Monday, August 11, 2014

Motivational Monday: The Old Me

Since I made a post on Saturday about how I was recommitting myself to Weight Watchers starting yesterday (Sunday), I figured I would skip writing a "Weekend Wrap-Up" post. The idea for this current post came to me when I actually had time on my hands (a rare occurrence) to take a walk down memory lane by leisurely browsing through old photos of me on Facebook. It was a significant moment for me when I realized for the umpteenth time what I used to look like when I was carrying an extra 75+ pounds around with me on my body. I thought I would share these pictures because they are a good reminder of why I started Weight Watchers and why I continued on this journey despite the bumps along the way.

I could write a million words about "The Old Me" but I would rather just share these pictures. The first few pictures are from my time in college when I gained more than the "Freshmen 15" because I never learned how to eat healthily. The other pictures are from the year after I graduated college when I had not yet started Weight Watchers because I didn't have the means or motivation to join. In the months following my college graduation, I felt in a rut even when I landed a somewhat part-time job working in a pharmacy. A combination of feeling depressed but having money to buy whatever food I wanted, led to my weight being at its highest.

In all of the pictures you can see how happy I am because I did love myself and the life I was living when I was heavier. However I can say now that I truly feel more like myself now than ever before. I can with 100% certainty that I feel far more confident, happier, and beautiful weighing 75+ pounds lighter these days. While I loved every moment in college, a small part of me wishes I could back to relive those days now that I have more energy & confidence being a smaller size. The pictures below give me the motivation I need to continue my journey towards a healthier lifestyle. I'm hoping this post will be a reminder for me of why I started my journey and why I keep going...




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Special: Where's Jax?

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since last month. I've been so busy these past few weeks that I haven't had much time to make posts. Additionally, I've been utterly failing on Weight Watchers by eating so terribly. A lot of my food choices have been the result of anxiety & stress, which is what I've been battling with due to various situations beyond on my control these past few weeks. However now I'm just eating food because it tastes good in the moment and I think I've gotten bored with I think my options are for what I can eat on Weight Watchers.

The reason I'm making a post today is because I really want to get back on plan with Weight Watchers. I've been absolutely terrible with tracking all of the food that I eat. I skipped weighing in on July 30th because I knew I would have a gain and I had plans to go out of town for a few days. I didn't know how I would do with my eating even though I packed, prepped, and planned out what I was going to eat my few days away from home. So despite all of the work I put into trying to stay on plan, I was basically mentally setting myself up to fail anyways. This was on top of dealing with a rough week beforehand where I was emotional eating in order to cope with high amounts of stress & anxiety.

I'm back now though but I'm a bit lost of where I need to start/go. I know I need to talk with my leader but I don't know when I'll get a chance to see her next. Alas, that's why I'm here to write out some of my thoughts to help keep me a bit organized. I have already blown my plan today and I'm going out to hang out with friends tonight so I don't foresee me jumping back on the Weight Watchers bandwagon directly until tomorrow. However, tomorrow is a new day and I can have three days (Sunday, Monday, & Tuesday) to eat well and continue with my exercising in order to help my weigh-in on August 13th.

First, I want to focus on the positive things I've done despite the boatloads of unnecessary stress & anxiety I've been dealing with...

  • I've been diligently working out 5-6 days a week still
  • I'm completing my new fitness routine two times a week
  • I'm still getting in lots of fruits & veggies (especially fruit though, oops)
  • I haven't been drinking soda very much
  • I added some foods to my "Do Not Buy" list
  • I've been avoiding gluten so as to not upset my stomach

In order to snap back to reality, I did choose to weigh in on August 6th. Shamefully I gained 3.8lbs but I know it could have been a lot worse. Plus, I'm still in the 150lb zone and that makes me exceptionally happy! Now I just want to make it a goal to get to the 140lb zone by the end of September which is totally doable.

Since I'm feeling lost as to where to start back with my weight loss journey, I just need to do a mental overhaul. Starting tomorrow I'm dedicating myself to doing the following:

  • Tracking EVERYTHING that I eat
  • Updating my Weight Loss reminders in my phone
  • Eating more protein in a day so I have fewer points+ at the end of the day
  • This will lead me to eating fewer processed foods/snacks
  • Pre-tracking/planning out what I will eat for each day as much as possible

I think the list above is a good place to start. I don't want to immediately throw myself back into tracking my intake of fruits & veggies or making sure I get in a colorful variety of power foods every day because I find that sometimes it just takes TOO much work to do that and often becomes too time-consuming. However, I think it's very important for me to start cutting back on how many processed foods I eat in a day. Far too often I would have 6-8 points+ left at the end of the day (about a third of my daily points+ target) that I could eat in snacks. At first I was trying to eat popcorn at night which is a Weight Watchers power food but soon my schedule will change and I'll be working until much later in the evening, so I won't have that option of heating up noisy popcorn when I come home from work at night. Plus, I was also just phasing out of liking my array of popcorn varieties which I knew was bound to happen sooner than later.

Therefore, I'm hoping that by completing and focusing on the tasks above, I can begin to get back on track. I just want to take it little steps at time. My biggest challenge will be fighting off those initial food desires where my brain will yell at me for all of the snacks I've been having lately. If I can just find other things to do (e.g. hobbies, activities, gaming, etc), then I think those cravings will slowly melt away.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up 21

This weekend was another shameful weekend where I made very poor eating choices. I sort of predicted that this weekend wasn't going to be too good as far as eating goes but I was hoping that it wouldn't be too bad. I think Friday was the worst day because I didn't think my anxiety would be too much for me to handle that I would need to drink. Unfortunately I was wrong and whenever I drink, I tend to not care about the food I'm consuming. Thursday was also a bad eating day but I knew it would be since I was going to a carnival/fair that night where there were certain foods that I wanted to try. I don't think I went overboard but I did indulge in foods that I wouldn't normally eat. The foods I ate the fair are foods that I highly doubt I will eat again or are foods that I won't eat again for another 5-10 years (which was the last time I had one of the decadent foods I had that night).

I've also gotten into this habit of eating Oreos with peanut butter. Typically I wouldn't mind doing this because I allow myself to eat foods that I enjoy. Since I discovered that I like eating the two together, I've been trying to figure out solutions that would allow me to eat Oreos with peanut butter in a controlled way without using a lot of my daily or weekly points+ allowance. First I determined that buying a whole jar of peanut butter was out of the question because I have no self-control when it comes to certain foods such as peanut butter. So I bought a pack of single serve peanut butter containers that cost me about 7 points+ every time I indulge in this snack. Then, last night, I discovered that Walmart sells a generic of gluten free Oreos which means I can now safely eat some Oreos without having to deal with the occasional consequences of eating wheat.

Anyways, that's just a small step. Obviously I ate terribly this weekend but I can only improve from here! I'm continuing to work out and I've even got a new set of strength training exercises to do now that I've finally met with my personal trainer (after about 3 months of not making the time or setting aside the money to see her). I'm also continuing my Couch to 5k efforts, so this week I'll be starting week 4 which I'm hoping goes well. So all I can do is to keep moving forward, not dwell on the mistakes I made, and make better food choices as well as keep up with my exercising. I am determined to make these next 3 days before my weigh-in day better than the last 4 days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In #26 (week of July 16-22)

This week at my weigh-in at Weight Watchers, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that my weight went down! In fact, I lost 0.6lbs which means I surpassed the goal I made for myself last week since my total weight loss is now 90.2lbs! Huzzah!

Honestly, I can't speak very highly this past week -- I almost feel like I don't deserve to have lost any weight. I had a really rough day on Thursday as far as my eating and emotions were concerned. I was going to turn it around on Saturday but I went to a party where I let my anxiety take over and I coped with it all wrong by drinking. Then, on Sunday, I didn't eat much all day because I felt so nauseated from the night before. It was probably all for the best because Sunday evening I met up with an old friend for dinner and I could only do so much to accurately point the food I ate (nothing too bad -- the place we went is great for healthy eating so I got a portobello mushroom wrap).

This coming week brings its own food/eating challenges including:

  • Thursday, July 24th → lunch with a friend (getting healthy, steamed shrimp with veggies at our favorite Chinese restaurant) and going to the large State fair in the evening (I'll be having a filling but low-point+ dinner and I'm not a huge fan of carnival food anyways)
  • Friday, July 25th → dinner with family but I don't know what's being served so I'm just going to have a filling salad with lots of power foods but I'll be sure to save extra WW points+ for that night
  • Saturday, July 26th → going to an Indian dance show of sorts where there will be free food & drinks after the dance recital so I'm actually considering leaving shortly after the dance portion of the evenings; otherwise I'm making sure to have meals that day which are low in points+ values just in case I'm coerced into or tempted to try any of the Indian food
  • Sunday, July 27th → out to dinner again with a friend/coworker to the same restaurant I went to this past Sunday -- this means I can check out the menu before I go and track the meal I plan to have that night

I think planning out how I'll tackle each engagement/obstacle that involves food for this upcoming helps, even just a little bit. Since I'll be focusing on just getting through each hurdle and day at a time, I'm keeping my goals for this week short & simple (much like these past two weeks)...

  • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
  • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)

Speaking of previous weekly goals, I've started to neglect my Tracking Challenge Jar as well as my Daily Fruits & Veggies Google Doc Spreadsheet. I'm kind of bummed about letting those two things fall to the wayside but I know it's only because I've been so busy these past few weeks. I do try to keep up with them when I remember but I've been trying to remember a lot of things that they often get moved to the back of my memory. During my little downtime that I've had lately, I do remember to work on them to bring them up to speed. However, I'm not going to worry too much about either of them because clearly I'm doing something right if I've continued to lose weight these past few weeks.

My NSV for the week was doing my first official 5k! I use the word official because I have walked the equivalent of 5 kilometers or more plenty of times since I've joined Weight Watchers. However, this past Saturday I signed for and participated in Run or Dye. It was definitely a fun experience so I hope to do many more 5ks, both fun ones and ones for a good cause. Although this 5k wasn't competitive and I walked most of it, I plan to use it as sort of my starting point to see how far I progress because -- if I haven't already shared -- I'm working through the Couch to 5k program. I'm already on week 3 during which I'm finding the jogging parts becoming easier for me every week. I've never considered myself a runner before since I always said that my body isn't built for running but if I can work up to jogging I'll be incredibly pleased with myself!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up 20

I was reluctant to write this post because this weekend was... all over the place. It was not only crazy as far as my eating goes but also just my life in general. So I've decided to put it behind me and not dwell too much on it. I definitely didn't do too great in regards to making good food/eating choices. It's unfortunate how poorly I did but it's more important that I move forward from everything this weekend. Life happens... and when it does, sometimes it will affect your journey temporarily by possibly having a weight gain this week. However, it's imperative to not let it ruin my entire journey by slipping back into old habits or giving up on Weight Watchers completely. I will not let one crazy weekend throw me off track because I've had plenty of bad weekends before and I will inevitably have more of them in the future but it's important to remember that this is a lifetime journey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In #25 (week of July 9-15)

Exciting news at my weigh-in this morning! I lost 3.0lbs!!! I'm super excited about this because I wasn't expecting such a big weight loss first thing in the morning. I'm so close to losing 90lbs total that hopefully I'll hit it next week. I really think my Weight Loss bracelet that my co-worker made me is helping because it's helped to pause & think before making food choices or purchases.

Current Stats
Current Weight: 153.0lbs
Total Pounds Lost: -89.6lbs
Goal Weight: 125.0lbs
Pounds Until Goal: 28.0lbs
Next Bead on Bracelet: 1.4lbs

This upcoming week, I do not see myself needing to change much from last week aside from the usual like trying my best to not use as many of my weekly points+ allowance. My upcoming week & weekend plans include possibly going to a carnival with my family, attending a pool party after work on Saturday, and meeting up with an old friend for dinner after work on Sunday. For those days, I'm going to do my best to save as many points+ as possible for the events by eating lots of veggies. My go-to meal for days when I want to save points for special occasions is spaghetti squash because I can have such a large quantity and only need to point the protein that I added like ground turkey or chicken. This meal is my go-to meal because it's super filling but very low in points+ at about 3-4 points+ (depending on what you add to it).

Otherwise, my goals for this week are the same, simple goals I made for last week.

  • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
  • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
  • Only eat when hungry*

*I'm keeping the last goal from last week because it's something I want to be more mindful of when I'm eating. I think I did okay with this goal last week but not great. So I want to continue to improve on watching how much I eat in any given situation. More importantly, I just want to make sure that I track everything and get in my Good Health Guidelines as I know that's what will help to feel full the most.

My Non-Scale Victory for this week was eating zucchini raw for the first time. I'm excited that I loved it so much as a snack. I think this NSV really speaks volumes for how much Weight Watchers has done for me and how far I've come since I started the program. Since joining Weight Watchers, I've become much more adventurous with the foods -- not only by trying new foods all the time but also experimenting with eating foods I've always eaten in a different way. For example, I've always eaten zucchini in the past but I've never tried it raw. I've only eaten it cooked (roasted, fried, etc). Now I can enjoy zucchini another way by eating it raw as a snack or in a salad!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Picking the Perfect Popcorn!

Since I have not done a Tasty Tuesday post in awhile, I figured now would be a good time while I'm on a kick of eating popcorn as a snack. Most of the popcorn flavors & brands will probably not be new to everyone, but I wanted to share the ones that I've never tried and have found to be delicious. For awhile I was looking for the perfect snack that would satisfy my salty, sweet, and crunchy cravings that I get at night when I'm ready for a snack while I relax. It seems that, for now, popcorn seems to be the perfect snack for me at night!

Orville Redenbacher's® Pop-Up Bowls: Butter & Kettle Korn (94% Fat-Free)
I've always loved this brand of popcorn but when the brand started making pop-up bowls, I was really hoping that one day they'd start selling the pop-up bowls with 94% fat-free popcorn. I just learned as of last month that they now sell just that coming in two flavors -- butter and kettle korn. Personally, I only learned in the last few months that I actually really like Kettle Korn popcorn because it's both sweet AND salty which often satisfies two or three of my cravings at once. Prior to just heating up a bag of kettle korn popcorn, I was seasoning regular 94% fat-free popcorn with Kernel Season's Popcorn Seasonings. While it's fun to try so many different flavors & seasons, I vastly prefer the sweet, kettle corn taste right out of a hot bag of popcorn as opposed to adding it to a bag of regular buttered popcorn.

The only downside to these pop-up bowls is that they each have about 11-13 cups of popcorn which is about 7-9 points+ and that can often be too many points for one snack. I only recently discovered how high this popcorn is in points+ because the nutrition label on the side of the box is often confusing when it comes to popcorn. Initially I thought there were only 6.5 cups of popcorn in one bag until I read that there were TWO servings of unpopped kernels in the bag which makes about 6.5 cups of popped popcorn. Therefore, I sat down one day and measured out how much popcorn was in one full bag of these pop-up bowls and I counted about 11 cups. In the future, I will only be using these pop-up bowls when I have at least 5-6 points+ left in my daily target so I'm not using so many of my weekly points+ allowance. Thankfully, there is good news...

Orville Redenbacher's® 100-Calorie Mini Bags: Butter & Kettle Korn (94% Fat-Free)
I always knew that 100-calorie mini bags existed, especially in the butter/light butter flavor. However, I didn't know that mini bags existed with kettle korn popcorn! Once I figured out how much I love kettle popcorn in the pop-up bowls, I just HAD to have kettle popcorn in mini bags that were less WW points+ for a better nighttime snack. Unfortunately it's much harder to find 100-calorie mini bags with 94% fat-free kettle popcorn than it is to find 94% fat-free buttered popcorn. I'm still scoping out different stores to see which ones carry these delicious mini bags of kettle popcorn. So far I've found one store near me but it's not the most convenient for me to go. Hopefully I can find these kettle popcorn mini bags at stores that are more convenient for me.

Skinnygirl Popcorn 150-Calorie Mini Bags: Lime & Salt and Butter & Sea Salt (94% Fat-Free)
Now, I never knew that Skinnygirl made popcorn. I knew the brand name made cocktails and only learned a few months ago that they made protein bars (as featured in my last Tasty Tuesday post). So when I saw a simple white box of popcorn with Skinnygirl on the box, I just had to try this new (to me) product. I was also intrigued by the flavors -- I had never heard of popcorn with Lime & Salt or Butter & Sea Salt flavors. I've tried both flavors and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of each flavor. The Lime & Salt had just a hint of lime taste so it the lime taste didn't overwhelm the popcorn flavor. As for the Butter & Sea Salt flavor, I can't say I noticed a significant difference between that and regular 94% fat-free buttered popcorn.

It should be noted that Skinnygirl Popcorn partnered with Orville Redenbacher's® to create these flavors. As I've been closely investigating different types of popcorn, I've noticed that Orville Redenbacher's® makes 100-calorie mini bags of lime & salt flavored 94% fat-free popcorn. I haven't tried Orville Redenbacher's® version of the Lime & Salt popcorn, but I'm sure it tastes very similar to the Skinnygirl Popcorn version.

☆HONORABLE MENTIONS☆

Kernel Season's Popcorn Seasonings
As I mentioned above, I have tried in the past to season my mini bags of buttered popcorn with these seasonings. There's so many flavors that it helped to make boring butter popcorn bags a bit more interesting for me. So far I've tried the following flavors: Buffalo Wing, Kettle Corn, Nacho Cheddar, Ranch, and White Cheddar. Among those seasonings, I think my favorite were Kettle Corn, Nacho Cheddar, and White Cheddar flavors. However, my favorite flavor was the Kettle Corn seasoning, so I'm glad I found microwavable mini bags of 94% fat-free kettle popcorn. These seasonings are definitely worth a try if you've never tried them on your popcorn before! There's such a variety of flavors that these seasonings come in that I'm sure you'll find at least one that you enjoy.

Smartfood Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn Popcorn
Just like the White Cheddar popcorn that Smartfood is known for, the Kettle Corn popcorn is just as delicious if not more so! I first discovered this new flavor of popcorn by Smartfood in the vending machine at work. I've also been able to find (small/medium) bags of this popcorn at gas stations. Unfortunately I have not been able to find smaller bags of this popcorn so the bags that I have tried are about 6 points+ per bag (I don't remember how many calories were in the bag though, sorry!). I would love for this company to sell 100-calorie bags of this popcorn. Hopefully in the future, Smartfood will start selling this tasty flavor of popcorn in smaller bags just like it does with its White Cheddar flavor.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up 19

If I could use any word to describe this weekend as far as staying on plan was concerned, I would use the word mindful. I was more mindful of what I ate, whether or not I liked what I was eating, and not finishing food that I didn't enjoy by throwing it away. I was more mindful of whether or not I was truly hungry as oppose to just being bored or feeding another emotion. I was mindful enough of my emotions to find something else to preoccupy my time instead of eating.

Overall this wasn't the best weekend I've ever had but it certainly was not the worst. I did use all of my weekly 49 points+ but I've been very active since my Weight Watchers week started on Wednesday. I've been trying to balance my fruits and veggies, trying to consume more of the latter. Although I wish I kept better track of how many vegetables I eat versus how many fruits I eat, I'm pleased to say that I've discovered that I really like eating zucchini raw. I have eaten and loved zucchini many times before in various forms but I'm glad that I tried eating it raw because it's delicious! I'm thrilled to have another veggie that I can easily cut up to take with me as a snack that satisfies my crunchy cravings.

Additionally, I have more exciting news: I now have my very own Weight Loss Bracelet that I hope works as an anchor for me. Anchors are something -- a person, a trinket, a photo, anything! -- that help you to remember why you're on program. Weight Watchers explains anchoring best in this article:

"Anchoring is an effective strategy you can use to connect with positive memories and feelings that can restore your confidence, determination and belief in yourself."

I've always struggled with finding an anchor. For the last couple of months, I've been using a picture of me when I felt I was at my heaviest weight which I referenced in my Motivation Monday post from April. I use the picture as my phone's screen lock background but often it has proven to not be enough of a solid anchor. Prior to the picture, I've used other methods like the Weight Loss jars (one for how much weight you've lost and the other for how much you have left to lose where each stone in both jars is the equivalent of 1 pound) as well as paper clip chains (same idea with the jars but each paperclip equates to 5 or 10 pounds). Not only did these anchors not work well enough for me but they also weren't portable enough for me to always have on hand to remind myself why I'm doing Weight Watchers and how far I've come. Even though I do still keep a pair of Weight Loss jars at work & at home, it still has not been enough to keep me anchored.


(Click to see bigger photo!)

Therefore, a couple of weeks when I stumbled upon the idea of Weight Loss Bracelets, I was very excited at the possibility of acquiring one in order for it to become my new anchor. I asked a coworker (and friend) of mine who makes gorgeous, unique earrings in her free time if she could easily make one for me. Being the kind person she is, my coworker made this lovely, colorful bracelet for me in just a couple days time. There are 23 beads all together but I'm not counting the 5 small clear beads that act as spacers/dividers. Each colored bead represents 6.5lbs lost so I have lost a total of 13 beads (and counting) so far. The charm that says Inspire on one side and Believe on the other side works as my marker to remind me how far I've come (13 beads on one side) and how much I still need to loose (5 beads on the other side). The bead goals are as follows...

  • 1st bead = 6.5lbs lost
  • 10th bead = 65.0lbs lost
  • 2nd bead = 13.0lbs lost
  • 11th bead = 71.5lbs lost
  • 3rd bead = 19.5lbs lost
  • 12th bead = 78.0lbs lost
  • 4th bead = 26.0lbs lost
  • 13th bead = 84.5lbs lost*
  • 5th bead = 32.5lbs lost
  • 14th bead = 91.0lbs lost*
  • 6th bead = 39.0lbs lost
  • 15th bead = 97.5lbs lost
  • 7th bead = 45.5lbs lost
  • 16th bead = 104.0lbs lost
  • 8th bead = 52.0lbs lost
  • 17th bead = 110.5lbs lost
  • 9th bead = 58.5lbs lost
  • 18th bead = 117.0lbs lost
  • I typed up that list more for my benefit so I can keep a record of how many pounds I have left to lose before I can move my Inspire/Believe charm to a different place on the bracelet. Currently I'm down 86.6lbs, so I only have 4.4lbs left to go before I can move the charm! And, speaking of which, the charm is one that I picked up on my own. I knew it said Believe on one side but I bought it without knowing it said Inspire on the other. Turns out the charm is even more perfect with both words on it because not only do I have to continue to believe in myself that I can reach my ultimate goal weight but I have been told several times in the past that I inspire others! It's been motivational to hear from people that I've inspired them to lose weight and get healthy, so it's something that has helped me to stick with this journey.

    Overall I could not be more pleased with my bracelet. A huge THANK YOU to my amazing coworker for making it! It's just one more way for me to stay connected with this journey.

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #24 (week of July 2-8)

    At my weekly weigh-in this morning I lost 0.4lbs! I'm a bit surprised because I was not 100% perfect with my eating but losing any weight is a great accomplishment. I was a bit worried that I would have a gain because I did go over my daily points+ target but I think my consistent activity over the holiday weekend really helped. Plus, I'm sure getting back to work and earning 9 Activity Points on Monday alone was really beneficial!

    Personally, I thought I did really well this past week. It was much different from the last two weeks where I ate enough food to go WELL over my weekly 49 points+ on top of my daily 26 points+ target. Those past two weeks were tough. Then this week came as a fresh start with just my primary focus to eat healthy, eat well, and track everything that I ate 100% honestly. I've missed tracking a few things but nothing extraordinarily high in points+ (as far as I know). I also stayed fairly active throughout the whole week, even mixing up when I usually do to get in a good cardio work-out. All in all, I would say it was a fantastic holiday weekend as far as me staying on WW plan was concerned.

    Moving forward, I really want to go back to the basics. It seems like I need to do this every 6-8 weeks. I guess I get so consumed with wanting to challenge myself more and more each week that I forget to focus on what makes Weight Watchers so successful. Therefore my goals for this week are as follows...

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Only eat when hungry*

    The last goal is an important one because I want to make sure I'm not eating out of boredom (or any other emotion for that matter). I also want to work on cutting down on the snacks I eat at night when I get home from work. I tend to have a ritual of eating snacks upstairs in my bedroom while I watch videos on YouTube. It's a way for me to relax & unwind. However, I'd like to either cut back on how many snacks I have at night or completely eliminate eating snacks upstairs in my bedroom by maybe eating downstairs before I retire to my bedroom. This is not something that I'm going stress myself out trying to achieve but it's something I want to keep in the back of my mind.

    It's more important for me to focus on my true goal of only eating when I'm hungry. I've been finding lately that I will eat when I'm not hungry which creates a problem. After I've eaten too much, I'll either feel so full that it makes me feel slightly ill or I will want to keep eating more because a small/normal amount of food doesn't satisfy me like it should. My nighttime plan is to go to sleep at night when I want to snack for my evening relaxation time after work. Otherwise hopefully I can keep myself busy enough to not mindlessly munch on food during other times of the day.

    My NSV for this week would be incorporating different physical activities into my fitness routines over the holiday weekend! As I mentioned in my Weekend Wrap-Up post, taking the time off of work allowed me to enjoy some of my favorite activities that I don't normally find time to do like swimming & biking. My hope is to continue doing these activities on my days off (hopefully on Thursdays) when I'm not so busy.

    Lastly, I want to mention that I have been brainstorming some new blog posts that I hope to write in the next week or two. I've been trying some new foods and experimenting in the kitchen with new-to-me recipes. I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to share these new finds & recipes sooner than later.

    Monday, July 7, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 18

    So this past weekend was the Fourth of July -- a holiday like all other holidays where a great deal of Americans celebrate it by eating lots of food while spending time with friends & family. Since start Weight Watchers three years ago, my anxiety over holidays has grown because it means I have to worry about what kind of food I'll have available at whatever family or friend function I attend and the pressure of how much (or how little) should I eat at said holiday party. Thankfully holidays have become somewhat easier since my mom joined Weight Watchers because we team up to make a healthier version of our old, family tradition menus and work to provide both the healthier & original versions of said family traditional meal options. The Fourth of July was no different as my mom & I planned to have a veggie platter, fruit tray, healthy homemade dips, roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, chicken, hamburgers, and turkey burgers. There was plenty of power foods (fruits & veggies) as well as other food, all of which was very tasty. I can safely say that I had a successful day of eating on the Fourth of July!

    Overall I would say that I have a pretty successful weekend as far as my eating was concerned. I wasn't perfect with staying within my daily 26 points+ target, but I didn't overeat too much on any single day. I did splurge a bit on Sunday when I ate pizza but I didn't use up all of my weekly 49 points+ like I've done the past few weekends. I do feel that I slipped a little bit as far as tracking 100% honestly goes but I certainly tried my best and pointed just about everything as accurately as possible. And thankfully I was not obligated to attend any other holiday parties where I might have felt the pressure that I mentioned above (what food I should/shouldn't eat as well as much or how little food I should eat).

    The best part of this weekend was how much activity I got in while I was on my "stay-cation" from work. Earlier this year I was planning on going away for the holiday weekend to upstate New York. However my plans changed a few months ago but I decided to hold on to my long holiday weekend that I had given myself. Being able to stay home and relax allowed me to do whatever I pleased. Therefore I swam in the pool for the first time all summer, went on a few bike rides (one of my favorite pastimes/activities), and still got in my 10,000 steps for my WW Leader's walking challenge that I'm participating in this summer. If I had chosen to cancel my days off/vacation days this past holiday weekend then I wouldn't have gotten to do my favorite activities or had a chance to relax. Therefore I'm super glad that I stayed with my intuition and gave myself some much-needed time away from work!

    Wednesday, July 2, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #24 (week of June 25-July 1)

    This morning, at my weekly weigh-in, I took one step back after 9 weeks of either weight losses or maintains (7 losses, 2 maintains). The weight gain this week was completely justified and I saw it coming. I'm certainly not pleased that I gained this week but I'm glad that I owned up to how terribly I ate this week to face the consequence of weight gain. The good news is -- as someone in my WW meeting pointed out -- it's easy to lose those pesky 1-2lb gains compared to completely giving up and gaining 10+ pounds and having to start almost all over again.

    So, this was obviously a rough week for me. My week consisted of using all of my weekly 49 points+ and going over them by twice as much. I have no idea what has motivated me to do so terribly this week AND last week, but my bad choices have got to stop. I will not allow myself to slip back into old habits which is what I've been doing. I'm sure subconsciously I'm having a difficult time for some reason unbeknownst to me and I'm hoping my overall well-being will start to improve once I go back to seeing my counselor next week (she's been on vacation this week and last week). On the surface, I feel absolutely fine -- I feel as happy and content as I can feel. Compared to these past couple of months, I certainly don't feel as depressed as I've felt overall. So, as I mentioned before, I really don't know what emotionally could be going wrong with me to push me towards eating more than I should and making bad food choices these past two weeks.

    With all of that being said, I plan to ask my Weight Watchers Leader if I can participate in her tracking challenge. Every evening a handful of people will send her their trackers for the day (either by screenshot or a picture) and she reviews the tracker to give any tips or suggestions as she sees fit. Not only is it helpful to get feedback from her but it also helps when I do this challenge because I hold myself more accountable for tracking honestly and eating better throughout the week. I participated in this challenge a month or so ago and I found it's what helped snapped me back to reality with how dishonest I was being to myself for not tracking everything that I ate. My hope is that by participating in this challenge, I will realize that I have to show my tracker to someone every night and therefore the challenge will help to reinforce my tracking 100% policy (which I'll do good with for about 3-5 days until I'll have a bad day and have to empty my Tracking Challenge jar completely).

    I'd like to create a plan for this week for how I'm going to tackle it with the Fourth of July holiday coming up on Friday but I can't predict what I'm going to be doing throughout the week. All I know is that I will thankfully only be with my mom and four other people, so it will be a low-key kind of day with little-to-no pressure to eat lots of food or be presented with very few healthy options. As long as I'm celebrating a holiday with my mom, we can work together to great a holiday menu that includes lots of power foods (fruits, veggies, and lean meats). Of course, we always include 2-3 other sides or options that aren't as lean or not considered as healthy for others who don't need to watch their weight to enjoy.

    Unfortunately, as for the other days of the week, I don't know if I'll be invited to any other parties. My hope is that I can stick to the power foods or simpler foods that are available. I'll also make sure that I leave extra daily points+ available if I do get invited anywhere. Otherwise, since I gave myself a 4-day weekend, I plan on spending as many of those four days just relaxing, swimming, working out, and making two new healthy recipes to eat over the next few weeks for my lunch or dinner meals at work. Essentially I'm allowing myself a "staycation" to take care of me and get some much need R&R.

    As far as my goals for this week are concerned, my main one will obviously be asking my WW Leader if I can participate in the tracking challenge. My other goals are staying the same as last week's goal so I can continue to make these into habits that I don't even have to think about on a daily basis. The goals for this week include...

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Add the fruits & veggies that I eat in a day to my WW tracker
    My Non-Scale Victory for the week was going to get fitted for running sneakers. For many years I was convinced that my body was not built for running. A year or two ago when I first started my weight loss journey, I had begun to make my younger self proud because in elementary/middle/high school, I was always the last to finish the mile we would have to run or walk in gym class. Since losing weight I've become really good at power-walking. Yet now I want to take on a new challenge: I want to condition my body to run. I'm not sure if I'll become a runner, constantly running 5ks or races; but I do know that I want to check some things off my bucket list such as completing a 5k, a mud run, and maybe even a half-marathon. Therefore, on Tuesday, I decided to go get fitted for running sneakers. I currently wear a pair of New Balances that I highly recommend but they're meant for walking or all terrain physical activities such as hiking. I've been trying to do Couch to 5k for the past couple of weeks and last week I noticed that I had some sort of an in-step when I tried to run. My hope is that if I can get a good pair of running shoes that work for my mostly flat feet, they will help in my new goal of conditioning my body to run. I know I have a lot of other things to work on such as my pace and focusing on my breathing (I become very short of breath when I try to run), but at least I'll have a pair of shoes that are meant to help me along the way.

    Sunday, June 29, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 17

    Even though this weekend was better than last weekend, it was still a really, really bad weekend as far as staying on plan and eating better like I had promised myself. This is mainly because my significant other decided to bake not one but two packages of cookies. They were each different kinds of cookies so obviously I had to have some cookies from each package. Despite trying to follow a gluten-free diet (because of previous bad stomach problems), I find it terribly hard to resist freshly baked cookies.

    The good news is that I owned up to my poor eating choices by tracking everything I ate on both Thursday and Friday. The bad news is that, yes, I also ate poorly on Friday. However, a few good things came about from this past weekend...

    1. On Thursday night when we baked the cookies, I actually stopped eating them at one point because my tummy was clearly saying, "No, stop, too many cookies."
    2. I learned a lesson on Friday night: I ate way too many snacks that evening because I did not eat enough power foods (fruits & veggies) throughout the day.
    3. It is unfortunately impossible for me to have packages of break-and-bake cookies around any place where I'm staying -- a fact which I was honest in telling my significant other about so he is now aware of how hard it is to have certain foods around.

    The upside of all of this is that I went back and tracked everything that I was intentionally not tracking Friday night. Even though I have a deficit for my weekly WW points+ allowance, I know how many Activity Points+ I need to earn through working out the rest of the week. Between Saturday and Tuesday, I need to earn at least 7 points+ to break even so I don't have a negative weekly points+ allowance.

    I did try very hard to stick to my Plan of Attack/Game Plan for the weekend. On Thursday I went for an hour-long walk without any knowledge that my night was going to go downhill as far as my eating was concerned. Even though I didn't get in any activity on Friday, I'm pleased to say that I earned 8 Activity Points+ on Saturday which is 2 more points+ than my daily average.

    The other good news is that the cookies are gone! I know I'll have to face them again and learn how to avoid overeating freshly baked cookies in the future. Until then, the best I can do is make sure break-and-bake packaged cookies are not in the spaces where I'm staying for me to freely make at any point. I can typically avoid eating cookies & other baked goodies when I'm in a public setting (e.g., work, parties, etc) but they're hard to resist when I'm around them alone (or with someone I'm comfortable with around).

    So, I've had another atrocious weekend as far as my eating goes and wish I had done better. However while some people would dwell on such poor decisions, I currently feel okay overall. I'm certainly not happy about how poorly I ate this weekend, but I'm going push any negative thoughts out of my mind and continue forward with my journey.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #23 (week of June 18-124)

    I'm not quite sure how but I somehow managed to lose 0.6lbs, bringing me closer to my goal! After having such an atrocious week, I'm still baffled that I was able to lose any weight at all when I weighed in at my Weight Watchers meeting this morning. In the past I would have been frustrated that I had lost weight after eating so poorly during the week, but I'm not going to look at this weight loss in a negative way. Instead I'm going to be proud of the fact that my weight went down and focus on making healthier decisions & eating better in order to continue my journey.

    Current Stats
    Current Weight: 155.2lbs
    Total Weight Loss: 87.4lbs
    Weight Left to Lose: 30.2lbs

    Since I already made a Plan of Attack/Game Plan for my personal weekend, I'm only going to make three simple goals for myself this week...

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Add the fruits & veggies that I eat in a day to my WW tracker

    For whatever reason, I still have trouble checking off my GHGs and adding my fruits & veggies to my WW tracker every day. Some days I'll remember and then go back to correct my forgetfulness for any day I didn't remember to do those tasks. However, most days I tend to forget to complete those simple goals. I just need to make it a priority to check off my GHGs and add my fruits & veggies as I consume them. My hope is that if I continue keep these as goals, they will eventually become habitual to the point where I'll do them without even thinking.

    My Non-Scale Victory for the week is a result of an online/Facebook Step Challenge I'm partaking in, created by my Weight Watchers Leader. She asked any member who wanted to partake in challenge to walk at least 10,000 steps every day for two weeks. She's so great about cheering us on and giving us feedback when we need it. Since I've been doing this challenge, I've gone well over my personal goal of walking 16,500 steps a day. There have even been two days where I've walked over 20,000 steps!! This challenge also motivated me to get in activity on Thursday, which is a day that I would normally take off from doing any activity in order to let my body rest. I made sure to not push myself too hard but I did get in a 90-minute walk that day and it felt great!

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 16

    As far as my eating was concerned, I had an utterly terrible weekend. Despite making a goal to use no more than 20 points+ of my extra weekly 49 points+, I ended up blowing through ALL of my extra weekly 49 points+, and then some, on Thursday night alone. It's hard for me to figure out why or how I did this considering the fact that I did so well with not eating out or getting pizza on Thursday. My best guess is that my overeating was largely due to boredom. I had taken probably one too many snacks with me for my two-night escape from home and would eat my snacks when I was bored but not hungry. My other downfall was baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies for my boyfriend when he got home from work since it was his first of four hard, 10-hour work days. I wanted to make his day a little better by making the house smell delicious of cookies but once they were done, I couldn't resist and ate almost all of them while he let the cookies sit there, only eating a few of them.

    On Friday I woke up with the mindset that I wouldn't let one really bad day ruin my entire week and I would stay perfectly on plan for the rest of the week. I kept that mindset until I met up with a friend for lunch who gave me themed belated birthday present which consisted of a DVD and snacks. One of those snacks was a large package of Twizzlers Pull'n'Peel which happens to be one of my favorite candies/snacks (I told my friend this a few weeks ago when she inquired about my favorite candy). There I was with a huge package of my favorite candy that I would have felt guilty if I had gotten rid of it, so I ended up eating most of the package in one night. I was hoping I could save the Twizzlers for a different week when I had not done so poorly the day before but once I opened the package and just started mindlessly eating the Twizzlers, I found it hard to stop. Plus, I figured if I was going to blow my WW plan out of the water by eating all of those Twizzlers, then I might as well go get some worthwhile crunchy, salty, or sweet (chocolate) snacks that I wouldn't normally eat. Thankfully I didn't find anything that was worth the points+ (that I wasn't going to track), so I ended up just getting a couple of small snacks but ones that I know were more points+ that I would ever like to admit to or imagine.

    Did I mention that I had no intention of tracking the Twizzlers Pull'n'Peel that I was eating because I was just mindlessly eating the candy? This makes me sound like a complete and total failure, I know.

    Therefore, by the end of Friday night, not only had a I used way more of my extra weekly points+ (on top of my daily 26 points+ that I get every day), but I had not pointed everything that I ate honestly. It was at this point that I came to realize I had two choices: I could grovel about the fact that I did REALLY poorly with my eating for two days and possibly continue to eat badly (which would mean falling back into old habits) or I could learn some lessons from my two days of bad eating and figure out a way to do better in the future. This is a crossroad I've come across a million times in the past and it's a decision I'll inevitably to have to make a million more times in the future. Thankfully my path will always be clear: I will dust myself off from the mistakes that I've made and learn to make better decisions in the future. If you don't make mistakes, then how can you expect to improve? My journey has, and always will be, filled with mistakes but I wouldn't be on this journey if I had a good relationship with food. Yet I wouldn't change this road I'm on because I've learned so much about myself and I know I will keep growing/improving as a person as my journey continues.

    Thankfully, since my two days of atrocious eating, I've been eating much better (on Saturday & Sunday). I could have done better with my eating on Sunday night because I did go over my daily 26 points+ allowance but Saturday I had a great day of making smart, healthy food choices and staying within my 26 points+ allowance. I'm also making sure that I track everything I eat 100% honestly, even if I go over my daily 26 points+ without meaning to, like I did on Sunday.

    After making such poor food choices and losing all sense of control over my food during my two days off, I wrote up a plan for this coming week on Saturday. I'd like to say that I'll apply it to every upcoming week, but I really just have to take this journey one week at time, or even one day at time. Since I usually include my goals for the week in my Weekly Weigh-In posts, I will share my Plan of Attack/Game Plan for next week to do better with controlling my food and making healthier choices...

    • ONLY pack 5 snacks to take with me while I'm away from home for two full days (and 3 nights): Weight Watchers Kettle Crisps, Weight Watchers Roasted Almond snack bar, Goldfish Puffs (already divided into two baggies with 4 points+ worth of the Goldfish), and 1 or 2 fun-size Butterfinger bars
    • Add turkey & rice to my salad-in-a-jar to get in more power foods
    • Take green beans and gluten-free burrito to have for dinner on Thursday night
    • Pack my oatmeal (made with old fashion oatmeal) along with ½ cup of frozen raspberries and Yoplait Greek yogurt for Friday (breakfast or lunch)
    • Remember to take TWO smoothie blend'n'go bottles filled with soy milk and 2 oils for each day to make my daily smoothie for breakfast or lunch on Thursday & Friday
    • Take spaghetti squash with 2-3 ounces of ground turkey, 2 tablespoons of cheese, and ¼ cup of brown rice for Friday night's dinner
    • ACTIVITY OPTIONS: [one] go for a hike or walk at a nearby park; [two] get up between 8-10am to on a walk/run by myself*

    *It is more likely that I'll follow through with option two to get in my activity. This way I can get simultaneously get laundry done with I earn WW activity points+ (I put in a load, go for a walk, come back after 30-45 minutes, and then switch out the laundry). Plus, my walks give me a chance to listen to music or podcasts, so I get in some good "me time" each day. However, going on a walk or hike at a nearby park is also ideal because gives me the chance to socialize with people I don't often get to see. It really depends on how the other person feels about getting in some activity with me, so I'll make the decision later this week. No matter which option I pick, I'll definitely be getting in some good, healthy activity for both Thursday & Friday when I would have just used those days to rest like I've done in the past.

    Nonetheless, here's to hoping I've learned my lesson from last weekend and greatly improve upon my eating choices for the upcoming week!

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Special Saturday: New Foods! - Berry Edition

    After tying to think of some good, new, or interesting posts to write, I finally decided that I would discuss all of the new foods I've been trying. These foods aren't new foods for everyone. In fact, I'm sure a lot of people have eaten these foods plenty of times. The foods I'm going to list below are foods that are ones that I've never tried or haven't tried often enough to acquire a taste for them. One of my goals to achieve my 2014 New Year's Resolution was to try new foods, so I've been doing just that in order to expand my appetite for delicious, healthy foods.

    First, I should mention that I've been wanting to increase my intake of berries despite the fact that I've been simultaneously wanting to decrease my intake of fruit. Berries are really great for your digestive system since they have a lot of fiber in them. I found that anytime I ate berries (typically strawberries) or had them in a smoothie, my digestive system was much happier. Since I was limiting myself to only trying and successfully eating strawberries, I was determined to try a couple of new berries.

    The first berry I tried was blueberries. I like blueberries in every other way (blueberry filling, in smoothies, etc) but I could never acquire their taste enough to enjoy eating blueberries straight. I've finally figured out that I like eating blueberries in two ways: 1) they have to be coated in a zero-calorie sugar substitute like Truvia; and 2) I can only really eat them with strawberries. I don't necessarily see either of these two requirements as being a problem so I've been eating them just like that -- mixing/coating them with Truvia and putting them in a to-go container with strawberries. It makes for an excellent snack! One day I hope to cut down on the amount of Truvia and possibly stop using it completely so I eat blueberries with just their natural, delicious flavors.

    I have to say that I absolutely love eating blueberries. They're great in smoothies: I add blueberries and ½ banana to a Weight Watchers chocolate smoothie and it tastes great! I also love adding frozen blueberries to oatmeal that I make ahead for the week using Old Fashion Oats. Once I add Yoplait's Vanilla Great Yogurt, I have a delicious meal of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and blueberries that works for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner. It's one of my favorite meals, quickly becoming a go-to comfort meal as it's a healthy option that always makes my day better.

    The second berry I decided to try was blackberries because I was eager to fill the blue/purple color slot of the ~*Rainbow of Fruits & Veggies*~ I try to eat every day. The only quick blue or purple foods I could think of were grapes, blueberries, and blackberries with eggplant being a back-up idea once I need to substitute another fruit for a vegetable (in order to eat more veggies than fruit in a day). I also still need to figure out how to prepare eggplant to make it enjoyable enough to eat (I've been thinking stir-fry but haven't felt up to making it). With that aside, I decided to try blackberries to change my diet up every once & awhile instead of always eating blueberries for my blue/purple fruit of the day. Unfortunately I've learned that I'm not a huge fan of blackberries because they're so tart. Even after coating them in Truvia like I do with blueberries, I still have a hard time eating a ½ cup of them as a snack. Therefore I haven't been eating them as much as I eat blueberries and only buy them once in awhile.

    The last berry I've tried these last couple of months are raspberries. I actually really love eating raspberries whole as a snack on their own (but coated in Truvia of course). Unfortunately the one downside to eating raspberries is that they become (or even come when bought) SO mushy. After washing some raspberries the night before work, they had lost all of their firmness so I had to eat them with a spoon. The good news is that after I was done eating them with a spoon, the remaining liquid/juice from them was very delicious and actually sweet (if I'm remembering correctly). Additionally, I absolutely love adding frozen raspberries and ½ banana to a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie because it's so delicious! The same goes for frozen strawberries -- add a frozen banana with frozen strawberries to a Weight Watchers vanilla smoothie packet and you'll have a delicious smoothie for any meal of the day.

    So with all of my experiments of eating berries whole as snacks at work or on-the-go, I decided to give them a try frozen. As I've already stated, I had previously tried some of the aforementioned berries frozen like raspberries and blueberries with Weight Watchers smoothie packets. However now that we're getting into the hotter days of summer, I was really looking forward to getting in fiber-filled berries in colder ways instead of just eating them whole. So last weekend I took a 16 ounce cup and filled it with frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries as well as ice and water. I threw all of the ingredients in my cup into a blender. Then amazing mom assisted me with the blender since I was having technical difficulties. She also helped me tweak the recipe because it tasted a bit... off (perhaps too tart?). We added about ½ banana to the mix but that didn't improve the taste so we added a packet of zero-calorie lemonade (such as the kind by Crystal light) and it made the drink absolutely amazing. Next time I definitely plan to forgo the banana completely and just stick to frozen raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, ice, water, and a zero-calorie lemonade packet. It makes for the perfect summertime afternoon or evening treat after a long, hot day.

    NOTE: Any time I mentioned "coat in Truvia" for the berries listed above, I simply mean that I take 1 or 2 packets of Truvia, add them to the container of berries that I feel need to be sweetened, put a lid on said container, and shake the container up a bit to "coat" the berries. I don't add an excessive amount of Truvia to all of the berries I eat but I'm sure I could start cutting back on how much I use to sweeten the berries I find to be more tart than the others.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #22 (week of June 11-17)

    I lost 1.6lbs this week at my morning weigh-in at Weight Watchers! I'm now down to 155.8lbs which means I have ~30lbs left to lose until I hit my own personal goal weight of 125lbs. I will continue to focus on every 5lbs but I'm ecstatic that I'm getting closer to my goal weight every week.

    My weeks continue to be difficult by I think that's just how life goes. Life is hard and it's crazy for me to look back on my 3+ years of doing WW to see how much has changed since I first started losing weight. There are still a lot of areas in my life that I would like to improve but I have to just take each area -- and each day -- one step at a time. Slow but steady improvements or changes are what will hopefully make them lifelong, positive changes.

    Therefore, since I'm trying hard to improve on my spending (as well as my healthy eating), I want my goals for this upcoming week to reflect my attempt to cut back on spending money for dinner out on Thursday. Therefore my goals for this week are as follows:

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • Eat (or plan to eat) my salad-in-a-jar and gluten-free burrito for dinner on Thursday instead of getting gluten-free pizza to go like I typically do on Thursday nights
    • Only use up to 20 of my extra weekly 49 points+
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Add the fruits & veggies that I eat in a day to my WW tracker

    For the last month or so, I've been spending Thursday nights with my current significant other and we've gotten into the habit of buying pizza from the most delicious local Italian restaurant close to where he currently lives. Although I hate to see the tradition change, it's really becoming hard on my Weight Watcher points+ budget as well as my financial budget. This is because while he gets a regular cheese pizza for cheap, I have to buy a gluten-free pizza that's a bit more expensive. If I can forgo the pizza for at least three Thursdays every month, then perhaps I can let myself splurge a bit with both finances and points+ on the last Thursday of each month.

    On top of the aforementioned goals for this week, I also need to update the Weight Watchers reminders I have in my phone. Even though I made this a goal to update them last week, I didn't follow through with this goal. It's not a huge deal, but it's something I should do every week just to reinforce my goals, reminders, and weight loss rewards for myself every week.

    My NSV for this past week week was successfully getting back into a daily life routine. This included adjusting to a new summer work schedule, meal prep for the week, and going to the gym almost every day this past week. I also had a wonderful moment yesterday when I squeezed myself into a size 9 jeans, which I haven't worn in well over a year. All of my size 11/13 jeans are starting to become way too big so I thought I would chance it wear my size 9 jeans at work. (I like to wear a smaller size of pants the day before I weigh-in to remind me to stick as close to my WW plan as possible.) I'm so pleased that I'm starting to fit back into a smaller size pair of jeans!

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 15

    Another extended weekend has come & gone and I can honestly say that I did okay for the past 3-4 days. I didn't do the greatest but I didn't do terribly either. I know in my Weekly Weigh-In post I said that I would only use up to 20 points+ of my weekly points+ allowance. Unfortunately I used 33 points+ of my weekly points+ allowance. It was mostly on Thursday that I splurged on my points+ and I definitely felt the repercussions of eating too much on Thursday the next day. I also went over my daily points+ last night when I was craving all things salty, crunch, sweet, and chocolate.

    The good news is that this is a marked improvement over the last couple of weeks when I would easily go over my daily points+ allowance by 30 points+ in one day alone. I'm also slowly but surely earning those points back with the Activity Points that I earn throughout the week. It's about improving and making progress instead of dwelling on what I could have done differently. I made my choices so now it's time to move past them by making smarter choices today! Plus, I have been very diligent about making sure I track everything 100% honestly to keep up with my Tracking Challenge Jar.

    I have a game plan already brewing in my head for this coming week. Since I'm a bit tight on money this month, I plan to eat out less for the rest of the month which should help me control how much I dip into my weekly points+ allowance. I'm also thinking of ideas of new blog posts to write on top of checking on my Resolution Goals update to see how I've been doing this year so far. So keep checking back for new posts!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #21 (week of June 4-10)

    Even after a "rough" week of celebrating my birthday too much, I somehow lost 0.8lbs this week! I almost feel guilty for losing weight because I feel it's rewarding my bad behavior/habit of NOT tracking for a few days this past week. However, I ended my week on a good note by doing great with my eating & tracking Monday and Tuesday. I've also restarted my Tracking Challenge Jar which I plan to continue.

    After having two rough weeks on Weight Watchers (as far as emotions/eating/etc goes), my goals for the upcoming week will be simple because I need to focus on the basics. Therefore, my goals are as follows...

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • *Only use up to 20 of my extra weekly 49 points+
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Add the fruits & veggies that I eat in a day to my WW tracker
    • Update my daily WW reminders on my phone

    Five simple goals for the week that are things I've been doing all along but have stopped doing habitually. Hopefully focusing on doing tasks like adding the fruits & veggies to my tracker while I check off my Good Health Guidelines will help to get back into that routine. I'm also hoping that getting back into a somewhat normal day-to-day routine with work and life will help me get back on plan too!

    *My second goal for this week is more broad than it's been before when I've only limited myself to going over my daily points+ allowance two days out of my "weekends" instead of thee days. This is because I've found that when I go over my points+ allowance those two days, I will REALLY go over my points+ allowance. There have been times when I've gone over by more than 30 points+ in a day. I'm hoping that this goal gives me enough flexibility that if I want to, I can dip into my weekly 49 points+ by 20 points+ on one day or spread it out between two or three days. Either way, I know I can earn back those 20 points+ in activity points now that I'm back (or getting back) to my usual work-out routine.

    My Non-Scale Victories for this week was making behavior changes that I mentioned in my Weekend Wrap-Up post. This included putting dish soap over cake frosting, eating only half of my fries/chips that came with my British-inspired meal, only eating five bites of a cake & icing trifle, and many more. I certainly wasn't perfect this past week when I celebrated my birthday but I'm certainly a different person than I was 4 years ago. For that reason, I could not be more happy with who I am as a person today.

    Monday, June 9, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 14

    This past weekend -- and technically last week -- I celebrated my birthday which was yesterday, June 8th. I did good on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, but then fell off the tracking bandwagon on Saturday & Sunday. I can't say I necessarily feel bad for not tracking on Saturday and Sunday because I really just wanted to enjoy myself. However, I tried my hardest to not indulge too much.

    With that being said, I'm ready to put the weekend behind me and move on, which will include going back to the basics. I've already tracked my food for today and I'll be tracking Tuesday, Wednesday, and possibly Thursday later today. I'm also back to working on my Daily Fruits & Veggies Google Excel Doc. I've also emptied my Tracking Challenge Jar because I would be lying to myself if I didn't restart it after not tracking for two days in a row.

    The good news is that I made behavior changes this weekend that I may not have done in the past:

    • I bought a chocolate cake & caramel icing trifle, ate about five bites of it when I got home, and then gave it to my boyfriend because it was too heavy/sugary for me. If it's still around and too tempting for me when I visit him later this week, then I'm just going to throw it out.
    • I only ate one of my two cupcakes that my mom got me for my birthday. I'm saving the other one for after Wednesday when my new WW week begins.
    • My mom helped me make cupcakes for work by making the frosting. She made twice as much as what I needed. After I frosted the cupcakes, I ate a bit of it and instantly knew I would have no self-control if it was still around. So I quickly squirted dish detergent in the rest of it making it completely inedible.

    I'm sure there are a few other behavior changes that I did over the weekend that I don't remember but those were the most memorable. As fun as the weekend was, I'm looking forward to getting back on track (literally) with Weight Watchers. I have a few ideas for how I'll make serious changes this upcoming week but I'll save that for my Weekly Weigh-In post on Wednesday.

    Thursday, June 5, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #20 (week of May 28-June 3)

    So, I didn't gain or lose anything this week -- I stayed the same as far as my weight goes. This week was definitely a rough week with ups & downs every other day, so I'm actually happy that I didn't gain anything. I really thought I would have done better on Monday after I made a post that day saying how I was determined to do great on both Monday & Tuesday after having such a great Sunday. However, I went over my points+ allowance by 6 points+ but at least I was honest with myself when it came to tracking.

    Additionally, I had a really hard time making it to the gym. With my typical work schedule, I absolutely love going to the gym before work so I can get it done with at the beginning of the day when I always have the most energy. However, my work schedule changed just for this week and I was working 8:30am to 5:00pm. It was much harder to get out of bed at the time I needed to (at 5am) make it to the gym, get in a good work-out, and make it back home to shower before work. Not to mention, the gym at the university where I worked was closed which robbed me of the convenience of working-out and showering in the same building then walking 10 minutes to my office location.

    On Monday I did my best to walk on the treadmill I own and keep in the basement for about 45 minutes between 6am & 7am with the intentions of going to the gym or going for a bike ride after work. Yet the end of the day rolled around and I wanted to watch my nephew's Little League game since I don't often get the chance. Plus my energy levels were at an all time low after the game and I had zero motivation to go the gym after his game because it's really hard adjusting from a second/third/nighttime shift to a first/daytime shift. (I only got four hours of sleep Sunday night/Monday morning because I couldn't fall asleep until after midnight and I had set my alarm for 5am as I had every intention to go to the gym).

    Thankfully Tuesday was a better day for me when I stayed within my points+ allowance. I think that's what helped me to not gain any weight this week.

    With all of that being said, I can honestly say that I tried my hardest between being out of town, traveling a long way from home, my work schedule being completely different from what I'm used to, and my whole routine being switched around. I'm proud of the fact that I tracked honestly every day and got in a work-out every single day this past week. I really tried my hardest.

    My goal for this upcoming week is to simply TRACK EVERYTHING because my birthday is this Sunday and I have plans that will make it harder to stick to plan. I feel that if I really focus on tracking everything I eat honestly, then I will be able to keep in check how much I'm eating as well as what kind of foods I'm eating. It will definitely be a difficult week since I already have several plans to go out to eat in order to celebrate my birthday with various people. I want to enjoy those times out with my friends & family instead of stressing out about them. I already know two out of the three places I'll be eating out at which means I can track/plan ahead what I'll eat when I'm there. Or, at the very least, I can study the menus before I go to those restaurants so I have a better idea of what those places serve. And with the third place I go to, I'll just make sure to stick to safer options with lots of Power Foods (fruits & veggies).

    This is another week where I'd like to plan out my week ahead of what I'll be eating and try my best to adhere to my outline. So here's a break-down of my plan of attack for each day this week...

    • Wednesday, 6/4 → walk on the treadmill in the morning; counseling appointment at 8:30am; WW meeting at 9:30am; spend time with my mom and go to Home Grown Cafe for lunch with her; go to the gym for my strength training & cardio work-out after spending time with my mom but before leaving to visit my boyfriend (aim to work-out between 2-3pm); have my oatmeal for dinner
    • Thursday, 6/5 → away from home, I'm planning to sleep in for one of the few days this upcoming week and having my smoothie for breakfast/lunch; go to a restaurant of my choice for dinner (probably Applebee's)
    • Friday, 6/6 → Greek yogurt in the morning and stop by the gym to get in my strength training & cardio work-out in before heading home; have a relaxing day at home that will make it easier to control what I'm eating
    • Saturday, 6/7 → get up around 9am or so and have my smoothie for breakfast; beach day! ask to pick the restaurant on the boardwalk and pick one that would be easiest to eat as healthy as possible down at the beach; walk LOTS along the boardwalk
    • Sunday, 6/8 → relaxing day at home; make a new recipe in the crock-pot and my birthday treats I have to make for work (I'm thinking a gluten-free version of these Rainbow Cupcakes!); plan out my meals for the week
    • Monday, 6/9 → back to a more regular work schedule! "breakfast" at home then gym before work; all-employee campus picnic for lunch but I will probably take something anyways and just get some of the free Power Foods available (fruits & veggies)
    • Tuesday, 6/10 → officially back to a calm, regular work schedule for me (give or take a few hours) that will include planned-out meals and time at the gym!

    My Non-Scale Victory for this week was definitely making it a point to go to the hotel gym. I also did my research on the hotel prior to my trip and found out that every room came with a microwave AND a mini-fridge so I was able to take some refrigerated foods with me. This really saved me when it came to eating breakfast Saturday morning in the hotel. The continental breakfast hardly had anything that wasn't filled with gluten and/or lots of calories. I'm really proud of myself for making the trip work for me without having to inconvenience those I was traveling with this past weekend.

    Monday, June 2, 2014

    Weekend Wrap-Up 13

    Happy Monday! I'm writing today instead of Sunday because my work schedule is different for this week and I actually had all of yesterday off. I wanted to see how I would make it through my first Sunday off in a while. Thankfully, I had a really productive day off and stayed busy pretty much all day. Unfortunately my extended weekend was a bit of a roller coaster since I had to take Saturday off to attend a funeral. Talk about an emotionally draining event to attend. I'm doing okay but I've always been very empathetic so I soaked in all other's emotions around me.

    I'd like to say that I put my emotions aside but I ended my second day of my Weight Watcher week terribly by binge eating. I went over my daily points+ allowance by 31 points+ but I can honestly say that I tracked everything. I'm currently trying to earn back all of the points I consumed from Thursday until Saturday with Activity Points but I'm slightly worried as to how my weigh-in will go on Wednesday.

    The good news is that I had a really good Friday to make up for Thursday. I made sure to go to the gym first thing in the morning, had my smoothie before we hit the road to head to upstate New York, and made a salad for my dinner on the road. Otherwise, I was able to keep myself busy in the backseat by playing video games (Pokemon X, heck yea!) and listening to my iPod so I wasn't munching on the WW snacks that I had brought with me.

    Saturday was rougher for me though. It started off okay because I took oatmeal I had made with old fashion oats in case I didn't have many options of food to eat at the continental breakfast in the hotel which I didn't as most of the options were filled with wheat/gluten. Then I tried my best to eat well during the luncheon following the funeral services but 1) I forgot to take my salad dressing packets with me; 2) the few salad dressing available weren't that great as far as points+ goes; and 3) I learned the hard way that ham slices for lunch meat are more points+ than turkey when I opted for 2 slices of ham lunch meat and only 1 slice of turkey lunch meat. At least I skipped the bread and bake ziti which I can only imagine would have really upset my stomach.

    Then, on the way home from upstate New York, we stopped at a rest stop where I picked up two Bear Naked Real Nut Energy Bars (Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter). I really wanted to try them out in order to review them for my blog but I didn't know before I bought them that they were 7 points+ each. While they were delicious, they were definitely not worth points+ which I unfortunately spent 14 points+ on Saturday eating them because I was drained of emotional/mental energy from the events of that day.

    With all of that aside, I'm proud to say that I made it to the hotel's gym Saturday morning before anyone else woke up. There was an Octane Lateral machine which I used while watching an episode of Breaking Bad -- my current Netflix addiction -- since there was free wifi all over the hotel we stayed at, the Holiday Inn Express Canandaigua - Finger Lakes. Watching something on Netflix while I work out is part of my usual routine, so it was GREAT to do something so familiar while being away, out of my normal routine.

    Thankfully I ended my weekend on a good note yesterday but going on a 44-minute bike ride. The fresh air & sunshine was greatly needed after spending part of the last 30 hours in a car for 12-14 hours. I also stopped by the local farmer's market at the Natural Foods Co-Op in town where I was able to pick up some of my veggies for the week fresh and locally instead from the grocery store. Of course, I still had to stop at the grocery store later in the day but I was glad that I had the opportunity to shop locally for once (I hardly ever get the chance since I work on Sundays). I also went into work for a little bit, got in extra Activity Points for the day by taking my car to the car wash where I also vacuumed out my car, hosed down my bike since it's been needing a good cleaning, and got a lot of my food prep down for the week later Sunday night.

    My birthday week is coming up and I'm celebrating it a bit this week but I plan to take some time on Wednesday to map out my week so hopefully have a successful week. So far I have Wednesday & Thursday mostly planned out and Friday I'll be staying home. But once again I'm getting ahead of myself! For now I must focus on doing well today & tomorrow as far as eating and getting in Activity Points in goes. Then I can focus on the week ahead after my weigh-in on Wednesday.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2014

    Weekly Weigh-In #20 (week of May 21-27)

    I had another successful week by losing 0.6lbs. It's not much, but it's a loss and that's GREAT for me. I'm really, really glad I lost weight this week because even though I did really well Saturday through Monday, I ended up stress eating last night which led me to going way over my daily points+ allowance. For a moment, I was really ashamed of myself for allowing myself to eat my emotions. However, after reflecting about my actions last night and talking with some people, I realized that I made behavior changes including buying smaller sizes of the foods that are my weak points that I binged on last night. For example, I bought a small pack of Twizzlers Pull'n'Peel instead of a larger pack of them because I was craving them and knew I wouldn't be able to control myself if I bought a bigger pack of them. I certainly wished I had not eaten 11 points+ worth of Twizzlers Pull'n'Peel but they satisfied my craving and didn't make me blow through all of my weekly allowance points.

    I'm also proud of myself for tracking every single food item that I ate last night despite going way over my daily points+ allowance. Since I don't get off of work until midnight, I ended up snacking around 1am which just so happened to be when the Weight Watchers website went down for maintenance. Instead of not bothering to point what I was eating entirely, I opted to write down the foods I ate last night that blew my points+ allowance but showed me how much I was eating so that I could stop before I ate too much. I think tracking is my biggest behavior change here.

    With that being said, I'm really proud of myself for continuing to track so well. I'm currently on a 16-day streak of consistently tracking honestly every day. I've been keeping up with my tracking jar, adding two pebbles for every day that I track honestly and stay within my points+ allowance (or go over by 1 or 2 points, as long as I've worked out that day) and adding one pebble for every day that I track but go over my points+ allowance. I want to reward my behavior of tracking and I feel this is what's helping me achieve that goal.

    I have a bit of a rocky week ahead of me -- which I'll talk about later -- but I still want to keep in my mind the goals I made for myself last week and work on achieving them this week...

    • T R A C K E V E R Y T H I N G
    • Check off my daily Good Health Guidelines (GHGs)
    • Add the fruits & veggies that I eat in a day to my WW tracker
    • Update my daily WW reminders on my phone
    • Only go over my daily points+ allowance two days instead of three

    Obviously I didn't do very well with sticking to the last goal listed but it wasn't intentional. I did try VERY hard to only go over my daily points+ allowance by two days out of my long "weekends" instead of three days and I succeeded! I just didn't foresee Tuesday night -- the night before my weigh-in -- as being a problem.

    As I mentioned, my upcoming week is going to be thrown off as I travel to upstate New York to visit family. I'll be away from home for three days but I want to plan to succeed by mapping out my week.

    • Thursday → away from home, I plan to eat the foods I take with me to my boyfriend's place and give myself a relaxing day as I'll definitely need one; if we happen to eat out for pizza, then I'll adjust my eating schedule accordingly
    • Friday → Greek yogurt in the morning and stop by the gym to get in my strength training & cardio work-out in before heading home to re-pack things to make the trip to upstate NY; consider making & taking a bowl of Old Fashion Oats oatmeal with me to NY as well as Greek yogurt so I have something for breakfast Saturday morning; take a packet of Wawa fat free salad dressing with me but otherwise stick to Power Foods (fruits & veggies) as much as possible
    • Saturday → try to get in walking/jogging work-out in the morning, if time & the area I'm in allows for it; otherwise focus on eating primarily Power Foods (fruits & veggies), even it's pre-packaged foods like pre-made salads (I like the ones at Wawa)
    • Sunday → hopefully back home, go to the gym in the morning to start adjusting to a morning routine for next week's change in my work schedule; complete work obligations and go to Food Lion as well as Walmart; do ALL THE LAUNDRY
    • Monday → if my body will wake up by 5:30am at the latest, go to the gym in the morning; otherwise take gym clothes to work and change into them before heading home in order to go to gym after dinner in the evening
    • Tuesday → same as Monday!
    • Wednesday → if I can get up in the morning to go the gym, plan to go to the gym; counseling meeting at 8:30am, Weight Watchers at 9:30am, and then spending some time with my mom; if I don't get to the gym in the morning, then make it a point to go in the afternoon!

    Hopefully by Wednesday, the craziness of the week will slow down because I have five days off of work for my birthday! Then I'll just have to tackle trying to stay on plan for my birthday. I'm hoping Thursday and Friday won't be too bad, because I'll be in spots where I know what/how to eat and I'll easily be able to get in activity. Saturday (June 7th) might be a bit harder as I have plans to go to the beach but I'm getting way ahead of myself! I'll make plans for that hurdle next week. For now, I'll just stay focused on not letting myself get too stressed out about the idea of eating while traveling. It's something I need to learn to do for long-term success.

    My Non-Scale Victory for the week would probably be all of the behavior changes I made this past week. This includes being able to lose 0.6lbs after eating pizza two days in a row and eating ice cream twice in one day. It's all about the tracking! I also learned that I can eat at Coldstone Creamery without blowing my daily points+ allowance, so I may make a special post about how to be successful and make good choices when eating at Coldstone.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2014

    Tasty Tuesday: Recipe Round-Up

    It's been a while since I've done a Recipe Round-Up post for a variety of reasons. Probably the biggest reason is due to the fact that the meals I make tend to last me for weeks or months because I like cooking in bulk, portioning out my recipes for lunches or dinners, and then freezing everything I don't plan to eat in the next week or two. This makes food prep for the week super easy because I'm saving myself from making 2 or 3 additional meals for the week to take to the work. I really only need to worry about making 1 or 2 meals for my lunch/dinner breaks at work because I have a few recipes already made and frozen. All that's required of me is to remember to take my meals for the week out of the freezer ahead of time and add whatever additional ingredient I want or need to add to bulk it up (typically this is rice).

    The other reason that it's been a while since I've made a Recipe Round-Up post is because of everything that's happened to me since March. I don't want to bore you with the details since I've already mentioned before how my life got turned upside-down and now I'm living at home. Everything that's happened has left me a bit of an emotional wreck that I just haven't felt like cooking for the past month or two. I hope for this to change by the end of May or early June as I get inspired to make some (literally) cooler recipes for the upcoming warmer temperatures that summer promises to bring.

    The good news about being back at home is that I now have access to my mom's fabulous kitchen, including her additional crock-pots and wonderful array of spices. If my memory serves me correctly, then I think at one point I was making two recipes at once during the first week I moved back home. And did I mention my mom randomly gifted me my own, new crock pot? It is seriously the best thing ever, as most crock pots are to any aspiring home-cook like myself.

    So without further ado, here are the recipes I've made since March...

    • Skinny Taste's Crock Pot 3 Bean Turkey Chili Here's the thing about the first two I chili recipes I have listed here: I shouldn't have made them both at or around the same time because at this point I'm almost sick of eating chili. Ignoring that fact, I actually really liked this recipe solely because it introduced me to using & eating chick peas in another way apart from hummus (and I'm not a huge fan of humus). Whenever I took recipe to work, I would add ¼-½ cup of brown rice to get in a healthy whole grain.
    • Skinny Taste's Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili This was another great chili recipe that if I hadn't made at the same time as the other chili recipe, I'm sure I would have loved it more. Just like the other chili recipe I would add ¼-½ cup of brown rice but I wish I had learned to add mushrooms to this recipe and the other chili recipe to give it more volume without adding more WW points+ or calories. I do have to admit that I've tried other taco chili recipes that tasted better than this one. However, it was good on its own and I would make it again!
    • Skinny Taste's Chicken Pot Pie Soup I made this recipe almost out of desperation to escape having to eat my two chili recipes two or three times a week. I was getting so sick of eating chili! Unfortunately this Chicken Pot Pie Soup recipe didn't hit the spot like I had wanted. When I made the recipe, I had to swap out the ¼ cup of flour to use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead in order to make it gluten-free. I'm not sure if the gluten-free swap made it far less creamy than it should have been or something I did while making the recipe but it's much more watery than I hoped. I did make sure to add extra veggies to give it more volume without adding a ton of extra WW points+/calories so it helps to make the recipe delicious. However, I think I might stick to making Hungry Girl's Hungry Chick Chunky Soup until I find a wheat-free alternative for when I'm craving Chicken Pot Pie. This is another recipe that I add ¼ cup of brown rice to get in my healthy whole grain for the day.
    • Hungry Girl's Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo This is not a new recipe to me but I wanted to share it because I make it on a weekly basis for my "lunch" on Mondays. It's a delicious, wheat/gluten-free alternative to typical Chicken Alfredo recipes. When I first started making it, I would add broccoli and Tyson Chicken Breast Strips to the recipe. However, I've been really trying to limit my intake of process foods so now I cook up about 20 ounces of ground turkey every week or every other week and add about 3 ounces to this recipe to get in some protein. I also add ¼ cup of brown rice because I usually eat this meal about an hour before I hit the gym and, after lots of experimenting, I've learned that I feel full longer -- and tend to have more energy while I work out -- when I eat brown rice beforehand.
    • Weight Watcher's Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole The last recipe I plan on sharing is another one I've made several times in the past. I make this casserole that ends up having 6 servings to have for my Saturday lunches while at work. I'm not sure why this has become a habit or routine but it's stuck. I've definitely added different ingredients to this recipe almost every time I've made it. Once I added about 2 cups of meatless veggie crumbles to it (the kind made by Boca) as well as some leftover broccoli I had on hand. The last time I made it though, I took out the meatless veggie crumbles in order to eliminate the process food and added ground turkey as well as mushrooms to the casserole. So far I like it even though the turkey really added points+ to the recipe. Sometimes, but not every time, I add extra brown rice the recipe to get in more whole grains. It really depends on everything else I plan on eating that Saturday though.

    So that about covers it as far as the recipes I've tried these past couple of months. I was also on a kick of eating a sweet potato with ½-1 cup of cottage cheese because it was sweet & creamy while tasting delicious together. I think I've actually moved out of that phase though because I haven't felt like having either lately, especially not cottage cheese. Instead I've moved onto making a regular potato and adding fat free sour cream plus shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese on top. It's my own version of a loaded baked potato!