Girlfriends' Diet Club: The Weight-Loss Program That Helped 3 Women Lose 60 Pounds

By Kristyn Kusek Lewis, "Girlfriends' Diet Club," January/February 2014

Three women discovered they shared the same goal: to lose 20 pounds and keep it off. Here’s how they developed their own weight-loss program to slim down—and how you can too.

The Diet Club Plan.

Judy was a longtime subscriber to EatingWell and had almost every issue going back to 2002. She hauled out her stacks of back issues and the three women began flipping through the magazines and compiling lists of recipes that sounded appealing. “I realized that this could be an opportunity to finally try all of the recipes I’d been marking over the years,” Judy says. In addition to a weekly dinner plan, the group devised a plan to move forward. These guidelines, they say, helped them stay on track.

All three women are about the same (petite) size, so to lose weight healthfully they needed to eat about 1,200 calories a day: 300 calories at breakfast and lunch, two 100-calorie snacks (one morning, one afternoon) and a 400-calorie dinner. For breakfast, lunch and snacks, they made their own individual choices, though they often cooked big batches of soup to share for lunch and traded meal ideas, like crock pot oatmeal, which became a breakfast favorite. “We were so committed to sticking to our 400-calorie dinner rule that when we made something like a casserole, we’d actually line a ruler up against the baking dish to make sure that we cut the correct portions,” says Judy.

They carefully planned each dinner together and one of them emailed out the schedule after their biweekly meeting. Dinners had to be delivered in portioned packages by 6:00 each evening. Each week, two women cooked twice and one cooked once, which meant that over the course of three weeks, each woman cooked for the group just five times. The cook was only responsible for feeding their group of three—not each other’s families—but, says Nancy, “if it was my night to cook and it was something that I thought my family would like, I’d make it for them plus two other portions for Judy and Julie.”

Every other Sunday afternoon, the group met for an hour to compile the next two-week meal plan. “We really tried to keep it to an hour because we were all so busy and we wanted the experience to be as simple as possible,” says Julie. They brought photocopies of the recipes that had been previous hits, which they each added to notebooks they compiled, along with ideas for the next two-week calendar. “If I was craving something in particular I looked it up online and brought the recipe,” says Nancy. Over the course of the 10 months that they cooked for each other, only one recipe was vetoed—a Greek salad with sardines suggested by Nancy. “I still think that they’d like it if they tried it!” she laughs.

Each vowed to exercise at least five days a week. The women were already walking together daily—either in the morning or evening, depending on their schedules, and often twice a day. The evening walks quickly became an occasion to recap the dinners that they’d just eaten. When a new gym opened nearby, all three joined. “When it rained, instead of walking, we had elliptical dates,” says Julie, who also traded workout DVDs with Nancy.

Next: More Than Just Losing Weight »

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