Welcome Katie Anderson, guest blogger who is reporting on her Cooking Light Diet journey. Follow more from Katie on her blog,

When I saw the ad on Facebook in late February for the Cooking Light Diet, I didn’t even know I was looking for help. I was tired of being tired all the time. I did not like carrying around 20 extra pounds. I was over not fitting in my clothes. Yet I hadn’t voiced my unhappiness at all. In fact, I blogged about how I was NOT going on a diet, dang it! Apparently, the angel on my shoulder was telling me to click on that ad, while the devil on the other one kept telling me to eat a cupcake. Finally, I listened to the right one at the right time.

As my three-month stint on the Cooking Light Diet comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on how much life has changed. Mealtime has become easier, happier, and more fun—for me and my family. I have had healthy, delicious recipes planned out for me, a shopping list prepared for me … it’s like having that personal assistant I’ve always wanted! I have finally learned how to eat right and smart. I know what an acceptable portion size is now. I know what empty calories are now. I learned how to savor a meal. I now know why I gained enough weight to look unhealthily pregnant.

I learned that I was basically addicted to sugar. I drank soda every day, ate dessert of some kind every day, and ate candy too often. What a waste of calories! I would inevitably have that sugar crash, which would lead to more sugar intake to get energy. No wonder I was tired all the time.

On the diet, I hardly had any sugar, quit soda and candy, and cut way back on dessert. I found that once I got off sugar, I didn’t crave it anymore, and I had more energy. Now, most desserts are too sweet for me, and I only want one on occasion.

I learned better cooking techniques. I became a better cook with new recipes and ingredients, but also because I had more practice. Sure, we still eat out, and we have our busy nights, too, and that’s going to happen. I now have realized the necessity of cooking, and this diet has given me quick and easy meals to cook on those crazy busy days. I simply must cook. There’s just no way out of it, if I care about my health and my family’s health.

Everyone is tired and busy and dinnertime can be stressful, but we need to cook, as author Michael Pollan writes in Cooked, “Not every day, not every meal—but more often than we do, whenever we can.” And not only for our physical health … we must sit around real food at the table together for our family’s emotional and spiritual health. The Cooking Light Diet has brought my family back to the table.

I still have my weaknesses. I still love chips and chocolate and wine and cheese and pizza. I always will. But through this diet, I have learned how not to deprive myself of these delicious foods, but instead, how to incorporate them into my diet in a smarter way.

My relationship with food has completely changed for the better, and as a result, I feel better, look better, and am a happier person. I’ve lost 14 pounds. I’ve gone down a belt notch. I’m wearing dresses again. I’m exercising with renewed energy. I never thought I could lose weight, but I did it. If you are thinking about losing weight and don’t think you can do it, I was there, too. If I can do it, anyone can. You can love food and lose weight. Who knew?

I am so appreciative to Matthew Moore, community manager and weight-loss counselor extraordinaire, who has been a wonderful support whenever I hit a rough spot or wanted to share my success. Also, thank you to the entire Cooking Light Diet team. You’ve all done a good thing. You’ve helped me live a better life. In fact, I don’t even think of it as a diet anymore. It’s just how I live.

*Members following The Cooking Light Diet, on average, lose more than half a pound per week.

See More: