Standing on the scale today, I breathed a sigh of relief. Since Thanksgiving Day, I've gotten rid of 5 pounds.
Yep -- I lost 5 pounds over Thanksgiving and the weekend.
How did I do that? I got out of my own way.
I tend to impose too many weight-loss rules: Eating a piece of fruit? Make sure you have some protein with that. Having a salad for lunch? Better balance that with something starchy. You can't have a spoonful of peanut butter and call it a snack! Did you do a DVD yesterday? Better run today. Did you walk today? You need to strength train tomorrow.
And on and on.
Taken at face value, and one at a time, those don't seem like bad suggestions. But these food and exercise rules can swirl around in my head every time I step in to the kitchen or lace up the sneakers.
It's exhausting and can make me freeze in my tracks, afraid to eat a banana or do a Zumba DVD. Afraid it's not the right day or the right food.
The day after Thanksgiving, all my kid wanted for lunch and for dinner was a plate of turkey. No sides, no bread, no ketchup, no nothing. Just turkey.
"Is that it? Don't you want some leftover stuffing? Want it in a sandwich?"
Nope. Just turkey. I couldn't wrap my head around that because of my food rules.
So Saturday morning I said to myself: "Stop it."
Want a banana? Eat a banana. Want to Zumba every day? Go for it. Eat the salad for lunch and have a baked potato at dinner -- it all works out in the end.
I also went back to my old pal SparkPeople.com. I have always loved their fitness and food trackers. But this time around I'm not going to check the pie chart of nutrients after every meal and snack. In the past I would do that and then obsess the rest of the day about getting my food in the "perfect" ratio or getting enough fiber or calcium or whatever. Instead, I'll let the tracker give me the daily wrapup at the end of the day. I'll see how I did and think about working in more fiber the next day. All I'm looking at is the calories. SparkPeople gives me a range and I have been staying around the low end of them.
And that, boys and girls, is how I lost 5 pounds in three days.
Doesn't matter whether you're doing Weight Watchers or not -- if you're looking for ways to cut calories painlessly at the Thanksgiving meal, cranberry sauce is a good place to start.
Homemade cranberry sauce is always better than the canned goo, and it's really easy to make. Make it the day before (today!) so that it'll set up for tomorrow's meal.
Here's a recipe for Cran-Blue Cranberry Sauce that, if you are following Weight Watchers, has zero PointsPlus values. If you do choose to add some real sugar, then adjust the Points as needed, but here's the recipe:
Cran-Blue Cranberry Sauce
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1 small bag of frozen blueberries, thawed
1/2 cup of pineapple tidbits, juice drained
3 packets of True Orange crystallized orange or 1 tablespoon orange rind
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup water
Splenda to taste (I used 2 tablespoons)
Place everything in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until cranberries start popping.
Transfer to a nonreactive container, let cool and refrigerate until it's ready to use.
I'll bet you were thinking: November ... Produce of the Month ... why the heck is she writing about tomatoes?
Sure I could go all brussels sprouts or gourds but I am in love with Campari tomatoes, especially this time of year. All those juicy heirloom tomatoes are gone, and grocery stores are full of those tasteless, gas-bag hockey puck barely red tomatoes from my fair state of Florida. But look a little harder and you'll find plastic clamshells of Campari tomatoes, either from the U.S. or Canada.
Campari tomatoes got their start in European greenhouses, then Canada started growing them and now they're being grown in the United States, too. And since they're grown in greenhouses, they're free of pesticides (as best as I can find). They're also consistently sweet, juicy, ripe and really flavorful.
They're about the size of a ping pong ball -- smaller than a salad tomato and bigger than a cherry tomato.
I keep a bowl of them on my kitchen counter all the time, and will often eat one as a snack. My favorite way to snack on them is to slice them and sprinkle them with "fancy-pants" sea salt flakes and True Lime powdered lime juice. Or you can cut them in half and stuff 'em with a teaspoon of hummus.
Kids love 'em too. My 11-year-old niece frequently will chow down on a handful of them when she comes over.
It's often hard to completely avoid the kitchen after dinner. I've tried closing the kitchen doors but I'm not the only one in this house, and the dog hasn't yet learned how to open doors.
Also, sometimes I'm just plain hungry at 9 p.m. Not ravenous or anything but (let's go British here) ... peckish.
So instead of gritting my teeth and pouring a big delicious glass of water, the Weight Shrink and I devised a plan to have 3 or 4 Weight Watchers Points (100-ish calories) left for an evening snack. Knowing that I'm going to have a "thing" has been quelling the nocturnal cottage cheese spoonfuls, plus the "thing" is more interesting than that. So I enjoy my 3-Pointer, the buzzer goes off and it's game over.
One fave is a half-cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and a couple teaspoons of honey. (Ever have that combo at a Greek restaurant? Heavenly -- but I'm guessing their yogurt isn't fat free or even lowfat.)
Other favorite 3-Pointers:
A few tablespoons of hummus with carrots and celery
A fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
A packet of apple-cinnamon oatmeal
A serving of Honey Kix (that's 1 1/4 cups -- pretty substantial)
A rice cake (one of those "good ones" from Lundberg) with a slice of lowfat Swiss cheese
1/2 cup of cottage cheese mixed with 1/2 cup of natural applesauce and sprinkled with cinnamon (nevermind how gross it looks, it tastes yummy)
Of course this involves planning on the back end, so I try and plan my day during breakfast. I've mentioned before that this had been hard for me because I tend to eat by whim.
But I whimmed myself into a size 22, so eating on a whim doesn't work for weight loss. I have planned myself into a 16-and-falling.
That old Weight Watchers chestnut still applies: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Back in September, I started using SafSlim, a supplement made from high-linoleic safflower oil that is supposed to target belly fat. I'm about halfway through the 12-week plan and while I haven't lost a lot of weight (5 pounds), I am definitely down a jeans size and my abdominal area does seem flatter. I don't know whether it's the supplement or the 5 pounds but there's definitely an improvement and no muffin tops to be seen. I'll check back at the end of the 12-week period and let you know how it all turns out. The next half of the trial will be a barrel of fun, what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, parties, New Year's and general merriment. Best time ever to lose weight, though -- seriously! NOT throwing caution to the wind is the best prescription to avoiding holiday pounds.
How 'bout a HealthBuzz?
This week's video discusses American Diabetes Month and features Sam Talbot of Top Chef.
This week finds me once again back at the bottom of the seesaw or the yo-yo or whatever weight-loss metaphor you'd like.
I've been at Pre-Baby Weight three times in the past month, only to take my eyes off the prize and zip up a pound or three.
But this week, we are getting off the seesaw. We're cutting the yo-yo string. We're movin' on down.
Done! Done! On to the next one! (I am bobbing my head to Foo Fighters as I write this, which is totally bad for my neck, but whatever.)
"The next one" is my next goal, which is 5 pounds more.
There is a laserlike focus this week on keeping track of every food that I choose to eat. My exercise habits are good -- my mantra is "more days than not," and I don't go more than a day without working out. I just need to add in more strength training.
It's the food thing and the hunger thing and the habit thing that is the sticking point. Nighttime is the absolute worst. I tried closing the kitchen door last night but the dog got pissed off because he couldn't get to his bowl.
But the Weight Shrink and I came up with a solution, which I'll discuss tomorrow.
I first heard this song in a dance class at the gym, where the instructor used this song to teach us the traditional dance of Colombia -- the cumbia. (Juanes is Colombian.) I like this one at the end of a workout, in the cooldown phase: