Tuesday, February 28, 2012

restaurant review: red robin

The boyfriend and I like to go out to eat together, quite often unfortunately.  It has been a big past time with us, almost as big as our expanding waist lines.  

The bigger problem is that he tends to be more picky then I am, and that dictates where we go to eat.  He enjoys Mexican food, burgers, diners, and things of the like.  This can be a diet disaster!  That is, unless you plan ahead.  

I like to keep three or four dinner ideas for each week, and this allows me one night a week to have dinner with my mother, and another two evenings out with the boyfriend or other friends.  Also, once I find something that I consider to be a Points Plus bargain at a restaurant, I usually save it in my online tracker and order it quite often.  It's a good way to prevent a meltdown while I'm out and about.  

One of my favorite things are chains that put their nutrition information online, and even better than that is a chain that has its own recipe builder!  Enter: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers!  

At the bottom of the page is a handy little tool where you can build your meal!  

After plugging in what I ate (I ordered a "Keep It Simple" burger) and adding in my side of steak fries, I was able to very confidently track my fifteen points plus!  They even have an iPhone app, but unfortunately I have an EVO.

All you do is select your burger and customize whatever you added or took off of the burger!

And then hit the button at the bottom-right hand side of the page that says "Calculate Nutrition."

And then take that and plug it into your online points calculator.

It's awesome and easy!  You can pre-track or wait until after you've eaten to discover the damage you may have done.  I recommend the former.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

weighing in: no matter what

I've heard it over and over again:

When you have a good week, your meeting needs you.  When you have a bad week, you need your meeting.

Well, ain't that the truth.

I usually weigh myself the day before, the morning of, and when I get home from my meeting.  Then I avoid the scale for the rest of the week.  Why?  I have no idea.  

I was reading a friend's blog, Bikini Countdown, and she talked about how she would avoid the scale and tracking all week until the day before her weigh in.  Then she'd avoid eating all day just so she could weigh in at the same or similar weight as the week before.  

I wish I could say that I've never done this, but I have.  I have woken up on a Monday morning after a really bad weekend and panicked about my Tuesday evening weight in, then I avoid food all day only to completely over indulge on Monday evening.  Or I avoid food all day on Monday only to over indulge on Tuesday, just hours before my weigh in.  

None of this is realistic or good behavior!  

How about the Tuesday afternoons that I used to realize that I'd had a bad week or bad weekend, so I was just going to skip my meeting?  That happened a few times also!  The best thing that happened to me that changed this behavior was that my mom joined Weight Watchers with me last fall.  Since that time, we talk every Monday about meeting at our meeting the next day, and we have dinner after our meeting and talk about our week together.  

I have to say, this has really helped us as Weight Watchers, and as a mother-daughter duo.  We're already close, but I'm so proud and happy that she's chosen to join me on this journey (again!).  

So now, I can't skip meetings anymore.  Today, I take the bad with the good.  From here on out, I weigh in weekly even if I know I face a + sign on that tracker.  It isn't about losing every week, after all.  It is all about changing my lifestyle in the long journey that I hope will be my life.  

I'm leaving you with another Zig Ziglar quote, one that happens to be very pertinent to this particular weight lost battle.  

Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.

Friday, February 24, 2012

my first #7daychip

So in early February, I read all about a man named Brad Gansberg and a tool he's added to motivate people online: it's called the "7 day chip" and you can read all about it here.  

Well as soon as I read about it, I had to try it!  It sounded like a great non-scale goal to achieve.  You set your own daily goals, something attainable, and you complete them every day for seven days.  At the end of the week, you shout it out on Twitter or Facebook, or even tell Brad himself so he can recognize you on his blog and Twitter!  Or just congratulate yourself and enjoy it.

Just make sure you are using the hashtag #7daychip so that other people can find you on Twitter and reply to you.  It's a really positive community!  

Then I sat around and thought about it for about four days, talk about procrastination!  What would I set my goals to be?  What if I failed?  What if I forgot completely about my goals and the chip altogether?  

I'm such a worry wort.  

Finally, the day before my Weight Watchers weigh in, I sat down and picked three very simple goals for myself:  

1. I will only use my daily Points Plus target and any activity Points Plus that I earn throughout the week.  
Another way of saying this would be to say that I will not use my 49 weekly Points Plus, but that sounded too negative!  
2.  I will drink eight full glasses (eight ounces each) of water each day for a total of 64 ounces.  
I had been seeing people setting 100 ounce goals each day, but after trying it for a day I decided it was a bit too ambitious for me.
3.  I will eat a minimum of six servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  
I have to admit, number three is a total breeze for me.  I usually eat about eight servings of fruits and veggies each day, so it was a no brainer to put it on my list.  

And then, I started my first 7 day chip.

It was so great!  I had people on Twitter that would see my tag and congratulate me or ask me how my day was going.  I checked in with myself and the Twitter folks at the end of each day and the support was outstanding.  People I didn't know that were on a weight loss journey would throw me the most positive and outstanding messages or notes.  I felt so great.

So great in fact that I ate way more fruits and vegetables and added an addition day of activity to my week, all of this for no reason other than I felt like it.  I would eat four or five pieces of fruit because they sounded good.  I grabbed the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred DVD one morning and did it because I felt like doing it.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

fridge tour: day after grocery shopping

I thought it would be fun to periodically take a look inside of my fridge, because in all honesty when I'm at a friend's house I love to look inside of their fridge!  No really, it's an obsession.  

What's this?  

Oooh!  I love those!  

How do you cook that?  

It's sort of a past time of mine, but I happen to have really cool friends that have tons of fun stuff in their fridge.  Next time you're at your best friend's house, ask if you can take a fridge tour.  It's totally fun!  

So, welcome to my fridge tour.  First up, the door.  

Top left, yes I have butter.  Real butter.  I am not one of those people that puts butter on things, in fact I cannot stand butter on bread or on vegetables.  However, I believe that when a recipe like Chocolate Chip Cookies calls for butter, you should use real butter.  It's just me.  

Next to that you'll see a white bottle of spray ranch dressing from Wishbone, soy sauce, worchestire sauce, teriyaki sauce, spray butter, ketchup, and Tabasco sauce.  

On the second shelf is a flat bottle of diet wild cherry Pepsi (note to self, throw that out!), tartar sauce, an upside down bottle of ranch dressing, a small green bottle of an amazing sake that I've discovered, an upside down bottle of mayo, a hidden bottle of mayo made with olive oil, a bottle of home made salad dressing (in one of these fabulous gadgets), fat free milk, and fat free half & half.  

And the bottom shelf is a melange of salad dressings, hot sauces, and some sadly neglected bottles of wine.  Actually it's one bottle of left over bubbly, a bottle of V Sattui fortified wine (it's STRONG!), and a highly prized bottle of Ethiopian honey wine that I save for special desserts and occasions.  

On the interior top shelf you'll find all of my bread products: flour tortillas, Oroweat Double Fiber bread, hamburger buns, and whole wheat English muffins.  Also up there is a bag of sun dried tomatoes (love them!), eggs, and a store bought spinach dip that I bought for a potluck with some friends.  That spinach dip is just visiting, I think it needs to go away before I devour the whole thing!  

Second shelf contains a large box of pre washed spinach (not visible), corn tortillas, reduced fat cheeses, Laughing Cow wedges, Carl Buddig sandwhich meat, a butter dish, a container of salad dressing that a friend gave me (thanks Marcy!), regular (what I call "full fat") sour cream, fat free feta, and our Brita water pitcher.  

The third shelf is overflowing with Chobani products, low fat cream cheese, two baked potatoes with a turkey breast, a spinach salad with strawberries and feta, Cherry Cheesecake from the Weight Watchers website (3 Points Plus), a container of my Apple and Maple Steel Cut Oatmeal (not visible, I'll post that recipe in a few days), and a ton of produce like mini bell peppers, grapes, and strawberries.  

The bottom two drawers of my refrigerator are always full of fresh fruits (left) and vegetables (right).  I rotate through whatever looks good at the time, and at the moment I've got apples, oranges, Cuties, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, and zucchini.  

So there you have it, I gave you the run down of my cold storage.  It happens to be exceptionally full a the moment, but I only go the grocery store once every two weeks or so.  Also, I share it with a non-Weight Watcher who happens to love his full fat foods.  

As the week progresses, the fresh fruits and veggies will dwindle down and be replaced by storage containers full of yummy foods like spaghetti and ground turkey meat sauce, butter chicken, stir fry, and more! 

So what's in your fridge?  

Monday, February 20, 2012

to track, or not to track?

The simple fact is that I try to avoid weighing myself at home, but I simply cannot do it.  My meeting is on Tuesday evening, which means that I become neurotic and starting weighing myself hourly on Sunday evening. 

I don't like surprises.  

But why do I do this?  Why do I ignore the scale and my tracking on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday?  Then I become a super tracker on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  Oh, I'm sure that's a great way to do things.  


I can't do much to change that scale on Monday morning if I've over eaten all weekend long!  So why am I not more aware?  That was a huge problem for me in 2011, and I've struggled with myself for several weeks to break it.  Tracking three days a week isn't the right way to do things, so I forced myself to track more.  The final result?  

I tracked 29 out of 31 days in January!  That's right!  I kicked January's butt!  Tracking forced me to become aware of my weaknesses (bread, chips and salsa, beer) and take a look at my strong weeks (fruit, fruit, and more fruit).  If nothing else, it opened my eyes.  

So take a look at your tracker, dust it off.  Open up that app on your fancy phone, sign in.  Put the excuses down and pick up the pen.  

If you nibble it, then scribble it.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

recipe review: butter chicken

Butter chicken is an Indian dish that I've yet to try at an Indian restaurant because I love my version so much!  I originally read about it on the Pioneer Woman's blog, but it was made with a lot of butter and cream.  It was delicious!  But it wasn't all that good for me, so I put it into my recipe box and forgot about it.  

One day, my boyfriend asked me what had happened to it and why I hadn't made it again.  I told him that it was pretty fattening, but I decided to try to make it healthier with the Weight Watchers Recipe Builder tool.  

So here goes!  

Better Butter Chicken
6 servings
9 points plus

1 pound of chicken cut into small bite size pieces (I use chicken breasts)
5 cloves of garlic, smashed or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 lime, juiced

Put all of this into a plastic bag and marinate it overnight in the refrigerator.  Please note, I use all of that cayenne pepper and usually some more because I love the heat!  

1/4 cup salted butter
1 diced onion
14 ounce can tomato sauce
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups fat free milk
1 cup white rice
2 cups water
one bunch cilantro

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. 

Add the rice to the boiling water and cover.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the milk just before serving and heat through.  Top with finely chopped cilantro and serve over the rice.

This recipe packs a lot of flavor and I think that's why I love it so much!  I can get loads of tomatoes and some delicious chicken all on one plate and the spices you use to marinate the chicken absolutely send it over the top.  Try it on your picky eaters, because even my picky eater loves it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

setting the right goals

So many times in my life I have set an unattainable goal.  Every time I did this, the goal evaporated and I was left a little bit broken.  On plan, you're not enticed to do this.  Instead you're encouraged to look at short term goals and celebrate each and every victory.  

I don't know about you, but I love celebrating!  

Then I stumbled on this quote from Zig Ziglar:

A goal set properly is halfway reached.  

Okay, I get it now.   Setting one single goal of losing 50 pounds isn't really a bright idea.  Setting five small goals of losing 10 pounds is probably better!

I went looking for examples of success, and I found this from Bitchcakes, also known as Sheryl Yvette, a Weight Watchers leader, lifetime member, and commercial star!

For more information about her awards, please read about it here.  

Then there are goals that have nothing to do with the scale like clothing size goals, activity goals, and personal growth goals.  I really like these!  

For example, the other day I walked into a store and I bought something pretty spectacular.  

I bought new jeans.  

They were a smaller size than the last pair I had bought.  

They were not plus size.  

They were skinny jeans!  

The only skinny item I've purchased before this was a latte, so I was pretty impressed.  

That, my friends, is a pretty awesome goal that I can check off my list.  

makayla's haven

Yesterday, I saw a poster in my spin studio for a charity ride for Makayla's Haven Foundation.  It happened to be at a time that I could go, so I decided to sign up for it and cancel my registration for a class earlier that day.  I'm not good enough for 2-a-days yet.  

Then I got to reading about this little girl's story, and her family's amazing strength in building this foundation.  

Makayla's mother suffered from preeclampsia during her pregnancy, which forced her to give birth at only 26 weeks.  She suffered tremendously while her daughter held on to live in ICU.  Only fifteen days after entering this world, and inspiring so many with her strength, Makayla went to be with God.  

I was so moved by this story that I had to share it with all of you.  

The ride is February 25th, and it's with one of my favorite instructors, Cheryl.  If you would like to join us in Rancho Cucamonga for the ride, please contact me.  Also, if you would like to donate to this amazing foundation and all that it does for families that are suffering the loss of a child, please contact me as well.  I'm happy to bring your cash or check with me when I ride.  

Email me at kcphelan@gmail.com 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

activity review: pedal spin studio

Back in my younger days, I figure skated, danced, did gymnastics, and was a cheerleader.  None of these activities are really viable options for me now as I approach my third decade of life.  I can't afford to head to buy skates and head to an ice rink, I'm way too out of shape to go to a tumbling class, and cheerleading?  Well that ended when high school did.  

So what does a girl do if she's not athletic but wants to work out?  Last year, I tried running.  All that I learned about running was that I am not a runner.  I had all of the gear necessary to try it out, so I wasn't wasting any money and there were no fees to run on my local trail.  However, I hated every second of it.  Before you ask, I tried it all: I made playlists, I brought my dog, and I asked friends that run if they'd run with me.  I am simply not a runner.  

So a few weeks ago, I woke up early on my day off and I did an internet search for this studio that I had driven by a few times.  It was called Pedal Spin Studio.  I found out it is a spin studio and the first class was free to try it out, so I went.  It happened to be a holiday and the class wasn't full, so I was in luck.  

The instructors name was Cheryl and as soon as I said I was new and trying it out, she walked me over to my bike and walked me through the basics.  She helped me set up my bike, told me how to change the bike's resistance, and explained a couple of things we'd be doing on our ride that day.  

The class started, the lights were turned off, and I was hooked.  

It's like a dance party on a stationary bike!  They have black lights, killer music, disco balls, and laser lights moving around the room.  I was told what to expect from the class, but I was also told to "ride my own ride."  

I had no idea what that meant until the end of the class.  It meant that when everyone else cranked up their resistance, I didn't have to.  When other people stood up and started pedaling extremely hard on their imaginary hills, I could stay seated and just push myself in other ways.  

I'm in my sixth week at Pedal Spin Studio and I go to at least two classes each week.  While it isn't extremely cheap, it's one of the best experiences I've had doing any activity in a long time.  I've built up my endurance, my strength, and most of all, my confidence.  Every time I walk in the doors I push my ride a little more than before and leave a little more sweaty and a lot more tough.  

A sixty minute ride earns me 13 Activity Points Plus, and I don't usually include the warm up or cool down time in that.  

Also, I've tried a couple of hybrid classes that the studio offers that incorporate cross training, core work, and weight training.  They are brutal!  But great!  

So if you have a studio near you, or you live near this one, I encourage you to go check it out.  Ask if they have a beginners session or any discounts for new riders.  But most importantly, ride your own ride.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

must have: coffee!

Coffee is one of those things in my life that I can always count on.  It's always tasty, I can make it a variety of different ways, and it seems to give me a little "pep in my step" as they say.  

It's the nectar of the gods if you ask me.  

With that being said, coffee can be a huge calorie suck if you're not careful.  Flavored creamers, sugar, syrup, whole milk, whip cream, etc.  Before you know it you're staring at a 7 Point Plus venti peppermint mocha-cinno blah blah blah...

I don't have points to waste like that, so I had to find alternatives.  

Well hello tasty substitutes!  

From left to right: fat free half & half, sugar free vanilla syrup, and my trusty (and very large!) Vespa mug.  

At first I was pretty sure that fat free half & half was simply impossible; I mean "half & half" by definition is half cream and whole milk.  But then I spent the two bucks at the grocery store to try it out, and I was pleasantly surprised.  You get the color, the flavor, and the creaminess in your coffee and it's a major Points Plus bargain!  That's right, it's zero Points Plus for 2 tablespoons of it, and if you're like me and have two cups of coffee with 2 tablespoons each, then it is one Points Plus value.  

The syrup next to it is something I picked up at my local grocery store and it happens to be the same syrup that Starbucks uses.  One ounce of it is zero Points Plus!  It adds a great sweetness to the coffee and since it's sugar free, it's a Points Plus bargain also.  I've tried the vanilla and the caramel variety, both of which I'd say are pretty tasty.  

So there you have it, my coffee must haves!  

Friday, February 10, 2012

recipe review: it's THE soup!

The first thing everyone should learn how to cook if they're going to be a Weight Watcher is this soup.  My family and I simply refer to it as "THE SOUP" because we'll all know what we're talking about.  

So here you go, make this.  

Garden Vegetable Soup
6 servings
0 Points Plus

1 spray of cooking spray (like Pam)
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup diced onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
3 cups of broth (anything fat free like vegetable, chicken, or beef)
1 cup diced green cabbage (this is a little less than 1/4 of a head of cabbage)
1 cup chopped spinach
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced zucchini

Spray a large saucepan with cooking spray; heat.  Saute' carrot, onion, and garlic over low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add broth, cabbage, spinach, tomato paste, basil, oregano, and salt; bring to boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, about 15 minutes.  Stir in zucchini; cook 3-4 minutes more.  Serve hot.  

This recipe is great!  Six servings usually lasts me a week or two, and it's really easy to double the amount of soup you're making if you think you're going to go through it quickly.  You can freeze it also, but it does lose a little crunch in my opinion.  

If you go out on the internet and search "Weight Watchers Zero Point Soup" you will get a bunch of different recipes, this particular one comes from the 2012 guide I got in December 2011 at my meeting.  

If you're looking for something a little bit different, try this one: Mexican Zero Point Soup or look up one of your own.  

My recommendation if you're going to make this soup at home, buy the Pampered Chef 1-cup Prep Bowls and store them in those.  The bowls freeze, microwave, and travel extremely well and best of all they are glass and they don't stain or smell like other cheaper material storage containers.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who am I? How did I get here?

In 2006, I was graduating from college and I wasn't happy with my body.  I had recently discovered the joys of alcoholic beverages, and my waistline had steadily risen since my junior year.  I joined Weight Watchers for the first time with my mother in June, 2006.

By March of 2007, I had lost nearly 20 pounds and was feeling great.  I had a steady group of co-workers to work out with and a new outlook on life.  Then, I decided to stop going to meetings and just do the whole weight loss journey on my own.

"Big mistake.  Huge."

If you can name that movie, well you're my hero.

I rejoined online a few times to save money, but in the end it didn't work.  I take that back, I didn't work.

 I dragged my butt in to the La Verne Weight Watchers facility in the last week of December, 2010.  I weighed 199.2 pounds.  This was a low point in my life. 

So here I am, just over a year later.  I've lost fifteen of the sixty or so pounds that I'd like to lose.  That's not bad, but it's not great.  I spent an entire year doing the new Points Plus plan without exercising at all.  And it shows.

Now, I'm doing things differently.  I'm active.  Like really active.  I'm committed to cooking more often, and therefore being in more control of the food I'm putting into my body.  And I'm asking for help from the people around me.  I have been more vocal lately about trying to lose weight and being a Weight Watcher and the results have been phenomenal!  So if you're reading this, welcome to my own personal pep squad, I hope I can help you out too!