How One NYC Mom Uses the Cooking Light Diet to Beat Takeout Temptation
2020 required a lot of...we'll call it "adjustment." From all of us. Abnormal became the normal, time lost all meaning, and food was often a crutch we leaned on all too willingly while living through a global pandemic.
New York City resident Heather Wells was no exception to this "adjusting." As associate director of events for Pace University's Manhattan campus, Heather had to pivot all aspects of her job to a less personal setting. Community town halls became virtual; meetings with the IT department and university higher-ups went from in-person to Zoom; priorities shifted from campus events to project management. Typically commuting to work 5 days a week from the Upper West Side, Heather started working from home because, well, the city was locking down. It was definitely an adjustment.
"I've personally always enjoyed working from home," Heather said. "I can do it. I can juggle, I can organize, I can keep a timeline, and I can get my job done. But the fact that I'm not going in at all makes you long for connection."
Like many others, Heather, her husband, and son left NYC as it started to lock down, heading upstate to spend a couple months with her mother in Troy.
Only what was supposed to be a two-month stay turned into 10. And, of course, the pounds followed. It was 2020, people!
"Even though we were moving from a family of 3 to a family of 4, we were still eating way too many calories," Heather said. "Then when you throw in COVID drinking on top of that..."
Needless to say, when Heather returned to the city in the fall, she'd gained a good 20 pounds. And since she was already about 15 pounds overweight going into that, she wasn't in the best place from a health standpoint.
"I wasn't unhealthy per se," Heather said,"but the weight made me numerically unhealthy—higher cholesterol, trouble sleeping, et cetera. "And I thought, 'There has to be a better way to do this.'"
And, luckily, there was!
Cooking Light Diet vs. The Big Apple
Heather had discovered the Cooking Light Diet pre-pandemic, but she didn't actually start until January 2021. Heather is someone who likes to cook, so the meal plan presented an appealing value: to have a weekly menu that provides structure where calorie intake is concerned but also offers enough variety. As Heather said, "We're a family of three—but we're a family of three different people."
As a New Yorker, Heather found the city itself also posed challenges that Heather would need help overcoming.
"Living in NYC, it's so easy to fall into that 'let's order in' trap," she said. Her son and her husband aren't picky eaters, so the thousands of options available daily in the Big Apple were all tempting. Add to that limited storage space that comes standard with big city life, and there were some definite boxes Heather wanted checked in a meal plan.
But so far, so good, according to Heather.
Firstly, the meals have been a huge hit for the whole family. Heather's son, not normally a big fish eater, gave glowing reviews for the Panko-Crusted Cod with Tomato-Basil Relish recipe she served not long ago. Heather loves that they can still have burgers at least once a week, whereas before the CLDiet, that'd mean ordering in. So the ability to still have meals her son would consider "normal" has meant this change has been embraced not just by Heather, but by her whole family.
Secondly, did we mention Heather is saving a lot of time and money now that she's started using the Cooking Light Diet?
"Now we're saving money because we have more control over our groceries, and we can double a recipe if we see that down the road we'll need leftovers," Heather said. "We also have a lot more food in the house that's not going to waste anymore, so it has for sure saved time and money."
Plus, Heather said the Cooking Light Diet has also met the challenge of storage space in New York City head on.
"We don't have extra space," Heather said. We have a basic-size fridge, too, so what we do is plan three to four days at a time. And the way you're able to select and un-select items on the shopping list is huge help because we can have everything delivered and then see what we didn't need or had too much of and make adjustments based on that. So that's made a huge difference, which is why we're also able to save money."
Maybe the best part of the Cooking Light Diet experience for Heather so far—aside from the 16 pounds she'd lost from January? The way she's been able to seamlessly adapt this to her life, as opposed to adapting her life to it.
"Having the lunches right now being home all the time is huge! We're literally able to order what we need in the house and not worry about what we run out of, or ordering in," Heather said. "We have everything we need for lunch, and there are easy work-arounds if someone doesn't want what's on the menu. So now we have good good in the house all the time. If my son gets hungry, we always have kale or spinach, blueberries or bananas, and almond butter, so we've got the makings for a quick smoothie...so it's just been easy having good food in the house for breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
"It's like a meal delivery service, minus the delivery."
Heather had subscribed to meal kit delivery services before. But even with dinner delivered, she'd still need to figure out what to do about breakfast and lunch. And that's partially why she considers the Cooking Light Diet to be a quasi-meal delivery service...just without the delivery.
"I don't see this too much differently than a meal delivery service, other than they don't shop for you," Heather said. "To us, this is a meal service, and it's clicked for our family."
Unlike a meal delivery kit, though, the Cooking Light Diet provides Heather options beyond just what's been delivered. And a lot of the meals they've enjoyed since the start of the year have become go-to favorites, like the Creamy Chicken Salad that Heather said she's riffed on a couple different times because of how much her family enjoys it.
Heather said she'd also started Noom since beginning meal planning with the Cooking Light Diet, and she's been enjoying using both services in tandem to achieve results. There's a big caveat to her Noom usage, though:
"I couldn't do Noom without the Cooking Light Diet because I feel as though I'm not so stressed about what I'm making, and I have a family to feed in addition to what I'm trying to do," Heather said. "I foresee Noom going away at some point, but I don't see the Cooking Light Diet going away for us. We like the menus, and we like the structure. It's easy to plan, and it's easy to take with you—we may take it back on the road upstate with us this year. It's just still going to be very easy and very seamless."
This is "not a diet."
Despite the name,"it's not a diet," Heather said. "It's not something that's forcing you to put restraints on yourself. You're actually opening up—I would imagine for a lot of people—how to eat, and providing more variety. That being said, I can guarantee my husband has lost inches [in his waist]."
Besides, a diet doesn't have such delicious meals available!
"I feel as though I've made a drastic change, but I've gone back to a better and more wholesome way of eating," Heather said. "We have more control over everything. But if the recipes weren't as tasty as they were, this just flat-out wouldn't work. But they are, and it makes the whole thing so much easier."
Easier is what we aim to do, so mission accomplished. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Heather! We hope those daily commutes will be a lot more enjoyable in 2021.
If you want to lose weight, save time and money, get more variety in your meals, or just have someone else do all the planning for you, subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today.