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December 2014

Tunes for Tuesday: Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Sad peanut butter

Peanut butter has a complicated relationship in our house. My teenager is allergic to it but my husband and I still eat it regularly because, apparently, the kid isn't deathly allergic. But over the past couple years, I've noticed that I've been feeling increasingly crappy after I eat it, and the past couple weeks I've felt like I had a stomach virus. 

It's not an allergy -- I definitely know what that looks like -- but it's probably an intolerance, either to the actual peanuts or their aflatoxins (I have a huge mold allergy and even things like blue cheese can affect me).

These past couple weeks also coincided with me discovering the awesomeness that is Peter Pan Natural chunky peanut butter, which I'd been enjoying every day.

I put 2 and 2 together last night and decided I'd have to cut peanut butter out of my diet to see if that's the culprit. It's late afternoon, I haven't had any and my stomach has stopped rocking and rolling. Seriously, it's the only thing I can think of.

So while I'm giving up my beloved PB, there's still almond butter and this song:

Weight Watchers Saturday: Post-Christmas victory edition

My usual Wednesday Weight Watchers meeting is closed for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve so I'm joining my sister at her Saturday meetings until the holidays are over (and may keep going for some extra motivation).

Dropped a half pound this week, which was great because there was some undocumented nibbling going on and a little less exercise than usual (unless you count zipping from store to store). 

We had ham, brussels sprouts and acorn squash on Christmas Eve, and I made a Weight Watchers-friendly lasagna and Key lime pie on Christmas. And even though I didn't overindulge, the combination of lasagna, pie and a pomegranate martini had me feeling like absolute crap all night long. After all these years of eating healthy food, I think I can only do one "splurgie" thing at a time -- any more and it feels like I'm fueling my race car with garbage.

So Friday I kicked the day off with a holiday-themed smoothie -- almond milk-based holiday nog (100 calories for a whole cup) mixed with cinnamon roll-flavored vegan protein and a frozen banana. 

Last night we went to Santa's Enchanted Forest down in Miami because TEENAGERS. (News flash: it is neither enchanted nor a forest. It's a large carnival.) The husband and I played chaperone and stayed out of the teenager's hair as he and his pals went on rides that looked like some sort of astronaut shake-out test. 

Carnival coffee
Nachos by the bucketAs for finding a non-threatening carnival-food dinner, it was pretty easy. Nearly every carnival has a Greek food stand and the selections there are good. I had a chicken pita with lots of grilled veggies, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. Later I treated myself to a Cuban coffee, which, for the uninitiated, is equal parts espresso and sugar. Still better than an elephant ear. I also had a 2-Point bag of pistachios in my purse and enjoyed them while the teenager fueled up on a post-dinner burger and fries (the metabolism of a teenage boy is a thing to behold). 

But holy landmines -- there's a lot of bad food choices to be made at a carnival. An ice cream cone looks like health food compared to the fried Oreos, elephant ears, everything dipped in chocolate, pizza, bacon cheese fries and of course the bucket of nachos. Now it's not a Home Depot bucket -- it's more of a small Halloween candy-sized trough that you can carry with you. But still.

(My husband joked that I should open a Gail's Kale concession -- but first we'd have to figure out how to deep-fry kale and coat it in chocolate.)

We did get a fair amount of walking in -- I got the husband a Vivofit for Christmas, and he gleefully looked at the thousands of steps he put in throughout the day. (He got in more than 3 miles earlier in the day and added on another 3 at the carnival.)

So I'll take that half pound and will do everything in my power to top that next week.

The Go! Go! Gail! last-minute healthy holiday gift guide

(It's only last-minute because I've been spending my free time volunteering at the high school marching band gift wrap booth at the mall and trying to catch up on laundry and Christmas shopping!)

With just a few days before Christmas you may find yourself rushing around to pick up gifts for your loved ones. The good news is if you don't want to brave the crowds, you can still order from Amazon today and it should show up by Christmas Eve. 

(Believe me, I've been at the mall a lot the past couple weeks and it's crazy in there.)

So here are a few stocking stuffers and bigger-ticket gifts that I think are pretty cool.

(Full disclosure: Some of these were provided to me by the companies.)

Nutri ninja system
Nutri ninja single serveNutri Ninja blenders: I had the opportunity to see the Nutri Ninja at this past summer's FitBloggin' but I've been a longtime Ninja fan, going all the way back to the original top-motor version. I bought the first Nutri Ninja single-serve blender and loved how it powered through nuts, seeds, fibrous vegetables, ice and frozen fruit in my smoothies, but then the Ninja folks sent me the new Nutri Ninja Auto iQ kitchen system, which includes single-serve cups, a blender and a food processor. There's also a Nutri Ninja Auto iQ single-serve blender if you're looking for something simpler. 

Here's the big difference between the regular Nutri Ninja and the Auto iQ -- you program the blender with the touch of a button and let the blender do its business while you multitask with something else -- very cool.

This will not win any Oscars but if you want to see how the Auto iQ works, I shot a video of my latest smoothie:



(OMG, embedding Google Plus videos is a pain in the butt.) 


Goody QuickStyle Paddle Brush: This is a great stocking stuffer for any gym-goer who doesn't want to lug a blow dryer in their gym bag. This brush has microfiber bristles that help absorb excess water from your hair and greatly speeds drying time. So you can either use it with or without a dryer. Since I'm too lazy to spend any time on my hair, I brush through my wet hair with this brush and it air dries much faster and less frizzy. 

JambacardJamba Juice or Smoothie King gift cards: Can you tell I love smoothies? I'm not talking about those monstrous 500-calorie sugar-laden concoctions -- I'm talking more reasonable 300-ish whole-food healthy meal replacements, and both Jamba Juice and Smoothie King have been stepping up their games with their latest smoothies. Jamba has been adding Greek yogurt, kale and chia seeds to many of its smoothies (Kale-ribbean Breeze is my fave), and Smoothie King has a whole bunch of really tasty smoothies for 300 calories or less, including a line that features Ghirardelli chocolate. And since a smoothie is hard to wrap, a gift card is a much neater gift.

P90 base kitBeachbody's P90 DVD workout system: Consider this a gift to yourself for the new year (since it's not going to show up for Christmas unless you order it right now from Amazon). I've been waiting for this one to come out because I love Tony Horton but am not at P90X levels of fitness. This new set is a reboot of the Power 90 series that started it all, and includes a meal plan, a 6-day jump start, resistance band and of course the DVD workouts, which include Sculpt, Sweat and Ab Ripper workouts in three levels. They're tough but doable and even a little fun. So spend your Christmas cash on this one for yourself.


Bandi belt: I have tried a slew of waistband gadget holders and this one by far is my favorite. You clip it around your waist so you don't have to step into it or pull it over your head -- much more convenient when you're covered in sweat. You also can give it a quick swish in a sink of soapy water if you want to freshen it up and it comes in a slew of colors and patterns. It doesn't hold a lot but I can get my iPod Nano, headphones and gym locker key in there with no problem. I have also squeezed my phone in it, too, and the stretchy spandex keeps it secure.



Weight Watchers Wednesday: Locking this down

Sister: "Are you a lifetime member?"

Me: "No. You have to hit goal for that."

Sister: "Oh, you've just been going for a lifetime."

I was down 2.2 pounds this week and I knew it'd be a good week on the scale because I was hiking up my jeans again. (Yay for hiking up my jeans!)

Cutting yoyo string blue

So what do I need to do to cut this yo-yo string now that the yo-yo is back down? I did a quick inventory of what I did differently this week:

  • Drank more water and "water-like beverages" (green tea, sparkling water, etc.)
  • Ate fewer starchy foods and replaced them with good fats and protein. This one is really difficult for me because CARBS! I love them, and it's super easy to go all cereal and milk for breakfast. But I did a lot more eggs, egg whites and Egg Beaters, depending on whether I could afford the extra fat at the meal. Sometimes if I want a cheesy omelet, I'll do Egg Beaters or egg whites and spend the fat on cheese or even avocado.
  • Did a much better job of going to bed earlier.
  • Relied on my green beans. What's that, you ask? I keep a few cans of low-sodium green beans in the pantry and if I just have to have something, I'll go for the green beans. Sometimes they hit the spot better than a piece of fruit.
  • Went for lower-Point yogurts. I have a variety of Greek yogurts in the fridge because my husband and I eat a lot of yogurt. I have sugar-sweetened ones and 100-calorie ones that are only 2 Points (Yoplait Greek 100). One of those and a piece of fruit is a great afternoon snack. 

For the next few weeks I'll be joining my sister at her Saturday meetings because my meetings will be closed on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

I know I have said this a million, zillion times (see phone conversation with my sister above) but this yo-yo string is staying down and getting permanently cut!

Weight Watchers Wednesday: To be continued (on Saturday)

Checking in early today because there's nothing to report other than I'm swathed in ThermaCare lower back heat wraps. I did something to my lower back/hip area last week and I'm now on Day 7 of stiffness. I'm trying not to hit the Aleve bottle every day but the 5 a.m. twinge has been waking me up the past two mornings. 

image from www.shrinkingsisters.comSo what does any of this have to do with Weight Watchers? I drove the teenager to school today, came home and promptly fell asleep, snoozing through my meeting.

But this back thing is getting better. Earlier in the week, I couldn't even pick a paperclip up from the floor and I can do that now (drop all the paperclips!). The stiffness has retreated to my lower left side and I'm hoping it'll all be gone in a few days.

My sister has been absolutely crushing it on Weight Watchers -- 7 pounds in two weeks! So I'm going to meet her at her Saturday meeting to have some of her success mojo rub off on me.

The weigh-in is on hold until then but the taking care of myself isn't.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm putting on my sneakers and treating myself to a good, long walk!

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Crowdsourcing some success

Broken seesaw

I am going to promise that this will be the last see-saw metaphor I will use on the blog, because I'm tired of going up and down on the scale. This week I went up 2 pounds and immediately texted my sister, who lost 3 pounds this week.


So I'm sitting here at 8:45 p.m. with a Camelbak full of water, and I haven't eaten since dinner. I'm really, really, REALLY going to do the "pie-hole shutdown maneuver" after dinner because that is my one and only problem area. 

But I'm feeling a rumbling in my stomach that I don't know is true hunger or just some Pavlovian reaction.

Also, I got a press release yesterday from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (science!). It says confining eating to an 8-12-hour period could stave off high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. You can read the press release HERE or you can watch a video about it:

This study just screams "ME, ME, ME!" I stay up too late, eat too many healthy snacks and basically bollocks up all the good stuff I've done during the day.

So in addition to asking the advice of my sister, I thought I'd crowdsource some tips from some of my FitBloggin' pals. Here they are, and they're great:

  • Brooke Birmingham (Brooke Not on a Diet): Lately I've been drinking hot tea in the evening to curb the snacking. It seems to help.
  • Deb Eber Roby (Weight for Deb): I plan my night time eating so the calories and macros fall within my guidelines. Normally it's a piece of fruit and some nuts. I also craft at night. It’s hard to eat and knit at the same time.
  • Jennifer Sader (Perfect in Our Imperfections): I have to say that a lot of times I give in. Air-popped popcorn is my go-to, but I have been trying to look at my healthy checks and fill them in. So if I am short a dairy and a fruit, I might have a pear and a string cheese. I should say that I try to make sure that I'm really hungry and not just falling into "if you're ___ and you know it, have a snack!" That commercial has definitely been in my head since I saw it.
  • Margo Porras (Nacho Mama’s Blog): I always try to set goals for the holidays that are NOT scale based. "I will take a 20-minute walk no matter what." Or, "I will NOT use my aunt's snarky comments as an excuse to finish a whole pie on Christmas Eve." At night I often resort to crafting instead of snacking. This year I may finish that Rainbow Loom hammock!
  • Thea Mortensen Rudland (It’s Me Vs. Me): Journaling helps, or chewing a stick of gum after dinner, but sometimes I just snack and get on with it.
  • Roni Noone (Roni’s Weigh): I'm like Jennifer - I usually give in but have "go-tos" -- air popped popcorn, apple with cheese, cocoa dusted banana bites. Things like that. 

Tunes for Tuesday: 'If You're Happy' Weight Watchers ad

This isn't a regular workout song, per se, but I had to share this new video from Weight Watchers. My sister (who lost 3 pounds her first week, including Thanksgiving!) posted this on Facebook and it really (I mean, really, really, REALLY) struck a nerve with me, and it has spurred me to change my nighttime boredom eating. One evening snack is fine -- three is far too many.