Fit Nation: Want to lose weight and find romance? Start cooking at home

Robert Lara, a Fit Nation team member, learns cooking at home is good for you on many levels.

Story highlights

  • Home cooking is cheaper and it is easier to control the calories
  • Women love when men cook for them, Robert has learned

Six CNN viewers have been selected to be part of the 2015 Fit Nation triathlon team. They'll race alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September. As they train, the six will share their stories about their Fit Nation experience.

(CNN)Things I have learned in a month of Fit Nation:

1. My favorite restaurant food is half as expensive and just as good if I make it at home.
2. Apparently, the ladies like a man who can cook.
    3. Finally, do not, ever, make an arugula smoothie.
    Everyone thinks that a great workout plan will make them lose weight and feel great. My doctor says that no exercise plan can ever outdo a bad diet.
    He is totally right.
    I have done a variety of exercise plans that did help me lose weight, yet all my hard work got derailed by a trip to the drive-through.
    I work 12 hour days, often six days a week.
    I travel a lot, and I never saw the sense in making my meals at home. Instead I ate out and figured I could make up for it by working out harder, which is a not a cycle that actually works.
    Being a part of Fit Nation has forced me to tackle not just the physical training challenges, but also the challenges of cooking without burning the house down and making something palatable.
    So far it is working out well. Instead of heading to the drive-through, I drive to the grocery store. I start in the veggie section and buy squash, baby carrots, sugar peas and cilantro. At the butcher counter it's chicken breasts. Finally I grab some brown rice and head out.
    At home I make a meal that will be my lunch and dinner for at least the entire week. Total cost, around $18.00, or $1.80 per meal for over five days, and I get the added benefit of knowing what is actually in my food and it keeps my blood sugar low.
    Surprisingly, cooking has not been as hard as I thought it would be.
    I steam all the veggies and grill the chicken, then chop it up. I make the rice and add it all together in one big pot for serving and storage. I season it all with red pepper flakes, hot sauce and sometimes salsa. Total cook time is around 90 minutes.
    So, why does this matter to you, Fit Nation?
    It is the smart and safe way to control your weight and start being a better you.
    Since I have been back from our training sessions in Atlanta, I have lost 10 pounds. That means my suit coats close, and I need to get my pants taken in. And all it took was saying "NO" to eating out and "YES" to learning how to make simple recipes for me and planning.
    Fit Nation has helped me try to do things I never thought would be possible, and for me being in the kitchen and learning to try new things like the chefs on TV do is something I never thought I would do and enjoy, yet here I am, making my own meals. If I can do it, you can, too!
    Does this mean I will never again touch fast food or eat out?
    No, that is unrealistic. I enjoy a burger as much as the next person and I do look forward to a fancy meal out.
    What it does mean is that I have made a commitment to eat a majority of my meals and snacks from what I have in my kitchen and not from the drive-through.
    It also means that sometimes the mad scientist in me does take over and bad things can happen; see the aforementioned arugula smoothie. But for the most part it means that I am making an investment in myself and going back to school to learn how to cook for myself, which is paying off in ways big and small.
    I also have learned that asking someone out to dinner can be a whole new adventure if you offer to cook it yourself. Thanks for the advice, Fit Nation coach April/ It works.
    On your Fit Nation journey, as you run, bike, swim and repeat, remember to also peel, saute and grill. Your doctor and your waistline will thank you.
    Go team! Keep moving forward!