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A Healthier Momma featuring Healthy Choices Frozen Meals

According to the Center for Disease Control, two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting themselves at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

I am one of those individuals.

Over the last four years, I have often talked about my struggles with my weight. I have revealed highs and lows and successes and failures.

Eighteen months ago, I committed to lose 100 pounds in one year. I was off to a great start, losing around thirty pounds in three months. I led a group into Freeman Michaels' Weight Release program. I made profound discoveries that I knew would help me make big changes in my life.

And then I became pregnant.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant will tell you that the fatigue you feel during the first trimester is like none you've ever experienced before. I spent months lying on the couch, tired and sick.

Exercise and healthy eating were not on my radar.

One day at a time, I just survived.

I quit the Weight Release program, even though it had helped me to make profound changes in my life. I didn't have the energy or the motivation to care.

I am fortunate that my body, when pregnant, finds a metabolism I never thought possible. Once morning sickness subsided, I was ravenous. I could eat whatever I wanted (albeit in small amounts), and I never gained weight.

By the time Allison was born, my lifestyle had become abysmal. I was on bedrest; exercise was completely removed from my life by medical necessity.

I am an emotional eater, and I was extremely depressed. I was eating two or three half-gallons of ice cream every week. I ate candy and fried foods and fast food whenever I wanted it. I drank a 2-liter of Mountain Dew every day or two. I let my cravings completely dictate what and when I ate.

I formed some habits during those months that have been hard to break. Candy, caffeine, soda, ice cream.

The last four months have been a fog of postpartum depression. I haven't thought much about food or exercise because simply living took so much effort.

When Allie was about two months old, I realized that I could fit into my prepregnancy pants. Nothing felt normal, but I could at least see that I was headed in the general direction of normal.

I paid for Weight Watchers online, and then I never signed in again.  Eventually, I cancelled my membership.

On Easter morning, I tried on a pair of pants that I had never worn before. I bought them in 2009 to wear at the Type-A Mom conference, but they were too small by the time the conference rolled around.

On Easter morning, those pants fit.

I have been wearing those dress pants at every opportunity, and I have been telling everyone who would listen that they are smaller than my pre-pregnancy size.

At the end of my pregnancy, I wore a size 36W. Did you even know that you could buy a size 36W?

Now, I am down about 20 pounds, and I am wearing a size 24W.

Hello, Motivation! Nice to see you again!

I am just starting to feel like I am in control of my days and nights and schedule. Grace and I are finding time to play because Allie takes a nice nap in her bassinet right after lunch. I'm getting back into my blogging groove.

I finally feel like I am a normal, functioning human being. The fog has mostly lifted, and I am ready to take care of myself again.

With my first big push toward healthy living in 2010, I learned that making small changes is the way to achieve big results. I've started making small changes again.

I am not eating junk food.

I've long known that the key (for me) to avoiding a daily junk food binge is to simply refrain from buying it in the first place.

I have not purchased ice cream in two months (though I still have to talk myself out of it every time I'm in the grocery store). There is a still some Easter candy lingering here, but it is dwindling. It will soon be gone all together, and I will not buy more.

I've been trying in earnest to wean myself off of Mountain Dew. It's not been entirely successful, but I am down to one can per day. As long as I have that one can, I feel like I have energy.

If I skip that one can of Mountain Dew in the morning, I get a horrible migraine by lunchtime. Migraines prevent me from living, so I'm at peace with the morning can of pop. For now.

I am becoming aware of portion sizes.

I like to eat.

When I was working on the Weight Release program, I learned that I tune out when I'm eating. I eat good tasting food until it is all gone, no matter how much of it there is.

One cupcake or a plate of cupcakes. Isn't that ridiculous? But, for me, unless I make a conscious decision, I will eat the whole plate.

I have tried a couple of Healthy Choice meals this week that have helped a lot with portion control. They tasted good, and I didn't have to worry about how much to eat.

The meals were considerably smaller than the portions I would have given myself, so it worked very well.

I am exercising.

I have a love-hate relationship with exercising.

When I'm not doing it, I hate the thought of exercising. I don't want to get sweaty. I don't want to move my body and ache and work.

Once I've been doing it a couple of weeks, though, it's fine. I love it. I feel vigorous and powerful.

I'm not there yet.

But I'll get there.

Making Healthier Choices for Life

After reading the following, I tried some Healthy Choices meals –

A 2010 study funded by ConAgra Foods asked participants to replace 10 meals each week with a portion-controlled Healthy Choice meal. In addition to replacing lunch or dinner (or both) with a Healthy Choice meal, the participants added 2-3 fruits and vegetables to their daily food intake.

After one month, the participants had lost an average of six pounds and an inch from their waists and improved their diets significantly.

“This study reinforces the fact that portion control is fundamental to successful weight loss,” said Mark Andon, Ph.D., vice president, Nutrition, ConAgra Foods. “What's new and exciting is that study participants enjoying portion-controlled Healthy Choice frozen meals for lunch or dinner not only improved the quality of their diets, they also reported an increased sense of well being, having more energy and feeling healthier after just 30 days.”

I am looking for ways to make small, positive changes in my diet. Incorporating a portion-controlled meal, like Healthy Choice, could be a simple way to do that.

The Meals

This was my first time ever trying Healthy Choice meals. I didn't know what I was missing!

I had a couple dozen frozen Healthy Choice meals from which to choose at my local grocery store. I picked General Tso's Spicy Chicken (one of the new Cafe Steamers) and Beef Tips Portobello. All of the meals looked good; I had a hard time deciding.

Incidentally, they are on sale this week at Giant grocery stores. Now that I've tried a couple, I think I'll pick up more!

I really like that each meals' nutritional highlights are on the front of the package. At a glance, I could tell which meals had the most protein, the least fat, and the number of calories.

General Tso's Spicy Chicken from Healthy Choice

The General Tso's Spicy Chicken came in a two-part bowl, and it was totally unlike any prepared meal I'd ever made before. The instructions said to put the whole thing into the microwave without venting it. I was skeptical, but I did exactly as the instructions said.

The rice was cooked perfectly, the veggies were not mushy at all, and the chicken was moist. General Tso's Spicy Chicken tasted great. It was very flavorful; I was not expecting it to be as spicy as it was (perfect for me, but I really like spicy foods). It didn't look like enough food, but it was filling. When I'd finished the meal, I was satisfied.

Obviously, my portion control meter is off.

Beef Tips Portobello from Healthy Choices

The Beef Tips Portobello looked like the tv dinners I remember; it even included dessert.

I'll admit that I didn't have high hopes. I was expecting this meal to be bland and mushy, especially after the unique design of the Cafe Steamers.

It was neither bland nor mushy. The beef tips were tender, and the mushrooms were perfectly firm. The vegetables were a little softer than I prefer, but not mushy. They had lots of flavor, as did the rest of the meal.

Including the caramel apple crisp.

Both meals were very good, much better than I expected of packaged, frozen meals.

This post was sponsored by Healthy Choice and The Motherhood. I received 2 free meal coupons as well as a stipend for my time. A positive review was not required, and all opinions are my own.

© 2011 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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