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Lisa Lillien, Hungry Girl 'foodologist'
Lisa Lillien, Hungry Girl 'foodologist' / The Food Network

Career change can happen with a light-bulb moment or a dawning realization. Hungry Girl maven and “foodologist” Lisa Lillien, though, has a pastry to thank.

Lillien found herself with two common obsessions: food and trying to lose weight. As she lost 20 pounds, she picked up nutrition and fitness tips, including counting calories and watching what she eats.

Enter a low-calorie pastry from a quaint bakery.

“I’m a little nutty, and I didn’t believe these calorie counts sometimes, so I took the pastry to a lab an hour away to be tested,” she says. “I’m kind of like everyone’s crazy friend that will go to that extreme to get this information. Why not share it with the world? It was at that moment I realized I could create something that would be helpful to people.”

Lillien couldn’t find nutrition information that was fun and relatable. From that, the Hungry Girl newsletter — a daily e-mail and site of low-calorie recipes, diet tips and food finds — was born. “I’m not a dietitian. ... I’m just hungry. That’s what inspired me.”

Lillien kept her day job in media for about a year before doing Hungry Girl full time. But “I knew pretty early on that this was going to be my new life,” she says.

Today, Hungry Girl reaches 1.2 million subscribers and has made Lillien a national TV show regular guest and best-selling author. Her seventh and latest cookbook is Hungry Girl to the Max!

Her advice for others? “Live for every day and love what you do every day,” Lillien says. “But be prepared to work a lot.”

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