"Here's everything, and we're going to let you decide what you want to have today."

By Matthew A. Moore
June 01, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Caitlin Bensel

Quick: Think of a job that sounds stressful. What'd you come up with? If you said "parent," we'll give you that one. Did anyone have "therapist for therapists"? Because maybe it's just us, but...that seems pretty stressful. And when you combine parent and therapist for therapists...well, let's say whoever that person is could probably use some catharsis.

Well, we found that person, folks. Her name is Liz Shaw, and she took up baking at the start of the COVID pandemic. Maybe we should back up a bit first.

Liz lost her job due to COVID, so she picked up baking less out of a need for catharsis and more as something to pour time and energy into. But her relationship with baking soured faster than the dough she was making.

"I made some killer cookies, cakes, and other baked goods," Liz said. "I've always yo-yoed, too, but after my last successful bread I decided 'This is unacceptable!' It was more weight than I felt comfortable holding onto.

Credit: Liz Shaw

Luckily, change was on the horizon, and as Liz put it, "Life is taking a change and configuring my new life to fit it."

New Beginnings

Liz started a new job as a clinical social worker in August, around the same time she decided to switch from baked goods to the Cooking Light Diet. Both she and her husband were in the same boat and on the same page in terms of needing to make  healthy changes, and Liz knew Cooking Light was a brand she could trust when it came to good food.

"I've been a Cooking Light fan for a very long time," Liz said. "I have a collection of recipes that I cut out of magazines, I have the cookbooks, et cetera, so Cooking Light is something I've always been familiar with. For me, it's a trusted name."

Credit: Liz Shaw

So when Liz saw how easy and affordable the Cooking Light Diet was she knew it was a small risk scenario, despite her employment status.

"I knew I wanted something with flexibility and when I saw it was only $30 or something for everything, I thought, 'Yes, I'm unemployed, but I can still afford this.' Worst case scenario is I don't do it and I lose $30. I've lost that on ridiculousness before. But it was just so easy."

A Lifestyle Choice, Not A Diet

Liz can name many reasons why implementing the Cooking Light Diet into her family's lives has been so easy. The first and most obvious reason is the food. Favorites like the Slow Cooker Santa Fe Meatloaf and Open-Faced Crab Cake Sandwiches with Tzatziki have made home-cooked meals feel luxurious without feeling arduous. Liz calls the crab cake sammy special because "it's not something I ever would've made for myself or bought ever. It just seemed involved, but it was so good and so easy." 

Credit: Photo: Jason Wallis

Another reason why Liz's days have gotten easier? Her picky eaters aren't so picky anymore. Her daughter's new favorite meal is the Vietnamese Caramel Chicken. "For her to taste and enjoy something is so exhilarating to me," Liz said, "and the fact that they're international meals is also very appealing."

Being able to introduce her kids to the flavors of the world in their own kitchen is an incentive to keep using the Cooking Light Diet that Liz didn't even know she'd discover. But she did, and so far, the kids are alright.

Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

Accountability...Without the Guilt

Change when it comes to food can be sensitive for lots of people, and Liz is no exception.

"There's so much emotional tie-in with food," Liz said. "That's part of the reason I went into this field—to understand more about that connection."

That being said, Liz tries to take the emotion out of food. And she says the Cooking Light Diet has been helpful in that regard. "It keeps you accountable without making you feel shame or guilt, which is so wrapped up in eating," Liz said. "Cooking Light Diet gives you the freedom to not say, 'you're bad if you didn't do this.'"

The Cooking Light Diet, Liz says, combines variety with the ability to mold her meal plans to her needs. That adaptability means this diet doesn't focus on what so many others do: deprivation.

"It's not at all about deprivation," Liz said. "People feel like in order to maintain their goals, they need to deprive themselves. But deprivation brings on shame and guilt. This doesn't do that...whatever your comfort food is, you can find it."

Liz cites that guilt and shame associated with deprivation as a main factor for why so many people have trouble making behavioral changes when it comes to how they eat.

"Weight is so emotionally laden," Liz said, "and what I see on the scale is what judges me as a person. And when you're already stressed from everyday life, you don't need another thing. And the thing about being a therapist is people are so hard on themselves...[so] a lot of times when people are having difficulty with behavior changes, you have to take it very slowly. When you start an exercise routine, after all, you don't start the first week walking 10 miles. It's unattainable. Start by walking to the mailbox each day. It's something you can achieve."

It Won't Work For Everyone, But...

It works for Liz, but that doesn't mean she thinks everyone will get jazzed up about the Cooking Light Diet.

"Cooking is something I love," Liz said. "There are so many things I'm tempted and encouraged to eat [on this meal plan], but my best friend literally doesn't know how to boil water. This is for someone who enjoys being in the kitchen or wants to learn more in the kitchen."

But if you fall into that latter classification, you're going to love the Cooking Light Diet. Because the food is really good, and that distinction is imperative to Liz's success in losing over 23 pounds since she started.

Credit: Liz Shaw

"You don't eat something just because it's healthy; you want to eat it because it's delicious. So anyone wanting to try new cooking experiences and who wants to get those benefits will call this a win-win."

The results have been surprising and refreshing for Liz, and the freedom to make her own choices is a big reason she'll hopefully continue to use the Cooking Light Diet for the long term.

"I can make my own choices," Liz said. "I'm not beholden to what someone else is telling me to do. You can look at the email and see what was planned for today, or not. You're keeping tabs on yourself but not in a way that's militant."

And in a way that's a lot less stressful than not having a framework and having to do all the planning from scratch. Talk about making life less stressful. Speaking of less stressful, Liz didn't think losing the pounds she has so far was tough. Know what was tough? Getting started with a new lifestyle change and breaking old habits. After that, the rest was, well, crab cake.

"The beginning," Liz said. "It's so, so tough. It's just making it over that hurdle that's so hard. So I'm not as proud of myself for the weight loss, but for making it over the hump."

We are proud of you too, Liz. Thanks for letting us share your Cooking Light Diet success story!