Food and Weight: An Ongoing Journey

Archive for the ‘Useful Information’ Category

Got home Friday, but was really too tired to think to write.

The thing is, neither my primary care guy, nor I, wanted me home until the cellulitis was thoroughly licked. However, the infectious diseases guy decided to switch me from intravenous to oral meds. Once that happens, there is no need for a hospital bed. As my physician, my primary care guy wanted to keep me in; as a hospital administrator, he’s kind of bound to follow the hospital’s policies, rather than fighting them. So, I’m home, on two antibiotics, and in my own bed again. OTOH, the food at home is a hell of a lot better. Follow up appointment is in place already; so I just have to reschedule the dentist, and talk to him about his timetable for the needed dental work, so I can then schedule the open heart surgery.

Of course, given that things often don’t run smoothly for me, I was not surprised when I woke up this morning with all the symptoms of a cold. given the two antibiotics, I wasn’t sure if I could use my standard cold remedy (Coricidin HBP Cold & Flu) safely, but it being Sunday, I knew no one is at my doctor’s office. However, I had downloaded Doctor on Demand, the new mobile “connect with a doctor” service started by Dr. Phil McGraw and his son. While the normal co-pay for the service is $40 for a 15 minute visit, until the end of February, all calls to the service are free (you do have to give them your credit information, though). I called, was assigned to a doctor within about 20 seconds, and the doctor not only answered the questions I had about using the cold meds with all the other meds I’m taking, he was able to give me a little reassurance about where and with whom I am having the open heart surgery done. Again, I don’t expect to be using them often, because I do have excellent Real Life physicians, but I can see where this is a very useful backup for when those physicians are not available. It can be downloaded for both iPhone and Android devices, and – whether you like or hate Dr. Phil – is a useful thing.

Other than that, not much is happening this weekend. I am being kind to myself by trying not to overdo things.



Up until recently, the thought of smoothies made me blanch and shudder. However, they are one of my Leader’s favorite things and I figured I would give them a try.

Now, I pretty much hate yogurt.  To me, yogurt is like sour cream that someone has tarted up. So I tend to avoid it. Skim milk is not a favorite either, so I tend to use fat-free half and half in my coffee. But my Leader likes that the smoothies help us get our dairy in, so what to do?

Well, I love fat-free cottage cheese.  And I can drink diet ginger ale, because it is so processed that it doesn’t taste like soap to me the way most ginger does.

So I said, let me try something here.  I had, at her urging bought some of the WW smoothie mixes.  So, after dinner on Saturday, for my first smoothie, I took a banana, a cup of ginger ale, and the WW mint smoothie powder, tossed them into one of those plastic salad shaker cups, stuck my immersion blender into the middle of it, and hit on (while holding the cup with the other hand so it wouldn’t end up all over the counter.  It was delicious.  Not too sweet, with enough of the actual fruit bits left so it still tasted like the fruit, and smooth enough that I could drink it fairly easily. And I was full enough that I didn’t feel the need to snack at night.

Yesterday morning, I took a cup of mixed fruit from my fresh fruit salad, a WW smoothie mix in coconut, a cup of diet ginger ale, and a half-cup of fat-free cottage cheese. It left me nice and full until lunchtime. (Lunch was the remains of the sauteed vegetables I had gotten from the Chinese restaurant for dinner on Friday.)

This morning I was still interested, so I cut up a Granny Smith apple, and a banana and threw them into my cup with the cottage cheese and the ginger ale, and a Salted Caramel smoothie packet.  I think this is the best one so far!  You can really taste the fruit, it’s just sweet enough to be tasty but not cloying, and the cottage cheese gives it some nice heft protein- and dairy-wise. the best thing is that these are thick enough that I can’t gulp them down.  They get sipped at, and therefore are a slow burn energywise, which is probably better for me anyway.  And they are hella satisfying.

Today’s smoothie is 4 Points Plus; yesterday’s was 3 Points Plus; and Saturday’s was 2 Points Plus.

Now, I’m an old dog.  I’m not saying I’m going to have smoothies every day of my life.  What I am saying is that I now have another tool in my aresenal.

I admit it — the last few weeks, I’ve basically been ignoring the program. I’ve been so busy feeling sorry for myself that I forgot that all it really takes is one choice after another to change things.

So, I’ve had a slight setback. I gained back a bit of what I had lost while in the hospital — nowhere near all of it, mind, but enough to make me sit up and look at what I’m doing, and ask myself if I really want to throw away all the good work I’ve done so far. (I don’t).

My current weight is 237.2, which is still a drop of 25.2 lbs., and I am very proud of that.

I had a really good insight at meeting today, too, but it kind of needs a bit of leading up to, so please be patient.

On Sunday, a friend on Plurk mentioned that she was signing up for a free 21-day meditation course, and I decided to give it a try. Now I have never been able to sit through meditation courses without falling asleep before, and the gods know that I’ve tried.  I can’t tell you how many times instructors at Integral Yoga (my favorite yoga place) have had to tap my shoulder to wake me up after meditation sessions.  However, a lot in my life has changed, so I figured it was worth a shot. So far (Day 5) things are going well — I have not fallen asleep during the sessions, and I seem to have figured out how to deal with the stray thoughts that try to grab my attention. I simply bring my attention back to the mantra we are reciting that day.

Well, I woke up this morning to find that one of clients had something of an emergency and was wondering if I could help out.  Being a client I genuinely like, I agreed, and immediately began putting up coffee, feeding the cats so they wouldn’t annoy me, making breakfast so I could function, etc. By the time I got back to the computer, my thoughts were going ten miles a minute in about twenty different directions. Then I thought that instead of waiting for the email from the meditation program that today’s session was active, I would log in and see if it was ready. It was, so I sat for a few minutes and did the session, including the journaling afterwards. By the time I was done, I was centered enough that I knocked out the needed work in about an hour, with very little drama.

Now, fast forward to my WW meeting. I was sitting there taking notes, and someone else was doing major drama over how could she stick to program during Passover because she would have to be eating so much matzoh….Well, several folks noted that you only have to eat a certain amount of matzoh, then another person noted that different people had different family or community traditions. (It was finally agreed that whether you ate the larger or the smaller amount of matzoh, you tracked it, and moved on). Now that last sentence is the key one — you track it and move on.  It hit me that it’s just like meditation — you don’t need to create a ton of drama around it; you note it and bring your attention back to where you want your attention to be; in this case, to doing your program.

Since I have no idea how many people in my group are familiar with meditation (a large number of the folks there are either Orthodox Jews or traditional Catholics), I didn’t mention this during the meeting, but did tell it to my leader afterwards.

Yes, it’s a little thing, but it’s one of those key little things that makes everything else function.

When you go off track, do you create a lot of drama, or do you just quietly bring yourself back to where you want to be? Do you find it easy or difficult to do so? Was my analogy helpful to you in any way, shape, or form?

‘Til next time…..have a great week!

Went to meeting, and had a pretty good time, all things considered.

Was up 1.8 lbs., but it was expected, because I am now eating regularly again.  And I have no problem, because I know I am doing what I’m supposed to do.

We talked a lot today about Power Foods.  As I’ve noted before, these are foods that give you the most nutritional bang for your Points Plus values. We were asked what power foods we relied on each week, and when we all had the same answers we always do, our leader asked us to go home, take the small green book, and highlight all the power foods, so we could see how many of them we aren’t using. So I’ve added that to my task list for this weekend.

We also discussed the PLU stickers that appear on fruits and vegetables.  The main things to look for are:

  • 4-digit codes beginning with 3 or 4 are fruits that have been grown conventionally, that is they may have been sprayed with pesticides or other additives.
  • 5-digit codes beginning with 9 are foods that have been certified organic.
  • 5-digit codes beginning with 8 indicate that the fruit or vegetable has been genetically modified.

Let’s use Granny Smith Apples as an example:

  • #4017    conventional
  • #94017 organic
  • #84017 genetically modified

So I learned something new today, and will definitely use that knowledge when I go shopping.



Some days, crumbs are more than we think we deserve, especially with weight loss. Even though I went over my weekly Points Plus allowance this week I was down .2 lbs, for a total of 27 lbs. My current weight is 235.4 lbs. Given that I was over on Points Plus, I’m not displeased.

I will note that I did not go over my points on junk; I did it on Power Foods, so I am not overly worried. I have been watching out for my health. One thing I learned at meeting this morning is that the reason that almost everyone there reported feeling ravenous this week is that it was so cold. According to my leader, the cold forces the body to work harder to keep itself warm, so it requires more fuel to work properly. I had thought that my metabolism had been slowing down because I’ve become more indolent due to the cold. Live and learn.

Further, I tracked everything, so I was not fooling myself about what I ate at any level.

My new food for the day comes courtesy of my friend, V, who I met at meeting.  She has been talking about grits for a while now.  Being a “Nice Jewish Girl from New York,” I had somehow managed to miss having them before.  However, our leader pointed out that grits were a Power Food, and very filling. Last week, I bought some, based on V’s rhapsodizing about them, then promptly forgot to try them.  Thoroughly chilled after walking the one third of the block from where M dropped me off to my house, I decided to try what she had spoken about today. I microwaved the grits according to the package directions, adding a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese.  About three minutes before the grits were done, I added in some leftover chopped pork, and the remains of the steamed spinach from last night. The grits were perfect — cheesy, creamy, yummy, hearty (especially with the additions), and just the perfect texture to be heartwarming as well as filling. They carried me through from about 1 in the afternoon until dinner, which ended up not happening until about 9:30 p.m., due to various events. And I was so enchanted by them, that I made them as a side for dinner, introducing the roomie to them, this time with just the cheese and fresh steamed cauliflower! Again, delicious and filling! I am so delighted that V got me to step out of my familiar zone, foodwise!

Anyway, this post is short because I have several deadlines coming up really fast. See everyone Monday!

I first heard about Meatless Monday on The Chew.  Mario Batali was talking about it as something his family has done for three years.  Deciding that this was a change that would fit well, with my changing food plan, I decided to do a little investigating.

According to the movement’s website, Meatless Monday,  the reason for going meatless once a week is:

“Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.”

To me this seems like a good aim.  As for why do this on Mondays, the website notes:

“For most Americans the week begins on Monday. On Monday we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days. We plan ahead and evaluate progress.

From an early age we internalize this rhythm. And studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health and the health of our planet.

Monday is the call to action built in to every calendar each week. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another chance to go meatless!”

This also seems eminently reasonable.

The big question is, will I be able to do this successfully while still maintaining my Weight Watchers food plan?  I suspect that I will, so I’m going to give it a try.  I think that it will be a good fit, actually, since Weight Watchers encourages us to eat whole grains, beans, legumes, and other power foods.  I have also been gearing more toward a flexatarian diet, and I believe this will support that goal.

Rather than create an information overload, I will talk about this over time.  Also, the website has a bunch of PDF files dealing with various aspects of the movement.

For my first Meatless Monday, breakfast consisted of an omelet made of 2 eggs, half a plum tomato, half a shallot, and 1/4 cup each of sauteed chard and mustard greens, with about 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic for seasoning.  For my  midday meal, I am planning to make lentil-based veggie burgers (yes, I have my midday meal when other folks have dinner).  For dinner, I am planning to have either some oatmeal, or some cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and chopped tomato and shallot.  In truth, I am still feeling nice and full from breakfast, which is good, because I won’t even be starting my lunch until the roomie gets home from shopping.  I am going to run the recipe for the veggie burgers through the Weight Watchers recipe builder, so I have the correct amount of points per serving, and if it comes out really well, I will post it on Wednesday. (If not, I will keep experimenting.)

Are you interested in learning more about going meatless one day a week to benefit your health, your budget, and the planet?  If so, are you willing to pledge to do so?  Will you check out the Meatless Monday  website?

So, I promised that I would write about power foods.  Power foods are, according to Weight Watchers, those foods that  “are determined by both their ability to be filling (provide eating satisfaction, which keeps you full longer) and their impact on health (how their sugar, odium, saturated fat, total fat, and/or fiber content stack up against that of similar foods).”*

Weight Watchers has established the following guidelines for their Power Foods:

  • Fruits
    • All fresh, frozen, or canned without extra sugar
    • Fruit canned in its own juice (drained)
    • Fruit Salad – mixed fruits with no added sugar
  • Vegetables
    • Most fresh, frozen or canned without added sugar or oil
    • Potatoes – white, red, sweet
  • Whole grains
    • Brown and wild rices
    • Hot cereals, cooked without added sugar, dried fruits, or nuts
      • 100% bran
      • Cream of rice
      • Cream of wheat
      • Grits
      • Oatmeal
      • Pasta, whole-wheat or other whole grain varieties
      • Popcorn, air-popped or 94% fat-free microwave popped
      • Whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereals — without added sugar, dried fruits, or nuts, and with 4g fiber or more per serving
      • Whole grains, such as:
        • Barley
        • Buckwheat
        • Bulgur
        • Cornmeal (polenta)
        • Whole-wheat couscous
        • Quinoa
  • Non-Fat Dairy & Dairy Substitutes
    • Fat-free cheeses, including fat-free cottage cheese
    • Fat-free milk and beverages made with fat-free milk, such as
      • Cappuccino or latte, as long as it’s sugar-free
    • Yogurt, fat-free, plain or flavored  with artificial sweetener
    • Fat-free sour cream
    • Unflavored fat-free soy cheese
    • Unflavored soy milk and soy yogurt
  • Lean Proteins
    • Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, veal – lean, trimmed, all skin removed
    • Dried beans, including canned black, canellini, kidney, refried, and white
    • Dried peas, including black-eyed peas and split peas
    • Eggs, whole, whites, and fat-free substitute
    • Game meats, including buffalo, ostrich, and venison
    • Lentils
    • Meat substitutes, including tofu and some vegetarian burgers
    • Most fish and shellfish — fresh, frozen, and canned in water
    • Organ meats from beef, lamb, pork, and veal
  • Other
    • Breads:
      • Light English muffins
      • Light hot dog and hamburger rolls
      • Reduced-calorie (light) breads
    • Soups
      • Broth, onion, and some broth- and tomato-based vegetable soups
    • Desserts
      • Sugar-free gelatin**

Now, this does not mean that one must solely eat Power Foods in order to successfully lose weight.  What it does mean for most of us is that — if we include a good mix of power foods among what we consume each day — we are less likely to suffer dips in energy, or cravings for foods that might not be choices that support our goals.

What I have also found is that using these foods has enabled me to move away from an animal protein-centered diet to a more varied, flexatarian approach to food, including more whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, and using animal proteins as just one more ingredient in a dish, rather than the focus of all my dishes.  Given that most health professionals are now of the opinion that vegetables should take up the largest portion of our plates, this is not a bad turn, at least not in my opinion.

For me, the key to eating better, and utilizing power foods more, is to think “outside the box.”  If I’m having a three-bean chili, I may put it over quinoa or couscous (instead of rice), and top it with fat-free sour cream, and fat-free shredded cheese.  I might make an omelette with the leftover collard greens from last night’s dinner.  I might even mix some sunflower seeds or flax seeds into a tuna salad for a little crunch.  Really, how you utilize power foods is only limited by how far out of your comfort zone you are willing to step.

At meeting lat week, one member noted that since she knew nothing about whole grains, she had — several months prior — determined to try one new grain each month, giving her ample time to test ways to use each grain and incorporate it into her cooking.  Her reasoning was that you need to try something at least 21 times in order to determine how you best like, and can best use, it.

So, I have, as always, a couple of questions:  What power foods outside of your comfort zone are you willing to try this month?  How do you think utilizing power foods will benefit you (no matter what program you are on, or if you aren’t on a program at all)?  Are you committed enough to your weight loss program to be willing to learn to eat foods you might not have enjoyed (or even heard of) in the past?  What recipes can you come up with incorporating power foods (and are you willing to share them here, since I love trying new things)?


*  P. 105, Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012 Pocket Guide

**  Pp. 106-111, Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012 Pocket Guide

Freelancers Union

%d bloggers like this: