Tag Archives: Author: Hazel Dixon-Cooper

THE DISAPPEARING MAGICIAN Don’t Try this at Home By Hazel Dixon-Cooper


Instead of astounding one of his Las Vegas audiences by making an elephant disappear, Penn Jillette amazed the country by losing 104 pounds in four months.

In 2014, weighing 322 pounds and on eight different medications for hypertension, Jillette ended up in the hospital with life-threatening, uncontrollable high blood pressure. A doctor told him that if he could lose 40 pounds, he might be able to significantly reduce both his blood pressure and the medication he took. The doctor suggested bariatric surgery. Realizing that he must lose weight and change his eating habits if he was going to live, Jillette shunned the surgery but agreed to lose weight.

The magician says he does not believe in moderation. Instead of beginning a sensible and healthy weight-loss program, he called his friend, Ray Cronise, a former NASA engineer-turned-weight-loss coach. Cronise’s program is not moderate.

For the first two weeks, Jillette ate nothing but potatoes. Nothing. He could eat russets, fingerlings, Yukon Gold, or any other type he craved. He could boil them, bake them, or eat them raw. He had to eat them plain—no salt, oil, or sour cream—and was allowed up to five per day. He lost 18 pounds. Corn was next on the menu. “It tasted like candy,” Jillette said. He added other vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed grains over the next few weeks until he was eating 1,000 calories a day.

In addition to the potatoes-only diet, the program consisted of intermittent fasting, cold showers, and lots of sleep to trigger a metabolic winter. According to Cronise, the idea was to jump-start Jillette’s body into feeding on itself to create rapid weight loss. It worked. Over the next three months, Jillette dropped another 72 pounds. Now he eats one meal a day, usually a huge salad, in the late afternoon and all the fruit he can stuff in his face.

Jillette says he hates to exercise, and didn’t while on the program. The truth is that it was forbidden. “Why would you want someone who is 100 pounds overweight to risk injury by exercising?” said Cronise.

What injury? Does he think his clients should jump into an extreme body-building routine? Maybe the near-starvation diet and rapid weight loss made Penn Jillette too weak to exercise.
Even if you have a hundred pounds to lose, as I did, walking is a safe way to stay mobile. At first, my feet and ankles hurt so badly that I couldn’t go farther than the end of the block. I was short of breath so I shuffled. As I grew stronger, I increased the distance until I was routinely walking three to four miles a day. Our bodies are made to move.

Jillette admits that he had a 90-percent blockage in an artery in his heart. That, with his weight and dangerously high blood pressure could have been the perfect storm for either a heart attack or stroke, especially with the added stress of even moderate exercise. He had surgery to unclog the artery two months before beginning the drastic diet.

Quickly losing a huge amount of weight looks dramatic, and it’s tempting to think that you could be five or six sizes smaller within a few months. The trouble with that and every quick-fix program is that you risk your health. Rapid weight loss can set the stage for gallstones and fatty liver disease. You can lose more water and lean muscle tissue than actual fat. This is especially true if you are not helping your atrophied muscles repair themselves by exercising while you are losing. Jillette says that he did begin a mild program including riding an adult tricycle several miles a day after he lost the weight.

Exercise or not, you would think that, after such an extreme weight loss, Penn Jillette would be the first to promote this plan to anyone within earshot. Not so. Instead, he told Dr. Oz, USA Today, and a slew of others that this diet is not for everyone. In fact, he’s adamant about it. So is a line-up of physicians, nutritionists, and weight-loss experts who all agree this has done nothing but set him up for failure. Although potatoes contain natural compounds that affect inflammation, hunger, insulin, sleep, and mood, they do not provide all the nutrition your body needs to maintain health.

Ray Cronise alludes to creating the potato diet and says that he chose the starchy vegetable because it is a good source of protein. However, the concept has been around since 1849. That plan promised fat men that they would become lean and required them to stay on the potatoes-only menu for three-to-five days. More than a hundred and sixty years later, the potato diet is still being recycled as another miracle cure for obesity.

Penn Jillette has kept his weight off for a year. He’s also promoting his new book, Presto, about his experience. Right now, he’s still motivated. However, the long-term odds are against his maintaining both his current weight and his health. Ninety-five percent of people who fall for any medical, commercial, or over-the-counter weight-loss fixes are going to fail.

No miracle cure, no fad, no draconian hard-ass way to lose weight will help you keep it off. The only way that works is getting rid of your carbohydrate and fat addictions, and that is a slow process. Drive by the drive-through. Pass up the pizza. Dump the processed food and nitrate-loaded meat products. You can start as I did by gradually making healthier choices. One skipped order of French fries, one refused dessert, one trade from fried chicken to grilled halibut will start to turn your life and your health in the right direction.

There is no presto in weight loss. Just like a magic act, the promises of near-instant results are only illusions.

Noted astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper is known and loved by fans and astrology buffs all over the world. You can find more about her at www.hazeldixoncooper.com and easily purchase her books at https://www.amazon.com/Hazel-Dixon-Cooper/e/B001H9RFEM




January 20, 2016

The holiday season is over and if you’ve resolved to lose weight in 2016, you’re not alone. Each year, losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution, and we blame our weight gain on the two months between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. However, if you are one of the 78 million overweight Americans—as I was 100 pounds ago—official holiday pig-out season began with Halloween. Unofficially, it never stopped.

Like you, I had great intentions, but in spite of those intentions, I repeatedly stuffed myself to the brink of illness right through New Year’s Day. Then repenting like a Saturday-night sinner at a Sunday-morning revival meeting, I rushed to the nearest gym or joined the latest lose-it-quick weight-loss program. Sound familiar?

But just as you begin to feel human again, Super Bowl Sunday roars up the driveway, tailgate flapping, loaded with hot wings, stuffed jalapenos and supermarket meat-and-cheese platters, and your resolve to eat healthy ends with the first mouthful of chili-cheese dip.

Oh well, it’s only one day.

Before you can wipe the last smear of wing sauce off your face, oops, here comes Valentine’s Day. Break out the chocolate and champagne. By the time you pick the caramel out of your teeth, St. Patrick swings by with a heaping helping of corned beef, cabbage, and green beer. Right on his heels, Easter drags in a basketful of chocolate bunnies. Before the dye dries on the eggs, Mother’s Day rings the doorbell. You take Mom out for a calorie-loaded dinner that is sure to raise both her cholesterol and her blood pressure. Yours too. But no worries. It’s only one day.

Memorial Day kick-starts summer with the first official barbecue of the season. Father’s Day is next on the menu. All Dad wants to do is flop in front of the sports channel and eat, and you are happy to accommodate him. Spread out the food on the coffee table, wrap a beach towel around his neck, and let him chomp himself into a heart attack. Hope the life insurance is paid up.

Summer appears with a bang on the Fourth of July, another grilling-and-chilling holiday. Mid-July through August is vacation time, and who counts calories at the beach? Instead, you tell yourself that is the only time you can truly relax, so you gladly live on sugar, carbs, and fat-laden non-food.

As soon you are home, Labor Day weekend and the last binge of the season arrive. When the kids head back to school, you head, credit card in hand, to the nearest diet center or gym. That lasts about four weeks, until Halloween creeps in again. You have come full circle and are about to take another trip into the Bermuda Triangle of holiday food benders.

Add to this list Hanukkah, Eid-ul-fitr, Kwanzaa, and a multitude of other religious or spiritual festivities, weddings, showers, anniversaries, birthdays, funerals, Sunday dinners, and other personal celebrations. The result? Out of a 52-two week year, most people resolve to lose weight the week after New Year’s and the week after Labor Day. Think about it. Two weeks out of an entire year.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 300,000 people a year die prematurely from obesity-related diseases. Saying no to Aunt Fanny’s banana pudding cake or Uncle Ralph’s roasted beast with mango chutney is tough. We’ve all heard, “I made this just for you,” accompanied by a hurt expression. Out of guilt, and an ever-present craving, you eat the casserole or cake or candy. If you decline, they counter with, “It’s only one day.”

What can you do?

Well, you can continue to eat anything that anyone shoves your way and risk turning into an insulin-shooting diabetic stumbling around on your last three toes. You could eat yourself into a case of dementia, or be diagnosed with late-stage cancer because the fat hid the tumor.

Or you can begin to get healthy. One skipped order of French fries, one refused dessert, one trade from fried chicken to grilled halibut will start to turn your life and your health in the right direction.

One bite. One choice. One day at a time.


Hazel Dixon-Cooper is an internationally best-selling author. She is currently working on a memoir, CONFESSIONS OF A FAT COSMO GIRL, and can be reached at hazeldixon.cooper@gmail.com and through her blog https://fatcosmogirl.wordpress.com/ .





astrology 2

My fascination with the stars began on summer evenings spent lying on my back in the grass staring up at the darkening sky. As most of us did, I learned to spot the North Star, the Big and Little Dippers and a few other constellations. I wondered whether men from Mars existed and were lying on their backs in the red dust wondering the same thing about us.

My introduction to astrology came through newspaper horoscopes and monthly predictions in Dell Horoscope magazine and the Bedside Astrologer in Cosmopolitan I read as a teen. However, I was hooked by Linda Goodman and her uncanny explanation of my Pisces self in her Sun Signs book which I read until the cover fell off and the spine collapsed. I bought more books on astrology and sent for a mail-order course. That led me to the myth and archetypes behind this ancient practice and opened up a new world.

As a novice, I knew just enough to dazzle my friends and a few sympathetic relatives with the basics about their Sun signs. Then I began to cast charts, a slow process of patience and precision before astrological software was available. The more I learned the more in awe I became of this ancient art. A natal chart contains layers and nuances that carry us beyond the sun to dig deep into our hidden selves and reveal our gifts, our faults, and our possibilities. I am certain that I could study these planetary configurations and the myths behind them for a lifetime and always discover something new.

Many scientists work hard to prove that astrology is not valid. Many astrologers work just as hard to prove it is. I only know that since Babylonian times, astrologers have guided people by interpreting the movement of the planets in our solar system as it relates to human behavior. Every civilization has a form of astrology designed to help people find inner peace and live vital lives. I believe that this ancient self-help tool is the first psychology. Today, many psychologists and psychiatrists are also accomplished astrologers, and countless others regularly consult with astrologers in order to gain greater insight into their clients.

Astrology validates itself to me when I connect with another human being and help that person realize a trait or a life pattern and understand how they can change or benefit from it. Astrology proves its value in the link between hard fact and elusive truth, the mathematical precision of a birth chart blended with the intuitive interpretation of the archetype that creates a complete story. Astrology challenges me to use it carefully and well and to find new ways to connect the patterns that reveal a personality or predict a trend.

I like that astrology gives personality to the planets. I like that the birth chart is a unique snapshot of our potential and paths in life. I like the story that the archetypes reveal as I study someone’s chart. I’m not sure how or why it works. And I like that too because I’m still amazed by how it all makes sense, even in today’s high-tech world.


Hazel Dixon-Cooper is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series. Her latest book, Harness Astrology’s Bad Boy, is about Pluto, the planet of transformation. She can be reached through her website, www.hazeldixoncooper.com and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/hazel.dixoncooper.


Aug 22 Hazel

Your computer fries. Your flight gets canceled. Your check is in the mail, but on its way to Brazil. Welcome to the havoc of Mercury retrograde. Although the next time this little troublemaker begins to moonwalk through the sky isn’t until October, now is a good time to learn some hidden benefits of these retrograde periods.

The Romans didn’t call Mercury the Trickster just for fun. Even if you barely know your Sun sign, I’ll bet you think you know plenty about retrograde, and it’s all rotten. Your horoscope says not to sign anything, your ex wants to crawl back in your bed, and you feel like locking the door and phoning it in. Oops, can’t do that. Your cell’s battery is dead. For years, I’ve watched the phenomenon of retro-fever grow. Rational adults start acting like superstitious cave dwellers and blame Mercury for everything that goes wrong. Today, you can even get a phone app that “warns” you of a retrograde period.

Three times each year, for about three weeks each time, Mercury appears to reverse its orbit around the Sun. Of course, no planet changes direction. Mercury’s closer to the Sun, and its orbit is smaller and faster than the Earth’s. Each time they pass each other, Mercury seems to move backward. It’s an optical illusion like when the rims on a car appear to spin backward even though it’s moving forward.

Although the impression of backpedaling through the sky is a mirage, the effects are mind-melting. When the Universe’s social butterfly flits out of sight, everything disconnects. You not only forget where you parked the car, you forget that you were supposed to get the slow leak in the radiator fixed, and the engine grinds to a smoking halt in the middle of rush hour. The boss hands you back the report you handed her. You didn’t spell-check it in your rush to get out the door to meet a long-lost friend for lunch.

However, it isn’t a coincidence that your old pal called during Mercury retrograde. The odds are just as great that something good will happen. My best friend used to panic until I reminded her that more often than not she receives money or finds a new client when Mercury is retro. Many Fortune 500 companies were started during a retro period. Goodyear. Disney. General Motors. Boeing. Does that mean you can sign mortgage papers on your new home? Sure. Don’t rush, and read the fine print.

A good way to think about Mercury retrograde is to think of words that begin with “re.” Revise. Reconsider. Remind. Repair. Relax. Mercury rules telecommunication and electronics. He also governs your personal adaptability, memory, and language. During retrograde periods these mental processes slow down. You make a mistake. The good news is that it’s more likely to be caught and fixed. You feel more like daydreaming than working. Great. Make time to do something creative. Write down your ideas because it’s almost guaranteed that you won’t remember them once Mercury’s whizzing forward again. These are good periods of time to schedule long weekends or a vacation. Just make sure that you communicate slowly and clearly with the travel agent or reservations clerk. No matter what you do during a retrograde period, it’s always best to ask questions, and keep asking until you understand the answers.

During a retrograde, Mercury turns his auto-pilot switch off and forces you to pay attention. He changes your impressions and the way you process information. He tosses the mix-ups and miscommunications around so that you learn how to be flexible. You may hate the changes, foul-ups, and déjà vu atmosphere. He’s fine-tuning your perception. Did your computer just quit, or did it stop working because you haven’t upgraded it in five years? Was it Mercury’s fault you forgot to get your car repaired? Or did you keep putting it off?

Ever hear of the self-fulfilling prophecy? If you expect the worst, the worst will happen. When you expect Mercury to mess with your life, he will. If you expect Mercury to send you second chances and help you take charge of your life, he’ll do that too.

The power of Mercury retrograde is that it gives you a chance to reclaim a hidden strength or recall a forgotten idea. You can receive an unexpected gift, hear from a long-lost friend, or find that pair of earrings you misplaced. You can figure out someone’s motives, straighten out a misunderstanding, and rework a plan. Retrograde is a good time to recover your emotional balance, or make someone an offer they can’t refuse. Yes, foul-ups happen. However, you can lessen the impact if you work with the slower energy.

Here are ten tips to help you maximize the positive side of Mercury retrograde:

  • Use your intuition. It’s easier to turn off the chatter in your brain under a retrograde.
  • Think about how you feel. Don’t auto-answer, “fine,” when someone asks, “How are you?”
  • Speak the truth. You don’t have to get nasty about it, but Mercury retros are great at bringing up old issues so you can finally resolve them.
  • Re-examine an important decision. Do you really want to elope with the guy you met at the neighborhood bar a month ago? Can you afford that 96-inch flat screen and 1000-channel cable package?
  • Dump a bad habit. Start a good one.
  • Make a repair list. Walk through your home and assess what needs to be fixed.
  • Pay attention to your body. Do you need a check-up? Schedule it.
  • Take a vacation. Whether it’s a long weekend or a seven-day getaway, the slow energy of Mercury retrograde is perfect for relaxing. Just be sure to double-check your reservations and allow extra travel time in case of delays.
  • Pause before you commit. You can get a little foggy-headed during a retro period. Don’t make a promise you’ll regret tomorrow.
  • Slow down. Take a break from the outside world and concentrate on knowing yourself a little better.

Now stop fearing Mercury retrograde and start making it work for you.


With the mouth of a Gemini, the soul of a Pisces, and an intuitive Aquarius Moon, Hazel Dixon-Cooper can nail anyone’s personality the moment she knows their birthday. She’s been an astrologer for more than twenty-five years and is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series and a recently released book on Pluto, the planet of transformation.




Wake up calls are warnings to wise up. One scare like the threat of losing the car or the house or the job usually snaps most people back on track.
A fat woman’s life is a series of wake up calls she fails to answer. From the jangle of shooting pains from her permanently twisted ankles, to the sound of her money being sucked down the drain of an endless weight-loss racket, she ignores the signals—sometimes until it’s too late.
My most important call came as an invitation to write for Cosmopolitan magazine, which both thrilled and terrified me. At fifty pounds overweight, I was a poster child for the anti-Cosmo girl.
For years, no matter what I tried, I failed. I joined and left Weight Watchers three times. I chugged Slim-Fast shakes, ate pounds of bacon on Atkins, and shuddered through the don’t-leave-home cabbage soup plan. Of course I lost weight, hundreds of pounds. I gained every ounce and more back. A doctor friend suggested MediFast. He swore by it, even as his belly pushed through his white lab coat.
I ate nothing but protein, everything but protein, and swallowed eat-anything-and-still-lose diet pills. My only nutritional expertise was the talent to turn a healthy 500-calorie meal into a 3,000-calorie binge.
Every fatty has a secret stash of junk food. I had several. Although I took the candy dish off my desk at my day job, I simply transferred the candy to the back of the bottom drawer. At home, I had a cache of Hershey Miniatures pushed under a stack of papers on the floor of my office. My purse always held an assortment of munchies. Under the maps and assorted change in the car’s console, I’d buried a bag of peanuts or a box of Junior Mints.
If no one sees you eat, it doesn’t count as much. It’s easier to lie to yourself when there are no witnesses. I justified hiding the food because I didn’t want to have to listen to another lecture, well-meant or not. What I really didn’t want was to have to be accountable for what I was doing to my body and my health.
So I became a stealth eater, and nearly the size of a stealth bomber. When the stash under my desk at home was empty, I would sneak into the kitchen and raid the pantry. I gnawed six-month-stale Halloween candy that had fallen out of the bag and lay forgotten on the back of a shelf.
I began to notice other fatties stuffing French fries in their faces while sitting on a bus bench. Or squeezed into one side of a booth for two, thighs oozing off the edge, as they shoveled down a hot-fudge-covered brownie with ice cream. Sometimes they had a porky partner along. More often, they were alone. We were kindred fools sliding down the buttered slope to self-destruction.
There were days when I’d panic because, for a moment, I would wake up and see the damage I was doing. Then I’d swear off food just like I’d done a thousand times before, and for a couple of days or a week, I’d lay off the junk. It never lasted long enough to make a real difference.
By the time I received the invitation from Cosmo, I’d settled into that steady five-to-ten-pounds-a-year climb to triple-X tent dresses. You might ask who cares if you’re fat. At that instant, I cared so much that would have given anything to be thin—for about five seconds. Then the fat fog kicked in. I flicked off the message and headed for the cafeteria at my day job.
“The regular, Hazel?” the overweight server behind the counter asked.
“Yes,” I replied. I was glad she was there because every fat person knows that you get bigger portions if another fattie’s dishing them. She placed a huge apple fritter on a plate and handed it to me. Then I got a cup of coffee with cream and sugar.
Under any kind of stress, I reached for food like a drunk reaches for booze. Anything that was sugary or greasy was the temporary fix I used to dull the emotions I couldn’t face. There’s a good reason it’s called comfort food. For about thirty seconds, the mouthful of the dessert or the mashed potatoes or the cheese-laden casserole warmed me, both physically and emotionally. As soon as I swallowed the bite, the glow faded and I had to shove another forkful in my face, and then another and another until I was so stuffed with food that I couldn’t feel anything but food. The guilt set in as soon as I’d hogged down that fried fritter mess.
I’ll start dieting tomorrow.
Swearing off food was easy when I was stuffed, and tomorrow is always the day.
Staring me right in the face was a chance to write the most well-known astrology column for the most successful women’s magazine on the planet. What did I do? Rush for the worst thing I could eat.
When the editor at Cosmo called, she was easy to talk to and sounded young. As we chatted, I imagined her sitting at her desk, designer jacket hanging on the back of her chair, designer coffee steaming in a designer cup. I sat at my desk shaking like a druggie needing a fix.
She offered the job. I accepted. Although my personal food fight was far from over, this time I’d snapped awake, and somewhere in the middle of my brain a switch flipped. That was the beginning.


With the mouth of a Gemini, the soul of a Pisces, and an intuitive Aquarius Moon, Hazel can nail anyone’s personality the moment she knows their birthday. She’s been teaching and practicing astrology for more than twenty-five years, and is the author of the internationally best-selling Rotten Day humorous astrology book series. Her just-released book, Harness Astrology’s Bad Boy, is about Pluto, the planet of transformation. She can be reached through her website, www.hazeldixoncooper.com and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/hazel.dixoncooper. Hazel loves to hear from her fans around the world and personally answers each message.