Saturday, March 31, 2012

math lesson: greater than and less than

My mentality about food is finally changing. 

My attitude towards activity has actually been modified. 

I am becoming more aware of what I need to do in order to get what I want. 

This is how my mind works:

1.  I begin by being presented with a problem. 

Boneless buffalo wings are always a problem. 

2.  I let the problem consume me until eventually I consume it. 

Except that was the old me. 

3.  Before I consume the problem in order to destroy it so that it stops taunting me, I ask myself what is greater than my problem. 

I have come up with several interesting answers. 

If I have activity points for the week, then I make the ultimate decision that The buffalo wings are less than my activity points earned, therefore I can consume them.   

If I do not have any activity points or I know that I am not going to be doing any activity in the near future then my decision sounds more like The buffalo wings are greater than my activity points earned, therefore I am going to have to wait until I get my ass to the gym before I can cosume a buffalo wing. 

If I really am at fork in the road, and I haven't had a buffalo wing in a very long time and I don't think I can get my hands on one for a while after this occassion, then I ask myself a very important question.  Is my desire for that buffalo wing greater than my desire to healthy/skinny/lighter/etc? 

The answer is usually no. 

I want to be healthier. 

I want to weigh less. 

I want to feel better. 

Most of the time, a buffalo wing isn't going to get me to any of those feelings. 

Don't get me wrong, there are moments in my life when that buffalo wing is essential to my survival.  I don't know how or why it happens, but every now and then my "swapportunity" just isn't a viable option and I don't want a grilled chicken breast with hot sauce.  Sometimes, I make myself try every other healthy alternative over several days, until I finally decide that the fat little devil on my shoulder just will not shut up until I give her a damn buffalo wing. 

So I feed the urge, track the points and move on. 

I leave the guilt on the hot sauce soaked napkin.  

I forgive myself. 

I move on. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

activity review: lady gaga inspired workout routine

About a week ago, @cherielianne posted a workout on her blog that caught my eye.  To see the original blog (and you should, because her blog is way awesome!) then click here.  

Now because everything (and it's mother!) is on the internet these days, I did a quick search and found the Glamour online article here for a bit more advice and clarity before I gave this workout a try.  

Then, because it was my birthday weekend I put the blog, the article, and working out in the back of my mind and I ate pizza and drank beer.  Luckily, I didn't face a "+" sign at weigh in because I took an extra spin class last week and did Jillian's Yoga Meltdown dvd.  Thanks for planning ahead and not having any cupcakes or birthday cake, I was able to avoid a birthday gain.  Thank heavens!  

Monday after my birthday, the gift I purchased for myself arrived in the mail and I couldn't wait to use it!  I took some cash that friends and family had given me to buy workout gear and spin classes and I went to Bodytronics' website and bought myself a black and gold Polar FT7 heart rate monitor, because black is slimming after all!  

I was going to try the Gaga workout on Tuesday, but let's just pretend Tuesday didn't happen.  

So on Wednesday morning I dragged my butt out of bed at 6 o'clock and threw on some workout gear.  I went downstairs and adjusted my new heart rate monitor and was wetting the electrodes on the band as I put it on and then YEEEEOHHHHHHH!!!  I didn't think about how cold that water on my skin would be at 6 o'clock and before I'd had coffee.  Go ahead, laugh at me.  I certainly am laughing at myself.  

I walked into my living room, brought up my iTunes playlist that I made on Monday night, and started my workout!  

Song #1
Cold Wind Blows by Eminem (5:04)
I started with about one minute of active stretches like windmills and cherry pickers.  Then I went straight into alternating jumping jacks and air jump rope.  

Song #2
She's a B**** by Missy Elliot (4:01)
Don't judge me because I love this song, I feel as if when someone calls me a b**** that I've truly earned it and I just own up to it.  It's not always a bad thing.  
I started with 30 reps of plain old squats.  
Then I went into 30 reps of should presses.  
I followed that up with 30 plain old crunches.  

Then I jogged in places for a burst of cardio as the song was ending.  

Song #3
Born this Way by Lada Gaga (4:20)
Because you can't have a Gaga workout with out a Gaga song, right?
I started with 30 reps of bicep curls.
Then I went into 30 right side lunges.  
Following the lunges, I did 30 side crunches.  
Then I stood up and finished out the song by jogging in place again.  

Song #4
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) by Kelly Clarkson (3:42)
Just try not to feel awesome when you workout to this song, I dare you.  It's a staple in most of my spin classes and I love it!
I opened up with 30 tricep extensions.  
Then I did 30 of the left side lunges.  (See above.)
Finally, I ended with Russian twists.  
There wasn't really time at the end of this song for a cardio burst, but I planned it that way so I could finish strong with my fifth and final song.  

Song #5
The Last Song by The All American Rejects (5:00)
I almost always end my workouts with this song and I have no really good reason why other than I am usually in a good mood when I hear it.  
I did about three minutes of alternating between jogging in place and jumping that imaginary jump rope again, then I started to bring it down for a minute or so and finally, I used the last minute of the song to stretch out my hamstrings, quads, gluteus extra maximus, and arms.  About the time that the song finished, so did I.  

All in all I would say it was an excellent workout, and I really enjoyed using my new heart rate monitor.  I was in the "fitness zone" for 21 minutes and couldn't talk much during that time, so I plugged 20 minutes of high intensity into the activity calculator for 4 Activity Points Plus.  I know everyone does this differently, and I've heard that you earn 1 Activity Point Plus for every 80 calories you've burned.  My Polar said I burned about 260 calories which is more than three points, but less than 4.  Honestly, I'm tracking 4.  Judge me if you'd like, but I felt as if that was a tough workout for me.  

The playlist rocked, the exercises were great because I got to choose them myself, and the fact that I was warmed up, working, and cooled down in about 22 minutes was a HUGE bonus.  So there you have it!  I'm sure I'll try it again, and if I find new exercises to share or new songs to add to the playlist, I'll let you know!  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Just watching this video gives me the chills.  These men and women submitted their stories in 2010 and Weight Watchers selected them for the new "Believe" ad campaign, but it's so much more than an ad campaign.  

These are real people.  These people have real lives.  Many of these people share their lives on Twitter, in blogs, and through Facebook.  

For me, that makes a world of difference.  Janet Jackson can lose all the weight she wants using pre-made meals from Nutri System, but she isn't your average person in my eyes.  Marie Osmond can do the same.  I hate to say it, but even the Jennifer Hudson deal with Weight Watchers doesn't motivate me.  It is a celebrity's full time job to look good, and they can hire a team of people to help them.  I need to know that someone out there who has a full time job and full time relationships can lose weight without hiring a posse.  

Then I'll Believe.  

Well, now I do.  

So if you haven't already seen the commercial:  

And if you have Twitter or Facebook, look these people up.  Or log on to the Weight Watchers website and go through the community blogs and message boards.  We're real.  We're motivated.  We believe.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

activity update: before and after

I can't be the only one that goes from this:

To this:

After only one spin class.  


I mean, I'm a tomato!  Eeesh!  

Friday, March 23, 2012

recipe review: banana nut oatmeal

There was once a period in my life that I ate oatmeal every single day: it was when my mom went back to work and my poor father was in charge of feeding his snotty daughter breakfast every day.  I love my father, but the man cannot cook anything that does't come out of the microwave or off of the grill.  You want a steak?  He's your man.  You want mom's cheese eggs or toad-in-a-hole?  Well, good luck with that.  

My father gave me some options for breakfast: cold cereal, packets of oatmeal, or Pop Tarts.  

Alas, my love for Pop Tarts came later.  

But then I grew away from oatmeal, far, far away from it.  I hated it.  Couldn't stand it.  

Then, recently, I've re-discovered my love of oatmeal, but it took a little help from some of my Twitter friends and some well placed oatmeal additions.  

@whitgetsfit mentioned adding banana to oatmeal, then nuts, and all of a sudden I was enjoying BANANA NUT OATMEAL!  Yummy!  So here is my simple take on it, only four ingredients (five if you want to sweeten it up!).  

'Nana Nut Oatmeal
4 servings
5 points plus each if you track individually
7 points plus if you put it into the recipe builder
You pick, but I know what I'm doing!

1 cup steel cut oats (I used the Fresh & Easy store brand)
4 cups of water
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Splenda (optional, to taste)

Bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pan, then dump in the oats.  Drop the heat to low or medium low.  

Keep checking on it and stirring.  

It should take about 20 minutes to get really good and cooked.  

Dump in the two chopped bananas, chopped pecans, and the optional Splenda.  

Stir it up, check for seasoning, and enjoy!  

By the way, I place this into individual baggies and freeze them laying flat.  Then I can just grab one when I'm on the go and take it to work with me for breakfast.  As an added bonus, it keeps my lunch cold on the way to work!  Score!  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

answer to the ultimate question of weight loss, dieting, and everything

I have a confession to make to most of you, I'm a bit of a nerd.  On the outside I appear girly and feminine, but in truth I was raised by a Trekkie, my favorite show growin up was the X-Files, and I've read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy just about as many times as I've read Pride and Prejudice. 

With that being said, I tend to think about life in terms of all of these influences.  First off, Star Trek taught me a lot about being open minded.  If Klingons can ultimately be nice guys, then I should never judge a book by the cover, right? 

Secondly, Trust No One.  No really, I try not to have to rely on people.  It is much easier for me to do things myself. 

And third, Don't Panic.  It's written on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and it's the simple and most amazing advice ever given. 

But then I think back to the answer to "The Ultimate Question" and I get a good laugh. 

42?  That's the answer?  Yah, right. 

In my weight loss journey, there is not one single answer.  Here are some answers I've recenlty come up with: 

Q: What should I eat for lunch?
Eat a salad. 
Q: What should I eat before I go to dinner?
Zero point soup. 
Q: I don't know if I want to go to spin class?
Get up. 
Q: I have an hour to kill, what do I do now?
Go to Target and walk around. 
Q: I've been staring at that cookie for days now, should I eat it?
Eat the damn cookie. 
Q: How do I get rid of late night snack attacks?
Paint your nails.   

And I'm imagining that some of you are all having the same mental conversations, right?  How do those go?  What are you asking yourself?  Are you usually in control of your actions? 

I'm just curious here, I can't be the only one. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

gadget time: pampered chef stuff

Have you heard of The Pampered Chef, if not let me introduce you!  A friend of my, Jennifer, is a consultant for them here in Southern California and after I bought my first house, I purchased a ton of things from her and got even more stuff for free for hosting parties!  I'm not kidding, like three full shipping boxes of stuff for about $100.  It was amazing!  

Here are some of my favorites:

Pampered Chef Small Scoop This thing is heaven sent for things like jams, jellies, and especially for peanut butter!  It’s a great tool to make sure you’re getting one single tablespoon of something, no less, no more.  Plus, it’s a whole lot less messy than trying to use a normal measuring spoon!  

1-cup Prep Bowl Set I know they say prep bowls, but these are so much more useful!  They are microwave, dishwasher, and oven safe.  They are great for storing and freezing any pre-portioned items that you might want to cook ahead of time to make your weight loss easier, but I especially love them for storing my zero Points Plus® soups and servings of yogurt that I eat for breakfast.  I’ve also used them for oatmeal, salads, sauces, fruits, snacks, and tons more!  

2-cup Prep Bowl Set Same deal as above, but great if you’re going to make several servings of pasta with marinara sauce, rice with stir fry or butter chicken, or noodles with beef stroganoff.  The one cup line on the side tells you when to stop adding your carb, then you simply throw the topping on top and toss it into the fridge or freezer!  

3-cup Prep Bowl Set I’ve started using these to store fresh salsa (love it!) or an extra three or four servings of my zero Points Plus® soups in the freezer.  It’s always great to make extra and have some on hand in case of a bad week when you can’t cook.  

Easy Read Measuring Cups Because we always need a reminder of how much a cup actually is!  Plus you can set these on the counter and pour, while you read the lines on the top.  Believe me, I deal with volumetric flasks all day at work, the last thing I want to do at home is fill something and then hold it up at eye level to make sure I’ve done it correctly.  

Mini Muffin Pan Do yourself a favor, buy one of these.  Make a batch of mini brownies in it.  Better yet, make the no fat brownie mix from Trader Joe’s in it.  It is 2 Points Plus for one brownie bite, or 3 Points Plus for two brownie bites.  Instead of guessing how big of a brownie you should cut out from the tray sitting on the counter, you can grab a small and delightful little brownie!  By the way, if you eat too many little brownies at a time, try freezing them and only removing one at a time to thaw on the countertop or in the microwave.  

There you have it, some of my favorite gadgets!  I can't wait to show you more!

Monday, March 19, 2012

recipe review: mozza basic tomato sauce

I don't know if you're like me, but I like easy meals.  I also like healthy meals that I have control over.  This poses a problem in a lot of areas of cooking.  For example, spaghetti sauce.  

Sure, I can buy Prego (my favorite) and throw together dinner in just a few minutes with some noodles and ground turkey or beef.  That's a great dinner, and one that my non-Weight Watching boyfriend will enjoy.  To him, this is not diet food.  For me, it's usually a 10 Points Plus dinner, and I usually add a salad or some soup in to round out the vegetables.  

But have you ever scoped out the back of the Prego jar?  Well I have, I'll share.  Prego is made by Campbells, a trusted American brand.  Luckily, they post everything!  So here you go: Ingredients in Prego Traditional Sauce

Tomato puree and diced tomatoes aren't bad, but the sugar and dehydrated onions and garlic slow me down.  I understand that the citric acid and natural flavorings aren't going to kill me, but some times I'd just like the real thing, not a flavoring.  

Just about the time that I was doubting my beloved Prego sauce, I received The Mozza Cookbook as a Christmas gift.  What a treat!  It's the answer to all things Italian!  What's that?  How do I make this?  Where in the world would I find one of those?  

I've sticky tabbed all over this book, and I've tested out a few recipes like their amazing Lemon Vinaigrette!  But now, I have to share their Basic Tomato Sauce.  Prego, meet your nemesis.  

Basic Tomato Sauce
makes 2 quarts, approximately 8 cups
8 servings
3 Points Plus

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or slivered
1/2 medium carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
2 28 ounce cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, and their juices (San Marzano is recommended)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper; cook, stirring often, until onions are soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until softened but not browned, 1-2 minutes. Add carrot and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrot is soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with juices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often to break up tomatoes, until sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes.  Set a food mill over a large bowl. Pass sauce through food mill for the best texture (or purĂ©e sauce in a food processor). Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. 

This sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool completely, cover, and chill (or store airtight and freeze for up to 6 months).

It's that simple!  Most of these ingredients you have at home, I simply had to go purchase two cans of tomatoes.  The sauce tasted extremely bright and fresh to me, no sugar or preservatives here!  The added bonus is that instead of 4 Points Plus per cup of sauce (Prego), it is only 3 Points Plus per cup of sauce.  It isn't a huge difference, but it is full of good stuff.  That's a good reason to use it more often.  I'm not going to get rid of my Prego, believe me, Mr. Full Fat loves it too much.  

I'll just switch it out every once in a while for my Mozza sauce!  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

i CAN'T eat that, i'm on a DIET

Just telling you this story is going to make me angry and sick to my stomach, but I'm going to share it anyway. 

Back on Fat Tuesday (the day before Lent starts) I was eating lunch in the breakroom of my lab.  Seated next to me were several people from another department, one of them had brought in a very large Oreo cake from the grocery store around the corner.  

It looked sort of like this:

Okay, maybe it was a little less frosted around the outside and more Oreo's, but you get my drift.  

She proceeded to tell the group that because she was giving up sweets for Lent, that she was going to have cake for lunch and something like an ice cream sundae for dinner as well.  

I tried to pretend like I wasn't listening, but it really got my goat!  

Let's run down a few facts: 
  1. This same woman is a vegetarian, and has shot me the evil "I can't believe you're eating meat" eye while I eat my turkey sandwich or left over tri tip salad in the lunch room.  
  2. The lady has mentioned to me before that she's an atheist.  
  3. I've overheard this woman tell everyone how she doesn't put processed foods or harmful substances into her body, but proceeds to talk about wine, beer, and gigantic cookie cakes!  

I am irritated.  

I am irate.  

I am exhausted.  

Why is it that some people can eat an entire cake, but not gain an ounce or have a stomach ache?  
Why is it that I cheat just a smidge and eat a handful of chocolate covered pretzels, and the scale jumps four mutha fuggggggin pounds? 
Why does it never fail that after an evening of two alcoholic beverages, I wake up bloated with the most massive hangover known to man?  

I'd like my body to start cooperating with me!  I'd like it to hear me begging, asking it 

"Please!  I just want to have some wine with dinner!  Don't make me balloon up to a size 16 and hit me over the head with an Acme sledge hammer while I sleep!"  

But alas, I am not that girl.  I have never been that girl.  I wasn't mad at the atheist vegetarian for eating a cake before she gave up sweets for lent, I was mad because I couldn't do the same.  Well, I wouldn't have chosen the cake, but you know what I mean.  

At my most physically fit point in life, I could never run a mile.  

That's me on the left.  Age 17.  I was training at least 5 days a week, doing cheer and tumbling practice.  

In my skinniest jeans, I was hungry and deprived.  

That's me on the right.  Age 18.  I had just started college and wasn't eating very often.  I may have had some skinny jeans on, but I was far from healthy.  

In the past, the ways that I attained the size that I wanted were not good ways.  So here I am, doing things the right way this time.  

I am doing things on my terms.  This doesn't mean eating an entire cake in one sitting, that to me screams I HAVE NO WILL POWER!  It means that I will celebrate successes without food, I will spend free time planning new meals or working off old ones, and I will love myself during the process.  No blame.  No judgement.  No excuses.  The past is the past, I'm moving on.

Author's note: 
Yes, I have bruises on both arms in the pictures above.  No, it isn't a camera malfunction.  I was and will always be a huge klutz.  In the first photo it was because of cheer practices and always smacking my arm into the elbow of the same girl, over and over.  The second photo was during my days working at Chili's Bar & Grill.  There was a small wall that popped out on one of the corners, and every single shift that I worked I managed to bang my arm into that wall.  I worked at that location for nearly 4 years, which means I had what I called my "perma bruise" for that long as well.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

activity review: dusting off my wii & wii fit

I was originally going to just call this post "activity review: wii fit" but then I realized I'd be lying to all of you, and myself.  The truth is that I have had some bad days, just over 1000 of them to be exact.  Let me re-cap.  

Back in 2009, my boyfriend and I decided to move in together.  He was preparing to graduate from college and join me in the working world, so we started looking for apartments.  Whoa, did the Lord have different plans for us.  The places we would have like to live were in the range of about $1500 per month, and when we started to do the math we realized that we could own our own home for that kind of money.  

That's right, we could buy a place to live cheaper than we could rent one.  

So we started looking.  

We made offers.  

And we looked.  

We made more offers.  

And we looked some more.  

This is where it gets ugly for me.  You see, this was all happening at a great time in my life.  I was in the 160 pound range and less than about fifteen pounds away from my goal and becoming a lifetime member at Weight Watchers.  I was eating right, living at home, exercising a lot, and on the road to a great life.  

Then, the stress hit.  I was so worried about finances that I stopped going to Weight Watchers so I could save the extra money every month.  We were house hunting each and every night and weekend, so I stopped meeting friends at the gym and taking classes on my own.  I wasn't happy with my current living situation (living with my parents) so I stopped going home to eat dinner with them and turned to fast food instead.  

Just before all of this, I had bought myself a Wii and my boyfriend had bought me the Wii Fit as a gift.  I apparently set it all up and tested it out a few times, and I will tell you why.  

Fast forward nine months.  We finally moved into our first home.  A two bedroom, one and half bath condo in a gated community and a perfect little yard for me to kill plants in.  It took us nine months and about 30 written offers to find this place, nearly another two months in escrow, and a month of superficial overhaul before we could move in.  Yah, if you did the math, it was nearly an entire year long process.  We started looking for houses in April 2009, we moved into our first home on March 25th, 2010.  


Then we had to put a LOT more work into the house.  

First, we tore apart the kitchen and we lived out of a closet.  Yup, Mike's dorm fridge and a box of pantry items.  Needless to say, we ate out a lot.  

Then we spent our evenings doing things like installing shower curtains (me, not pictured) and new shower heads (courtesy of Big Mike).  

And eventually what you see here, finally became a kitchen again, and someday I'll post pictures of it, but for now, just trust me.  It's better than the crap you see here.  

During that time, I had packed my Wii and Wii Fit away and had forgotten about it.  What a waste of money!  Nearly two years after we moved in, I got it out again, fired it up, stepped on, and it informed me that I had not only neglected it for about 1000 days, I had gained 15 pounds and was now considered obese.  

Thanks Wii, you're telling me like it is.  

The sad part was that I had already lost over fifteen pounds on this round of Weight Watchers before I stepped on the dang thing!  

Then what did my Wii do?  It made my stupid freaking little brown haired avatar on the screen bloat up like a balloon.  A big fat balloon.  

That was horrible.  I felt fat.  My avatar was fat.  At that point I wanted to throw it out the window.  

But I didn't.  I got on it.  I did 10 minutes of advanced step and 10 minutes of various yoga poses.  I earned 2 Activity Points Plus.  

Then I got off of it, exited the Wii Fit program and turned on my Netflix.  I put a couple of workout DVD's in my queue and decided that I wasn't going to be mad.  

After all, it wasn't my Wii's fault that it had to make my avatar fat, right?  

It was myself for making myself fat.  

There, I said it.  I am going to make friend with my Wii and the Wii Fit.  

Anyone have any other suggestions on Wii titles I can use to burn off this pudge?  After all, I wouldn't want that poor little cartoon girl on the screen to stay fat forever.  She deserves a happy, healthy, skinny life and so do I.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

first impressions: bike nashbar & exustar cycling shoes

I guess you could call this a review, a double review.  Heck, I'll throw in a few more mentions and shout outs for a few more things also.  

When I first started spin classes at Pedal Spin (see my review here) I was told you don't need any special equipment, and they were absolutely correct.  You can spin in regular workout gear and normal exercise shoes.  As I continued to spin, I added a few pieces of gear to my workout.  

First off, after my sorority sister Kelly told me "my lady parts were going to fall asleep", I purchased a pair of Novara padded under garments from REI for about $25.  Boy, was that darn Kelly right!  My lady parts fell asleep a couple of times and were sore a little bit after class.  That is extremely uncomfortable!  Those little pads made a world of difference!  

Next up, I started using my old Nike Triax watch and band to monitor my heart rate.  I looked up my suggested maximum heart rate and started seeing how long I could push myself to get up to between 80% and 90% of this.  As time progressed, I started pushing myself to stay between 85% and 95% of this for nearly my entire spin class.  It was a blast!  My heart rate recovery time improved drastically as well, and watching this all happen in a short period of time was extremely motivating.  

I had been spinning two times per week for eight weeks when I finally decided to take the plunge and buy myself some clip in cycling shoes.  The defining moment came when I asked my favorite instructor, Cheryl, what I could do about my toes falling asleep during spin classes.  She assured me this was normal, but that some sturdy cycling shoes might help.  Then she directed me to Bike Nashbar, a discount cycling company.  

I love a good discount!  I think this comes from my mother teaching me at an early age to value sales, coupons, and free shipping.  She taught me everything I know about this, and we jokingly say that when she passes we're going to have the words "Wait! I have a coupon" etched onto her head stone.  She loves it, trust me.  

I searched around the site for a while before finally settling in on one pair of Exustar Mountain Shoes for only $20.  That's right, I had looked at $80 shoes, $90 shoes, $100 shoes, etc for a few days before I picked up these bad boys for less than $30 with shipping and tax.  How frugal of me!  

I didn't rush the shipping, because I like to see how long a company takes when they say it might take 7-10 business days.  I ordered on a Monday, I received an email on Tuesday that my order had shipped, and the shoes were in my mail box on Friday.  

I was extremely impressed!  

I took them with me to my spin class the next day where I purchased the Spinning brand clips from my studio for only $15 and they installed them right there for me and showed me how to use them for my class that day.  This was so exciting for me, and I'll tell you why:

I was at a point in my spinning classes where I was pushing myself harder and harder during resistance training.  Unfortunately when you're using normal shoes and the "cage" as they call it, you can really only use the top portion of your legs, or your quadriceps if you want to get technical.  Try as I might, I was really only pushing and could't get the pulling motion correct.  With cycling shoes that clip onto the pedal of the spin bike, I was able to push myself even harder and feel my whole leg working for the entire circle of the pedal.  It was fantastic.  

So there you have it, my review of Bike Nashbar and Exustar cycling shoes.  I hope you'll consider trying one or both of them in the future.  

Please note: Pedal Spin, Bike Nashbar, and Exustar have no idea who I am.  They don't give me money or free goodies to blog about this.  I am only writing this blog so that other people who may have been to shy or timid or didn't know about these things can hear my story and try them out.  Carry on.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

activity review: 30 day shred (level 1)

I know we've all seen it in the stores, most of us know people that have tried it.  Heck, if you're like me, you probably bought it in January of 2011 when Target had all of their workout DVDs on sale, but you only tried it once or twice and gave up.  

That's a fact.  Last year, when I was almost 200 pounds, I tried this DVD.  I didn't make it through the second circuit of level one (there are three circuits in each level).  

I digress.  

Let me introduce this workout properly:  This is a DVD created by Jillian Michaels that uses her "3-2-1" form of exercise.  What this means to you is that in her three levels of workouts on the DVD, she cycles through three minutes of  strength training, two minutes of cardio exercises, and one minute of abdominal work.  You complete this six minute cycle three times for a total of 18 minutes, combined with a 3 minute warm up and a 3 minute cool down.  Twenty four minutes total.  

Like I mentioned, I had picked it up last year when Target placed all of their workout gear on sale in January.  Check for it here.  I picked it up for $10 if I remember correctly, and I tried it twice last year and gave up both times. That's right, I stopped less than half way through the workout.  I was a fat ass.  Not only was I almost 200 pounds, I wasn't in any sort of shape at all.  Well, that's not true I guess.  Round is technically a shape.  

After seven weeks of walking and spin classes twice a week, I went back to it.  And I did it!  That's right, I kicked level one in the pants!  

Well not really, but the nice thing is that there is a modified beginner version for most of the exercises.  I can do this level a few more times and improve before I move up to level 2.  That will be a separate review.  

A few of the things you can expect from this DVD are: jumping jacks, jumping rope, squats, light weight arm curls and rows, and crunch abdominal exercises.  

The pro's: 
It's less than thirty minutes!  This is great if I need to get in a bit of activity before work.  
The pace is rather quick, meaning you don't do any exercise for more than one minute.  This keeps you from (a) giving up, (b) getting bored, or (c) getting really exhausted from one single thing.
You only use hand weights and a mat (optional) in this level, and in reality you don't even need the hand weights.  It's completely feasible to use cans or water bottles for the exact same results.  
There are two instructors in the rear of the studio showing you beginners and advanced modifications for most of the exercises.  

The con's:
I'm not exactly a huge Jillian Michaels fan.  I can't explain it, I just get irritated by her every once in a while.  
There aren't really moments to grab a drink of water.  I understand it's only 30 minutes, but I appreciate a brief chatty moment in an exercise DVD so I can slurp some H2O.  
Push up's.  There, I said it.  I hate push up's.  Always have, always will.  There are two sets of push ups in the beginning of circuit 1.  I did them, I lived.  They just bug me for some odd reason.  

So there you have it, take what you will from my review.  I'm going to attack level 1 a few more times and I'll review levels 2 and 3 when I get to them.  For the time being, I rated myself between a medium and a high level of intensity for the workout, so that's somewhere between 3 and 6 Activity Points Plus for me.  It's up to you what you call it for yourself.  

Also worth mentioning is that a friend of mine recommended Collage Video to me a while ago, and while I haven't ordered anything from them as of yet, I know they have this DVD.  Click here for price and availability. They also have a place for you to view part of the DVD to see if you like it.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

what motivates you?

A friend of mine told me a few days ago that this song motivates her:

Okay, that's all fine and dandy for motivational music I suppose.  However, I'm more the type that needs my music to kick me in the butt every once in a while.  When I need a little motivational music, I turn to some pretty wacky things:  

I am a sucker for a catchy guitar riff, a sassy rap verse, and an ass kicking chorus!  

Do you look for quotes or witty posters?  

Or how about celebrity bodies?  

I know, you're more of the "I did it!" version of a celebrity fan, right?  

Well, I find it in the strangest of places and in my every day life.  

I am a compliment whore, a fisher of good words if you will.  I love to hear people notice my weight loss, or my new hair cut.  I love to hear them say quietly (as if I'm hiding it), "You've lost weight, haven't you?"  To which I usually reply, "Yup, and I'm still losing more!"  and I thank them and walk away.  

Don't get me wrong, I need a lot of motivation along the way.  A. LOT.  

So I look to a couple of down to earth ladies for it:  

and Ms. Krystle "Skinny Jeans"

Don't pout, I also draw motivation from those close to me.  I've mentioned before that my mom goes to meetings with me.  She motivates me a lot to keep attending Weight Watchers meetings and not to give up on tracking or trying new recipes.  We cook for each other and swap the recipes.  I'll try out recipes on Mike and share them with her for my dad and vice versa.  We're a team.  A chubby team.  

I also keep this picture on my wall in my house.  

I was a bit of a baby at the time, I think I was just about to turn 21.  My best friend and I were at a casino night fundraiser and we were total babes if you ask me.  Fit, fun, and fabulous.  

Now she's still pretty fit, fun, and fabulous.  I, on the other hand, well I'm just pretty fun and fabulous some of the time.  But I'm sure working on the fit part!  

Oh, by the way that Banana Republic black dress is still in my closet.  It's a huge non scale goal of mine to fit into it one of these days!  That is a blog post for another day!  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

recipe review: cherry cheesecakes

I made these a few weekends ago for a potluck and they were a hit!  No one realized they had come from Weight Watchers, and they gobbled them up.  The only thing that was a bigger hit was my Chocolate Chip Cookies, but they're 3 Points Plus per cookie, and simply not as filling or satisfying as these mini cheesecakes.  

I highly recommend that you make these for your next family gathering, office party, or just for you and your friends!  

Cherry Cheesecakes
3 Points Plus
makes 12 servings

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (this is about 1/2 of a sleeve of graham crackers)
2 tbsp of light butter
2/3 cup low fat cream cheese
6 tbsp fat free cream cheese
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup lite pie filling, cherry

Place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; mix well. Spoon 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture into bottom of each liner and press down gently; refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat both types of cream cheese until fluffy. Add lemon juice, egg whites, vanilla extract and sugar; beat until smooth.

Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly into muffin liners; bake until set, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Top each cheesecake with 1 tablespoon cherry pie filling. Yields 1 cheesecake per serving.

You will have extra pie filling, so I put it into a plastic bag, removed the excess air and threw it in the freezer for the next time that I make this.  

I couldn't find light butter or fat free cream cheese, so I had to make due with "full fat" butter and all low fat cream cheese.  This added one Points Plus, bringing the total treat to four Points Plus but to be honest, it was still worth it!  I felt like I was eating something I definitely shouldn't have been, and the egg whites make the treat sort of light and fluffy!  

Monday, March 5, 2012

did you really miss it?

So often when I'm out at a restaurant or maybe at a friend's house for a party, I am faced with food obstacles.  This would be things like beautiful cupcakes, delicious cookies, spinach dip with bread slices, and cheese filled dips and chips.  

We all battle with this, right?  

Good, I thought so.  

In the past, I might start off with a little of each to satisfy my taste buds.  After that, I would say to myself "Well you've already blown it, go ahead."  So I'd go back and fill up a plate and really  blow it.  

Eventually I learned a saying, "The first bite is often as good as the last."  This enabled me to slow down a little bit, not eat as much, and not try to finish off the bowl of french onion dip in front of me.  

Now I ask myself, "Are you really going to miss this?"  

That's right, if I were to avoid eating something would I (a) go home and get on with my life or (b) go home and be sad that I didn't try that cheesecake with the blueberries on it while dreaming of the buffalo chicken dip?  

I usually answer (a). 

Every once in a while, I decide that the food in front of me is so unique that I should try it and I answer (b).  

Perhaps it is something I've never had before.  Maybe it is something from my childhood that I don't know how to cook or don't know where to buy.  Likely, it is an old favorite from my eat anything days.  Even then, I shouldn't be eating.  

So the next time you're faced with this struggle, ask yourself if you're really going to miss the item of food in front of you.  If you can walk away from it for a few minutes, and forget about it, then you should probably just pass.  But remember, Weight Watchers isn't about deprivation, it's about moderation.  Allow yourself a treat every once in a while.  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

recipe review: apple and maple steel cut oatmeal

I am not really into breakfast, but this was a pretty good take on the boring old oatmeal!  Give it a try, I'm sure you will enjoy it, or you can add your own twist on it.  

Apple and Maple Steel Cut Oatmeal
4 servings
3 Points Plus

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1 cup fat free milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon imitation maple flavor

Bring the water and milk to a low boil in a medium saucepan.  

Add sugar, diced apples, and the steel cut oats. Reduce heat to medium-low.  

Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Once the liquid has been absorbed and the oats are tender, stir in the maple flavor.  

Serve in small bowls, or if you're like me then just put it into your favorite tea or coffee cups.  

Now I have to be honest about this recipe, the first time I made this recipe I calculated it out to be only 2 servings at 6 Points Plus per serving.  Then I sat down with a bowl full of it, and I could only eat half of the serving!  So I've adjusted it to four servings, and it's only 3 tasty Points Plus per serving!  

Plus, you can put it into a storage container and reheat it throughout the week!  What a time saver for those of us on the go.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

points bomb: the patty melt incident

How many of us have ever gone into a restaurant, taken a look around the menu, ordered we something we thought was a good idea and then discovered later it was the complete opposite? 

Well, I have. 

In fact, I'll give you an example.  I went to a restaurant a while ago with my boyfriend and decided to try something new.  You see, I usually get the exact same fifteen Points Plus meal every time.  This time, I ordered a patty melt, hold the cheese, hold the 1000 island dressing, please. 

Bread, meat, onions, fries.  How bad could I have been? 

I'll tell you how bad, thirty four Points Plus bad. That's right, 34.  

It was what I like to call a "points bomb" or something that after you've consumed it, has completely demolished all of your points for the day, week, or even year! 

I only consume twenty eight points per day, and at the time of consuming this patty melt, I had about ten of those left.  I was out of my activity points for the week, and I hadn't dipped into my weekly points (thankfully!). 

But in reality, I don't use those forty nine extra points.  They aren't usually nice to me because when I used to use them they all went to beer, wine, and junk.  So now, I stick to the mantra that you can only eat what you've earned.  That's right, I only eat my twenty eight daily points and whatever weekly activity points that I can earn.  I'm crazy like that. 

So there you have it, lesson learned.  Plan ahead, or stick to the things you know won't hurt you.