Personnel coordinator at San Francisco State University
40 years old, married
From a 14 to eight
Grazing throughout the day on vegetables and salad, and measuring portions to keep them small. She consults the Lean Plate Club home page and USDA publications and researches food pyramids and WebMD to learn more about nutrition to keep her energize. Liz makes most of her meals at home, pre-packs correct portion sizes and never misses breakfast or snacks to "keep my metabolism revved." She avoids high fructose corn syrup, which she finds has such an intense flavor that "you can't taste the food, you taste the sugar." To sweeten foods, including Greek yogurt, she uses guava juice instead of table sugar.
Everything. "Pretty much any kind of junk food. I'll even be inclined to overeat a salad." Liz doesn't stock tempting, prepared foods, which would be easy to binge on. If she overeats, she hits her personal "restart" button to get back on track as soon as possible. "I try not to beat myself up. ... This is a new day."
Lots of sleep, regular weigh-ins, her supportive new husband and plenty of exercise, especially cardio. Liz weighs herself daily, so she can readjust her exercise routine to "kick[ing] up the cardio." Her husband, who has also lost 40 pounds, helps her by working out with her and by sometimes gently asking if she's really hungry or just engaging in emotional eating.
Low-fat yogurt, baby carrots, crunchy sour apples and Mediterranean curried lentil rice salad from a local restaurant that she splits up for morning and afternoon snacks.
Crohn's disease, an auto-immune disease that produces severe intestinal inflammation and can sometimes limit the raw fruits and vegetables she loves. "It's not something to be depressed about, but it's something to be mindful about."
She left a four-year, verbally abusive marriage, took control of her life and realized how psychological issues and her upbringing influenced her eating habits. "I come from a Russian Jewish family, and food is equated with love. I eat but it's not because I'm hungry. It's an emotional hunger."
The surprising joy of putting herself and her new habits first, whether at home or on vacation. She schedules daily, one-hour workouts at 5 a.m. "so it's done and out of the way." She tailors her workout to specific things she wants to improve. One day, she may pump iron at the gym. Another, she walks the shore with her husband or runs the track and the stairs at the old 49ers stadium. She makes her workouts personal time that leave her feeling great -- and grumpy if she misses one.
More energy and surprising her former high school classmates with her younger, slimmer looks.
That she's not alone. "My problems are not unique to me." She likes the way that Lean Plate Club members "support one another" and has used the Lean Plate Club column to find healthy ways to make her favorite foods healthier. One example: cream of broccoli soup, now made with one percent milk, chicken broth and five servings of broccoli.