CURRENT WEIGHT 130 pounds (Size 6)
STARTING WEIGHT 268 pounds (Size 22)
I grew up in an old-school Italian family in which cheese-smothered foods like pizza and baked ziti ruled the dinner table—and I never understood the meaning of full. I was a chubby child, an overweight teen, and an obese adult. At thirty-six I was 268 pounds, but worse, as my kids loaded up on junk food under my watch, I knew my overeating was setting a poor example. I remember the night it hit me. I was at our favorite diner—feeling out of breath but still ready to dig into my jumbo cheeseburger—when I realized this latest high-calorie indulgence would just make me feel worse. I had to change.
Is your diet making you gain?
Cooking Up Better Health
I quartered my portions, read about nutrition, cooked for my family (good-bye, greasy diner), and wrung calories from every one of my favorite childhood meals. If it called for whole milk, I'd use fat-free. I replaced butter with applesauce in desserts. For taste, I went crazy with spices—garlic and fresh herbs galore. It was trial and error at first, but now I'm a pro. When I feed big groups, no one is the wiser that everything is half the calories!
Losing to the Beat
I started moving—when I cooked, I'd play music and dance around my kitchen. I was too embarrassed to work out in public, but as pounds came off, I grew confident and started walking with friends. Six months later and seventy-five pounds lighter, I joined a gym. Now I exercise five days a week but move all seven.
A New Family Legacy
My proudest achievement? My boys are equipped with the knowledge to make healthy decisions for the rest of their lives. I'm no longer the McDonald's mom. It took me a year and a half, but I've created a lifestyle that's not going to change.
Eating rules that help you burn fat
I'm training to join a bike club. Recently, a group passed me by. I tried to keep up, but I wasn't quite there. I'm working to amp up my speed and endurance.
Linda's Healthy Take On...
Pizza: On flat-bread, sprinkle low-fat cheese and top with leftover grilled veggies.
Baked ziti: Opt for ricotta and mozzarella made from fat-free instead of whole milk. Simmer fresh herbs, garlic, and mushrooms—not fatty meats—in sauce to add flavor.
Meatballs: Use a lean beef or even ground turkey in ninety percent of the meatball, and use just ten percent fattier meat. Load up on spices and toss into the oven (not the deep fryer).
Tiramisu: Try nonfat cream cheese and halve it, swapping the rest with light devil's food pudding. Use egg substitute, not eggs, and make sure the milk is fat-free. Layer with light ladyfingers.
Eggplant Parmesan: Skip the eggs—dip in fat-free milk instead. Go easy on whole wheat bread crumbs, and bake, don't fry. Top with low-fat cheese.
LINDA STARTED A BLOG dedicated to her "4 Ds"—a mantra she used to get slim. For more info, check out lindakutenitsweightloss.blogspot.com.
Healthy Weight Loss Success Story: Linda Kutenits
"I Cooked My Way from a Size 22 to a Size 6!"