Thursday, December 31, 2009

Roundup, week of January 3rd

I can't believe it's almost January! 2010! Holy crow, what a year.

What Happened Last Week?

We started talking about Winning Outcomes. Goals are so very important to your success, that you've GOT to have at least one. Remember, keep it positive, keep it specific, keep it realistic and something you can fit into your life. If you've done that, there's no stopping you!

The HUGE thing that happened last week was that we've gained our newest Lifetime Member. Congratulations to Heidi, who finished her weight loss journey having lost something like 120 pounds! Now she transitions into weight maintenance mode, which is when the fun really begins.

So What's Coming Up?

This week the new Diet Season officially starts! If you're reading this and you're not active in meetings right now, it's time to get back to it. Use the new year as an excuse to make some serious changes!

Topic-wise, we're going to spend the week focused on the importance of tracking. Did you know that people tend to underestimate what they eat by THIRTY TO FIFTY PERCENT? Crazy! Awareness is a critical weight loss skill, and tracking really brings it home.

This week we'll also be sampling our new Roasted Almond Sensation snack bar. It's going to be replacing the Fruity Nutty Madness bar we currently sell. It's so new I haven't even tried it!

2009 Ends With a Bang...and a Whimper

Today I ended my fitness year by taking a special two hour long spin class. And it was honestly the best workout I have had all year.

Before I became a gym rat, I was a half-marathon and marathon junkie. I've run 5 marathons and I don't even know how many half-marathons. Too many to count. I love the way that long distance running feels, and I love pushing my body farther than I ever thought it could go. But then, a nerve in my right foot decided it had other plans for me.

Today's workout is honestly the first time since running that I felt myself pushed beyond my comfort zone. Standing beside the bike after class, my workout pants were literally dripping sweat on the floor. Gross I know, but a testament to how hard I worked. There were a few times when the beat of the music, the beat of my heart and whatever was going on in my brain synced up so well that it nearly had me in tears - I've cried while crossing the finish line of every marathon I've run, so it was a sensation I've felt before, but not for awhile.

At some point during the workout, I started talking to myself (mentally, not out loud!) and I told myself that I was as strong as I ever have been. Real positive stuff. Anyone who really knows me and my neuroses would find that hard to believe! I cannot believe how good it felt. What a wonderful way to end the year!

Many thanks to Elizabeth and Chris, neither of whom will ever see this, for pushing me beyond what I thought I could do today. You are among a select few in my life who has done this for me. Cheers!

Oh, and before we get all emotional up in here, I should say that I am so ridiculously spent it isn't even funny. I fell asleep watching TV and woke up to a huge pile of drool. That's also something that hasn't happened much since I stopped distance running. How on earth did I ever get anything done on Saturdays after long runs is beyond me. I forgot what this shredded feeling was like!

Happy New Year, and thanks for sharing this moment with me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Food Porn!

This week's "recipe" is my insistence that you must buy the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Weight Watchers Magazine. I'm not kidding, it's probably one of the best uses of your four American dollars this month.

So I was paging through my copy, earmarking recipes I want to try, and came across this little goodie on page 99: Chocolate Panini. I'm not even going to post the recipe, I'm just going to share with you the photo (okay, not THE photo, but this one is about 95% similar) that goes along with the recipe:

Oh snap! I'm just telling you right now I am never making this recipe. Because while it says it serves 6, I'm afraid I'd be quite able to EAT. IT. ALL. But boy, can I stare at that image all day!

So now my magazine is post-it-flagged on almost every page because I intend to try the following:

Bean, Vegetable and Feta Bake
Kickoff Turkey Sausage with Spinach
Herb Straciatelli with Orzo and Chard
Savory Two-Herb Quiche
Winter Squash Soup
Vegetable Medley with Rosemary

Maybe this issue is just right up my alley, but that list hits about all of the ingredients in my cooking wheelhouse. If you like what you see above, pick up a copy the next time you're in the meeting room. Good eats!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Outsmart the Fat takes on Fat

When I named this site, the fat I was referring to was the stuff y'all are trying to get rid of. You know, the stuff that makes your thighs rub, the stuff that causes muffin top and back fat.

But all fat isn't bad, and the fat I mean this time is the kind we consume.

Linda asked last night if it was still important to get the GHG recommended 2 teaspoons of healthy oils even when you're taking vitamins and supplements. I mentioned the reasons why (healthy) fat is important to our diet, but later remembered seeing a WW article on it that I wanted to dig up.

I don't think this is exactly what I remembered, but it'll do. The essence of what I wanted to mention last night is why we need healthy fats in our diet. Among other things, they:

* help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
* provide us with vital nutrients (including Omega 3 essential fatty acids)
* are pivotal for proper gallbladder function.

If you're REALLY interested, check out Chapter 6 of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and you'll see much the same reasoning, and a lot of other things. I will admit my eyes glazed a little, but it corroborates what you see above.

So fat can be friendly. Don't be afraid of it! And as with all of our Good Health Guidelines, try to solve them first with real food, and then if you need to, supplement as necessary. Maybe even work with your doctor on that one - it may turn out you don't need all those pills!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Really, Taco Bell?

I've already started to notice that New Year's Resolution season is in full force. I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I mean, obviously it's a lucrative time for me. But the thought of all the people who make grandiose plans to change their lives and then bail out when things get tough shortly after is rather depressing.

Anyway, Taco Bell is getting into the act. Maybe too many people are taking Jared's advice and eating at Subway, so Taco Bell now introduces The Drive Thru Diet.

Astute folks (or Taco Bell fans perhaps) will note that this is simply a promotion of their Al Fresco menu, which savvy Weight Watchers have known about for awhile. People whose BS meters are pinging will also note the disclaimer on their site, that it is NOT a diet, but the food can be part of a healthy diet. Well, sure. As we know, ANYTHING can be if you practice moderation.

Don't believe the hype. Order it if you want, compare it to non-Al Fresco menu items and notice there's not all that much difference, continue to avoid it if you already do. Taco Bell, I'm on to you. You haven't found the magic pill. No one has.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Roundup, week of December 27th

What Happened Last Week?

Thanks to all who showed up to meetings last week. You're the die-hard members, and we on staff love you for it. It's harder to work smaller meetings, since you're less inclined to be boisterous and talkative (well, except for some of you and you know who you are) so we love it when you keep on coming!

Anyway, we looked back on the year's accomplishments, and some of you have impressive stats. There were weight-loss milestones, fitness milestones, and a few of you even became Lifetime Members in 2009!

Special bravos go to Lena and Irma, who celebrated 5% and 25 pound awards, respectively. Great work this time of year, ladies!

So What's Coming Up?

This week we're getting a head start on 2010 by discussing goals. Lots of New Year's Resolutions are about to be set around the country, so let's talk about how to do it and make it work this time. Start thinking now. What do you want to achieve this year?

And now, one for all of you out there. What do YOU want to see happen at your Weight Watchers meetings this year? What's going to help you be successful? Is there anything we've done in meetings that you wish we'd do more often? Feel free to drop a line in comments, via email or Facebook. I want to help craft a meeting that's going to make it worth your time and money!

Weekly Recipe: Pumpkin Enchiladas

Sometime over the summer, Hungry Girl featured the recipe that inspired today's post. Unexpectedly facing a quiet Christmas dinner at home, I knew this was the time to finally make this recipe. But since it was a holiday meal, I didn't want to be the original recipe intended. Even with my modifications this is still a pretty healthy recipe - and it's good!

Pumpkin Enchiladas
Makes 6 enchiladas

6 medium corn tortillas
2 cups enchilada sauce
1.5 cup canned pumpkin
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp taco sauce
Olives - 4 black, 4 green (diced)
Fresh chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray pan with nonstick spray and heat over medium. Saute the onion until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add pumpkin, taco sauce, olives, and black pepper to the bowl and mix well.

Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. Warm tortillas slightly in the microwave.

Lay tortillas flat on a work surface. Spread 2 Tbsp (or more if you're generous) enchilada sauce onto each one. Sprinkle each with some of the cheddar cheese. Spread the pumpkin mixture evenly on the centers of the tortillas.

Wrap tortillas tightly and place them seam side down in the baking dish. Cover with the rest of the enchilada sauce.

Bake for about 8 minutes, until hot. Remove the baking dish from the oven, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas.

Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese has melted. Garnish with the fresh chives.

Nutrition information for each enchilada: Calories: 157.2, Total Fat: 4.2 g, Cholesterol: 4.0 mg, Sodium: 827.7 mg, Total Carbs: 23.7 g, Dietary Fiber: 4.7 g, Protein: 7.5 g

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Operation: Healthy Birthday

Today is my 36th birthday. That's right, I'm telling you how old I am - who cares, right? Although I'd rather not hear from anyone who thought I was older than that! Anyway, my Monday group knows that my plan was to have a Healthy Birthday. This meant that I'd stay within Points and get all the Good Health Guidelines. I haven't gone to bed yet, but we're pretty much to the end of the day, so here's how it went:

1. Five servings of fruits and vegetables - all of my main dishes at mealtime had fruits and/or vegetables in them, and I snacked on an apple and an orange. I don't usually bother weighing and measuring my vegetables, so I don't know how many actual servings I had, but I can tell you it was way more than 5 in total.

2. Two servings of dairy - I had my usual morning smoothie: a cup of fat-free milk and a packet of Weight Watchers white chocolate peppermint smoothie, so check on that one.

3. Two teaspoons of healthy oil - I put a teaspoon of canola into that smoothie, and a teaspoon of olive oil went into the soup I had for lunch.

4. Choose whole grains whenever possible - for breakfast I had Quinoa with Squash and Cranberries (from our new Healthy Cooking Basics cookbook, which by the way was awesome). And this week I threw a handful of wheat berries into my vegetable soup. So I think that counts!

5. 1-2 servings of lean protein - for dinner I made Chicken and White Bean Stew with Lemon & Sage (also from that brand new cookbook). While it was chicken thighs, I think because it's a WW recipe I'm still golden on that one.

6. 6 glasses of water - I easily drink 12 glasses of water by say 10am, so no problem whatsoever on that one.

7. Take a multi-vitamin - oops. This is one I haven't been doing lately. In fact, I don't even have any in the house. I completely forgot about this one until compiling this list. Ahem.

8. 30 minutes of activity most days - I woke up early and took a spin class, then went BACK to the gym later (crazy, I know) and took a weights class. I think that counts, don't you?

9. Limit sugars and alcohol - I didn't have any alcohol today; I am about to have "pudding in a cloud" (pudding cup with cool whip) and a cup of sugar-free hot chocolate, and that is the only thing I'm having today that has any non-naturally occurring sugar. DONE.

So 8 of 9 GHGs met. I am coming in exactly at my daily target as well. And to cap it off, tonight I worked a meeting at the Clairemont center as a weigher.

Sounds like a healthy day, doesn't it? I also spent some time reading, surfing the internet, and watching a few episodes of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. In all, a pretty good day filled with things I like doing.

If only every day were like this day....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Lapse, but not a Relapse

Those folks over in the meeting topic department certainly know what's what having us talk about lapses this week. The last few days I've been thinking a lot about cookies - which are my kryptonite. When I got home last night, in the mail was a package from a friend who's a chef, filled with homemade goodies.

Guess who had cookies for dinner last night?

The alarm went off this morning, and I had a brief thought about blowing off the gym, but managed to haul my ass on over there. If any of you have ever tried a spin class after eating cookies for dinner, you know it ain't fun. Which is why I had that fleeting thought about bailing out.

But it's done. I'm back on track, and presumably the Cookie Thoughts have gotten out of my system. So it was a lapse, but not a relapse.

If you're lapsing, click on the Comments button and tell me what you are going to do in the next few hours to GET BACK ON TRACK RIGHT AWAY. What are you waiting for...January?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Newsletter, week of December 20th

Last Week

Having lapses are normal, and learning to deal with them is a critical weight loss skill. Persistence, not perfection!

This Week

If you're still coming to meetings in December (and you folks know who you are!), you're probably winners at losing. But this week we'll focus on all that we have gained, in addition to what we've lost this year.


Congratulations to Ginger, who received her 16 week Stay and Succeed award!

WW Product of the Week

The recipe I just posted is from our newest cookbook, Healthy Cooking Basics. If you're not the best cook, this cookbook will discuss a few basic cooking techniques, and give you some recipes to practice on. For the more seasoned cook, check out the harira recipe I posted, as well as the sweet potato and ham hash. Those are the two recipes I've made so far, and both have been seriously tasty. I have a few other grain recipes earmarked for the cooking queue. Just $15.

Weekly Potpourri

I think I might have highlighted this before, but since it came up on Monday night I figured I'd repost it so everyone can check it out. David Kirchhoff is the CEO of Weight Watchers. And a Lifetime Member. And a refreshingly down-to-earth funny dude. Check out his blog for an insight on being a male, being a traveling executive, and being a Weight Watchers spokesperson. Interesting perspective, to be sure.

What's Hot at

No doubt about it, December is a tough time to be a Weight Watcher. Which explains why we have so many empty chairs. (ahem) But check out these tips on how to survive the rest of the month. It's never too late to get back on track!

Quote of the Week

The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible. - Richard M. DeVos

Weekly Recipe: Moroccan Harira

This recipe is from our new Healthy Cooking Basics cookbook. I made it for dinner this week, and it is REALLY GOOD.

Moroccan Harira
Serves 6
5 Points value

2 tsp canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
3/4 tsp black pepper
4 cups water
4 cups vegetable broth
15.5 oz can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
14.5 oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
3/4 cup fine egg noodles
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 lemon wedges

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, turmeric and pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add water, broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in noodles and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.

Per serving: 253 calories, 4g fat, 10g fiber, 468mg sodium

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Newsletter, week of December 13th

Last Week

Holiday STRESS does not have to be your downfall. What else could you do to make yourself feel better that would be consistent with your health goals?

This Week

Okay, so even the best of us give in to those stress eating moments. When that happens, we need to learn how to turn things around and persevere. If you're worried about a holiday lapse, be sure to join us this week!

WW Product of the Week

Don't stress yourself out thinking you have to spend a lot of time tracking Points this hoiday season. Our Points Clicker can help you stay within your Target with almost no effort! It's the best five bucks you'll ever spend.

Weekly Potpourri

I think I've linked to this company's t-shirts before, but props to Hungry Girl for reminding me how clever these t-shirts are. How can you not chuckle?

What's Hot at

Here is a fun little quiz that nicely ties in with last week's stress topic. Find out how much that holiday stress gets you down!

Quote of the Week

There are only two options regarding commitment; you're either in or you're out. There's no such thing as life in-between. - Pat Riley

Weekly Recipe: Wayne's Pumpkin Smash

This is my week to steal from Hungry Girl - this has been my breakfast all week - like pumpkin pie without the crust!

Wayne's Pumpkin Smash

PER SERVING (1 piece, 1/9th of recipe): 65 calories, <0.5g fat, 81mg sodium, 12g carbs, 1g fiber, 7g sugars, 5g protein -- POINTS® value 1

One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
One 12-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
3/4 cup Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly. Place mixture in a baking dish (8" X 8" works well) sprayed lightly with nonstick spray, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. (It will remain a little soft, like pie filling.) Once ready to serve (it's delicious eaten hot or cold), cut into 9 pieces.

Serve and enjoy!


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Newsletter, week of December 6th

Last Week

If you're in a food rut, how do you expect to have the fortitude to turn down all those holiday goodies? Look to all the sources we discussed, and find something new to eat!

This Week

This week we'll discuss managing stress. But in addition to that, everyone that attends a meeting this week will get two things: a new, STURDIER version of our Pocket Guide, and an issue of Weight Watchers Weekly, which is a new publication we'll be giving out each week as a take-home to reinforce that week's meeting topic. Be there!


Wendy received her first five pound star, Lena reached 10 pounds lost, and Estella has now lost over 20 pounds! Catching up from the meeting I missed last Wednesday, I want to give a shout-out to Jill, who is our newest Lifetime member. I feel like we've had a rash of folks hitting goal and finishing maintenance in the past month or two. Great work!

WW Product of the Week

Along with the new handouts, we're revamping our member kits. That means updated versions of our journals and companions, and now it comes in a nifty new carrying case! If you never invested in this tool before, it's pretty much your encyclopedia for Weight Watchers. Give them a look this week.

Weekly Potpourri

Because it apparently only happens once a year, I wanted to give you all a heads up: the Mission Valley YMCA is running a No Joiners Fee special next week on Tuesday and Thursday (December 8 and 10). Joining this YMCA gives you access to Toby Wells, Mission Valley (on Friars), Hazard Center, and Downtown facilities. Why am I sharing this with you? Well, I'll be popping in to join up myself! This will save you on the order of a hundred bucks, and if you join now, gives you a leg up on the New Years Resolution crowd. Won't you join me?

What's Hot at

I try to give equal time to all the holidays that pop up this time of year, but I know most information out there tends to be Christmas specific. If that's not your bag, but Hanukkah is, they've got you covered with a bunch of tasty recipes. Rugelach! How can you not like that?

Quote of the Week

To think that you are not going to fail is an illusion. Fail faster, you will only be closer to what you want. - Unknown

Weekly Recipe: Don't Try This At Home, Kids.

No really. Don't.

One of the wonderful things about visiting my in-laws is the presence of The World's Best Used Bookstore That's Not Powell's in Portland. Every time we visit, it's one of the first places we go.

This year I scored the holy grail, people. At least, the holy grail as it might seem to a leader with a blog and a warped sense of humor (i.e. ME). I found a copy of The Weight Watchers Cookbook from 1966. I'd seen this before, but NOW IT IS MINE. If I can get my rear in gear, 2010 is going to be filled with some fun stuff as I plow through this. In the meantime, this week's "recipe"....

Cottage Cheese Danish

1 slice crisp toast
2 ounces cottage cheese
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla
1/2 package granulated sugar substitute

Mix cottage cheese with cinnamon, vanilla and sugar substitute. Spread on toast and place under broiler until warmed through. We think this tastes like a fresh-baked cheese Danish.*

VARIATION: use artificial butter flavor instead of vanilla and add 1/4 tsp orange rind. Roll freshly-made toast with a rolling pin to flatten**, cut diagonally in half. Divide cheese mixture over toast halves, secure bread with toothpicks and bake in preheated oven, 500 degrees, for 10 minutes.

*Yeah, right.

** BWA HA HA!!!