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Weight Loss Challenge Week 3: Healthier Baking

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Blogger Mandy Dawson, a mom of two kids, has made it her mission to get healthy and lose 50 pounds. Over the next eight weeks, she'll be working with wellness guru Debi Silber to get on the right track to meeting her fitness goals. Check back every Thursday for an update on how she's doing in our Weight Loss Challenge series.

After rich cheeses, deliciously tender roasted vegetables, and mouthwatering meats — all part of the program I'm following with wellness expert Debi Silber to meet my weight loss goals — I was itching to do a little baking. I have a soft spot for all things sweet. And bready. Which is why this mental shift has been such an amazing thing.

When I say mental shift, it is truly a change in the way I think about food. I’m no longer speaking in Diet-ese. You know…the language of the dieter.

It’s been three weeks and I’ve not had sugar, dried fruits, legumes, processed food, grains, or potatoes. I had to change my diet to be successful; I couldn't do it halfway — I had to do it 100 percent. And the change in how food tastes has been amazing. Apples have never been as sweet. Berries are bursting with flavor. Even the cheeses have a savory tang of salt I’ve never tasted before. My taste buds, long buried under sugars and salts — even with diet “food” — are awake and ready to party.

This week I had two assignments from Debi:

1.    Journal my changing mindset towards food; the shifting emotional and mental thoughts I’m having.
2.    Bake, experiment further in the kitchen while keeping staying away from the aforementioned foods.

The first assignment has been interesting. I’m surprised by how little food is starting to matter in my life. As a self-professed foodie, this is alarming. There have been days when I’ve been too busy to cook and am happy, satisfied even, with a handful of almonds, a string cheese, and carrots with hummus for dinner. Somehow, someway, eliminating foods has resulted in freedom from food.

I know, I know. You’re skeptical. So was I. So I still am at times. Three weeks ago, I told my friends about my new “diet” in near tears, wanting to quit before I even started. The idea of not having my lovely herb bread or my co-worker's 14-pound carrot cake was not just impossible to contemplate but was actually scary.

I was scared of not having cake and bread.

There are a lot of things to be afraid of in life. Lack of carrot cake should not be one of them. Now, a mere three weeks into this program and I’m boggled by my initial fear of not being able to eat a specific type of food. If that’s not addiction, I’m not sure what is.

But that brings me to the second assignment. I love baking yummy things from scratch, and, as Debi said, there’s no reason to stop. I just have to bake more healthfully. So with my friend Tara’s help, I started compiling a Pinterest board of recipes: blueberry- lemon bars, flat bread, tortillas, pizza crust, all free of grains and sugars.

The results have been fun and somewhat amazing. My first blueberry bars, with two tablespoons of Stevia powder, were so sweet I couldn’t eat them. My ex tried a bite and looked at me in consternation, “You forgot the sugar.” The breads and crusts I attempted should never have entered a kitchen. They were so bad the kids and I immediately tossed them to the chickens in our backyard.

I’m excited to keep experimenting in the kitchen, to keep tweaking recipes, and to realize, honestly and for the first time, I don’t think I’m on a diet.

Related posts:

Week 2: Grocery Shopping & Eating Differently
Week 1: Will a Pro Help Me Lose Weight Finally?