Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August 2011 Stats

Starting weight : 161.6 lb

Ending weight : 157.8 lb

Change : 3.8 lb lost (average .85 lb lost per week)

This time last year : 179.2 lb

My goal for this month was super ambitious and was to hit 157.4lb, which is my lowest ever on weight watchers. This would have meant I needed over 1lb lost per week average. It didn't happen, but I came pretty close. If I'd managed to maintain the one week I gained 0.4lb, I would have hit it on the nose, but I can't say that I'm ungrateful. I had a pretty rough two weeks at the end of the month and only made it to the gym one time. I also lost 3.8lb for the month which is the most I've lost in a single month since May 2010, when I was still breastfeeding, so that's a big accomplishment.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Apple Crisp

We had guests for dinner last night and this is a great dessert recipe. It makes a large dish, so if there aren't many people, you can cut the recipe in half.


For the base:
5lb granny smith apples
grated zest of 1 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Splenda blend granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup Splenda blend granulated sugar
3/4 cup Splenda blend brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 lb cold unsalted butter, diced

Note: the packages of Splenda blend say to use only half of what it calls for in regular sugar, but after many uses, we've learned that's not the case, so if you don't use Splenda blend, the measurements for real sugar would be the same as listed above.

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 glass baking dish. Peel and cut apples into large wedges. Combine the apples with the zests, juices, sugar, and spices. Pour into the baking dish.

Step 2:

To make crust, combine flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in a bowl and mix until the mixture is crumbly and and the butter is the size of peas. We use a spatula to mix but you can use a mixer on low speed. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Step 3:

Bake for 1 hours until the top is brown and apples are bubbly. We suggest making it a bit before you plan to eat it because it stay hot a really long time and will stay warm for hours if just covered with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Make 10 servings; 15 Points Plus each

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weigh-in for 8/27/2011

Last weigh-in (8/20/2011) : 158.8 lb

This weigh-in (8/27/2011) : 157.8 lb

Change : 1 lb lost

There are hardly words to describe how I feel about this weigh-in. I am shocked and grateful at the same time. I really have no explanation for the loss because I was up on Thursday and that was before we had to unexpectedly eat out for dinner. I thought that was going to be a nail in my coffin for the week. There are weeks every so often that are an anomaly. There are two types : weeks when you're really good, but end up with a gain or weeks when you've been not so good and end up with a loss. I have to believe that because of my vow to get back on track in the gym, I've been given the push with this gift.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Feel Like I've Fallen Off the Wagon

This week has not been the best for me and it feels like I've fallen off the wagon in a way. I have only made it to the gym once all month and I think that's a bad place to be. I've had so much success recently and without the gym, I feel like I'm going to bounce back up. I am making a vow to go to the gym next week, even if I'm tired. Two weeks ago, I had some major dental work on my right side (I go back for the left side in three weeks) and am still feeling the effects. I can't sleep at night without ibuprofen because of the throbbing and no one feels like being good and working out when they don't feel well.

When I weighed myself mid-week I was up a little and that gives me the sinking feeling that I'm headed for the 160s again, which I don't want to do. Two years ago, I was in the low 160s and felt great. Now the high 150s isn't good enough. Sure, I have an entire wardrobe that fits me amazing right now, but I'm not happy with where I am. Of course, another monkey wrench in my week was that last night I was going to make the oven stew for dinner and when I went in the fridge, my beef had gone bad. I had some chicken starting to thaw in the fridge for tonight and kept going back and forth about what to do. I had pasta for lunch, so the meal it was meant for wouldn't work and if I did plain chicken breasts, I didn't have a marinade and we'd done chicken the night before. We ended up going out, which I'm sure won't help my week at all. I'm very nervous about tomorrow on the scale and crossing my fingers that I'm not above 160 and and can get my but in gear to keep losing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oven Stew


1lb stew beef
1 onion
red potatoes, cut chunky
1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can peas with liquid

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 2 1/2 to 3 quart Corningware dish, place a layer of stewing beef, onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes.

Step 2:

Layer over all : can of cream of mushroom soup, then can of tomato soup, then can of peas with all liquid. Salt and pepper to taste. DO NOT STIR. Be careful not to fill dish to the top to prevent spilling into the oven. I recommend covering a baking sheet with aluminum foil and placing the dish on sheet in oven.

Step 3:

Cover dish and bake in oven for 3 hours. Enjoy!

Makes about 9 servings; 9 Points Plus per serving

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Baked Ziti with Chicken


1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
12 oz cooked whole-wheat pasta
6oz shredded 2% mozzarella cheese

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and cook over medium heat until thoroughly cooked. Drain off any fat, then add onion and green pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes

Step 2:

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, thyme, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Bring to simmer, then reduce the heat and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Step 3:

Stir in cooked pasta and half the grated cheese. Spread evenly into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Top evenly with remaining cheese.

Step 4:

Bake until cheese has melted and the casserole is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes at room temperature before slicing into 8 pieces.

Serves 8

Monday, August 22, 2011

Slow & Steady



Most people start a diet expecting big results fast and that's not usually how things work. Average weight loss per week on weight watchers is 0.5lb - 1.5lb a week. This means that there are bigger weeks and then there are weeks that are smaller or even possibly a maintain or gain. I've seen it all in my 5+ years on program. It always starts out big and then tapers off as your body recovers from the shock of less calories.

Above are two charts that show my weight loss. The first one is my first 3 years before I got pregnant and the second one is the last 18 months since Brady was born. So take into account that the second one is only half the amount of time as the first. As you can see both started out going down really fast, then they started to level out. You can see in the first chart how I've gone up and down, although never close to gaining it all back (except when I was pregnant). It's tough losing weight and even harder keeping it off. Those who stick with it are those who understand it's a process that's not going to result in 30lbs lost in 2 months.

Since I gained last week, it makes me worry about bouncing up again or hitting a plateau. I've had hot streaks like this before and they don't last forever, so I'm always thinking it's going to end at any time. Before this current hot streak, I was stuck in a plateau from Thanksgiving to the beginning of April, bouncing between 172lbs and 170lbs. It's a tough place to be mentally because you just feel like throwing in the towel and as shown by my first chart, I've done just that before. Gaining 15lbs because you're tired of being stuck in a plateau doesn't make you feel any better. Especially, when you start thinking that you have to take it all off again. When you hit a plateau, it helps to chart your entire weight loss and look at the trend. If it's a slow, steady, downward trend, you need to focus on that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weigh-in for 8/20/2011

Last weigh-in (8/13/2011) : 158.4 lb

This weigh-in (8/20/2011) : 158.8 lb

Change : 0.4lb gained

This is only the second gain since April 2 and like the other gain, under half a pound. I didn't expect a big loss this week because of my huge loss last week. It's almost impossible to see two back to back big losses because your body pushes back. Also, as any woman knows, there's one week a month where it's almost impossible to lose weight. This happened to be that week for me and looking back at the last 6 months, that week either results in a maintain or a slight gain. Today starts a fresh week and my efforts to lost the 1.4lb to hit my personal goal for the month. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Permanence of Pictures

We can choose not to look in the mirror, but pictures are a constant reminder of how we look or used to look. The can be either good or bad. You can look back and feel good about being thinner, or look back and wish you were thinner now. Our house is filled with pictures, good and bad, and it's something I have to deal with. The hardest part is sometimes looking at pictures and thinking that at the time, you were happy with yourself, and that's not the case now.

Last night we had our yearly family portraits d
one and it made me look back at last year. I was 177lbs, just shy of 20lbs more than what I weigh now. Andy was 10lbs more than he is now. Of course, Brady has gained about 8lbs, but he's allowed since he's a baby :) Last year, almost my whole body was in the shot and it showed just how wide my hips were. This year, of course since I'm much thinner, I was only shot from the waist up in most of the shots.

One of my favorite pictures of myself would have to be when we were at our luau on Kauai. I was up 5lb from where I am now, but I was happy with the way I looked.

Although in the past two years I've been be
tween 158lb and 215lb, one of my least favorite pictures of myself would have to be on our trip to Disney this past May. I was 165lbs and what I don't like about it is how evident my "mommy belly" is. Granted, I'm 7lbs lighter than this now, but I still get that "mommy belly" when I sit down and it bothers me because I didn't have it before I was a mommy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mom's Chicken Casserole


2-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Package of sliced Swiss cheese
2 cups Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix
1 stick unsalted butter
10 oz can of cream of chicken soup
Skim milk

Step 1:

Cut chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and lay into the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish. Cover completely with slices of Swiss cheese. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2:

Mix together 2 cups of stuffing and one stick melted butter. Spread over cheese.

Step 3:

Mix together 10 oz can of soup and 1/2 that can's worth of milk. Pour over all. Bake uncovered for 1 hour.

This is a great dish for dinner parties or to take to a family that's just had a baby (that's how my mom got the recipe over 19 years ago). It's been one of my favorite dishes since I was a kid and I don't think I'll ever grow tired of it.

Makes 9 servings. 5 Points Plus for one serving or 9 Points Plus for two servings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Program

You all hear me talk about tracking and staying on program, and know that I am on weight watchers, but not many people know exactly how it works. Also, why it's any different than other weight loss systems. I'm sure most of you have also seen the Jennifer Hudson commercials for weight watchers and the new Points Plus program and you're wondering how it's different. Well I'll tell you.

The weight watchers program is a constantly evolving creature. The Points Plus program is the third time it's switched since I joined over 5 years ago. When I first started in 2006, your points values were determined by your weight and nothing else. The weight classes were every 25lbs and when you shifted into a lower one, you lost 2 points per day. There was also a program called Core, in which there was a list of foods you could eat unlimited quantities of (only until you were satisfied, not until you were stuffed). You also got a weekly points allowance of 35 points to be used at any point during the week (you could use as many as you wanted or not use any), which you got whether you counted points every day or were on Core. The points of foods were calculated by their amount of calories, fat, and fiber. On this program, when I was between 175 and 200lbs, I got 24 points per day, and when I crossed below 175lbs, I got 22 points per day. You could also earn activity points through exercise (the number you got depended on your weight and activity) and those could be eaten if you ran out of daily points.

In December 2006, the program changed. The points you got per day were more tailored to the individual. The formula took into account your age, height, gender, daily activity, and your current weight. This formula gave the men more points for gender and height, and those who were older lost points because their metabolisms are slower. Under this program, you lost 1 point every time you crossed into a new 10lb range (169, 159, etc). You also lost a point when you moved into a new age bracket. The points for food calculation stayed the same and so did the activity points. Core was still in existence. Under this program, I had 23 points in the 160s and 22 points in the 150s, so I got a little relief in the 160s.

In the fall of 2008, they eliminated Core and introduced power foods. These were specific foods that you could eat until you were satisfied and use a set point value instead of measuring. Some of the foods included in this group were whole wheat pasta, beans, and proteins.

In November 2010, the new Points Plus program was introduced. Instead of points for foods, everything was now points plus so we would know the difference. Your daily points plus was still calculated by age, gender, height, and weight, but you could no longer calculate it yourself. The formula is a secret and your daily points plus target is printed out with your weight each week when you weigh-in. The lowest points plus per day you could ever have was 29 and that's what I had at that time weighing 172lbs, so I will never again lose points, which is a huge relief. The weekly points plus target was 49 points. You're probably thinking that this would be better because you'd get more food, but it was just the opposite. You got to eat more points plus than you had when they were plain points, but the calculation for foods' points plus changed as well. The foods were now calculated by fat, fiber, protein, and carbs. Carbs shot the points plus on foods through the roof and foods that were only a few points before, became way too many points plus to consider eating. Since the new Points Plus program has been implemented, the only carbs in house is whole wheat pasta. So with foods being more points plus, you were actually eating less. The only relief is fruit and most veggies are no points plus, so you can eat as much as you want. This has changed my program because before I wouldn't be willing to give up points on fruit and now it's my breakfast every day and my snack when I have low points plus left for the day.

The reason I chose weight watchers over other diet programs is because of it's sustainability and flexibility. It's also the most affordable in the long run. When it comes to diet programs that have you buy their food (Jenny Craig, Nutri-System), which can cost as much as $280 a month, if not more, and once you stop eating their food, the weight comes on as fast as it comes off. It's not something you can do forever. Weight watchers incentivizes you to hit a healthy weight, by offering free membership at that point. I pay $39.95 per month and have access to online tools and an app on my iPhone that I can use to track anywhere. Tracking your points plus is like balancing a checkbook. If you end up with a zero or positive balance at the end of the week, you should lose weight. It's as simple as that. I never feel like I'm deprived and there are days where I have a hard time eating all my daily points plus (crazy since I have the least amount you can ever have). It's all about knowing low points plus foods that are filling. I have pizza at least twice a month and sometimes Chinese food thrown in there. I have no problems eating out or going to parties. You have the freedom to choose your foods and plan ahead for a big event by saving some of your weekly points plus. My PopPop asked if I was still on weight watcher and when I said yes, he asked how long I was going to keep doing it and I replied, forever. He seemed to think I was a sucker, but I know how it works and I am happy with my life on weight watchers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Harvest Pot Roast


2lb bottom round steak, trimmed (eye of round works as well)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 14.5oz cans low-sodium beef broth
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 stalks of celery, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 pound baby red potatoes, scrubbed and halved

Step 1:

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer beef to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Step 2:

Spray skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion mixture to slow cooker.

Step 3:

Combine one can of broth and tomato paste in skillet. Bring to boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute. Pour broth mixture into slow cooker. Stir in remaining can of broth, carrots, and celery. Press potatoes into vegetable mixture. Cover and cook until beef and vegetables are fork tender, 5-6 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low.

Step 4:

Transfer beef to cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer vegetables with slotted spoon into a bowl. Cut beef across the grain into 12-15 slices. Serve with vegetables and gravy.

Serving size: 2 slices of beef with generous 3/4 cup of vegetables and 3 tbsp. of gravy (279 calories, 6 grams of fat; 7 points plus)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Weigh-in for 8/13/2011 - Goodbye 160s!!!

Last weigh-in (8/3/2011) : 160.4 lb

This weigh-in (8/13/2011) : 158.4 lb

Change : 2 lb lost

This was a very exciting week for me! I broke into the 150s for the first time since December 2008. It also puts me 3.4lb from lifetime. My goal for the month was to hit 157.4 and at the time it seemed a bit realistic to have to average 1lb per week for the rest of the month. This week has amazed me and put that goal into reach, so long as I lose at least 0.5lb for the remaining two weeks of the month. The sooner I hit lifetime, the better because you have to maintain for 6 weeks before you stop paying. When they say maintain, that means that you can't go more than 2lb above your goal weight. Since I intend to keep losing beyond that number, it should hopefully not be a problem. I just don't want one of those weeks to run into Thanksgiving where it's almost impossible to stay on track. Hopefully I won't see the 160s again until I get pregnant again sometime in the future (not that we're trying right now).

Though this week had a great loss, it had some challenges. I didn't make it to the gym and losing this much without the gym is bad for my mental attitude. I am attributing this loss to the fact that I'm back on track at home where I have more control and next week I will have to work for it. Also, I was dealing with some pretty serious back pain. On Tuesday, I was in such pain that I was physically unable to take care of Brady and that freaked me out. I've never been in that much pain and since I've had a baby that's saying something. When Andy came home that night he said, "Alright. I'll just go out and get a pizza." I told him no, which is really hard since it's easy to give into comfort food when you don't feel well. We had chicken stir fry over brown rice and when I saw my weight on the scale, I was glad we did.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels

The summer I got pregnant with Brady, we were living in Ocean City, NJ for Andy's internship with the Press of Atlantic City, the newspaper for southern Jersey. We were still renting our Oakland apartment since we would be back by the end of the summer, but were dealing with fumigation issues and having to empty out all of our drawers. This meant a lot of my clothes ended up at my bedroom at my parent's house.

Last summer, I was still up 25lb from where I am now, so the clothes were forgotten. Since summer comes in February to South Carolina, that had me on the hunt for my summer clothes, which I keep in bins underneath our bed. I started to realize I was missing a lot of my favorite tops. Every time we've moved, we went through the closets and donated what we never wore or didn't fit, so I started to think that I'd donated them. It took me a couple of weeks to remember that they were in my old bedroom, but when I was home for Easter, I forgot to get them. A few weeks ago was the first time I was home since then and when I opened my drawers, I was very happy with the shirts I found.

Today, I was wearing an outfit I hadn't worn since I started dating Andy in 2007, when I was at my lowest weight on program. It's an incredible feeling and keeps me motivated to think that maybe next summer I will need a whole new wardrobe. It's true what they say about nothing tasting as good as skinny feels. I'm not claiming that I'm "skinny," but I'm definitely thinner than I was even 4 months ago. Eating something bad only makes you feel good for so long and then the guilt sets in. Being thinner is something that you can feel good about every single day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Meatloaf Muffins


1lb 99% fat free ground turkey breast
1 box stove top stuffing
1 cup water
2 egg whites


Combine all items, mixing well. Divide into 12 sprayed muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes

Makes 12 servings, which are 3 points plus apiece.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eating Away From Home - Planning Ahead

For most people trying to lose weight, eating away from home, whether it's a gathering or a restaurant, can be a terrifying prospect and they try to avoid it. It's not always possible to avoid these situations. A family picnic is not something you're going to skip just because you're on a diet. Forgetting about eating out at restaurants is also not realistic. It's going to happen sooner or later and it's so much easier to deal with if you're prepared with how to deal with it.

Many years in meetings has given me a few tips on how to deal with these situations and I've used many of them to my success, so I'll share them with you. When it comes to gatherings where everyone brings a dish or even a party in someone's home where they're doing all the cooking, it's more than alright to call your host/hostess and ask what they're having so you can bring something. This way, there's something there of your control. 9 times out of 10 if you bring a light dish and don't tell anyone they'll gobble it up, but if you tell them they'll steer clear. If you want it all to yourself, you can tell them, but it's always fun to see people who hate "diet" food eat a lighter dish without even knowing. Socializing at these types of events also keeps you from eating. If you're busy talking, there's less time for you to put food in your mouth.

With restaurants, we're very blessed with the technology we have access to. The internet has really changed things because almost every single restaurant has their menu and full nutritional information on their website. This allows you to go on their website and choose what you're going to eat before you even go. This also allows you to not even open the menu and invite temptation when you get there. Knowing what you're going to eat when you go out on any given day, lets you plan for the rest of your day. If you know you're going to have a heavy dinner, you can choose to have a lighter lunch. For those of you who are on weight watchers, there is a website called Dotti's Weight Loss Zone ( and she has converted almost every single restaurant's menu into how many weight watchers points they are.

The last tip is to eat before you go to a meeting with friends. I know in college, the restaurants would offer 1/2 price food after 11PM and that's when everyone wanted to go so they spent less money. This was way too late to be eating, so I would have my dinner at a reasonable time and then just order a diet Coke when we got there. I could still hang out with my friends and have a great time, without the constant worry that I would be gaining a ton of weight that week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pork Chop & Stuffing Bake


4 cups Pepperidge Farm stuffing
1 1/4 cups water
4 tbsp. butter
6 boneless pork chops, 3/4" thick
10.75 oz can condensed Cream of Celery soup (98% fat free)
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded fat free Cheddar cheese

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare stuffing using water and butter according to package directions.

Step 2:

Spoon stuffing across the center of a 9x13 shallow baking dish. Place chops on each side of the stuffing.

Step 3:

Stir soup and milk in a bowl. Pour over chops and cover.

Step 4:

Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 6 servings

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Just One Time"

Being home reminds me of family gatherings. Growing up, my extended family never held back about me being overweight. When I started losing weight, they thought it was great, but family gatherings were tough. One minute, they were telling me how great I looked, and the next I was being offered a piece of cake or pie. When I would politely decline (at least towards the beginning of my weight loss), they would say, "It's just one time. It's ok." If I thought like that, every day would turn into "just one time." Now that I'm married into an even larger Italian family than my own, the gatherings have more than doubled.

My youngest cousin is 7, and more overweight than I was a child. She sneaks food and even resorts to stealing change to b
uy junk food. She's been caught several times, but the behavior continues, just going to show that parents can't always control the childhood obesity epidemic. She gets the same criticism that I endured, but she's constantly getting mixed signals from family. She didn't want to eat her meat at dinner, after eating all the side dishes, and was told that she wouldn't get dessert if she didn't eat it, which led to lots of crying. My Mimi had had enough and finally gave her a second piece of bread and told her she could have it if she finished her meat. I was shocked that she would give her something less healthy in order to eat something healthy. I told her she was sending the wrong signal by bribing with more food, and she took it away from her, which led to more crying.

Where do you draw the line when it comes to making an exception? When I was teaching, there was always food around. When I taught Pre-K, there were two snacks per day and birthdays on top of that. At the elementary level, every Friday, the faculty would take turns bringing in bagels and pastries for everyone. It was very hard to say "just one time," because the next week the temptation would be back. Something I've learned along the way is having temptations around will lead to indulgence. If there's an item in your house or workplace that's a temptation, the more times you have to walk past it, the more likely you are to cave in and eat it. That's why I'm very lucky to be at home during the day with Brady. Some people would think that this leads to eating more and everyone is different, but for me it's the opposite. I don't eat in restaurants by myself, and since Brady's still young, even taking him feels like being by myself. I don't keep anything bad in my house so as not to tempt myself.Summer 2005 with my PopPop and youngest two cousins
(1 year before I joined Weight Watchers)

With my cousin, Lauren

With my cousin, Chloe

With my cousin, Ava