Weight Watchers Feed

The weekly weigh-in: 'Bonus' Points can be tricky

I tried something different this past week: I wanted to see just how many of those weekly bonus Smartpoints I could use throughout the week and still show a loss on the scale. I probably should have added a few, but, no, I used every last bonus Point.

Aaaaand, I gained half a pound, stopping my weight-loss streak at four weeks.

So live and learn, right? 

While I was momentarily bummed, I now know that I should simply focus on my daily Smartpoints allowance and treat those extra Points as something I can dip into perhaps a couple times a week. 

I'm also on the tail end of a sinus infection, so that curtailed my workouts. When I get sinus infections they manifest themselves in a huge nosebleed, and I didn't want to open the floodgates while working out. 

So that's my week in weight loss. But here are some foodie highlights:

  • Ever try shishito peppers? I love them, but they can be hard to find. I get mine at Trader Joe's, and they were restocked so I picked up a couple bags. Usually I roast them quickly in the oven, but I wanted to see how they'd do in the air fryer. They were fantastic. I air-fried them at 380 degrees for around 10 minutes with just a spritz of oil and a sprinkle of salt. Then you just hold 'em by the stem and eat 'em up, yum!

Shishito-peppers

  • I have serious "meal prep" envy, but I've come to the conclusion that the weekly prep fest just isn't for me. I don't want to "assemble" meals all week long -- I actually enjoy cooking every night. So instead of meal prep, I'm simply planning out dinners for the week, writing them down in my planner. I'll also throw in some preplanned lunches and breakfasts, but I usually have a solid handle on those.
  • Speaking of breakfasts, I tried Fit Men Cook's Cottage Cheese Pancakes and they're super good. I topped them with a half-cup container of unsweetened applesauce and a bunch of cinnamon. The recipe makes two servings, and they reheat really well.  

My somewhat rocky path back to Weight Watchers

Yesterday I racked up a fourth consecutive week of weight loss at my weekly Weight Watchers meeting.

Yes, I said Weight Watchers. I am giving it another go, but this time I'm going to meetings instead of doing the online program. I finally found a leader I like, and the local franchise is now corporate owned, giving the place a more upgraded vibe.

And to offer more support, I started a small, secret Facebook group with a few other friends who are doing the program. We share our progress, recipes and brainstorm strategies.

So why did I call it a "rocky path back"? 

Guuurrl ...

I did not set off on the right foot. Maybe it was breaking old habits, maybe it was not counting the Smartpoints in the fruit I put in my smoothies, but the first two meetings I gained weight. I did a little soul searching and decided that instead of trying to game the system, like I am wont to do, I'd count the damn Points, plan my meals better and act like a grownup.

That was just the trick to turn the tide. 

Week after week after week after week I have notched down. Listen, it's not earth-shattering numbers but it's four straight weeks of weight loss, and that hasn't happened in ages, so I'll take it.

I'm also not eating goofy diet concoctions. No "2 Points for the whole cake" science fair projects made of diet soda and wheat bran. I'm focusing on relatively unprocessed foods that keep me full for a long time, like oatmeal, eggs, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. 

Here' a lil' sampler of some of the things I've been eating:

Ggg-pear-and-cheese This was an afternoon snack of a wedge of Laughing Cow Light spread on pear slices.

 
Ggg-pear-and-cheeseHere'a s blast from the past: Cottage cheese mixed with a little stevia and a lot of cinnamon, atop a piece of whole wheat bread and toasted until the cottage cheese gets a little melty. Way back in the day (we're talking the very first Weight Watchers cookbook) this was a Weight Watchers "Cheese Danish" but I still like it. It's great with a side of fruit and coffee.

Ggg-ricotta-waffleI found this recipe on the Weight Watchers website. It's ricotta flavored with lemon juice and zest, sweetened with a pinch of powdered sugar, put atop a toasted waffle and sprinkled with a bunch of blueberries. Great little breakfast.


Ggg-pear-and-cheeseThis was my choice at a ramen shop in Gainesville, where I found myself last month. While it probably had enough sodium for two days, I guzzled glass after glass of water and between the water and the broth, I was beyond full. Yeah, there's a fair amount of noodles but overall, a bowl of real ramen (not the grocery store garbage) is a decent restaurant choice.

I even, EVEN! fit in a 2-mile walk on Tuesday, another major milestone because I have been battling an angry left achilles and right IT band. My exercise the past -- yeesh -- year has been somewhat sporadic, and I definitely saw the result of that on the scale. I've also been going to sleep too late, waking up too late, jumping into the home office and working while multitasking laundry and food prep, looking up at the clock and thinking "CRAP. When am I going to fit in a workout?" 

Tuesday I found myself in that predicament, but instead of blowing off the workout (again), I asked Cortana what time the sunset was, laced up my sneakers and beat the sun in a brisk 2-mile walk on a still sweltering early evening. I didn't even care if my left or right leg would flare up -- I was going FOR. A. WALK. A hot, sweaty walk.

And no issues! Everything was good.

So, like I said, I found a Weight Watchers leader I like. She's fun, feisty and stays on topic -- an issue I had with other leaders in this region. But yesterday she drove me a bit crazy when she brought up the notion of "negative-calorie foods."

Ain't no such thing, and if you say there is I WILL FIGHT YOU.

via GIPHY

 She insisted that there were and recited a list of the usual suspects: celery, lettuce, blah, blah, blah ... 

Are we really going to do this? Iverson-caloriesI calmly raised my hand and said "negative-calorie foods is a myth." She didn't believe me, and when I started to explain, she said I was being negative. 

Yeesh.

All the retirees in the crowd were feverishly jotting down the list of miracle foods and my eyes were rolling back in my head. Fortunately it was at the end of the meeting so I flounced out.

via GIPHY

 Listen, I am a journalist, an editor by trade, and I do not handle pseudo-facts well, so as soon as I got home I fired up the WW website and asked one of the 24/7 coaches whether Weight Watchers has even taught their leaders about negative-calorie foods. 

Uh, no.

(BTW, while she was awaiting an official response from the WW higher-ups, I asked her about whether to count the points from a banana processed in a Yonanas. 

Uh, yeah. 

via GIPHY

 But 5 Smartpoints for a Yonana'ed banana with a teaspoon of cocoa powder isn't too bad.

The past year has really been a bit of a weight loss and fitness shitshow but I feel a lot better about things now.


Choose your Points well, Grasshopper

Summer of success 2016_edited-1Totally muffed the first week back on Weight Watchers. I gained a pound and was hungry all the time.

For those unfamiliar with the new SmartPoints program, the key determinants to how many Points a food has are calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. Carbs don't figure and neither does fiber or total fat. 

And I am apparently making the wrong food choices. A Chobani Flip is a frequent afternoon or evening snack, and those little suckers are racking up at least 8 Points. I just had an ounce of cashews after the gym and was dismayed to see that the tiny handful was 5 Points.

Man, I need to rethink my snacks because they're eating up all my Points. That's why I was hungry all week. I blew through those 42 bonus Points before the week was up. 

If you'd like to read about someone who is just killing it on the new Weight Watchers plan, check out my pal Monica, who explains how she lost 25 pounds in 100 days.

Exercise-wise, I ditched the DVDs and went back to the gym this morning and did 20 minutes on the arc trainer and some upper-body machines. Now my upper back is reminding me that we haven't done that in awhile, have we? 

In other news ...

I had an epiphany in the dressing room of Avenue today while trying on shorts. I'd call it a hissy fit but really it was more of an "angels singing" kinda thing as I tried to yank the shorts over my saddlebags. A smile spread over my face as I tossed the too-small shorts on the bench.

"Yep, that's it. Buy a bigger size and go home and make a phone call."

And that I did.

Who did I call ... ?

 


Weight Watchers SmartPoints: Final thoughts (and recipe ideas!)

(Yes, I said final because my 2-month Zulily offer is wrapping up and I don't feel like pouring any more cash into "dieting.")

I've officially switched back to tracking in My Fitness Pal (I've had their premium app awhile and that's the only money I need to be spending on food tracking).

What do I think about Weight Watchers' new SmartPoints plan? 

Overall, the change is good, but there was one glaring downside to the new plan. I'll call it the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Points Killer" problem.

I don't eat PB&J's very often, but when I do, I don't want them to COMPLETELY EAT UP HALF MY FOOD ALLOWANCE FOR THE DAY.

That was what I encountered after I tracked two slices of Rudi's Multigrain gluten-free bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of strawberry jam.

Half my Points for the day.

Just for kicks, I calculated the calories and my big, bad sammich was 400 calories. How can 400 calories be half my food for the day? 

I had the same shocker after eating a Lenny and Larry's Complete Cookie for breakfast. That and a cup of coffee with 3 tablespoons of half and half killed half my Points for the day. Also a roughly 400-calorie meal.

I found myself pounding canned tuna and turkey breast like there was no tomorrow, because they were super low in Points. 

I ended up eating too much tuna.

 

(I mean, c'mon. How can I not post this?)

I didn't want to end up with "Freddie Mercury's Poisoning" so I cut back. But I slowly found myself growing completely neurotic over food.

I also wasn't thrilled with WW's recommendations of fat-free products -- satiety goes out the window when you're eating fat-free foods. I'm not saying I go full-fat dairy, but 1% milk and 2% Greek yogurt is a nice compromise.

I lost a few pounds but even that tailed off after I started eating all the optional and fitness Points because I ran out. I also ate a lot of zero-Point fruit.

Who do I think can benefit from SmartPoints?

The new Weight Watchers plan is great for someone wanting to change from a highly processed diet full of fast- and packaged food, loads of starchy carbs, added sugars and not much in the way of fruits and vegetables. Someone who wants to get off the venti Frappuccino wagon and move toward healthier choices.

That's just not me. 

What am I doing now?

Finding recipes that I enjoy, focusing on foods that keep me full for a long time (hello, oatmeal!) and shooting for an evenly distributed macro pie chart (protein, fat and carbs) and sticking around 1,600-ish calories. I'm also trying to steer myself away from sweet-focused meals and snacks. So not as much fruit and more vegetables, more savory breakfasts and unsweetened lowfat Greek yogurt instead of sweetened fat-free ones. (If the yogurt is good, I can totally eat it plain.)

I don't know whether I've mentioned this site before, but Fit Men Cook is a fantastic resource for great-tasting healthy recipes. Dude needs to write a proper cookbook; I'd be all over it! In the meantime, his blog has a bunch of great recipes and he does have a smallish book with recipes on Amazon.

I've made Kevin's Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese before and it was delish.

 

Monday I made his Egg, Turkey, Oat Spinach & Cheese Breakfast Muffins, and I think they're my new favorite meal for any time of day. Two of them and a cup of coffee had me satiated for 4 hours. The timing was perfect, too, as I had just gotten some turkey bacon from Jennie-O. (I'm a member of their Switch Circle.)

 

Seriously, make these muffins. You won't be disappointed.

Here's how mine came out:

Fit men cook turkey oat breakfast muffins

Yum. 

I didn't have any actual oat flour, so I blitzed a bunch of old-fashioned oats in my NutriNinja and presto! Oat flour.

Did you catch the slogan on my coffee mug? It says "Commit to yourself." 

That's what I'm doing -- committing to myself. Not a program, not a diet. Myself. Taking what works, not doubting myself, trusting the process and not constantly looking for the next new thing.

 

 

 

 


Weight Watchers update: 4 pounds off and keeping my fuzzy eye on the prize

Since we last discussed the new Weight Watchers plan, I am down 4 pounds in those 2 weeks.

Have I been eating any differently? Not really, but I'm keeping starchy stuff in mind as I plan my meals. I alternate meals with starches (sandwiches, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.) with non-starchy meals (salads, smoothies, scrambles, "meat-and-veg"). And snacks are smaller. I have a tendency to obsess over making sure every meal and snack is balanced (I need protein! I need healthy fats!) but now if an apple and a few almonds will tide me over to the next meal then I'm good.

I'm not stressing about food, just plugging everything into the Weight Watchers app, and it's paying off. 

Now, the key is to keep on keeping on with this stressless approach.

I was going to update after the first week but I have a couple things going on -- a home office redo and eye doctor appointments. Both of these things have been either taking up all my time and/or keeping me off the computer. The husband is going to be working from home, so it was finally time to take the office from "garbage dump of random furniture" to a relatively pulled together functional home office. So I've been cleaning out and getting rid of particle-board desks and bookcases, clearing out the closet, painting the room (for the first time since we moved here in 1999!), vacuuming up 16 years of newly uncovered dust bunnies, putting together furniture and arranging the room for maximum space and efficiency. 

Happy to say, I'm about 90 percent done! All I really need to do is hang (less) stuff back on the walls and put out (fewer) doo-dads. 

Doing all the office stuff has kept my mind and eyeballs off the computer because these cataracts (the left one especially) are kicking my butt. I have the special "young person" cataracts that progress quicker than your Nana's cataracts. (Here's a great Washington Post first-person article on a 42-year-old's experience with cataracts.)

Eye folder
My "eye folder," full of eyeball options.

Working on the computer, using my smartphone, reading a book, driving on a sunny day, driving at night, grocery shopping -- all of these things are getting increasingly more difficult and annoying. And all those tasks basically sum up my day-to-day life. So after a particularly emotional eye exam, where I nearly broke down in tears trying to answer the "number 1 or number 2?" questions, I was overjoyed when the doctor said I needed cataract surgery. 

There's a Bascom Palmer Eye Institute location right down the street from my house and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be walking distance to one of best eye hospital in the world. But for the surgery, scheduled a day before my birthday, I'll trek down to Miami. Right now I have to decide which replacement lens to choose -- standard, astigmatism correcting or super-fancy multifocal. I'm leaning toward the middle choice because I honestly like wearing glasses (and also that multifocal lens is super expensive).

I cannot wait to get this fuzzy old lens vaporized.

 

 


Weight Watchers just got a lot 'harder' and I love it

Tuna vs pizza smartpoints
When I heard that Weight Watchers was revamping its Points system, I was intrigued, and although I swore off any more paid weight-loss plans, I really wanted to see what they were working on. 

Zulily was offering a 2-month online membership for $19.95, so I bought it and signed up again.

And, holy 20-Point pizza, the plan is different!

If you were used to carb-heavy meals and snacks, the new SmartPoints plan is a kick in the teeth. Points for bready, crackery, ice creamy foods have basically doubled.

And that's a good thing.

It REALLY forces you to rethink your food choices -- especially when you can eat an entire can of tuna for 1 Point, while a Weight Watchers Giant Fudge bar is now 5 Points.

Zero Point vegetables are still your best friends and now lean proteins are your BFFs, too. Like I said, a whole can of chunk light tuna in water is 1 Point and 3 ounces of turkey breast is also 1 Point.

And I wasn't kidding about 20-Point pizza. We had a Costco cheese pizza left from the teenager's New Year's Eve party, and thank goodness I cut it into 16 slices instead of 8 or I'd be eating lettuce for dinner. But it was lunch and I enjoyed it. I'll just enjoy pizza a heck of a lot less frequently.

I've been a member of Weight Watchers on and off since I was 10 years old (really), and this change is probably the most radical, results-driven change the company has ever made.

So we'll see how this 2 months plays out.  


Weight Watchers Wednesday: My plan is working

"My goodness, do I feel good!"

I actually said that out loud in the shower after I got back from the gym today. And it was true -- my stomach had stopped giving me fits, my hot flashes had all but disappeared and my left achilles had stopped acting up. I still have some tightness with my right IT band but it's getting better.

Now, would I have said the same thing if I hadn't lost 2.4 pounds this week?

I sometimes feel that so much is tied to how I did on the scale.

But I knew it was going to be good news on the scale because I PLANNED FOR IT TO HAPPEN.

Menu planning
On Sunday morning I printed out a weekly meal planner and filled it all in -- breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. That way instead of just winging it I'd look at my planner and grab the right food.

So what did I fill in those squares with? I call it the Dr. "Phoz" plan.

I've been reading and listening to the audiobook of Dr. Phil McGraw's "20/20 Diet." No, it's not another "miracle diet" with goofy rules and lots of restrictions. Instead the eating plan focuses on specific foods that have been proven to increase satiety, thermogenesis and reduce cravings. For example, cod is one of the foods encouraged because a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that cod has the ability to keep you fuller longer than, for example, beef. Other power foods in the plan include almonds, apples, Greek yogurt and prunes.

The meal plans were designed by Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian I really respect.

Another thing I like about the book is Dr. Phil's tough love approach. He's not afraid to call people out on their nonsense. Take this passage:

"Until you acknowledge that not all 'hunger' means you must stuff something in your mouth immediately or risk passing out and dying from starvation, you can't have successful weight loss."

I've been listening to the audiobook on my walks, and while I wish it were Dr. Phil's actual voice talking to me, the narrator does a good job getting his folksy approach across. And if you get the audiobook version, there are printouts of the meals, recipes, shopping lists and exercise plans.

Another thing I've been doing is spreading out my meals and snacks longer than I've done in ages. I was one of those people who ascribed to the "eat every couple hours" rule but often that would end up being grazing through the day and night. This week I took Dr. Phil's words to heart and, guess, what, I didn't die of starvation! As long as my meals were a decent size, I could go 4 hours between meals. I used to think that was sooo loooong, but really, it's not. 

There are a bunch of suggested meals in the book, and the plan is broken up into three phases. Right now I'm focusing on the first phase and tossing in a couple meals from phase 2, which introduces more power foods, like avocados and oatmeal.

But at the same time I was digging into Dr. Phil's book, I happened to catch the Dr. Oz Show the day he introduced the Total Choice Plan for weight loss, which was developed by the Cleveland Clinic and the Dr. Oz Show. Cleveland Clinic Florida is where all my doctor peeps work so I checked out the plan and really liked the meals, which were designed to assuage any cravings you might have.

I know how the Cleveland Clinic eating plans work because a few years ago I went though its nonsurgical weight-loss plan and had a custom eating plan designed for me, which is buried somewhere in my office.

I was torn -- which plan to follow? Then I decided to create "Dr. Phoz" -- one day it's the Dr. Phil plan, the next day it's Dr. Oz's. 

Both plans have a lot of my favorite foods and both plans are designed scientifically to keep you happy, full and not bored, and so far I'm loving both.

On the exercise front, I've gone back to my old routine of strength training at the gym three days a week and walking the other two days. And this sight made me very happy as I left the Weight Watchers meeting this morning:

New planet fitness

The workout machines were being delivered and installed at the Planet Fitness that will be three doors down from my Weight Watchers meeting -- how convenient! It's supposed to open next week and I can't wait. (I can't believe I'm so excited about a gym opening.)

So, to sum up:

  1. Meal planning
  2. Meal spacing
  3. Dr. Oz + Dr. Phil = Dr. Phoz
  4. New gym anticipation!

All of these are adding up to a renewed motivation to keep the scale moving.


Whatever bloats your boat

Yesterday was supposed to be Weight Watchers Wednesday but I was sitting here while a new garage-door opener was being installed. I'm going to go to a Sunday meeting but I'm toying with the idea of just waiting until next Wednesday as I'm bloated as all get-out.

Get out! I mean it!

I was talking with my ladybits doc on Tuesday about "the PMS that never ends" (try having a convo with someone in that position) and she said, yeah, perimenopause (which I am definitely in) can seriously screw with any weight-loss efforts.

I feel a little bit like a middle-aged marshmallow -- like this:

Marshmallow gail

She suggested laying off the salty foods, drinking lots more water -- you know, the usual stuff that I'm not doing as I dip carrots into salsa because ZERO POINTS. Also, the Aleve that I'd been taking nearly every day is another culprit because NSAIDs make you retain water. Fortunately, Tuesday's all-day headache disappeared, only to be replaced with Wednesday's IT band rebellion. 

But thanks to my social media pals, I whipped out the yoga block and pigeon posed the pain away. I had tried KT tape but apparently mine was too old and didn't stick to nothin' as I had bright pink tape slowly working its way down my leg on my walk yesterday.

So what's the upshot of all this blathering and photoshopping?

I'm dreading getting on the scale this week so I'm going to wait until next week.

There, I said it. No BS'ing.

What am I going to do about it?

I'm going to push fluids and banish salt and pigeon pose and work out and yell at my ovaries and get at least 7 hours of sleep and say night-night to the kitchen after dinner (which I did last night very successfully).

Anything else?

Why, yes. After looking at when I rejoined Weight Watchers (October) and seeing how much weight I have lost (like a pound), I have decided to get my money's worth out of the plan. What does that mean? I was thinking of all the money I have sunk into losing weight, lo these 40 years (yeah, that long), and I'm going to become an actual lifetime member and not just a member for a lifetime. I am going to see results on the scale and get to a happy weight and be one of those people who weighs in once a month and stays at their happy weight. There are a lot of elderly women in my Weight Watchers meetings still working on getting the weight off in their 60s and 70s, and I don't want to be in their shoes when I'm their age.


Weight Watchers Wednesday: Happy tummy, happy scale

I've been in and out all day long and nearly forgot to post today -- down 1.2 pounds, which is great considering I've been more focused on making my gut feel better this week than on anything else. 

All it took was cutting out wheat and peanuts and the noise in my tummy was silenced. 

Happy_stomachI think that when my stomach was railing against me, I was actually eating to quell the pain and totally sabotaging my weight-loss efforts. Maybe yogurt! A piece of toast! Soup! Ice cream! Nothing was working until I decided to cut out the wheat and peanut butter again.

What did I learn this week?

  • I did best when I didn't eat after dinner. Once or twice I caved and ate a piece of fruit but I also stocked up on zero-calorie stevia-sweetened water enhancers (thanks, Publix!) and would reach for a bottle of tasty water instead of other things.
  • I ramped up the exercise. I'm really good about consistency but during December I got a little sidetracked with holiday stuff and working at the fundraising gift wrap booth at the mall. So I'm back to five solid days a week (can't wait for the new Planet Fitness to open!). 
  • Morning (and sometimes lunch) smoothies are my go-to meals. I can cram a lot of good stuff into one Nutri Ninja cup. I've been reading Dr. Phil's The 20/20 Diet and he suggests making a smoothie with a base of 6 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt and a scoop of whey protein powder. I've always done one or the other but that 1-2 punch of proteins really keeps me full for a long time. 
  • A big bag of organic apples is a great investment. If I absolutely must have something and I'm out of points, I'll grab an apple. But even though Weight Watchers says fruit is zero points, I limit my fruit to three servings. If I happen to go over that, I'll add a point.
  • I really miss peanut butter! We have 4 jars of the stuff, creamy and smooth, in the pantry and I am so tempted to just stick my finger in the jar. But then I remember how awful the stuff makes me feel so I walk away. I have a jar of almond butter in the fridge and that satisfies the nut butter craving but surprisingly I'm not compelled to eat it willy-nilly, like I did with the peanut butter -- go figure.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: The struggle is real (annoying)

Down 4.6 pounds last week, up a pound this week.

Aaaargh!

I have a good idea why I'm up but here's the problem -- it's probably PMS but at my age this could resolve itself in a few days or, uh, never.

How do I finesse that?

image from upload.wikimedia.org

This month? Next month? Never?

So I'm committed to drinking more water -- a lot more water, in my case, because I don't drink all that much plain water. Tea, coffee, non-caloric flavored -- those are my go-tos but I need to embrace the water bottle more often.

I'm also going to be a bigger salt detective than I already am and reach for non-salty seasonings, like garlic, onion powder and lemon juice.

What did I learn last week?

Avoiding peanut butter and wheat has done absolute WONDERS for me. My stomach is so, so, so happy and I discovered another benefit -- the arthritis inflammation in my right big toe has pretty much disappeared. I even did real push-ups today! Usually I have to do them on my knees because I can't put a lot of pressure on that toe but today I was able to rock the "grownup" push-ups.

What will I do better this week?

Meal scheduling and planning. There were a few days when I didn't get around to eating breakfast until almost noon, then I had lunch shortly after that and a snack after that. Days like that really throw off my hunger cues. It was actually an exercise that we did in our Weight Watchers meeting today. We wrote on a planner sheet our meal schedule for yesterday and then wrote a plan for tomorrow. My eating was all bunched up around the early afternoon yesterday. Tomorrow I'm shooting for every three hours to keep things on an even keel.