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September 2014
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November 2014

October 2014

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Everything counts in large amounts

So I only really did one thing diferent this week in counting Points -- I put all my smoothie ingredients into the Weight Watchers recipe builder. Yes, even the fruit got calculated. And where a smoothie before would have 4 Points, a "fruit-counted" smoothie has about double the Points, and I'm OK with that. I mean, if I go to Smoothie King or Jamba Juice and get a smoothie there, those Points are calculated using everything, so why not at home? 

And because I did that, I lost 4.2 pounds this week.

When I got off the scale I was all ...

image from felt like ...

image from 

and the Weight Watchers room felt like ...

image from

...because those 4.2 pounds were hard won. 

OK, actually, I did two things differently.

  1. I counted smoothie fruit. I really didn't even cut back on fruit -- if I was feeling hungry, I'd grab an apple, a banana or a little cup of unsweetened applesauce. I just accounted for the ones that went in the Ninja.
  2. I added in more healthy fats, like avocado, peanut butter, almond butter and even olive oil. When I restarted Weight Watchers I thought that those things would use up Points too quickly so I really cut back on them and, apparently, overcompensated in the starchy carbs. That doesn't work for me.

So now I can finally say that since Oct. 1 when I restarted Weight Watchers until today, I've lost 3 pounds, which I'll definitely celebrate.

Speaking of celebrating ...

I have a couple of giveaways still going on -- I'm giving away the newest Weight Watchers cookbook HERE and a box of Balance Bars HERE. Both giveaways end really soon, so enter!


A Chocolate Day giveaway: Balance Bars

This giveaway is sponsored by Balance Bar.

Oh, hey -- Happy National Chocolate Day! 

Balance barsIt's OK -- I didn't send out cards either, but I did get you a present: a chance to win a box of super chocolatey Balance Bars, specifically Chocolate Craze and Double Chocolate brownie bars.

I love-love-LOVE chocolate -- the darker the better, and these protein bars are really chocolatey. The Double Chocolate Brownie has a brownie consistency with a drizzle of chocolate on top, while the Chocolate Craze is a super-fudgy bar covered in even more chocolate.

Both bars are 200 calories apiece with 14 grams of protein, and the Balance refers to the 40 percent carb-30 percent protein and 30 percent fat ratio. I find that it's a really satisfying ratio, and the bars make a great afternoon snack or a breakfast, when paired with a piece of fruit.

Balance banana

Breakfast of champions, baby. When I have a early morning at the gym, I like to eat the banana on the way to the gym and the Balance Bar on the way back. 

My husband's breakfast of choice is a Balance bar and a glass of chocolate almond milk (we're really into chocolate here). 

So, in the spirit of National Chocolate Day, the folks at Balance Bar would like to give one of you a big box of Chocolate Craze and Double Chocolate Brownie bars. All you need to do is follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway ends at midnight on November 1 so get going!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tunes for Tuesday: Everything Counts, by Depeche Mode

I dedicate this week's song to Maryl, who commented on last Wednesday's Weight Watchers post. I'm now counting the Points for the fruit that I put in smoothies, which I've found doubles the Point count, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Weigh-in is tomorrow and I'm kinda looking forward to it! This song has been playing in my head as I tally up my smoothie Points.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Shake it off and shake it up

That half pound that I lost last week was back this week, so instead of frustratingly shaking my head, I stayed after the meeting and talked to the Weight Watchers leader about my issue.

We went over what I’ve been eating (carb city!) and how much I’ve been exercising (plenty) and figured that I’m probably just really, really, REALLY carb sensitive. My Weight Watchers leader says she is, too, and she really needs to dial back the carbs when she's in weight-loss mode.

I have been turning to carb-based meals a lot the past few weeks. Cereal and milk, sandwiches, pizza -- while they’ve all been fitting into my Points allowance, it’s just not causing the scale to move in the right direction.

So after the meeting, I hit the gym for a good, long cardio and strength sesh. I thought about when I was at my lowest weight this past summer and what I was eating.

OK, this sounds nuts, but I was eating a lot more fat than I’m eating now. I’ve been cutting back on fat and increasing the carby stuff because I thought the higher-fiber carby foods would work better in my Points allowance.

Apparently not.

Veggie haul
After the gym, I hit Aldi and bought four avocados, which I haven’t eaten since the summer. I also bought an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash. The avocados were only 89 cents apiece and the squashes were pretty cheap as well.

I’m not going to cut out starchy carbs completely but I figure I’ll eat more vegetable-based carbs like squashes, sweet potatoes and beany-legumy things.

I’m also going to stuff more spinach and less fruit into my smoothies. Even though fruit is zero Points I haven’t been going overboard on fruit servings but in trying to get the scale to move downward, I need to shake up what I’ve been doing.

Because, like my blog header says, THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN. (It’s just taking awhile.)

Tunes for Tuesday: Take Me to Church, by Hozier

HozierMost of my Tunes for Tuesday selections are faster paced for keeping me on the move while doing cardio. But I also need some meaty songs for strength training, since that makes up half my exercise schedule. This song, which has been out for a new months, is all over the place on TV now with the new LeBron James Beats ad. And since I've discovered how badass cable crossovers make me feel ("I DOMINATE THIS SPACE!!!"), the image of LeBron doing them made "Take Me to Church" this week's pick. I love the booming chorus.

2-a-days and a bacon 5k

Something crazy has happened the past couple of days -- I’ve not only worked out once, I’ve worked out twice. And not because I felt like I had to -- I just wanted to.

I kicked off the week by declaring it Barre Week. I have a bunch of barre workout DVDs and I really wanted to give them a try. On Thursday, I finally got up early enough to do the Jazzercise Strength class, which I really liked. It’s not as dancy as regular Jazzercise and it incorporates hand weights pretty much throughout so it’s a nice strength-cardio combo. Truth be told, it was pretty easy, so when I got home I popped in one of the barre DVDs and did another 30 minutes. (More on the barre workouts next week.)

Friday morning I met with my trainer and since I’ve been doing barre workouts all week we stuck with an upper body workout. After my arms were sufficiently wobbly, I went home and discovered that the meteorologists were right -- it was gorgeous out!

I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a nice, long walk, so after breakfast I put my shoes back on and did 3 miles through the neighborhood.

I did those 2-a-days not because I felt like I had to “burn something off” -- instead I did it out of the sheer joy of activity.

Bacon race start line

Another activity I did for the sheer joy was last weekend’s Great American Bacon Race, which I did with the teenager. (Pro tip: bacon is a sure-fire way to get a teenager to workout with Mom).

It was definitely a “fun run,” with lots of costumes, kids, strollers, families and loud music.

Oh, and bacon.

At every water station, you were handed a cup of water and a cup containing two slices of bacon. I learned at the first water stop that I can’t really chew bacon and workout at any sort of intensity. I felt tiny pieces of bacon trying to work their way toward my windpipe, so I passed on the bacon breaks until the end of the race, where we were rewarded with more bacon. There's another Great American Bacon Race in Orlando next month, if you're interested.

Brooks ghost ombre

Another thing I did not expect -- hills and gravel. South Florida 5ks are usually flat and smooth as a pancake, but this race was at Vista View Park in Davie, which is actually an old landfill, hence the hill. So there was a lot of uphill on gravel action, and had I known that I would have worn some trail running shoes, but my sweet new Brooks ombre Ghosts held up great.

Sweat pink laces
I brought a few pair of Sweat Pink shoe laces to give out to runners, and they were a big hit with the little girls wearing pink tutus and piggie-ear headbands.

I smell bacon
Another pink selection was my Enell Hope sports bra. This was the first 5k I did wearing an Enell and I was surprised at how comfortable it was, especially given the heat of the morning. (Someday it’ll cool off for more than a day.) That's me, above, sporting my Enell Ambassador gear, sniffing out the bacon in the air at the crack of dawn, which was not at all weird.

I usually plug in the iPod for 5ks but since I went with the kid, we took the opportunity to chat the whole way, which was great. There aren’t too many times you have the entire morning with your teenager.

I wish I could have told you that I set a personal record or even what my time was, but I didn’t have a timing chip and I didn’t even keep track of the time. That wasn’t the intent and it felt great to just be in the moment with my kid, the other participants and the great day.

All this leads me to the point: I’ve taken the “work” out of working out.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: A tiny snowball, but I'll take it

Snowball girlFinally starting to chip away at the weight-loss standstill. Was down a half pound this week and, hey, I'll take it. Those snowballs rolling downhill have to start somewhere.

What I learned this week:

Fruits and vegetables are my friends: Time was, if it was snack time or I wanted something after dinner, I'd go for a protein bar or some Greek yogurt. Both of those things are fine, but when points are an issue, I'll go with the zero-point produce and perhaps add a point or two of protein.

Hummus has fewer points than I thought! And for that I am happy. One or two points of hummus with some fresh veggies are a satisfying snack.

I really shouldn't buy ice cream bars, no matter how low in calories/points they are: It's still far too easy to saunter over to the freezer and grab a bar, then -- boom! -- there goes 2 or 3 points that I really didn't need. I need to make the food a little harder to get.

The teenager is getting single-serve bags of snack food instead of the big bargain bags: I have no problem at all with single-serve bags of chips but I do tend to grab a few when they're in a big bag. So we'll be spending a little more money to save on slip-ups.

Even though I workout 5 times a week, I still sit WAY too much: Like today, for example, I put on my workout clothes, weighed in at Weight Watchers, came home and proceeded to sit on my can all day, catching up on emails and baseball pregame shows. Gotta find ways to goose myself off my duff at least once an hour. Granted, I did something at the gym yesterday that had my glute muscles screaming in pain all night and this morning, but I'm OK now so I'll fire up the DVD player and do one of the barre workouts that I'm trying out all week.

So while that half-pound snowball is tiny, I'm going to continue to push it downhill. 

Making chili like a Ninja

Chicken black bean chili labeled
Is it chilly where you live? Here in Humidityville, the daily highs are still up near 90, so, just to let you know, I am TOTALLY JEALOUS of all you sweater wearers getting to run and walk outdoors and not coming back purple faced and drenched in sweat.

Speaking of chilly, I thought it was finally a good time to share with you my go-to chili recipe. I can't believe I haven't posted this because I make it all the time -- even when it's 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity.

I consider this recipe to be a "living document" in that you can sub in whatever kind of ground meat you have on hand. I've made this with turkey, chicken and buffalo. I wasn't fond of the recipe with ground beef because it came out a little greasy, especially when I don't brown the meat first (yeah, sometimes I'm lazy like that; it's just dump and run). 

You also can switch it up with the vegetables. I usually use onions and a variety of bell peppers but chopped mushrooms work great, too, especially chopped portobellos.

Oh, and the beans! Black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans -- all of them work well in this. (Pinto beans don't -- just sayin'.) 

And you can make this a few different ways. I've made this in a pressure cooker, in a big skillet, a slow cooker, or my favorite way -- in a Ninja Cooking System. Depending on what I've got going on, I can either make chili in "real time" or use the slow cooker setting and let it cook all day. What I like about the Ninja is that I can brown the meat on the stovetop setting to give it a richer flavor and color. 

(I've had the Ninja cooker since the beginning of the year and I've made a bunch of things in it, from chili to chicken wings to a whole chicken. I haven't tried baking in it yet but I've heard that baked goods come out really moist.) 

This recipe makes 6 big servings, which you can eat on its own or over a baked potato, which is my favorite way of repurposing the leftovers. That way you can use a half serving over the potato and really stretch the recipe.

When it comes to the canned goods, I try and stick with sodium free or reduced sodium beans and tomatoes to keep the overall sodium count down. This is still a little high so if you're watching your salt, make sure you compensate by making lower sodium choices the rest of the day.

Chicken Black Bean Chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder (if you're not using Mexene, you're not living)
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teapoons garlic salt (Lawry's is my fave)
  • 1 15.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15.5-ounce can salt-free fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 15.5 cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 tablespoons shredded 2% Cheddar cheese

Chili cooking in the ninjaHeat the olive oil over medium-high heat in your Ninja or in a large skillet (at least 12 inches). Add ground chicken, onions and peppers and saute until chicken is slightly browned and the vegetables are tender. Add chili powder, spices and garlic salt and combine. 

Add in tomatoes and beans and, if using a skillet, reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for at least 30 minutes. If using a Ninja, switch to the slow cooker setting and cook on the low setting for 6 hours. 

When done, top each serving with a tablespoon of shredded Cheddar.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: 384 calories, 13g fat, 3g saturated fat, 941g sodium, 46g carbohydrates, 10g fiber, 10g sugars, 27g protein.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: The relearning begins

Who's got two thumbs and didn't lose weight on her first week back at Weight Watchers:

2 thumbs this girlYeesh.

I'm not completely surprised, although the weigh-in lady was (lady, I am one special snowflake).

I ate through all my 49 weekly points and half my exercise points, and while that's totally within the parameters of the plan, it's probably not the best way to start.

I also discovered that I'd reach my daily point limit really quickly, so I'm now working on rethinking my meals and snacks, looking for ways to add in more fruits and vegetables, which won't count toward my total.

I'm going to treat those 49 weekly points as the bonus that they are, so I'm going to try not to dip into them all the time. I'll save them for special occasions or restaurant meals, not for extra protein bars or french fries.

It was an eye-opening week, and I'm looking forward to better results next week.