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Article updated: 2/14/2012 5:20 AM

Batavia chef shares weight-loss struggle on national TV

Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia demonstrates healthful cooking earlier this month at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. Lamplough will be featured on the new Food Network show “Fat Chef” on March 1, which follows overweight chefs as they work to lose weight.

Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia demonstrates healthful cooking earlier this month at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. Lamplough will be featured on the new Food Network show "Fat Chef" on March 1, which follows overweight chefs as they work to lose weight.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia cooks chicken for gyros while demonstrating  healthful cooking Feb. 1 at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva.

Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia cooks chicken for gyros while demonstrating healthful cooking Feb. 1 at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

This chocolate mousse by chef Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia is low in fat, sugar and calories.

This chocolate mousse by chef Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia is low in fat, sugar and calories.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Phyllis Kmetz of Downers Grove, right, smiles as she finds out she won a cookbook by chef Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia during a cooking demonstration by Lamplough at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Kmetz is a volunteer at the food bank.

Phyllis Kmetz of Downers Grove, right, smiles as she finds out she won a cookbook by chef Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia during a cooking demonstration by Lamplough at the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Kmetz is a volunteer at the food bank.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Staff member Maeven Sipes hands out samples of chicken gyros and a cucumber, tomato and feta salad while Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia demonstrates healthful cooking earlier this month at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva.

Staff member Maeven Sipes hands out samples of chicken gyros and a cucumber, tomato and feta salad while Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia demonstrates healthful cooking earlier this month at the Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva.

 

Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Five months ago, Jen Bucko Lamplough of Batavia fit the bill for the new Food Network television show "Fat Chef." The co-author of two cookbooks on healthful eating for diabetics wasn't practicing what the books preached.

The 37-year-old was 100 pounds overweight. And not just because of what she tasted as a chef instructor at Robert Morris University in Chicago. There were also the meals at home and the passes through fast-food drive-throughs. The pounds had piled up since her freshman year in college.

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She knew that if she wanted to become pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy and be physically fit to raise children, something had to change. Now.

So when a chef friend mentioned on Facebook that the Food Network was looking for subjects for its new show, Lamplough jumped at the chance.

"I was at a point in my life where I was ready to ask for some help," she said.

And after four months of intense exercise, meal revisions and therapy, she jokes the TV show should be called "Not-So-Fat-Chef."

The show

The show, which premiered Jan. 26, features two chefs per episode. Lamplough's episode is scheduled to be broadcast March 1.

Filming started Oct. 6. Lamplough was assigned to health consultant Robert Brace, who evaluated her fitness and what she was eating, then designed a plan. Then, Lamplough started working out, two hours a day, six days a week. She joined River West Family Fitness Center in downtown Batavia, where owner Chris Hylton became her local personal trainer, with visits from New York-based Brace. "They had fun taking turns killing me in the gym," Lamplough said.

Particularly rough was Hylton's daily "Boot Camp" class. "I have never been in such good shape in my life. My butt shrunk so much, so I call it booty camp," she said.

Fitting that exercise in around her full-time job meant going to the gym at 5 a.m. before work, or sometimes working out at RMU's fitness center on her lunch hour.

What to eat

Learning what to eat wasn't an issue. "I'm actually an expert at it," Lamplough said. Her problem was eating too much. "I just love food. I am a foodie," she said. Her parents owned a Dairy Queen. Family gatherings involve meals. "We needed to change our ways a little bit," she said.

"We needed to change our ways a LOT."

During her weight-loss journey, Lamplough made recipes out of her own cookbook. And she started therapy to deal with emotional issues she believes led her to overeat, including the death of her father when she was a freshman in college.

And did it all in front of TV cameras.

"It (losing weight) is such a hard, private thing, and you are putting it out for the world," she said.

Lamplough will be live tweeting during the broadcasts at 9 p.m. Thursdays at fitfoodiechef, and she has a Facebook page, Facebook.com@fitfoodiechef. She plans to start a website soon.

Lamplough raves about the show being a positive experience. Unlike other reality TV shows, this wasn't a contest. There was no snakiness or backstabbing. And it shows people that you can focus on weight loss and good health, even while leading your everyday life. "We weren't shipped off to a ranch somewhere," Lamplough said.

Today

So far, Lamplough has lost 52 pounds. She shared that fact with a crowd of about 40 who attended a recent presentation she made in the demonstration kitchen at Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva. The food bank, which supplies food to charity pantries and other nutrition programs, wants to also educate people about good nutrition.

Lamplough's stepmother-in-law, a volunteer there, immediately thought of Lamplough.

She made a tomato-cucumber-and-feta salad, low in fat and only 75 calories per cup.

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