Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New! WW Barcode Scanner

No more excuses for tracking! WW has released a new app that allows you to scan your foods and it auto-tracks to your food tracker. How cool! You can now walk around the grocery store, scanning and comparing your Points Plus Values with all kinds of foods.

Here's how it works: I think Jennifer from "It Sux To Be Fat" Explains it best: All you have to do is be an e-tools subscriber or an online member and it links with your e-tools so they can “talk!”  Here’s how it works:
  • Download the app from the app store.
  • Put in your e-tools subscriber information.
  • Load the app and automatically the barcode scanner pops up.  You can either scan the barcode off the product you are looking at or you can enter the barcode manually.  There is even a light button in case you are somewhere dark.
  • It will vibrate to let you know the scan took and then it will either give you a “Cha-ching” to let you know the product is in their database or it will tell you the product was not found and ask if you want to go to the calculator or continue scanning.
  • If the product is found successfully, it will pop up in the bottom of your screen.
  • Click on the product and it gives you all the information you need including serving size and how many points plus it is.
  • Then, just click add to tracker and keep on scanning.
  • When you finish, load the regular Weight Watchers app and all the items you scanned will be in your tracker already.
The app can also be used offline to compare previously scanned items, access your personal shopping history and utilize the PointsPlus calculator. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.
Weight watchers just simplified our lives for food tracking in every way possible.  Give it a try!

Get it for free in iTunes Store

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fitbit Review

Since Christmas, I wrote about the new tool I received called a fitbit (read about it here). Fitbit and I have been attached at the hip (literally), I wear it to work, bed, going out - and I talk about it to anyone who is willing to listen. I LOVE my fitbit.

The Fitbit accurately has been tracking my physical activity, steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and my overall sleep quality. The overall goal of the Fitbit is to make you more aware of your daily activity and promote you to live a more active lifestyle resulting in a healthier you, it certainly has. I now try to go for walks during lunch, take the stairs more often, and I get fired up at a zumba class to put in an extra jump or walk to get my steps up in a day. I'm not perfect everyday, but at least the fitbit reminds me how my body is doing, and takes away the "assumption" of activity and makes it worth it.
My 30 Days With Fitbit, Tracking and Graphing
Tracking: One of my favorite parts of the fitbit, is the website/app food tracking. While tracking on the fitbit and the weight watchers site can be a bit of a pain, the wonderful thing is it creates graphs in real time about my imput vs output in food intake. If i've been working out - I really try up my food intake, and the same if i've been more sedentary during the day. Your intake allotment will also increase with your activity, meaning the more active I am in a day to more I can eat.

Setting Goals The fitbit system also allows you to make goals for yourself. If you want to loose 20lbs by summer, the fitbit system will tell you how many calories you need to take-in & burn during the day. Then it will plot your progress onto a graph to track your progress. This along with my WW points plus plan really helps me stay motivated and on track. For example: While WW counts a banana as free, fitbit doesn't you've now added 118calories to your count. This basically means I pay more attention to what i'm eating even though they maybe "free", it also means not all calories are created equal. I will reach for a banana over an equal amount of chips, because of the fiber and sodium differences.

Setting Goals, the fit bit will self adjust my calorie amount with how active i'm being.

Weekly Progress Reports - Your week resets on Sunday night (you can control this) and seemingly it feels like all of you hard work and data has reset and disappeared. However - fitbit emails you a weekly progress report with a a tally of all of your calories, weight-loss, steps taken, floors climbed, etc. They also will share with you the badges you have earned, and how you compare to yourself (or your friends).

My weekly progress report for 01/09 - 01/15 (i've hidden my weight)

Getting More Sleep -  The "bonus" feature to me, is about the amount and quality of rest I get each night. I've had sleep issues for years, and just learned to live with being a little sleepy and relying on coffee and sugar free red bulls to get me through a long day. But actually seeing my sleep reports, and learning how much sleep I was really getting was jarring. I vowed to work on getting more sleep during the week. I went to bed earlier, and gave myself a chance to "settle down" with a book or a glass of water before bed. If I really feel like I cant go to sleep I will take a melatonin supplement and gradually send myself to sleep-land. Overall I feel like the quality of sleep I get is better, I'm tossing and turning less, and I can see patterns of disruption in my sleep (wine disrupting your sleep? unfortunate but true) and I have more energy during the day.
I did'nt think sleep was so important until I realized
I was'nt getting enough and it was affecting my weight loss goals!
In conclusion - get one! Or at least sign up for free tracking on their website (you will have to do things manually, but you still get all of the great graphs. What the fitbit really does is it helps me get an overall better picture of my health and activity. Its hard data, that shows a direct relationship to input and output. I can look at it through out the day and feel motivated, get the real time ability to make adjustments to my calorie intake as the day progresses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Stubborn Payoff - DOWN 4.8lbs!

For some of you, being stubborn is part of your nature. When it comes weight-loss it certainly wasn't part of mine. I used to hit a plateau and give up - then gain double the weight back. Finally I was stubborn - and stuck to it and when I weighed in today I lost 4.8lbs!!!!

The Plateau- If you've been reading my blog for the past few weeks you will notice i've been stubbornly struggling through a plateau. I tried everything, eating more, eating less, tracking, crying, working out more, working out less, when finally I hit a wall and said to myself - "You are doing everything right, your body will catch up with your head - just keep it up."

With a little bit of self-reflection  in "Breaking My Rules & Paying the Price" I put my mouth where my words were and got more sleep, drank more water, and watched my alcohol intake. That does'nt mean I did'nt drink, eat and have fun, I did - I just had more water in between. Kept my workouts going and did'nt give up on myself.

STICK WITH IT & meet Dr. Google! - When I hit this plateau I went into researcher/detective mode, trying to uncover all of the things that i've been doing wrong in my diet.  I felt very alone - then I read this article in Women's Health Magazine

"It's tempting to change tactics completely. But busting through a weight-loss plateau is all about tweaking the diet you're on, not launching a whole new one. When Tufts University researchers recently tested the effectiveness of four different weight-loss plans on 160 people, they found that the diet didn't matter so much as your ability to stick with it. Of the 25 percent who lasted a year, all lost at least 5 percent of their total body weight..."

Finding help in "Dr. Google" can really help you stick to your diet plan, because you realize your not alone - even if you feel your doing everything right and its not working.  In every weight-loss chat room, blog or food tracker site you will find people chatting away about plateaus.

Ultimately - What I learned in my research is weightloss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent sweat, and 10% - (to give it an extra 110%) perseverance.
Spending "quality" time with carbs.  I love pasta, bread, rice, flour, beans, sugar - basically I have never met a carbohydrate I did'nt like LOVE. The only other diet plan I had ever tried with any success was the Akins diet.  I lost around 60lbs and banned my love for food, it then gave me a complex about eating,  then made me gain weight back the minute I ate one morsel of sugar.

The truth is, if your physically active - you need carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels, and you need protein to build muscle. Its not so much about what carbohydrates your eating as WHEN your eating them. I stick to whole grains, and brown rice, but instead of loading them after a work out - I eat them for breakfast or lunch to turn that sugar into energy to pull through my evening workouts. Then at night I load up on lots of veggies (meet my new friend kale chips) and lean protein such as chicken, lean cuts of steak and lean cuts of pork chops.

If I do an early morning workout on the weekends, I will end that workout with a 3 egg white omelet, with feta cheese, tomatoes, and spinach. I'll also pair that with some pumpernickel/rye or wheat toast, for a lean protein boost, with complex carbohydrates to pull me through the rest of the day.

Drinking more water - read what you write. I started this blog to not only share my struggles, but also to share what works. In my post - more water please I had plenty to say about drinking loads of water and seeing the benefits - "drinking water has lots of benefits. Clear skin, weight-loss, a clear knowledge of fullness (a great thing when you like to nibble on snacks when you think your hungry but in reality your really thirsty)." After re-reading this entry, I upped my water intake threefold. I realize I'm less hungry, I feel better, and yes my skin is clearer.

Being stubborn through a plateau is not easy. In fact it is the hardest emotional portion of my weightloss journey. But i'm learning, if I practice to what I preach and stick to the plan.
I will change my life - for the better.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Craving French Fries??? Try Kale chips!

They rock!!!  I put a bit of kosher on them to make them kind of salty like fries/chips. They really were like thin potato chips! You can also sprinkle a little bit of wasbi powder or parmesan cheese on them to make them even more delightful. Once you eat these you'll want to eat then entire bag, and you can! - at only 155Calories for the entire pan you can have your chips and eat them to. Best of all - Its easy,  healthy, yummy and fast.

Preheat oven to about 375*

-4 Cups of Kale (which was a stuffed grocery store veggie bag). Tear the leaves off the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread onto cookie sheets
- Spray with Pam cooking spray, about 5-7 sprays to lightly
- Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake for about 12/15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.
Optional: Sprinkle with Parmesan, Asiago, wasabi or your seasonings of choice.

Servings: 4 at 1PP/ or 39 Calories for the lightly salted version ( it would go up if you added parmesan or asiago)

If your like me and you love these, you can eat the ENTIRE pan of these chips, (and you will want to) it's only 5PP or 155Calories.

If you craving a salty snack, give these a try, you wont regret it. Enjoy! :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Breaking My Rules & Paying the Price

Time for a reality check : Am I REALLY doing everything that I could be doing to break the weight loss plateau & slump i've been in for the last few weeks. I'm working out more, tracking everything I eat, but to no avail, the scale is'nt budging. So I thought I would get honest with myself (and my readers), and pick apart the things that could be self-sabotaging.

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” 
When I come home from work, or the gym - I whip open the fridge and fill myself with the contents of it. While yes its mostly veggies, fruit, and healthy snacks. The key to healthy living and weight loss is to fuel your body with food during the day, starting with breakfast and have a lighter dinner. This week i'm going to focus on “protein and produce” at dinner. Swapping my light lunch salad or soup for a light lunch salad or soup for dinner. This should also help fuel my evening workouts with a boost of carbs and proteins from lunch.

Controlling Alcohol Intake – This is so hard! I've given up drinking for the weekends but its also the number 1 behavior I see in myself when the scale sits at a stand still. When I think about weekends, with friends I can take in 2-5 drinks on a Friday or Saturday night. That adds up to over 800 extra calories that i'm not getting from food.  This week, we are going to limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks twice a week.

Getting More Beauty Sleep. According to researchers at Stanford, people with short sleep (5 hours a night) have reduced leptin (thin hormone) and elevated ghrelin (hunger hormone). Based on what the hormones do in the body, the researchers claimed the differences in leptin and ghrelin are likely to increase appetite, possibly explaining the increased BMI observed with short sleep duration.  

Sleep allows you to recover from your workouts. Which means you have to get sleep if you want to lose weight. With my new fitbit (click here to learn more about it) i've been able to track my sleep patterns into some sleek sleep graphs.
From these graphs i'm learning that I average 6hours and 34mins of sleep at night. For my age, it is recommended that i get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, and i get 26 min less of sleep a night. Another interesting fact is to see how sleep effects your sleep cycle.
See Sunday night, when I went out with some friends, for a little "girls night out" . We had been drinking, and while it only took me 5 minutes to fall asleep,  I tossed and turned and "awakened" 11 times that night and only got 5 hours of sleep, on a weekend! Ouch, its time for bed!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One-Pot Spicy Chicken Peanut Soup

This is my new favorite winter soup. Easy to make, PACKED with lean protein, low in calories (only 5ppl per serving, about 200 calories for 2 cups) and a quick 1 pot wonder! This is also a great "fridge clearer" because you can use the base of this recipe (chickpeas, peanut butter, red pepper flakes, and chicken/vegetable stock) and add any combination of veggies to get your own unique and delicious results. Enjoy!

What you will need:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (4-8 oz) chicken breast, diced
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1½ tsp red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 1/2 tsp of PB2 or ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • 15.5 oz can chickpeas
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup of shredded cabbage
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
What your doing:
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium pot on medium-high heat
  2. Add garlic and onions and sauté for about 30-60 seconds
  3. Add chicken and sauté about 5 minutes more, until chicken is cooked and onions soft
  4. Stir in coriander, red pepper chili flakes and cumin
  5. To a food processor, add PB2 and about 15-20 of the canned chickpeas with about a tablespoon of the chickpea can juice(reserving the remaining chickpeas). Add the chicken broth in two stages, and blend until desired consistency
  6. Add the peanut butter/broth mixture to the pot of simmering onions, garlic and chicken
  7. Add remaining chickpeas, cabbage, the grape tomatoes and simmer (low boil) for about 5 minutes
  8. Stir in the spinach. Check flavor and add salt and pepper to taste (if needed). Once spinach has wilted, about 30 seconds, the soup is ready to serve
See my recipe inspiration on how2heroes! http://how2heroes.com/videos/soups-sauces/one-pot-chicken-peanut-soup

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012 Inspiration

The Difference a Year Makes
(on the left: New Years Eve 2011 - on the right New Years Eve 2012)
Its a New Year! Which means - Resolution Time! If you are a member of a weight-loss program and you already work out, these next few "resolution months" make for a busy new year. In honor of the excitement of new people into the gym and on program, I thought I would feed off of some of their excited weight loss energy, and share some inspiration to kick this new year off right.

Looking Back to Look Forward
I've never taken two photos of myself (see above, before and after) and really looked at them side by side. Since New Years 2011 gave me the motivation to start loosing weight .  I thought I would put a before and after next to each other to put my weight loss into perspective. Wow what a difference a year makes!
A Dose of My Own Medicine
Part of writing this blog for me is a reflection of the choices I have made that have worked and what has not. In my post "When Going Extreeme Does'nt Result in a Loss," I wrote about how emotionally tolling a vigorous workout and food schedule can take a toll on your emotions when you don't see your hard work pay off on the scale. Having just experienced another week of 0.0 weight loss on the scale, and earning 90 - YES 90 activity points, and staying at least 2-3 points under my daily target, everyday. I'm taking a dose of my own medicine and learning from my mistakes. Again.

Upping my Caloric intake along with my fitness regimen should hopefully turn my metabolism around. But most importantly I need to find what works for me and my body.

Small Goals to Get Big Results.

Fitness Goal
I recently received a fitbit (read about it here), and decided to set myself a weekly goal of 10,000 steps a day and 70,000 steps a week. Doing Zumba weekly and also enjoying hip hop classes and other forms of exercise.

Date Goal: The Skinny Valentine - i'm looking to loose 10lbs by Feb 14th! This is going to be a challenge as i've noticed i've hit a plateau lately. I've worked hard to loose 2.8lbs over the holiday season. While its in the right direction - its not enough to help me hit my goals.

Community: Meetings are an excellent way to check in with other people who can relate to your weight loss journey. If your like me, once a week is a great way to say hello and set myself up with a weekly goal and reality check. However there is an entire community of bloggers, youtube-ers, and social networks to help you through this weight-journey. Below are a few links that I find helpful: