Finding my Feel Great Weight had nothing to do with strict dieting. It was all about eating healthy foods that filled me up while still allowing myself to indulge my sweet tooth so I wouldn't feel deprived. I love sweet treats like cake and cookies, but enjoying them a little too much prevented me from losing weight. Now balancing my carrots with my cupcakes keeps me healthy and sane!

Ditch the diet mentality
I realized a long time ago that diets don't work—especially in the long run. I used to set myself up for failure with restrictive meal plans that didn't allow for my favorite foods. Inevitably, I'd only last a few weeks on the plan before I got frustrated and quit. And then, almost immediately, I'd regain all of the weight that I had lost. I love to eat so by not allowing for the occasional splurge, I wound up overindulging when I found myself near my favorite sweet treats.

Cutting dessert out of my  life also made me miserable and obsessive—I couldn't stop thinking about all of the foods I wasn't allowed to have! Instead of ditching sweets, I pare-down my portion sizes. I allow myself to indulge in a small piece of high-quality chocolate almost daily. I love Lindt Lindor Truffles. They're rich, delicious, and portion-controlled—and they're only about 75 calories each.

Schedule your splurges
While a small piece of chocolate each day is a delicious way to indulge my sweet tooth daily, sometimes I really want to splurge. That used to mean donuts, pastries, and cookies almost daily—they were hard to resist when they were sitting in my office kitchen. But splurging never felt special since I was doing it so frequently.  I felt powerless to my cravings.

To keep my sweet tooth from taking over my life, I schedule a specific time each week to enjoy a really a decadent dessert. For instance, every week on “Cookie Friday” I allow myself to enjoy any treat I want. Needless to say, I really look forward to Fridays now!

Make it a balancing act
I'm not one to pass up dessert on a special occasion, but I know that those additional calories will eventually show up on the scale if I'm not careful. So I slightly cut down my calories at the meals before and after each splurge. That way I don't feel deprived, plus I don't blow my calorie budget for the day. I also try to squeeze in 15 extra minutes to my workout when I can.


My favorite oatmeal raisin bars.

Get creative in the kitchen
Making my own baked goods allows me to control what ingredients go into my treats. My favorite healthy baked treat are oatmeal raisin bars, which I make with heart-healthy oats and canola oil. They're so delicious that they don't last more than a couple of days in my house! And I recently started experimenting with a tofu product to bake a light and moist vanilla cake.

Learn to live with it
Is there anyone who doesn't feel disappointed in herself after really blowing her diet? I've been there too many times, so I've made peace with the fact that I love sweets and don't ever want to eliminate them completely. I recognize my limited control around certain foods, so giving myself permission to act on these cravings (in moderation) emphasizes my conscience decision to splurge. I also make sure to savor each bite of my treat and enjoy. No guilt allowed!

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.