Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Gotta Hand It To Me

Just discovered a great tip that is a win-win situation.  I was in the restroom washing my hands and some person had left a bottle of rather nice smelling hand lotion for all to use.  So I tried it out.

Another staff member had recently been to Ocean City, MD and brought back caramel corn from Fishers.  I had given into this temptation several times since the beginning of the week (heck it’s only Wednesday!) and was feeling guilty about eating it and more importantly about not tracking it.

Before I hit restroom the caramel corn monster was calling my name.  However, once I put that nice smelling hand lotion on I realized I couldn’t dip into the caramel corn bucket.  Win-Win!  Not only are my hands softer but I wasn’t able to give into that temptation.  I wonder why I hadn’t thought of this before.  Neat trick to keep yourself from eating something that requires you picking it up with your hands – put lotion on before hand and you won’t pick it up (because no matter how good it smells I don’t think you want your caramel corn, brownie, cookie, etc. to taste like hand lotion).

Another win-win — while looking up the links to put in this post I found the nutritional information for the caramel corn.  I am now tracking what I ate this morning so at least part of my guilt is absolved 🙂

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Shopping Helper

I don’t know about you but I can always use some help when shopping – especially at the grocery store!  I saw something posted on Weight Watchers Supermarket Foods Facebook page that got me thinking about all the great help we have available to us so I thought I’d list some of my favs here:

  • Hungry Girl’s Official 2012 Supermarket List (this is what got me thinking)
  • Skinnytaste.com – one of my favorite web sites for recipes but it also has a shopping list feature which leads me to
  • ZipList – which is not only a web site but they have an app for your Android or iPhone (love this app use it every week – some of the cool features is it allows you to scan UPC symbol on packages and will automatically enter them into your shopping list, being able to select my store [Giant Food] so things are grouped according to how they arrange the store, being able to list the number of items I need (6 cans of chicken broth), price and size plus a lot more)
  • Weight Watchers Barcode Scanner (available for iPhone & Android) – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!  It is a time saver in the supermarket.  The other day I was trying to find string cheese that was only 1 pt, so I was able to scan the UPC code and the app did the rest!  It told me how many points and gave me the option to track it.  It also keeps a history of items I scan and I can add them to a shopping list.

So if you are like me and love how technology can help you (okay when it works or we aren’t doing it wrong) then I suggest you try some of these to see if they don’t make your next shopping trip a bit easier.

I Have A Food Allergy…

…I eat food and break out in fat!  This was a quip by our leader Pat at last week’s meeting.  But it’s true for those of us at Weight Watchers.  (I’m not trying to make fun of anyone who has a true food allergy – they are very serious and should be very carefully watched.)  Last week’s topic was eating out.  How appropriate since one member mentioned that her husband was taking her out to eat – again!  He felt she had worked hard enough over the years she deserved to not have to cook.  He felt he was being kind to her but she was worried that she couldn’t keep on her WW journey eating out all the time.

She had good reason to be a bit worried.  Studies have shown that everything from portions to how food is made in restaurants is always MORE and not in the good way.  Portions are usually 2-3 times the amount they should be and lots of fattening things like butter and oil are used instead of healthier options.

So what can you do?  Only eat a salad at your favorite place?  Don’t go out at all?  No, there are lots of tips and tricks you can do to keep on your journey, enjoy the food and still eat out.  Here are some of the suggestions our group came up with:

  • Think about what you are going to eat ahead of time
  • Check to see if they have a web site and review the menu
  • Have a salad first (dressing on the side)
  • Use your mouth!  Tell them you are on Weight Watchers.  I’ve done this and often found that the waitress (or in one case the chef who actually came out and suggested the point value of items for me) has been there done that and can make suggestions.
  • Ask how things are cooked.  Steamed veggies sound very healthy but one place mentioned that they put butter on it afterwards which changes things.
  • Split a meal with someone else.
  • Use the kid’s menu – smaller portions of meals and they are cheaper!
  • Many places will let you substitute healthier options for some of those less healthy sides.
  • If you have something like syrup for waffles or pancakes – do it like you would salad dressing.  Ask for it on the side and then dip your fork into the syrup and then into your waffles/pancakes.
  • If eating out with several people suggest that you all share (ala family style).  I’ve done this often at Chinese restaurants so everyone gets a taste or small portion of several great tasting dishes.
  • Get your “doggie bag” early and immediately put half of the portion in there and pack it up.  If you only have half the portion on your plate you are less tempted to eat the whole thing.
  • Decline breads – lovely as they maybe the carbs do add up.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water and not soda.  Unsweetened iced tea is also an option.
  • Look for the right words in the menu – broiled, baked, steamed, etc. are much healthier than fried, au gratin, battered, etc.
  • Pour salt or ketchup (just like one of the Real Housewives of Orange County) over the remaining food so you aren’t tempted to eat more than you should.

Follow these suggestions and you can still eat out but you’ll eat smart.

 

Reflecting On Things Past To Move Forward

I guess it’s inevitable that at the last Weight Watchers meeting of 2011 we should do some reflecting on our success this past year.  More importantly I like to look at where I might have failed (or in less harsh terms – where I slipped up and had learning moments).   Mistakes are what make us human and give us the most opportunities to grow/learn.   There are so many great quotes regarding mistakes I can’t pick just one.  But looking back at the good and the bad is important part of your health journey.

If you subscribe to eTools you have reports on your fingertips that can help you see patterns.  Take time to review them.  Look at the weeks where you lost and the ones you didn’t – what is different about the weeks that you lost weight?  Do you track often or rarely?  How about your healthy checks – do you succeed at completing those each day?  If you don’t use eTools try tracking your weight loss on a graph that can help you to see patterns sometimes as well.

Several members looked back at the year but especially the holidays and saw where they needed to improve.  One member mentioned that she realized that she drank a lot of diet soda while off for the holidays (something she doesn’t do so much the rest of the year).  It struck a chord with me and I got to thinking about how much Diet Coke I had the past week (and may have explained some of my weight gain that week – although a lot of it was from giving myself a bit too much permission to have goodies during Christmas).  Our leader mentioned that a lot of sodas have too much sodium in them.  I found an interesting article on all the diet soda/sodium and breaking the habit.  I mentioned that canned foods (such as tomatoes which I use in a lot of recipes) also have sodium but luckily we have the no-salt version as well.

So take a moment to look back at 2011 so you can move forward with your health goals in 2012.  I for one am going to limit my soda intake to 1 per day now that I’m back at work.  The rest of my liquids will be water (fizzy or flat).  Remember to track not guesstimate – guesstimating can work against us in many ways (either we aren’t allotting enough points or too many).  Try to make small changes as they are not only the easiest but make this health journey more of a lifetime goal than a momentary one.  But the one thing I think we all need to do when we look back at the past year is forgive ourselves for any slip ups and move on.  Look at those slip ups but use them as learning moments (what could you have done differently?).   Don’t forget while looking back to celebrate all those things you did that made a difference.  Look at those and continue (if not magnify them) these in 2012.

Need some help keeping your promise of a healthier you?  Here are 8 different apps/tools you can use on your journey to better 2012!

I wish all of my readers a very healthy, happy New Year!

Plan IT!

We always have the “IT” option.  We can lose IT, maintain IT or gain IT (pounds that is).  The holidays are no different but they certainly do present some challenges we don’t have to deal with the rest of the year.   Many of us are presented with an over-abundance of food and not the most healthy choices to boot.  So what can one do?  Plan IT!

Whether you plan just one meal, one day or one week – making a plan ahead of time can help.  Decide what your plan of attack will be if you have a holiday party to attend.  One member suggested that you make one pass around the table of food so you can do a bit of recon.  Decide what you are willing to spend your points on ahead of time.  Fill up on the power foods of course but don’t forget to treat yourself (we don’t believe in deprivation) to some of the desserts or whatever your favorite weakness is.  Another trick I’ve often heard is eat something before you go to the party.  That way you aren’t so hungry when you get there and are less likely to eat too much.  Minimize the amount of alcohol (empty calories that really can rob you of your points) and don’t forget to keep plenty of water by your side.  Another member suggested after you make your plate step away from the table.  Go and socialize.  Talking to others can keep you from going back and filling up once you are already full.  Another member said – share IT.   If you really love desserts – share that slice of pie or cake with a friend, co-worker or family member.  That way you can have half the points and still enjoy yourself.

Remember no matter what your plan is, try to eat slower.  It takes the brain time  to catch up to the stomach and say it’s full.  Eat but then wait 20 minutes or so.  Then assess your fullness level.  Also this time of the year with heat on the environment is drier – you maybe thirsty and not really hungry.  Try drinking some water first and then see if that doesn’t satisfy you.

So whatever challenges you this holiday season make a plan (to lose, maintain, or gain) but more importantly don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to the plan.  Look at it as a learning experience especially if this is your first time trying to avoid all the goodies out there.  We are only human and even the most season veteran at the weight loss path will fall off the wagon on occasion.  Trick is they immediately dust themselves off and get back on.  Just keep moving forward with whatever plan you choose.

Happy Holidays to all!

When I Was A Child, I Ate Like A Child

Something seems to happen when we become adults.  We seem to forget what our parents tried to instill in us all those years ago.  Some very good advice was shared by a new “lifetime” member at Saturday’s meeting.  She had just read an article (and I too remember reading about this) that we need to go back to our childhood when it comes to eating.

The article’s point was we need to eat more like we did when we were children.  Our parents encouraged us to eat our fruits and veggies and to make sure we drank our glass of milk.  As Weight Watchers members this fits right into the program since most fruits and veggies are zero points value.  We need to include at least 5 servings as part of our Healthy Checks.  Also we need anywhere from 2-3 servings of dairy a day (depending on age or whether you are nursing).  Drinking that glass of milk during your meal is an easy way to get at least 1 serving in.

Also children tend to eat smaller portions and more frequently.  This is another thing that we tend to forget as we get older.  We settle into the 3 big meals a day routine because of work/school/life.  It is better to have 5 smaller portioned meals or snacks between those 3 main meals than it is to try and cram all our calories into 3 sittings.

So embrace your inner child and eat like one!  Okay, maybe minus the bib and throwing strained peas across the room 😉

Life Just Got a Little Easier

Life for those of us who shop and try our best to stick to our points just got a little easier.  Weight Watchers just released a new app for Android and iPhone that is a real-time saver at the grocery store!

The new Weight Watchers Barcode Scanner app scans the UPC barcode on packages and then automatically calculates the PointsPlus value.  On top of that greatness alone it will allow you to track right from the app so you don’t have to get out of it and open the other app or use the mobile site.  It also keeps a history of items you scanned (helpful if you use certain products on a regular basis).  And if for some reason it can’t find the UPC barcode in the database it offers to bring up the calculator so you can figure it out manually.

Not only all of these great features but it also allows you to add it to a shopping list!  I really love this because I’ve been playing with several apps lately that keep your grocery list on your phone via an app.  I’ve really liked ZipList as it also puts the items in order by whatever store you are shopping.  It also has a list of recipes sites (not the official Weight Watchers site but one that uses the PointPlus program) and you can click on a link that will add the ingredients from the recipe into the shopping list.  But with ZipList if I came across a new items at the store that I didn’t know the points value for I had to exit the app and then go over to the Weight Watchers app to use the calculator.  Now with the new barcode scanner app from WW I can have both my shopping list, scanner and calculator all in one place.

The is the best early Christmas present WW could have given a person like me.  Thank you!

Additional Goodies

Got to thinking about what other holiday ideas you might want to get a WW member on your list.

Several things came to mind under Workouts

  • Fitbit – tracks your everyday steps, stairs climbed, calories burned, and more, motivating you throughout the day.
  • Up by Jawbone – track your steps, distance, calories burned, pace, intensity level, active vs inactive time, GPS routes and more.
  • Bath puffs for the shower after your workout

And one more for the cooks out there – the brand new Weight Watchers Points Plus Power Foods cookbook – a bit expensive here on Amazon.com but only $14.95 at your local Weight Watchers store

Hope some of these ideas help with your holiday shopping for the fit-minded on your lists.

Holiday Ideas For The WW On Your List

Do you have a friend or family member working the Weight Watchers program or just trying to make healthy choices in their lives?  Stumped as to what to get them for the holidays?  Here some suggestions that will hopefully help make your gift giving a bit easier.

For Everyone

For Workouts

  • Work-out clothes (tops, pants, shorts, socks, shoes)
  • Gift certificate for their favorite gym (for classes or personal trainer)
  • Small hand weights (if they are a walker and want to ramp up their workout)
  • Kettlebells
  • New gym bag
  • Toiletry bag for shampoo, soap, razor, etc.
  • Bottle to carry water during workouts
  • DVDs of Zumba, Kettlebells or Yoga workouts
  • Pedometer

For Cooks

But the most important gift you can give them is your support.  How about a jar full of hand written coupons like “Good for one walk around the track with you” or “Good for 2 hours to yourself – I’ll take care of the kids” or “Good for one vacuuming of the whole house”  or “Good for one fixing of dinner (promise to follow WW recipes)“.   Anything you can do to show support will always be greatly appreciated by anyone but especially someone on a weight loss/maintenance journey.

Wishing all of you very Happy Holidays!

The “Ouldas”

Shoulda, Woulda and Coulda.  They get us into trouble every single time.  Especially during the holiday season.  “I should finish my holiday shopping now…”  “I would love to do ____ but…..”  “If only I could get ____ done before…”  Many of us know these sentences as they run in a continuous loop in our heads this time of the year.  This adds to the stress and stress can lead to making bad choices which can lead to weight gain which can lead to….well you get the  idea.

I stopped myself this week from doing a shoulda.  I should have written this blog post long before now but I had a very busy week work-wise.  So I forgave myself and let it go.  Normally I would have stressed over getting this blog post done, I would have stayed up late (depriving myself of sleep – bad choice) and then gotten stressed which would have made me give into stress eating (another bad choice).  I do have a responsibility to my readers but more importantly I have a responsibility to myself.

This is a small stress compared to what most of us experience during the holiday season (decorating, shopping, family commitments, cooking, cleaning, visiting, etc.) so what can you do during this season to help you through those stressful moments?

  • Have someone on your side.  One member at last week’s meeting talked about one of her children being her cheerleader at home.  This child is really helping Mom to stay focused.  Find a friend or family member who can be your cheerleader.
  • Identify your stressors.  Knowing them ahead of time is part of the solution.  If you know certain people or situations add stress to your life you can be a bit more prepared for it.
  • Lower your expectations.  Our leader, Pat, shared that often she finds her expectations are what set her up for failure.  Try not to go into a situation/event with expectations so that when it doesn’t go according to your plan you aren’t stressed or disappointed.
  • Ask for help.  Not unlike that child who is a cheerleader ask others to help you.  It can be as simple as letting them know you are working the Weight Watchers plan so they can cheer you on or ask them to help you by not bringing certain tempting dishes during the holiday seasons.
  • Offer help too.  Sometimes by offering something of yourself you are not only helping the other person but yourself in the process.  It can help to remind you of your plan and your goals.
  • Think positive.  Negative thoughts can undermine all your good work you’ve done so far (especially if you are just starting out).  One member shared that her normal walking buddy and her made a pack.  Instead of gossiping or complaining they were only going to talk about positive things on their walks.  They went from normal 15 min walks to 45 mins because they were so caught up in sharing the positive side of things!
  • Forgiveness.  If you find that you are stressed and make some unhealthy choices – acknowledge it, forgive yourself and let it go.  We are all human and we are all going to slip and fall from time to time.  Trick is to not let those occasional slip ups deter you from your ultimate goal.

Don’t forget to take time out to enjoy the decorations (take a walk and enjoy the houses in your neighborhood), time to enjoy the company of friends and family (if you used to do cookie bake/swap why not continue the tradition this year but make them all Weight Watchers recipes), or take time to reflect after the last gift is wrapped and count your blessings (you have Weight Watchers,your leader and the great members on your side).  I hope you can all take time to enjoy the holiday seasons a bit and leave the “ouldas” out of your holiday this year!