Ask the Expert: Volunteer shares two best tools that helped her lose 60 pounds

By Laurie Ledford, Registered Dietitian

Donn Corder has battled extra pounds for most of her life. So, when she decided to fight back, she turned to two tools – measuring cups and a food scale.

Corder, 59, who has volunteered in pastoral services at TMC for two years, was attending a lunch-and-learn session for volunteers when she learned about the center’s weight management program.

“I knew I needed to do something,” Corder explains. “My weight was creeping up and no matter what I seemed to do, it wasn’t going away. I also knew I didn’t want surgery and I didn’t want a ‘system.’ I wanted to eat real food and not something out of a box.”

Corder met with me and I went over her bloodwork to determine any risk factors. Corder was borderline on cholesterol and she comes from a long line of family members with diabetes.

Corder was surprised when she left the visit without a food plan to follow. Instead, she left with a food log, instructed to write down everything she ate for a week.

We discovered her servings were too large. The average serving for cereal is one cup. She had been just filling her bowl, and the result was twice that.

“I eat fast, so I didn’t realize how much I was eating. I started measuring and weighing everything,” she says. And she started to be more conscious of what she was eating.

Take cheese – a food of which Corder is particularly fond. I asked if she could really taste it in her salad, for example. And the answer was: Not especially. So, we agreed Corder should eat her cheese, but she should have a chunk of it as a snack and really savor it.

Same with ice cream. Come on, who eats half a cup of ice cream? But now, if Corder has a craving, she buys those individual servings at the grocery store to help her manage the portion size.

She made other little changes. Two percent milk dropped to 1 percent. She makes her own salad dressing. She makes snack bags of trail mix with just mixed nuts and raisins, because the ones at the store often have candy in them. She even put two weeks of snack bags in her carry-on luggage when she traveled.

With the help of our physical activity counseling, she also added activity – whether it’s walking the hallways at TMC, jumping on the elliptical machine in the living room or taking the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

“It’s worked for me because I don’t feel deprived. I still have my favorite things.”

The only downside? A shopper she is not, and she now needs new clothes.

“You’re not going to be perfect every day, but it’s a question of whether you can make progress overall. It’s made a huge difference for me because I feel better, I sleep better, and I have more energy.”