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February 2016

Superfood Swapping, and making sure my blood pressure doesn't suck

If you follow me anywhere on social media, you would have seen me raving about registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner's Superfood Swap plan. It was featured on the ABC series "My Diet is Better Than Yours." Actually, it won the show, and I had her pegged to win from the get-go: She's a registered dietitian, her plan was the most do-able and based in real-world situations, and her contestant, Jasmin, seemed the least cranky and hungry of the bunch. 

I went to Dawn's website, looked around at her recipes (print out and make her Cauliflower Mac and Cheese -- I promise you'll love it!) and decided to take the plunge and buy her Superfood Swap Starter Kit. She has a Superfood Swap book coming out, but I am not waiting until December. 

I got on the scale Sunday morning, looked down and couldn't believe what I saw, so I got off the scale and tried it again. Yep -- same number. Then I made my husband weigh himself just to make sure the scale wasn't broken. Nope -- he said his weight checked out. 

According to the scale yesterday, I had lost 6 pounds the past week! That's just crazy for me. 

(I did get back on the scale this morning and it was up, but that's just my usual crazy fluctuation, so I'm running with Sunday's number.)

What's in the Superfood Swap?

Here are the main takeaways, as explained on the "My Diet Is Better Than Yours" website:

The Rules

Step 1. Decide what you WANT to eat.

Step 2. Put in the “right RATIONS” on your plate.

Step 3. Swap C.R.A.P. to Superfoods at your own pace. (CRAP stands for 

  • Chemicals
  • Refined flour/sugar
  • Artificial stuff
  • Preservatives

Get Started!

Enjoy 3 “Right Ration” Meals/Day. (RIGHT RATION= small protein+ small grain+ large veggies + fat topping.)

HOW MUCH? Look at your food…you know what’s too big & what’s too small (visual wisdom) General guide: ½ c. protein + ½ c grain + 2 c. veggies + 1/2 T oil/dressing or 2-3T nuts/seeds/guac.

EAT 0-2 SNACKS/DAY. Snack only when hungry, produce + protein combo, 150 calories each, function-not-fun.

TABLE-PLATE-CHAIR. Do not eat meals or snacks while multitasking.

SWEETS/TREATS/ALCOHOL. Enjoy anytime if SOCIAL & fun…never alone, never at home, never free.

DRINK WATER. Have 71-100 ounces water/day.

Tip: Drink hot lemon water each morning & 16 ounces water before meals.

EXERCISE. Aim for 6x/week. Do something for 60 minutes, anything is better than nothing, high variety & fun. Especially love 7-minute, full-body workout & 12.5 -minute sprint workout.

SLEEP. Aim for 7-8 hours/night.

SUCCESS TIP. Delicious Monotony. Find meals & snacks that work & repeat, repeat, repeat.


Here's what I really focused on this week:

  • Table-Plate-Chair: We eat anywhere and everywhere in our house. (I joke that I should install a dishwasher in the office, between my coffee mugs and my kid's cereal bowls.) Instead I ate all my meals at the kitchen or dining room table. It felt fancy! It also compartmentalized "mealtime" from "everything else time."
  • Sweets/Treats/Alcohol: I stopped buying those little Weight Watchers mini fudge bars. Instead, we went out for frozen yogurt. It was great and I moved on.
  • 0-2 Snacks a Day: Here's where I think the bulk (ha!) of my weight-loss issue comes from. I snack too much. I have no problem between breakfast and lunch, but there's ALWAYS a snack in the afternoon, and the snackin' don't stop 'til I hit the pillow. So instead, I focused on making sure my meals were really substantial and filling and stretched the time between meals/snacks. I did get pretty darn hungry but I knew there was a nice, satiating meal awaiting me, so I was OK with feeling hunger (shouldn't we eat when we're hungry anyway?). I'm also reading "The Obesity Code," by Dr. Jason Fung. Its basic premise is about making your body access its fat stores by stretching out the time between food. I just started reading it last night but I'm liking the geekiness of it.
  • Delicious Monotony: I was loving the avocado toast topped with egg and spinach, and I ate it about three times last week. It's easy, feels indulgent and keeps me full. I used to buy the regular Ezekiel bread but I tried the flax version and like it even better. Very seedy (in a good way).

 So, about that blood pressure

I had my annual physical today and had my usual white-coat hypertension, which was also aggravated by my weekend on Aleve (neck issues). The doctor took my BP again at the end of the appointment and it did go down, but dammit, I DON'T WANT WHITE COAT OR ANY KIND OF HYPERTENSION. I do check my pressure at the grocery store and at home with an Omron cuff and usually it's pretty darn normal. But since I'm 10 pounds higher than I was last year I have noticed some creep on the top number. Fortunately, I have a doctor who isn't pill happy and was happy with my response that I'd rather do more cardio and eat more vegetables and fish to get the number down.

And, of course, to lose weight. 

In a weird, "only Gail" way, I'm kinda glad my blood pressure wasn't perfect because it has added some real urgency and purpose to getting this weight off. Why focus on jeans size when you can focus instead on death? (I'm only halfway kidding.)

So it's more cardio, more vegetables at every meal, the return of my Calm-Emergen-C cocktail and a glass of beet juice for good measure.

So now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch "The Biggest Loser" finale.


Weight Watchers SmartPoints: Final thoughts (and recipe ideas!)

(Yes, I said final because my 2-month Zulily offer is wrapping up and I don't feel like pouring any more cash into "dieting.")

I've officially switched back to tracking in My Fitness Pal (I've had their premium app awhile and that's the only money I need to be spending on food tracking).

What do I think about Weight Watchers' new SmartPoints plan? 

Overall, the change is good, but there was one glaring downside to the new plan. I'll call it the "Peanut Butter and Jelly Points Killer" problem.

I don't eat PB&J's very often, but when I do, I don't want them to COMPLETELY EAT UP HALF MY FOOD ALLOWANCE FOR THE DAY.

That was what I encountered after I tracked two slices of Rudi's Multigrain gluten-free bread, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 tablespoon of strawberry jam.

Half my Points for the day.

Just for kicks, I calculated the calories and my big, bad sammich was 400 calories. How can 400 calories be half my food for the day? 

I had the same shocker after eating a Lenny and Larry's Complete Cookie for breakfast. That and a cup of coffee with 3 tablespoons of half and half killed half my Points for the day. Also a roughly 400-calorie meal.

I found myself pounding canned tuna and turkey breast like there was no tomorrow, because they were super low in Points. 

I ended up eating too much tuna.


(I mean, c'mon. How can I not post this?)

I didn't want to end up with "Freddie Mercury's Poisoning" so I cut back. But I slowly found myself growing completely neurotic over food.

I also wasn't thrilled with WW's recommendations of fat-free products -- satiety goes out the window when you're eating fat-free foods. I'm not saying I go full-fat dairy, but 1% milk and 2% Greek yogurt is a nice compromise.

I lost a few pounds but even that tailed off after I started eating all the optional and fitness Points because I ran out. I also ate a lot of zero-Point fruit.

Who do I think can benefit from SmartPoints?

The new Weight Watchers plan is great for someone wanting to change from a highly processed diet full of fast- and packaged food, loads of starchy carbs, added sugars and not much in the way of fruits and vegetables. Someone who wants to get off the venti Frappuccino wagon and move toward healthier choices.

That's just not me. 

What am I doing now?

Finding recipes that I enjoy, focusing on foods that keep me full for a long time (hello, oatmeal!) and shooting for an evenly distributed macro pie chart (protein, fat and carbs) and sticking around 1,600-ish calories. I'm also trying to steer myself away from sweet-focused meals and snacks. So not as much fruit and more vegetables, more savory breakfasts and unsweetened lowfat Greek yogurt instead of sweetened fat-free ones. (If the yogurt is good, I can totally eat it plain.)

I don't know whether I've mentioned this site before, but Fit Men Cook is a fantastic resource for great-tasting healthy recipes. Dude needs to write a proper cookbook; I'd be all over it! In the meantime, his blog has a bunch of great recipes and he does have a smallish book with recipes on Amazon.

I've made Kevin's Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese before and it was delish.


Monday I made his Egg, Turkey, Oat Spinach & Cheese Breakfast Muffins, and I think they're my new favorite meal for any time of day. Two of them and a cup of coffee had me satiated for 4 hours. The timing was perfect, too, as I had just gotten some turkey bacon from Jennie-O. (I'm a member of their Switch Circle.)


Seriously, make these muffins. You won't be disappointed.

Here's how mine came out:

Fit men cook turkey oat breakfast muffins


I didn't have any actual oat flour, so I blitzed a bunch of old-fashioned oats in my NutriNinja and presto! Oat flour.

Did you catch the slogan on my coffee mug? It says "Commit to yourself." 

That's what I'm doing -- committing to myself. Not a program, not a diet. Myself. Taking what works, not doubting myself, trusting the process and not constantly looking for the next new thing.