Monday, February 23, 2009

Celebrating a Successful Week!

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(FYI: No weekly topic blog tonight- I got stuck working late and missed the meeting completely. I will likely hit up the Saturday morning one in Manhattan again.)

What a fantastic week! I can't remember the last time I felt so good and so clear headed about what I am doing. It all makes sense again. It all feels within my reach! And I am so proud of how I handled this past week. Let me count the ways-
  • I worked out 6 days, which I normally do. But I really challenged myself and worked harder than usual. (My hamstrings are still killing me from my pilates class Sunday morning!)
  • I did not eat in my bedroom at all! This was a monumental accomplishment and so far the longest streak I've had. I feel like the new habit of not allowing myself to mindlessly eat while I'm on the computer, or disgustingly eat in bed is finally going to be conquered!
  • I re-evaluated my 'no eating within 2 hours of bed' rule and realized that most nights, this is just not possible for me because of my schedule. I came to terms with it and decided it was OK for me to eat within that window as long as I am eating my daily points/meeting the daily heath guidelines. However, it is NOT OK for me to eat close to bedtime for the purpose of having "just one more snack". Also, after I am done eating, I brush my teeth immediately (instead of waiting a while). This has also helped tremendously since I do not want to eat after that.
  • I had 2 challenges that I handled beautifully-
Friday: I survived an evening of drinks and snacks at Michael's place *and* a bar! I was prepared. I knew what I was going to have and I didn't deviate from my plan. AND I tracked it!
Sunday: I had dinner with my Dad and brother at a restaurant (I've mentioned before I do not like restaurants and very seldom eat out). I made sure to plan around the event, I ate before I went out and I reminded myself how to handle the dreaded restaurant situation. I did awesomely!
  • I tracked 7 days straight - every day since Tuesday - including through the weekend! I have been tracking very inconsistently lately, but the weekends have always been a challenge, so this was a huge success! This means I can *finally* put that Bravo sticker on my star catcher from about 3 weeks ago. To show off my awesome numbers, here's a screen shot of my week from the eTools tracker (I barely even dipped into my weekly/activity points)!
Week of 0216

I'm in such a fantastic place right now. I know I've been here before, but as corny as it sounds, this time feels different. I feel really empowered. I've been so much more conscious of my food choices and why I'm eating, and I've been able to think objectively about food instead of feeling controlled by it. This is how I my relationship with food should be, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep this relationship healthy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recent Food Finds

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1- Light Agave Nectar
I mentioned trying this a while ago and not liking it. But I tried it again recently and by golly, I love it! It's billed as a natural sweetener and tastes almost just like honey. I use it in my oatmeal or on my Fiber One, but I'm sure you can think of a ton more uses - like in your tea!

1 Tbsp = 60 calories, 0 fat, 1 fiber = 1 Point

2- MorningStar Farms Asian Veggie Patties
These are probably my absolute favorite of all the MorningStar patties! They're great on their own, with a little soy sauce or on an Arnold flat bread. In fact, I'm sure they're great any way you can think of serving them - crumbled up over some shirataki noodles with soy sauce and scallions perhaps? (Note: These are vegetarian- not vegan.)

1 Pattie = 100 calories, 4 g fat, 2 g fiber - 2 Points

3- Boca Bruschetta Tomato Basil Parmesan Patties
I admit that I do not like any of Boca's "meat" patties, but these don't try to be like meat at all. I can't think of anything else to compare them to, but they're delicious. (Note: These are vegetarian- not vegan.)

1 Pattie = 70 calories, 1.5 g fat, 3.5 g fiber = 1 Point!

4- Manhattan Special Diet Espresso Coffee Soda
How have I never had this in my life until recently? I love this carbonated coffee beverage! And it's made right here in Brooklyn! I enjoy it alone, or with a 1:1 ratio with Almond Breeze (unsweetened vanilla) or add it to my WW shakes. (Note: This product has aspartame!)

8 oz = 0 calories, 0 fat, 0 fiber = 0 Points

Check them out or discover your own new foods!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Old Habits Die Hard

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After nearly giving up on my meeting this week, I realized I would be in Manhattan this morning so I checked the WW meeting locator and found a fairly convenient one. Look at these gorgeous deco shapes on the doors:

59 W 19th

And the hallway details and floor tile. I think this is Terrazzo:

Gorgeous Deco details and floor tile

They left the "s" off "Weight Watchers", which I found amusing:

I'm a Weight Watcher

I thought the elevator was pretty charming:


And LOVED the fan in the ceiling of the elevator:

Elevator Ceiling Fan

Once inside, almost immediately, I was greeted by a man (who turned out to be the leader) and he asked me if I was new today. I told him that no, I attend Mondays in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He said something like "Oh you were one of Carolyn's members." (Chances are that you read my previous blog and know that my leader of over 2 years is no longer at my center and I miss her terribly.) All it took was hearing her name and realizing he knew her and I burst into tears right there. It was so embarrassing! I am NOT a cryer, I swear! But he was very understanding and made me feel welcome.

The meeting was huge - at least 40 people (mine is about 12); but I imagine it was partly because the leader, Robert B, was so charismatic. He had many great quotes, told hilarious and relatable stories about his own journey, and was all around very personable. I have to say I enjoyed his meeting tremendously. And at the end of the meeting, one of the other members approached me and introduced herself - turns out she's a reader of my blog! That was very exciting. Nice to meet you, Diane!

And now on to this week's topic...

We started off with the definition of habits: What is a habit? It can be anything you do automatically, mindlessly, without thinking - a sequence of events. Sometimes these habits benefit us, sometimes they do not. And he reminded us that the ones which do not benefit us, and are holding us back from our goals, could be uncomfortable, but not impossible, to change.

Then he asked us to fill in this blank: If I am not hungry, I eat because I'm _________?

I thought that was a good way to phrase it, forcing us each to consider when else we turn to food. Some answers members offered were: bored, tired, angry, frustrated, lonely, sad, stressed, overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, etc... For me personally, I know that stress and frustration are probably my two biggest emotional (non-hunger) eating triggers.

He pointed out that from a very early age, food is often used as an incentive or a reward (doctor's visits, birthdays, good grades, etc). So this is likely a very deeply ingrained behavior that most of us have an issue with. In the case of emotional or non-hunger related eating, we are using food to comfort us or to make us feel good. But as we all know, that comfort is very fleeting, and is often accompanied by anger, guilt, despair - which can sometimes lead to more eating. And you all know how horrible that cycle is...

In order to address this non-hunger related eating, we talked about the Weight Watchers Tool for Living that I mention pretty often: Reframing. The Reframing Tool reminds us that there is a positive intention behind every action we take, and we refer to it when we want to change a behavior or habit.

Considering our list of non-hunger related food triggers, he asked what could we do instead of turning to food in those situations. Again, members chimed in with their suggestions. Some were: talking to someone, deep breathing, listening to music, dancing, walking, a massage, shopping, a bath, visualizing success, meditating, reading - all things that give you the opportunity to take some time out for yourself and do something that you enjoy and will make you feel good, but most importantly - that do not involve food. My personal favorites would be: writing (in my own journal or blogging), exercising, cleaning or playing with my cat. Those are all things that I enjoy that relieve stress and make me feel good pretty quickly.

Here's an example of how you can use Reframing to help you address whichever behavior you want to change. I'm using my own personal example I came up with today:
1- First you need to identify the behavior.
I overeat (usually a lot of junk food) when I get stressed out and frustrated - especially at work.

2- Then you need to figure out why you engage in that behavior.
It distracts me and soothes me. At least temporarily. But of course the problem is that eventually the food is consumed, but I am still stuck with the stressful situation. And now I have the added stress of having eaten way too much!

3- Then, take time to think of other ways to get that same consolation - that same feeling you're searching for - but WITHOUT turning to food.
I will get up from my desk and take a mental break for a few minutes. I can walk down the hall or up the stairs, or even outside, and/or clean my office space.
I've mentioned the Reframing tool quite a few times in my blog, and it's because I've found it to be very helpful. (And not just in regards to weight loss - you can use it for other everyday life situations.)
I am going to continue to think about my own emotional eating triggers - something I think you all know I still struggle with - and remind myself of the great healthy alternatives I could use to get the feeling of relief, comfort or satisfaction I am longing for when I overeat.

My leader Carolyn used to say this, and I like to remind myself of it often:

"If hunger is not the problem, food is not the solution."

Think about that. So simple. So true.

Think about what triggers your own non-hunger eating. See if you can use the Reframing tool and strategize how else you can deal with that situation when it comes up again, because you know it will. And just keep working towards changing how you respond to that situation until it becomes easier and a new and better habit is formed.

I'm glad I made the effort to find a meeting this week. This was a very important topic for me, and I really thought the leader was great. I have a feeling I will see him again.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Brand New Day

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The greatest thing about waking up every day is that moment when you realize the day is ripe with possibilities. You have a clean slate, a brand new beginning, another chance - Another chance to do what was left undone yesterday. Another chance to make smarter choices. Another chance to be better. And today was that kind of a day for me. I totally embraced that sense of newness and got back on track.

The first day back on track is always a little tricky. For me at least. Because although I know what to do and even though I've accumulated many great habits, I slip into those old unhealthy ones so easily. I had to actually remind myself to NOT buy candy, and NOT try to score free samples at work today (my usual weaknesses). But I did it. I'm proud to say I made it through the day on plan and in control! And that's something I haven't done in a few weeks now, so it feels so really wonderful.

I think that because I knew I was photographing my food today, it was the extra accountability I needed to make sure I was eating correctly. I did, in fact, photograph all my food but won't bore you with the photos. I'll just mention that I spent all 21 of my daily points - 20 of which were filling foods. And I banked 2 activity points (35 minutes of cardio). On top of that, I even journaled my food in eTools. Yes!

Being on track today was an instant shot of mental clarify - It made me remember that when this part of my life is in control, it helps me keep other areas of my life in control. I'm not sure if it's because I tend to be very black-or-white, all-or-nothing by nature, but I've noticed this before. I actually feel more focused and organized and like I have more time and can get other things done. I don't feel as overwhelmed. I have a restored sense of balance.

It's one of those revelations that makes me say to myself 'So if you know how great you feel and how being on track helps other areas of your life, WHY do you fall off track?' I can't come up with anything more profound than 'I REALLY like the taste of food'. But surely there is more to it than that? I'm not sure I'll ever get to the heart of that matter but knowing I *can* get back to this feeling is why I vow that I will never give up, because I realize I can get back to this point any time I choose. And so can you. It's why I stress the importance of forgiving yourself and moving on as quickly as possible.

Another thing I knew I needed to do tonight was face the scale, which I haven't done in a few weeks. I got on at home and saw this:

I'm not thrilled, I'm not depressed. I'm just considering it a benchmark so I can monitor my progress from this point forward.

Aside from the obvious reasons to stay on track (better health and feeling amazing!), I'm reminding myself of these upcoming events for a little extra incentive:
April 26th - I'm going to be in another fashion show for Mode Merr in Brooklyn
May 3rd - I'm cycling 42 miles in the NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour
May ? - Attending my 20 year high school reunion (gasp!)
So despite missing last night's meeting, this week is off to a great start. And I plan to stay focused and make sure the rest of it is successful.

Addendum 02/17/09
I meant to include this when I posted the blog- This song was the inspiration behind the title of this post. I heard it in this Target commercial and I downloaded it on iTunes. I think the music is great (I am a sucker for church bells, even if they are synthesized) and the lyrics are so upbeat -

And here's the entire song-

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: ?

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I know many of you enjoy my weekly meeting topic blog posts but sadly I do not have one tonight. While Weight Watchers themselves were not closed today, my meeting is held in a church basement and for some reason the church was not open today. Therefore, no WW meeting. I just didn't want any of you waiting in eager suspense for the blog post, so figured I'd let you know ASAP.

As a Weight Watchers member, you can attend a meeting at another location. So I checked the WW website for other meetings near my apartment or my job, but don't think I can make any of them - The ones by work are nearly 2 miles away. Since I walk, and it's still 30 degrees in NY, those aren't realistic. And there are no others near me in Brooklyn. The closest are Manhattan but considering my crazy schedule, I don't think I can make any of those either.

In related news, I drafted a letter to Weight Watchers asking them about my leader that suddenly disappeared a few weeks ago. I emailed it today and will mail-deliver one tomorrow. I'm still very upset about her disappearance.

And tomorrow, I plan to PHOTOGRAPH all my food before I eat it. I think this will help me be accountable and help force me to track it (something I have not done in weeks and my eating has been really awful). Wish me luck!

Sadly, I do not have time for a real blog tonight. I will try to squeeze one in tomorrow night. Sorry! :(

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recipe: Warm Peanut Sesame (Shirataki) Noodles

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This recipe was inspired by a Hungry Girl Recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles. If you click that link, you can see her version, but here's how I made it-

1 package House Foods Tofu Shirataki, Angel Hair Shape
1 tbsp. powdered PB2 Peanut Butter
2 tbsp. unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
2 tbsp. chopped scallions
1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
1/8 tsp. minced garlic

1- Rinse and drain noodles.
2- Cut noodles (I put them on my cutting board and cut them diagonally, about an inch apart in both directions. I apologize that I did not think to photograph this, but if you don't understand, just cut them small since they are very long and I will get a photo next time.)
3- In a bowl, combine peanut butter, soymilk, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and garlic -

4- Spray pan with non stick spray, put over high flame
5- When pan is hot, add the noodles and stir them around for a few minutes.
6- Turn flame to medium and pour the sauce over the noodles
7- Stir a few minutes
8- Remove from pan, place in a bowl, top with chopped scallions, and serve!

That photo is the whole recipe (1 portion). I put it into the WW recipe builder and as I made it, the entire recipe came out to only 2 points.

This is one of those great and simple delicious super low point dinner recipes I like to turn to on occasions if I am going out that night, or if I am very low on points otherwise. That's what I love about the shirataki noodles: You can add a ton of vegetables, some spices and/or herbs, maybe a protein source... whatever, and get a big volume meal for very few points. They're fun to experiment with and make your own creations! See what you can come up with!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Restaurant Dining

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At tonight's meeting, we discussed restaurant strategies and tips. Dining out is one thing I still struggle with and therefore avoid. My real life friends know that I rarely eat with them in restaurants because it is just too overwhelming for me to deal with. I can't tell you how many dinners or brunches out with friends I have declined simply because I do not want to be in this highly charged and stressful situation. But I realize that I need to get a handle on it, even if I eat out very infrequently.

First we covered some of the basics- words to look for and words to avoid on menus:
Full speed ahead!
Boiled, Steamed, Baked, Broiled, Sauteed, Pan-Fried, Grilled, Roasted
Sauces & Dressings: Marinara or Tomato, Vinegar, Lemon Juice

Proceed with caution!
Breaded, Gooey, Cheesy, Fried/Crispy, Smothered, Battered, Parmigiana
Sauces & Dressings: Cream Sauces, Hollandaise
Another topic we covered tonight was a new feature of the Momentum program - something called "Set Points". You may have already read about them in the Week 5 booklet. Set Points have been used successfully by Weight Watchers members in Europe for years; but have just been introduced in the USA with the inception of the Momentum plan.

The way it works is...

Each filling food has a 'Set Point' value that is listed in parentheses next to the regular points values in your pocket guide. If you consume that food in a restaurant (not in someone's home), you can eat until you are *satisfied* (this is an important distinction- not until you are stuffed and not 'all you can eat') and then count the number of set points, instead of the number of regular points - but without obsessing over the portion size.

When I first read about this feature, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I immediately thought it had the potential for abuse - but the more I thought about it, I was interested to try it. My absolute favorite cuisine is Thai food and my favorite dish is Spicy Basil Tofu with Vegetables - but I avoid eating it because I have no idea how to count it. Or if I do eat it, I feel completely out of control. But with this new 'Set Points' version of counting, I feel like I can have this dish on occasion and feel good about counting it and staying on plan. In fact, I'm committed to using the set points to track the next time I eat out - whether it's Spicy Basil Tofu or something else.

As for this week's goals:
  • I have to continue to enforce my 'no eating in the bedroom' rule
  • I will work on not eating after 8:30 pm
  • I will track this week if it kills me (it just might)
In the celebration department, I have some pretty exciting news: my good friend Michelle (aka Miss Dewey Decimal) and I signed up for the Five Boro Bike Tour through NYC this May! It will be us and about 30,000 other cyclists riding 42 miles through New York City's five boroughs! I'm really excited and proud of myself for even signing up. Especially considering that less than three years ago I had trouble dragging the bike out of my apartment and down my stoop - let alone bike a mile. Once the weather warms up a little, we'll start our training. It will be fun!

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Recipe: Avocado Citrus Salad

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I found this recipe in the latest issue of Weight Watchers magazine. A quick glance of the ingredients and I knew I would love it.

(You can click on this photo to see it larger, but I am also going to list the ingredients and directions below)

Avocado Citrus Salad

  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 peeled and sectioned grapefruit
  • 1 Hass avocade, pitted, peeled and diced
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce, separated into leaves

To make the dressing, whisk together the grapefruit juice, chives, oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl:

Add the grapefruit sections and avocado-

Toss gently to coat-

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter (I just show one serving worth here). Spoon the avocado mixture onto the lettuce. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.

Plate it, eat it!

Per Serving (1 cup): 106 calories, 5 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg chol, 109 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 3 g protein, 58 mg calcium.
Serves: 6
Points per serving: 2

I absolutely love this recipe- I made the full amount last Sunday and ate a serving that night. It's great because you can make the avocado/grapefruit mixture and keep it in a sealed container in the fridge. Then, when you want to have it again, lay out your romaine leaves and then add the dressing mixture to it. So far mine has kept for a week already. It was just as good when I had another portion today.

Happy eating!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Recap/Random Stuff

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Blogging from the Richardson

(I'm posting this from the Richardson again. The above photo was taken when I was here last week.)

I arrived late, but I think tonight's meeting was a recap since I saw that written on a fancy WW poster on the easel. It said "Recap- What you need to do at each meal". Since I was sitting in the back, I couldn't read the entire thing, so I will tell you some points of discussion that I thought were poignant:

  • While it's obvious, it's worth mentioning and thinking about - The leader reminded us that we are all different. What might work for me might not work for you. The habits and mental attitudes I have to work on might not be the same struggles as the person sitting next to me. So try not to compare your progress or success with anyone else's.

  • We talked about setting up your environment so it reinforces the new and healthy habits you are trying to incorporate into your life. For instance- consider everything on your counter tops in your kitchen. Are the things within reach helping you, or hindering your progress? Are your measuring spoons, scale and grilling pans within easy reach? Or do you have to reach around a cookie jar and deep fryer to get to them? Same with your pantry - the prime eye level and front shelf space should contain your healthy items, and the indulgent snacks should be hidden and out of reach/out of sight. It's common sense or you might think it's even silly nonsense; but something as simple as rearranging your things is completely within your control will help your efforts tremendously.

  • We touched on the new WW rule that all liquids count toward your daily water intake. (Previously, WW suggested 6-8 glasses of water a day. Now they are saying ANY liquid counts toward your 6-8 glasses a day.) I have very strong opinions about and against this new rule. The leader's opinion was in line with mine - we don't agree with WW's decision that any beverage should be counted toward your daily water intake. I believe you DO need to drink water. It helps the body function better, and assists with flushing out sodium and other toxins. Your body NEEDS water to perform vital functions. Drinking diet soda or fruit juices - even if they have zero points - do not have the health benefits that plain old H2O does. And there is nothing more refreshing than a cold glass of water. Another thing she pointed out regarding soda or other beverages with natural and artificial sweeteners is that they have a tendency to make you want to eat more. I have noticed this myself and agree with her. Even after you've consumed the beverage, when you have that taste of sweetness in your mouth - whether real or artificial - it makes you want to eat more sweets. So that's another good reason to use non-water beverages in moderation. And you may want to brush your teeth after you do.
Side note: I will never understand how people don't love and drink water, but I know you're out there, so listen to this- Until I was 19 years old, I only remember drinking soda. No juice, no coffee, no milk, no water. Just soda. Probably 2 liters or more per day. But at that time, when on WW I finally gave water a try and it wasn't long before I loved it. So much so, that it was not long before I completely lost my desire for soda. That was 18 years ago and I have not gone back to soda. Occasionally I will get a desire for soda, and I'll get a small bottle. But this is only a handful of times a year. So if you think you can't kick your soda habit and hate water, I am asking you to reconsider and try it again. Your body will thank you!

As for last week's goal and my "Track-Off" competition, sadly I did not make it through the whole weekend. I got as far as Saturday morning. Therefore, I did not add that bravo sticker to my star catcher, but I am going for that same goal this week and will add it on when I do achieve it!

Another goal I am working on this week is to not eat 2 hours before bed*. Typically I go to bed between 10:30 and 11, so that means I will make sure to eat dinner by 8:30. And I'm going to brush my teeth immediately afterward so that I don't have that urge to keep snacking. This is actually something I've been meaning to work on for a while because I have a tendency to eat literally right up until a minute before I go to bed. I know I need to stop that. And having this firm time line and plan in place is how I am going to start building that new (good) habit. (*Note: Except for Wednesday- it's Punk Rope Happy Hour, I will allow myself an exemption this night!)

I'm also still working on my 'No eating in the bedroom/computer room' rule which I am determined to enforce! It has not been easy! In order to assist me, I asked Michael (my bf type gentleman person) to create a sign for me since he's an artistic genius. He recently gave me this double sided adorable sign which I hung up in the room before my bedroom as a visual reminder to myself:

No Food Beyond This Point!

Isn't he talented? I am sure that will help me enforce my own rule, so thank you Michael. :)

Have a great week!