Nutritional Alignment® (Living Your Life in Synergy). Life in Synergy Press, November 28, 2012.

"Body Mass Index Table I." National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Page accessed March 14, 2016.

"What to Eat on the Paleo Diet." The Paleo Diet. Page accessed March 18, 2016

"Mediterranean Diet." American Heart Association. Page accessed March 18, 2016.

"Edy's Grand Ice Cream Chocolate Chip." Edy's Ice Cream. Page accessed March 16, 2016.

"Nutritional Info Cal-O-Meter." Domino's Pizza. Page accessed March 16, 2016.

"Basic Report: 14106, Alcoholic Beverage, Wine, Table, White." United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Page accessed March 16, 2016.

Basic Report: 14096, Alcoholic Beverage, Wine, Table, Red." United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Page accessed March 16, 2016.