Success Story: Using Food to Fuel Fitness*

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.

Like this blog? Then you'll love "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight."

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Congratulations! You look amazing! Very inspiring. Continue to be blessed!! Report
Your body must feel so much better after making those changes! Congratulations on your success. Report
You look amazing!! Congratulations Report
Way to go and thank you, I got some tips from your post! Best Wishes on reaching all your future goals! Report
Congrats! You look beautiful and are doing great! Report
Good blog I needed that.First full day on the plan to lose 12 pounds.Working on increasing motivation to get started. Craved sweets after dinner. Thought about making a trip to the store but I didn't. Birthday is on the 11th. Daughter's bday was the 5th. Celebrating this weekend. Not thinking about turning 51 just thinking about not eating cake. So I can celebrate my fifty second birthday. Report
So glad this worked for you. It is great news and great success. Keep up the good work and enjoy your new life. Report
Since I've been eating healthier, I've noticed that I just can't eat much of the high cal, carb, and fat foods, either. It's amazing how your whole body adapts to a new way of eating. Congratulations on meeting your goals and keeping the weight off! Report
Tara, I just purchased the SparkPeople cookbook but it hasn't arrived yet. I can hardly wait. Your mention of carrot juice just inspired me though. My daughter-in-law taught me to put spinach in my fruit smoothies to help get some of my veggies in. Works great too. But I never thought of adding a carrot. I don't really like carrots, but I know my body needs what the yellow and orange vegetables provide. And I can't eat sweet potatoes EVERY day. You have inspired me in more ways than one! Thanks for sharing! Report
Tara, I am new to Sparkpeople and your story has inspired me on a day that I needed it! I can relate to your story as I too work in an office (lot's of sitting) and have the same eating habits as you once did (ice cream). My goal is to gain more energy and keep up with my 2 year old grandson!
Thank you!
Susan Report
Thanks Everyone for the support! Thanks Dear Stepf! Report
awesome Report
I am really considering getting the cookbook. I have only heard good things about it Report
GREAT JOB! Congratulations On Meeting Your Goal And Pressing On To Keep The Weight Off. Thanks For Sharing Such An Inspiring Story! :) Report
Good job. Report
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Tara. It's great to "meet" another Kashi fan :)

You're doing a great job and I know it will get easier with time, not harder. Report
Congrats on Your Success, Tara. Report
Great blog. Congratulations on your success and good luck in continuing on the healthy path you have started. Report
Great Job!!!! Enjoyed your blog Report
Congratulations! You are awesome. Keep it up! Report
Great story and congratulations!
First- CONGRATULATIONS! You look marvelous! I love the gentle reminder that we are all a work in progress. It's just so nice to know and see that somebody is winning and thriving. I wish you continued success!!! Report
Enjoyed your blog. Helps me to remind myself that I too am a work in progress. Report
AWESOME!! Report
I'm going to re-introduce playtime. Sounds like a lot more fun than exercise :) Report
WTG Tara! You are doing great! Report
I think your story is right on, we real poeple need to think of it not as a DIET but a life change. I have tried to remember this over the last few years of getting my weight on track, and keeping it there. Its a real struggle every day but I beleive that I am worth the time I take for myself. If the hubby dosn't like what I cook, and there are times he thinks I'm experimenting on him, but he has kept his weight under controll and dosn't even know it. I am 67 and he is 74 and I plan on being around for a long time yet. Good luck. Report
Congrats on your progress tara! Report
I agree with SeniorSwimmer - "A real person at goal weight, admitting she is still a work in progress." Regardless of where we are in our weight loss journey, we need to remember that we always need to be aware of what we put in our mouths and that it's not always easy to stay on track. Learning what works for each us of is the key.

Thank you for sharing your story! Report
Congrats on your success, Tara! I, too, have taken to breaking out the food scale to ensure I don't overeat. I just started but hopefully it will help me along my way. Report
Great blog. A real person at goal weight, admitting she is still a work in progress. My goal weight is just now coming on long range radar. This is the third time I will have lost down to a healthy weight. My attitude is different this time. Reaching goal weight will only be a different part of the weight loss journey. There will be skills I'll have to learn to maintain my weight, just like there are skills I'm learning now to lose it. Behavior changes, patterns of thought changes. All of these things are important to losing weight and maintaing the weight loss. Good read. Thank you SP. Report
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