Kristen, our "Be Portion Aware" coaching client, has a really big reason to change the way she eats: she's getting married May 19, 2012, and she wants to drop two dress sizes by then. Right now she's a size 12, but she's most comfortable (and not too skinny) as a size 8.

So that's Kristen's motivation, and here are her challenges:

1. She's a road warrior, traveling away from home for business Monday through Friday. She's usually based in smaller towns, where her 20-something male travel companions opt for dinner venues like Subway, Jimmy Johns, and inexpensive buffets. "Lean Cuisine does not fill me up," said Kristen. "I can only eat salads for so many days; at the buffets I eat and eat and eat."

2. She's engaged to a man who seems like he can eat anything and not gain a pound. He has an aversion to vegetables (but will cook them for Kristen). "No fruit, no vegetables, but he'll cook huge steaks," said Kristen. "I made him get rid of the deep frier."

3. She moved from Minnesota to Chicago, and her lifestyle has changed. "In Minnesota I was on the trails, excersizing outside all the time," said Kristen. "In Chicago, it's bars and drinking. Plus, with Scott, I go out to eat more."

Today, Kristen is 5'4" and 175 pounds. She's healthiest and happiest at 145, and would like to see those extra 30 pounds go away before the wedding. And here's a terrific thing about Kristen: she knows how to lose weight by changing her lifestyle.

A few years ago, Kristen lost 50 pounds by exercising, eating salads, and giving up "pop." It took her 1-1/2 years, but she did it, healthfully, losing 1 to 2 pounds per week.

But today, Kristen is on the road most of the week, traveling through smaller towns where inspired fresh salads can be hard to find. She likes to eat, and she likes to eat in volume. So what do we do to help Kristen get to a healthier weight, and Be Portion Aware?

1. Eat As Much ____ As You Like: Since Kristen likes to graze, I needed to give her one portion without control and so I gave her: veggies. Kristen can have all the leafy greens, green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower she would like. She has committed to bringing a knife, veggie peeler, and cutting board on the road, and will ask her hotel to provide a mini fridge. That way Kristen doesn't have to rely on fast food establishments for her vegetables; she can grocery shop and take care of herself in her home-away from home. She loves eating vegetables and a low-fat salad dressing as low-cal, high-volume office snack; now she can.

2. Have Smarter Snacks: Kristen told me that she makes "snack bags" to bring to work every week, so she is already in the habit of portion control by putting her nuts in little bags! Unfortunately, she's filling those bags with 1/2 cup of nuts, which is about 400 calories and far more than she needs for a snack. So how do we get Kristen the volume she craves with fewer calories? She can use a scant 1/4 cup of the nuts, and fill the rest of the bag with popcorn or puffed cereal (she loves Chex Mix). Alternatively, check out these healthy snack ideas on

3. Be Portion Aware with Protein: I've asked Kristen to fill half her plate with vegetables at every meal, and Kristen caught a loophole: if she can have endless amounts of vegetables, what's an appropriate portion of protein? Here's some suprising news: 3 ounces of animal protein provide 21 grams of protein, and according to the CDC, Kristen only needs 46 grams of protein per day. So 3 ounces of protein at every meal is more than enough. Check out the CDC to find out your daily protein needs.

As we were wrapping up Kristen's coaching session, a colleague actually came by her office and offered her a fried sandwich with fries (for free), which she reluctantly passed up. As they say, there's no such thing as a free meal, and in this case, Kristen was being burdened with fries and more fries.

Who is on Kristen's side in the Portion Awareness battle?! We are! So feel free to add your two cents, and inspiring thoughts for Kristen, as she eases up on portions, and eases into that size 8 wedding dress.