Monday, November 29, 2010

The New Program : PointsPlus

With Weight Watchers unveiling their new PointsPlus plan, it feels like a perfect time to start back up (again!) and get tracking. Admittedly, I've gained back 8 of the pounds I had shed the first time around and I need to get back in check. (We'll need to come clean with the Backstreet Boy image and drop that weight loss meter down I suppose, too.)

I haven't cracked what this new plan means yet, but I did manage to find out that a 4oz. glass of wine has doubled from 2 POINTS values to 4 PointsPlus values.

And, even though it looks like the weekly allowance total has been upped to 49, this news seems to hit a little close to home for the Winos!

I will keep reading the site to bring you important wine & foodie related updates, but in the meantime, has anyone attended a kick off meeting already about the new plan? Any advice?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chipotle Points aka This Will Ruin Your Burrito Buzz

The chain Mexican food restaurant Chipotle is a go-to favorite of mine. Even with as many authentic taquerias as we have here in SF, I occasionally find myself at Chipotle's downtown location to get my mid-day burrito fix.

When I first joined Weight Watchers, I found that they did not have the points of this restaurant on the online tracker. So I eventually got hold of the nutritional menu and made my own WW Chipotle choices.

Well, today I discovered that the points for Chipotle ingredients are now on WW. Yay! I immediately calculated two of my go-to items. A bad-girl burrito with the works (tortilla, beans, chicken, cheese, rice, sour cream, guac, salsa) = 24 points! Whoa! As I searched Chipotle on my WW iPhone app, I realized I had tried to do this calculation before on my own and somehow only came up with a 13 point burrito that I flagged as a favorite. I was off by more than half! How did this happen?

The smart-girl Chipotle choice, which I have actually ordered quite frequently since I joined WW, is my version of one of their salads. (Lettuce, chicken, pinto beans, corn salsa, fajita veggies, cheese, salsa as dressing). That costs me 10 points. If I drop the cheese, then only 7. Don't fall into the trap of going near their "Chipotle Vinaigrette", because that by itself is a whopping 7 points! You might as well just drink that down instead of the salad! Yeah, no thanks.

Now that I have a more accurate count of what is goin on in there, I will definitely only get a burrito if I commit to cutting it in half and making two meals out of it. Which all human beings should probably just go ahead and do anyways. Otherwise, it's salads for me! All the flavor, half the points. And GRACIAS, Chipotle, for being bold enough to allow your points to show on the tracker.

Friday, November 5, 2010

$4 a day

One of my favorite charities that I donate to every year (though not enough) is the San Francisco Food Bank. I think it holds a place in my heart, or should I say my gut, because I HATE being hungry. Other people, like my husband, hate me being hungry too, because when my blood sugar goes down, I turn into a bi-atch! So it makes me sad to think what it must be like for those who have to endure hunger all the time.

I also find it ironic that our daily Winos on Weight Watchers struggle here is to NOT put food in our mouths while others are struggle to find enough.

Recently the SFFB posted a link to the blog one of their board members is writing on as she challenges herself to live on the amount of food that food stamps provide to someone per day -- $4. I have been checking into the blog this week as she takes this challenge and it is very eye-opening…especially as I track my food today for the first time in months so I can try to NOT eat so much. Meanwhile, she is starving as are so many other people on government food assistance.

I encourage you readers to check out her blog and join me in being thankful for everything we have, which generally is way more than most:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self

You better check yo self before you wreck yo self
Cos I'm bad for your health, I come real stealth...

Welp, it's been a cra-zay few months to say the least. Got married in September, honeymooned, had a birthday, and meanwhile the San Francisco Giants were battling themselves into and through the playoffs and became first-time World Series Champs. In the midst of all the mayhem, guess what didn't happen…..TRACKING.

From my best estimates I think the last time I was truly tracking via Weight Watchers was sometime in July. That means a 4-month lag in paying attention to what I am doing. Now that the aforementioned events are officially donzo, it is time to assess the damage.

In my previous post (below), I talked about the havoc the Giants baseball schedule was having on my own, and my weight. Watching games instead of working out. Drinking and eating junk instead of planning for healthy meals. Let me tell you what -- it was ALL worth it. With their huge trophy in hand, the season is now over, and so is this free-for-all that went on way longer than expected.

Come on and check yo self before you wrickity-wreck yo self
So chickity-check yo self before you wreck yo self...

Though I wasn't tracking, all the while I kept up with weighing in. Hey, I didn't want to completely flush my $39.95 WW payment completely down the toilet. Plus, even if I'm not trying, I still like to know what the numbers are. Today I did my official post-mayhem weigh-in. Overall weight gain from my lowest weight since joining WW: 4 pounds!

If you're foul, you better run a make on that license plate
You coulda had a V8...

I'm remembering back to all of the drinks and indulgent foods that have crossed my path in the last 16 or so weeks and, frankly, 4 pounds feels like I just got away with murder. It is a small price to pay for the caution I've thrown to the wind. I am thankful that my battle to get back down won't be insurmountable. But if I don't start back up again now, things could get real bad. I love fitting back into my clothes nicely. I love being in control and making wise choices. I love being creative with this plan to get me to an end goal. The last thing I will let happen is to let myself back to where I started. I don't care what life gets in the way, I never want to end up in that chunky chick prison again. As Ice Cube says, good thing I'm checking myself before I wreck myself...

Cause women like you gets no respect
B!!!h, you better run a check

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Playoffs 15

Anyone who's ever gone to college knows about The Freshman 15. It's the weight an 18-year-old puts on from being away from home for the first time, constantly surrounded by copious amount of food in the dorm cafeteria and all-you-can-drink keg parties at the fraternity house down the street. They are out of routine, not on the football or cheerleading squad exercising every day after school, and sleeping through any class that starts before 11 a.m. By the time they all go home for holiday break, boom! Everyone's chunkier.

When the San Francisco Giants baseball team was in the 2002 and 2003 playoffs, I found myself in a similar situation. Instead of going jogging after work along the gorgeous Crissy Field coastline, there were very important games I HAD to see… a sports bar…..with pitchers of beer and plates of nachos. The problem with a playoff series is that they can go on for weeks upon weeks. And if your team is lucky enough to make it to the World Series, as we did in 2002, those weeks turn into months. Before you know it, one missed jog around the neighborhood turns into 17. Pile the sports bar calories on top of it and you've suddenly gained The Playoffs 15!

The Giants' recent run for the pennant has proven I have still not taken these learnings and applied them. I have spent the last two evenings with my eyes glued to the flat screens at a place here called Rosemunde's Sausage Grill. It is every bit as delicious as it sounds. Literally more than a dozen different kinds of specialty sausages to choose from. The fries are to die for. And there's an excellent selection of specialty beers. So as I rooted for enough wins to take us to the World Series, I stuffed my face with said deliciousnesses. Never mind the previous two-week-long series that got us to this one, or the end of the regular season prior to that, which was a nail biter down to the end, so I HAD to watch all those games too.

Needless to say, Weight Watchers tracking is not one of the 'stats' I've been paying any attention to lately. It's much more interesting to see how our star closer Brian Wilson matches up against the league's other best pitchers. But, I am still subjecting myself to weekly weigh-ins. If I'm going down with the team, I at least want to know it. I thought I was beating the odds when last week when I weighed in at a new all-time-low for myself. Pleased as punch I figured I could keep on doing what I'd been doing and get away with it. Well, that philosophy turned into strike three when I stepped on the scale this week…… UP 4.5 LBS! It was a new record stat: largest gain in a week since starting Weight Watchers. Boy do I not need that on my ERA.

There are a couple more critical games this weekend. I’m not sure my behavior will change completely, but maybe it isn't necessary to sit in the sausage joint again for starters. Hopefully I can monitor myself a bit better and avoid another error on the scale. And hopefully I can celebrate doing so by popping open a bottle of champagne with a Giants World Series berth.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

So We Meet Again

I'm sure you all recognize the above image. The Scale. My mortal enemy. Throughout the years it has appeared regularly in my nightmares, cackling and taunting me. The very thought of stepping onto it at the doctor's office has caused me to cancel appointments.

But I didn't cancel my appointment yesterday. For the past few months, I have had to skip my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-ins because they coincided with my weekly team runs. I tried to stick with the e-Tools, but without those weigh-ins, I really had nothing to hold me accountable. So when I went in for my annual check up at the doctor's office yesterday after not getting on the scale for three months, I was terrified—and sure that I had gained all my weight back.

Before stepping onto the scale, I contemplated removing my jeans right there in the middle of the hallway—everyone knows they add about a pound!—but I thought better of showcasing my thong to the twelve year old boy in the room across from me, so I sucked it up and just got on. As the nurse moved the metal weight to the right—thud, thud, thud—I cringed. She wrote down the number on her chart, and I anxiously peered down at it.

The good news: When all was said and done, I had only gained 2 lbs. And probably only one with the jeans. Just sayin'.
The bad news: When all was said and done, I had gained 2 whole lbs. For the past three months, I haven't lost any weight. Boo.
The lesson: The weekly weigh-ins matter. Though the cackle of the scale rings in my ears and conjures up feelings of fear and inadequacy, I need it, because it is what ultimately keeps me in line.

So I just upgraded my membership from e-Tools only to a full, monthly pass. Weigh-ins start back up again next week. I have waged a full-on war with my mortal enemy, The Scale—a war I plan to win.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I did it!

Cue "Eye of the Tiger," everyone. Because I killed the Kauai Half Marathon last week! 13.1 miles? Check! PLUS, I raised over $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the process thanks to the incredibly generous support of friends and family, many of whom are reading this blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It was my first race, and traversing the garden isle of Kauai before the sun even came up was a surefire way to get me hooked on marathon running. Watching the sunrise over the lush, green mountains as I approached mile 5 was definitely one of the more unforgettable experiences of my life—as was the incredible rainbow that appeared in the sky above me just half a mile before crossing the finish line.

I didn't get the greatest time—my average pace was exactly 11 minutes per mile—but in my defense, the course was really tough! Very hot and VERY hilly! I consider it good practice for the Nike Women's Half Marathon, which I'll be running in October in San Francisco. :)

So what did I do to reward myself after successfully completing my first Half Marathon?

Spent 10 amazing days on the island with my best friend.

Took in incredible sunsets.

Kayaked tropical rivers.

Hiked to secret waterfalls.

Explored the wondrous and mysterious Na Pali coast.

Floated among hundreds—hundreds—of dolphins.

And, of course, indulged in many a delicious, fruity cocktail!

Bring on the next race!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer in San Francisco

I am wearing a scarf today. It is the middle of August.

Even though us San Franciscans get tired of hearing it, the old Mark Twain quote rings all too true: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

How does this relate to weight loss? Well, I mentioned the scarf. But add to that the fact that I wear a fleece everywhere I go because it's been too cold not to. My daily outfit all summer has consisted of a fleece or vest, and a different colored scarf. Welcome to Summer in San Francisco.

Let the below picture from Wino JWHA's birthday last week serve as proof of that.

Sure, we all had a great time... but notice how everyone's in winter clothes? Turtlenecks, scarves, sweaters... even a wool coat! It just ain't right.

When I lived in places that had hot summers—L.A., Boston, D.C.—I had more motivation to lose weight, because I knew summer's arrival meant the donning of summer apparel: shorts, skirts, tanks, bikinis. Because San Francisco summers are an exception to the "hurry-and-lose-weight-so-you-will-look-decent-in-that-bikini" rule, I have lagged this summer, and have sort of fallen off the Weight Watchers wagon. I guess I have gotten a little too comfortable in my fleece and scarf.

But I leave for Kaua'i two weeks from today. The fleece is coming off, and the bikini's going on. And when I get back, it will be Fall in San Francisco—which means warmth and sun.

So it's on. No more lagging. Back to tracking, tracking, tracking. Because my scarf and fleece won't be there to save me in Hawaii—and they shouldn't have to save me now, either.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Say Yes To (zipping up) The Dress!

Now that Wino Tristan's wedding is complete (see post below), it is on to the next one. T-minus 4 weeks til showtime for me and plenty still to do. After a grueling 16 week order time, I was finally able to pick up my wedding dress this weekend. The wedding dress I started this whole Weight Watchers thing for in the first place.

I wasn't exactly thrilled with the whole wedding dress process. First, it's a lot of work getting those things over your head and back off again, not only for you but for the salesperson helping. By the time you try on a dozen, it is practically a workout. Then, most if not all of them were 2 sizes down from what I wound up ordering. So instead of stealthily slipping up the zipper of them, the helper girl would have to pull the sides back to give me a better look of how a more appropriate size might fit. Not exactly an ideal way to get excited about the thousands of dollars you are about to spend when one is pouring out of satin and lace. Hmph.

Sixteen weeks is a long time to wait for something. When I plopped down my credit card for the most expensive garment I have ever bought, it was early April. I looked back at my progress on the Weight Watchers weight tracker since that time and was surprised to discover I have, overall, only dropped about 6 pounds since then. Talk about some yo-yo dieting! The strange thing is, my body now is noticeably slimmer. I don't know if I've gained muscle or what, but even with only a 6 lb total difference since then, I walked into that bridal shop in better shape than when I placed the order.

Not really knowing what to expect when it was time to see how my dress would fit, the sales chick and I did the shimmy once again to get the thing over my head. Then, time to zip. Expecting some sort of a struggle, I literally had to ask her -- is it all zipped up? "YES!," she said. Whew! I thought. I looked at the front and back in the three-way mirror and was relieved to see that I was pretty happy with the way all body parts were being displayed inside and out of the thing. Granted, it is built to hold your junk in place and make it look good. But, hey, I was holding up my end of the bargain too!

So, the stress is over, right?! Wrong. Now time to find a decent tailor that won't cost me another grand to make a few final adjustments. At least I'm not worrying about them having to somehow let the thing out though. If that were the case I'd be seriously contemplating pulling a Bridezilla!

(Please pardon the wrinkles in the dress picture; it has not been presssed for wear yet.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To Have and to Hold...On to Pounds!

It is exactly one week until my father walks me down the aisle. It has been a blur of activities, mostly fun, but some stressful. I had heard that in the weeks prior to your wedding, pounds magically fall off! “Don’t worry, Tristan, you will drop, like tons of weight right before the wedding.” Well guess what, that DOESN’T happen. It is true that I am just three little pounds away from my goal weight, but I am here to report that it was done through good, old fashioned weight watchers hard work. After the famous nacho blow out (with fellow bride and wino, Erika), I knew something had to change. I began watching portions and counting points- something, I confess, I hadn’t done in months. With all of the wedding activities, I was able to maintain, but not lose. So two weeks ago, I made a few small changes: more protein, less quantity, and fewer sips of wine. The result: 5 pounds and more nipping in of the wedding dress.

As I stood in the fancy-pants bridal salon and took a look at my arms, I realized that I have lost 28 pounds. It took a whole year to get it off and I am still not at the finish line. However, I am ready to take my fathers arm and to smile, knowing that I worked hard to get where I am. Just because I am getting married, doesn’t mean that the barn door is open for cheese and bread fest. Instead, I will continue to strive for the balance weight watchers has helped me achieve. When I started at weight watchers, my motto was “Slow and steady wins the race.” Instead of thinking that I had to lose 30 pounds (sounds scary, doesn’t it!), I just took it day by day and bottle of wine by bottle of wine. And now, I am the bride I want to be. Thanks to all of my fellow winos & to my fabulous fiancé for supporting me and for tell me to slowly back away from the gummy worms.

Signed, The Future Mrs. Margetson

Three Words:

It means "milk caramel" in Spanish and its DELICIOUS. It is said that dulce de leche originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1829. I'm sure everyone has heard of it by now. In 1997, Häagen-Dazs introduced a dulce de leche flavored ice cream; in the same year, Starbucks began offering dulce de leche flavored coffee products. And in 2009, the Girl Scouts introduced a dulce de leche flavored cookie.

A few months back I blogged about wanting to slim down for an upcoming wedding I was going to in Buenos Aires. My goal was to lose 10 - 15 lbs. Well, I didn't quite make my goal, but I was down about 9 lbs by the time I left. I got home on Wednesday morning after an awesome week of visiting with friends, exploring a beautiful city, drinking incredible Malbec wine and indulging guessed it, copious amounts of dulce de leche.

I think we can all agree that its pretty difficult to count points while on vacation, especially in a foreign country where the nutritional information, if its even listed, is in a different language and usually a different unit of measure! Anyway, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

How many points do you think this would be?

Yes, that's what homemade flan is supposed to look like. And because flan isn't rich enough, you simply must add about a 1/2 cup of dulce de leche on the side...and you MUST eat it ALL. It would be rude not to.

Or what about a portion of one of these dulce de leche flavored desserts?

I don't know either...but let me tell you, it was worth it!

I think that crazed look in my eyes says it all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Skinny Bitch

I recently started working more closely with someone in my department at work on a new project. Lets call this person Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch is funny, nice, super cute, a great dresser, and, you guessed it….skinny!

This week, Skinny Bitch and I happened to be walking out of the office for lunch around the same time. Skinny Bitch asked me where I was headed. I paused in my head for a second, wondering if I should tell her I was walking down to Weight Watchers to do my weekly weigh-in. But I then immediately told Skinny Bitch this info, because hey, I'm telling the freakin world about it on my blog, I can let this co-worker know what I'm up to. She's a Skinny Bitch, so she probably won't understand, but whatever.

As I blurted out my lunchtime errand, she mumbled something about knowing about that. I shrugged it off and went about my merry way, wondering what indulgent lunch she would come back with. Because as we all know, or assume anyway, Skinny Bitches can eat whatever they feel like and it NEVER comes back to haunt them.

Later that day, Skinny Bitch and I were standing around the same post-work happy hour. She was nibbling on a cheese plate, one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. Figures! As we sipped out drinks and chatted, she asked how my trip to WW went. "Oh great," I responded. "Down a little more than a pound this week!"

Skinny Bitch then proceeded to tell me how much she digs WW and had previously lost 35 lbs, yes THIRTY-FIVE pounds, on the program. My mind was spinning! How could this be?! She's so…….SKINNY. She shared with me how she used to be a bit chunkier and I listened in awe. Though she no longer does the weekly WW thing, she still abides by what she learned from the program. The big things she did to achieve success: 1) add veggies to everything, and 2) cut all portions in half.

Well, what I learned that day was that WW works! And that you never know who around you might have gotten their skinny-on by counting points. Just look at Skinny Bitch! She is proof positive that someday, someone just might, if I'm lucky, call me Skinny Bitch too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It Takes Two

In May, after about three months of Weight Watchers, I decided to take my weight loss journey to the next level: I signed up to run the Kauai Half Marathon.

My event is in September, and for the past six weeks, I have been wrapped up in hard, intense training. Short runs. Long runs. Sprints. Intervals. Sit-ups. Push-ups. Boot camps. All of it.

I am not a runner. In fact, when I went on my first run after signing up for the marathon, I couldn't even make it to the end of my block without stopping to walk. So I obviously felt a huge sense of accomplishment last weekend when I ran eight miles without stopping. A five- or six-mile run is no sweat for me, now. Amazing, right?

However, I got on the scale last night and came to realize that despite all of this intense training, I haven't lost a single pound. Despite running 25-30 miles per week, despite giving up my Wednesday sushi nights to track workouts, despite the sit-ups that keep my abs sore for days and the hard runs that cause my knees to nearly buckle when I get out of bed in the morning... I still weigh exactly as much as I did before I started running.

Why? Because Weight Watchers isn't just about eating right. And it's not just about moving more. It's about doing both. And I realized that since I've kicked up the workouts, I've also kicked up the calorie consumption.

"Oh, it's fine if I eat these two oatmeal raisin cookies—I ran 6.5 miles this morning!" As it turns out, this is not true. (It's also not true that it's okay to drink strawberry milkshakes after a workout, or that a chocolate croissant is fine to have with coffee in the morning if I'll be working it off later that day, or that I no longer need to track my wine intake now that I work out regularly.)

So it's back to tracking and healthy eating—but without giving up the hard workouts. Because my goal weight is just as attainable as that marathon finish line. Even if, in the meantime, both of them are kicking my ass.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Divine Deliciousness - Sea Bass with Fennel Rice

My roommate and I cooked an amazingly delicious dinner the other night and I just had to share the recipe.  The ingredients aren't cheap, but this may possibly be the best meal I've had in months!

Roasted Sea Bass with Tomato and Green Bean salad

Makes 4 servings
6 pts/serving

Saute 1/2 lb of green beans in a medium saute pan just spray pan with 0 calorie olive oil cooking spray for about 10 minutes until tender.

Mince 1 garlic glove and mash to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  In a bowl, whisk together garlic with 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Whisk in 2 tbsp olive oil.  Toss with green beans and 1/2 lb grape tomatoes (mixed colors if possible), 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes (mixed colors if possible) and 2 tbsp of capers.  Cut large tomatoes in half if necessary.  Let stand and stir occasionally while fish cooks.

Preheat oven to 425 with rack in the middle.  Spray a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish with olive oil spray.

Rub flesh sides of 4 6-oz fillets of sea bass with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper total.  Slice 1/2 of a red onion in thin slices and divide into 2 portions.  Sandwich each portion and 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh oregano between 2 fillets of fish.  Tie the fillets together with kitchen string and transfer to the baking dish.  Roast fish in oven until just cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Cut strings and serve 1 fillet per person topped with salad.

Fennel and Golden Raisin Rice

Makes 4 servings
4 pts/serving

Cook 1 medium onion (diced) and 1 large fennel bulb (stalks discarded, also chopped) with 1/3 cup golden raisin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Look for the onions to become translucent but not caramelized to determine when the mixture is cooked to perfection.  Add 1 cup long grain white rice and cook for about a minute.  Add 2 cups of water and bring to a strong boil.  Thightly cover and cook on low heat, undisturbed, until water is absorbed, about 22 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Let stand for about 10 minutes, then serve with the fish dish above and a glass of French Chardonnay if you so choose!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When you're sliding into first, and you feel a great big burst...

As some of you may or may not be aware, Wino Tristan and I held a dueling bachelorette party at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta last weekend. Our enthusiastic and generous friends attended and we all ate and drank a lot. Because everything we ate and drank was "free", it is anyone's guess as to how many calories were consumed by any one person. Endless mimosas, omelets made to order, waffles, an entire spread of authentic Mexican food….and this is just breakfast, folks.

By the time I got home, I felt like I'd had my fill of food in general, and Mexican food specifically. I was ready for the end. What I wasn't ready for was what came next…

I woke up on Monday morning to a little tickle in my throat. "Maybe I'm coming down with a cold," I thought. By 9 p.m. I was projectile vomiting chunks of food that made me recall every little thing I'd eaten that day. When I emailed my friends about what was going on, guess what the #1 response was: Well, at least you'll lose some weight!

I must admit that this thought crossed my mind as well. After countless plates from the make-your-own-nachos-bar at the resort, I was fully prepared to have a gigantic +5 lb gainer on my Weight Watchers score card this week when I weighed in. But after 48 hours of the runs, I was actually down to my lowest weigh-in to date! Wow, maybe this flu thing does have something to it!

But as I am on day three of non-stop diarrhea, I am also now asking myself, what kind of sick society do we live in where we all get excited about being sick?! A quick-fix to an over-indulgent weekend is the good fortune of coming down with a 72-hour virus. In the meantime, I'm laid up on the couch, unable to proceed on with some of my more healthier aspects of life, like getting to my bi-weekly weight training class. On the flip-side, I've also now missed two, count 'em, 2 happy hours in as many days.

Look, I'm seriously glad there was little consequence to the weekend of debauchery on my body, but it is time that we do not look forward to puking our guts out to get ahead on the scale. As my flu comes to an end, it is now time to re-calibrate my health eating and working out habits, so I can get ready for the next event the healthy way. Two weeks until Winos Tristan's wedding...time to eat salad and get the running shoes back in action.

(Pictured: Tristan and Erika's childhood-to-now friend, Lisa, displaying one of numerous plates of nachos made over the weekend.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Homemade Granola

I love granola, but the store-bought varieties tend to be high in fat and calories, which as we all know, equals high WW Points values. Plus, its expensive! I recently found a recipe in Bon Appetit magazine for homemade granola. After a few tests and tweaks, I think I may have found the perfect, all natural, low Point, wallet-friendly recipe.

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

  • Preheat oven to 300.
  • Mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl.
  • Heat honey and oil in saucepan until smooth.
  • Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and stir thoroughly.
  • Spread on non-stick baking sheet.
  • Cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Allow to cool, then mix in fruit.
  • Store in air-tight container or ziplock.
Servings = 20 (1/4 cup)
WW Points = 2

I like to eat mine over WW vanilla yogurt with 1/2 cup of fresh fruit tossed in.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Celebrate This. Bitch.

I have a lot of friends.  This is a good thing.  When I need a drink after work or want to spend a Sunday in the park, I have a long list of people I can call.  I'm never bored or lonely.  And when I'm down or need a listening ear, there is always someone there for me.  Knowing this makes me smile.  

But lately, there's been a lot more events to attend...

Two friends are getting married soon.  Another just got engaged.  Several have birthdays around this time.  One just had a baby.  Another is celebrating her son’s first birthday.  It's fourth of July.  There are BBQ's and parties and weekend getaways galore.  

It seems like all I do these days is celebrate...  appetizers to make, gifts to buy, glasses to be raised.  And every time I toast to someone else's new found love or the emergence of another human being from their uterus, I'm forced to slurp up another glass of calories or shove another fried cheese ball down my pie-hole.  Apologies for the vulgarity here, but I'm ready to take those personally monogrammed towels and strangle myself with them.  I’ve had it.  I’m done.

I’M TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT HERE PEOPLE, and your need to celebrate your life transition is really hindering my progress.  I’m glad you have found the love of your life.  I’m thrilled your baby has 10 fingers.  I couldn’t be happier that you’ve reached the 34th year of your life without having a nervous breakdown.  But I don’t want to get fat again to prove it! 

Why does celebration always entail ingesting the most indulgent food and drink???  Can’t we acknowledge all this excitement with a brisk walk and some carrot sticks?  How about 100 sit ups and a Zone bar?  Maybe a pilates class followed by a protein shake?  No?  Doesn’t sound fun?  What do you mean? 

Ok, alright, fine.  We can skip the chin ups before we hit the champagne.  But you better believe that I’m bringing my own snacks to the party and cutting that wine with some seltzer next time.  Your celebration will not equate to my physical inflation.  Your fabulous event will not be my spiraling descent.  I can do this dammit! 

With a little luck and a lot of tracking, the next time I pop a bottle of bubbly, it’s going to be in celebration of my own success.  No, I'm not talking about finding my soul mate... simply reaching my goal weight.  Think I can register for that? 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hot Dog Love

Summer's here and I have a confession to make: I love hot dogs.

There, I said it. But it's true. I love them. Though they are made from meat slurry, though they have little to no nutritional value, and though their nickname is derived from male genitalia... I. love. hot dogs.

Unfortunately, my hot dog love has always been synonymous with hot dog shame. I remember one junior high night spent at Skating Plus, our local roller rink. I had been eyeballing Kevin Norris all night, hoping he'd ask me to skate during couples' skate. I promptly forgot about Kevin, though, when the tasty, aromatic smell of hot dogs wafted my way from the snack bar. Moments later, I was engrossed in a delicious dog and oblivious to all else—including the mustard that had built up around my mouth. The mustard that Kevin pointed out between bursts of laughter when he approached me a little while later.

I'd like to think that things have changed since I was 13—that my tastes have become more sophisticated, that my choice in cuisine no longer causes me shame, that potential dates don't burst out laughing at my mustard-covered face upon approaching me.

Sadly, this is not the case. The smell of city hot dog carts still stops me in my tracks, I can't sit down at a sporting event without a dog in hand, and I maintain my yearly Costco membership for the hot dogs alone.

And so I have had to find a healthy way to live with my love of hot dogs. The solution? Ballpark Turkey Franks. The same great meat slurry taste at only 3 points. (I officially grant them permission to use that as their product tagline.) I have tried various brands of turkey dogs and this, in my opinion, is the best.

But while turkey dogs are a great Weight Watchers-friendly alternative, sometimes I still crave the real thing. So what do I do in those cases? Save up my points and indulge. After all, what's a baseball game without a hot dog?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Yep, I'm goin' there...Hungry Girl BUGS!

Ok, I am ready to catch crap for this one, but I have got to be honest with y'all. HUNGRY GIRL BUGS!

Us Winos naturally stumbled across Hungry girl a month or two into our journey because Weight Watchers pimps her out big time. Lucky her. Yes, we are jealous of her fame. Yes, she has about 193,000+ more "Like"-ers than we do. Yes, she has hella sponsors. Cool, maybe we can learn a tip or two! So we all decided to follow her on Facebook.

What has ensued over the last couple months while getting to know her style was a downward spiral of "she bugs." At first, I was willing to giver her goodie-two-shoes take on everything a chance. WOW this, YAY that. Now, her postings are just boring and nauseating. One of the more ridiculous ones of recent memory: "Tea, Black or Green?" Um, really? Who cares. I am beginning to think the only reason she asks these ridonk questions is to get market research for her food prostituting. Some other recent Facebook news feed fodder and what I'm really thinking when I read them:

Hungry Girl I'll be on Joy Behar's HLN show tonight. Please PLEASE don't start a whole debate about whether you love or hate her on here. She did a fun interview with me and if you're an HG fan, try to tune in... XOXOXOX
So, you're going on a show but telling people not to let you know if they don't like the host? Censorship!

Hungry Girl COME MEET ME & TRY the NEW LAUGHING COW LIGHT FLAVORS & HG mocktails at WEGMANS in Downingtown, PA tomorrow (FRIDAY) at NOON!!! Cheese + booksigning = WOWOWOWOW!!!!
What are mocktails? Does this mean there is no booze in them? NO THANKS! #FAIL

Hungry Girl WOW! Was SO SO close to Tom Cruise at GMA today. He stuck around for my segment & I believe he eyeballed my Sassy Veggie Eggrolls. He is VERY adorable, BTW.
1) Tom Cruise is lame. 2) If he is so cool, why didn't he say hi to you instead of eyeballing your whatever-they-are eggrolls? Rude!

Hungry Girl What's the WEIRDEST food you have ever seen on a menu? For me it could be a PB & J hamburger. But I don't travel outside the country very often…
Don't travel outside the country? Boring. You are rich and famous now -- get out there!

Hungry Girl A NEW VITATOP IS BORN!!!! Happy Birthday, Apple Crumb!!!! YAYAYAYAYAY!!!
You can tell who her sponsors are from a mile away.

I have come to the conclusion that it is time to un-Like Hungry Girl. Because Hungry girl doesn't make me want to eat...she makes me want to barf! I've held on for as long as I could, but I just can't get behind anyone serving mocktails. Buh-bye.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Relationships Are Hard Work

Similar to what Wino Miranda was talking about in her recent post of plateaus and bad habits, recently, I realized that I'd completely abandoned tracking. I guess I thought I knew what I was doing and could handle it all on my own, in my mind, without the help of writing anything down. I was wrong.

What was once a .4 loss away from my 10% goal became a 1.2 loss, and then slipped further away to 2 pounds. Who knows what this week will bring, I am guessing not much better! Bottom line, I was sabotaging my weight loss by abandoning the one thing that was getting me to goal in the first place - tracking.

Realizing this, I started to become disenchanted with the program ... thinking there was no turning back now and I would continue to gain and gain until I was back up that 20 pounds I had lost over the last few months.

Until this past weekend.

Call it being in the right place at the right time or call it, simply, attending a regularly scheduled meeting (admittedly we've been skipping meetings due to conflicts or sushi hunger), but the WW meeting I went to on Saturday with Wino Suz led by Liz (Jennifer Hudson's leader, pictured above) was exactly the inspiration I needed to get my a** back on track with this program.

Hi, I'm Jen and I've Stopped Tracking.

I had all but abandoned this crucial step in the system and, what happened? I found myself slipping further and further from my goals. Coincidence? I think not.

You see, like Liz said, the tracker is like a boyfriend or a girlfriend. You start out blissfully happy - together all the time, holding hands, the feeling that you've found the one - after all, he/she's giving you everything you ever wanted! But, as you start to spend more and more time together, you start to get bored. You start to feel like he/she's asking to much of you, so you start to withdraw. You don't call as much anymore and sometimes, you'll go out with friends and leave your tracker at home. Heck, after your evening, you might not even tell your tracker where you've been or what you've been doing. Your tracker wants too much from you - he/she wants a commitment. A long term together forever commitment and that's just too much to take. So, you break up. You toss the tracker aside and think you'll find someone else who's better for you.

The thing is, you won't. The tracker is the one for you. It's your better half, the secret to your success on this journey to weight loss happiness.

I'm already in a committed, loving relationship, but I'll be honest ... as of today, the love affair with my tracker is in full force again.

I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up

The Grand Canyon is the world's most breathtaking ravine.  Mount Everest is its tallest and most majestic peak.  The Marianas Trench descends deeper into the earth than anywhere else on the planet.  These natural wonders are amazing and astonishing for the lengths that they reach and the heights they stretch.

But no one ever talks about the Great Plateau.  You see, plateaus are innately boring.  In fact, I don't even think a plateau could rightfully be named "Great."  They are mounds of unfaltering inactivity.  They don't climb, nor descend.  Just continue.

After months and months of Weight Watchers, I've hit the Great Plateau.  Lose a little.  Gain it back.  Lose a bit more.  Gain some back.  I've hovered around the same weight for months now and I just can't seem to reach the finish line.  I'm 5 lbs from my goal, but worlds away.

It's like when mountaineers ascend Everest only to see an incoming storm just as they are about to make the final climb to the top.  They have no choice but to lay in wait or cut their losses and turn back.

Well folks, there is no turning back now!  I have come this far and it can't all be for naught.  I can't bear to see my double chin reappear in photos.  Or have to buy fat-jeans again.  Or ever get mistakenly congratulated on a non-existent pregnancy (and I'm not exaggerating here, this has actually happened).

But I need a little inspiration.  I've become repetitive with my meal choices, lackluster with my exercise plan and decidedly sloppy with my tracking.  Help!  I've fallen off the plan and I can't get up!

Hopefully the vocalization of this sad state of affairs will help motivate me back into action.  After all, there are only 16 days until I'm going to need to don a swimsuit.  In public.  In Mexico.  Frightening!  More to come on that soon.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

From Vom to Bomb

I wanted to post the second photo in the "Before and Progress" series.

The photo on the left was taken at an 80s Prom party this past winter. And while the 80s Prom theme excuses the sequin dress and feathered bangs, there is no excuse for allowing myself to have gotten that large and in charge. In fact, seeing this photo of myself (and others from that night) is what made me sign up for Weight Watchers to begin with. Blech... it's hard for me to even post this publicly because looking at it still makes me want to vomit.

However, 5 months and 15.4 pounds later is the picture on the right. I still have about 20 lbs to go to reach my goal weight, but I am making progress and I feel good! Weight Watchers was the catalyst I needed to make some concrete lifestyle changes. Now I am running 15 miles per week to train for a Half Marathon, riding my bike to the train station instead of driving when weather permits, drinking tons of water, eating a healthy breakfast every single morning, and packing my lunch daily.

Clearly, a little bit of change has done me a lot of good! But not all things in my life have changed so dramatically. Seconds after each of these pictures was taken, I picked up my glass of wine from where it was resting nearby and promptly refilled it. You see, I'm still me—I'm just a slightly better version of me. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Updated after final meal at 9pm:
I MADE IT! Whew! Just finished my third of the day and final 1 cup of 0-point Progresso soup. Here are some random thoughts and learnings from this day:

- Doing Zero Points all day long is time consuming. I happened to have everything in the house I needed yesterday when I decided to do this, thanks to some foresight at the grocery store on Sunday. But you have got to be stocked up with options.
- The prep work is also a time-suck. I was cutting and measuring out my day for a whole hour this morning! It made me realize why celebrities have their diet meals delivered.
- There is such a thing as too many vegitable. I usually can't get enough of them and try to have them at all meals. But when it is 95% of your diet for the day, it gets old. New awe and confusion for vegans.
- This exercise has given me new respect for low-point foods. How indulgent it will feel to eat a 1-point bagel thin tomorrow morning for breakfast with lowfat cream cheese on it! With a 1/2 glass of OJ on the side, that breakfast will hit 4 points and I cannot wait!
- Some people are wondering how many calories I ate, since Zero Points does not equal zero calories. From my best guestimation, I have tallied 500 total. Hardly, if any, fat. One billion grams of fiber.

My only regret is that I do not already have a bottle of wine open right now, because I would celebrate accomplishing this day (and not having to do it again!) with 1/8th of a glass of wine for Zero Points! But I don't, and I can't bring myself to opening a bottle for that. Besides, who knows what I'll do after one taste. I could end up destroying this ZERO POINT DAY!

See my complete Twitter feed below, from bottom up.....BOTTOMS UP!

8:56pm Just finished cup of soup and veggies. I made it! Appreciate low point foods so much more now. 1 point anything sounds luxury!

8:29 and back from walk but jsut realized I've been forgetting to drink H2O today. Opps!

Ok, that wasn't so bad, and I learned a new trick! 1 cup fat free broth #zeropoints

7:17pm sipping on chicken borth to mitigate hunger before evening walk #IsThisDayOverYet?
6:10pm and hangin on like a champ, not even famished! That 1cup popcorn helped, I take it all back! #WeightWatchers
4:45pm This just in: 1 cup of popcorn is barely worth it! But I will savor every single piece.
3:45pm Just ate a second soup and veggies lunch. Good thing I planned for that, I was gettin' grumpy! #lowbloodsugar

Again, check out what is going on with ZERO POINTS CHALLENGE #WeightWatchers at

Ate some lunch, which is probably my most substantial 0-pt meal of the day -- too bad I'm stilll hungry!

Just logged in 2 #Weightwatchers points for that errand walk I took - so I'm neg for the day! Too bad not for the week tho! : /

Taking walk/running errand to distract myself from lunch. Hunger manageable.

10:05am second breakfast of fiber one vanilla yogurt, 1/4c bberries and 3/4c strawberries -- shockingly satisfying!

Whoa! 9:31am first averted disaster...coworker's birthday pastry spread. Guess who's not having any! This girl!

Got dressed -- pants not as loose as I'd prefer...good reminder

8:25 Just realized you only get 1 egg white for zero pts ...this is going to be one sparce omelette!

7:35am Have been cutting up veggies and measuring portions for over half an hour! Good thing novelty is still shinny!
6:00 I'm out of coffee, so make quick run to S-bucks. Black coffee with literal splash skim milk. Couldn't even get a banana if I wanted to!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prepping for a Zero Points Day

For those reading this blog for fun or general diet/fit entertainment and information, this Zero Points thingy might not make much sense. But for those of you with a Weight Watchers knowledge or intimate relationship, it might seem downright bonkers.

Every since I began to learn about Weight Watchers Points, I was fascinated with zero point foods. It's like a get-out-of-jail-free card for food. Too bad all of the zero points foods are completely and totally healthy, or it would really be a wild time! Still, when in a pinch or as an adder you don't have to count to the "T", they are healthy and encouraging foods.

But can one sustain oneself on zero point foods? A kind reader reminded me today on our Facebook page, when I mentioned this challenge, that zero point days are against the rules. And I can see why. As you might imagine, to achieve a zero points day takes planning and research. I guess you could memorize those things and just eat those all the time....and go crazy while doing it! Not to mention, it's not healthy. We need calories, variety and balanced diets to achieve real, healthy, long-lasting weight loss and maintenance. Still, I have this unexplained fascination to try it....but only for a day.

So here I am, the night before my Zero Points Challenge to myself, having just poured through 0-point foods and playing with portions of 1 point foods on the tracker to see what I can split down to zero. I think I will be able make it through the day without a complete and utter meltdown.....I think.

My ground rules: Everything I eat must be Zero Points in portion. That means, for example, I can't eat an entire can of 0-point soup -- I have to measure it out to its portion of 1 cup. But, I can eat multiple, various 0-point foods together at one time. I plan to add to tablespoons of black beans and a diced tomato (both Zero Points) to that southwest soup (pictured) in order to make it more hearty and filling. If you have some favorite and sneaky 0-point foods, please let me know about them, I am taking all suggestions very seriously!

Check back on Tuesday -- I'll be blogging here and live Tweeting (follow us on Twitter yet?: @winosonww) my experience throughout the I try to distract myself from my inevitable hunger...and to keep from passing out from low blood sugar!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Appetizer Solution - Bruschetta

Looking for a low point appetizer idea? Bruschetta is a great option. Its fresh, all natural and perfect for a summer dinner party.

1 garlic clove; minced
1/4 cup red onion; finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes; diced
2 tbsp fresh basil; finely chopped
2 oz whole milk mozzarella; diced
1 tbsp olive oil
14 slices french baguette (about 1/2" high)

Mix first 6 ingredients in bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Let sit for about 15 minutes.
Toast the bread under the broiler until golden brown on both sides.
Top with bruschetta.

Servings = 14
WW Points = 1

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dumpster Diving for Accountability Reasons

Salt & Vinegar Kettle Chips ... most definitely a top five "red light" food for me. The salty crunch combined with the tangy zip? Too good to resist. But, resist I have. While I may have indulged in different chip varieties - Sun Chips, pretzels, and, recently, plain ol' Lays - over the last 4 months, this is only the second time I have given in to the deliciousness that is, in my opinion, Kettle's best chip.

How could I, after coming off a 1.4 lb gain this week, indulge in 7 points of non-filling, nutritionally void* food?

Excuse #1 - "Dedication to my job"
A client I used to work on recently acquired Kettle Chips and, as a result, we had some "samples" laying around the office. I was simply supporting my client, therefore, it was done out of dedication. Yeah, that's strike 1 ... I don't even work on that client's business anymore.

Excuse #2 - I have the points, so who cares?
True, I did. But, Strike 2 in my book because now I have opened a can of worms. I have the taste and the craving for these chips on the brain now whereas, before, when I wasn't giving in to this red light food, I wasn't even thinking about them.

Excuse #3 - No one will know

Also true. If I don't tell anyone, who will know? Plus, I am not even going to track it, so it's like it never happened. What 7 points?? That was Strike 3 and the impetus for this post.

You see how the bag is crumpled? I pulled it out of the trash in order to take a photo and write this blog. Because that's what accountability is to me ... it's pulling food out of the trash where "no one will know", tracking it, telling you all about it, and bouncing back from my 7 point indulgence.

Did I need those chips? No. And, I did feel guilty about eating them? Yes. But I did eat them and, honestly, I did enjoy them ... the difference is that now I realize how much my mindset has changed. Whereas I used to eat these chips whenever, wherever I wanted, I now think of them as "treats" for special occasions when I really want to indulge.

Last week's weight gain pushed me 2 lbs further from my 10% goal, so I am sure there's something else in this trash can to write about! In the meantime, is there anything you have in your trash can - proverbial or otherwise - you'd like to share?

*Note: if you are going to eat chips, Kettle Chips are at least somewhat of a healthy option. With each serving's 9g of fat, 7g are Monosaturated fats which are the "good fats", helping lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). What can I say? Client or no client, I am a slave to my advertising job ;)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The After-Party

When pro-clubbers don't want the fun to end at 2am on a Saturday night when the bars close, they take things into their own hands and head to the "After-Party"…a place where the cool kids go in a secret location to keep things a-bumpin 'til the break of dawn. At the After-Party, you can keep on doing the things you probably shouldn't have in the first place: massive boozing, drugs, maybe even a little sex on the dance floor if you're tricky...possibly even a combo of all three.

After throwing my own little party over the weekend, I am discovering the dangers of the After-Party from a Weight Watchers perspective. Similar to the self-indulgences listed above, this party, as most are, was a major Points minefield. Cheese, butter crackers, nuts, salami, chips, candy, cake….and in true Wino fashion: tons of champagne! Everyone had a great time at the party and, while enjoyed themselves, didn't completely overdo it. But now, as the hostess, I find myself an unwitting attendee of the After-Party.

Because I shopped for the party at Costco, there are leftovers. And I'm not talkin a bite here, a nibble there. There is a 1/2 pound gorgonzola wedge sitting in my fridge, calling my name….mocking me. "Erikaaaa…….I'm in here… know you want me…..just a smidge. Come on, it'll be fun! No one has to know. You spent good money on me. You don't want me to start growing mold, do you? Better start eating." Also hangin around at the After-Party is leftover Italian meats marbled with chunks of fat, and a restaurant-portion slab of homemade cake. (The champagne....well, we drank all that!)

To combat the After-Party, I have a plan of attack. So that all the cheese and crackers don't go to waste, I am saving them to take to a bar on Saturday afternoon when we go watch the World Cup games. You can bring your own food into this bar and I know there will be plenty of hungry friends there to chomp it up, effectively getting it away from myself. The cake I am displaying front-and-center on the kitchen counter so my fiancé will encounter it one night after dinner when he feels his sweet-tooth coming on. As for the salami and coppa….well, I might just have to pop a couple slices of those. Hey, nobody's perfect! But I'm not going to sit down and make an oozing, toasted Italian sub sandwich out of it. Though that does sound good.

Morale of the story: Parties are dangerous in and of themselves, but we've got to have a little fun once in a while. It's the After-Party that is the completely unneeded overindulgence. Have a plan for the leftovers -- even if it means dumping it into the trash. Better that than dumping it onto your thighs. Hey, did I mention there as a delicious fruit salad at the party? I am having an After-Party with it right now, as I type! Woot! This might be the only party I ever attend that doesn't leave me with a hangover.
After Party by Koffee Brown

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Natural Police

I am terrified of authority- always have been. I immediately start to cry if I think I am being pulled over by the police. I once went to pieces and pulled myself over before I realized the highway patrol was after the car next to me. I think this is one of the reasons Weight Watchers works for me. There is a checks and balances system and the scale is the authority. Weighing in with a gain is like a bad mark on your permanent record and that spells scary disaster for me. I also know that if someone gives me free license, I will not use it well.

This is why last week was, well, confusing. In the rush to get fit for the wedding, I bought 12 personal training sessions. That was 6 months ago and I have only used 3 of them. With the wedding less than 60 days away, I met with my trainer, Austin, last week. He knows that I have lost 25 pound on Weight Watchers and that I am only 8 pounds away from goal. After a slightly painful training session, Austin sat me down and told me he wanted to have a talk. I felt scared, like he knew I had consumed a whole bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay the night before (which I had).

Instead, he wanted to share a perspective on how to get the last eight pounds off. Trainers love to make losing weight sound so simple. Austin said “Just get to the gym as much as you can and watch your diet.” Well, DUH! I frowned and told him I was already doing that. Then he asked what I was eating. As we are still without a kitchen, much of my diet is being cooked in the microwave. He stood up and said “Would you be up for a field trip?” Hoping there would be snacks at the end, I drove with Austin to the grocery store and here is what he said:

It is difficult for the body to get rid of processed foods. Even if the processed food is low in calories, the body might still hang on to it and treat it like fat. As we traveled through the story reading ingredients, I began to see his Au Naturale Philosophy. His basic rule of thumb is if you don’t know what the ingredients are, neither does your body. We compared energy bars & I left with a new type of bar, the Larabar (YUM!). I also purchased unprocessed peanut butter. That’s right, peanut butter!

I felt like I was speeding down the highway with my new unprocessed diet. I told Austin I was worried about the calories (aka points!). He encouraged me to let go for a week and see how I felt. So I did and here are my thoughts: I found that the unprocessed foods kept me full for longer. I felt a little guilty eating them, but they were good and felt healthy. In the end, I shaved off another pound last week. I think it will be a struggle to eat unprocessed, especially without a kitchen, but I am looking at labels for more than just points now. I will be interested to see how to merge unprocessed and points, but for now all I can think is “how can you argue with eating peanut butter with a spoon?!”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I've been MIA with posting new recipes lately, but never fear, I've been stockpiling food photos. Building on Erikawas' post about Rice A Roni, here's another great rice based dish. Pair this with a glass of sangria and enjoy!

Shrimp "Paella"

First, a history lesson (thanks to Wikipedia).

Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. There are three widely known types of paella:

- Valencian paella (white rice, green vegetables, meat - rabbit, chicken, duck - snails, beans and seasoning)

- Seafood paella (replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables)

- Mixed paella (a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and sometimes beans)

Other key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.

The dish you see above loosely resembles seafood paella, hence my use of quotes. So, here's the basic recipe.

1 package Goya yellow rice (this rice mimics the saffron color and flavor of traditional paellas)
2 medium zucchinis
2 medium carrots
1 medium spanish onion
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail off

Cook the rice according to the package (omit the oil or butter) and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces.
Spray a large saute pan with cooking spray.
Saute onions and carrots until tender; about 4 minutes.
Add zucchini and saute for 1 minute.
Add the stock and shrimp.
Cover and simmer on low until shrimp has turned pink and stock has reduced.
Add the rice and mix all together.

You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, throw in a can of red beans, etc. Experiment!

Servings = 4
WW Points = 6

Friday, June 4, 2010

The San Francisco Treat!

Rice A Roni (RAR) may seem like a silly food that doesn't have many good implications on a Weight Watchers plan, but I am here to prove that notion wrong. And it's not just because us Winos are here in Cable Car City. I have always been a fan of doctoring up recipes to make them more rounded out and balanced and this boxed rice/pasta product falls perfectly in line with that practice.

For example, take a simple and seemingly boring box of RAR "Mexican Style". The directions tell us to just add water and oil or butter -- but don't take that at face value. Always skip the butter/oil and use nonfat cooking spray instead. The added fat is totally not necessary for taste here because you get it from the spice flavor packet. I add a bunch of Weight Watchers-friendly ingredients to make it a meal in a bowl! Sauté up chicken chunks, add a can of diced tomatoes to substitute one of the cups of water, mild green chilies and a can of black or pinto beans, and you have an instant, low-point and filling fiesta! (To calculate the points, just keep track of everything you decide to add in, add it all up, and divide by the number of servings you portion it out to)

But it doesn't stop there. Another one of my RAR faves is the Broccoli Au Gratin. Usually "gratin" is a danger word in Weight Watchers speak. But here, it is a low point, cheesy treat. I add chicken breast and fresh broccoli to mine, and again, it is a healthy, filling and flavorful bowl of goodness.

I went on to the RAR website today for the first time and am amazed by all the options there are. Next up, I want to do an Italian version with zucchini and mushrooms, as well as try the fried rice by adding peas and egg whites. There are a bunch of pasta options too! What RAR will you doctor up?

Summer Drink Series : Sangria

No such luck for us in San Francisco, but maybe it's summer where you are? Drink up with this tasty, low point cocktail!

- Dissolve four packets of sucralose sweetener (such as Splenda) into 4 tablespoons of water
- Pour into pitcher
- Add slices of oranges, lemons, limes, peaches, plums or nectarines as well as grapes (for white wine sangria, red grapes; for red wine sangria, white)
- Add a bottle of red or white wine
- Stir, then let sit
- Before serving, top pitcher with a drizzle of club soda


Courtesy of

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday Night Tradition

We thought we'd give you a little sneak peak of what our Wednesday nights look like so that you can be an honorary Wino on Weight Watchers. Every Wednesday evening, we attend the 6:30pm weigh-in and meeting, and afterwards, we go out to our favorite sushi place for a delicious low-point meal.

If we've been successful, like last night, we toast to our success with a beer, some sake, or wine, of course! If we haven't had success, we try to cheer each other up by brainstorming new ideas and angles that will keep things interesting and keep the pounds coming off. Regardless of whether or not we have lost or gained that week, we always have fun!

Summer Drink Series : Caipirinha

Swear off fun, fruity beverages? Never! Just follow these Weight Watcher tips to help lighten up summer classics!

- Cut a room-temperature lime into quarters and drop it in a shaker
- Add one packet of sucralose sweetener (such as Splenda) and one tablespoon water
- Mash the mixture very well with a wooden spoon, dissolving the lime into mush
- Add a shot (1 1/2 ounces) of white rum and enough ice cubes to fit in an old-fashioned glass
- Shake well
- Pour mixture (including the peel) into a glass
*Variation: Add slices of mango or a few cherries along with the lime*

Courtesy of

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Working Like a Dog

Our family dog, Sandy, is a shining (and drooling) example for all of us.
(Tip: be sure your volume is up for this one.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Power of Shoes

The average woman, in her lifetime, spends about $40,500 on shoes. And I would guess that several of us Winos will have spent well over that by the time we are six feet under.

Why is footwear so compelling to us and why do we wear the shoes we do? (And why do I crack up every single time I watch the "Shoes!" video on YouTube?)

Because shoes are much more than things to walk in. Shoes are a form of expression. They bring out certain characteristics in us. They make us feel—and maybe even act—a certain way.

Let me explain. Pictured above are the pairs of shoes that I wear most often.
  • My chucks bring out my inner hipster (and my dog obviously loves them, too!). When I wear them, I feel the urge to peruse used record stores looking for unreleased Velvet Underground singles.
  • My ballet flats make me feel feminine but practical. They are usually the shoes I wear to work.
  • My flip flops are synonymous with laid back. Thinking about them conjures up images of basking in the sun and reading at Dolores Park.
  • My heels make me feel sexy. It's impossible for me to wear them without wearing lipstick and gettin' low, low, low, low.
  • And my boots are warm and comfy. I imagine pairing them with a cute winter coat and going Christmas shopping.
A few nights ago, I spent $130 on a new pair of shoes to add to the repertoire. Observe:

I bought this pair of top-of-the-line running shoes to wear as I start training for my forthcoming Half Marathon. I just started training last week, and it's been tougher than I expected. We have team workouts twice a week—but on the other days, it's up to me to motivate myself to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to run, run, run.

The shoes have helped. The night I got them, they sat on my nightstand while I slept. When my alarm went off at 5:30am and I saw those shoes staring back at me, I got up, slid my feet into them, and headed out to run 3 miles. When I got home from my run, still wearing the shoes, I was hungry. I had passed a McDonald's on the way home and couldn't help but salivate at the the smell of the warm hashbrowns that permeated the air.

Nope—not in these shoes! I had decided. So instead I made myself a 100-calorie english muffin and egg white sandwich with a glass of orange juice.

In the days following, I have continued to sleep with the shoes on my nightstand, and I have continued to notice that they provide just the push I need to stay on track and work towards my goal.

The average woman spends over $40,500 on shoes in her lifetime, so clearly, shoes have some sort of power over us. But if a pair of shoes can get us to change our actions for the better... well, maybe the power of shoes is even greater than we realized.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

EXACTLY 100 Days Left!

I have a twinge of OCD directed at the passage of time. It concentrates on rounded numbers, but also halves and quarters. It is a strange affliction that I can mostly control but it is often always in the back of my mind.

For example, I went through an extreme phase about 5 years ago when I would only leave the house to go exercise on quarter-hours. If it was 12:15pm -- good to go. But 3:37pm? Gotta wait until the clock says 3:45pm. I was also very enthusiastic when I went back to my college town recently for the first time in 10 years. I'm not sure what made me more excited… see it all again after so long, or the fact that it happened to fall exactly 10 years later. I'm glad I didn't have to deal with how to handle it 8 or 11 years later. Exactly a decade was good.

Similarly, the countdown to my wedding is always with me, for many reasons. Mostly for the list of things that need to get done by certain points time. But also….how long until?! At exactly 6 months to the day we had been engaged and would be married, I said to my fiancé, "Honey, I made reservations for our 6-months-since-engaged; 6-months-until-the-wedding anniversary!" His response…"Huh?" Something came up, and we ended up not making it out on that exact night, so forget it! I'm not celebrating unless it is on this exact middle day in time!

It isn't like I'm counting down every single day to the wedding, luckily. Because that would really bug. But technology is doing it for me. Every time I log on to our adorable wedding website, or one of our registries, or I get a spam email from, they love to remind me how many freakin days are left! It's like they are trying to freak me out! Well, the "days until" countdown didn't effect me until this one: 100 Days Left!

WHAT?! Only 100 days? But there is so much to do! Pretty soon, like tomorrow, we will be in the double digits! I am already waking up at 3am in the middle of many nights worrying about getting the picture list to the photographer, among many other annoying details. Now that it is EXACTLY 100 days, I am in panic mode!

But the main 100 days OCD number crunch that has come to mind is my Weight Watchers progress. I have a very nice lead into the final stretch, but still a lot of mileage to go. Compared to the sprint at the beginning, my weekly weight loss has slowed to less than a pound per week. So here we go….if I lose 1 more pound every 10 days, that divides exactly evenly into 100, so that should be my goal. 10 more pounds. But what if I divide it by weeks instead of days, or hours and minutes? 10 in 100 must be the most I can do, right?

There is no exact calculation to pulling off the rest of the details in 100 more days, or pulling off 10 more pounds in exactly 100 days. What is going to make this all happen is focus. Focus on ordering the monogrammed cocktail napkins…..focus on not going over your points this week and making all your workouts. And don't wait for exactly 2:45pm to do it!