>Perfectly Portioned Pizzas

>So here is a recommendation of a way to make pizzas that are light and that everyone in the family can enjoy. Use the whole wheat flat bread rounds (I use the ones made by Arnolds). Toast them a little bit. Put some sauce and whatever topping you like and cook under the broiler for almost 2 minutes – watch so they don’t burn – learned that the hard way! I usually use fat free mozz chees, but even better is the reduced fat feta cheese. It seems to have more flavor. Last night I made some with olives and mushrooms and feta cheese – scrumptious! The cool thing about them is that everyone in your family can make their own creation with the toppings they prefer so no arguing (hopefully!).

Oh, and don’t skip the toasting part at first – otherwise they come out a little soggy! Enjoy!

>What is IN these things?

>This started out as a facebook status update, but it was just too long of a story so I had to blog it!!! So I was excited to find sugar-free jelly-bellies in the toy store today. The package boasted 40% fewer calories! After grabbing about $6.00 worth of regular ones for Mike, I snagged me some sugar-free babies to try out. Cool.

On our way home from the mall, I enjoyed my little snack pack of “good for you” jelly bellies delighted that I could enjoy these with 40% less guilt. I hadn’t figured out the points yet, but knew they would work with my plan for the day. They were actually pretty good! I could tell they weren’t the real deal, but they still had all the good flavors – even the buttered popcorn (nasty!).

I got home, made dinner and very soon after dinner my tummy started to grumble and feel upset. I started to feel a little bloated, my stomach was making churning sounds and yes, there was flatulence (this blog is not for the faint of heart). I chalked this tummy situation to being excited/nervous about heading to Mt Union for Nick’s orientation tomorrow as I was getting clothes packed, etc. After all, my stomach has a history for going on overdrive when something exciting is coming up (I know, more “TMI”, but it is my blog, afterall).

After getting caught up with laundry, etc, I headed downstairs to do my tracking in my 3-month journal, like all good little weight watchers should. I retrieved the jelly-belly wrapper from the bottom of my purse amongst the 6 packs of gum (seriously, I have 6 different flavors going right now – all sugar free!), and I was shocked and relieved at the same time.

As I looked for the calories, fiber, and fat to do my point calculation, I noticed the giant warning on the back of the package in all capital letters outlined by a red box (also on the front of the package as I later discovered) stating the following: “CONSUMPTION MAY CAUSE STOMACH DISCOMFORT AND/OR LAXATIVE EFFECT, INDIVIDUAL TOLERANCE WILL VARY”. Yes and yes. Oh, and this is the best part, “WE SUGGEST STARTING WITH 8 BEANS OR LESS.” No shit, (in a matter of speaking), it actually says that. YIKES! Well, the whole entire 3.1 oz package contained 2 servings of about 35 beans per serving….and yes, I ate them all! Come on – 40% fewer calories than regular ones – with Splenda and everything!! Whatever that is. In my defense, the reduced calorie and sugar-free propaganda on the package was much bigger than the warning about the stomach thing. Come to find out, there was 8g of fiber in each serving! Is that really necessary?! I got a flashback to those “Wow” chips from the 1990’s, which had the same effect on me and a similar warning on the package. As a matter of fact, I knew women in college who would eat them as a diet aid (if you get my drift).

So, what is the lesson learned here? Besides the obvious one – READ THE LABEL!! Sometimes you just gotta have the regular stuff. Oh, and if you do eat more than the recommended trial of 8 sugar-free jelly bellies in one sitting? Stay home!! 🙂

>So much chicken – so little time!

>So we had Nick’s graduation party this weekend and I kinda overestimated how much food to buy. We had leftover coleslaw, pasta salad, fruit salad, beans, buns, monster cookies (which thankfully I got rid of 12 dozen of them at work!) but most of all chicken. Now, I’m not talking about a few chix breasts left over. I’m talking about full on three (3) gallon-sized zip-loc bags full of bbq cooked chicken. The good news is that it was really good! Mike prepped it with “Butt rub” (I swear it is a real thing – we got it at Hartville Marketplace), and used “Sweet Baby Rays” bbq sauce for the finish. Everyone loved it! Little did we know how many days we would have to love it! We ate chicken at the party on Saturday where we enjoyed it the most. Then, we had it for lunch Sunday, dinner on Monday and lunch on Tuesday. For Monday dinner I actually made three different chicken items…one order of bbq chix little pizzas on arnolds bread (pretty yummy and creative, I might add), one chix quesidilla and one pulled chix bbq sandwich. Tonight we broke down and couldn’t do it anymore!! We had chicken for lunch, but just couldn’t do dinner with it again. Pizza and cereal it was. Apparently I could not even cook tonight. The chicken is now gone – our refrigerator is now chicken free!!! Yahoo! Yes, it was good, but a girl’s got her limits!! I need to go to the grocery store to get restocked on non-party food again, but I don’t really even want to…no more food!!

Did I mention the 30 additional chicken breasts that we have in the freezer in the basement? I told you I overestimated. Yikes. Maybe there is a July 4 BBQ in our future. Then again, maybe not…

>The Road Not Taken

>I’ve decided to discover new running routes. I have two good ones that are my standard routes that I’ve pretty much run into the ground. I know exactly where the hills are, I know exactly what three miles is. The routes are predictable and they are BORING! So, lately I have just run a certain direction and made it up as I went along. I have the iPod, so I can easily figure out my distance, but there is something fun about running a route I’ve never run before. It can be a new challenge – sometimes the terrain is more hilly. Last May when I first started running, I would map out a run in the car first to determine the mileage and then run it. Now, with the help of my iPod, I can just go. It is very freeing to be able to just go. I’m always surprised at how many different combinations of 3 mile routes I can create from my house. I have two new ones now that are really fun. One goes through down town Hudson so I can even “windowshop” a bit as I run by. This route is a little dangerous at rush hour as it goes on Owen Brown Street right under the railroad bridge and is very narrow. Drivers crack me up how far out they drive away from me when I’m running – like I’m going to just suddenly lunge out at them after running in a straight line! The other one that I discovered last night actually goes partly on Rt. 303, but there is a bike only lane so it is fairly safe to run there. Plus the cars don’t feel the need to swerve way around me! I’ll have to explore additional routes in the future. Anything to keep it fun, different and interesting and keep me motivated to hit that pavement!

>Spaghetti Pizza

>It has been awhile since I posted a recipe. This was a real crowd pleaser that I tried Sunday night so here you go! You might have made this before, but this one is a lightened up version (duh!). Enjoy!

Spaghetti Pizza (Makes 10 servings, 6 points each)
2 spray(s) olive oil cooking spray
12 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti
2 large egg white(s)
1 large egg(s)
2/3 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup(s) basil, fresh, chopped (plus extra leaves for garnish)
9 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
32 oz bottled spaghetti sauce
2 oz pepperoni, finely julienned (about 1/2 cup)

* Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a 9- X 13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

* Break spaghetti into 2-inch pieces and cook, al dente, according to directions; drain and cool.

* Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat egg whites and egg until frothy. Stir in milk, garlic powder, salt, oregano, basil and 1/3 of mozzarella; add cooked spaghetti and stir until thoroughly combined. Spread spaghetti mixture evenly in bottom of baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes; remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.

* Spread spaghetti sauce over pasta; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Scatter pepperoni evenly over cheese layer. Return to oven and bake until heated through and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, garnish with basil and then cut into 10 servings. Yields 1 slice per serving.

>Binge Deconstructed

>So in honor of “keeping it real” on my blog I’m going to share my monster cookie experience from last night. I realize that this is supposed to be a motivational blog, sharing my tips and experiences to help motivate other people, but come on – no one’s perfect and we learn more from our failures, blah, blah, blah, right? Right. Okay. So, in preparation for my son’s high school graduation party coming up in a week I decided to make “monster” cookies as the dessert rather than cake. I won’t bore you with the details of why, but there it is. So, I decided to get the jump on making them last night so I could just freeze them all and check something off my list. Now, as I was mixing up the dough I realized that I hadn’t made these cookies in quite a long time…since probably before I came back to weight watchers. These cookies are deadly good…brown sugar, sugar, oatmeal, m&m’s, chocolate chips – you get the picture. My family loves these, but I just don’t make this sort of stuff anymore and now I remember why. It is not like I never make desserts…well, come to think of it, most of the time if I do make something sweet like that I’m taking it to either church or work – and again, now I know why. So, I mixed up the dough, started putting them on the cookie sheets and then I decided to have a taste of the dough. Zachary had some so why not, that is a fun thing to do when making cookies, right? It was yummy…yummier than I remember, so I had another taste and another and another. Pretty soon, the timer beeped on the oven and they were done perfectly! I decided to treat myself to a couple of them – I had some floater points left for the week. The first bite was the best and before I knew it I had eaten 3 cookies. Now, I had the taste of sugar, wanted more and kinda lost control. I do remember thinking, “to hell with it, I’m eating them!” So, I guess it was still a conscious decision, but I felt out of control. I think the feeling out of control part comes in when I stop counting or tracking. After all was said and done throughout the evening of baking, I probably ate about a dozen cookies…yikes!

However, rather than beating myself up about it afterward I remembered one of the most important things I learned in Weight Watchers…”what matters is what you do next”. So, I brushed my teeth, read my book and went to bed and got back on the horse today. I didn’t totally throw the towel in after a bad “out of control” experience, but got right back to tracking and eating a little lighter today – not letting it get the best of me. Just the mere fact that I’m blogging about this is huge for me – it kinda takes the power out of the binge itself. It was a choice and I’m over it…rather than this shameful deep, dark, secret thing. That is such a key to maintaining a weight loss – the forgiveness thing and the moving forward thing. Shit happens and it usually is not as big a deal as we build it up to be in our minds. Well, I need to end on a positive note – there is an addendum to this story. Or perhaps, I should say “sequel” (which was much better than the original). Tonight I made a second batch of monster cookies and I’m happy to report that I did not even have so much as a taste – dough or otherwise. I owned those cookies tonight! They are not the boss of me!!! Moving forward!

>The Myth of Perfectionism

>For some reason I still have this thinking that is all or nothing in terms of activity. For example, I was planning on going running after work yesterday, but I didn’t really want to because of my glasses (I know, excuses, excuses, but I’m having a problem with my eye and have to wear my glasses for awhile). I was talking with Zachary and he says, “so just don’t run, mommy”. I was tempted to bag the whole thing, but then I said, “why don’t we run together – just for one mile?” Many times Zach will be my “pace car” and ride his bike along while I run, but after his experience with the Weight Watcher 5K where he “ran 3 miles” (read: ran and walked the first lap and walked the second lap), I thought he might want to try running a bit. He was in! So we set out to run 1 mile together. It was cute because he said, “can you, like, leave the ipod at home and we can talk and stuff?” Done. So, we started out and got about 1/3 mile along and then he had to walk. I encouraged him to go at his own pace and catch up if he wanted to, but then I decided to just walk with him. He was happy I did. We walked at a good pace for about a mile total, but we were still able to talk together, laugh and share and just enjoy time together. It was nice. It was still some activity AND the bonus was I got some time with my son and role modeled healthy behavior of moving more!! I busted the myth of only being able to “count” my activity if it fits in a certain box (running at least 3 miles every time). It still counts and this particular time counts for even more than the calories burned. This time it was actually priceless. I have to remember that it is not important to stick to some prescribed perfect activity plan. Just move more on a regular basis and involve the people you love as much as possible!!

>The Walk-It Challenge!

>Great day today! I went with a group of my Weight Watcher friends to run/walk a 5K in honor of the Weight Watcher Walk-It Challenge which has been going on for the last couple of months and culminated today. A mom and daughter duo got us organized a few weeks ago and found the park, the trail and got us all signed up. We went to Firestone MetroPark which is about 1/2 drive south for me – it was 1.7 miles around so we needed to go twice around. It was a beautiful park – pond and a river. The only wild life I saw this time was a dead shrew – yuck, but at least I managed to run over it. Dennis and I somehow ended up being the leaders of the pack – we were the only ones running it, and somehow we took a wrong turn up this huge hill, but we realized our mistake and found the trail again. I have no idea what my time was because of course my nano decided to go on the fritz. No matter – I kinda enjoyed it without music for once. I think I probably rely on it too much maybe. I convinced Mike and Zach to go with me for moral support and I’m so glad they did! Zach started off running and went quite far before he walked the rest of the way with a couple other kids who were there. Mike walked one lap around too – in flip flops! There were a bunch of us there – I think about 18 in all plus family member supporters. Our WW leader couldn’t be there at the last minute because her daughter just had twins today 5 weeks early! We decided that was a good excuse to miss it! One of our members is in a wheel-chair and she did the whole thing – what an inspiration! I mean, come on…it puts any of my excuses to shame. It really makes me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to and should not let crazy excuses stall my efforts (e.g. it’s too hot, I don’t feel like it, I’m tired). If someone in a chair can go for 3.1 miles on a trail, I certainly can too!!! What a great thing – kudos to us all!!! And kudos to Weight Watchers!

>Sabotage or just laziness?

>So, I only ran twice this week…Saturday and Tuesday…a total of 6 miles. My plan was to run when I got home tonight (I have flex-time so I can run when I come home and still have time to make dinner), but I just plain old didn’t feel like it. Plus I stopped at Heinen’s first to pick up some beef kabobs for dinner (yummo, by the way!) so by the time I got home it was a little bit later than normal…plus it looked like rain…plus {fill in any lame excuse here}. You would think that I would have stayed extra motivated this week as tomorrow is the start of a new month of weighing in so it counts! In other words, if I am not within two pounds of my goal weight tomorrow…(cue the dramatic music)…I HAVE TO PAY! I have not had to pay at all since I reached lifetime in November 2009 so this is a big deal. What I’m wondering about myself is, however, am I doing this to myself to make myself have to pay to kick myself in the ass and get re-motivated in terms of running or am I just plain lazy? I guess no matter what the reason is, the common denominator is that I need motivation. I feel like I’ve been “resting on my laurels”, so to speak in terms of my activity level, specifically. It has been fairly easy to maintain so far as long as I run 3-4 times a week and track, etc, so I feel like I can slack a bit. Plus I don’t have a tangible goal anymore to work towards and I know that I’m a person that desperately needs that. I guess I just need to set one then, huh?! But what…ugghh…perhaps I’ll do some research on training programs for 10K’s and look for one to sign up for…okay, deal.

>The Yo-Yo of Week Maintenance

>I might have shared before about my theory of “week maintenance”. But just to catch you up…basically I look at maintaining my weight in week increments. Each Saturday my week starts over again at the beginning of my Weight Watchers meeting, of course (7:30am!!!). My points all go back to zero and I start out the week with a fresh weekly tracker (in my three-month journal) and a fresh 35 floater points to use for the coming week. I weigh in every week too even though as a lifetime member I only have to weigh in once a month. As long as you are within 2 pounds of your goal weight when you weigh in monthly you can attend for free. However, if you go above that you have to pay the meeting fee until you get back down. It is a good motivator, I suppose.

Thankfully, I have managed to not pay since I reached lifetime again in November. But I knew that in order to do this I would not be able to just do the “once a month weigh-in” that is required. This is what I did the other two times in my life after I reached lifetime (see my opening blurb on my blog!). I stopped going to meetings, stopped weighing in, ceased my activity, and went back to my old habits. SO, my plan for this time (the last time!) is to practice week maintenance. Now this should not be confused with weak maintenance – that is something all together different and reminiscent of my previous experiences on weight watchers. No, I’m talking about managing my weight on a week to week basis for the rest of my life. I weigh in every week (same scale – yes it is in my head, but I’m okay with that). I actually do not own a scale at home. Sometimes I’m up a pound or two and sometimes I’m down a pound or two. Depending on where that number falls on that week, I adjust my strategies for that coming week – more activity, tracking more, different choices. At first I was frustrated at the yo-yo-ness of it all. But I’ve been thinking more about it and I think it is natural for our bodies to go up and down. We have cycles in our lives – more active times, more things going on during particular weeks. As women, we have actual cycles that can influence us too. But this makes week management all the more important. For if we had an “up” week and did not keep that in check the next week, that is when weight can come back on and people find themselves in a bad or unhealthy situation again (hello, Kirstie Alley!). So, I’m okay with the occasional yo-yo as long as there are equal upswings and downswings involved. Wish me luck – Saturday starts a new month!!