Success Story: Using Food to Fuel Fitness*


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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You've peeked inside at the delectable recipes in "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." But unlike in other cookbooks, ours contains much, much more--including the stories of SparkPeople members just like you who lost weight and kept it off using Chef Meg's recipes and the lessons we share in "The SparkPeople Cookbook." Today we're sharing Tara's story.

Tara (HALLELUL), a clerical worker for a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization, has an infectious laugh and a smile that lights up her face. She was a member of our Ditch the Diet Taste Test. When Tara found she didn’t have the energy to keep up with the rest of the congregation in church, she knew she needed to lose weight. Motivation came from a friendly competition in her church and SparkPeople helped her to meet her goals. Now, she’s not only enthusiastically praising the Lord on Sundays, but she completed her first marathon in 2010.

I used to say I had “sweet teeth” not just one sweet tooth. My nickname was Froot Loop. I would literally bring an empty margarine tub of the sugary cereal to work with me and snack on it all day. Now I’ve replaced that with Kashi’s Go Lean cereal. Not only do I really like it, but it’s also healthy for me so I don’t have to feel guilty eating it. Of course I eat it in moderation—about a serving size (1 or 2) and not a tub.
It’s taken me a little more than a year to lose the weight, but I’ve reached my goal since participating in the Ditch the Diet Taste Test! Cooking has been so important to my success. I’ve been hearing more and more about “superfoods” and knowing how to properly incorporate them into a meal each day makes me feel good. I now know that I’m doing what I can to ward off sickness and fuel my body for the all-important “playtime” (which it what I call exercise).

I cook about three to four times a week. I have to admit that I was apprehensive, thinking, once I got to goal weight would I be able to keep it off?—thinking that since I lost so much, I could cheat. Now I know that I don’t have to cheat to have an mmm-good meal.

Salt was a big no-no growing up because of my mom’s high blood pressure issues, so I have a low tolerance for really salty things. But [at the Ditch the Diet Taste Test] when I bit into the sweet potato, carrot, and parsnip fries, they seemed spicy at first, but then just reminded me of regular French fries. What was even more interesting is that I didn’t know I was eating carrot fries. I love to “drink” carrots in carrot juice, but I’ve never really enjoyed eating them. Well, I do now!

And though salt was never a problem for me, I have limited fat (especially bad fat). And I use a food scale to keep myself from overeating. Sugar is still a work in progress. I say progress because I do consume less of it but it still is a weakness. I’m used to things being sweet and I just don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners. Sometimes, when the meal is over and I still feel like eating or I’m not satisfied, adding my favorite fruit—cantaloupe—will help. It actually makes me feel full.
Before, I would buy a family-size roll of the 80/20 ground chuck, cut it into 2-inch slices, and eat two slices for dinner. I’d fry those up with slices of American cheese on top, alongside four potatoes—also fried in a skillet—and call it dinner. Dessert was cookies-and-cream ice cream—my favorite, but I don’t crave it as much anymore—I’d eat two cups a few nights a week. That’s four servings!

Now I use healthier condiments, and make substitutions, like Greek yogurt in place of butter and heavy cream. I bake more than I fry, too. Honestly, I haven’t mastered all of this yet and I’m still working on planning meals ahead of time so that my kitchen is properly stocked. But I know I’ll get there soon.
Healthy cooking has a tremendous impact on overall health and weight loss success. We hope you'll consider adding "The SparkPeople Cookbook" to your arsenal of healthy living tools--and spread the word about it.

*Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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