Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 Stats

Starting weight : 150.0 lb

Ending weight : 154.0 lb

Change : 4 lb gained (average 1 lb gained per week)

This time last year : 170.8 lb

I'm not very happy with this month.  I've had a little bit of trouble adjusting to the food situation here in Germany, and I hope I will be able to change things and get back to where I was.  The last time I gained this much in a single month, I was pregnant with Brady, so that number is very hard to see.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Angel Hair with a Twist


1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta
1 package frozen Steamfresh peas
1 package low sodium honey ham
Fat free cheddar cheese
Butter spray

Step 1:

Boil a pot of water for the pasta.  Microwave the package of peas.  Heat a skillet on medium heat.

Step 2:

Once water has come to a boil, cook pasta according to package instructions.  Cut up ham slices and place in warmed skillet.  Use butter spray on ham while warming it throughout.

Step 3:

Strain pasta.  Add cooked peas to ham and use a few more sprays of butter.

This is a recipe that my great-aunt used to make for us when we were kids and my mom and I still make it.  The proper technique for putting it together is to place your portion of pasta in a bowl, place a portion of the pea and ham mixture on top, then finish off with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese.

Serving size : 1 cup of whole wheat pasta, with 1/2 cup peas and ham, and 1/4 cup fat free cheddar; 7 Points Plus

Thursday, February 23, 2012

German Diet Coke

 The first thing I wanted when we got off the plane in Germany almost five weeks ago, was a Diet Coke.  Pictured above is what I got.  Here it's called Coca-Cola Light.  I took a sip, thinking that it would be the same as home and I was wrong.  

I had remembered my mom telling me long ago that Diet Coke used to taste the same as regular, but it became a problem with diabetics in restaurants because they couldn't tell the difference.  For a diabetic, getting regular Coke would be a big problem.  I can't tell you how many times I've gotten regular Coke in a restaurant by accident, so I could see how this could easily happen and a diabetic wouldn't notice the difference.  Hence, they made Diet Coke taste like it does today and those who aren't used to it, don't like that taste.

Diet Coke here tastes exactly like regular Coke, and since I've been drinking diet for the past 15 years, that took me a little by surprise.  I won't even drink Coke Zero because it tastes too much like the original (which was the whole point of its creation).  The moment I took that first sip, I was already looking forward to the first Diet Coke I got on our return trip in July.  That was pretty sad since we weren't even in our final destination at that point.

Like at home, there are generic versions for everything.  Pictured above is the 1.5 liter generic Diet Coke from Aldi's.  It only cost 39 Euro cents!  They have a bottle deposit here as they did in Michigan, so that's not something new for us.  39 Euro cents seems like a steal for us and because it's generic, it doesn't taste as much like regular Coke, which makes me a lot happier.  

I had heard before we got here that ice was not something common in Europe.  We had learned from some of the Germans working with Andy in the States, that a big reason for that is because there aren't free refills in Europe and you'd rather have more to drink than ice (gotta love how good we have things in America).  It's also a bit of a luxury item.  The price really depends on where you're eating.  In the grocery store you can get a small bottle for a little less than a Euro.  I've encountered places where it can be as much as 2 Euros.  Yesterday, I was out at lunch and was shocked when I got the bill and it was 3 Euros! That translates to $4 in the US.  I only paid 1 Euro for Brady's whole lunch and had I known it would cost that much for my drink, I wouldn't have gotten it. 

I knew before we came over here that diet pop was something that was going to be rare, so I planned ahead.  I bought the new Brita bottles that have a filter in the spout so that you can put water from anywhere and it'll filter it right before it hits your mouth.  These are great to keep in the fridge for cold water and will be great when we travel. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

German Weight Watchers

This past Saturday was the first time making it to a German Weight Watchers center and I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was set up where you walk into the meeting room and you had to go up some stairs in the middle of the room to get to the weigh-in area.  I walked into the area where there was a woman standing behind a counter with all the food products because that's usually where the scale is in the US.

A man came up behind me and motioned for me to come to the scale in another room.  He started talking in German, but when I said I only speak English, he switched and I was very grateful to not have to try and figure it out with the language barrier.  I was impressed that there was a man working there, because in all the centers I've ever been in, the employees have always been women.  

There was some confusion when it came to giving him my lifetime card and the membership number on it.  Thankfully, I had one of my old monthly passes and he just used that number.  They aren't as sophisticated with computer systems and wrote everything in my book and just had me sign a paper with my membership number beside it.  I had brought my free etools voucher to see if they had something similar, but he looked at me like I had two heads and initially thought the code on it was my membership number.  Guess I'll just have to pay from April to July when I get back and can obtain a new voucher.  

I had anticipated the weight being in kilograms and he politely told me, and I reassured him that I could calculate it in pounds myself and that as long as I was under 71.6 kg, I would be under my lifetime weight limit.  It came out to 70 kg, so I knew I was fine.

It was quite an ordeal and a good distance from our house, so I think I will only go the once a month that is required of me and weigh myself at home the other weeks to keep myself in check in between official weigh-ins.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weigh-in for 2/18/2012

Last weigh-in (1/7/2011) : 150.0 lb

This weigh-in (2/18/2012) : 154.0 lb

Change : 4 lb gained

I can honestly say that I'm disgusted with this number.  I can also honestly take responsibility for this number.  I've started to gain some control on the internal factors of living in Germany (ex. what we buy in the stores to prepare at home), but now I need to gain some control over the external factors of being here (ex. foods I consume when out of the house).

At least three times a week, Andy was bringing home a pastry or pretzel home from work for me and I would eat it regardless of whether or not I was hungry.  I've been getting out of the house more in the last two weeks and going to play dates for Brady.  Every time I was offered something to eat or there was a spread at someone's house, I ate.  My "just say no" attitude has been sorely lacking.  Also, I've been eating lunch out and about and the selection is not quite the same over here.  There isn't the option for special requests because most people don't speak English and I don't know the German words for what I want.  Everything is very salty and I can feel the swelling in my ankles, which is very telling.

I was weighing myself at home every week, even though I wasn't making it to an official Weight Watchers, and surprisingly, the first two weeks, I was down from where I left the States.  That means, I've gained this 4lbs (yikes) in the last two weeks.  At home, being out of the house and busy kept me from eating, but here it's the opposite.  If I needed to eat on the run, I would stop at Chick Fil-A or Subway and get something low on points and keep going.  Since they eat their big meal at lunch in Europe, it's difficult to get something small and light.

In addition to the mental toll of seeing such a huge gain, there is a physical toll.  I'm so used to eating healthy that eating meats that are higher in fat and carbs (which I hardly ever eat), makes me feel really gross.  It's not a great feeling, so there's a small motivator to try and change.

This is just a bump in the road.  Weight loss is never easy and I've come up against obstacles before and pushed past them.  I knew coming over here wouldn't be easy and I was right.  I have to reassess the situation and adapt accordingly.  I have to take my body's signals and only eat when I am truly hungry, and not just because there's food in front of me. I have to keep my eye on the prize and remember about all the size 8 summer clothes I bought to bring over here and that I still want to fit in them when the weather gets warm.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Help from an International Friend

I've mentioned before how the food selection here in Germany has been posing some problems for me. I was always hungry and would just be eating all day long, never feeling full or even satisfied. A friend from Switzerland came to visit and I shared these concerns with her, thinking she might have some insight as she has lived in Europe for the last five years, and has spent a lot of time over here before setting up a permanent residence here. I was not disappointed with the suggestions she had.

I confided in her that I was concerned that Nutella was becoming my new peanut butter, because I was eating sometimes three slices of bread a day with Nutella spread on them. She said that she eats Nutella every day, but instead of on bread, she eats it on plain rice cakes. The rice cakes are low in carbs and bulky, so they fill you up. I am able to eat two rice cakes with 1 tsp of Nutella on each for 3 Points Plus, or three rice cakes with 1 tsp of Nutella each for 4 Points Plus. It is definitely filling, I get that great chocolate, hazelnut taste, and I forget about food for a while.

I was already eating yogurt, which isn't something I would normally eat at home. It was nonfat, but eating it for a snack or breakfast didn't feel like enough. My friend suggested putting some muesli into my yogurt to bulk it up a bit. She mentioned that getting the non-sugar plan muesli was best for this. The first time I tried this as a breakfast, I was STUFFED! I couldn't believe such simple adjustments could change everything. Basically, she was teaching me to use the situation of carbs being everywhere to my advantage.

I've been stocking up on fruits and veggies and have been using hot tea to help fill me up when I don't want to eat anything with points. Instead of eating out once a week, we have started picking out a pastry at the end of our large shopping trips. Normally pastries are high in points, but nothing compared to a full meal at a restaurant. I still haven't made it to weight watchers here in Germany yet, but the plan is to make it there this week or I'll be cutting it close when it comes to the requirement that I weigh-in once a month. This weekend will mark 6 weeks from my last weigh-in.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Discovering New Markets

We've now been in Germany for two and a half weeks. From my earlier posts, you could probably tell that I was starting to freak out about the lack of variety and light options. Since that time, things have changed slightly with the discovery of new markets.

Our neighbor took me to the butcher and the Rewe market near the train station about four blocks away. I took Andy there last weekend and we stocked up on some good food, but were still feeling rather limited because they are big on packaged soups (in powder form) and mixes here. We were unable to find cream of chicken soup to make one of our favorite dishes and if we want to eat that, we'll have to make our own cream of chicken soup. We also had to get canned vegetables for another dish and it wasn't very good that way.

Our American friends in northern Germany mentioned a Real market that is the German equivalent of Walmart. Another mom from our English-speaking playgroup mentioned that there are several Reals in the area and I quickly looked up the locations so we could go there this weekend. We went there (about 20 min by car from our house) and it was comforting to see that this was a store where we could get almost anything we could want (minus the coveted cream of chicken soup). We got a cheese grater, bagels, light cream cheese (it tasted like diet food 10-15 years ago, so not very good), several frozen meals, fruit, and a few other items. It was a huge store and I'm sure when we go back next weekend, we will find lots more to eat. We have a tiny freezer, so we can't fit very much in it, so we have to be careful when in such a large store. It's still easier and cheaper to get the main staples around the corner at Aldi's and we don't have to worry about stocking up for the week on those things. I still don't like that most things are carb-based and I'm a little taken aback by that. I knew France was famous for their bakeries, and never really expected there to be a bakery on every corner here in Germany.

On a side note, we located the weight watchers location with a Saturday meeting, but didn't quite make it in time before the meeting. It was a very small location and the meeting had already started. In the States, there is a separate area for people weighing-in that wouldn't disrupt the meeting. That wasn't the case here, so I didn't get the chance to weigh-in. We will have to try and get there earlier next week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Goals for Germany

Normally, at this point in the month, I would be sharing the goals I have for this particular month. Until we get back to the States, I will refrain from doing that. Instead, I am setting a blanket goal for our entire time in Germany, which will cover the next five and half months.

My goal for our time in Germany is simple, but in a way not so simple. I want to maintain. My last weigh-in was at exactly 150lbs. I would like to stay in that ballpark and if a loss should happen, I would gladly welcome it. On the other hand, I know that the food over here isn't what I'm used to and I will have to adapt. The bottom line is that in order to maintain my lifetime member status, I have to stay under 157lbs. I would hate to think that I could get back up there in that short of a time, but that's something I'm going to have to work on to make sure it doesn't happen.

I will be going to a German weight watchers (it's an international company, so the plan is the same) tomorrow for the first time. We haven't been to an actual meeting in over a year due to Brady not being able to behave in a way that we feel appropriate. We usually go and weigh-in, then leave. That's what we intend to do, but I'm nervous that they won't speak very much English. I also expect that my weight will be measured in kilograms instead of pounds and I will have to convert that later. My lifetime card gets me access anywhere in the world, but I don't know how their system of free etools works. At your first weigh-in of the month as a lifetime member, you receive a voucher for 8 weeks of free etools as long as you are under your goal weight. Since you get one every month, you always have a little extra time, so I'm good through the beginning of April. My concern is that the vouchers here may only work on the German component of the website and since I'm a registered member in the US, it may not work for me. Only time will tell and when it comes time to enter a new code this week, I will try theirs first to see if it works. If not, I'll have to pay from April until we get home, and then get a new voucher valid there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Final American Food Tour

Before leaving the States, I decided to try and make a list of places and things I wanted to eat before leaving the country for 6 months. Since we're a very food-chain oriented nation, I knew I wouldn't be able to find any of the same restaurants over here, save a few fast food places, and mainly McDonalds (which I haven't eaten at in over 10 years).

I made sure to get some decent pizza since I'd heard that the pizza in any European country other than Italy is sub-par. When I made it up to Pittsburgh a week before we headed to Germany, I knew I had to hit up some restaurants that I'd crave if I didn't eat there before we left. Since I had only a week left, I had to choose the most important ones. We definitely went to Cheesecake Factory, Ichiban, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Lobster, and a few others. I also made sure to get one last diet cherry limeade at Sonic (my all-time favorite drink). One of the things I wish I'd gotten to eat before leaving was a grilled Rachel at Food For Thought in Oakland. Food For Thought was a small deli directly across the street from our apartment and we used to get a grilled Rachel there all the time. It's like a Rueben sandwich, except it's turkey instead of corned beef and cole slaw instead of sauerkraut. It's something we took for granted when we lived there and I haven't had one since we moved out of that apartment in June 2010. I will be certain to get one almost as soon as we get back.

We used to eat out once a week after getting weighed-in and we've been here two weekends already and haven't eaten out once. They're not too keen on small children and the noise they make, plus prices are more expensive (before taking into account that 1 Euro is $1.30). We hope to make it out for major occasions and get a babysitter (we have some friends coming over in the next month that are very familiar with Brady). On the other hand, not eating out once a week will likely help keep my weight in check. On those days, I would often go well over my daily points plus allowance, if not double it with all the courses offered at most restaurants.