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Shannon Can’t Cook, But That’s Changing, Thanks to ‘The SparkPeople Cookbook’ Editor’s Note: Shannon (DARSHAN130) recently reached out to The Link me with an idea for a new blog series. She suggested “a review of ‘The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight’ from a member. Kind of a ‘Julie and Julia’ kind of thing where someone with lackluster cooking skills goes through the cookbook from front to back making all the recipes and blog about their experiences along the way. I am awaiting my cookbook to come in the mail and can’t wait to start cooking.”I loved the idea, and Shannon’s blog series starts today. She won’t be sharing every recipe, but instead she will be sharing some highlights from her journey to a healthier self–and a better cook! Take it away, Shannon!I would like to start by telling everyone a little bit about myself. I have been married to my lovely husband, D, for over 15 years. I love to read, garden, and Goods Shipped-Air Jordan 6 Retro Dynamic Blue Shoes ID 8899623 spend summers at the lake or in my backyard oasis in the city. We spend as much time with family and friends as possible and have two large dogs that complete our immediate family. I work full time, attend school and share in the household responsibilities. I am quite proud of what I can accomplish some days, while others I wish I could get more done. In general, I would say that I am in a good place right now.However, that was not always the case. About two years ago I was depressed. I felt alone despite being surrounded by loving people. I was unhappy with myself, my looks, my career and my weight. Being in such a miserable place, unhappy with my life I was not sure what direction to head. It was then that a co-worker introduced me to SparkPeople. I have been hooked ever since.And so my journey began.When I started SparkPeople I was 270 pounds, morbidly obese and in deep denial. I didn’t think I was that big. After all, I am “big-boned” and 6 feet tall. (And I gave any other reason I could come up for excusing my size.) It wasn’t until I saw pictures of myself at my brother’s wedding that I realized how big I actually was. Was that me in the picture?No way, the camera adds 10 pounds (more excuses). Well, I must have had a lot of cameras on me that day because I not only looked big, I was big. I started interacting on SparkPeople, reading articles and inspirational stories.I realized that these are real people, and if they can do this, why can’t I? I found and still find the site infectious–even addictive. The positive attitudes, the fact that people don’t put each other down, and the encouragement make it simply an amazing place to be. It took me a little bit of exploration and courage before I started to take steps toward my healthy lifestyle, but I am sure glad that I did. In the last year and a half I have lost 70 pounds. The Unique Colors Air Jordan VIII Retro Bugs Bunny 2013 Shoes ID 8899623 When I started I was a size 24 and now I can wear a size 14. All through portion control, getting active and improving my outlook on life. I credit SparkPeople with it all. I do still have some more weight to lose and would like to break the 200-pound mark. My goal weight is 180 pounds, which would put me into my healthy weight range for my height and age. It also would put me at a smaller size than I was in high school.In the past year I have changed so much physically and emotionally that people I have known and had worked with for years don’t even recognize me.Once they realize it’s me they cannot believe the transformation and say that there is a light in my eyes they had never seen before.Despite all of my SparkPeople success I have one problem I am still trying to overcome and it is about time that I face it.I CAN’T COOK.There I said it. Now you are wondering how I managed to lose so much weight by not knowing how to cook. I’ll say it again portion control and getting active. I am lucky in so many ways including the fact that my husband and I take turns cooking.His meals are wonderful, but not always diet friendly, and consist of a lot of pastas with cheese, Mexican delights and the occasional superbly made dessert, such as four-layer chocolate mocha cakes with hand dipped almonds.My fare, however, does not fare so well and consists greatly of pre-packaged meals where very little skill is involved. Although this is not the best or healthiest meal plan, I have been able to stay within my calorie range most days and am 20 pounds away from my goal weight loss of losing 90 pounds. But as my calorie range has been steadily decreasing I have found my appetite increasing and am finding it harder and harder to stay within those ranges. Enter the need for healthier, fewer calorie-laden foods, no fillers, no by products, no artificial colours or flavours.So, I thought what better way to learn how to cook than by reading a cookbook. However, I soon realized that I can read about being a doctor or surgeon but in doing so it does not make me a doctor or surgeon.So on to Plan B, Cooking. I have decided to go through The SparkPeople Cookbook testing out recipes and trying techniques in the hopes to become a better cook. This means no more pulling the tab to rip open dinner. Real ingredients, real food cooked by me.I warn you there may be fires, there may be famines but in the end, by George, I hope to acquire some good cooking skills, knowledge and recipes.I have started out on my journey by reading The SparkPeople Cookbook, learning about the different techniques. I have also made an inventory of key ingredients and tools I need to do justice to the recipes. I have also scheduled in time on Sundays to review my weekly meal plans and shop for fresh ingredients. I must say so far it is a very interesting read. Just like the website, it is full of helpful information and inspirational stories.For my first review I plan on making the highly recommended Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken, which also includes preparing my own taco seasoning, for a dinner. I am also going to prepare Stepfanie’s Oatmeal Mix for a breakfast and the Crunchy Chicken Salad for a lunch. Wish me luck and I will let you all know how it went next time. Until then eat well and have fun.Which recipe from The SparkPeople Cookbook do you recommend I try next?We will be sharing monthly updates from Shannon on dailySpark.com! Related Link:

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