Lose a pound a day on the revolutionary California Spa Plan that makes you feel full!
by Bonnie Siegler
Woman's World
January 22, 2002

After 20+ years of dieting, Tracey Ross sampled a glazed doughnut…and then couldn’t stop sampling. A couple of extra pounds became a couple of extra sizes. “I went to pieces,” she sighs. “It wasn’t just the way I looked. I felt slower and older.” Shakes, workouts and fat-burning pills all failed to restore her figure and energy. So she checked into a local spa – and learned four easy tricks that shrunk her back down to size…

From the moment she landed her role as Passions’ long-suffering Dr. Eve Russell, “I began gaining weight,” confesses actress Tracey Ross. “Before that, I played glamour girls and had to be thin. But on Passions, I was playing a mother, and nobody cared about my weight. It was the first time in my working life I could eat a doughnut without anyone raising an eyebrow.”

So Tracey took advantage. “I figured that if half a glazed doughnut was good, then three were better,” she recalls. “After 20-plus years of reigning myself in, it felt good.” As Tracey gained 10, 11, 12 pounds, she was delighted that no one seemed to notice. But the numbers on the scale kept creeping higher – and her delight faded.

Fast-forward a few months: “I would look in the mirror and say, ‘You need to take some weight off,’” she recalls. “I looked older, and felt older too. I felt slower and less energetic, and stopped exercising.”

Eager to be lean and healthy again, she quickly discovered…weight-loss strategies that don’t work. Tracey tried meal-replacement shakes and diet pills, but couldn’t stick with them. “And I exercised until I was in pain,” she sighs. “After that, I’d come up with any excuse not to go to the gym.” So the pounds kept coming. Then one day on the set, Tracey was getting a snack when she heard costar Ben Masters say, “Put that doughnut down. You don’t need it!” Her illusion that no one had noticed the extra pounds crumbled. “I just went to pieces,” Tracey says. And she decided she could use some professional help putting them back together. She ended up at the Oaks at Ojai, a no-frills California spa. In less than a week, her weight worries were over!

The Oaks at Ojai was founded by Sheila Cluff, who once struggled with extra pounds herself. For the past 25 years, her team of experts has helped women like Tracey focus on a few simple strategies proven to get results – fast results.

“Guests who come to the Oaks drop an average of two pounds in three days,” says low-fat chef Eleanor Brown. “We’ve seen some who’ve been eating high sodium diets lose even more – as much as a pound a day.” Of course, that’s while feasting on foods like fajitas, pasta and brownies. Sure, nature hikes, yoga and other activities help guests burn extra calories – but that’s not the key to the astonishing fat melting that goes on. Food is the key: learning to use it as a weapon against hunger and cravings, learning to make 1,000 calories taste like 2,000.

“Their plan did it for me,” says Tracey, who lost five pounds during her six-day stay, and another 13 in the following two weeks – two full sizes in just three weeks! “Considering I don’t cook, I was surprised how well I did once I got home.” All she had to do was…

Curb hidden hunger. Each morning, Oaks’ guests receive vitamins with breakfast. Of course, they contain nutrients such as vitamin C, known to speed metabolism. But the primary benefit of a daily dose of nutrients, says Brown, is that well-nourished dieters feel less hungry and experience fewer cravings. When your body is short on zinc, for example, it signals hunger for zinc-rich red meat. You might misinterpret this as a hankering for a fast-food burger – wolfing down 1,000 calories when a multivitamin would have worked.

Brown also notes that it’s even better to bolster your nutrient supply by eating meals full of natural foods.

So what effect did all these nutrients have on Tracey’s yearning for doughnuts? “It disappeared,” she smiles.

Double up on fiber. “Fiber slows digestion, so you feel full longer,” says Brown. In fact, research at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital showed that just eight grams of fiber at breakfast reduces hunger by 30% at lunch.

That’s why a typical day of eating at the Oaks provides 30-40 grams of fiber. “You have bran muffins, fruit, cut-up vegetables, popcorn,” Tracey recalls. All of these filling choices have one important thing in common, she says – they’re almost impossible to overeat!

Take high potassium broth breaks. Studies have shown that no food provides more satisfaction for fewer calories than soup. That’s why Oaks dieters take a daily “broth” break. “Our broth provides 4 grams of fiber per 30-calorie cup,” says Brown. The Oaks’ broth comes with another bonus too: lots of potassium, a natural diuretic, which helps the body rid itself of water-weight– and look skinny faster.

“They’d have this broth mid-morning,” recalls Tracey. “You drink it, and feel full.” For the easy recipe, see below.

Use the easiest, most excuse-proof exercise. At the spa, Tracey started her days with a brisk walk. “I loved taking them, and it was something I could stick with because I enjoyed it.” Sticking with it is the key, notes Brown, which is why morning and walking is such a powerful combination. Studies show that we’re 75% less likely to skip morning workouts.

“A few pounds here and there doesn’t make much difference when you’re going up, but on my way down, every pound was a big accomplishment for me,” says Tracey. “When I got a size 6 on, I had a big smile on my face.”

We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we’ve worked with Tracey and the folks at the Oaks to bring you what you need to get great results, too. Just follow the yummy meal plan on the following pages and watch the pounds disappear!

- Bonnie Siegler

 Photo caption: Extra pounds not only made Tracey look plump, “they made me look old,” says the star, who whisked off two sizes in no time flat. “I not only lost weight, I lost a few years, too. Plus, I have so much energy now. I feel like a kid again!”


This menu makes 1,000 calories taste fattening!

Low-fat chef Eleanor Brown, author of Healthy Cooking for Singles and Doubles, teaches spa-goers how to get amazing flavor and feel full for a minimum of calories. “We put lots of fruit and vegetables on our plates because if a meal looks skimpy, you won’t feel satisfied after you’ve eaten it,” says the expert. “We also allow dieters to snack frequently. After all, how can you feel deprived if you’re eating all the time?” You won’t! Yet the menu below averages about 1,000 calories, depending on your choices. And you’ll get fewer than 20 grams of fat.

For dinner each night, you can prepare one of Brown’s suggestions or make something simpler. “Dinner could be some simple grilled chicken or fish with steamed vegetables, brown rice and salad,” says Tracey. “Just sprinkle on herbs and spices for flavor.”

As with any new plan, be sure to get your doctor’s okay before you begin.


*1 low-fat, whole-grain muffin (100-125 calories), such as Trader Joe’s Blueberry Wheat Bran, or 1 cup oatmeal

*1 cup fresh fruit

*1 multi-vitamin


*1 serving High-Potassium Vegetable Broth (see recipe below)


*Soup with Fresh Spinach: Heat any low-sodium canned soup according to package directions. Fill a large mug with ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves; microwave on High for 30 seconds or until wilted. Pour hot soup over the spinach and serve. If you wish, you may substitute frozen broccoli for the spinach.

* 3 oz. grilled chicken, poached salmon or lean sliced beef over 3 cups of your favorite salad greens, sliced vegetables – and even chopped fruit, such as grapes and oranges. Drizzle with 2 Tbs. Raspberry Vinaigrette (see recipe below) or prepared fat-free dressing

* 1 piece of your favorite fruit


*Unlimited assorted raw vegetables with 2 Tbs. Creamy Cheese Dip (see recipe below) or fat-free dressing


*1-2 cups salad with 1 Tbs. Raspberry Vinaigrette or fat-free dressing

* 1 low-fat entrée, prepared with 3 oz. of lean meat, fish or poultry; ½ cup starch, such as brown rice or pasta; and unlimited vegetables

* 1 75-calorie serving of your favorite low-fat dessert, such as a Brownie to Live For (see recipe below), or 2 low-fat cookies

* 1 cup flavored decaffeinated coffee


*3 cups air-popped popcorn


*Sliced fresh fruit, decaf and regular coffee, herbal teas and water



The Oaks at Ojai High-Potassium Broth

½ cup diced potato

1 ½ cups mixed vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, spinach, celery and peas

2 ½ cups water

Sodium-free seasoning blend to taste

In pot over medium heat combine all ingredients except seasoning and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Cool and puree in blender or food processor until very smooth. Reheat in microwave or on stove top; season to taste.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving:

30 cals.; 1 g protein; 0 g fat (0 g saturated); 0 mg chol.; 7 g carbs.; 105 mg sodium; 4 g fiber; 2 g sugar


Raspberry Vinaigrette

1 cup water

2 Tbs honey

1 Tbs arrowroot (available at health-food stores)

½ cup raspberry vinegar

½ Tbs stone-ground mustard

In a pan over low heat combine water, honey and arrowroot; stir until mixture thickens. In separate bowl, combine vinegar and mustard; mix well. Whisk into honey mixture. Chill before serving.

Makes 27 Tbs. Per Tbs:

7 cals.; 0 g fat (0 g saturated); 2 mg chol.; 2 g carbs.; 4 mg sodium; 0 g fiber; 1 g sugar


Creamy Cheese Dip

1 oz. any cheese

1 ½ cups cottage cheese

Place cheese in blender until finely crumbled. Add cottage cheese and process until mixture is smooth as cream cheese.

Makes 24 Tbs. Per Tbs.:

15 cals.; 2 g protein; 1 g fat (0 g saturated); 2 mg chol.; 0 g carbs; 65 mg sodium; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar


Brownies to Live For

¼ cup cocoa

½ cup honey

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup prune puree

6 Tbs. Butter Buds

2 oz. baking chocolate, melted and cooled

3 whole egg whites

¼ cup sugar

½ cup whole-wheat flour

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray 8” square pan with nonstick spray. Combine cocoa, honey, vanilla, prune puree, Butter Buds and melted chocolate. In separate bowl, whip egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form, then gently fold into chocolate mixture. In separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder; fold flour mixture into batter and spread evenly in pan. Sprinkle with nuts and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool and cut into 2” squares.

Makes 24 servings. Per serving:

75 cals.; 1 g protein; 2 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 mg chol.; 14 g carbs.; 69 mg sodium; 1 g fiber; 9 g sugar