Monday, April 30, 2012

april foodie pen pals

Last month, I was browsing several food and fitness blogs when I stumbled onto the foodie pen pals page from  Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.  It looked like so much fun that I decided to throw my name into the hat and give it a try!  In only my first month, I am so glad that I chose to do this.  

My first foodie pen pal sender is Bridget from Santa Monica, California.  I found it sort of funny that I was paired with a local girl for my first exchange, but I was lucky enough to get a Wisconsin friend for my first foodie pen pal recipient.  

Bridget and her friend Kadi run a blog called Running Crumbs which is all about running, healthy food, yoga and training.  Just a quick stop at their blog and you'll see that these two ladies are really fun!  The first thing that caught my eye was their outfit choice for the Tinkerbell half marathon at Disneyland, and let me tell you it was a fabulous choice.  

Bridget and I emailed back and forth a bit before it was time to mail off the packages, and she was an absolute joy.  I thought it would be harder for her to shop for me because I told her that I was a Weight Watcher, but in all honesty I realize now that she had no problems.  In fact, her package was Perfect with a capital P!  

She sent the package on a Friday, and it was in my mailbox the very next day.  I couldn't have been more impressed with the post office.  Here's my first peek:

Right off the bat I can see two of my favorite things on the right hand side of the photo: a dark chocolate bar and reduced fat brownie mix from Trader Joe's.  For those of you that don't live near a Trader Joe's, find someone that does and beg them to start sending you treats!  I happen to work next door to Trader Joe's headquarters and I run into several of the employees at the gym and local food spots around town.  They are always polite and friendly, and my experience in the stores and with the products is fantastic.  

Here's a close up of the smaller items, in the front row are single servings of peanut butter, cashew butter, and honey almond butter as well as two fruit and veggie strips that are loaded with fiber.  

I have a confession: I've never tried anything but peanut butter and even though I've seen those fiberful strips at Trader Joe's, I've never tried them either!  

Next up I spied Pumpkin Flax Granola (I love granola!) and in the rear was a bag of treats for my little girl, Maddie.  

I have to stop here and point out that Bridget was so kind to have included my dog in this package and it really goes to show you that there are still genuinely interested people in this world.  This little treat made my day (and Maddie's day, too!).  

Front and center here is something that I've never even heard of before: Seasoned and Roasted Seaweed.  

I love trying new things, so I can't wait to dig in to this stuff!  

And I know I already mentioned the chocolate and brownie mix, but also included was a box of Italian style Quinoa.  

Okay, another confession: I stare at quinoa in the grocery store all the time, but I'm too chicken to buy it!  I am so glad Bridget included a box in my package so that I have no excuse any more.  I am going to try quinoa!  

Funny story about the brownie mix: I was at Trader Joe's just last week buying supplies and treats for my Wisconsin foodie pen pal.  I have a couple of "must have" items every time I stop in to Trader Joe's and I have them pictured below.  

The white bag on the right are sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), cookie butter, Better than Peanut Butter, ginger thins, and (drum roll please) reduced fat brownie mix!  Not in this picture is my favorite yogurt in the world: Trader Joe's fat free Greek style vanilla yogurt.  Of course it isn't in the picture, it is in the fridge!  

And for those of you Weight Watchers out there, I did the first thing you should always do when you bring home new groceries: I got out my calculator and my permanent marker and I wrote all the points values on the packages.  In case you were wondering, here is the break down:

Pumpkin Flax Granola
3/4 cup = 7 Points Plus
1/4 cup = 2 Points Plus
Roasted Seaweed
entire package = 1 Point Plus
Fiberful bar
1 bar = 1 Point Plus
Peanut Butter
entire package = 6 Points Plus
Cashew Butter and Honey Almond Butter
entire package = 5 Points Plus
Swiss 72% Dark Chocolate
4 squares = 6 Points Plus
2 squares = 3 Points Plus
Italian style Quinoa
1/4 pacakge = 7 Points Plus

But I saved the best for last.  You see, I make the Trader Joe's Brownies enough to know a couple of tricks.  First of all, you only need a small container of yogurt in order to make these bad boys.  I happen to prefer the nonfat Greek style vanilla yogurt from Trader Joe's because it boosts the protein without losing any flavor or moisture in the brownie.  Next up, I don't make them in a bar pan or Pyrex, I make them in a mini muffin tin.  One box of mix plus 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt is enough for 24 mini muffin sized brownies.  That is plenty for me!  

Once you've got them baked and cooled, store them in an airtight container for about a week or freeze them  for up to about six months.  One brownie bite is 2 Points Plus, but you can eat two brownie bites for 3 Points Plus.  They are a great treat!  

So there you have it folks, my first experience as a foodie pen pal.  I can't wait to do it again!  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

the "F" word

No, not that one!  Get your mind out of the no-no's. 

I'm talking about the word forgiveness.  I struggle with forgiving myself and moving on.  I struggle with it a lot. 

I can forgive just about anyone in my life for any harm or hurt that they've caused me, but I simply can not forgive myself for a single thing.  I think this is a very hard post for me to write, because it is an admission of a large problem in my life.  I am harder on myself than anyone else is. 

I have been this way forever.  As long as I can remember, I have always been extremely hard on myself.  In elementary school, I received a "B" on a test and I actually began crying and hyperventilating.  I had such a problem breathing that they actually had to call my mother to come take me to the doctor, where I was given medicine to calm me down.  I was sedated for getting a "B." 

This behavior continued as I got older.  When I was offered the opportunity to accelerate into a grade higher than I was in, I took it.  My parents didn't make me, I did it by choice.  I went from the fourth grade one year, into the sixth grade the next year. 

In junior high school, I was offered the opportunity to begin taking my high school level math classes, and I took it.  Not only that, I began working as an after school tutor in these math classes.  I was supposed to be in the seventh grade, but I was in the eighth grade, and I was tutoring people in the eleventh grade.  Yah, it was really odd.  I was an odd child. 

I won't get into all of the social ramifications of my decisions, such as being a seventeen year old college freshman in a world of fraternity parties and crazy behavior.  I'll simply tell you that it had some extremely awkward moments, and I survived them. 

Eventually, in college I learned to slow down.  Instead of graduating in four years and being a twenty year old with a college degree, I slowed down.  I worked on campus, I took classes that were fun and had nothing to do with my major, and instead of graduating at twenty one years old, I took an extra quarter of fun classes and graduated at twenty two years old like a normal person. 

Now, I see this behavior slowly start to creep up on me again.  I'm negatively pressuring myself, and I need to stop. 

If I have a bad meal, I feel helpless and anxious.  I do one of two things: I stop eating for the day or I go off the deep end and binge.  Neither of these are healthy behaviors, and it is through tracking everything that I've come to discover that I'm doing this. 

If I have a bad couple of days, I feel myself slipping into a sort of anxious depression.  "What is the scale going to say?"  "Why don't I skip my weigh in this week?"  "What is wrong with me?" 

After a couple of weeks in a plateau, all hell breaks loose in my head and I find myself (figuratively) beating myself up.  I start depriving myself of things because I think that is the reason that I've not been losing weight.  Then after a few days of deprivation, I rebel and I eat way too much. 

Lately, I've been working really hard to forgive myself.  I'm not going make it through this journey if I don't learn how to do it.  I need to allow myself a bad meal, forgive myself and move on.  I need to be alright with the fact that I might have a few days of a "hearty appetite" and simply track it and get over it.  I need to see a plateau for what it is: temporary.

This is what I'm trying to do, this is my daily struggle.  I'm not fighting the scale.  I'm not beating up the food.  I'm not battling exercise.  My own dilemna is within my own head. 

And that, my friends, is what sucks the most. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

activity review: bob harper's pure burn super strength (beginner workout)

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll already know that I talked about a big dvd sale that happened at Bob Harper's website a few weeks ago.  Every dvd was on sale for only $5!  At the time of writing this blog, the sale was still going on so you might want to go look!  

In truth, fellow Southern California gal @reducedfatgirl had mentioned Bob's Kettlebell dvd a couple of times and I had already decided that I'd pick it up at Target on my next visit.  I'm glad I waited!  $5 instead of $19.99 is way better!  

So here's what I bought:

I know that when I bought these that they were probably selling them off for $5 so they could introduce Bob's new line of dvds and sell them for a much higher price.  Did I care?  Not at all.  A workout is still a workout, even if it's last season's workout.  

I should warn you, I don't watch The Biggest Loser so I don't know much about Bob or his training tactics.  I simply know that the Fit Bottomed Girls love him, and I think they're pretty rad.  Also, I'm trying to build up some home gym options, so I bought these dvds.  

Plus, with a body like that he must be doing something right.  Right?  

So here are my thoughts about Bob Harper's Pure Burn Super Strength dvd:  

The first thing you should know about this dvd is that there are two very different workouts: a full blown 60 minute workout and a 20 minute beginner's or express workout.  I had done the Lady Gaga workout the previous day, and I had my weekly 90 minute spin class with Cheryl the following day, so I thought I'd start with the beginner's workout and keep it easy.  

First thoughts: there is a timer in the bottom right portion of the screen (love) that also gives you the name of the exercise that you are currently doing (double love).  I found that I wasn't looking at my watch to check the minutes or scratching my head when I didn't hear what Bob was telling me what exercise to do.  

The way that the dvd is shot is very different than most dvds that I've tried, but I really liked it.  It is a moving camera and when they introduce a new move, the camera focuses on important parts of the models bodies so you can see details.  Also, there is a freeze frame technique that they use to snapshot a couple of the moves so that you can see the starting move and the ending move of each exercise.  This was pretty helpful, even though the moves were pretty basic.  

With that being said, the dvd is pretty basic.  A couple of stretches, some squats, bicep & tricep exercises, lunges, lateral exercises, push ups, planks, and crunches.  That pretty much sums it up.  The guidance was good, Bob was encouraging and not at all mean (I don't like mean instructors).  He definitely pointed out problem areas or techniques to avoid, as well as providing easy/moderate/difficult options.  

I was a bit disappointed at the end of the workout because there was only a 2 stretch cool down.  I like to really stretch and push my body just after a workout because the muscles are warm and very receptive.  I felt as if the way that they kept the workout under 30 minutes was to (a) skip all cardio moves and (b) cut the end of the workout off.  

With that being said, if I'm ever in a crunch I could definitely see myself grabbing a couple of dumbbells and running through this workout.  It's simple, it's basic, and it's complete.  I felt as if it hit all my major muscle groups rather equally, and by increasing my dumbbell size, I could continue using this workout for a long time.  You can start with no weight and move up to large dumbbells if you wanted to, there really isn't a limit to your skill level.  

It was 20 minutes and my Polar told me that I burned about 150 calories.  Not too shabby.  It definitely wasn't a cardio workout, but I felt pretty good after I had completed it.  

So there you have it.  Keep an eye out on my blog for my reviews of the 60 minute workout that's also on this dvd, as well as the other three dvds that I bought!  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"i can't get all the oil out of the tuna"

Every once in a while, something you over hear in a meeting room or read online hits you, and when it does it hits you HARD. 

This happened to me a couple of weeks ago in my meeting room.  We were discussing the upcoming Easter dinners and the struggles that we might encounter, and one of our beloved members, Stephanie, raised her hand with a comment. 

Back story on this woman: She's fabulous in every sense of the word.  She's honest.  She's a New Yorker, and she owns the accent (which I love).  She's funny.  She's open like a book.  I truly am grateful that she's in my meeting. 

So as we discussed all of the problems we might face (hard boiled eggs, chocolates, honey ham, etc), Stephanie pipes up with this amazing note.  She said, "When I joined Weight Watchers for the first time 40 years ago, we had to eat a lot of tuna on the plan and they didn't make water packed tuna, only oil packed.  One woman actually said in the meeting that she wasn't losing any weight because she couldn't squeeze all of the oil out of the tuna!"  

I sat there in sort of a stupor for a moment as I took this in, it didn't seem incredibly far fetched for me, but then Stephanie pointed out the obvious: It isn't one little thing like oil in our lives that prevents us from losing weight


This is the absolute truth. 

It isn't Easter that prevents me from losing weight.  It isn't Christmas or Thanksgiving either!  Now I'm a mathematical person, so bear with me.  If you counted up all of the holidays and birthdays that my family and I celebrate, that means that we celebrate less than 5% of the total year. 

It is the other 95% of the time that is my downfall! 

Skinny people celebrate holidays.  Skinny people celebrate birthdays.  Skinny people indulge. 

But not all the time. 

It isn't necessarily the holidays or celebations that I need to watch out for, it's the rest of the time.  It's the lazy day when I grab pizza.  It's the night I skipped my workout to have some adult beverages with friends.  It's the day I said I'd have two beers, but I never outlined how big that they'd be. 

If I can cut down on those moments of weakness, I will become stronger in the long run. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

yah, that just happened

At several points in my life, I've tried to lose weight.  It's no secret.  I was never the skinny girl growing up, but I stayed as active as I could.  I started gaining weight after high school and started college as a size 13, then I did a doctor monitored weigth loss plan with my mom and went down to a size 7.  After bouncing around and discovering that I really loved beer when I turned 21, I graduated college as a size 13 again. 

Just after college, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time.  I started out around 180 pounds and while I entered into the 160's and started getting fit, I quit before I even hit my 10% goal. 

But before I quit, I started going to the gym again.  I was getting fit and trim, trying out new classes, and even buying myself a couple of personal training sessions!  I was enjoying myself, until a couple of key things happened: 

First, I had a bad encounter at a spin class.  I won't tell you what gym, and I don't remember the instructor's name, but I will share the horror I encountered.  I had lost a bit of weight and I decided to try out my very first spin class.  I was trying to get set up on the bike, the class was extremely full, and the instructor was too busy chatting and setting up his bike for me to get a chance to talk to him.  Believe me, I tried. 

The class started and I began to get my butt kicked.  At one point, I leaned forward and rested my elbows on the handlebars of the spin bike.  I basically doubled over onto the bike in pain.  What happened next was inexcusable and nearly made me cry. 

The instructor turned everyone's attention to me and pointed out my horrible form!  I was mortified.  I was in pain.  I was over it. 

I finished the class, packed up my gear, and didn't try another spin class again for nearly five years. 

If I could find that man today, I'd shove my spin shoe up his ass. 

My next bad experience happened at a different gym where I had purchased five personal training sessions.  I met with my trainer and we worked out once a week for four weeks.  I liked her.  She was a college student, not much younger than me, but knowledgeable and compassionate.  We really got along. 

On the fifth session, when I should be talking about buying more time, I was shocked to find that my trainer was being replaced with a different one.  Why?  Because she didn't have as many clients as my previous trainer and it wasn't fair. 

I was too meek or inexperienced to call bullshit and ask for a manager, and so I continued on with the session.  At the end of the session, she asked me if I'd like to continue trainer with her and purchase more sessions.  I politely said no, I walked out of the gym, and I've never had a personal trainer since then. 

Actually, I've met with one recently and I believe I'm ready to try it again.  This time it will be on my terms, though.  This trainer isn't affiliated with a particular gym.  This trainer isn't a young, stupid, commission based girl.  This trainer is seasoned, a veteran, compassionate, gorgeous, humble, kind, and strong.  Really strong. 

My point with those two stories is this: I'm to blame for getting de-railed on this journey.  I had two bad things happen to me and before you know it, I hated everything about the gym.  I hated classes, I hated trainers, I hated meat heads, I hated Barbie dolls, etc. 

But just because I didn't have to stop, doesn't mean that I'm not going to be hard on fitness professionals right now.  Trainers, instructors, gym managers, I am talking you

It takes a lot of guts for an overweight or obese person to walk into the gym, so you'd better f*cking be polite, alright?  The last thing we want to hear or feel is that you don't want to be there with us.  You think we want to be there?  No, we'd rather be at home in our trusty hole covered yoga pants while eating an entire cheese pizza.  We slid our asses into spandex and showed up, so shut the f*ck up.  I've never once in my life heard a cheese pizza say that it would have to cancel our date because it had something else to do and yoga pants don't judge. 

You're bending us over with fees every month because we might not have the upfront money or simply just the space to house all of the equipment, so try to keep the equipment in good shape for us, would ya?  Nothing is worse than trying to figure out how to work out on a machine that is (a) dirty or (b) broken.  I simply cannot wait for the day that I try to use a machine at the gym, only to find out that something on it is broken as it catapults me out of the seat in front of a bunch of other gym goers.  That's going to be awesome. 

The simple act of hiring a personal trainer is a (giant neon Vegas style) signal to you that we are admitting that we have a problem and we need help, so could you do us a decent human kindness and not act like such a cocky bad ass when you're training us?  We know you look good, that's part of the reason we hired you.  Now stop cock walking down the row of weights and help us look good too. 

We are doing all of these things to better our lives.  We're doing them to increase our health.  We're doing them to feel better about ourselves.  The best thing for you to do is realize that we might just be a sinking ship, and your words are actions might sink us or sail us home.  Trust us, if we are successfull, then you will be successfull too.  What is better advertising than a skinny bitch running around telling everyone that you helped them get that skinny?  Nothing is better.  Nothing. 

So in your face gym industry. 

By the way, this blog was inspired by @CaitPlusAte's guest blog here:  The Role of a Personal Trainer

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

final results: monica's birthday challenge

Back in February, one of my Twitter friends decided to host a challenge on her blog.  I've never participated in one of these challenges, so I decided I'd try it out.  

The challenge was in honor of her friend, Monica.  Monica's birthday is April 26th, one day after my father's birthday.  It was to be an eight week challenge (week 0 through 7), and the winner would receive an amazing prize package courtesy of Dacia, the hostess.  

All I had to do was lose weight.  I wasn't even worried about winning, I just wanted to lose weight.  

Here are my results:  

Week 1
Down 0.5 pounds
Down 0.27%

Week 2
Down a total of 2.2 pounds
Down 1.19%

Week 3
Down a total of 3.8 pounds
Down 2.08%

Week 4
Down a total of 3.8 pounds
Down 2.08%

Week 5
Down a total of 3.7 pounds
Down 2.04%

Week 6
Down a total of 4 pounds
Down 2.21%

Week 7
Down a total of 5.8 pounds
Down 3.20%

I know for a fact that I didn't win because during week 6 of the challenge one of our participants was down over 8%.  Eight freaking percent!  That's awesome!  Well, not for me I guess, but still awesome for that person!

To be completely honest, I'm so glad that I chose to do this.  It was constantly in the back of my head, silently motivating me and inspiring me to keep making little changes on my journey.  In a total of eight weeks, I lost nearly six pounds and that was a fairly steady decline for me.  I was proud of the fact that I finished strong and I kept going.  I feel great!

So keep an eye out for a possible challenge coming on my blog!  I like the idea so much that I think I'd really like to host one!

Monday, April 16, 2012

activity review: lady gaga - take 2

In March I posted a review of the Lady Gaga workout from Glamour magazine.  It was a great workout, and like I mentioned, I was done in 22 minutes.  

Well I liked it so much that I did it again, this time my body was being cranky so I added an extra song and an extra circuit.  Sometimes, when my body is bloated or feels icky, adding an extra workout perks me up.  If you think I'm nuts, your probably right.  

(Please don't read that incorrectly, I don't make myself workout when I'm in pain or sore.  I listen to my body.)

Songs #1-#4 stayed the same from my previous workout.  

Song #5
Won't Back Down (featuring Pink) by Eminem (4:26)

I dare you not to feel tough when you listen to this song.  Come on, Pink is freaking awesome.  
I started with 30 tricep kick backs.

Then I went into 30 glute extensions per side.

And finally I did two 30 second planks with a 15 second break in the middle.  I'm lame, I know.  

I still ended with The Last Song by The All American Rejects and kept it to about three minutes of cardio and two minutes of cool down and stretching.  

The whole thing took about 29 minutes for me to complete, and my Polar told me that I burned over 300 calories.  I plugged this into the activity calculator for a total of 6 activity points, but I know that if you're doing the math conversion (80 calories burned = 1 activity point) then I would have only gotten about 4 activity points.  

It's totally up to you, but as for me, I'm putting it in as 6.  Last week I ate every single activity point that I earned.  It was a bad week, I doubt I'll do that again.  

I hope I don't do that again.

Once again, this is a great way to do some circuit training in your own living room.  All I use is my iTunes, a towel, water bottle, and a set of hand weights.  This. Is. Simple.

I like simple.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

top 10 life lessons that i've learned in spin class

I was pedaling away in spin class the other day when I realized that a lot of things that I've learned in spin class can be applied to my every day life.  I have to share these with you!  

10.  Every once in a while, you need to sit back down and have a drink (of water).
So often in life and in spin class I forget that I can just take a moment for myself, and it is something I struggle with daily.  I remind myself to take a moment at work for an apple or a quick walk.  I remind myself at home that I'm not alone and I can ask for help.  I remind myself that when I can't breathe at spin class, that I should sit down and have a sip of water.  

Speaking of water, I picked up a great new water bottle the other day at a cycling store.  
It doesn't hurt that it's name is the same as one of my mother's favorite movies.  Honestly I like it because it keeps the water cooler for an entire spin class and it's really easy to drink from.  I don't have to remove my water bottle top every stinking time I want a drink now.  

9.  The right music can change everything.  
I'm a music lover, it's how I was raised and I truly love the way it makes me feel.  I can play a record from ten years ago or ten seconds ago and I can still remember how I felt the first time I heard it.  I love that in spin class and in life, I can hear a song and it can push me up a hill that I've been too scared to face.  (I dare you not to feel tough with this one!)

8.  Just because everyone around you is standing up and huffing and puffing, doesn't mean you have to stand up to do it.  
Some times in spin class, I take a quick peek around and realize that although the instructor has told us to stand up and peddle in position 3, I'd like to sit down and push myself harder in a seated position.  I don't do it a lot, but sometimes I enjoy the heat and the burn in the tops of my legs when I leave my resistance set really high and push myself in this way.  The same rings true for life.  You don't have to face every hill exactly like the people around you, you can face it any way that you'd like.  

7.  The right gear or tools make all the difference in the world.  
Oh man, never have more true words been spoken.  From the padded shorts and spin shoes to the new heart rate monitor (that I haven't reviewed yet), the tools really make the ride better for me.  Look around yourself, what do you think you need to make your life (or ride) easier?  

6.  Whatever you do, don't stop pedaling.
I don't know if you've ever had this happen to you in spin class, but I've done it a handful of times and it sucks: There you are at a heavy resistance and the song winds down, so you slow down to get your water and towel off your face but you don't realize that you've slowed to a complete stop.  Now you look like an idiot because you're making that horrible face as you push your legs to try to start the bike pedaling again, and finally you give in and take off the resistance and stand up so you can get moving.  

Really, it's true.  Don't stop moving.  If you stop, you've lost your power and momentum and it's a b*tch to get it back.  So follow Dory's advice.  

5.  When the ride gets extremely hard, sometimes you have to stand up and get some momentum.
The same is true in life, you could sit down and make it through most of the drama it's going to throw your way but every now and then you just have to stand up and power through it.  

4.  Some things in life are worth sweating for.
No, really.  It seems so simple, but so forgettable.  Aren't you worth a little sweat?  You sweat taking care of other people in your life, so why not yourself?  I struggle with taking a couple of hours out of my schedule every week so I can sweat, but I feel so much better after I do.  The final out come and the endorphins are well worth the pain of a sweat filled work out.  

3.  There is something about overcoming obstacles that inspires and strengthens friendship.
I look around during and after a spin class, and I see nothing but friends.  These people have cheered me on, yelled for me to work harder, and high fived me at the end of a tough workout.  The same is true for my non-spin friends, and I appreciate all of the support these people give no matter where they give it.  

2.  If you don't love what you do, you'll eventually stop doing it.
If I didn't love spin classes, I wouldn't buy 20 classes at a time.  If I didn't love science, I wouldn't be a chemist.  If I didn't love losing weight while still eating what I want, I wouldn't be a Weight Watcher.  This seems simple enough, but too many times I've tried to force myself into doing something that I didn't love.  I don't love all protein diets.  I don't love to run.  I don't love laundry.  

Well, I guess I can skip everything but the laundry part.  

1.  Ride your own ride.  
Man, I love this saying.  I say it all the time!  At work, I say it when people start complaining about how other people do their job.  With my friends, I say it when I see people trying to tell my ladies how to live their life.  In spin class, I say it to myself when I start to have self doubt.  I'm on my bike, I'm in my shoes, I'm in my own head.  I have to know myself and push myself accordingly.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

recipe review: grilled beef taglaita, rucola, and parmigiano-reggiano with aged balsamico condimento

I face a lot of challenges when cooking, and one of the biggest ones is finding things that my boyfriend eats happily and I can enjoy without blowing all of my points.  I'm always on the lookout for recipes that fit this criteria!  

One of my favorite parts of being a Weight Watchers is that I can eat just about anything that I'd like.  One of my second favorite things about being a Weight Watcher is the online tool called the Recipe Builder.  Both of these statements are part of the recipe that I'm about to share with you.  

I've shared a recipe from the Mozza cookbook before, but it was extremely basic.  You can read it here.  

This is a new recipe, but don't let the fancy name fool you!  It's just a really amazing and marinated skirt steak.  Simple, easy, and probably one of the most delicious things I've eating in a long time.  

Is there a word stronger than delicious?  Scrumptious?  Amazing?  Delectable?  Yah, those.  

Grilled Beef Tagliata, rucola, and Parmigiano-reggiano with aged Balsamico Condimento
about 1 cup of salad and 3 ounces of meat per serving
serves 8
8 Points Plus

For the salad dressing:
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/2 extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Start the day before with your prep work, it's really simple!  For the salad dressing, combine the shallots, lemon juice, and vinegar in a bowl and allow them to sit and marry for about five minutes.  Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste.  This salad dressing lasts about three days according to the book, but I've used it for up to a week after making it and I love it!  

For the steak marinade:
2 pounds trimmed skirt steak
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves or needles
8 whole garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In your food processor, combine the vinegar, rosemary, and garlic.  Pulse until rosemary is finely chopped, then add in the olive oil and pulse until everything is combined well.  After you've made sure that the steak is trimmed and the "silver skin" has been removed, you can put the steak into a covered shallow dish or a plastic zippered bag with the marinade.  Allow this to sit overnight in the refrigerator (recipe says one hour minimum).  

For the assembly:
4 ounces freshly shaved parmigiano regiano
8 cups of fresh arugula
the salad dressing you made a few days ago
salt and pepper
aged balsamico condimento (this stuff is delicious and syrup-like)

Bring the steak out of the fridge and to room temperature.  Heat up an indoor grill pan or outdoor barbeque to high heat.  Remove the steaks from the marinade and throw the marinade away.  Salt and pepper the meat well and place it on the grill to sear it.  About 5-6 minutes per side should give you a medium-rare steak, but it all depends on the thickness as well.  Place the steaks on a cutting board to rest while you assemble the salad.  

For the salad, begin by shaving the parmigiano regiano if you haven't already.  You can use a mandoline if you have one, or just use a vegetable peeler if you're like me!  Toss the arugula with the salad dressing that you've made (about 8 tablespoons of it, which is about all of it) and assemble the salad dressing stacked with the parmigiano.  

Slice the steaks diagonally against the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices and use the knife to slide the steak slices onto the plate in a fan like arrangement next to the arugula salad.  Drizzle the steaks with the balsamico condimento and serve.  

Here's a snapshot from the cookbook:

By the way, this is an amazingly great recipe for cold leftovers!  If you'd like to have it later in the week as a salad, just make sure that you don't dress all of the arugula with the dressing.  Then, throw the arugula and steak into a travel container and when you're ready to eat it it, toss everything with the vinaigrette and enjoy!  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

i'm talkin' to myself over here

A few weeks back, the meeting topic was positive self talk  I think my leader, Scott, had it right when he said "I am never going to look down at the scale, see that I've gained weight, and tell myself that it's a good thing."  

Boy, ain't that the truth.  

So the meeting started to shift it's direction at that point, and it went from a bit of a tense subject (what I really think when the scale goes up) to a great big happy celebration.  

One member had gained weight that week, but she didn't care because she had one hell of a non scale victory: Early in the week, she had gone to see her doctor and had an amazing report.  No more high blood pressure.  No more high cholesterol.  No more medications.  

Now, I'm not an emotional person like my mother, however I definitely got teary eyed at this accomplishment.  

Then the conversation shifted even more with the question, "What do you tell yourself when you aren't happy with the scale, the way you feel, your appearance, etc?"  The truth is, I start to slip and slide at that moment and I eat anything and everything in my path.  I don't have a sweet tooth, but I start cruising for cookies and candy.  I may have just eaten lunch, but I want something more.  

Then I spiral out of control and wake up the next morning with a stomach ache and one heck of a guilt cloud over my head.  

But one of our members said something absolutely brilliant (and so logical that I'm embarrassed I've never thought of it myself!).  She said that if a friend had come to us and was at a really bad place with their weight loss journey, we would encourage that friend and tell her to stick with it while keeping up the hard work.  One bad day, one bad week, or even one bad month is trivial because this is going to be a long process, and in the grand scheme of things, a few mistakes won't kill us.  She also pointed out that none of us would ever look our upset friend in the eye and simply say, "Well, that's it.  Throw in the towel.  You're never going to be able to do this."  


I would never tell my friend to give up on herself, so why do I let myself do the same thing?  

Why do I have one bad meal and let it slide into a horrific day of binge eating and skip tracking?  

Why do I have two bad days and quit tracking for the rest of the week?  

Why do feel absolutely horrible for having to miss a work out?  

Why do I skip tracking something bad that I ate when I'm the only one that ever sees my tracker?  

Why does it seem like I don't love myself enough to be honest with myself and admit my mistakes?  

As you see, the list could go on and on.  I'll stop there.  But I'll leave you with this photo that proves that some weeks, the number on the scale doesn't mean much.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"do you mind sharing?"

At the end of each of our Weight Watchers meetings, we have our celebrations, as I'm sure you all do.  We celebrate our victories both on the scale and off, and my leader is pretty fantastic at making each of the "losers" feel like big winners. 

Scott asks by asking where the honoree is sitting, and follows up with them to make sure it's okay if he shares with everyone what victory we are celebrating today.  I've never heard a person turn Scott down.  I can't even imagine them saying, "No, don't tell everyone how great I'm doing."  It seems silly to me, but he asks us all nevertheless. 

After he shares their victory and we clap and congratulate them, he asks another question: "Do you mind sharing what is working for you?

Then the fumbling begins. 

The number one answer each week is TRACKING.  Then the room goes silent and we all nod our heads because we know it works and yet some of us still didn't do it that week. 

Other good answers are ACTIVITY or SUPPORT (a lot of people come in family or co-worker groups), but I feel like a lot of people just say whatever comes to mind at that moment, not really taking the time to think about what really has been working. 

When I had lost over 18 pounds, I realized that I had better start thinking about what I was going to say if Scott ever asked me that question.  You see, my next milestone was going to be a big one: when I saw that scale drop down a few more ounces, I will have lost over 20 pounds and 10% of my body weight.  That's right, I can say that I'm only 90% of the person that I used to be, but 100% improved! 

Then I panicked!  What was actually working for me?  Which aspect of the program was giving me the best results?  Well it wasn't just one thing, I think it was a combination a few things and I had to jot them down so that I'd remember just what they were when I was called upon to celebrate. 

The biggest weight loss aid for me is support.  This can come in many forms, and I've mentioned most of them before but I'll say it again.  My mom and I are Weight Watchers together.  I have a co-worker that is a Weight Watcher.  My boyfriend is very supportive of my choice to change my life.  And finally, Twitter Weight Watchers are incredibly important to my success.  There is an entire network of men and women out there that are Weight Watchers, Lifetime Members, and Weight Watchers Leaders and I rely heavily on their online support each and every single day.  I can talk to them about recipes, points bombs, new products, bad days, good workouts, good health guidelines, and more!  I am so grateful for these Twitter friends, and I'm sure I'll be talking about more and more of them on my blog. 

Next up in my journey was a new mentality I adopted back in December and I'm so glad that I did.  I adopted the mentality that I would try anything once to see if I liked it.  Since adopting this mentality I have had loads of success!  I have discovered things about myself that I would have never known had I shied away from them like I always did!  I tried a spin class and I loved it.  I tried using a heart rate monitor and I loved it.  I tried an alternative for peanut butter suggested to me and I loved it.  Don't get me wrong, there are things I've tried that didn't work for me (ahem, kale chips) but I'm not going to talk too much about them for fear that someone may avoid them because of what I said on my blog.  My advice, try everything one time.  Give it a shot.  At least I know now that my dog loves kale chips. 

Another mental adjustment that has worked for me is my mental reset button.  No, it's not a real thing.  It's just something I have to give myself permission to do so that I can keep on moving and not allow myself to be paralyzed by failure and fear.  Sometimes I have a bad weekend, and I get really upset with myself.  This leads to anger, anger leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to things like stress eating or extra glasses of wine with dinner.  So here's what I do, I forgive myself for that bad breakfast, or the bad day, or the bad weekend that I may have had and I forget about it.  I don't let it turn into a bad week or a bad month.  I nip it in the butt, I wallow for a split second or maybe I just wallow for the thirty or so minutes I'm in my Weight Watchers meeting.  Then I get up and walk away from it.  Done and done. 

So there you have it.  Three things that work for me on this journey so far.  I know there are more, but these are the faithful friends that have kept me sane so far. 

Well that, and the numbers marching slowly down on the scale. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

tip of the day: tell someone!

I don't often walk into a friend or family member's home, plop myself down on the couch and say "I'm on Weight Watchers!"  In fact, I don't tell very many people at all.  It isn't a fad diet.  It isn't something that I'm just doing for a while.  It isn't a fundraising opportunity.  It's my life.  

I'm going to be a Weight Watcher forever.  It's been decided.  I joined for the last time in December 2011 when I weighed 199 pounds, my personal heaviest weight.  I don't often talk about that, and I rarely say a number.  (By the way, thank you to Valerie for asking me questions I used to be afraid to answer!)

So there you have it folks: the truth.  I'm doing my thing at my pace and on my terms.  I don't run marathons.  I don't go to bootcamp at some ungodly hour every morning.  I don't cut out all carbohydrates and beer.  

I exercise when I can and when I want to.  I eat what I should when I want to.  I drink beer.  I eat hamburgers.  I could never give up french fries.  

So why is this post called tell someone! then?  Because I lived in hiding with my new lifestyle for a long time.  I avoided exercising for nearly a year.  I didn't take time for myself to shop the way I wanted to and go to the gym as I saw fit.  I didn't want people to notice the changes, and they didn't.  I lost about 10 pounds in the first 12 months on plan, and it wasn't enough.  I've now lost about 10 pounds in just three months on plan when I did something extraordinary: I started talking about my journey.  

I started small with my family, and do you know what happened?  My mother and aunt both rejoined Weight Watchers with me in a matter of a few months!  It's great!  

Then I talked about it more and more with my boyfriend, to make sure that he knew this didn't mean we could never eat a buffalo wing again.  I took advantage of his overtime at work and joined the beloved spin studio I've mentioned before.  I am very vocal about loving my workouts and my instructors.  He has realized that I'm not really different than I was before, but I usually order off the kid's menu or box up half of my food to take home with me for lunch.  Now for birthdays or anniversaries, he buys me class packages to my favorite gym.  He is incredibly supportive, but in a quiet and behind the scenes sort of way, and I love him all the more for it.  

Lately, as my clothes get more and more loose, I have begun telling a lot more people about my lifestyle.  Now when they ask if I'm losing weight, I smile and I try to say things like "I'm working on it" or "I hope so, thanks for noticing my effort."  It sounds corny, but thanking them for the compliment is a battle in my head.  Then they usually ask how, and I'm honest.  I tell them that I am trying out all sorts of activities and so far I really love spin classes, and of course I tell them that I'm a Weight Watcher.  

This means that I have friends joining Weight Watchers with me and I'm building an incredible support group.  I have co-workers and long lost buddies that are signing up for spin classes with me all the time and I rarely go into a class where I don't know someone.  People call me asking if I would like to walk with them. I text friends that live far away to see if they've tried their new workout dvd's yet.  I trade workout dvd's or plans with my friends all the time.  I am turning into a healthy living machine.  It is a daily part of my life, and I love it.  

Even most of the gifts I received for my birthday last week were healthy living related: class packages for spin classes, a heart rate monitor, cooking classes, new workout pants, and REI gift cards.  People know that this is something that I love and something that I am not going to stop doing anytime soon.  

Recently I had an epiphany, anyone who has known me for longer than six years knows that I've done Weight Watchers once before and I had success.  I feel like I look bad having to come back to Weight Watchers and lose the weight again, like I'm a failure.  But last night it occurred to me  that I didn't have to come back because Weight Watchers didn't work, I had to come back because I didn't work.  I didn't stay on plan back in 2007, but if I did I would probably be a lifetime member right now.  

Weight Watchers only works if you actually stick with it.  I can't just have them automatically deduct the money from my account each month and expect the scale numbers to start dropping.  I can't pay the gym every year and wonder why I don't have a 6-pack.  I can't stock my fridge with healthy food, then go out to eat every night, and tell everyone that my healthy lifestyle isn't working.  

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."

Colin Powell

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

recipe ideas: breakfast bonanza

I should start with some sort of a disclaimer or warning: I dislike breakfast foods.  

I don't like scrambled eggs, eggs over easy, hard boiled eggs, or poached eggs.  

I hate eating bacon, sausage, or big ham steaks.  

Cereal just doesn't fill me up.  

I have never had good luck with the first meal of the day.  Even at my skinniest, I ate a horrible breakfast every single day.  I think I may have told you this before, but I used to have a daily Pop Tart and a Hi-C juice box every day.  Then I graduated to a daily Pop Tart and a diet Pepsi.  Yah, I thought since I got rid of the high sugar juice box and substituted a sugar free drink, I was being "healthy."  

I am an idiot.  

But now that I'm getting into the swing of being on plan, I'm opening up my views on breakfast and forcing myself to find healthy options.  Here comes the hard part: I have to try a lot of different foods that I had long ago decided that I didn't like.  You may not have to do this, but I forced myself to revisit a few things that I had crossed off my list.  Some stayed on my "I don't like that" list, others got a second chance.  

Here are some things I've found that work for me:

1.  On weekdays, I eat a first breakfast and a second breakfast.  Yes, like a Hobbit.  
I got the idea from a Twitter friend of mine, Whitney.  Since I am up around 6 in the morning, but I avoid traffic and don't go into the lab until 9 o'clock, I ended up becoming extremely hungry around 10 o'clock and I was filling that void with some really bad choices (translation: doughnuts, candy bars, and Pop Tarts).  
Now I eat a small breakfast (about 4 or 5 Points Plus) and then on my commute to work I drink a Weight Watchers smoothie blended with ice, milk, and fruit.  They're delicious and that protein is exactly what I need to carry me into lunch time!  
2.  I brought back some high point food that I thought I couldn't have!  
Granola.  I like granola, but it can wreak havoc on my tracker if I just try to eat it alone or with milk.  So I started using it as a topping for yogurt and ice cream!  Viola!  2 Points Plus for 1/4 cup of Trader Joes' Lowfat Granola with almond.  It's worth it for me, but I make sure that I don't go overboard with it.  
3.  I started incorporating foods I already knew I liked with foods I didn't think I liked.  
And this is how my favorite weekend breakfast was formed!  The spinach and mushroom omelette.  I didn't think I was going to like it because of the eggs, but the trick was to use the eggs simply to bind everything together.  One egg plus one egg white is plenty of egg for me, then I add in loads of spinach and sliced mushrooms (at least a cup of each) and sprinkle what ever low fat cheese I have on hand.  It ends up being 5 Points Plus, and I pair it with toast or home fries for a weekend Points Plus splurge.  
4.  I stopped forcing myself to eat breakfast foods.  
It's true, I sometimes make myself a sandwich or a quesadilla for breakfast.  Gasp!  
Okay, it's not that big of a deal, but I can fit in a handful of veggies and some good protein this way.  Who said you have to eat eggs and yogurt for breakfast every day?  No one!  

So there you have it, my breakfast shennanigans.  Do you have any?  If so, I'd love to hear about them!  

Monday, April 2, 2012

wake me up when i'm a size 5

My mom had this on our refrigerator growing up, and I really wish I could just take a pill and sleep my way skinny some days. 

I adore the Cathy collection.  If you haven't seen a lot of it, or just want to brush up then head here.  Happy Monday!