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A Food Network chef + mama obsessed with travel, and mouth watering food. I also own a gorgeous cooking school in Italy. My mission? To share the secrets of La Dolce Vita so you can create a healthy, beautiful, delicious life filled with joy!


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I recently returned from the most amazing trip to Spain and Portugal. But I did come back with a little unwanted baggage. About 6 pounds to be exact and it wasn’t because I went on a huge shopping spree.

There are 2 schools of thought. Some will say that it is better to not let yourself go on your trip. Watch what you eat, try and keep it clean and close to your normal diet, hit the gym in your hotel, go for a run, avoid deserts, prepare your own snacks and limit alcohol & drink tons of water.

But that would be no fun at all… That sounds like a vacation from hell to me.

I am not from that school. Holidays are about letting go and giving yourself permission to go wild when you are traveling. Life is to be lived and enjoyed. There are fries, gelato, pastries, cocktails, pizzas and steaks to be enjoyed. And being a chef, I wouldn’t have it any other way!!!!!

I live to eat and traveling I can immerse myself in the flavor, spices, and local cuisine of the region. That way I can come back and replicate these in my kitchen. So that means stopping every hour to try some new delectable bite that beckons you to taste it. Sweet, savory, hot-cold… I enjoyed it all. I indulged to the extreme.

But when I got back I knew I had some serious work to do. It would have been impossible not to have added some cushioning so now the hard part would begin. It’s been 10 days since my return and it hasn’t been easy but the plan I am following is working and I still have a week to go


  1. It won’t happen overnight: don’t expect miracles. It takes you as long to take off the weight as it did to put it on
  2. Get back into the kitchen & COOK IT OFF:  My # 1 rule still applies…. Control what you put in your food and body. The weight will come off.
  3. Avoid fasts, juice cleanses, and drastic diets. They will slow down your metabolism and cause binge eating.
  4. Go back to your normal routine as soon as possible: Don’t beat yourself up. You have had a great vacation now the hard work begins.
  5. It’s not going to be easy but it’ll be worth it:  Get back in gear & push yourself full throttle. No pain no gain.  But the suffering will be worth it when your jeans close again.
  6. Eat 3 balanced meals a day: Include tons of fresh fruits, veggie & lean proteins  but portion size is key… (See a sample days eating below) and never skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day and it fires up your metabolism.
  7. 60 mins of cardio, streching or strength training a day and switch it up.  Most of you know I prefer yoga to cardio because it doesn’t affect my appetite but now is the time to mix it up. Choose a different workout every day to shock your body. Swimming, spinning, boxing, hiking, boot camps, running, vinyasa yoga and dance classes. The jet lag helped me get in 5am workouts.
  8. Shrink your appetite:  the first few days are the hardest.  I was constantly hungry because my body had gotten so used to a large volume of food.  But after 3 days my body cried out less and now my appetite it back to normal.
  9. Drink 3 liters of water and lots of herbal teas:  The liquid will rehydrate after your workout and you will feel fuller while flushing out your system. I start every day with 2 glasses of water and I have 2 glasses of water before bedtime. This is the easiest way to get rid of toxins and drop weight. And your skin will glow. Give it a try.
  10. Sit down when you eat all meals: It’s time to train yourself to slow things down and stop eating on the go. Savor the food & give your body a chance to feel full & digest.
  11. Don’t eat after 6 pm: try to have dinner as early as 6 pm and if you are hungry after that have a few cups of chamomile tea.

Sample day

Breakfast 1 cup Greek yogurt, ¼ cup almonds, ¼ cup granola, 1 expresso OR a Protein Bar OR Smoothie with spinach, berries, and protein powder.

1-hour Exercise (mix it up & push your limits)

Snack: A piece of fruit if you’re hungry but snacking is not essential

Lunch: Small tray of sushi OR a Green salad with 1/2 avocado & 1 cup lean protein with olive oil & balsamic and a slice of wholegrain toast, a cup of brown rice or sweet potato.

Snack: 12 almonds if you are hungry but snacking is not essential

1 glass (not 1 bottle) of wine OR beer while making dinner. Life is better with some vino, but if you want to see faster results cut back and only drink 2 or 3 nights a week.

Dinner: 1 cup of lean protein cooked on the grill. Assorted grilled veggies and salads to fill your plate. Variety is key so look through some of my recipes for ideas

Add on anytime :1 block of good quality 85% dark chocolate

3 liters of water throughout the day

Wishing you an amazing summer and safe travels.

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I'm Melissa, your host & tour guide.

A Food Network chef, author, mamma, eternal optimist, wannabe-mermaid, spice mixologist, and “dough therapist” (yep, it’s a thing)—

I'm also the founder of Susina Cucina, the gorgeous, Italian cooking school I manifested into my reality. I’m obsessed with Aperol spritzes, travel, and mouthwatering food… especially pizza and pasta.

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