Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

If I could point to one thing that always trips me up in my quest to eat healthy, it’s my snack choices. Mostly I forget to eat them – not a good thing. But when I do remember, I find that it is easier for me if I’m consistent with my choices. Too many choices and I go astray.  So I try to keep it simple.  However, consistency’s natural enemy is boredom.

My go-to afternoon snack is celery and cream cheese. It’s easy to make and measure out. Lately, the urge to replace this afternoon snack with the chocolate chips in my baking pantry is growing.  I needed to shake things up but not with those tasty morsels (damn you Nestle Toll House!).

Yesterday I discovered a nifty little recipe to jazz up my celery snacking. Actually, any veggie snack will be better with this little concoction. It’s quick to make and stores for 1 week in the refrigerator.

For all of you Weight Watchers out there, this recipe comes out to 2 points per serving. You’ll have to decide if it is worth the points. Since I have trouble reaching my daily points, it’s a no-brainer.

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp
Net Carbs: 0
PointsPlus Value: 2

11 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
1 Tbsp heavy cream
3 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
2 Tbsp minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/8 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine goat cheese and cream in a bowl; whip with a handheld mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stir in basil, tomatoes, 1 Tbsp oil and pepper.
2. Transfer to serving dish and drizzle top with remaining 1 Tbsp oil.

If you are feeling adventurous, try adding in 1/2 C of chopped toasted walnuts. I haven’t tried it so I don’t know the points value. But it does sound yummy.

Weekly Weigh In: April 20 (a.k.a., “What the hell is wrong with that scale?!?”)

April 20 weigh inI knew I would have to pay the piper for that visit to IHOP. Oh yes, I tried to put it off with all of my strength training and daily power walks. But today the piper was determined to collect.

This week I was up 1.4 lbs.

Let’s be honest. It’s not just my trip to IHOP. I also ate delicious Indian food…and some pizza…OK a lot of pizza. Not exactly low carb fare. I tapped into both my weekly PlusPoints allowance and activity points – and then some.

Yet, I’m not panicked or upset. In fact, I’m proud of myself. Not for going off program. I’m happy I was able to face the scale knowing what I ate.

I used to be afraid of the scale. If I blew my points for the week, I would just skip my Weight Watcher’s meeting. I just couldn’t face the scale. But I found out the hard way that if you skip once it gets easier to skip another meeting…and another. Soon, I’d no longer go to the meetings and I’d be packing on the pounds.

I no longer fear the scale because I understand that it wasn’t the scale that I was afraid of. It was the self-doubt that would creep in. I’d be down 25 lbs, go up 2 and start thinking I’m a failure. Didn’t matter that I lost way more than I gained. I couldn’t see past the current reading on the scale. In any other aspect of my life, if I got knocked down, I’d get back up, dust myself off and keep moving forward. But when it came to my weight I never could see the forest through the trees. I’d just throw myself a big ol’ pity party (with lots of ice cream).

Well those days are gone. Now I’m determined to step on to the scale every week. I know I’m human. I will not always make the right food choices. And that’s OK, provided I learn from my mistakes.

So what did I learn from this week? Besides IHOP, Indian food and lots of pizza in one week isn’t smart.

1. Woohoo I’m down 66.6 lbs.
2. The scale is not my enemy.
3. I’ll have a better weigh in if I continue stay on program.

That scale is going down next Saturday!

Should I Up My Strength Training

lifting book coverI missed my Tuesday session with my trainer due to a nasty ear infection and stomach bug. Thankfully I bounced back for today’s session.

I’m tired as hell, but feel great. How does that work?

It really is amazing how I feel after each session. Yes I’m drenched in sweat. My legs feel wobbly. My arms are jello. Yet, I am very relaxed and have an overwhelming desire to go for a long walk. I’ve heard about a runner’s high, perhaps this is something similar.

Right now I’m strength training twice a week and speed walking the other days. But I’m starting to wonder if I should up my strength training. I came across an article in Women’s Health about the value of strength training over cardio. Two stats jumped out at me:

1. Just 21% of women strength train two or more times a week.
2. Two strength training sessions per week can reduce overall body fat by 3 percent in a 10 week span.

The article isn’t about choosing between one or the other. I don’t think I have a choice. I need to do both. It’s about the clear benefits of strength training and encouraging women to take advantage of it. I think women don’t strength train because they fear bulking up too much. Sorry ladies, but we just are not built that way. I promise, you won’t turn into her.

But I’m wondering if my strength training and cardio are out of whack. Right now I’m split 70-30 in favor of cardio. Yes, I do believe that as long as I continue to eat the right foods and exercise, I’ll lose weight. The difference is that with cardio I’ll lose weight, but that can mean fat and muscle. With strength training, I can target my problem areas and lose fat, not muscle.

For the time being, I’ll stick with what I’m currently doing. I’ll re-evaluate around June 1. By that time I should be working again and can see how realistic it is to add another session.

In the meantime, I’ve ordered The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Since I’ve added strength training, I noticed I need to make some adjustments to what I’m eating. I have noticed that my metabolism plunges a few hours after these sessions. Clearly I’m not fueling my body properly. My last couple of sessions, I came home an ate an apple and that seemed to help, but I need to really work in more protein. Problem is, protein is a high point item on Weight Watchers. So I really need to figure out the most bank for the buck without going over my daily points allowance. I’m hopeful that this book can shed some light on the nutrition front.

Confession Time

IHOP - My downfall on Saturday.  They actually add pancake batter to omeletts.

IHOP – My downfall on Saturday. BEWARE: They actually add pancake batter to omelets.

I made a promise to my husband on Friday that we would go to IHOP. I felt sorry for him. He had to fast all day Thursday for his colonoscopy on Friday. As the anesthetic was wearing off after the procedure, in a very pathetic weak voice, he asked if we could go to IHOP.

“Of course we can, but we need to go home first.” I thought he was so out of it, he wouldn’t remember.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. After my 5k I went to Weight Watchers to weigh in. My husband, who was driving, didn’t go straight home after Weight Watchers. Nope. He went to the nearest IHOP. Damn!

As we rolled into the parking lot, my tummy was rumbling loudly. I was in trouble. I quickly came up with a game plan – order the Create Your Own Omelet with tomatoes and spinach, and just heat half. Easy peasy.

What I didn’t count on: 3 silver dollar pancakes on the side.

Really!?! Cauliflower mash is a side dish. A side salad is a side dish (the name sort of says it all). Three fluffy, delicious pancakes? Not a side dish.

I was so hungry I tore into the omelet, doing my best to ignore the pancakes that seemed to be calling to me. I ate about 40% of the omelet. I felt satisfied. However…

Those pancakes…so warm…so fluffy. And with a scoop of melting butter sitting on top. Hmmmmm.

I tried to be strong, but I heard a little voice say, “You just did a 5K. Go ahead. Have a few bites. It won’t hurt.” That little voice belonged to my loving, supportive husband. Thanks honey!

I cut off a small piece. Then I had another…and another. I ended up eating about 3/4 of a pancake before stopping.

I didn’t beat myself up. The old Dot to Trot wouldn’t have stopped. And that omelet would be toast too. All in all not terribly bad.

Then I went home to look up the Points Plus value of my meal and discovered that IHOP actually puts pancake batter in their omelets. Crap!

50 Fattiest Foods In the States (A.K.A. How I Got Fat)

Quadruple Bypass Burger courtesy of the Heart Attack Grill.

Quadruple Bypass Burger courtesy of the Heart Attack Grill.

Oh my. This list is incredible. I traveled around the country for my last job, and I’m afraid that I’ve sampled 23 of the dishes listed.  Yikes!

I am somewhat surprised as a native Michigander, I never heard of the Michigan BLT. Hmmmm bacon…is there anything it can’t do?

Also, I lived in Arizona for nearly 10 years and never heard of the Heart Attack Grill.  But if you are over 350 lbs you eat for free.  Thankfully I didn’t hit 350, but something tells me if this burger was around when I lived in Phoenix, I might have.

Now that I’ve lost weight, I look at this list and it really doesn’t tempt me. In fact, I feel a little mad at myself. Well not for the Café Du Monde beignets. They are yummy!

But looking at most of the items on the list, I just ask myself “Why didn’t I make better choices?” Today, I wouldn’t spend any of my 36 daily points on that crap.

Eating until I bust isn’t something I aspire too anymore. I use to think I got a good deal at a restaurant based on the portion sizes. The more food, the better the restaurant.

How times have changed. I don’t even use our 12-inch dinner plates anymore. Nope. Only the 6 inch salad plates now. Why? Because I learned the hard way that my eyes, not my actual hunger level, were driving how much was on my plate.

As my dad always says, my eyes were too big for my stomach. Well, not anymore.

Loving My Weight Watchers eTools & Mobile App

Weight Watchers' food tracker via mobile app.

Weight Watchers’ food tracker via mobile app.

I’ve been playing with my Weight Watchers mobile app and eTools website. Here are my initial thoughts.

I have to say I’m enjoying using them. They really do a great job at making it easy for me to find the points value of foods when I’m on the go. The food tracker is very nice. Its library of foods is excellent and does the calculations for you. Not a whole lot of typing like other tracking apps. It also does a very nice job of storing foods I put in – I can recall them very easily.

There is also a spot to track my activities and the intensity. With Weight Watchers, you can earn activity points for working out. Those points can be turned into food points for the day – something I don’t do. But I do like that I can track my activities. I just wish the activity tracker could do more. I love my MapMyWalks app. I can actually see the progress. Now Weight Watchers has rolled out ActiveLink which closely monitors your activities. There is a $5 monthly fee plus the cost of the device. I haven’t signed up. I tend to skip the first generation of these types of roll outs to get all the bugs out. Plus I’d like to hear from other WW members using ActiveLink to see if it is worth it.

Dot to Trot's applesauce meatloaf recipe - 6 points per serving!

Dot to Trot’s applesauce meatloaf recipe – 6 points per serving!

This morning on eTools I tested their recipe builder. I keyed in just a couple of my standard meals I make weekly. The points are calculated for me. Awesome! I would suggest that WW look into creating shopping lists from the recipes. Since there are a few meals I make regularly, and I plan out our menu for the entire week, it would be great if I could just click on the recipes and poof – instant grocery list. So please get on that now!

One minor hitch with the recipe builder – it’s buried. I went the the recipe section at first and found lots of nice recipes and good info from Hungry Girl. I finally found it under My Tools area. I think an easy to find link in the general recipe section would be nice. It might be there, but I didn’t see it.

Weight Watchers' cocktail cheat sheet via its mobile app.

Weight Watchers’ cocktail cheat sheet via its mobile app.

While eTools has a ton of good info, I have to say I really enjoyed the cheat sheets. One of the hardest things to do is guestamate the points value of food when eating out. I’m not in control of how it was prepared. I’m not measuring or weighing everything. So there is a lot of guess work. The cheat sheet is a nice idea to give you a general idea of how many points you might be consuming. From a breakfast builder to happy hour foods, the cheat sheet is perfect for folks on the go. However, the mobile app version is lacking. Right now it’s limited to pizza, cockktails, pasta and salads. And some of those are limited too. I’m optimistic that WW can improve the app version.

Overall, well done Weight Watchers. There is so much on eTools that I still haven’t explored – especially the social component (which I’m looking forward too). The mobile app gets the job done. I have a few minor quibbles, but they are minor. The food tracking piece is excellence, and that is the heart of the program. If you do Weight Watchers and are not on eTools or the mobile app, I suggest you give it a try.