Waist Watchers: Lean Meals to Go

Waist Watchers: Lean Meals to Go

SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are considered overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health, and for a lot of people, trying to shed pounds, it can be a challenging journey.

For starters, it's tough for a lot of us to find time to cook something healthy and nutritious. That's why more and more people are doing it for us with meals that are good for us and good to go.

Alexandra Megilligan had good intentions over and over again. At her heaviest, she weighed over 200 pounds. She's a little over 5' tall.

"We all say we're going to start Monday. Then it's next Monday," Megilligan says.

Four years ago, she stopped procrastinating and started her journey to a healthier lifestyle. She hit the gym and changed her diet. Her personal trainer, Fred Zoller of Lean Training Studio in Slidell, was amazed at the meals she not only logged, but photographed for her food journal.

Zoller says, "I told her most people would love to eat like this. They know what foods to eat. They know what they should be doing, but they can never put together a meal like you do."

For different reasons, so many of us take the easy way out when it comes to meals, hitting drive-thrus for fast food or just eating out instead of cooking in.

"People just don't have the time," Zoller says. "The other thing is, quite honestly, some people just aren't happy about cooking. They're just not that into cooking."

Megilligan's not only into cooking, it's her life. For 16 years, she has owned Pizza Depot in Slidell. The lunch buffet draws a hungry crowd, but now the "more than just pizza" sign means a lot more.

Zoller remembers telling Megilligan that a lot of people are looking for an alternative and that she was their solution.

"I kinda laughed and said are you kidding me? Who's going to come to a pizza restaurant for lean meals?" Megillian recalls. "He said you'd be surprised - and I was surprised."

Her know-how in the kitchen combined with Zoller's nutritional and fitness know-how led to the creation of "Lean Meals by Alex."

"We use fresh herbs, fresh cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, nothing tricky and nothing preserved, " Megilligan says.

On Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, the pizza oven is still working overtime. Megilligan and her workers put together hundreds of lean meals to go. This particular week, one meal consists of turkey burgers, green beans and roasted sweet potatoes. Another meal is pesto chicken salad with lettuce wraps and mixed berries.

"There's no bread, no tortillas, corn, stuff like that," says Zoller, who offers his input when needed. "It's the sweet potatoes, quinoa, brown rice, all the things that are conducive to just being healthy."

Her meals are less than 400 calories. They consist of 40 percent protein, 35 percent fat and 25 percent carbohydrates.

"The way we designed her meals is to always be conducive to weight loss in the amount of protein, carbs and fats that we have," Zoller says.

Megilligan has hundreds of meal combinations, but offers between three and five meal choices each week.

"I do a really popular pasta-less lasagna with eggplant, zucchini and squash. Those are the layers and then I put stewed chicken in between and I bake that," Megilligan says.

She's part of a growing trend in the world of nutrition and fitness of healthy, perfectly portioned meals to go. Her customers say they look forward to Thursdays when the new menu comes out.

Pierre Jeansonne orders as a many as 12 meals a week. He's going for a healthier diet, but when asked if he could cook like that at home, he replied, "It would take me all day. I've tried it before and doesn't work."

Many customers, like Shelly Young, say it's both convenient and good for their waistlines.

"I've lost probably 9 or 10 pounds," Young says. "It could probably be more, but I still have my cheat days."

Megilligan is also 60 pounds lighter in her own journey towards a more balanced lifestyle. Surrounded by temptation, she hopes to continue helping others find the right balance when it comes to healthy living.

"We've all kind of slipped back into our old habits at some point in time, but the important thing is to get back into it," Megilligan says. "And this is my way of being able to help people do that."

Most of the lean meals from Pizza Depot cost between $5.99 and $7.99, and there's no minimum order.

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