September 30, 2009


I love Roni's Chicken Surprise. I've made it at least a half-dozen times and always eat all the leftovers before they go bad.

For dinner tonight, I let that recipe inspire me to try something new, but similar. I made a skillet meal with lean ground beef, beef-flavored rice mix, corn, green beans and salsa. It turned out pretty well — if a little spicy. (Not sure why I found it spicy. The salsa I bought said it was "medium" and I'm usually OK with medium salsas.)

I wish I'd remembered to take a picture of it, but I'll try to remember to snap one next time I reheat the leftovers.

Here's the recipe for what I'm calling Mexican-style beef and rice:

8 oz. 93% lean ground beef
1 box reduced-sodium beef-flavored Rice-a-Roni
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup salsa
1 cup corn with red and green bell pepper pieces
1 can green beans

Brown beef in a good-sized skillet. Add rice and cook according to package directions, subbing 1 1/2 cups water and 1 cup salsa for the 2 1/2 cups water called for on the box. When you have about 5 minutes of cooking time left, add the corn and beans.

Makes 4 servings, each with 6 WW Points. (I know Roni's Chicken Surprise is 3 servings with 7 Points each, but when I tried to do 3 servings, it came out to 8 Points ... and that was too pricey for one meal.)

September 29, 2009

Can it really be that simple?

I went to my normal Monday morning weigh-in this morning after a decent but not great weekend ... and I was down 4.8 pounds.

Of course, that still means I'm up 1.2 from two Mondays ago, but down from last Monday. I'll take it. At least it means the scale's going in the right direction. :D

The big difference? I was alone this weekend, after being with the Boyfriend last weekend. Yes, I know I make poor choices when I'm with him. He doesn't have to push very hard for me to say, "I'd love some mac & cheese" or some french fries or microwave popcorn with real butter.

Why? Because, for me, food = fun. When I'm happy and enjoying myself, food is often involved.
I like fun food. A cheeseburger is a heck of a lot more fun than a salad topped with grilled chicken. Mac & cheese is definitely more fun than, say, brown rice. And chocolate cake or a donut will beat out an apple almost every time.

Bad attitude, I know, but there it is. Give me fun foods and I'm a happy camper.

I think that's why I like Hungry Girl's newsletter: She's always dishing up recipes for things like onion rings, cupcakes and faux fast-food faves — and they're all way healthier than the originals.

I need to work on my attitude. It's a lifestyle, not a diet ... and it doesn't mean a steady intake of salads. There's plenty of room in this lifestyle for sensible indulgences.

September 26, 2009

My favorite salad ... from McDonald's, anyway

I know a lot of people who swear by McDonald's Southwest Chicken Salad — but I'm more of a Chicken Bacon Ranch kind of girl.

I think it's because, after two years on the Atkins diet, I love bacon. (Or maybe I just got along so well doing the low-carb thing because I was a bacon lover to start.)

With its cheese and bacon, the Chicken Bacon Ranch salad makes me feel like I've had something delicious and decadent ... and all for just 5 Points. (The dressing adds something, depending on what you use. I have Kraft light ranch packets in my purse and a bottle of Walden Farms creamy bacon dressing in the fridge — the former has 2 Points, the latter 0. Which one I use depends on where I am when the salad craving strikes.)

Oh, how I wish it would strike more often. I wish I could say I LOVE salads. Unfortunately, when I try to make one a meal, I often walk away wanting something more. This Chicken Bacon Ranch salad really satisfies.

And that's what matters: Finding foods that don't make you feel deprived.

September 25, 2009

While my coworkers were eating pizza ...

... I was enjoying a California roll from my favorite local sushi place. I've been there so often — always ordering the same thing — that when I walked in today, the woman at the podium knew my name and what I wanted.

Hmm ... maybe I should take that as a sign that I eat too many California rolls. I try to go there at least once every other week (and sometimes more like weekly). But it's a good, filling lunch for few WW Points, which makes it a no-brainer choice for me.

Today, I paired it with a small bowl of cantaloupe I picked up while I was at the bank/grocery store. (There are advantages to having a bank with in-store branches.)

Overall, today was a great day — my first in about a week. I plan to make it the first in a string of great choices all weekend long ... something that will be easier because I'm working and the Boyfriend will be doing his own thing all weekend.

I have a meeting of my romance writer's group Saturday, which will make for a long day for me (up early to drive to the meeting an hour and a half away, then back home to work until midnight). That doesn't mean, though, that I have to eat things I know I should avoid. I'm perfectly capable of making good choices — even at a restaurant.

At least I'm going to tell myself I am. I tend to have trouble with that — a bad habit I'd like to change. For some reason, the things I know are safe to order don't appeal nearly as much as the ones that are bad for me. It's like I'm afraid they'll have disappeared off the menu the next time I go to whatever restaurant I'm in, and I'll have missed my LAST chance to eat whatever it is.

Then there's that whole "I'm eating out — why shouldn't I get what I want" attitude to counter. I know that every restaurant meal is not a special occasion and cause to splurge ... but I still have trouble not doing exactly that EVERY darn time I go out.

How do you safely navigate restaurant eating? Any tips on how I can change my mindset?

September 22, 2009

Too much sugar

I've been thinking: One of WW's eight Good Health Guidelines is to avoid added sugar and alcohol. But I don't avoid added sugar nearly as much as I should.

One of the culprits? Those 100-calorie packs of snacks. They're ONLY 2 Points, I tell myself ... conveniently forgetting that's 2 Points I could be using on something with nutritional value.

I guess it's OK when I only have one 100 calorie pack in a day ... And usually, I'm able to do that. But I've discovered one variety that I have trouble stopping with just one of. That's them over there at the left. Chips Ahoy! Double Chocolate Chip cookies are apparently a trigger food for me. I ate one pack at work Friday, and a couple of hours later, still at my desk, I tore into another one.

I guess I won't be buying THOSE anymore. I should probably cut back on all 100-calorie packs. (The chocolate-covered pretzels are another favorite of mine.) And sugary yogurts. I just noticed that my favorite Yoplait Light (also just 2 Points, but at least it counts as a dairy serving) has the dreaded high fructose corn syrup listed as its second ingredient. I thought those things were sweetened with Splenda.

Hmm. I should have known better. Anything that tastes as good as their Apple Turnover and Pineapple Upside Down Cake varieties CAN'T be good for you, right? :D Well, I guess they are better than the original kind ... And they are delicious. Yum!

I've been flirting with the idea of watching carbs again — not as strictly as I did on Atkins, but surely I can do a lower-carb version of WW and lose the last 19 pounds more quickly than I've lost the first 55-ish ... right?

September 21, 2009

As expected

I see I now have TWO followers. I wish I had better news to share. The results of my official WI today weren't good: Up 6 pounds.

Yup. From having just 13 to lose, I now have 19. In one short week. I'm not surprised. I ate a lot of crap over the weekend. And I weighed in late in the afternoon instead of in the morning, and I've been skimping on the H2O, which means I'm more than likely retaining water.

Even so, I'm sure some of it's real weight, and that's ridiculous. After two years on WW, I should know better than that. I KNOW I need to track everything and get in plenty of exercise (both of which I did not do, especially late last week and through the weekend).

Anyway, it's like I said last night: I know a few days won't make me pack on all the pounds I've lost. Now's the time to turn things around and start the scale moving in the right direction again.

I know it's possible, because I've done it before. Heck ... I was down 1.8 pounds in less than a full week at my last WI. How'd I do it? Tracking and staying within my Points.

Duh. It's so easy (yet so darn hard).

September 20, 2009

Off track ... again

I could blame the Boyfriend. I always seem to have trouble staying OP when I have weekends off and spend them with him.

But he's not the only one to blame. If only I could learn to say "no" when the good stuff — like mac & cheese and chocolate malts — are on offer.

I'll blame the dentist for that whole malt thing. I had a root canal Wednesday morning, and my mouth hasn't felt the same since. I told myself I'd let myself have a milkshake on Wednesday, but got it at the wrong time ... right after my trip to the dentist, while my mouth was still mostly numb. By the time evening rolled around, my mouth hurt like crazy and I had a second one to make it feel better.

The mouth was still sore on Saturday. Another malt and a half were on offer, and I said "yes."

Silly, silly me. Now it's time to get back on track. A few days will not make me regain all the weight I've lost ... but if I continue to eat like there's no tomorrow, all bets are off.

Stop me before I munch again!

September 16, 2009

So worth it

Pay no attention to the sink full of dirty dishes. Hungry Girl's Cheesy Butternut Bake is SO worth the cleanup.

Yes, I said it — and I HATE cleaning up. Usually, anything that takes more than one or two pieces of hardware doesn't get made.

But being a butternut squash lover, I had to try this recipe when I saw it in my inbox. It was delicious — and for only two WW Points.

It was actually a Hungry Girl kind of day. I started the morning with HG's Outrageous Chocolate Chip Pancakes — yum! (That's them, below.) It was the second time I'd made this recipe, and I'll definitely be making it again.

September 15, 2009

Dare I say I'm on a roll?

Even though it was a short week (I weighed in last Wednesday because my regular Monday meeting was closed for Labor Day), I still managed to record a loss this week.

That's right: I'm down 1.8 more pounds, for a total of 63 pounds altogether. More exciting still is that I have just 13 pounds left to lose before I hit my WW goal.

Amazing what happens when I actually track every bite that goes into my mouth!

OK, I'm not really amazed. I know tracking is an important part of the plan. I just have to fight my natural tendency, which is to stop writing it down the minute I eat something I know I shouldn't. Sometimes I find that what I thought was really horrible wasn't really that bad.

Then there are times when I discover it's a lot worse than I thought it'd be. For instance, a small
piece of cake with icing has something ridiculous like 12 Points — half my day's allowance. And you can forget about Wendy's Baconator, which has 830 calories, 51 grams of fat and 1 gram of fiber for a WW Points total of 21.

The sad thing
about that is Wendy's introduced its Baconator after I started WW. Had I still been doing Atkins, I could have enjoyed one sans bun. But I can see no place in the WW universe for the Baconator. Maybe on the last day of the week, if I haven't used all my Flex Points yet ...

Like that ever happens.

I guess I should take heart that the Boyfriend ordered one a couple of nights ago (for me he said) and told me it didn't taste that good. Then again, why take his word for it? He's more carbivore than carnivore.

September 14, 2009

Waiting for weigh-in

I'm back on my regular WW meeting schedule, with a meeting and weigh-in Monday at either 10:30 a.m. or noon.

I wouldn't exactly say I'm looking forward to it. I was several hours ago — before I realized that I ate a sodium-filled frozen dinner for lunch and another for dinner. That wasn't very smart. You'd think I'd know better after two years on WW.

But overall, it's been a good weekend. I've stayed within my Points (give or take a few of my Flex Points) and I've even been avoiding the pop most of the weekend. Ever since writing that blog post several days ago, the giant jug has been full of water and not diet soda. Woo-hoo! I did have some iced tea, and a couple of bottles of water flavored with Crystal Light ... but no more diet soda.

Of course, now that I think about it, I'm starting to crave a Diet Dr Pepper. Hmm ...

Hopefully, all the water I've been drinking will help me at weigh-in. Keep your fingers crossed!

September 13, 2009

It might not look like much

Believe me, I know this looks like poo on toast ... but it's really rather tasty.

What is it, you ask? I've been calling it pumpkin pie, but it's more like pumpkin pie filling on a reduced-fat graham cracker. And it's really simple to make — you might say it's as easy as pie! :D

I wish I could recall where I found the recipe, but it's been so long that I don't remember. It just popped up on my computer screen when I opened "Stickies" and I thought, "I wanted to try this." Since I had pumpkin leftover from the carrot-pumpkin cupcakes I made last weekend, I figured there was no time like the present.

Here's the recipe:

1 cup canned pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup FF vanilla yogurt
1 packet Splenda
cinnamon and ginger to taste

Mix everything together and chill until very cold. Enjoy!

I decided to enjoy mine with some reduced-fat graham crackers. The first batch I made, I crumbled graham crackers into the bowl and ate it with a spoon. This time, I spread some on the cracker squares.

Either way, it's a pretty good snack — and low in WW Points, too. The filling isn't even 2 Points (pumpkin is 1, the yogurt should be less than 1); and two whole graham crackers (RF) have just 2 Points.

September 12, 2009

H2O update

When my jug was almost empty this evening, I dumped the rest of my watered-down Diet Dr Pepper and filled it with ice and ... water. That's right. I resisted the diet soda urge. Hooray!

I spent the entire evening drinking on it, and still I only managed to down about one-third of the darn thing. I guess that's about 32 ounces, though, so that's not bad. And that's on top of the two large iced teas I consumed.

At least it wasn't soda. (OK, I did have some of that before I dumped it out — but not much. It was already pretty watered down.)

Can this mean I'm on my way back to the good habit of water-drinking? I sure hope so!

September 11, 2009

Friend or foe?

When I returned from my vacation in Salt Lake City last month, the Boyfriend gave me a present. You see it at left: a 100-oz. jug.

Discount the neon-orange color, and it could be a great gift. Really, it could ... but only if I manage to fill it with good ol' H2O.

Unfortunately, I've been filling it with diet soda instead.

I thought I had the diet soda habit kicked. For the longest time, I could go days without drinking one ... without even wanting one.

But while I was on vacation, it was all too easy to fall back into the diet soda habit. And the Boyfriend's gift, which I can refill at pretty much any gas station for under $2, hasn't helped. I've been back for two-plus weeks, and I'm still on a soda kick.

What I should start doing is putting $2 in my non-scale victory jar every day I avoid getting a refill. I might have to try that. Why, I could use that kind of cash to finance a new wardrobe when I get to goal!

September 10, 2009

Scale says ...

Hmm ... I sound a bit like Richard Dawson, don't I?

The good news is, I lost 3 pounds at my official Weight Watchers weigh-in Wednesday evening. The bad news is, my last meeting was on Aug. 17.

At least the scale was down and not up. After a couple of weeks of vacation from both work and my WW plan, (and most of a week of being about 85 percent on plan), I wasn't sure what to expect. Last Friday, when I first got on the scale, I was pleasantly surprised that the 190s weren't staring me in the face. That's what I half expected.

But I got back to work — and back on track — and I guess it paid off. I'll take a 3-pound loss for three weeks!

Now, I'm on a quest to lose 14.8 more pounds to get to my WW goal. And I want to do it by Thanksgiving. That's 1.3 pounds a week, actually — completely do-able, right? Right. I just need to focus.

But I'm not going to try to be perfect. I read these words of wisdom from Roni over at Roni's Weigh last night. She was being interviewed by Trish, another blogger, who asked, "If you could give readers one piece of advice, what would it be?"

Roni's very wise response?

You will never be "perfect". Not your diet, not your body, not anything. Do your best everyday and make the best choices you can to live a happy, active, healthy life. When you relieve yourself of the pressure of perfection you just might be able to reach your goals.

So I will focus on doing my best to make the best choices I can, every day. But I will not try to be perfect, because none of us can ever be that.

September 8, 2009

24 Points worth of cupcakes ...

That's them, over at the right: The Carrot-Pumpkin Cupcakes from the latest issue of Weight Watchers magazine.

They're 3 Points apiece, so if you count the one on the cooling rack in back, that's 24 Points worth of cupcakes.

Thank goodness I didn't eat them all! I actually managed to restrain myself and eat just one, if you can believe it.

Actually, I was more than a little restrained: The recipe said it made 16 cupcakes, but I ended up with 17. I froze nine of them for later and made half a batch of frosting for the rest. I ate one the first night I made them (and gave one to the roommate's husband. I’d have let her have one, too, but she just started doing Atkins again, and they had way too many carbs in them for her.) I ate a second one Monday night when I got home from work.

Then, knowing my dentist was on WW too, I took four of the five that were left to him Tuesday morning, saving just one more to eat myself. My ploy to butter him up didn't work, though: I still need a root canal. Bummer.

Successful or not, that leads me to my tip for the day: If you must bake (and sometimes feel I must), don’t eat all of what you make yourself. Share it — with friends, family, co-workers … whoever you can get to try a “healthy” treat.

(My Boyfriend, unfortunately, need not apply. He doesn’t do healthy. I wish he did, because then I wouldn’t have to stare down a bag of Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles. Right now, I’m winning. I counted out a serving — 11 chips for 4 WW Points — and am studiously avoiding a second helping.)

September 7, 2009

Trying something new

I've been blogging over at Blog to Lose for a while now, and I love that community ... but lately I've been wondering if it's time to branch out a little.

There's no time like the present, right?

A rundown of my weight-loss history:

I was a fairly normal-weight child until I hit about fourth grade. Then I got chunky and stayed that way until my freshman year of high school when, skipping lots of meals, I lost weight (and passed out in English class, prompting the principal to ask my mother if I was on drugs). No drugs, but Mom took me to the doctor ... who informed me I wasn't eating enough.

I put some weight back on, and, in my junior year of high school, my mom started doing Nutrisystem. (This was back when you had to go to a center to weigh in, and mixed powdered packets of stuff, and had to have puffed rice cereal, skim milk and 4 ounces of grapefruit juice every morning for breakfast. To this day, I still can't stand grapefruit juice.)

I did, however, lose weight. When I went off to college, I weighed 198 pounds and was wearing size 13-14. College, with its steady diet of fatty, carb-filled food, was my downfall. I have no idea how many pounds I gained — but it was a lot more than the dreaded Freshman 15. With breakfasts of Pop-Tarts and Dr Pepper, bacon cheeseburger lunches and lots of fast food runs, it's no wonder I was wearing a size 20-22 when I graduated!

Living on my own was no better. I used to eat an entire box of mac & cheese in one sitting. And I never stepped on the scale. I dreaded trips to the doctor because I didn't want to pay him to have him tell me I needed to lose weight. I knew that ... I just wasn't ready to do anything about it.

It took me a long time to get ready. It wasn't until 2003, after losing both my parents within a month, that I was finally willing to make a change. I started doing Atkins — and had great success. I lost 100 pounds in a year and 10 more in the second year. But then I met my boyfriend, fell off the low-carb wagon and spent the next two years regaining 70 pounds.

When I joined Weight Watchers, I weighed 246. Now I'm at 185.4, with a little more than 15 pounds to go to get to my WW goal (and 10 more after that to my personal goal).

I'm not exactly sure how much I weighed at my highest. The doctor had me at 306 at one point, so I use that as my highest known weight. I was 276 when I started Atkins and 169 when I fell off the low-carb wagon.