I know the word on the street is that diets don't work... and I'd say, generally, that is accurate.  You have to make lifestyle changes, right?  Well, the truth is, I'm perfectly good at maintaining my weight.  I run enough to counteract my sweet tooth and the things I like to eat.  And while I love my sweets and my steak, I still eat relatively healthy.  I eat a lot of vegetables, don't cook with much fat, and don't eat out that much.  So when I finally decided to take off this last 18 lbs (slowly... 10 between now and June and the other 8 between June and October), a diet is exactly what was in order. 

Now, don't go crazy on me, here... I use the term diet very loosely.  I don't calorie count.  I don't live off salads for every meal.  I don't follow Atkins or South Beach or take any pills.  What *I* personally consider a diet is making small conscious choices that will allow me to cut my daily calories.  My weight has always been controlled more by my food choices rather than my exercise.  Obviously, I get plenty of exercise.

So what are these "choices" I'm talking about???

- I typically have 2 sweet snacks a day.  When Paige naps, I'll usually get some chocolate from the candy bowl (probably way too much).  And then after kid bedtime, if we have dessert around, I'll usually have something or else I'll dig into the candy bowl again.  Do you see a pattern?  I tend to eat poorly when my kids are asleep.  Can you say "me time"?  I think also, subconsciously, I know they'll call me out on it if I have 6 pieces of candy... after all, they are only allowed 2 small pieces after dinner.  So on my "diet", I am allowing myself only ONE dessert period a day.  If I have a sweet snack during naptime, then I don't have one at night.  But for the most part, I have been skipping nap sweets, and having some sweet nibbles after dinner.  I have also been having my dessert at the table with the kids when they have theirs, which means I'm typically having less.  Yes, last night I still had a slice of pound cake with ice cream and chocolate sauce (I had made the cake and sauce for Valentine's day)... but I only had one scoop of ice cream (rare for me) and only a tbsp of chocolate sauce.  I know that doesn't look diet, but that's a lot less sweets than I normally have in a day.

- I have been doing a great job at avoiding fast food, which is something I should be doing permenantly.  But if I do eat at one in the next 15 weeks, I plan to order a kid's meal.  It's really plenty of food, and I get to enjoy some good old fashioned junk food without piling on the calories.

- Portion size... I've been cutting back ever-so-slightly.  And staying away from seconds.  For instance, today for lunch, instead of making my own sandwich and then a half for Paige, I just shared mine with hers (she only eats about 1/3 of a sandwich anyhow).  Not a huge cut, but 3 good 100 calorie choices each day is plenty to lose the weight at the rate I'm hoping for.

- Post-gym... I often am REALLY hungry after the gym.  I'm trying to curb that with a small snack with a good carb/protein mix, and attempting to not completely stuff my face or stop by the Chick-fil-a drive through for a chicken biscuit.  I might have just worked out, but I didn't burn THAT many calories.  Also, if I'm planning to drop by the grocery after the gym, I pack myself something small to nibble on.

- Snacks - In general, I'm a sweets person, but I still have a major weakness for crackers and cheese... and not just a nibble, and not low-fat cheese either.  I like the good stuff.  I've been trying to keep myself to one snack a day (not including post-gym snack) and having that snack the same time my kids have a snack (right after school at 3:30).  I am also trying to keep that snack relatively small and somewhat healthy.

- If we go to our family favorite restaurant tonight, which we often do on Fridays... I will stay away from the yummy oil-covered rolls... but I'll still be having my chicken pasta or salmon, for sure!

As you can see, there are no "rules" necessarily.  Three good 100-calorie decisions each day can get me to the finish line just fine.  There's no deprivation or starvation.  Anyhow, so if you hear me mention my "diet", I wanted to be very clear about what that meant.  Trust me, this girl isn't starving!!!  ;-)