Judi gallagher rn0gg8

No more brownie sundaes for me.

Two or three years ago, I set off on the adventure of eating Paleo for four months. My husband, the carnivore of the family, loved the idea. Eventually I lost some weight--and of course he lost double digits (damn men and their metabolisms).

Before that cavewoman era, I had two successful experiences with Weight Watchers--once in my late 20s, when I lost 22 pounds, and a second round years later after I'd gained the weight back.

But recently, my doctor told me I needed to lose 35 pounds, and I found myself wondering how I was going to do it.

This might sound familiar to many of you--I know I'm not alone here. And sadly, I can no longer hide behind the excuse that I'm a professional chef and food critic. I live for food, and I have created a career that feeds my ambition. Pun intended.

But here I am again, tipping the scales and feeling frustrated that I no longer can wear half of my clothes (my other obsession). In one ear, I hear my faithful, frustrated doctor telling me to get the damn weight off. In another ear, I hear the invitations to try burgers, pizza and ice cream. The struggle is real.

So when ABC anchor and colleague Stephanie Roberts started interviewing Dr. Jenny Wilkins from AgeVital, I took notice.  I was at a point where I had to do something. 

As with anything, I am here to tell you there is no cure-all fix--but for me, the AgeVital protocol is working really well. I'm down  10 pounds with 25 more to go. I am also here to tell you my restaurant reviews will continue, and yes, eventually I will go back to occasionally having more than  one slice of pizza. I will be out and about several times a week dining at restaurants near and far. I will just do it with a focus on fresh, delicious ingredients, like a juicy plum or tart apple. (My one non-negotiable is half and half: I tried to drink straight black coffee, but I just couldn't do it.) 

I have been eating out during this experience (like everyone else, even chefs get too busy to cook properly sometimes). But I'm also here to tell you that the more you know the better. So here are my top tips for making better dining choices.

Use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce or oil. The flavor is wonderful, especially in stir-fried organic chicken that's been thinly sliced with chopped green cabbage and onions. It really does taste satisfying.

Ask for your sushi on cucumbers instead of the rice. A simple swap that most restaurants are happy to make.

Order the steak with no butter, then cut half off and immediately place it in a take out box for the next day. When you're ready to eat it, slice the steak before you start and arrange on a plate of sliced tomatoes or veggies.

Warn the server that you are on a strict eating plan, and that you appreciate their assistance and service. I have been finding most servers go out of their way to please.

If you are like me and overdo lemon water at times, switch to orange slices. Incredibly refreshing.

Ceviche is a great choice. Just get it without the Peruvian corn and sweet potatoes.

Freeze blueberries, mangos and strawberries and eat them frozen while you watch a movie. You won't miss popcorn.

Be aware that almost everything contains added sugar. Ask for details. And here's a great combination for an easy salad dressing: red wine vinegar, lemons and cilantro, seasoned with fresh ground pepper and some salt. 

Get up and walk. Of course, I may still be dreaming of a creamy mushroom risotto with freshly grated Parmesan cheese while I walk, but I am also constantly reminded  how good it feels to be healthier--especially now that I'm a third of the way to fitting into my clothes collection.

Do find a village of support. I text my pals and Jenny several times a day to support each other. It works and keeps you focused. Do not do this without a support system. They hold you responsible but understand when you need a little extra help. 

Read labels and ask questions on menus. Know where your food is coming from. Also, organic produce really does taste better.

Do not ever take Hellman's mayonnaise for granted. I have a countdown on my calendar to when I get to have a little smear on my chicken salad lettuce wraps. ( July 30 at noon, FYI.)

What are your best healthy-eating tips? Leave a comment and let me know!

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