Monday, July 31, 2006

I Suck at My Own Challenge

Aaargh. It's so hard to be disciplined! I've been slipping - last week I stopped tracking all my points. It's so easy to just pass a whole day by without ever opening up that darn web site to write things down! And I had several splurgey meals out. And I haven't been exercising. I know, I know, I suck.

But, the good news is that when I weighed in this morning, I had stayed the same. By the grace of God - or a bad stomach reaction to some weekend meals..... :-P

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gotta Try This!

The NYTimes has another great article talking about the new styles of premium ice cream that have been making their way into the market over the last few years. Apparently new techniques - involving some kind of fish protein??? - are making for tasty, rich, creamy ice cream with a lot less fat. I think I'm going to have to do a taste test. You know, for the good of all of you, my readers.... right???

Plus the 2nd page of the article includes some interesting stats and science behind low-fat and reduced-fat ice cream in general. Worth a read!

A Better Snack

I believe I have discussed my addition to salty snacks before. I am a sucker for tortilla chips, potato chips and popcorn. These things are pretty much all the devil's work as far as nutritional value -- lots of salt and fat, very little nutrients or other redeeming values. And one of my biggest challenges is that I totally OD on salty snacks. I can and have been known to devour an entire bag of chips or popcorn all in one sitting. And then proceed to pass out in a carb coma. Yeah, great, huh?

I have recently found a new addiction, though, that helps meet that salty snack need with just a little bit more to offer in the way of nutrition. CASHEWS! Cashews rock.

Nuts are fatty and can be high in calories, but it's the good kind of fat - the unsaturated and monounsaturated kind that don't raise your cholesterol. And nuts are full of nutrients, like iron and protein and magnesium and potassium and a whole bunch of others that I have no idea what they do - but they're good for you! I wish I had discovered them a few years back when I was a vegetarian, cuz I was never good about getting protein in those days. The key, though, is to get dry roasted and not oil roasted, if you can - watch for that on the label.

Yes, it's true, I'm still finding it hard to stop at more than just a handful of nuts - what is it about salty snacks that makes you want to keep eating them all until they're gone? - but I'm happy that I've found a vice that's at least a little better for me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

No Surprises

I just weighed in, and I stayed the same this week. That's good news, cuz I wasn't as good this past week as I was the week before. I still tracked all my points, but I ate a lot more of them. :-( And I wasn't good about exercising. So I know what I need to do this week......

Sunday, July 23, 2006

That's a Mahi Mahi Mighty Tasty Dinner!

You know how I've been saying for months that I want to learn how to cook fish? Tonight I finally tried it! I bought some frozen mahi mahi fillets from Whole Foods a while back, and today I was motivated to have a light, healthy dinner so I pulled the old grill pan out of the closet and went for it.

Here's my cute little fillet thawing out. It's in foil cuz I first thought I'd be cooking it in the oven, but later decided to use the grill pan instead. I chose wisely.

After thawing one of the fillets (which took a lot longer than expected), I drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled a little salt and pepper on each side. I had turned the grill pan on high to get it warmed up (aha! a lesson I learned from Ray Ray), so by the time I put the fillet on it was already sizzling.

Sizzle, sizzle.

While the fillet was grilling, I steamed up about 1/2 a bag of frozen green beans for my side dish. It was easy to tell how the fish was progressing, because you really can see it cooking through by watching the side turn from pink to white. After about 8 minutes of grilling, the fish was done.

I sprinkled about 1/2 capful of lime juice over the top of the fish to add a little tropical flavor. Then, to keep the flavor consistent, I added a little lime juice as well as margarine to the green beans. (Yes, I hate to admit it, but that consistent flavor trick is another thing learned from Ray Ray.)

This meal was delicious! Mahi Mahi has a hearty flavor - richer than a whitefish, more along the lines of tuna than salmon, although it's a bit lighter than tuna. The olive oil and lime juice were actually a great combo, cuz they enhanced the flavor rather than overpowering it. And the green beans with a hint of lime juice tasted great, too!

Points-wise, this is a ridiculously low point meal. The fillet is only 3 points, but I'd add another point for the EVOO. (Sorry, can't help it. I think I've been possessed by Ray Ray.) And with just a little margarine on the beans, I'd call that 2 more points. So all of this for just 6 points!

Blogger's being pesky - so if you want to see picture of the finished meal, click here.

Sunday Morning at the Safeway

There are some good deals out there today! And, I'm happy to report that at about 8:30 am when I was walking to the store, I detected a bit of a chill in the air. It felt great! I wanted to do the dance of joy! I'm so ready for this heat wave to end...

Today's challenge-friendly deals:
  • Safeway brand canned beans - 50 cents, reg price 69 cents
  • Safeway brand boxed pasta - 75 cents, reg price $1.19
  • Orville Redenbacher Smart Pop box of 3 bags - $1.66, reg price $3.29
  • Crystal Light, small canister - $3.00, reg price $3.99
  • Star-Kist lite tuna in water, 3-pack - $2.64, reg price $2.79
  • Lucerne light yogurt - 40 cents, reg price 60 cents
  • Healthy Choice frozen pizza - $2.00, reg price $3.49
  • Healthy Choice selected entrees - $2.50, reg price $4.19
  • Safeway shrimp rings (I love 'em!) - $3.99, reg price $4.99
  • Black plums - $1.99/lb, reg price $2.99/lb

There you have it --- happy shopping!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Repeat After Me

I will not order buttered popcorn at the movies.
I will not drink regular soda.
I will not order buttered popcorn at the movies.
I will not drink regular soda.
I will not order buttered popcorn at the movies.
I will not drink regular soda.
I will not order buttered popcorn at the movies.
I will not drink regular soda.
I will not order buttered popcorn at the movies.
I will not drink regular soda.

Hindsight is 20/20.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Satisfying that Craving

I've been totally back in an Indian food phase again lately. It's been one of my favorite kinds of foods for years, and I've been to several restaurants lately to indulge. But Indian food is not the greatest thing to have on a diet. That's why I'm so glad that Whole Foods sells Ethnic Gourmet frozen entrees. The chicken tikka masala meal is *delicious* and it totally satisfies my need for Indian food. If I couldn't find these small-portioned meals in the store, I'd probably order A La Carte delivery a lot more often and pay $25 for a HUGE bag full o' food, and I would eat it all.

As for the points value.... well, it's a mystery. I think that for the first time ever I may have gotten a package with a misprint. My instinct, from having eaten this meal many times in the past, was that it was about 7 or 8 points. But I just read the nutrition info off the box and it said it was 200 calories, 6g of fat, and 2g of fiber. That's just 4 points! But then I checked the web site, and it had very different nutritional info, more along the lines of 7 or 8 points. I'm not sure what happened there.... but either way it's a decent sized portion that won't break the points bank!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Shivering Points?

I'll call this the hypothermia diet. Since being back in the office, our AC is on so freakin' high that it's an icebox. We're sitting there freezing all day long, and we've all changed the kinds of clothes and shoes we're wearing just to be warmer during the day - regardless of the fact that it's a freakin' heat advisory outside.

But here's the funny thing. For the past 2 days - even though I've had really big lunches - I have been STARVING by the end of the day. Totally serious hunger pains.

My theory? It's so cold in the office that my body is using extra calories just to try to keep warm. Sound feasible? Or just wishful thinking? I'd love to lose an extra pound or two from this -- it would make all that darn shivering worth it!

Monday, July 17, 2006


I just tried on my Gala outfit. It's the same outfit I wore at least year's Gala - a nicely-fitted black skirt, a satiny purple shell, and a black sheer shrug. Since my mother would kill me if she knew I was someone who buys an outfit and may only wear it once... I have to wear it again this year. And I actually do really like it, it's fun and kind of sassy. Anyway, I digress...

The good news is that the outfit still fits! I think I'm going to have the top altered a bit to make it shorter. Right now it's really long and comes almost to the top of my thighs. But when I pull up the hem so that it hits right on my hip line, it's about a million times more flattering. Other than that alteration, though, the outfit is good to go!

So that means that not much has changed in a year - which is good or bad, depending on how you look at it. But at least now I don't have to stress about losing a certain amount of weight just to be able to *wear* the outfit; I can just try to slim down a bit to make the outfit look even better. That's a relief!


I stepped on the scale this morning and.... voila! It is not my enemy! I actually lost 1 pound on this first week of my 10-week challenge.

Fancy Gala outfit, here I come! :-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My 1st Challenge Week

So how did my first week of my 10 week challenge go?

Ah, so-so. I accomplished the following:

  • I ate a lot more fruits and veggies. But some of those were in the form of awesome fresh berry sundaes (see my other blog post for today) and lots of veggie items on an Indian food buffet.
  • I did drink a lot more water than normal, but still not enough on a daily basis.
  • I cut back on starch - I had very few sandwiches and no pasta, and I even cut back on the starchy snacks. There was some rice and some multigrain crackers here and there, but not nearly as much as usual.
  • I did work out 4 times - not 5 like I planned, but it's still pretty good.
  • I *bought* new seafood things to try, in the form of frozen fish at Whole Foods, but I haven't cooked them yet. It's too darn hot to turn on the oven.
  • I tracked all of my points for the week. So even though I ended up -36.5 points for the week (as in I used twice the usual Flexie allowance), at least I recorded it all.

We'll see if there are any results on the scale tomorrow. I'm not sure if there will be. I've been really well hydrated today, but that Indian buffet may still want to make its presence known when I weigh in. I'll let you know.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Whole Foods Extravaganza

What's the difference in your refrigerator between buying groceries at Safeway and buying groceries at Whole Foods?

  • From Safeway, your fridge is filled with lots of packaged items, low-fat or diet stuff, sale items or generic brands, and so-so looking produce.
  • From Whole Foods, your fridge is filled with lots of little rubber-banded containers of fresh deliciousness, like curried tempeh salad and seafood gumbo and the best-looking fruit you've seen in ages. And you couldn't find the words "low-fat" on anything, but suddenly you're okay with that.
What's the difference in the price? At Safeway, your single basket of stuff costs about $40. At Whole Foods, it's $75. Yikes.

But I just ate the most freakin' delicious tuna I've ever had in my life. I don't even care how many points it has. The yellowfin tuna salad with the little shell pasta. Unbelievable. Trusty cat Cleo was so excited to be able to clean that container!

A New Workout Mix

It's true, the iPod has changed my life. Working out is so much more enjoyable with pretty much your whole music library at your fingertips!

I just made a new mix - um, sorry, *playlist* - timed for a 20-minute workout on the stationary bike. It reflects my fairly random tastes at the moment.... but I just used it for the first time and this great mix of songs kept my heart pumping. What more could you ask for?

1. "Amazing" - Madonna
2. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" - Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
3. "Candy" - Mandy Moore
4. "Hips Don't Lie" - Shakira featuring Wyclef Jean
5. "It Ain't Me Babe" - Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon
6. "The Long Way Around" - The Dixie Chicks

Believe it or not, these songs do flow together pretty darn well. Ah, reliving my mix-tape-makin' youth. :-)

Do you have any favorite workout songs?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Day 3.... Not As Great, But Still Going

Today was a little harder.... partially it was because I was really freakin' hungry this morning after eating so little yesterday, and then because I waited too long and had a late lunch so my eyes were WAY bigger than my stomach. Except not really, cuz I ate it all. Oh well.

Here's a good link -- I found one site for nutrition and estimated WW points info for Potbelly Sandwich Works. (Their web site includes some nutrition info, too.) Since there are now THREE locations within a short walking distance from my office, I think I need to memorize these stats. And now that I satisfied my curiosity about their new sugar cookies (yes, they are delicious and very buttery) I don't need to buy any again.

Today's goal-related bullets:
  • I tracked all my points.
  • I drank a lot of water.... including when I went to see a movie, and the ONLY concession item I bought was a bottle of water. Hooray! No popcorn, candy, or soda, though I wanted them. (But that bottle of water was still $3.50. Highway robbery, yo.)
  • I only had starch for one meal - wheat bread on that big old Potbelly's sandwich.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Day 2 of My Challenge

I'm still doing well on my challenge.... today's accomplishments:

  • I tracked all of my points.
  • I stayed within my daily points allowance! Wheeee!!!!
  • I did 20 minutes of cardio at the gym. (Hey, I'm still a beginner. 20 minutes is a big deal.)
  • I had veggies as a snack again - thank you, baby carrots.
  • I had seafood for dinner -- shrimp, yummy. Not as good as a white fish or salmon, but still pretty low in points.
  • I had a lot less starch than usual.... a Lean Cuisine pizza and some reduced fat wheat thins as a snack.
  • I drank a lot of water! So that means lots of trips to the little girls' room...

Good stuff!

Nutrition 101: Portion Size

The NYTimes has long been one of my favorite resources for articles on food and nutrition. I was just telling some people about some fascinating stories they put out a few years back about the real story of the glycemic index and all of those sound bytes we kept hearing about carbs and glucose and blood sugar. Well, they have another good article in yesterday's edition that reminds us all what a *real* portion size is, which is harder and harder to find in our supersized food culture.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 1 of the Challenge

Well, wouldn't you know it, today turned out to be a terrible day for food intake. I started out very sensibly, but then went to a meeting at my boss's house where she had put out a great breakfast spread, then had lunch with a friend and totally went for Thai curry, then had to work from home the rest of the day/evening and ended up snacking. A lot.

But there were some good things, in keeping with my 10-Week Challenge goals:

  • I just tracked every last one of those darn points.
  • I did a bunch of extra walking around today.
  • I had a lot of fruit and fruit juice today.
  • I had a veggie snack - those WW favorites, baby carrots.

So, even though I've used all but 4.5 of my flexies FOR THE WEEK, I'm still doing okay on what I've set myself out to do. Tomorrow is another day!

My 10-Week Challenge

I have decided to give myself a reason to get back in the swing of things.... 10 weeks from today is our Gala at work. I have to dress all nice and there are lots of pictures taken, and I'd really like to feel good about how I look. It also marks one year since I fell off the wagon and put on about 15 pounds of stress eating getting ready for the Gala 2005. And trust me, this year is MUCH more stressful, so I need to focus on being good rather than just letting it all go.

So, over the next 10 weeks, I plan to....

  • Track my points, even if I don't stick to my daily allowance. Just keeping track of what you eat makes you much more aware and accountable for your intake.
  • Work in more fruits and veggies and cut back on the salt and starch.
  • Eat more seafood and experiment with cooking some fish.
  • Exercise! Try to do some kind of non-commute-related (as in don't just count walking to the Metro) workout 5 days a week.
  • Combine strength training with just the usual cardio that I have done in the past.
  • More water! Less soda and Starbucks.
I would love to shoot for a 10 pound loss over these 10 weeks, but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself with a number. I hope that sticking to these priorities will help with that scale, too!

You know I'll be charting my progress here, so stay tuned....and wish me luck!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Savings at Ye Olde Safeway

Another weeknight trip to the grocery store turned up some great deals!

Rice-A-Roni - $1.00, reg price $1.39
Safeway brand Spanish rice - $.80, reg price $1.09
Tostitos Bite Size - $2.00, reg price $3.49
Starkist Lite Tuna in Water, 3-pak - $2.64, reg price $2.79
Desert Pepper Black Bean Dip (not a diet item, but I want it) - $4.99, reg price $5.39
Lean Cuisines - 4 for $10.00 (same as 2 for $5 sale at Giant), reg price $3.29
Lucerne Yogurt - $.40, reg price $.60
Butterball Turkey Smoked Sausage - $2.50, reg price $4.19
Organic Baby Carrots, 1 lb bag - $1.50, reg price $2.39
Haagen Dazs light ice cream - $3.00, reg price $4.19

That's Much Better

Hooray! I just weighed in and I'm down 2 pounds. I didn't lose all of those surprise 5 pounds from last week, but I'm still glad to see the scale go down a bit. I know that the last few weeks have been really difficult as my life is kinda topsy-turvy. My food and sleep schedules have been really out of whack, and I'm so looking forward to being back in our office, whenever we finally reopen. Routine is good. But I am happy that those 2 pounds are gone!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Introducing Tamilee

I just got a new exercise DVD. I have a whole bunch of them, and some are more motivating than others. This one is Tamilee's "The Science of Fitness - I Want that Body!" It has "I Want Those Abs!" and "I Want Those Arms!" and "I Want Those Buns!" Each section is divided into 2 different 15 minute workouts, an easier one and a more challenging one.

Inspired by a conversation with a friend today about strength training vs. cardio, I decided to pop in the DVD and do a little arm work. I did the first 15 minute arm workout, and already my arms can feel it! She does 3 reps of a series of arm exercises, focusing on biceps, shoulders and triceps. You've probably done all of them before, but Tamilee keeps it flowing pretty smoothly and she's very low on the annoying scale. (No Denise Austin-style cheerleading, and that's fine by me.) She speaks like a trainer and keeps talking about muscle groups, so it makes for a bit of an academic exercise as well as physical.

I am pretty much a beginner when it comes to strength workouts. I've taken weightlifting classes before and I've played around, but I've never done a serious program to build muscle. I'm a bit of a weakling. But that means I've got lots of room for improvement.... and the beauty of arm work is you can see results almost immediately. My biceps even seem a little more defined than they were 1/2 an hour ago!

Another New Summer Salad

I just had one of those new Starbucks salads for dinner. I tried the Garden Greens Salad this time around, which featured iceberg and romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, carrots, cheese, hard-boiled egg, and shaved almonds. It comes with a lite ranch dressing. My oh my was this tasty! It's not as good as that older Starbucks salad with the goat cheese and blueberry dressing. But for a fairly standard garden salad, this makes for a decent meal. With 360 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 4 grams of fiber, it's an 8 point bowl of goodness.

I Heard A Rumor

A little birdie told me that Giant has Lean Cuisines on sale, 2 for $5.00. I don't usually make it to Giant, cuz it's too far for me to walk with bags, so that's why I stick to Safeway. But I hope some of my lucky readers are able to take advantage of this special sale!!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dinner Deconstructed

I had a pretty decent dinner tonight out at one of my favorite restaurants, Cafe Luna. That's usually where I go to have my pasta fix, but since I'd eaten almost all starch all day long I decided to change it up a bit:


Good: A cup of vegetarian chili filled with kidney beans, corn, tomatoes, and peppers in a tomato base.
So-So: I sprinkled about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese on top. I needed the dairy, but not necessarily the fat.
Bad: I also had 1/2 a roll with some butter. Not necessary at all - the appetizer would've been plenty filling without the starch and fat.


Good: I ordered the avocado, tomato and sprouts sandwich and had it on a tortilla wrap, so it was pretty darn healthy overall.
So-So: I had them put a little balsamic vinaigrette on the wrap for flavor and binding fun.
Bad: Alas, the healthy wrap came with a handful of ripple potato chips. I ate them.


So-So: I had 2 glasses of riesling. Mighty tasty, but I didn't need the calories. I'm okay with it, though, cuz I love a great glass of wine.... or two!

I didn't calculate the points on this, cuz I'll be honest that it's been a long time since I've actually counted my points. But this was a pretty darn good attempt to have a healthy, balanced meal. Hooray!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Keep Your Hands Busy

Heh heh. This post could go so many ways..... ;-)

But really, this is a very simple dieting tip, especially for the ladies. I say this knowing that I've got to remind *myself* of dieting tips since it's not going all that well lately.

As I've mentioned before, one of the reasons why my weight has always been a challenge is that I'm a snacker. And my favorite time to snack is when I'm just sitting in my recliner watching TV. And oftentimes, I find myself eating just cuz I get bored sitting there and not doing anything. So I need something to do to keep my hands occupied OTHER THAN eating.

(Again, this could get dirty.... but it won't!)

One trick I picked up years ago is that there's something ELSE you can do with your hands while sitting there watching tv that doesn't involve any snacking at all. Simply use that time to paint your nails!

I've often found that the times when I'm dieting are when my nails look the best. But think about it -- painting your nails takes a long time, cuz you have to file away the rough spots, use a clear coat, apply polish, maybe apply a 2nd coat, maybe apply a top coat. And there needs to be drying time in between all these steps. That's lots of time with wet nails, and you wouldn't dare snack cuz you don't want to risk messing up your nails!

Not only is this a good way to stay on plan, but you'll also start getting lots of compliments for how great your nails look! :-)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Okay, That Can't Be Right

I just weighed myself. And my new evil nemesis, the scale, was not cooperating. It claims that I have GAINED 5 POUNDS in the last week. Whadafa?!?!?!?

I know this whole working from home, having meetings at eateries, lifestyle is not very good. Sitting at home on the computer is dangerous cuz it's so close to the refrigerator. But it's not like I've been terrible! Yesterday was actually the worst day of the week, with butter popcorn at the movies and an ice cream treat. So I'm going to just blame today's weigh-in on yesterday's indulgence and expect that things will cycle back down to somewhere near normal by next week.

But wow, what a stark reminder to be good!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Another Tasty Salad

I tried a new variety of a bag salad last night: the Fresh Express Salsa Salad. A salsa salad? Yes, indeedy.... it's not quite the lowest-point option out there, but it was darn tasty!

It's made up of iceberg lettuce, a mix of shredded cheeses, blue and yellow corn tortilla strips, a salsa & sour cream dressing, and a chunky salsa to put on top. It's like a taco salad, really, but without any meat.

The nutritional information gives it 120 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber per serving. There are 4 servings in the bag (and come on, who doesn't eat the whole bag?), which makes it 11 WW points overall. That's not too bad, for a tasty, filling, and fun meal that involves sour cream. :-) I'll be buying that again!