Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is wrong with me?

I have been having a really hard time sticking to my Weight Watchers POINTS. I'm not sure why, but I am really frustrated and at a loss as to what to do.

I am exercising more than ever. Making time for exercise is part of my routine, not a chore. And I really am eating really healthy foods, it's just that I am eating too much of many good things. I do know that there are just some things I cannot bring into my house, and at the top of that list are nuts. I have never met a nut I didn't love. And I've tried to control my portions, but it can't be done.

I am journaling daily, so even when I eat too many nuts -- or whatever I have decided is the treat du jour - I record how many or how much I ate. My journal has become more like my diary, except that it has no lock. After all, who would really want to read my ramblings?

So today, I have decided to begin yet again.

At least I am not giving up. But come on: I've been writing this blog for 19 months and my weight has not changed all that dramatically. What is it going to take.....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Finish line? Goals? Who me?

Each morning, Jane Powell's Meditations for Women arrive in my e-mail. Some are OK -- others, like today's, hit home. It asks the question: Are you in a race with no finish line?

I talk a good game, telling myself, and anyone who wants to listen, how much I want to lose weight. But do I really? In the back of my mind I do. What I haven't done is to set realistic goals, which is what today's meditation is about.

Weight Watchers is all about setting goals, and instead of telling you how much you need to lose, they set your first goal at 5 percent of your body weight. That's usually two weeks worth of weight loss on the Biggest Loser. It would take me at least double that to reach my 5 percent goal, but it certainly would be a start.

The meditation stresses the importance of goal setting, and then celebrating when you reach that goal. That alone gives your self-esteem and confidence a boost, simply because it proves that you are capable of reaching a goal.

But the meditation also stresses some important steps to take when setting a goal:
1. Determine what is important to you.
2. Resolve to pursue your goals with passion and persistence.

It's the passion and persistence I have been sorely lacking. Today, as I am driving to and from work, I am going to try to find ways to ignite passion and persistence.

And I have set a new goal: 5 pounds. That's not a lot, but with the way I have been eating recently, it is a ton of weight. And when I lose 5 pounds, I am going to treat myself to a massage, something I haven't had in about two years.

It really is important for me, and the way I view myself, to shed some serious weight. And if I wait until our season of events is over, it will be the fall before I lose weight.

But first, I have to step on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers, my weekly dose of reality. I pray next Wednesday will be different, that passion and persistence have been ignited, if for no other reason than my aching muscles can certainly use some deep kneading.

And that 5 pounds would translate into 25 pounds less pressure that's being forced on my knees and hips. Maybe, just maybe, if I concentrate on my aching knees, that will ignite passion and persistence. It's a thought....

Monday, April 11, 2011


I sit all day at work. And since my office is small, there is nowhere to go. That’s why a report in Men’s Health mag made me cringe. The magazine cited a study from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana – analyzing the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years – that determined people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks.

And the horrid part: It doesn’t matter if you smoke or exercise. If you sit, even if you exercise, eat well and don’t smoke, sitting men and women alike still have a 54 percent greater risk of having heart issues than folks who don’t live healthy lifestyles and move around all day.

The other problem is that researchers don’t know why, although they suspect it has to do with an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which breaks down fat in the bloodstream and turns it into energy. In addition to affecting your health, sitting all day also:
1. Screws up your posture. The fascia, the tissue that connects individual muscles into a full-body network, begins to set when you stay in one position for too long.
2. Makes you fatter. You burn 60 more calories an hour standing versus sitting. And, if you sit too much, your largest muscle group — the glutes (butt) — become lazy and quit firing and you burn fewer calories.

3. Causes lower back pain. Weak glutes push your pelvis forward, putting stress on the spine and your belly protrudes, making you look 5 months pregnant.

But Men’s Health has some suggestions:
1. Think of exercise as a lifestyle not an activity. Stop trying to be fit, and start trying to live fit.

2. Stand more throughout the day.
3. Take two breaks an hour. Grab a drink or walk to a co-workers desk. Or, simply stand and stretch for a minute. A European Heart Journal study of 5,000 men and women found that the quarter who took the most breaks during the day were 1.6 inches thinner than the quarter who took the least.

4. Stand during phone calls.
5. Don’t write long emails. Instead, talk to the person – and stand up when you call them.
6. Ask for a standup desk. Australian researchers found that workers who log more than 6 hours of seat time a day are up to 68 percent more likely to be overweight. Make sure the screen is at arm’s length, and the top at eye level. Position the keyboard so your elbows are bent 90 degrees.

And one from me: Take a 30-minute walk. I know I should do this, but I never do. Today, I am going to use those sneakers I keep in my office “just in case.”

What is a whole grain?

Whole grains are in. They are rich in dietary fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and keep us "moving" -- if you get my drift. They also fill you up, which can help anyone trying to lose some pounds.

But of course, once a food becomes popular, all the major food companies jump on the bandwagon -- and when that happens, it's wise to pay attention to what you are eating. Many manufacturers are trying to fool us, calling their products "wheat," which makes us think it's better for us than a loaf of Wonder's white. Most bread is made from wheat, so if it has that label, there is absolutely nothing new. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel -- and that's what you should be after.

If you really want a whole grain cracker, cereal, bread, rice or pasta, the first ingredient listed should be whole rye, whole oats, whole wheat, whole barley, whole cornmeal or graham flour. If the list starts with "wheat" or "enriched wheat," drop the bag or box. This is not whole grain.

Nothing could be simpler.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today is a special day: National Caramel Popcorn Day. If I wanted to celebrate -- and deep down I do -- I could really get into some serious trouble here. Caramel and butterscotch are my two favorite things in the world, held dearer than a bag of Twizzlers or a piece of cheesecake.

But Hungry Girl's tip today is to have a bag of Jolly Time Healthy Pop Caramel Apple microwave popcorn, which at only 3 PointsPlus per serving is a bargain.

The only reason I mention popcorn is that recently it has become my go-to food. Last night I was starved, and before dinner, I popped a bag and had it with a big glass of water. Jack thought I was crazy, but it filled me up and kept me from over-eating at dinner. When I eat a bag of popcorn, I feel as if I am eating something that is a treat, and for me, that helps me stay on a healthy eating track.

Since I recommitted to Weight Watchers a few weeks ago, a bag of Jolly Time is always in my pantry, at the ready when I need it most. Hungry Girl's tip today is a winner!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Diet tweaks

SELF magazine recently wrote about some easy-to-do diet make-overs that can make a big impact on the scale. None are hard, just little tweaks here and there.

A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Women showed that women with the highest intake of catechins, antioxidants in tea that may accelerate fat burn, gained less weight over 14 years than those who didn’t drink tea. White and green leaves have the most catechins.

A.M. workouts
Exercising on an empty stomach in the morning improves glucose tolerance, which spurs your body to shed fat, says a study a study in The Journal of Physiology finds..

Eat breakfast
Lifelong early eaters have a waistline about 2 inches smaller than that of breakfast skippers, says the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Breakfast may boost metabolism and may cause you to make less of an enzyme that raises cholesterol.

Slow done
People who took 30 minutes to eat a bowl of ice cream created more fullness hormones than those who ate faster, says a study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Turn off the TV and concentrate on what you are eating.

Make some habits
When mice ate at scheduled times and fasted for 12 hours at night, their liver turned on genes that burned more sugar and fat, say scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. Of course, those little mice had someone providing their meals, but it’s worth a shot.

Wonderful water
Research from Virginia Tech says that two cups of water taken before meals helped people lose about 5 pounds more than those who had no water. Water drinkers ate 75 to 90 calories less.

Step on the scale
It’s not necessary to weigh daily, but those who weighed at least weekly lost more weight than those who didn’t, according to research from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.


There's lasagna -- and then there's Hungry Girl's newest version. It's a white lasagna that uses one of my favorite cheeses, a Laughing Cow cheese wedge. I swear, when I am having a bad diet day, I reach for a few wedges of this cheese, spread it on some celery, and the combo is just enough to get me through until dinner.

Speaking of dinner, pass this lasagna! At 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving, it's just what the diet doctor ordered. Hungry Girl says it's white done right. I say anything with a white sauce that is not loaded with butter and high-fat cheese is something to smile about.
HG's Hungry Girlfredo White Lasagna3 medium zucchini, ends removed
1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
2 large egg whites or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups chopped spinach
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
4 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss cheese
4 tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping, divided
4 sheets oven-ready lasagna noodles (like the kind by Ronzoni)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Optional: additional salt and black pepper
* Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
* Slice zucchini in half widthwise, and then slice each half lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick strips. Set aside.
* In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg whites, garlic, oregano, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Stir well and set aside.
* Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat on the stove. Add mushrooms and, stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook until spinach has wilted and excess moisture has evaporated, about 2 more minutes.
* Remove skillet from heat and let cool. Blot away excess moisture from veggies, using paper towels. Transfer contents to the bowl of ricotta mixture and set aside.
* Re-spray skillet and return to medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook zucchini until softened, about 2 minutes per side; remove skillet from heat and re-spray between batches. Set zucchini aside.
* To make the sauce, in a microwave-safe bowl, combine sour cream with cheese wedges, breaking cheese wedges into pieces as you add them. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parm-style topping, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, until very warm. Stir until smooth and set aside.
* Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Evenly place 1/3rd of the cooked zucchini strips on the bottom. With a spoon or spatula, spread half of the ricotta-veggie mixture on top. Evenly top with 2 lasagna sheets, followed by 1/3rd of the sauce.
* Repeat layering with the same amounts of zucchini, ricotta-veggie mixture, lasagna sheets, and sauce. Evenly top with remaining zucchini, followed by remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining 2 tablspoons Parm-style grated topping.
* Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese starts to brown.
* If you like, season to taste with additional salt and black pepper. Cut into four pieces.
* Makes 4 servings. Calories: 290; Fat: 6.5g; Sodium: 726mg; Carbs: 33g; Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 21.5g; PointsPlus: 7.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A to Zen

I have a poster in my meditation called A to Zen -- Living One Day at a Time according to the Dalia Lama. I have read the 26 ways often, but what I haven't done is taken them one at a time.

Today, my morning e-meditation was about avoiding toxic people, the negative ones that zap your inner resolve, sucking the life, determination and self-love out of you faster than Superman's speeding bullet. And today, before I began morning yoga, I glanced at the poster, and the first step to Living One Day as a Time was: Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits.

Coincidence? I think not. Someone greater than me is sending a message. And believe me, it's a message I need right now.

I try very hard to remain positive and happy, because life really is worth living, and I would much rather do it with a smile on my face than a frown. But in some situations it is impossible to avoid negative people and situations. Today's messages cemented in my brain that since avoidance is impossible, I need to learn coping skills when faced with negativity.

Something else to work on, but it's a journey I need to take. Because when faced with difficult situations, one of the first things I turn to is FOOD. And I'm not talking fruits and vegetables here.

And that brings me to the Dalia Lama's thought: Avoid negative sources, people, places and habits. Seven powerful words. It's not only about people and places; he wants us to change our habits. And isn't that what losing weight is all about?

When confronted by negativity, the first thing I want is some comfort food loaded with calories. Today, when confronted with negativity, I intend to reach for some strawberries and cantaloupe while picturing my meditation room, a source of contentment and peace. At least I have a plan!

Friday, April 1, 2011

HUGE aha!

Something deep within me clicked this week, and for the first time in my life, I know I am going to reach my goal weight. I've said this before, but when I did, I felt like a fraud.

Not today.

And the reason is simple, actually something I began to think about when I started this blog. The name -- Diet? Not Again! -- says it all. I had decided then that I really did not want to diet. Since then, the list of diets I have tried numbers seven. I told you I felt like a fraud.

So why -- and how -- now? It started a week ago Wednesday, when my Weight Watchers' leader, Annmarie, suggested I eat a piece of my daughter's birthday cake, but to put a PointsPlus value to that piece of strawberry shortcake. I had never before ever put a PP value on anything that is loaded with sugar. When I told her I had no idea what the value would be, she suggested I go online and do some research to find out. Long story short: I gave it a value of 15 -- half the amount of PointsPus I am allowed in a day. But I also have an extra 49 PointsPlus a week -- so I started counting. And guess what: I didn't even use all my 49 PointsPlus.

In the past, if I had eaten the piece of cake, it would have set me up for a night of eating. To me, my diet would be blown, so why not eat everything in sight? I would tell myself it would be just for a night, but that night would have stretched to another day, and perhaps the next week.

It wasn't until I weighed in Wednesday at Weight Watchers that reality smacked me in the face: I lost 3.4 pounds. In the back of my mind, I thought I had been "bad" last week, because I ate that cake. It was what consumed my thoughts all last week. Once I found out I lost weight, I checked my food diary for the week, and discovered that I had eaten within my PointsPlus every day, even the cake day when I used my extra PP. Somehow I had blocked out the great choices I made, instead choosing to focus on the one piece of cake. That's really sad.

Weight Watchers has evolved over the years. The empahsis now is on portion control, healthy eating and exercise. The fact that it is not a diet but a way of eating is stressed each week. In the past, I have internally laughed at the concept, calling it a diet by another name. Today, I embrace it. The reason is simple:
* I can't get away from food.
* I love food.
* I love to cook.
* I love to eat.

And here is the key:
No matter the week, there is always some event I will have that could stop a diet plan dead. But there is nothing that can ever stop me from making healthy food choices.

If I am somewhere and there really is nothing to eat except fried chicken and ambrosia salad, I will eat lightly, but more importantly, affix a numerical PointsPlus value to the food. Thin people all over the world make choices daily.

Plus, by not affixing a PP value to some foods, I was not holding myself accountable for eating the food. Instead, I was giving myself license to keep eating. I was running away from facing a big problem in my life; running away from problems never solves anything.

I know I am on the right track, and that I will stop yo-yo dieting forever.

And no, this is not an April Fool's joke. I have never EVER been more serious and determined.