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February 2013

January 2013

Motivation Monday: Let’s crunch the numbers

(Let's get back to motivating on Monday, mmmkay?)

The weight stayed the same on the scale this week (I call the Withings scale my “concrete scale” because when you step on it, the number uploads to the Internet, no goofing allowed) but that’s not the whole story.

My body fat percentage is going down, so the “fluff” is muscling up – all in all a good thing.

And I’ve been racking up more hours sleeping – no more late-night TV watching and Facebook noodling. It’s more important to sleep than to surf. My Fitbit keeps track of those zzzz's as does my Withings phone app.

The other great number – my blood pressure.

I don’t have a problem with blood pressure but it has a tendency to get kinda borderline when I don’t work out enough.

Since I instituted my “Zumba Every Day” game plan last week, I got in six workouts the past week. This week I’m helping my goal by scheduling it for 11 a.m. every day. It’s the best time of day for me – breakfast has been in me a couple of hours, it’s before noon, the coffee has kicked in and my energy and motivation are still high.

Blood pressure
I didn't even hit the 'clear' button.
So, the blood pressure. I took a picture of it yesterday at the grocery store:

Ultimately, that’s more important than any number on a scale.

But those other numbers have me motivated to do better this week with working out and meal planning so perhaps The Mother of All Plateaus will break soon.

We check out the Fitbit Zip

Fitbit zip
Cute, isn't it?

We're big fans of the Fitbit line of products here at Shrinking Sisters. Carol and I were rocking the Ultra all summer and I recently got the updated Fitbit One, which buzzes me awake every morning.

But if you're looking for something cute and compact to track your activity and want to economize, Fitbit has also introduced the Fitbit Zip, a pebble-sized clip-on activity tracker that comes in a jellybean collection of colors.

The Zip, which tracks steps, distance and calories burned, uploads wirelessly to your computer or your smartphone (Apple and Android). It also works with some fitness apps, including MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, Endomondo, and SparkPeople. (I'm a SparkPeople member and you can rack up major SparkPoints with a Fitbit.)

In addition, I'll make it easier for you to check out a Fitbit Zip with a 20 percent off coupon from Best Buy. There's also a coupon for small appliances, like juicers and blenders, for all your healthy smoothies. Check 'em out below (click on the thumbnails and a large PDF will magically appear for you to print out):

Bestbuy fitness coupon Bestbuy small kitchen coupon

You can join in the fun on Twitter -- use the #MillionSteps and #BestBuy hashtags to commune with other go-getters.

I received a Fitbit Zip from Best Buy to use in this review. All opinions are my own.

Wheat germ is back, baby! (A giveaway)

Back in October, I had read this "New York Times" article about Kretschmer Wheat Germ and its campaign to introduce its product to a new generation of customers.

WheatgermWheat germ and I go way back.

My mom was always reading Prevention magazine, visiting the local health food store and reading Adelle Davis' books. Wheat germ was a frequent ingredient in a lot of Davis' recipes and I remember making wheat germ muffins as a teenager.

I've bought it on and off through the years but that "Times" article made me smile.

Then, I got a PR pitch about Kretschmer Wheat Germ. (Guess I'm part of their social media campaign.)

That was a few months ago and I've frankly been swamped with new products, books, DVDs and all sorts of "New You 2013" pitches.

But I haven't forgotten you, wheat germ!

Nutty banana wrapsHere's something that I've been making for years -- I call 'em Nutty Banana Wraps. It's a low-carb tortilla spread with a tablespoon of nut butter into which you place a small banana and sprinkle a tablespoon of wheat germ on top, and perhaps a sprinkle of cinnamon. Then you roll the whole shebang up and eat it, or cut it into little rounds, like I did this morning for breakfast. Depending on your tortilla, the whole thing is 250 calories or less, which makes a light meal or substantial snack.

I also used it in Devin Alexander's recipe for Pumped-Up Pumpkin Pie Bites from her "Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook" (Rodale, $14.95). She uses crushed Kashi Nuggets cereal, but the wheat germ worked great. (Here's the recipe, which I now make every Thanksgiving.) By the way, Devin is going to be featured on this coming Monday's episode of "The Biggest Loser."

At only 25 calories a tablespoon, it's great sprinkled into yogurt, over fro-yo or ice cream, over applesauce, mixed into burgers or meatloaf instead of bread crumbs, and offers a decent source of folic acid, vitamin E and B vitamins.

So, want a free coupon?

Let me know what your favorite "old school health food" is in the comments by NOON ET, FRIDAY, FEB. 8, 2013, and I'll randomly choose a reader to get that free jar of wheat germ (the Honey Crunch version is super delish).

I'm a sucker for 'the thrill of the new'

New diet books, new DVDs, new fitness gizmos, new headphones, new playlists -- these crowd my home and my mind.

New-blue-splash-ink-hiI'm so into new stuff that I can't listen to oldies radio or watch reruns.

So Saturday night, as I watched hockey on TV with the dog while my guys were at the game, I said to myself (or perhaps, the dog), "Everything changes now," which made me absolutely giddy. The dog? Not so much.

I decided that I would recommit to eating normal, balanced meals and snacks and log everything on Weight Watchers Online, which falls in line with my new Simple mantra.

No fads, no miracles, no gimmicks.

And I also said "Zumba every day."

Again, the dog wasn't into it but I was.

By committing to just one workout, I simplified my whole gizmo and DVD-filled existence.

Whee! A new plan.

Sunday morning, I awakened and the first thing that popped into my head was "Everything changes now."

Same thing happened Monday, Tuesday and today.

Every day is the first day of my new and exciting plan. And every day I recommit to it.

Call it delusion but I like it – it’s new!

DeliverLean: How does it taste?

Now that my DeliverLean week is over, I have to cook again. (Actually, I was cooking for my guys but now we're all on the same plate, so to speak.)

Deliverlean logoSo how was the food? Some thoughts:

  • The meals are large – no tiny, dollhouse food.
  • No silly sauces or preparations – just really good food, prepared and seasoned well. Every calorie is accounted for in a smart way.
  • The food is super fresh – the hot meals just take a minute in the microwave and the salads are crisp and not at all wilted.
  • Customer service is great – if you have any requests or dislikes (like my absolute hatred of fennel), just let them know.
  • Onjuice upskale
    OnJuice's UpsKale juice
    I tried three of their cold-pressed OnJuice juices, and one of them, Pina Kale Lotta, was really good. I was surprised that I'd like it because while I like kale, I don't usually like it in juices or smoothies, and they magically found a way to hide it in the blend of pineapple, cucumber and kale. Another big surprise -- the UpsKale blend of celery, cucumber, kale, parsley and lime.
  • I also got a sample of one of their gluten-free cookies from the Baked by DeliverLean line of desserts. You can sub out a dessert for one of the meals so it can fit into your weight-loss plan. Often gluten-free cookies are pretty crumbly and starchy, but this chocolate chipper was really good.

And now for some photos!

Remember what I said last week about always taking any frozen or delivered meal out of the plastic container and putting it on a plate? Here's why:

Deliverlean before and after
Now doesn't that meal of grilled chicken, roasted vegetables and quinoa look much better on a plate than crammed into a black plastic container?

Deliverlean quinoa bean salad
Here's another great meal -- a quinoa salad with goat cheese, vegetables and beans. Super filling, colorful and full of fiber.

The week of meals was a great way to reframe my portions and discover that if the food is real food jam-packed with nutrients and flavor, I don't need a trough of salad to feel full. I also learned some great salad ideas.

Want to give it a try? (Remember, it's South Florida only, from Jupiter to Kendall.) You can sign up for 1 month at $24.99 per day and get three days free.

This is a compensated review for DeliverLean, but the opinions expressed are completely my own.

Tunes for Tuesday: Green Light mix from Rock My Run

I've written about Rock My Run before and actually have a mix of ours on the site, but I want to recommend the Green Light mix. It's 123 minutes of great workout music, perfect for an extra long walk or run or a cardio-weights day at the gym. Here's one of the songs, "Take Over Control," which has my favorite line for working out: Plug it in and turn me on!

Taking a DeliverLean ‘taste drive’

When you write about weight loss, you get offered a lot of products to try – books, DVDs, snacks, beverages. You name it, I’ve been offered it.

Deliverlean logoAnd that includes meal-delivery services. I’ve gotten the shelf-stable ones, frozen meals, refrigerated meals, meals you reconstitute with boiling water (uh, no).

The latest: DeliverLean. They wanted to know whether I’d like to try its locally-sourced, fresh meal service, so I checked out their website. I liked it for a few reasons:

  • It’s local (South Florida, from Jupiter to Kendall), so your meals don’t arrive frozen solid or (yum) looking like camping food.
  • They accommodate many eating plans, including Paleo, gluten-free, organic, low-cal or even HCG Diet (that’s still around?).
  • The plan is all-inclusive, meaning you don’t supplement it with other groceries.
  • You can also get freshly-squeezed juices and diet-friendly desserts delivered, too.

Deliveries come at the crack of dawn every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Last Friday my first big black cooler was waiting at my doorstep, loaded down with meals and ice packs.

DeliverLean Spinach_Salad_w_Grilled_Salmon
DeliverLean Spinach Salad with Grilled Salmon.
And here's my little tip about any prepackaged meal -- please take them out of their containers and "plate" them. Your mealtime experience will be much more enjoyable and you can see just how nice the meals are. 

The nice thing about DeliverLean is that you decide what meals to eat and when. The meals are labeled by day, and the rest is up to you. Depending on the calorie level you want, you’ll get 4 to 5 meals, and all you do is eat every few hours.

If you’re interested, you can sign up for 1 month at $24.99 per day and get three days free.

So how was the food? I’ll let you know in my second post. But here’s a sneak peek:


This is a compensated review for DeliverLean, but the opinions expressed are completely my own.

What we're reading (and loving): 'The Willpower Instinct'


Willpower instinct bookNo, I’m not a zombie – I just love everything about the human brain. They are fascinating skull fillers. That’s why I jumped at the chance to review the book “The Willpower Instinct” (Avery, $26) for the BlogHer Book Club.

The book, subtitled “How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It,” is written by Kelly McGonigall, Ph.D, a psychologist who teaches a Stanford University titled “The Science of Willpower.”

Sign me up!

Everyone says they have no willpower and that they need to improve it, but how? This book outlines the “workout” that you need to do to exercise the part of your brain responsible for willpower – the prefrontal cortex, right behind your forehead.

Just like your abs and glutes, your brain can improve with exercise, becoming stronger and more able to flex its “pass up the cookie” muscle.

As I was reading the book, I stuck little hot pink Post-Its on passages that resonated with me.

The book looks like it was attacked by a flock of flamingos.

In addition, I probably yelled out “Oh my God!” about a thousand times.

But it’s not just me – many people have issues with self-control, procrastination, self-awareness,

Having a stronger prefrontal cortex helps you push out the “go shopping/stay up late/destroy the Doritos/screw around on Facebook” urges and allows you to do “the harder thing,” the book says.

And in the past, when I referred to my nighttime eating urges as feeling like a hungry polar bear was inhabiting my being, I wasn’t too far off. That’s just my “primitive brain” fighting the prefrontal cortex for the upper hand.

According to the book, some neuroscientists say that we have two minds or even two people living inside our mind. Remember that Steve Martin movie “All of Me”? There was a fantastic scene where Martin was attempting to walk down the street but his mind and the spirit of Lily Tomlin were pulling him in opposite directions.

That can be what it feels like when you strengthen your willpower muscle (at least that’s my fun visual).

Man, I’ve got some work to do, and it’s not just at the gym.

What are your willpower challenges? Mine are staying up too late (FULLY addressed in the book by the way), procrastinating and, of course, after-dinner foraging. Feel free to join the discussion on this topic at the link HERE at

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are completely my own.