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Kentucky chef credits Coke Zero and French women for helping him lose 130 pounds

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Fried chicken with mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered biscuits and pecan pie: Hey y'all, doesn't Southern cooking taste divine? Kentucky-born Chris Ross grew up on these foods, then learned to turn them into gourmet creations as a chef. But when he discovered that his scale couldn't even register his weight, he knew it was time to change, he told CNN in a Feb. 24 interview.

And when Ross finally found a scale that did show his 327-pound weight, the knowledge that he was morbidly obese was "pretty tough on the mental psyche."

Ross started examining his daily habits. He made two key changes:

What works for French women worked for a chubby chef as well, says Ross. He learned to cut portions, drink more water and walk everywhere.

Plus: Ross stopped all his taste tests when he realized that they added up to (gulp) more than 4,000 calories.

"Breakfast, lunch, dinner in addition to that -- I was taking in 6,000 calories a day," Ross says. "And not being an Olympic athlete, it was kind of hard to burn it off."

Now Ross weighs 190 pounds, and he's maintaining it by still following that same plan.

What are the keys to the "French Women" weight loss plan? Author Mireille Guiliano contends that "true" French women have very different approaches to food.

For example: "French women honor mealtime rituals and never eat standing up or on the run. Or in front of the TV."

In addition, she emphasizes eating three formal meals, rather than a series of endless snacks.She recommends choosing quality over quantity, and making your own meals rather than turning to fast food or processed foods. Mireille also has crafted a cookbook: "The French Women Don't Get Fat Cookbook" (click for details) and a lifestyle guide: "French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, & Pleasure."

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