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updated: 3/3/2014 6:01 AM

Hold the chopsticks: Chinese food not on nutrition plan

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By Lisa Jones Townsel

When I met with my personal trainer, Joshua Steckler, for my first full training session at Push Fitness in Schaumburg, I was hyped.

I was ready to sweat, push and gush while he barked fitness commands. But that didn't happen.

Steckler, who is actually mild-mannered and even-keeled, used that session to discuss my nutrition plan that would include 1,800 calories spread out in five meals. He explained the need for me to eat a specific combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and what that might look like. I would also need to drink about 100 ounces of water.

I figured that I would just do it, and that I would already have most of the needed healthy items at home. I was wrong.

I didn't have a food scale, nuts or healthy nut butters without sugar, and so on. The week was chock-full of chaos, and frustration and ultimately more determination than before I started.

That first day on the nutrition plan was a bust. I was supposed to only eat a half banana; I ate the whole thing. By the time I made it to my next destination, the only sustenance that was remotely on the nutrition plan was peanuts, and I overdid it.

The worst part was that I gave in to temptation that night and had Chinese food for dinner. Off plan, yes, but I reasoned that I'd select the healthiest of the offerings.

I ate vegetables on a bed of white rice in a Szechuan brown sauce. What was I thinking? None of that was on plan!

But, I am an honest person, so I did put it in my food journal, knowing that my trainer's eyes would bulge. I felt like an embarrassed schoolgirl showing him my list. Steckler looked at it and used it as a teaching moment to explain why I needed to be prepared at all times with healthy food choices.

He was right. After that, I went to the store to load up on healthy options to stow in my purse, car and fridge when needed.

In the back of my mind, it was hard to believe that meals made of what seemed like lightweight ingredients -- nuts, four ounces of meat, veggies and fruit -- would really satiate my robust appetite, but it has.

Each day, I feel more confident that I will be able to do this.

I thought that maybe I should ease into this, maybe sample out the nutrition plan first, but Steckler assured me that I wouldn't starve. He said the plan was set up to nourish my body with clean, whole foods, and that the water would help to flush out toxins.

Nervously, I have waited to see if hunger pangs would follow; it's been almost a week now, four pounds down (despite the Chinese food fiasco), and they are nowhere to be found.

Lisa Jones Townsel, a freelance writer and substitute teacher, loves Chinese food but not enough to let it deter her from her goal. She's vowed to put the chopsticks away for now.

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