I’m not much of a chef. For two years, I struggled with trying to figure out how to eat. I had to relearn what was “healthy.”

I was pretty restrictive with my calories. I wanted to eat 1500 a day (but it was usually closer to 1800 calories a day). On a side note, I was even evaluated by a “nutritionist” (I use that name lightly because honestly she was just hawking shakes) who said I should be eating 1200 calories a day to lose weight. Excuse me?? To me, that sounds like a starvation diet and NOT healthy.

My typical meals for two years were as follows:
Low-calories cereal with nonfat milk or Egg Beaters scramble with an English muffin and fake cheese (nasty!)

Every day for 2 years I had a turkey sandwich and the exact serving size of Wheat Thins.

Usually a Lean Cuisine frozen dinner with a salad.

I wasn’t perfect with my diet, but I was okay. I rarely snacked in between meals, and tried to eat fruit and veggies when I did.

Boy, am I sick of sandwiches now!!

This diet probably sounds awful to a lot of people. But for me it was great. I knew what I had to eat each day, I knew I would reach the calories I needed for the day, and I learned what PORTION SIZES were!! This is probably the most important lesson I learned in this whole process. I had NO idea what a portion size was.

Once I got comfortable with this diet, I started to change things up. I sometimes made a chicken breast on my George Forman grill for dinner. I love fish, so I baked salmon a lot. Again–not a chef. It wasn’t exciting food. But I learned portion sizes and what I should be eating, instead of what I wanted to eat.

Now before anyone gets too overwhelmed thinking they can’t do what I did…I slipped up many, many times! I was in no way perfect with my food for those two years. My weight fluctuated up and down and I battled the holiday bulge.

My suggestion to anyone trying to lose weight: LEARN PORTION SIZES. Trust me, it’s NEVER enough food. However, if you retrain your body to eat portion sizes, you will not be hungry.

How I Ate to Lose

After my “revelation” to get healthy, I decided to count my calories for one day. I made no changes to my eating habits and just wrote down everything I ate. I looked up the calories online and wrote it all down. I was absolutely shocked at what I was putting into my mouth. I had no concept of serving sizes. I was probably eating 3 servings of food instead of 1 serving. I made poor choices for snacks. I ate too many sweets. I decided to limit my calories to 2000 a day.

This began my calorie counting. It was hard at first. I realized that trying to eat under 2000 calories was difficult to do, and it really wasn’t that much food. I tried to eat fruits and vegetables as my snacks, and eat healthy foods for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. I found myself reading every label and deciding if I wanted to eat those calories. It was all about sacrificing and substituting.

My weaknesses are sugar (ice cream, cookies, cheesecake) and pizza. I decided to completely cut out pizza from my diet. I knew I could not just have 1 slice and a salad for dinner. If there was pizza in my house, I would eat the entire pizza without any regard to health or fitness. As for the sugar, I started substituting the yummy treats I was obsessed with for lower calorie alternatives: frozen yogurt, Snackwell’s cookies that were about 50 calories each, Rice Krispie Treats for 90 calories. Those were my desserts.