Thursday, May 23, 2013
I was cleaning up the breakfast dishes this morning. Left on my 6-year old’s plate: 3/4s of a toasted everything bagel smeared with the perfect amount of cream cheese.
I had not eaten my breakfast yet. I was hungry. That bagel was talking to me. I’m nice and crisp. Come on, my cream cheese is whipped. You know you want me.
I took a bite. It tasted so good. So I shoved another bite in my mouth and that’s when it hit me. Boom. Time for a reality check. I was standing over the kitchen sink eating one of my children’s leftovers – a habit that packed on the pounds several years ago.
So I made a quick decision. I tossed the remaining bagel down the garbage disposal before it could summon me again.
Let’s be clear. My issue was not with the bagel. I love them and do enjoy them from time to time. My issue was not letting old habits creep back into my life.
The next time I am going to eat a bagel, I am going to be sitting down and looking forward to it. I will not be eating it half unconsciously while I do the dishes.
My parents always taught me not to waste food. They’d cringe if they read this. They had very little money at times growing up so I understand their mindset. But I also know that being overweight and feeling guilty about food, and not liking the way I feel about myself at a higher weight, comes with a price. And that price is much higher than the cost of that bagel.
Leslie Fink, MS, RD
My weight loss
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Summer Solstice is only a month away. But for many of us, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer: pool parties, beach vacations and (my favorite) backyard barbeques. This year we’ve revamped our Summer Grilling Guide, which features technique videos from grilling expert Adam Perry Lang, grill maintenance pointers, tips on finding the best grilling gadgets, recipes for everything from burgers and spice rubs to tofu and veggies, and our favorite drinks and desserts to accompany them.
My favorite tip is about grilling squid—something I’ve never thought about bringing to a traditional cookout. Mark and Bruce (our resident “Sunday in the Kitchen with…” columnists) suggest tossing the squid in a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, diet ginger ale and black pepper, then skewering and grilling for three to four minutes. I’ll definitely try that this summer. Yum!
What’s your favorite unique dish to make when you fire up the grill?
-Mary Elizabeth Hurn, associate editor
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A few years ago I walked in a popular, local 5K. I was supposed to go with a group but ended up walking alone. The first mile was uphill and I basically felt I was walking up a mountain for 2/3 of the course. It was hot, my knees hurt -- but I just didn’t want to come in last. I didn’t finish last, but it was close: The golf cart retrieving the discarded water bottles from the watering stations beat me to the finish line, and I was ahead of only about 50 people. Depressing day!
Which is why it took me a few days to respond to an invitation to walk in another popular 5K, a corporate team event with co-workers this spring. But my friend was the team captain and I didn’t want to let her down. I had one goal – beat the water cart! I trained: I prepared for the hills, picked up my pace and selected a nicer outfit (I hated what I wore to the last race). I was ready.
The race was last Thursday; it was a beautiful evening, not too warm. Because of the anticipated crowds and street closures a few of us decided to park about a mile away from the starting line. One gal thought the walk would be a good way to warm up. I had no idea it was an uphill trek. We joined the rest of our team, found our way to the starting line and we were off. Full disclosure, three of us walked at a more leisurely pace and occasionally found a burst of energy to pass someone. We did look cool tossing our water cups aside, although one of the gals walking with me was concerned about throwing the cups on the ground.
Picking up speed, passing other walkers, we felt great. And as we got close to the finish line I Iooked around – no water cart, plenty of people behind me… I jumped across the finish line! It felt great, I was energized and my knees didn’t hurt! Even the walk back to the car seemed shorter.
When I got home, I checked the race results online. Ever the optimist? Nah, not this time. I started from the bottom of list… but it took longer than I expected to find my name. I wasn’t at the very bottom –400 people finished behind me!
Yay! I finished in 7,255th place! (Sign me up for next year.)
Are you challenging yourself this spring?
~ Anita Sado, Community Editor
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
My 45-minute train commute went by in a jiffy yesterday. On my lap I had my iPad open to the Calendar app, plus two tatty pieces of paper that had been knocking around in my bag for a few days. For yesterday was finally the day where I triangulated the two marathon training plans I’d downloaded and printed with my plans for summer and fall. Things like, “Well, that one’s no good as it’s having me do my 20-mile run on the morning of Bob’s wedding.”
The training isn’t even due to start until late July, as I’m entered into the Philadelphia marathon on November 17. But in my mind, planning for the training is almost as good as actually doing it, in that it gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
I’m the same way about food and grocery shopping. I take pride on cooking dinner every night, even with my longish hours and longish commute. I just use my trusty Calendar app plus a shopping list app (and even, if I’m feeling splurgey, an online grocery delivery app) to make sure I have an on-Plan meal on the schedule every night.
If it sounds like my life revolves around planning then I’m portraying a much more organized person than I actually am. The truth is that if I don’t do this stuff, then I succumb to a see-food diet. Without planning, I manage to convince myself on a regular basis that I can eat and drink whatever I like. Not planning can be delicious.
It was actually the running that got me into other kinds of planning. When I signed up for my first half-marathon four years ago, I was so overwhelmed and scared at the training plan that I put every single workout into my calendar and needed a really good reason not to do it. If I didn’t, I’d surely run out of steam during the race and humiliate myself. The other planning stuff really just fell into place around it. Without it I’d be lost. I'm too scared not to plan.
What tricks do you use for making sure you’re planning a successful week?
-Elly Trickett McNerney
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last weekend I went to a steakhouse for dinner. It was a big-time celebration (read: expensive) and I wanted to eat. So I decided to do something I’ve never done before: I pre-tracked the meal.
Yep, I pulled up the menu online and tracked everything I thought I might possibly order. Filet mignon? Tracked. Creamed spinach? Tracked. French fries? Hot fudge sundae? Yep and yep. It wasn’t pretty — the total came to well over 80 PointsPlus values — but I did it. And it felt surprisingly good.
Just so you know, this isn’t one of those “I REALLY LOVE doing crunches for 18 hours because it makes me feel so goooood” type of posts. (No offense if that sort of thing floats your boat. And feel free to share your secret.) But in general, I don’t love doing things that feel prescriptive. I tend to prefer the If I didn’t track it, I didn’t eat it school of magical thinking. (Guess how well that works out for me?) But I’m trying very, very hard to do right by my Tracker — and myself — which means being honest and owning up to the 3 glasses of pinot noir I planned on knocking back.
Having a meal that PointsPlus-consuming in my Tracker was interesting. I thought it would make me feel uncomfortable, but it actually helped me get used to the idea that was going to splurge. And you know what? My steakhouse night was great. I didn’t sit there freaking out over what I should order, and I didn’t end the night with my usual Why did I eat that? guilt — because the meal had already been “paid for,” PointsPlus-wise. It helped that I also ended up making a few smarter choices (subbing mashed potatoes for fries and grilled veggies for creamed spinach) which knocked off a bunch of PointsPlus values! And yes, I ate every bite of the hot fudge sundae. (I mean, hey, it was already tracked.)
Normally, a meal like this would lead me down a path of ridiculous eating. I’m one of those people who, if I veer off Plan, it becomes an excuse to eat everything in the house. I figure my week’s already ruined so what difference is it going to make if I polish off that box of Cheez-Its? But instead, the next day I got up, ate my usual breakfast (1/2 c. fat-free greek yogurt mixed with frozen blueberries and ½ c. Kashi Go-Lean), had a salad with protein for lunch, a normal dinner and went for a swim. Then I got up the next day and did it again — and again and again, every day up until weigh in.
Drumroll: At weigh in this week, I lost 1.4lbs.
Do you guys ever pre-track? (I’ve already got this weekend’s pizza night loaded in.) Who’s in control? I’M in control.
- Alisha McKinney, Copywriter
Friday, May 10, 2013
With seasonal vegetables it’s simple to make fresh and vibrant (not to mention healthy) dishes. This is especially true of spring veggies, many of which are crunchy, green, and (in my opinion) delicious: asparagus, fava beans, artichokes, ramps, peas, fennel, radishes, etc..
This past weekend I participated in the New York Culinary Experience—a two-day gathering where 30 of the country’s best chefs—think David Bouley, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Masaharu Morimoto—come together to teach food-lovers new cooking techniques and recipes.
The first day I took a class with chef Shaun Hergatt called “Market Vegetables, Seasonal Herbs, and Edible Flowers.” For an appetizer we made an asparagus salad with shimeji mushrooms, chives, and chickpeas. Most of these were simply peeled, blanched, dipped in an ice bath and tossed in a while balsamic dressing. Delicious. Add a rich, tiny boiled quail egg and you’re good to go.
For the entrée we made halibut with a carrot puree and fava beans in a meyer lemon sauce with a drizzle of basil and mint oil. We topped the dish with fiddlehead ferns. What the what? Fiddlehead ferns? Yep, those are the little guys you might have seen at your farmer’s market that look like little curled-up string beans (they kind of taste like them, too). Along with the sauce of chicken stock, cream, lemon juice, salt and pepper, those quickly blanched fiddleheads added a great crunch and brightness to an already delicious dish.
What you can also see in the photo is the addition of edible flowers like nasturtiums and lavender. While the flowers don’t exactly add a punch of flavor, they do make the dish look just a little prettier—an impressive touch if you’re throwing a dinner party.
All in all, this dish is a delicious and healthy celebration of spring. What’s your favorite dish that incorporates seasonal spring veggies?
-Mary Elizabeth Hurn, associate editor
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
I recently read the Copenhagenize report about the World’s Most Bike Friendly Cities and was shocked to find that New York City didn't make the cut. Even more shocking was that not a single American city was found on the list. We are simply not cycling people. I know you are wondering why I care about this. Well, I live with a cycling aficionado. I even share my master bedroom with 3 bicycles and countless cycling gear, (Oh yes, it’s not just the helmet). I love cycling.
The argument has been made about cycling being the most effective way of transportation. It’s not only cost effective, but it gets you where you need to go in a timely matter, and it’s a killer workout full of health benefits. The only problem is that there are so few roads for cyclists. This is not safe or healthy. We built cities with cars and trucks in mind. Bikes just don’t seem to fit in as much as other oil dependent modes of transportation yet. There is this stigma and stereotype in relation to cyclists. Either we see them as highly trained professional athletes, juiced up in Le Tour de France, or as poor or eccentric commuters and deliverymen. I’m sure that the crash of Lance Armstrong’s reputation didn't help the cause to cycle. The idea of cycling most exclusively as exercise and recreation and not as a viable form of transportation needs to change. It has so many benefits that in a time crunched society as ours we need to focus on all the overlapping benefits of health, finance and environment, among others. We hit four birds with one stone when we choose a bike.
Here at Weight Watchers we just relocated to new offices and bike racks have been installed on the walls. I’m happy to report as I write this post that out of the 5 bike racks, only 1 space is empty. Increasingly in New York, main avenues have made a little space for bike lanes, and now there is a new pilot bike-renting program called Citibikes. It allows riders to rent bikes by the hour or the day. Although, it’s a very good idea it seems a bit pricey and complicated. It would be nice if someone could make it simple and easy to get the people on the road.
So, let me ask you. Are you a potential cyclist? Hope so…What do think we can do as a country to get ourselves on that very special list next year?
~ Milena Prinzi
Friday, May 03, 2013
You know its summer when you get that first invitation to a Memorial Day BBQ. Even though there is still a chill in the air, that invitation is confirmation that hot weather and hot dogs are just around the corner.
In the Northeast, summer is a very short season so we have to cram all of the fun, food and activities into a couple of months. That need to enjoy it all and not miss anything is a challenge when we’re trying to stay in control and not lose ground as we try to lose weight.
I compare these challenging times to the New Jersey Turnpike. That road has express lanes, local lanes and rest stops. During the off months when there aren’t any holidays or major food challenges, we zip along tracking, planning and exercising comfortably in the express lane. Then there are those times when our efforts are challenged by holidays or work/school and we move along a bit slower in the local lane. During the summer some of us get stuck at the rest stop – still on Plan, but struggling to keep our focus and tempted by food and drink that won’t be around for long.
But what I like to remember is that the Turnpike is a long road, and no matter what lane you travel in or how long it takes for you to reach your destination you’re on your way, you’re on the road to a healthier you! Enjoy the summer – travel safe.
How do you handle the challenges of summer?
~ Anita Sado – Community Manager
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Not only do I work for Weight Watchers — I’m also a member. I know exactly how to stick to the Plan, the joy (and pain) of an early morning workout and a thousand ways to stave off unhealthy choices.
But there are still times when I want to eat everything in the house.
Here’s the dirty little secret about weight loss: It isn’t easy. And anyone who says that it is is either a) lying, or b) someone I don’t want to spend much time with. It can be hard. And frustrating. And there are times when I decide to throw out everything I’ve learned about mindful eating to shove a week’s worth of PointsPlus® values down my throat.
But here’s what’s great about Weight Watchers: It’s run by people who get it. Most of us have struggled (or still struggle) with our weight. We read your comments — every last one of ‘em — and we share in your pain and your triumph. One of my favorite things is reading your feedback on my blog posts, not only because you guys give great advice, but because it reminds me that we’re all in this together.
I guess I just wanted to let you know that whether you’re rocking the Tracker or want to dropkick it, we’ve got your back. And that, just like you, we occasionally want to dropkick the Tracker too. (Sorry, sweet little Tracker. I know you’re just trying to help.)
Be back soon! In the meantime, what do ya’ll think of this?
- Alisha McKinney, Copywriter
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
When I find myself unable to steer clear of an open bag of chips, mindlessly reaching for another handful, I staple it shut. Works like a charm every time - with a much higher success rate than a chip clip.
Leslie Fink, MS, RD