Why Diets Don't Work {And What Does!}

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Why Diets Don't Work {And What Does!}


Our great friend Ali Margo, Aspen Daily News columnist and freelance journalist, shares her personal health and wellness story on our blog today. Ali’s writing is honest, smart and engaging - and she’s also just really funny! We love her perspective, and feel like her weight loss journey is one that many of us can relate to. Read on for her story, and then head over to her blog – if it isn’t already, it’s going to become one of your favorites, too!


It’s not rocket science—living a plant-based lifestyle is what it’s all about.

For over 20 years, I have documented my life and love in my award-winning weekly column, “The Aspen Princess” (Think: Sex and the City meets Aspen Extreme) where I have written candidly about everything from my disastrous dating life and trying to keep up with Aspen’s hardcore athletic elite to becoming a wife and mother in my 40s. I often joke I have gone from Aspen Princess to Desperate Housewife of Basalt, and recently switched to Aspen’s official paper of record, The Aspen Daily News. But one thing that hasn’t changed? My struggle with my weight.

I have tried and documented every diet trend over the last two decades, from Keto, Paleo and gluten free to trying a variety of different cleanses. Most recently I dabbled in intermittent fasting, which flips previous wisdom about eating five small meals a day and cuts right to the chase by essentially eating nothing at all, except for during a 5-hour window—slow metabolism, anyone?

I’m old enough to remember the fat free craze back in the early 90s when I was in college and lived on pretzels, gummy bears and Diet Coke, only to learn a decade later that you’re supposed to avoid carbs altogether and eat only protein and fat. Those low-carb years yielded plenty of disgusting habits, like peeling the bread from my sandwiches as I ate them and dissecting sushi rolls and burritos with surgical precision to remove every last gram of carbohydrate before it hit my lips.

“What’s with the carnage?” the hot musician asked as he watched me smash my rice into my empty miso soup bowl with a look of utter disgust on his face. Things really took a turn for the worst when our waitress scolded me for ditching the rice on all-you-can-eat-sushi night.

Sometime between the day I turned 50 and the day I drove over the scale in my car and then lit it on fire, I finally accepted the fact that diets don’t work. Sure, I always lose weight at first, when I cut calories as the result of eliminating the bad-food-of-the-moment. But as soon as I discover a handful of food choices that are “allowed,” especially those doctored up by food manufacturers hoping to cash in the current trend, the calories—and the weight—return in full force.

It wasn’t until I met Lisa Cohen, nutritionist and co-founder of Tuesday Foods, that I truly understood the benefits of a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. Always on the hunt for a get-thin-and-fast scheme, I signed up for one of her detox cleanses. Instead of asking me to throw down $300 on products to try and make money on a multilevel marketing platform, she provided me with grocery lists and recipes to make my own plant-based dishes from whole food ingredients myself. Instead of a fast track to Skinny Town, she got me into the long game—how to take care of my body and to be my best, not some unrealistic, unsustainable version of what society told me to be. To this day, I still have and use the recipes from that cleanse all the time simply because I love them. Better yet, I have maintained a weight that is healthy and sustainable, and still has me feeling and looking my best. Let’s be honest: I so totally care about how I look, and I love fashion, so being able to wear clothes I love is important to me.

It took me more than half my life to understand a plant-based lifestyle is not a diet trend, but it’s also not rocket science. It doesn’t require the kinds of extreme sacrifices that characterize most diets. It’s not something you’re going to achieve in a 10-day cleanse or a 30-day challenge (the word challenge alone suggests the possibility of failure). It’s not about working out 30 days in a row or three times a day or for three hours, but moving your body in a way you love and look forward to, whether it’s swimming laps or belly dancing. For me, it means walking or biking up mountains so I can have the rush of coming back down; practicing yoga in a hot room where, at 52 years young, I can still harness the strength and flexibility of the young gymnast inside me and practice my backbends, splits and handstands.

If anything, the key to a healthy, plant-based lifestyle is one that is sustainable and even enjoyable over time. It's about avoiding processed foods and making your own dang dressings and sauces and soups from scratch, not only because that’s the only way to truly know what you’re eating, but because that’s how you make food that tastes good and feels good, too. Don’t have time to cook? That’s what Tuesday Foods is for, hello! What they create is art you can taste, smell, see and even feel soaking into your bones, and they bring it to your front door! Here’s my gauge: if it looks beautiful and is full of color, that vibrancy translates not only to your gut, but to your life.


Whenever I’m feeling rundown or need to do a mini detox after a holiday, I love making this soup and eating it for a light dinner a few nights in a row to right the ship. With a cashew cream base, it’s satisfying enough to be a meal, but also packed with enough nutrients and greens to rival a supergreen smoothie.


  • 1 cup raw cashews

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2-4 carrots (depending on size), chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2-4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 heads broccoli (4-ish cups of florets)

  • 4-6 cups veggie broth *

  • 2 handfuls raw spinach

  • 1 teaspoon dry basil*

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  • 1 tablespoon miso paste*


Soak cashews in water for at least 1 hour to soften.

Sautee chopped onion in oil over medium high in a large, deep pan until softened, 3-5 minutes then add carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes more.

Add garlic, basil, and salt and sauté until herbs and veggies are well combined.

Add your broth and bring to a simmer, then add broccoli florets. Simmer until florets are softened, about 5 minutes. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover all the vegetables by about 1”.

Add cayenne and 1-3 tbsp miso paste, to taste.

Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Transfer all ingredients (including the cashews) into a Vitamix or use a hand mixer and blend until smooth. Add water to thin depending on desired consistency. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sliced apples or toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch. Or roast some broccoli florets to serve on top.


*When I need a little immune system boost or want a heartier soup I use half bone broth, half water.

*Experiment with other dried herbs for different flavor profiles. I’ve added thyme and oregano or in the spring I like dill and tarragon.

*Miso is a personal thing: I like to add a lot, but start with 1 tbsp.

* For more texture, I’ll leave some chopped vegetables aside and then add them to the soup once it’s been blended.