Plateau Continues; Up 1 Pound

I'm up a pound. This little plateau is putting up a big fight. Time to cut back on my carbs and shake free of this plateau's grip.

I’m up a pound. Time to cut back on my carbs and shake free of this plateau’s grip.

Well crap! This little weight loss plateau is putting up a big fight. After a week on Simple Start I’m up a pound. Time to really shake things up by cutting back on my carbs and changing my exercise routine.

Daily Carbs Target: 25g
My daily carb count bounced between 75-125g a day on Simple Start.  Time to drop my daily count to 20-25g.  The bulk of my weight loss came when I ate 20-25g of carbs daily. A week or two eating at this level should help me shake free of this plateau.

Putting My Knee To The Test
Besides cutting my daily carb count, it’s time to test my knee. Occasionally I have minor stiffness after a workout, but no pain. I think it’s time to try a little running.

It’s about 60 degrees out and the sidewalks and bike paths are clear — perfect for interval training. I’ve felt like my workouts were getting stale — weight training, spinning and yoga only get you so far before boredom sets in. Crossing my fingers in hopes my knee holds up.

One Simple Start Recipe That Needs Work

My grilled cheese and vegetable soup. The soup was great, although it needs some protein. The grilled cheese, was lacking. Next time it's real cheese, not this fat-free stuff.

My grilled cheese and vegetable soup. The soup was great, although it needs some protein. The grilled cheese, was lacking. Next time its real cheese, not this fat-free stuff.

For lunch today I tried the Simple Start grilled cheese with vegetable soup. I can’t say I loved it. I made the soup last week and it is very tasty. I added elbow pasta and stewed tomatoes to it for a nice Italian twist. It’s the “grilled cheese” I have issue with.

The recipe calls for fat-free shredded cheese and two slices of tomato on a light English muffin. Just heat in the oven until the cheese melts.

Easy enough. Problem is fat-free cheese doesn’t really melt. It seems to form a hard shell on top of the tomato.  Also, I had to put the muffin in the toaster first. The cheese “melts” too quickly for the muffin to get toasty.

I can have real cheese on Simple Start, but it’s pretty expensive points wise. But in this case it would make for a better grilled cheese.

Finally, I ended up adding a hard-boiled egg to my lunch. This meal really lacks protein. I try to eat 3-6 ounces of protein at each meal. I think the next time I make the soup, instead of the noodles I’ll add chicken or turkey.

Simple Start: Day 4 Musings

Simple Start

Day 4 of Simple Start. It works, but not alone. You’ll still need Weight Watchers meetings, app and E-Tools  to break those bad habits and learn how to eat right again.

I had my first real test on the Simple Start program last night. The program succeeded, while I failed (a little).  We went out to dinner last night and I ordered a Cobb salad and stayed on track by replacing the salad dressing with oil and vinegar and requesting no cheese (fat-free not available).

A perfect night…until I ordered the 2nd glass of wine. D’oh!

Under Simple Start, a glass of wine is considered an indulgence and allowed.  My problem was the second glass. In my defense, it was just so tasty!

Other than this bizarre bias against the nectar of the gods, I’m enjoying Simple Start. It is living up to its name. The program takes away the guesswork for you. Just follow the prescribed menus or pick from the power food list.

And yet…that ease of use bugs me. I’m worried that people new to Weight Watchers will see how easy it is and think this is all they have to do to lose weight. Two years ago, I would have. I was still looking for the Easy Button. Now I know that one of the hardest things about weight loss is unlearning bad habits. If you don’t understand your triggers, and why you got fat in the first place, you’ll be doomed to dancing the ten-pound-tango every time a new diet comes out.

Certainly my Weight Watchers leader hit this point pretty hard in last week’s meeting.

And yet as the great wizard-philosopher Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore once said, “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.

It’s human nature to go with easy.

There is no easy peasy, nor lemon squeezy:

Simple Start is NOT the Holy Grail. The program gives you a kick-start and helps you build confidence. Follow it and you’ll see results on the scale. But if all that interests you is some movement on the scale, without learning from your mistakes, then it’ll be like that time you tried the 3 Day Diet, or the Cabbage Soup Diet, or the Hollywood Diet, or the Grapefruit Diet. Or my favorite one of all, the Tomorrow I’m on a Diet.

It’s common for folks in my meetings to say they can’t scrounge up enough minutes in a day to make healthy choices. Simple Start can help. But if you’re not willing to create time for yourself, no plan, no matter how easy, won’t help you in the long run.  Not even the Tapeworm Diet.

Look, I’m not saying eat perfectly all the time or that I never have moments where I don’t think about what I’m doing.  I still slip up (“cough” wine “cough”).  If you want to lose weight, you have to make yourself a priority in your own life and understand it’s not about dieting. It’s about changing your lifestyle!

I’m off the soapbox now.

(Damn thing’s about to shatter under me anyway…two glasses of wine, hello?)

Day 2 Of Simple Start

simple start veggie omelet

My veggie omelet turned was very tasty, despite the fat-free cheddar.

I’m on Day 2 of Weight Watchers’ Simple Start plan and so far so good. The recipes are super easy to make and fill you up. I’ve kept on track with my net carb count fairly easily, and I’m enjoying the program so far.

I made two of the recommended meals today – a veggie omelet with a lite English muffin for breakfast and chicken Parmesan with a side salad for dinner. Both were excellent.

I did tweak the chicken Parmesan by adding spinach to the sauce. Yum.

As much as I worried about the amount of carbs in the food offerings, I ended up creating my own lunch (with power foods, of course!) because I needed more carbs.

After an hour of yoga, followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill, my trainer put the hammer to me with a very intense muscle workout. I needed my mid morning protein shake and 30 minutes later I gobbled up a chicken quinoa salad.

That hit the spot.

Keeping Score Of What I Eat
I admit I am still tracking. I know…I know you only eat power foods so there is no need to track.

Well I’m tracking for 2 very good reasons.

First, I need to track my net carbs. Yes I’m doing Weight Watchers but I’m doing a low carb version. Ever since my doctor told me 2 years ago I need to change my diet or become a diabetic, I’ve tracked carbs.

Second, tracking food is not second nature to me. I worked hard to create this good habit and it doesn’t take much to break it. Sure tracking is annoying, but if it helps me shed pounds, I can put up with it.

Today's indulgence: homemade vanilla ice cream buried under a mountain of berries.

Today’s indulgence: homemade vanilla ice cream buried under a mountain of berries.

Day 2 Indulgence
I’m about to enjoy a half a cup of homemade vanilla ice cream loaded with blueberries and strawberries. So, the same indulgence as last night.

I have to admit, I do enjoy the ice cream. It’s a rare treat these days. It’s something I’d pass on simply because of the amount of sugar. But with my carbs in check I can indulge a little.

But I think homemade frozen custard is on the horizon.

Whipping Up Some Vegetable Soup Italian Style Tonight

Made a batch of Italian style vegetable soup, compliments of Simple Start. Perfect for a cold night like tonight.

Made a batch of Italian style vegetable soup, compliments of Simple Start. Perfect for a cold night like tonight.

It’s 23 degrees out and freezing rain is on the way. A perfect night for soup, no? I’m making a vegetable soup following the Simple Start recipe with two additions — spinach and red bell pepper.

I am kicking myself for not buying kale today.  Kale is wonderful in soups. I went with baby spinach and the soup still tastes great.

I made a big batch for the week for a filling, comfy snack (yes, soup is a snack in my book!) during this cold streak.

Vegetable Soup
Net Carbs: 9g
Weight Watchers PlusPoints: 1
Servings: About 10-12


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • black pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • 2 c spinach
  • 2 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 c water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (low carb)
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 c whole wheat elbow macaroni


  • Add oil to pot over medium heat; add garlic and simmer until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add carrots, celery and onion, stirring occasionally; add salt and pepper to taste; cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables become soft. About half way through, add the red bell pepper.
  • Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, water and basil; add salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Add spinach and pasta; simmer until pasta is cooked.

Is Eating Low Carb On Simple Start Possible?

Simple Start

Good news! Simple Start is flexible enough even for a low carb gal like me. I’m giving it a spin for the next two weeks.

The plan was simple — test Weight Watchers’ new Simple Start program over Christmas.  Well a big old monkey wrench called emotional eating was tossed into the works and my plan fell by the wayside.

So what’s a girl to do? Get back on that weight loss horse with Simple Start!

My next Weight Watchers meeting is Saturday morning and right after Simple Start begins. Today I hit the grocery store so I’m working on my new weekly menu.

Breads and Grains and Pastas, Oh My!
At first glance Simple Start doesn’t seem very low carb friendly. In reviewing the meal choices, I noticed that except for 3 salads, every dish includes whole grains. Yikes!

On days without my muscle workouts, I only eat 50g of carbs — the bulk of which are veggies. For strength training days I up my carbs to 100g.

My menu for the 2 weeks I try Simple Start needs to closely follow my workout routine. I started plugging the menus into My Fitness Pal. Sure enough, it will be tough keeping me at 50g of carbs on non-weight training days.

Egads! It Is Low Carb Friendly
Feeling frustrated, I stopped looking at the food photos in my little Simple Start booklet and actually started reading it.

Turns out, it’s pretty low carb friendly after all.

I can make my own meals provided I stick to the Weight Watcher power food list. Power foods fill you up faster, help you stay full and prevent overeating.  As long as I stick to the list, I can stick to my daily carb count and easily do the program.

So What’s My Menu Looking Like?
Since my workouts are in the morning, I’ll need foods higher in carbs for fuel. So I’ll choose from the Weight Watchers suggested breakfast and lunch meals.

Dinner is another story.

I’ll need to come up with my own meals pulling only from the power food list. I’ll just skip the grains section and pick from the veggies (carbs), protein, dairy and healthy fats on the list.

Considering my workout schedule, my first week’s meal plan looks like this:


Workout Routine


Saturday (50g) Rest day Yogurt, Fruit & Cereal
Cobb Salad
Chicken Parmesan
Sunday(50g) Spin class (60 min) Breakfast pizza
Grilled Cheese & Vegetable Soup
Monday (100g) Weight training, interval run (35 min), walk (30 min) Oatmeal with Berries
Burger & Sweet Potato Fries
Pork Tenderloin, spinach & roasted vegetables
Tuesday (50g) Spin class (45 min), Yoga (60 min) Yogurt, Fruit & Cereal
Cobb Salad
Cheese Burger (no bun) with side salad
Wednesday (100g) Weight training, interval run (35 min), walk (30 min) Oatmeal with Berries
Burger & Sweet Potato Fries
Chicken breast,  asparagus & side salad
Thursday (50g) Spin class (45 min), Yoga (60 min) Breakfast pizza
Cobb Salad
Couscous with chicken & vegetables
Friday (100g) weight training, yoga (60 min) Oatmeal with Berries
Loaded baked potato & vegetable soup
Cobb Salad

Vegetables with hummus, vegetable soup and Greek yogurt with berries make up my snacks.

It may not look like a lot of variety, but I mix it up with the types of veggies and berries I use in dishes. Chicken breasts and ground beef are staples in our home and I tend to cook the meat on the weekend to save time during the week.

Plus my husband is kick starting his weight loss by going super low carb (20g/day). A limited menu makes it easier for me to change the meals to keep him on track.

Thankfully there is a lot of wiggle room with Simple Start that gives me the flexibility to keep up my low carb lifestyle. I’m looking forward to testing out the meal options and pairing the food choices with my workout routines.

Time to start making the grocery list.

Testing Weight Watcher’s Simple Start Over The Holidays

Simple Start

Weight Watchers just rolled out its new Simple Start program. I’m giving it a spin for the next two weeks.

I’m convinced that eating healthy on the road is possible. It just takes a bit of effort and planning. To help me out, I decided to give Weight Watcher’s new Simple Start program a try over the holidays.

It’s a 2-week starter plan where you choose from a list of meals and snacks suggested by Weight Watchers. The meals focus on power foods – vegetables, veggies, and lean meats.  Power foods fill you up faster and help you stay full over time. So the program doesn’t focus too much on tracking or portions (except for healthy oils and the indulgence foods that made the list).

Minor Concerns With Simple Start
As for portions, the program is geared towards a 10-inch plate, 12-oz bowl and a 12-oz glass. These are your guides and not the standard measuring.

Hmmmm…that’s nice, but I’m going to stick to measuring. It’s a good habit I got into and I don’t want to break it after two weeks of this program.

Simple Start meals

Simple Start provide meal and snack options to choose from. I plan to avoid the high carb meals.

The other area I’m concerned with is amount of high-carb whole grains, pastas and breads in many of the meal options. Yes, I’m doing Weight Watchers, but I’m also counting my carbs. Carbs trigger a rise in insulin, which in turn stores the fat in cells. Since pasta, breads and most grains are trigger foods for me, I’m avoiding them, unless I eat them right after a muscle workout.

Even then, I’m limiting my choices to steel-cut oatmeal, quinoa, bulgur or barley. No rice. And absolutely no pasta.

Indulgence Points
The only points I’ll track are the “indulgence” foods. Little things like chocolate or wine. On Simple Start you’re allowed just 7 points of indulgence foods. Any extra food I eat or if I swap out ingredients in the recipes for items not on the approved list are counted towards those 7 points.

Basically Weight Watchers took the 49 weekly allowance points and broke them up across a week.

This is a toughy!  I use regular cheese and butter on the PointsPlus plan. I’d rather spend my points on the real stuff. It helps me feel satiated. Low fat foods, loaded with carbs, don’t fill me up. A big no-no for me.

I’ll need to watch my cheese intake for the next couple of weeks.

Simple Start App
The program includes an app. While I’ve set up my log in, I haven’t explored it just yet. I begin Simple Start on Saturday so I’ll start playing with the app later in the week. I’ve got too many things to do before our trip and getting sidetracked by another app won’t help.

Initial Thoughts
After sitting through the meeting where our leader went over the new program, I must admit I had serious misgivings about it.

I get the need to make a weight loss program as easy as possible for people, but not so easy that it requires no thought.

Losing weight is hard work. If it wasn’t no one would talk about an obesity epidemic in our country.

But weight loss is 95% mental. I don’t mean will power (there is no such thing). There is a huge learning curve to losing weight. You need to know why portion control is important, recognize that not all calories are equal, and grasp why we get fat in the first place.

Tracking what you eat is a big part of that earning curve.

Since I’ve had a few days to look over the Simple Start materials, I’m a little more open to the idea.

  • It’s designed as a starter program. If it helps someone take those first steps on their weight loss journey, that’s a very good thing.
  • If you’re stuck on a plateau, this is a great little shock to the system to give your body the push it needs.
  • If you are looking for a super easy program to help you drop the pounds, I’m sure this fits the bill. But will you keep it off? Hmmmm.

I’m giving Simple Start a try. I’ll post reviews of the recipes as I go along and of the program at the end of my 2-weeks.

Who knows, Simple Start might make me a believer.