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January 2015

Whatever bloats your boat

Yesterday was supposed to be Weight Watchers Wednesday but I was sitting here while a new garage-door opener was being installed. I'm going to go to a Sunday meeting but I'm toying with the idea of just waiting until next Wednesday as I'm bloated as all get-out.

Get out! I mean it!

I was talking with my ladybits doc on Tuesday about "the PMS that never ends" (try having a convo with someone in that position) and she said, yeah, perimenopause (which I am definitely in) can seriously screw with any weight-loss efforts.

I feel a little bit like a middle-aged marshmallow -- like this:

Marshmallow gail

She suggested laying off the salty foods, drinking lots more water -- you know, the usual stuff that I'm not doing as I dip carrots into salsa because ZERO POINTS. Also, the Aleve that I'd been taking nearly every day is another culprit because NSAIDs make you retain water. Fortunately, Tuesday's all-day headache disappeared, only to be replaced with Wednesday's IT band rebellion. 

But thanks to my social media pals, I whipped out the yoga block and pigeon posed the pain away. I had tried KT tape but apparently mine was too old and didn't stick to nothin' as I had bright pink tape slowly working its way down my leg on my walk yesterday.

So what's the upshot of all this blathering and photoshopping?

I'm dreading getting on the scale this week so I'm going to wait until next week.

There, I said it. No BS'ing.

What am I going to do about it?

I'm going to push fluids and banish salt and pigeon pose and work out and yell at my ovaries and get at least 7 hours of sleep and say night-night to the kitchen after dinner (which I did last night very successfully).

Anything else?

Why, yes. After looking at when I rejoined Weight Watchers (October) and seeing how much weight I have lost (like a pound), I have decided to get my money's worth out of the plan. What does that mean? I was thinking of all the money I have sunk into losing weight, lo these 40 years (yeah, that long), and I'm going to become an actual lifetime member and not just a member for a lifetime. I am going to see results on the scale and get to a happy weight and be one of those people who weighs in once a month and stays at their happy weight. There are a lot of elderly women in my Weight Watchers meetings still working on getting the weight off in their 60s and 70s, and I don't want to be in their shoes when I'm their age.

Asian Chicken-Almond Meatballs

I'm a Blue Diamond Tastemaker and was compensated with the almonds for this recipe.

Asian chicken almond meatballs
Do you know how difficult it is to keep a couple cans of Blue Diamond almonds around the house when asked to come up with a game-day snack idea?

Blue Diamond sent me their Smokehouse and Wasabi-Soy flavors, and before I had a chance to dream, they disappeared.

Cvs abound rice crackersSo armed with more supplies, I came up with these meatballs that use the Wasabi-Soy mixed in with the ground chicken. You get a hint of the flavor and a nutty texture in the meatballs, which sit on an Asian rice cracker. (CVS's new Abound line of healthier snacks has some great flavors of rice crackers -- I'm a big fan of the Lime & Black Pepper rice crackers but I used the sea salt variety for this dish.)

Serve the rest of the almonds with the meatballs -- a bite of the meatball with an almond heightens the flavor. As for those Smokehouse almonds, set that can down in front of the TV and they'll disappear by halftime.

Asian Chicken-Almond Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 ounces Blue Diamond Wasabi & Soy Sauce Almonds, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1/2 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
  • Couple dashes of Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine chicken, almonds, rice, egg whites, minced onion and 5-spice powder in a large bowl.

With wet fingertips, form mixture into 32 small meatballs and place on large cookie sheet either sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with nonstick foil.

Bake meatballs for 15-18 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Sprinkle meatballs with the tablespoon of soy sauce, and place each meatball on a rice cracker.

Makes 16 servings (2 meatballs and 2 crackers per serving): 95 calories, 5 grams fat, 1 gram sat fat, 24 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 0.4 grams fiber, 7 grams protein.

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more recipes, check out my recipe archive or check out Shrinking Kitchen, where I contribute original recipes every other week!

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Happy tummy, happy scale

I've been in and out all day long and nearly forgot to post today -- down 1.2 pounds, which is great considering I've been more focused on making my gut feel better this week than on anything else. 

All it took was cutting out wheat and peanuts and the noise in my tummy was silenced. 

Happy_stomachI think that when my stomach was railing against me, I was actually eating to quell the pain and totally sabotaging my weight-loss efforts. Maybe yogurt! A piece of toast! Soup! Ice cream! Nothing was working until I decided to cut out the wheat and peanut butter again.

What did I learn this week?

  • I did best when I didn't eat after dinner. Once or twice I caved and ate a piece of fruit but I also stocked up on zero-calorie stevia-sweetened water enhancers (thanks, Publix!) and would reach for a bottle of tasty water instead of other things.
  • I ramped up the exercise. I'm really good about consistency but during December I got a little sidetracked with holiday stuff and working at the fundraising gift wrap booth at the mall. So I'm back to five solid days a week (can't wait for the new Planet Fitness to open!). 
  • Morning (and sometimes lunch) smoothies are my go-to meals. I can cram a lot of good stuff into one Nutri Ninja cup. I've been reading Dr. Phil's The 20/20 Diet and he suggests making a smoothie with a base of 6 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt and a scoop of whey protein powder. I've always done one or the other but that 1-2 punch of proteins really keeps me full for a long time. 
  • A big bag of organic apples is a great investment. If I absolutely must have something and I'm out of points, I'll grab an apple. But even though Weight Watchers says fruit is zero points, I limit my fruit to three servings. If I happen to go over that, I'll add a point.
  • I really miss peanut butter! We have 4 jars of the stuff, creamy and smooth, in the pantry and I am so tempted to just stick my finger in the jar. But then I remember how awful the stuff makes me feel so I walk away. I have a jar of almond butter in the fridge and that satisfies the nut butter craving but surprisingly I'm not compelled to eat it willy-nilly, like I did with the peanut butter -- go figure.

Project Earlybird begins ... NOW!

image from
The husband and I came up with a plan that's a win-win for everyone involved and it begins tomorrow morning.

His drives to work have become longer and longer (let's develop all of Miami and not improve the roads!) and he's not really fond of waking up at the buttcrack of dawn to workout before work, so he's going to leave for work earlier to beat the morning traffic and work out in his office's gym. 

That means I'll be taking the teenager to school every day, and for me that means I need to wake up at 6:40, which is a lot different than my waking up at "whenever" (one of the perks of working from home).

I've attempted the waking-up-earlier thing but it never stuck but now it has to or the kid doesn't get to school. (Outside influences work better for me than self-motivation.)

So no more midnights!

I just set my Fitbit to buzz me awake at 6:40, and that's an alarm that you can't ignore. Speaking of Fitbits, I'm hoping my new Charge HR is in the pipeline. I ordered it a couple months ago from Brookstone but the release was delayed. I then got an email saying that they were in stock, but only in black. I ordered plum and decided to wait for that color. I'm the most impatient person on the planet, so holding out for purple was a big deal.

I'm looking forward to the heart-rate monitoring on the Charge because I really want to step up the weight training again, and that exercise doesn't do much for regular activity monitors.

On the eating front, I'm also experimenting with eating all my food within a 12-hour window. I know some fans of intermittent fasting cram it all into an 8-hour period but 12 hours is better than what I was doing, especially late at night.

Oh, but the Pavlov's dogs are barking! I can't tell whether it's head hunger or gut hunger but man, am I hungry right now (9:15 p.m.). I've been pounding down water but I just yelled uncle and ate a pear. 

I think with my new, earlier schedule, my window will be 8ish to 8ish, which seems do-able. 

I'm looking forward to getting more done earlier in the day. I have a tendency to procrastinate, and knowing that my workout will be done before breakfast will go a long way to increasing productivity everywhere else.

Weight Watchers Wednesday: The struggle is real (annoying)

Down 4.6 pounds last week, up a pound this week.


I have a good idea why I'm up but here's the problem -- it's probably PMS but at my age this could resolve itself in a few days or, uh, never.

How do I finesse that?

image from

This month? Next month? Never?

So I'm committed to drinking more water -- a lot more water, in my case, because I don't drink all that much plain water. Tea, coffee, non-caloric flavored -- those are my go-tos but I need to embrace the water bottle more often.

I'm also going to be a bigger salt detective than I already am and reach for non-salty seasonings, like garlic, onion powder and lemon juice.

What did I learn last week?

Avoiding peanut butter and wheat has done absolute WONDERS for me. My stomach is so, so, so happy and I discovered another benefit -- the arthritis inflammation in my right big toe has pretty much disappeared. I even did real push-ups today! Usually I have to do them on my knees because I can't put a lot of pressure on that toe but today I was able to rock the "grownup" push-ups.

What will I do better this week?

Meal scheduling and planning. There were a few days when I didn't get around to eating breakfast until almost noon, then I had lunch shortly after that and a snack after that. Days like that really throw off my hunger cues. It was actually an exercise that we did in our Weight Watchers meeting today. We wrote on a planner sheet our meal schedule for yesterday and then wrote a plan for tomorrow. My eating was all bunched up around the early afternoon yesterday. Tomorrow I'm shooting for every three hours to keep things on an even keel. 

Tunes for Tuesday: Shake It Up, by The Cars

image from www.shrinkingsisters.comWhoo -- flashbacks to my freshman year in college! I chose this song today because I'm shaking up my fitness routine. My free year of membership at Planet Fitness comes to an end this week and while I wait for a new Planet Fitness to go up much closer to me, I thought it'd be a great time to do Tony Horton's new DVD set P90. I had Power 90 (on VHS!) a million years ago but never did it, and P90X is just too "X" for me, so I jumped into this new routine today. So far I love it (because I was able to do the entire workout!).

Weight Watchers Wednesday: Whew! Much better

Oh ... hi! Basking in my good health and weight-loss success and I almost forgot to post today.

My stomach virus vanished yesterday, allowing me to hit the gym and get back to my routine, since the teenager and the husband were back to school and work. I actually cancelled that gym membership and signed up for the pre-sale at a Planet Fitness going in a few doors down from my Weight Watchers meeting -- talk about convenient! It's supposed to open next month but right now it's a pile of ductwork and electrical outlets.

Moving on ...

Remember on Saturday when I gained 7 stinking pounds? Today when I weighed in I was down 4.6 pounds. At first I was a little disappointed but then I remembered -- it's only been 4 days! So I'm totally happy with that. 

What have I been doing the past 4 days? 

Big chicken salad
My lunch today -- a big salad with veggies, chicken breast and 2 tablespoons of Bolthouse blue cheese dressing.

I've been trying to automate my meals -- taking a little less choice out of the equation. Breakfast has been a smoothie, lunch a big salad with veggies and 6 ounces of protein, snacktime has been an apple and an ounce of almonds, dinner's protein and veggies with 1/2 cup of quinoa, and my evening snack is 6 ounces of plain lowfat Greek yogurt. 

Yes, you heard me right -- plain. Thing is, when it's 2% plain Greek yogurt it's really, really good (at least to me) and I don't need to add anything.

I think it's all the protein that's keeping me really full, and cutting down on starchy carbs is quelling cravings. 

I'm taking this one day at a time and so far it's working.