We've assembled a task force of staff from our Birmingham offices to try the Cooking Light Diet for 3 months and blog about it. Here's what they're saying.

------By now, you've probably heard about Shonda Rhimes' dramatic weight loss. Rhimes, creator of such famed shows as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, dropped 117 pounds in a twist almost as astonishing as some of the ones she writes into her television shows. But in an interview with sister magazine People, Rhimes said about her diet that she "hated it the whole time." Now that's just sad. "Once I decided it wasn't going to be fun, I lowered my expectations," she explained. "It got kind of easier."

If I were a Rhimes admirer or even just a person seeking weight-loss inspiration, that type of reflection would make me miserable. In fact, people telling me how hard losing weight would be is precisely why I put off making the lifestyle changes I needed to lose weight for so long.

When people tell me how much they hate their current diet because they're depriving themselves of sugar or carbs or fat, that doesn't inspire me. I don't want to have to give up anything or deny myself any food group in the name of "dieting." What's more, they brag about how strong their willpower must be because they've gone weeks without eating their favorite foods just to lose weight. That's not willpower. That's torture.

Any diet that tells me I can't eat the foods I crave and love is not a diet for me. That's why I've been so thankful for the Cooking Light Diet.

I've worked at Cooking Light for the past 4 years, so I've known for quite some time the power for changing lives our recipes have. I just didn't know those recipes would change my own life.

Over the last month, I've used recipes exclusively from the Cooking Light Diet, and I've lost eight pounds. (That's a hard-earned eight pounds because I've been sitting in a weight-loss rut since the spring.) That's also in addition to the 50 I've lost over the last year and a half using exclusively Cooking Light recipes. But I credit the Diet for its thoughtful meal plans complete with healthy sides, filling snacks, and tasty meals for getting my weight-loss path moving again. Despite my best efforts before, I was falling short on my meal planning. I wasn't balancing my plates very well and getting enough fruit in a day. The Diet has filled those holes for me.

Each Sunday, I sit down with my Cooking Light Diet meal planner and lay out my meals and snacks for the week. When I know on Sunday that I'll be eating Grilled Flank Steak with Chipotle-Orange Mojo on Wednesday or Apple and Bacon Pizzas on Friday, I crave those foods all week. I'm not tempted to run through the drive-through because I've been thinking about and dreaming about my meals since I planned them on Sunday.

And you know what's great? I don't hate anything about it. I'm eating real, delicious, healthy foods. I'm not depriving myself of anything. Sure, I can't eat all of the mac and cheese, but I do eat mac and cheese. And yes, I only get a piece of the crispy rice treats, but I get crispy rice treats! On a diet!

This morning, I read a more positive reflection from Rhimes about her decision to get healthier. "I want to live a long life for myself and for my children. I want to feel good," she writes in her upcoming memoir Year of Yes. "And once I say that, I have to buckle down and do the work and not complain and accept that the work is going to be hard. Because that is what it is. Work. Hard. Work.... If I say yes, the life I save will be my own."

Diets that are miserable aren't meant to last. They often don't even work. Diets that are delicious, that don't punish you, that let you eat food that makes you happy... those are the diets that work and the diets that change lives. At least, this one's changing mine.

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