Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Update: Goals 2009

At the beginning of the month, I set some goals for the year. Now that the month is over, I thought I'd provide an update.

1. Get back down to 130


I started January at 136.6 and ended it at 137.8, so you can see how well I'm progressing on this goal.

January has probably been one of the worst months for me in many years. Some of you know that my "real job" did some layoffs this month. I'm still employed, but there was a large part of the month when I didn't know if I would be. It was really stressful, and I think I owe an apology to most of my friends, family and coworkers, because I probably wasn't the most fun to be around.

During January, I discovered that I was turning to food for comfort. I know we just had a meeting topic on this, and I probably should have listened to the words coming out of my mouth. (Now you see the dark side of being a Weight Watchers Leader - do as I say, not as I do!)

I decided to do something crazy - I pulled out my weekly materials and turned to this book:

I took the Habit Profile Quiz and lo and behold, the one I scored highest on (meaning I need serious help with it) was "Manage Your Feelings." According to the book, reducing emotional eating has a key connection to weight loss success.

One of the tips offered is to track hunger signals. So for February, I vow to actually use that section of the Tracker and pay attention to my hunger signals (I've filled every section of the Tracker but that one, so far).

Another tip was to use the Tool for Living Reframing to find non-food ways to get the benefits aimed for when eating for emotional reasons. Since I often turn to food when I am at home alone, I have vowed to spend some time in meditation or deep breathing, possibly even in a few yoga poses I've been working on. This will provide the benefit of focus and relaxation without the calories.

2. Lay off the diet soda

I showed some of you my monthly calendar and stickers. It turns out that's a great visual to see how things are going. I am pleased to report that during the month of January, I only had diet soda four times. And those four times were during meals eaten at a restaurant. There were several Subway sandwich runs that would ordinarily include a Diet Coke, but I did without. I didn't hit up the vending machine at work any afternoons.

I am pleased with my performance, and so I'm going to modify my approach for the month of February. If I have diet soda, it will only be when dining out at a restaurant. If I am eating at home (or on the run) I will continue to just drink water.

So February's calendar will be marked up as follows: a sticker is given on days when I am tracking my hunger signals. We'll see how much that helps at the end of February...!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Newsletter, week of February 1st

Last Week

Setting and celebrating short-term goals can really help you stay motivated. Did you set yourself a goal this week?

This Week

One of our Good Health Guidelines is to get 6 (8 ounce) glasses of liquids. This week we'll talk about the hows and whys of that guideline. We might even talk about alcohol. Hey, it's a liquid!


Dawna reached 20 pounds lost, Candy celebrated 25 pounds, Karen has reached 35 pounds lost, and Laketa has lost over 75 pounds now. Great job, ladies!

WW Product of the Week

You can't drink water without a container! Check out our 24 ounce mug. Just 2 of these and you've satisfied the liquid guidelines for the day.

Weekly Potpourri

Thanks to Dan for this week's link. Here's a short video that demonstrates how important that last little step can be.

What's Hot at

A few weeks ago we discussed "flexible restraint." Our science center has an article here that explains a little more.

Quote of the Week

"A day you waste is one you can never make up." - George Allen

Weekly Recipe: Sausage and Cheese Strata

Sausage and Cheese Strata
Makes 8 servings
Points value per serving: 4

2 c. fat-free milk
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
8oz loaf whole-wheat French bread, cubed (about 4 cups)
7oz package frozen fully-cooked turkey sausage links, thawed and sliced
1/2 c. reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, egg whites, parsley, mustard, salt, and cayenne in a large bowl. Stir in the bread and sausage. Let stand stirring occasionally, until the bread is moistened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the baking dish and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove strata from the refrigerator; uncover and let stand 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the strata with cheese and bake until golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Newsletter, week of January 25th

Last Week

Is it your stomach or your brain that says you're hungry? If it's not physical, see if there's another way to satisfy the emotion that's driving you to eat.

This Week

Setting short-term goals is an important step to weight loss, because it can help you stay motivated. If you don't have a goal in mind, this week we'll help you get one.


Trista and Constance both received their first five pound stars. Steven reached 40 pounds lost. Keep it up!

WW Product of the Week

If you're trying to start eating smarter, our cookbooks can be a great resource. We have two new cookbooks: Momentum and Now and Later. These books are good for all cooking levels, and you know you won't have to spend time calculating Points values.

Weekly Potpourri

Men's Health Magazine recently did a story on The 20 Worst Foods in America. Now, some of these items won't be much of a surprise. Ordering milkshakes and eating pizza are sure to use up your Points quickly. But some of the numbers are so shocking that I can't believe it. No wonder this country has a problem with weight!

What's Hot at

Think your weight loss is insurmountable? Then you might want to read about William, who has lost 200 pounds. If he can do it, so can you!

Quote of the Week

People are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves. They therefore remain bound. - James Allen

Weekly Recipe: Apple, Celery and Walnut Salad

This recipe appeared in Parade Magazine in Sunday's paper. As published, it was 5 Points value per serving. That might be okay for some, but with a daily target of 19 Points a day, I knew I could get it leaner. I recommend using Greek-style yogurt in this, to replicate the tartness of the mayonnaise/sour cream used in the original.

Apple, Celery and Walnut Salad
Serves 4
3 Points value

2 Fuji apples, diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 ribs celery, diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Toss the apples with the lemon juice in a bowl. Add celery, walnuts, and raisins, then toss. Fold in the yogurt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Newsletter, week of January 18th

Last Week

Staying on program is a balancing act. Remember that your Weekly Points Allowance and Activity Points can help you be more flexible and have foods you enjoy. But be sure you're focusing on basic good nutrition (and those Good Health Guidelines) when you're spending your Daily Points Target!

This Week

Hunger - every dieter's nightmare! We'll talk about how to identify it and how to manage it, whether it's physical OR mental.


Kendria and Myra reached their first 5 pounds lost, Jessica has now lost 10 pounds, and Tessa got her 16 week charm. Dawna reached her 10% target! Velma has now lost over 35 pounds, and last but definitely not least, Heidi reached 76 pounds lost. Way to go everyone!

WW Product of the Week

Need a quick side dish? Check out our Zesty Spanish Rice, our Chicken Herb Noodles, and our Tomato Parmesan Pasta. Need a quick snack? Try our new Multi-Grain Crisps! All these products can help you manage your hunger without spending a ton of Points.

Weekly Potpourri

As you well know, we recommend 2 servings of dairy a day. (3 if you're a teen or over 50!) And many a Weight Watchers member eats yogurt - some of you have stumbled on to Greek varieties of yogurt, which are tangy and creamier than the typical American version. But you know it doesn't come cheap. The folks over at Chowhound have found a way to make it at home that's much much cheaper. Now, this probably isn't for the novice cook, and I can't believe I'm actually considering making my own yogurt, but maybe a kitchen challenge is just what I need!

What's Hot at

I know some of you like to spend some of your Points on...beverages. Well, that's okay, right? Weight Watchers even has a beer cheat sheet that will help you figure out how best to enjoy your frosty beverages but not break the Points bank. I'll have to see if they have a similar article on wine....

Quote of the Week

You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win. - Zig Ziglar

Weekly Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Soup

Biggest Loser Spicy Black Bean Soup
POINTS® value 1
Servings 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 (15oz) cans of black beans
1 cup chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
3 tbsp ground cumin
1 (20 oz) can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies

In a large sauce pan or medium stock pot, heat oil over a medium high heat. Cook onion and celery until semi soft. Add everything else to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer at least 45 minutes. Before serving, run at least half of the soup through the blender or use an immersion blender right in the pot. Blend until some chunks of vegetables and beans remain.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Newsletter, week of January 11th

Last Week

There are some simple steps you can take to stay on plan. If you're making it complicated or depriving yourself, it will be tougher to stick it out and reach your goals. Did you focus on one of those 7 steps this week?

This Week

Weight loss is a balancing act between calories in and calories out. We'll talk about how to balance eating healthy and getting active with eating the foods you really, really love.

WW Product of the Week

Points Calculator - remember last week when we said you ought to know a food's Points value before you eat it? Well, you should probably also know it before you BUY it. This calculator is a great tool to take grocery shopping. You can quickly calculate the Points value of that can of soup. Is it really worth buying?

Weekly Potpourri

Think weight loss is only a human battle? Nope! The U-T recently featured an article about elephants at the Wild Animal Park who needed to shed some pounds. Not surprising - peanuts are a high Point snack!

What's Hot at

Did you know that you can watch video demonstrations of exercises? Sit up straight and check out this Perfect Posture Workout.

Quote of the Week

You already have all the motivation you need. You just have to learn how to tap it.

Weekly Recipe: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This soup is inspired by celebrity chef Rick Bayless' version of tortilla soup. I've lightened it up by reducing the amount of cheese, oil and tortilla chips, and switching to baked chips instead of fried ones.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Serves 6
5 Points value

1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded
1 15oz can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 quarts vegetable broth
1 large epazote sprig, if you have one
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubess
3 oz shredded Jack cheese
3 oz baked low-fat roughly broken tortilla chips
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges, for serving

Quickly toast the chile in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing it flat for a few seconds, then flipping it over and doing the same thing on the other side. Break the chile into pieces and put in a blender jar along with the tomatoes with their juice.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to the blender. Process until smooth.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the broth and epazote, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon (depending on the saltiness of the broth).

Divide the avocado, cheese and tortilla chips between serving bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls. Pass the lime separately.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Newsletter, week of January 4th

Last Week

We reviewed our 2008 accomplishments and started looking ahead to 2009. Make sure you're setting goals for yourself regularly. It will help keep you focused and motivated.

This Week

The Momentum Plan is simple - make smart choices and make sure you're tracking. We'll discuss the steps you can take simply to be successful.


Candy got her 25 pound star and her 10% key chain; Heidi has now lost over 70 pounds; and Rosemary not only reached 90 pounds of weight loss, but she hit goal this week!

WW Product of the Week

Basic and Deluxe Member Kits - if you want to make smart food choices, you've got to have the ability to look up a food's Point value. If you want to keep tracking, it helps to have the right tool. Our member kits offer those things, and more! Get the latest versions of our Food Companions and you'll have all the information you need.

Weekly Potpourri

Are you still mourning the loss of Wonder Light hamburger and hot dog buns? I know I am! Well, I've been tipped off to the fact that there's an alternative. Wal-Mart carries Nature's Own Whitewheat buns. They too, are just one Point value per bun! Make sure you get the Whitewheat variety. The regular old Nature's Own buns have more calories and less fiber. Hooray!

What's Hot at

If you're reading this because you've just joined the group (or if you're tempted to join the millions of people who set New Year's Resolutions) here are some tips to help you stick with them. Don't become another statistic - actually keep that resolution this year!

Quote of the Week

"Put off for one day, and ten days will pass." - Korean proverb

Weekly Recipe: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Serves 12
5 Points value

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 Tbsp red food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350. Place 12 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups. set aside.

Combine sugar and shortening in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg; beat until creamy.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, stirring with a whisk just until smooth. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 22-23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Spread about 1 1/2 Tbsp frosting over tops of cupcakes.

Per serving: 200 cal, 7.3g fat (3.6g sat fat), 0.5g fiber, 252mg sodium

Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields 1 1/4 cup frosting
1 Point value per tablespoon

1 (8oz) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Per tablespoon: 46 cal, 2.4g fat (1.6g sat fat), 0g fiber, 51mg sodium