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5 steps that helped Jeff Rossen maintain his nearly 30-pound weight loss

Jeff Rossen lost nearly 30 pounds for a weight-loss challenge for TODAY. After 2 years, he's managed to keep the weight off.
/ Source: TODAY

This has been excerpted from ROSSEN TO THE RESCUE: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers, and Major Catastrophes.

I’ve had a long-running battle with my weight. And it’s something that I think about every day. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. That’s almost a given, I suppose, when you’re in front of the camera every morning — nothing gives you “body shame” like national TV. Sometimes the camera can feel like one of those funhouse mirrors at a carnival, where suddenly you have a double chin or a beer belly.

That’s all in your head, you might argue. Maybe. Except that one morning, in 2015, producers at TODAY came to me and said, “Hey, we’re doing a weight-loss challenge. Do you want in?” Hint, hint. At the time I weighed 210 pounds. With my height of six feet that meant, officially, that I was overweight. Fine ... I was 213.

So I agreed to the Biggest Loser-esque challenge, and they put me under the wings of fitness expert Jenna Wolfe and nutritionist Joy Bauer.

If you’re expecting a Rocky montage where I pumped iron and did a thousand sit-ups, well, that’s a very different book. Jenna gave me some useful tips that I could pull off in my hotel room. I quickly learned that the gym is not for me. I will never have shredded abs, ripped pecs or a Channing Tatum physique.

Here are a few of the tips that I've learned, and that have stuck with me for the past two years.

1. It's all about portion control.

Joy put me on a strict diet: Egg whites or oatmeal in the morning. A salad for lunch. If I need to eat a sandwich, that’s OK, but now I remove the top layer of bread. It’s one of my favorite tricks. Believe it or not, you won’t miss that top layer. We really only eat both layers because sandwiches come that way, and they’re easier to hold. So, your fingers may touch some lettuce. Big deal. Why double the carbs and the calories?

At dinner I eat mostly greens and lean protein — roast chicken, fish, tuna — that kind of thing.

2. Cheat days are allowed.

Let's be honest, I'm not a nutrition guru who treats my body like a holy temple. Ha! I’ll enjoy the occasional cheat meal, I’ll splurge on a burrito, and I’ll even sample my share of desserts.

3. Learn when you've had enough.

Let's take ice cream, for example. A friend and I were in the mood for ice cream. I craved my favorite flavor, mint chocolate chip, so I gave in to the demons and I bought a cone. I took a bite. Delicious. A second. Heaven. I savored the cold cream, the dark bite of the chocolate, the way it felt on my tongue. A third bite. Oh my God this is so good. Fourth bite.

And then I threw it in the trash.“What the hell?!” my friend said.

Here’s the thing: I knew that eventually, sooner or later, I would be sad when I finished that ice cream. I would want more. You always want more. I would be sad after I ate the entire ice cream cone, I would be sad after I ate two ice cream cones, and I would be sad after eating just four bites.

If I’m going to be sad no matter what, then why not just get it over with? I still enjoyed the experience of that sublime mint chocolate chip, as the taste lingered in my mouth for the next fifteen minutes — it pressed the pleasure button. Yet I only consumed a tiny fraction of the total calories.

4. Weigh yourself regularly.

I weigh myself every morning. I see the ups and downs. And sometimes I feel the judgment, like at an airport in Atlanta, when a woman saw me eating a slice of pizza and said with a tsk-tsk, “You’re going to put that weight back on.” I’m assuming she saw my weight-loss challenge on TV. If not... mind your own business, lady!

5. Read the labels.

If I’m not careful, I will put the weight back on. So it’s something that’s always top of mind. I monitor my food intake. Like millions of Americans, I read the labels closely. I depend on these labels. I trust these labels.

Thanks to this kind of mind-set, I went from 213 pounds in 2015 to my current weight of 185. No gimmicks. No stunts. Just good old-fashioned dieting and portion control.

Excerpted from ROSSEN TO THE RESCUE: Secrets to Avoiding Scams, Everyday Dangers, and Major Catastrophes. Copyright © 2017 by Jeff Rossen. Excerpted by permission of Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.