You’re the Next Contestant on Let’s Make a Meal

May 18th, 2012 by Kathryn

My husband and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary (hooray!). It was fun to look at our wedding album and reminisce about our ceremony and reception. It was also a fond memory to recall that my dress zipped up the morning of our wedding since I had reached my weight loss goal of… zipping up my dress (equal to losing about 20 pounds). True to the cliche, happiness has put about ten pounds back on my frame since then and I’m aiming to get rid of them!  For me, then, part of our anniversary reminisce was going back to my food journals of 2011.

My key to dropping those pre-wedding pounds was keeping close track of my caloric intake. My “food journals” were just spreadsheets that tallied up my calories throughout the day (I just love me a spreadsheet – especially one with formulas!). I tried to keep my intake around 1600 calories a day. At first this seemed like the most tedious thing I’d ever done, but over time it transformed into a kind of game. I thought: Whaaaa? Did I just make calorie counting fun? Yes! You’re the next contestant on… Let’s Make a Meal!

To do the best I could on as a contestant on this game show, I aimed to eat as much as possible for those 1600 calories. Some of my favorite foods are pretty healthy and relatively low-cal if eaten in appropriate portions. I was surprised at how much really good stuff I could eat and still stay in my calorie budget. The nice thing about this approach was that I didn’t cut anything out of my diet; I just knew if I ate this bag of chips now, I’m sacrificing my three Oreos after dinner. (Not gonna lie, sometimes I ate the chips and the Oreos. You can’t win every day.)

The other fun perk I got out of my calorie counting game show was that I would often plan out my whole day of eating while I ate breakfast. That way I knew how many calories I needed to save up if I was planning on having that leftover piece of cheesecake for dessert that evening. This might sound like a lot of planning, but I’m a food nerd that LOVES to plan ahead. One must be diligent if one is to win Let’s Make a Meal. Another benefit of this planning ahead was that I found myself looking forward to the things I’d get to eat throughout the day – and savor each bite just a little bit more.

So here’s what a typical day looked like for me on Let’s Make a Meal:

Breakfast:  Black coffee; 2 slices toast with peanut butter: about 400 calories
Lunch: Tuna Salad (with light sour cream, capers, red onion) on rye; carrots; apple: about 450 calories (Total for day: 850)
Snack: CHOCOLATE (sugar free, but still chocolate… ): 100 calories (Total for day up to 950)
Dinner: Chicken sausage with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted asparagus: about 475 calories (Total for day: 1425)

Tell her what’s she’s won, Johnny… a glass of wine!

Oh, do I still have calories left? YES! I’ll take that glass of wine, Johnny: approximately 175 calories for a total of…. 1600 calories total for the day! (Applause sign on!) It makes me so happy that I can eat so many different kinds of food in one healthy day – including chocolate and wine – and still be right at my caloric mark.

So, I’m back with my food journals, lovin’ that spreadsheet again and trying to shed those ten pounds before I hit the beach for a few games of volleyball this summer. Let’s make a meal. In fact, let’s make three. And let’s add a snack. Maybe most importantly, let’s add that glass of wine and feel like a real winner. Ahhh, it is so good to win.

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One Response to “You’re the Next Contestant on Let’s Make a Meal”

  1. avatar Jane says:

    Congratulations on your one year anniversary. Work on those pounds because after 20 years (like me) more like to creep up on you!!

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Kathryn Premo Mingione, has lived in Chicago for four years and recently joined the team at The Chopping Block as a Class Assistant. Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Kathryn learned to value and take interest in food at an early age. Her double major at UW-Madison in Elementary Education and Theatre serve her well in her position as a Kids Club Manager for the Chicago Athletic Clubs. Those skills are also great assets at The Chopping Block in helping folks learn to love cooking and in adding some entertainment to it too! When she's not taking care of children, cooking, or baking, she enjoys the other good stuff in life: spending time with friends and family, especially her wonderful and willing-to-taste-any-new-dish-she-makes husband, Louie.

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