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Ten in 2010: Q and A with RecipeGirl and How to Lighten Up Those Meals!

S Caron By



Lots of people make resolutions centered around losing weight, healthier eating, more exercise and the like. But only some actually do something about it. And this year, a group of bloggers have gotten together to support each other - and nonbloggers too - to achieve health-oriented goals during the first 10 weeks of 2010.

Called the Ten in 10: Ten Weeks to Healthy in 2010, this movement has drawn wide attention across the web. Lori Lange, who writes RecipeGirl, answered a few questions about the plan and her advice for others looking to get healthy.

TBSPblog: In your post about the challenge, you mentioned that it was named during a Twitter brainstorming session. What sparked the idea to have a healthy lifestyle challenge for this New Year?

LORI: A few of us (Maria Lichty from Two Peas & Their Pod, Jen Schall from My Kitchen Addiction and Katie Goodman from Good Life Eats) were chatting on Twitter one day about wanting to make some healthy changes in 2010, and I offered to put together an event where we could all participate, share experiences and motivate each other to succeed.

Through our conversations on Twitter, we discovered that we all had different ideas of what being healthier meant... some of us needed to lose weight but some of us even needed to gain weight, and some people just wanted to cook healthier, drink more water or have better sleep patterns.  Our goals really varied, which laid the groundwork for the challenge:  a ten week commitment to making a healthy change in your life... whatever that means to you.  It seemed like a good idea because each person would be to able to set their own healthy goals, and anyone & everyone could participate.  Jen Schall from My Kitchen Addiction designed a logo for us, I set up a team for us on SparkPeople.com, I wrote a blog post introducing the challenge & invited others to join in, and we were all set!

TBSPblog: I read earlier that there were nearly 300 participants now -- were you expecting this response?

LORI: We currently (as of today) have just over 300 participants from 39 states and 11 countries.  The response has been delightfully overwhelming.  I really thought there would just be a handful of Twitter friends taking part, and it has grown into much more than I ever imagined.  What's great is that we have a wide range of people who are participating... lots of food bloggers and bloggers of other topics too, blog readers, students, older folks, and even a couple who is traveling the US in their RV.

TBSPblog: How are participants supporting each other? Have you gotten any feedback on how things are going so far?

LORI: The emails, comments and tweets I've received about the challenge have been overwhelmingly positive.  Everyone has been very vocal about how grateful they are that I've put this together.  I think it helps people to know that there are others out there who struggle with health-related issues and to have some sort of support system in place helps give them a real mental boost to their challenge.

I've chosen to write about my experiences with the challenge on my blog on Saturdays (as are many other bloggers).  I've also set up a Ten in '10 Team on SparkPeople.com where participants can track their food intake & fitness and also have discussions in our team forum.  Twitter has been a terrific source of inspiration.  Do a search using the hashtag #10in10 and you'll find loads of people tweeting about their experience with the challenge!

TBSPblog: For someone looking to lighten up their meals, what do you suggest they do?

LORI: Follow the bloggers who are participating in the challenge!  They'll be cooking up some great, healthy recipes for sure.  Subscribe to Cooking Light, Eating Well and Weight Watchers magazines- they all have great recipes for cooking lighter.  There are some good low fat cookbooks out there too.  Low fat soups and chilis are very filling and are perfect for those who are watching their weight.  They can be portioned out and freeze easily.  I personally like to cut down on the bad carbs (white flour/potato/rice/pasta) and focus instead on using more whole grains.  Meals in my home consist of more lean protein and lots of vegetables, sometimes including a small side of whole grain rice or pasta.  I find that cooking an actual meal (using a creatively written, flavorful recipe) instead of just whipping up a broiled chicken *** and a side of vegetables is much more satisfying and realistic.  Eating healthier can taste just as fabulous as the way you used to eat, and you'll feel better too.

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Alright, now that you know all about the challenge, are you ready to get healthy during the first 10 weeks of 2010? We are! (By the way, you can join the challenge by heading over to RecipeGirl's site via the links above. Don't worry, you don't need a blog to join in the healthy fun.)

For me, my healthy challenge is to eat better and drop some pounds. So I am lightening up my family's meals and exercising more. Here's how you can improve your eats too.

How to Lighten Up Your Meals:

1. Use More Grains - Brown rice. Quinoa. Cous cous. Whole wheat pasta. They can all be delicious. And they are a great part of healthy eating since whole grains help your digestive system do its job.

2. Cut the Fat - You can eat the foods you love, without ingesting all the fat. Just use less oil and other fats. Try stir-frying with half the oil and a hot pan. Or lighten up French fries by trading the deep fried ones for oven baked fries. Or better yet, make sweet potato fries in the oven.

3. Load Up on Fruits and Veggies - Fruits and veggies aren't just good for you. They are low calorie and high impact for your body. So eat more of them, and eat a big variety.  You get different nutrients from leafy greens than you get from red and blue fruits and veggies, so make it a challenge: can you eat a rainbow today?

4. Cut Back on the Meat - Here in the U.S., many people have gotten in the not-so-good habit of eating big portions. Reset your expections. Instead of building your meal around a large piece of meat, go for a smaller portion and load up on the (healthy) sides. These days, my family eats about four ounces of meat per person for dinner – that works out to a pound per meal for the four of us. With a salad, carb and veg, it really is enough.

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