Alyssa’s Weight Watchers Weigh In: Week 1

Tuesday was a great day. Even though I had nervous anticipation all morning before I stepped on the scale on my lunch break, I felt confident with my choices from the week before. I drank a lot of water, I exercised nearly every day, I snacked on Persian cucumbers instead of chips, and I minded my portions. I knew even if for some reason the scale didn’t reflect my good work, possibly the next week would, because “you always get the week you deserve eventually.”

I kicked off my flip flops, climbed on the scale, sucked in my breath, and wished for good news. “You’re down this week!” the leader said, and when she showed me the number, I actually let out a little hoot of joy. Here’s what made me so happy:

IMG_0003

YAY! 4.4 pounds is a big, big loss. I was also on the tail-end of completing the Mamavation Two-Week Bootcamp, so being forced to do burpees and arm curls and cardio helped, too. I’m so relieved that the first week of “Simple Start” worked. Basically, it’s a plan focused on lean proteins and dairys, whole grains, vegetables and limited fats. It’s pretty much a “Don’t Eat Crap” manifesto, though you can choose one crap item (junk food) per night, with suggestions being things like a Weight Watchers ice cream, a glass of wine, etc. My crap items were Weight Watchers Dulce de Leche ice cream bars (they’re okay. Kinda fake. Not my fav), oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made, and one night, two squares of white Irish cheddar cheese. Deeeeeelish. This week, I need to be aggressive about staying “good” — sometimes when I have a strong success like this, I tend to think “Oh! I did so good last week that I can cheat a little bit and I’ll still lose weight!” Nope, not so much. Don’t wanna get over confident over here. However, I did realize this week this is the first time I’m trying a “real” weight-loss plan again now that I know what’s up my wacky body, and that’s exciting.
I was also thrilled this week to hear from three different people that it looked like I was losing weight. Those comments are so encouraging to me, because I see myself all day, every day. Hearing it from someone else is sometimes exactly what you need to remember why you’re choosing the salad over the pizza.

So that’s my awesome news for the week! Can’t wait to share with you next week about my next weigh in, and I can only hope it will be as good as this one, but I’ll be happy with any sort of loss. 🙂  I’ll be back soon to tell you about my newest fitness gadget, the Fitbit Force!

 

My evening at Poggio

The view from my hotel room. I could get used to this....

Hello, Double Chinners! I’m writing to you on my last night in Northern California before heading back to my hot, sunny city to begin working from home. I’ve had a great time up here training for my new job, but one thing I’m ready to get back to is being in my own kitchen preparing my own meals. We get lunch every day at work from local restaurants, but sometimes you just want home cooked meals. Tonight’s meal, however, broke that stride, and I’m now wishing the chef of Poggio could come live in my kitchen.

My brother, his lovely girlfriend Allison and I decided to send off my trip in style with a memorable last meal at Poggio in Sausalito, the restaurant right below the Casa Madrona where I’m spending my last night. Initially I was skeptical because the menu had very courageous sounding italian dishes like “pumpkin walnut ravioli,” but we decided to be adventurous and give it a go. First, they came out with salted rosemary rolls fresh from the oven with pressed sweet cream butter. They were insaaaaaaane. We ordered bocconocini, a hand pulled mozzerella with heirloom tomatoes and castalvetrano olives. It was incredible and we found out that there is an organic garden behind the restaurant where almost all of the vegetables are grown. The bocconocini was served with freshly cracked black pepper and a grassy, tart olive oil.

For my main course I ordered gnudi, spinach ricotta pillows with beef ragu and parmigiano. The gnudi were like savory marshmallows – super soft with a slight spinach taste, the perfect backdrop for the salty but so tender beef ragu.They were basically cheese dumplings with meat – the perfect dinner for this Midwestern, corn-fed girl.

For dessert, I had a vanilla creme brulee with fresh cherries. I believe when I took the first bite, swirled it around on my tongue and allowed myself to really soak it all in, I said “the angels sang.”

We all enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Verdiccio Del Castelli Di Jesi, a slightly sweet wine with an aromatic of peach. It had a lovely perfume and as we took turns drinking and telling stories, it was the perfect drink to lull us through a rich and decadent meal. Tonight was definitely a meal that will set me back on my weight loss goals, but on some strange level, I’m always ok with that if it was enjoyable and worth it. It was wonderful to eat amazing, authentic Italian food with my brother and Allison and to have an awesome last night in the city.

What are your thoughts on decadent, splurge meals when you’re trying to lose weight? I have a lot to celebrate right now with my awesome new job, but I also know part of being serious about losing weight is learning to celebrate in other ways. Thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Low-Fat Blueberry Applesauce Muffins – 107 calories each

Enjoy with some reduced-fat butter spread or a drizzle of honey!

Hello Double Chinners! Today is my 200th post! Hard to believe I’ve been blogging in this dusty little corner of the internet for 200 posts – awesome! Thanks for reading my blog.

Today while picking up some cake decorating supplies for my classes, I stumbled upon adorable strawberry muffin liners at Michael’s in the $1 section. (Those sections get me into trouble.) I knew instantly I wanted to do some baking with fresh fruit – and lo and behold, I had about a cup left of delicious, sweet blueberries. However, I knew a traditional blueberry muffin recipe would break MyFitnessPal calorie bank, so I decided to do a recipe modification from the Betty Crocker book, and came up with these calories which come in at 107 calories and 1 gram of fat each.

Now, I’ll warn you. These aren’t super sweet muffins like you find at Starbucks, they’re on the milder, more simple side, which works for me. They’re also more dense. I substituted apple sauce for oil, but if you want a lighter, airier cupcake, simply swap the 1/4 cup apple sauce for 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil (puts them at 147 calories each instead of 107).

If you don’t have fresh blueberries, frozen will work just fine!

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 TSP baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 TBSP brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper lines and lightly mist each with Pam or other non-stick spray. Mix all ingredients except blueberries in a large bowl and whisk gently until the batter has no lumps. Once batter is smooth, gently fold in the cup of blueberries. Stir until blueberries are evenly dispersed in the batter. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter, sprinkle with brown sugar, and bake 17-18 minutes until spongy and a knife inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

 

Supper Club 600: Italy

Heidi, a beauty in blue by her buffet

One of the great things about this blog is that it’s helped me make some new friends, like the lovely Heidi, from Finishing the Hat! Heidi has lost over 60 pounds and hosts dinner parties with her husband Tom called “Supper Club 600” – where every course totalled equals less than 600 calories! As a foodie and someone who loves to cook, I was very excited to be invited to Heidi’s last fete, Supper Club 600 -Italy!

A Fantastic Feast

Heidi served eight dishes, which is no small feat when you’re cooking for a crowd of over 15 people. Some of the delicious offerings for the evening included bruschetta caprese, spaghetti aglio olio and pollo marsala. As someone who happily tried every dish, I can see that Heidi has a real talent for cooking and I will gladly attend any upcoming supper clubs. Because I’d rather have you hear about the awesomeness of Supper Club 600 straight from the source, please read this interview with none other than the chef herself, Heidi!

1) How or why did you start the Supper Club?

When we started our weight loss journey, Tom and I were not sure how to translate our love for food into healthy daily habits.  As we worked with Richard Simmons’ meal plan (called the Food Mover) we started to observe portions closely, and focus on finding a balance between protein, carbohydrates, fats, veggies and fruit.  The more we put our love of food into building healthy meals, the more we realized that it would be possible to remain “foodies” while overcoming food addiction, because when we ate a good balance – and especially when we put care into the ingredients – we were never hungry the way we expected to be while losing weight.  Instead, we were satisfied, nourished, and fueled.Richard reviewed our food log each week, giving us support and feedback.  And each week, he’d make a point of teasing us about how much we are able to eat for the calories we were eating.  “Everyone should see Heidi and Tom’s food log. You guys eat better than ME,” he’d tell our class.  People would ask us frequently: “what is it that you’re eating!?”  So we decided to host a dinner party for some of our Slimmons friends, to show them some of the recipes we’d discovered (or tweaked, or created from scratch.)  It was a hit, and soon we found ourselves dreaming up themes for future dinners… and coming up with an official name: Supper Club 600.

Amazing Bruschetta

2) How do you think up the menu for your Supper Club 600?

It depends on the theme!  At first, we were just putting together menus, but now we’ve progressed to full themes.  Once we have a theme (say, BBQ, springtime, or Indian) we think about all the foods we’d enjoy within that particular cuisine or season.  What kind of meal would we plan if we were hosting a meal with unlimited calories?  Those dishes are our usual jumping-off point, and we use it as a challenge to build new kinds of healthy meals around favorite dishes.  Sometimes, as in the case of our Indian theme, we don’t know much about cooking the food and we have to do a lot of practice.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of coming up with unusual ingredients to swap into recipes to help reduce calories.  Once we have a couple of great recipes, we build in sides, desserts and beverages depending upon how many calories are left.  We haven’t topped 600 yet, and we don’t plan to!

Alyssa's Heaping but Healthy Plate at Supper Club 600

3) How do you calculate the nutritional information for the dishes?
Tom and I are both avid users of LiveStrong.com.  Their “My Daily Plate” function is very helpful in calculating the nutritionals.  We add a new recipe by ingredients, and it automatically calculates the information per serving.  (This is also helpful in determining what serving sizes fit into the meal.)

Spaghetti Squash, Carbonara Style!

4) What has been your favorite supper club “theme” thus far?
My favorite one was definitely B-Movie BBQ at the Drive-In.  I’m a movie buff (that’s putting it mildly) and it was great fun to put together the decorations and the movie snack bags.  Plus, the food was some of my favorite.  You can’t beat BBQ jackfruit for a dinner that tastes delicious and feels like the opposite of dieting.  (I am, in fact, not dieting per se, just eating healthfully and overcoming food addiction.) (See Heidi’s recipe and post about BBQ Jackfruit here!)

50 Calorie Tiramisu? Yes, Please!

5) Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start their own supper club?
Yes!  DO IT!  It takes a lot of prep work, but what you invest in healthy cooking will pay off in spades.  By planning these every other month, it gives me an area to focus on, so that my list of healthy recipes grows, and I never get stuck in boredom.  (Boredom is one of the reasons I used to eat unhealthfully.) Think of a supper club you’d like to throw, and then practice with recipes and ideas.  Or take some inspiration from one of my themes!  Sharing food with friends and loved ones is so fun – and when it’s healthy food, it’s such a positive jumping-off point for discussion and understanding.  I highly recommend it!

Laura, Me, Alexa (The Curvy Nerd) and Heidi

Weekend Wrap-Up

*clutches belly* ohhhh. ahh. I guess I should *strain* write a blog…*unbuttons jeans* but that requires getting off the couch….. sooooo fulll *grimace*

JUST KIDDING! But after you see all of these pictures, you’re going to think the above is true! This weekend, my lovely Aunt Ginny, Uncle Daniel and parents were in town, and man, did we eat! Here’s a brief run down of some of our most memorable meals. Surprisingly, I was fairly good and overdid it only once, on salsa and chips, one of the more benign things to pig out on. But I also dragged my butt to mega-calorie blaster impact kickboxing for an hour, so that’s a plus!

My parents and uncle arrived Friday night, and I wanted something to snack on, so I made cookie dough dip. Sadly, this dip was extremely overrated, and I think I ate two or three licks of it before throwing it out. Unfortunately it just wasn’t a crowd pleaser and tasted nothing like cookie dough.

Cookie Do"n't" dip

Thankfully, I had harvested some peppers and tomatoes from my garden and made salsa. Fresh salsa is always amazing, but I may have gone a little overboard with the garlic (3 cloves? no problem!)

Salsa!

Last night, we went to Five Guys and had burgers, fries and peanuts – Here’s Matt holding his burger and a nice shot of the table. (See that hand dipping for fries? Love that!)

Five Guys and Fries

Then, this morning, we had brunch at BJ’s – I had the italian market salad (very good – I love fontina cheese! Where can I buy it?) and the whole table shared a chocolate chunk pizzookie. Here’s my mom pretending to lick the pan (maybe she’s not pretending).

Mmmm, coookie

And then tonight, we were naughty and celebrated the season premiere of True Blood by pulling out the deep fryer. Matt made most of the dinner (great job, Matt!) and we had delicious fried chicken, sauteed squash and zucchini (from our garden – it was SO sweet and tender – yum!) and mashed potatoes (I made the gravy).

Courtesy of Chef Matthew

Last but not least, we had FRIED CHEESE CURDS. My Auntie Ginny is from Wisconsin and she thoughtfully brought us some fresh cheese curds.

Ellsworth Cheese Curds!

Curds are … exactly what they sound like – curds! When they’re fresh, they squeak between your teeth. I dunked them in a light milk batter and deep fried them and the result was salty, chewy, melty, crunchy amazing cloggin-your-heart goodness. LOOK. JUST LOOK. nommmmmmm.

mmmmm fried cheese curd

All in all, it was a very nice weekend with my family and we ate lots of yummy things. I didn’t feel so bad though because I did work out, and never ate in excess. I think that while things like fried cheese curds aren’t a good long term choice for weight loss, having them every once in awhile (I haven’t had them in years!) is not a bad thing, as long as it’s in moderation. I won’t ever be able to be a cold-turkey from junk food type person – and that’s ok. It will take me small steps to complete my journey – and I’m willing to go a little slower to savor every day 🙂

Lyssa with her Curds

 

UNREAL Sour Creme

Some of you know that my profession involves using words and grammar to convince people to buy things. (If I wanted to be “PC”, I’d say that I’m truly trying to create brand awareness, but the bottom line is, brand awareness still means we want people to buy things. So there) Given that my profession as a copywriter means I’m familiar with marketing speak, I thought I was a little less…. how do you say… gullible when it comes to packaging terms.

Tonight, I was preparing a favorite warm weather dish of mine – cucumber salad. It’s relatively low in calories and fairly simple to make, requiring few ingredients. First, peel two cucumbers and use a mandoline slicer to make them paper thin. Sprinkle them liberally with salt, and let them soak for about half an hour in just the salt.

Slice 'em nice and thin, like calorie-free potato chips...

After half an hour, make sure your hands are clean, and then get in there and SQUEEEEEZE the moisture out of those cucumbers. SQUUUUEEEEEEZEEEEEE! You want them mostly dry, otherwise you’ll feel like you’re drinking from the ocean.

SQUUUUEEEEEZE!

Then, when all the cuke slices are squeezed and mostly dry, add one TBSP white vinegar and two big dollops of sour cream. Notice that I wrote sour cream and not sour creme. Cuz this? This is “UNREAL!!!” Sour “creme”. And you know what that means?

Anything wrong with this picture?

This is “unreal” sour cream. Like for realz. Sour creme.. that’s not sour cream. I took a bite while I was making this salad and something tasted… Off. And then I thought, well, it needs to be refrigerated so maybe that’s why. But then I thought, wait, this is the easiest recipe in the world and it tastes WRONG! I took another taste and thought, hmmm. Something’s wrong with this sour cream. And then I realized… No, it’s not low fat… but it says UNREAL! You don’t think… OH YES! It’s artificial sour cream.

I’m sorry, but when I want sour cream, I want REAL sour cream… in all of its fatty, sour glory. Hydrogenated soy bean oil? I don’t think so. Give me the stuff that comes from straight from the cow’s udder and congeals into a big, thick paste, cuz THAT’S what I want in my cucumber salad. Not a big glop of gluey white stuff. Unreal Sour Creme? I hate using this term because it’s now so overdone…. but this truly was an epic fail. That’ll teach a consumer goods copywriter to think she’s got the smarts to brave the grocery store. 😉