At first, I did not realize how valuable Cook Smarts would be to losing the weight. Cooking healthy, wholesome, home-cooked meals instead of eating out or having processed food around all the time really helped build healthy eating habits in our home. – Brian
Three years ago Brian realized that his attitudes towards food didn’t match the healthy lifestyle he wanted for himself and his family. So, he took up internet research and stumbled upon Cook Smarts. In 2016, we featured Brian’s cooking story about his newfound joy in healthy cooking. Through our meal plan service and our “Log to MyFitnessPal” feature, Brian is now 110 lbs down, more productive at work, can run a 5K, and has maintained it all for over a year! This healthier lifestyle has brought him closer to his wife and daughter as they cook together and spend quality time over a homemade dinner every night.
Name: Brian Powers
City, State: Windsor, CO
The Cook Smarts recipe version(s) I use: Mostly Paleo, though we do several vegetarian meals when they pique our interest. In the past, we have used all of the recipe options and we’ve been happy with all of them.
My favorite cuisine to cook is: Before starting Cook Smarts, I had never really cooked any Asian or Indian dishes. I really value the exposure to those styles of cooking – such amazing flavors!
The 3 pantry items I cannot live without are: cast iron skillets / wok (the same skillets my grandmother used 60+ years ago), Sriracha / Chili Garlic sauce, homemade nut butters (peanut, cashew, walnut, etc.)
The top 3 Cook Smarts meals in my dinner rotation are: Mojo Pork Bowls, Thai Chicken Ramen, Black Bean and Spinach Skillet Enchiladas (though there are so many other great meals to choose from)
What have been the main factors in your weight loss journey?
First and foremost – my family. I want to be happy, healthy, and be the best father and husband that I can be. I want to set a good example for my daughter and establish healthy eating habits early on in her life that will hopefully last a lifetime.
In starting my weight loss, I had to recognize that my attitudes, assumptions, and perceptions about food portions and caloric content were wrong. Once I started paying attention to nutrition labels and weighing portions on a food scale, I quickly realized how I became overweight.
I did some internet research about meal planning and healthy eating, and I came across Cook Smarts. I recognized the value of meal planning and grocery list generation and signed up. At first, I did not realize how valuable Cook Smarts would be to losing the weight. Cooking healthy, wholesome, home-cooked meals instead of eating out or having processed food around all the time really helped build healthy eating habits in our home.
A few months after starting Cook Smarts, I began to use MyFitnessPal. By accurately weighing portions, tracking calories, and holding myself accountable to what I was eating, I realized that sustainable, long-term weight loss comes down to math – calories in and calories out. Cook Smarts added the feature to automatically import meals into MyFitnessPal, and I have been using both daily ever since.
I have lost 110 lbs and maintained that weight for over a year now!
What’s been the biggest change in your family’s eating habits since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I think the biggest change in our eating habits has been the presence of home-cooked meals virtually every night of the week. We no longer look around after work and ask, “What’s for dinner?”
With Cook Smarts, I have a plan to cook every night. Before Cook Smarts, we used to throw together whatever was in the pantry into some semblance of dinner. Now, our family dinners have a clear purpose with the added benefit of minimal food waste. We find ourselves wanting to eat out much less often since the meals that I cook at home are generally healthier, taste better, and cost a lot less!
On the rare night where I do not have a meal planned, I have found that the cooking skills I’ve learned after 3+ years of Cook Smarts allow me to raid the pantry and throw together a meal that is healthy and tastes great without following a recipe.
What challenges did you face while transitioning to healthier meals?
When I first started Cook Smarts, the prospect of prepping and cooking a meal for dinner every night seemed like a monumental task. I came to find out that I enjoyed the process and love to cook! Combining my newfound love for cooking with the results of long-term weight loss and I was hooked. Devoting time in the kitchen has a great return on investment!
How has meal planning with Cook Smarts affected your lifestyle outside the kitchen?
Meal planning with Cook Smarts has streamlined our meal selection and grocery list creation. This gives us extra time to be together as a family.
Cook Smarts has been instrumental in me getting in better shape – the meals give me fuel for workouts! I have completed the Couch to 5K program (I’ve never been a runner before). I find that I have more energy throughout the day when eating healthy food that improves my motivation and productivity at work.
With Cook Smarts . . . we find ourselves wanting to eat out much less often since the meals that I cook at home are generally healthier, taste better, and cost a lot less!
How has eating healthier made you feel about yourself, your life, or your family?
By creating the habit of cooking healthier meals, I definitely feel that we have grown closer as a family. By sitting down around the table every night we have the opportunity to interact and communicate more than we might otherwise if we did not have sit-down meals as frequently.
I am thrilled to see my three-year-old daughter showing an interest in the kitchen, and I love her watching her Daddy cook! She loves to climb up on her step stool and help me prep and cook our meals. As a result, she’s usually more invested in trying new meals that she helped to prepare!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to lose weight while still enjoying a good meal?
Start now. Don’t wait for tomorrow, next week, or next month. If you are not a Cook Smarts member, consider giving it a try and see if it will work for you and your family.
I would recommend getting a food scale so that you can get accurate readings for ingredients and serving sizes that you can easily log into a meal tracking app like MyFitnessPal.
Cooking at home will save you money, and you can closely control what you eat and how much you eat. Cook Smarts helps to facilitate meal planning, ingredient shopping, prepping, and cooking with a solution that I have embraced as an integral part to my weight loss journey and continued maintenance of a healthy lifestyle.
Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment, Brian! Your commitment to being the healthiest and best husband and father is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story and showing us how weight loss can be healthy, fulfilling, delicious, and maintainable. We’re truly proud of you and so happy to be a part of your journey.