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October 2012

September 2012

Carol does Nutrisystem: Week 1

The food came in two boxes -- I felt pity for the Fedex courier who had to bring them up two flights of stairs. One box, shelf-stable breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, the other a large foam cooler filled with frozen meals and snacks, and most fun of all, DRY ICE!

This is my second foray into Nutrisystem.  I lost 20lbs two years ago and I know the success I can reach.  This shipment contained Chef's Table frozen meals which are amazing.  I usually swap dinner and lunch, having the larger meal at lunchtime, and after one week I haven't been disappointed.

AND... I lost 4.9 lbs the first week. WHAT???!!!  Yup... I lost weight.  What a concept for me.  Watch what you eat, and kaboom! You LOSE the lbs!

So happy with the program again.  I've revisited eating small meals throughout the day; I don't feel hungry, I don't overeat.  I'm proud to be part of the NSNation!

I will be blogging weekly, on my Wednesday weigh-ins ... Weighing in on weight, the food, and anything else on my mind.

Follow me on twitter -- @martorella; I'll be tweeting my daytime lunches and giving you quick reviews of the food.

Disclaimer: I have been selected to participate in the Nutrisystem NSNation blogger program. For three months, I will receive the food free of charge to help facilitate my honest review. No other compensation will be received.

What, no crabcakes? (My Fitbloggin' recap)

Because there may be some readers who aren’t bloggers, I’ll keep my tale of Fitbloggin’ short and sweet.

I hit the ground running with a pre-conference tour of McCormick’s kitchens just outside Baltimore. My plane got in late, so I joined the dozens of other Fitbloggin’ attendees after they enjoyed a fantastic-sounding lunch, seasoned of course with all things McCormick. I came in on a discussion of consumers’ taste preferences (the tongue is a highly complex body part – not just for blowing raspberries).

Mccormick chef and dr wendy
Chef Mark Garcia and Wendy Bazilian, RD, discuss how awesome vegetables can be.

We learned about the flavor profiles of “red cap” cinnamon vs. Saigon cinnamon with an applesauce taste test (I am partial to McCormick’s Roasted Saigon Cinnamon, because I am a cinnamon FIEND).  We also met with McCormick chef Mark Garcia and registered dietitian Wendy Bazilian, who discussed the joys of vegetables, especially roasted ones.

The whole point of our McCormick tour was that you can add loads of flavor to your cooking without adding extra calories – all you need is a well-equipped herb and spice collection. You can find more about McCormick and pick up some great recipes at

After a little dessert finale, it was back on the buses and over to the Hyatt for the start of Fitbloggin’. Some highlights:

Working out with Cathe Friedrich: She’s known for her super-tough workout DVDs but she toned things down a bit for us. We did an hour-long workout that featured resistance bands and sliding disks that we put under our feet for extra slippy-slideness.

Saturday’s Zumba workout: At last year’s Fitbloggin, Sue O’Lear (Mrs. Fatass) did a Zumba class and was immediately hooked, and in the past year she went from Zumba fan to instructor (and a great instructor). She and her fitness biz partner Samantha Collins (Simplifying Sam) led a class of probably more than 100 bloggers, some of whom have never Zumba’d before. And thanks, Sam, for teaching me the secret to the “body roll.” Excellent instructors!

Catching up with my pals:  Among them, Heather (Yummy Sushi Pajamas), Josie (Yum Yucky), Brandi (Diets in Review), Kia (Bodhi Bear), Robby (Fat Girl vs. World; my sister in spinal insanity) and of course my roommate, Kenlie (All the Weigh). I also got to catch up with Leslie and Melissa, fitness PR pros extraordinaire.

And no, I did not get any crab cakes this time. I did have a great deconstructed shrimp and grits at a very cool restaurant called 1010.

Hummus and veggies
Gotta make it fancy!
But I did get on the scale and lost nearly 2 pounds, so SCORE!

My first dinner last night was an ode to chickpeas -- I had some kale and chickpea soup I had stashed in the freezer and paired that with cukes, grape tomatoes and some jalapeno hummus (I'm totally not brand loyal to hummus, and right now my fave is Pita Pal).

It's the one thing

Greetings from 9 p.m., otherwise known as The Danger Zone.

Last week you met the Friendly Polar Bear and this is when he starts stirring.

Shhhh ... you don't want to wake him.

I was able to avoid the kitchen twice last week, but twice isn't enough to lose weight. I stayed the same but noticed that the nights that I did avoid the kitchen, the scale went down the next morning.


I'm going to write my blog posts from right here at Danger Zone's Ground Zero. I have two 24-ounce bottles filled with water sitting next to me so that I don't have to go into the kitchen to get anything to drink.

The Weight Shrink and I figured that if I do a "brain dump" at this time of night, I'll be less likely to cave into the polar bear.

So here's what's going through my head...

I have some really lovely organic nectarines in the fridge and I'd really like one right now.

I think my stomach is growling.

Why is the light on in the kitchen? I should go turn it off.


The polar bear is very chatty, and while his food choices are good, they're just something I don't need after dinner.

It's the one thing that has tripped me up this whole time. The one thing.

So all I have to work on is one thing.

One big stinkin' thing.

The exercise component has been great -- I've been averaging 4-5 times a week with two of those days as strength training. My Fitbit has been very happy with me, and it'll be fully charged for my weekend trip to Baltimore for Fitbloggin'. Nothing like a conference to rack up the steps on a Fitbit!

I'll try and squeeze in another post before I leave for Fitbloggin' but there's packing to be done and whatnot. Really looking forward to connecting with all my bloggy pals and touring the McCormick HQ on Thursday. If you're going to Fitbloggin' and you're in town Thursday morning, there's still time to sign up for the tour HERE.

I'll leave you tonight with The One Thing, from INXS in all their '80s hair glory:

Do not feed the bear!

Polar bear chilly muffin
Damn you, Chilly Willy! Always the instigator.

I refer to my nighttime kitchen cravings as feeling like an angry bear is taking over. I could be sitting in the living room with the family, watching, oh let’s say baseball (because it’s always baseball), when I spring up off my chair and head to the kitchen and stick my face in the fridge.

The bear is calling – yelling, really.

I mentioned this to the Weight Shrink this week, how this is my absolute No. 1 biggest problem with food. I hadn’t weighed myself for a few weeks, and when I finally did last Monday, I was back at 240, a weight that my body naturally likes to be. That’d be great if I were a 6-foot-5 muscle dude, but I’m not.

I should not be 240, Sam I am.

I’ve been trying to “intuitively eat” the past few weeks, and it turns out that when I do, I maintain my weight. All during the day, I eat in weight-loss mode, but I think the calories I ingest at night, after dinner, kick me into maintenance mode.

Interesting little experiment.

But the experiment is done.

Digest dietYesterday, I joined with a bunch of bloggers and lots of other people on Facebook. We’re trying out The Digest Diet, written by Liz Vaccariello, editor of Reader’s Digest. I finally met her in person and talked with her about the book at BlogHer in New York last month. I previously talked with her about her last big book, The Flat Belly Diet, when she was editor of Prevention magazine.

What I like about Liz’s eating plans is that they’re all “real-food” based and don’t omit entire food groups. There are carbs, and proteins, fruits, vegetables, sweets (she’s a big fan of honey) and yes, fat.

This new book uses the latest research to highlight foods that help people release fat and stay fuller longer. The first 4 days of the plan include lots of smoothies with loads of healthy ingredients (yogurt, fruit, flaxseeds, healthy fats), and hearty soups, most of which have a “beans and greens” base (kale and chickpea, chard and lentil).

Digest diet snackAnd since you’re slurping smoothies and soups the first 4 days, she makes sure the snack has some crunch to it – lettuce wraps, dips and crudités, things like that. Today, for example, I had red pepper strips dipped into a quarter cup of fat-free cream cheese mixed with diced tomatoes and seasonings (at right; dishes by Ikea children's department).

But last night, that stupid bear was howling again (do bears howl?). I caved and scraped the top off a leftover piece of pizza. Gave the crust to the dog.

The Weight Shrink and I discussed The Bear yesterday. I need to embrace the bear and acknowledge its existence. So I decided to make it a friendly polar bear. I used to think of it as a crazed grizzly. The bear starts stirring around 10 p.m., because that has been its traditional feeding time.

But feeding time is over.

Tonight when the bear arrives, I’ll give her a big ol’ Camelbak full of water and let it feed on my reserves. (That sounds pretty creepy, doesn’t it?) But that’s how weight loss occurs – that’s even one of Bob Harper’s rules in his new book The Skinny Rules (go to bed slightly hungry).

It’ll be tough, ignoring that snarling bear, but I really want to see how these foods on The Digest Diet will work with me, and I’ll consider any growling as just the friendly polar bear obliterating my excess weight.


I’m a spice girl for Fitbloggin’

This will be my third year attending Fitbloggin’ – a great get-together for healthy-living bloggers that takes place every year in Baltimore, one of my favorite cities.

Know what else is based in Baltimore? The Orioles! (Sorry, it’s September, and I have baseball on the brain.)

Besides great baseball, McCormick headquarters is near there, too (kinda like Spice World without Scary Spice).

A picture of my rack. (Ha!)
Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your food without any extra calories as well as a load of antioxidants. I have not only one but two jam-packed spice racks in my kitchen, and I go through cinnamon like nobody’s business. That doesn’t even make the spice rack – it’s on my kitchen counter 24/7, near the Ninja for smoothies.

 Attendees at Fitbloggin’ will have the opportunity to tour McCormick HQ on Thursday, Sept. 20, from noon to 5 p.m. Transportation will be provided to and from the site of Fitbloggin'.

 I imagine the place smells like gingerbread and snickerdoodles.

McCormick is partially sponsoring my trip to Fitbloggin’ in an effort to let you all know that spots are still available to tour the McCormick headquarters and check out some dishes prepared by the McCormick Kitchens.

If you are interested in attending the McCormick event, sign up here.

If you’re not going to Fitbloggin’, you can still visit, or to get more info and recipe ideas.

What's your favorite spice? Mine's definitely cinnamon (and McCormick makes a fantastic Roasted Saigon Cinnamon).

Help for your summer-singed hair (and a shot at a spa gift)

With age comes the wisdom that you don’t have to spend $20 a bottle on salon hair products when there are some really effective products right at the grocery store for a lot less, especially Dove hair-care products. They’re very well priced, smell great and work just as well as the fancy-pants salon stuff.

Dove nourishing-oil-care-conditionerBlogHer sent me Dove’s Nourishing Oil Care Conditioner to test on my prodigious mound of shoulder-length fine wavy hair, frizzed by sun, sweat and summer. This time of year, the humidity and heat has my hair growing literally sideways, so I’m in need of moisture.

I was a bit wary of the word Oil on the label, since heavy conditioners can make my hair look flat. But Dove’s Nourishing Oil Care Conditioner uses Weightless Nutri-Oils and don’t have a greasy feel. It also has conditioners that seal cuticles and smooth frizz.

Now that I’ve been using it for a week, my hair feels less frizzy, looks shinier and isn’t so “sideways.”

To find out more about Dove’s line of hair-care products, visit

Can your hair use a little (or a lot) of help after its summer fun?

Here’s a lovely little perk to my review – you can enter to win a $1,000 Spafinder gift certificate.

Enter to win a $1,000 Spafinder gift certificate!



You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Follow this link, and provide your email address and your response to the Promotion prompt

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that Tweet.

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and then visit this link to provide your email address and the URL to that post.

This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will have 72 hours to claim the prize, or an alternative winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2012 - 9/30/2012

Be sure to visit Dove® to get a coupon for $1.50 off Dove Hair Therapy products.

Tunes for Tuesday: Lessons in Love, by Kaskade, feat. Neon Trees

Choosing this song today because it's one of Jillian Michaels' current workout faves, and Jillian announced this morning that she's returning to The Biggest Loser for season 14. Cool, huh? Season 14 will tackle childhood obesity with a special teen segment. You can read more about it at my Examiner page HERE.