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East County Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 5 months ago

Lakewood Ranch area woman recommends to trade fad diets for simple lifestyle changes

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Carol Shabe in University Park shows lifestyle changes reap longterm benefits.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

University Park Country Club’s Carol Shabe has no idea how many calories she consumes each day, but she knows she eats plenty of food.

Her healthy choices — salads topped with fresh vegetables and homemade vinaigrettes instead of fatty, premade salad dressings, for example, have allowed her to keep off more than 100 pounds she dropped seven years ago.

At 5 feet, 3 inches, she weighed about 250 pounds. Now she hovers between 115 and 119 pounds.

“It’s satisfying to lose the weight,” Shabe said. “I want it to continue to work. I was ready for it.”

Shabe said she struggled with her weight her entire life. She was a “chubby” kid in an Italian family and loved to eat. She and her husband, Jack, could split a pound of pasta for dinner and think nothing of it.

However, in 2011, at her doctor’s recommendation, Shabe began meeting with Boca Raton dietician and nutritionist Linda Filenbaum, who talked with her about heathy food choices and portion control.

“She was wonderful,” Shabe said. “It just clicked for me. She was very encouraging.”

She liked that Filenbaum did not recommend any particular diet but instead coached her on making healthy food choices, using appropriate portions and modifying recipes.

Shabe reduced her intake of less healthy carbohydrates, such as pasta and rice, to a half cup per serving and now has virtually eliminated them from her diet simply to keep herself from overindulging. She portions proteins, such as chicken or fish, to about 4 ounces.

When cooking, she uses less fats. Instead of sauteing onions in mounds of butter or olive oil, Shabe browns them in low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. She tops salads with balsamic vinegar or other vinegar-based homemade dressing rather than a premade one.

She and Filenbaum would talk about recipes and the food journal Shabe kept at the time. Shabe enjoyed it. She loved to cook and found the art of modifying recipes to be a creative outlet of sorts.

Before, she might have eaten a half pound of pasta topped with shrimp and cheese or meatloaf with rice for dinner.

“I would eat typical food, comfort food,” Shabe said. “I would eat too much of it.”

Now a normal day’s breakfast consists of oatmeal with a quarter-cup of fruit, six almonds and two spoonfuls of yogurt. Lunches typically are large salads topped with chicken or fish, fresh vegetables and a homemade salad dressing, and dinner might be a piece of salmon with two steamed vegetables on the side.

“I cook differently — that’s what I like about this,” Shabe said. “It’s amazing to me. It tastes delicious. I do like to eat a lot of things, [but] I choose the right thing now.”

At the time she was losing weight, Shabe also started going to the gym to exercise, mostly as a way for something social to do. She got hooked on it and has continued to go almost daily since moving to University Park in summer 2016. It was then she took up tennis, which she had not played in 25 years.

“I play tennis every day, and I go to the gym every day,” Shabe said. “It sets up my morning, and in the afternoon I can visit with friends.

She had tried various diets over the years but now believes instead of dieting, one should focus on lifestyle changes.

Shabe said she likes her new way of living, and it is not a hardship for her.

“I feel like I’m in control of my life,” she said. “I feel like I’m in control of what I’m doing with myself. I love it.”

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