Cooking Light Diet members share how changing the way they ate affected their lives.

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Switching to a diet plan that actually works can be the difference between just losing a few pounds and making a real, sustainable lifestyle change. And we’re firm believers that the Cooking Light Diet provides the latter. For proof, you could ask members like Elena Harris, who has the energy to run 5Ks again, or Sue Given, who’s lost 80 pounds and is able to enjoy more activities with her kids . Or you could talk with members of the Cooking Light Diet Facebook Community, which is exactly what we did.

We wanted to know how utilizing healthy eating habits learned via the Cooking Light Diet has changed their lives, and their responses were inspiring. From taking walks instead of craving cookies to trying foods they would have never otherwise touched, here are seven ways Cooking Light Diet members are experiencing real lifestyle changes.

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Feel Better Every Day

Food choices can have a major impact on not only your weight, but also your overall well-being. Patricia Reidy Lawrence says, “I've been on the Cooking Light Diet for more than two years and lost near my goal of 30 pounds. I stay with it because I just feel better. All my medical numbers improved, I have more energy, and I just love having a plan, which makes life so much easier.”

LM Burton agrees. She says, “I’ve lost about 15 pounds since December. This is a way of eating for my health, and I love it.”

Learn to Control Cravings

Julie Coutlee learned to control her food cravings with healthier alternatives, like taking a walk or buying a new book. She says, “I try to figure out what triggers my cravings and meal prep for the next day ahead of time.”

Create a Positive Relationship With Food

Dieters can have a tricky relationship with food, especially if a diet calls for eliminating food groups or ingredients. But switching to a healthy meal plan can drastically improve how you view food. Elizabeth Striegl says, “I have always been a stress eater and an emotional eater. This diet has helped me develop a much more healthy relationship with food. I understand why I am eating, when I am eating, and why that all matters.”

Patricia Reidy Lawrence agrees, and she stopped making herself feel guilty for her food choices. She says, “I'm thankful that I have my Cooking Light Diet plan. I love that even when I have an ‘off day’ I don't have to get caught up in guilt. I have a way back to what I know makes me feel better and be healthier, and a way back to that really delicious food!”

Set Realistic Goals and Rewards

Cristen Sankey Abrams has followed the Cooking Light Diet for about a month and a half and has lost 19 pounds. She says, “I set goals like fitting into some dresses I haven't worn in a while, fitting into my underwear again, or buttoning my pants.”

Cristen also found ways to treat herself without adding calories. She says, “I make iced tea and vitamin water zero my treats. Or a cup of coffee. I look forward to the Cooking Light Diet meals. I allow myself treats when I need them. And twice I've just taken a day off. I still made better choices, but I just wanted to eat that Chinese food without thinking too much.”

Have the Energy to Exercise

The better you feel from eating well, the more motivation and energy you have to make healthy decisions in other parts of your life — like physical activity. Susan Jester says, “Since last May I’m down 25 pounds, and I just added yoga and barre classes. I feel great and I’m eating great.”

Try New Foods

If you take the time to plan delicious meals from your suggested Cooking Light Diet menus, you’re bound to try something a little out of your comfort zone. Patricia Reidy Lawrence says, “Cooking Light recipes are so reliably good that I feel safe in using them to try new foods, ingredients or cooking techniques. I encourage everyone not to be afraid to try something new. You may discover a new favorite that you have been missing out on! For me that was avocado and mushrooms. I now buy them every week.”

Margaret Calhoun adds, “Cooking Light Diet has helped me eat more fruit and adapt during the week when impromptu lunch or dinner plans come up. I'm not wasting as much food.”

Get Excited About Eating at Home

You won’t even want to head to the drive thru when you start making your own delicious meals. Lisa McWhinney says, “I totally love how excited I am about meal planning and cooking. A month ago, I really thought this was going to be an ordeal, not something I would enjoy, but something I had to try to get my weight under control.”

She adds, “After three weeks, I find myself looking forward to waking up for breakfast and going home for dinner. I don't even want fast food or even restaurant food, because I know I have fresh, home cooked food waiting for me at home. And it seems good mentally too. It feels great to put together something so delicious.”