Thursday, December 31, 2015

That's a Wrap... 2015!

I just went back and looked at my year-end post for 2014 wherein I discussed my main health and fitness goal for 2015.  It was to have more fun with my activities and not take it all so seriously.

Well, I think I was successful with that. I did try lots of new workouts.  I played more tennis and golf. I ran somewhat less and walked a lot more. I did more swimming and overall really had fun with my exercise activities.

But on the food and diet front, it was certainly scattered.  I tried carb depletion, carb cycling, the new Weight Watchers Smart Points program, and the 21 Day Fix.  I never really committed to any of them whole-heartedly and ended the year 10 pounds heavier than I started it.  Yowzers!

So what lies ahead for me in 2016?

Well, as I sit here typing, I am surrounded by empty cardboard boxes... we have begun moving to a new apartment and my first priority is to get that finished and get us settled and organized in our new place.  I know I have been stress-eating a bit lot and not making the best food choices.  It will all be over soon enough.

As we muddle through the mess and mayhem, my fitness goal for January is to keep taking walking breaks and get out for a few runs where and when I can.  The monsoons seem to have let up for now and it is cooler but drier.  YAY for that!

I used to set a new goal each month and have decided to do that again for 2016.  It is better for me to have something to focus on each month.... a theme, if you like.  For January, it is going to be JUST DO IT! 

I already have some fun things on the horizon for February but I need to get the work out of the way first.

What is on your radar for 2016?  Have you begun making goals?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day at Our House

In Canada, the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day... it comes from our British heritage. In the United Kingdom servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box", from their masters, employers or customers.  I believe the holiday is celebrated in most of the British Commonwealth.

Well, at my house we have no servants,or masters for that matter, but we do have boxes!  As a matter of fact, lots of boxes... we are moving!  And starting today, I am going to be boxing up some of our apartment in preparation.


We are not going very far... a couple of neighborhoods away... about 3 km on the car odometer and we plan to do most of the move ourselves.  Then, after the middle of the month, we have a couple of guys with a big truck coming to move the larger pieces of furniture.  We have chosen to do it over the month of January instead of all in one day.... less stress, and more time to organize on the new end.

I am excited about it... or rather, having it all done!  I am looking forward to having a new neighborhood to explore but know I will miss this proximity to the waterfront.  Mixed blessings for sure.

Yesterday... Christmas Day... we finally got out for a run! It has been so rainy and windy here over the past several weeks that I didn't want to go... we did lots of walking and have been working out at least twice a week, but no running... yesterday's 5 km really was a Santa Shuffle... slow and steady.  But it was great to get out there and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

How did you spend Christmas?  What are you up to this Boxing Day?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

From our house to yours.... hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Is it Worth it?

That is what we talked about at the Weight Watchers meeting I attended this morning....  sometimes, even though I am a meeting room receptionist, I just like to attend a meeting as a member.  And today I did just that... I am still feeling my way around this new SmartPoints program so I went to a meeting to connect with other members that are getting used to the program as well.

It is a meeting that I used to attend regularly when we still lived on the boat, and before I started working for Weight Watchers.  This leader has become a good friend and her meetings are lively and well-attended, and it is fun to get together with other members as one of them.


I think I mentioned in my past post, that the SmartPoints values of foods are now based on calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein.  In the previous program, Points Plus values were based on carbohydrates, fibre, fat and protein... so there have been some big changes when it comes to the numbers.

Yes, some things have not changed at all... fresh eggs are still 2 points, and 5 ounces of red wine is still 4 points... but there have been some significant increases and decreases, and today we talked about some of them, and what it means to us in the overall big picture.

Here are some examples from the Pocket Guides of both programs:

  • Dried apricots, 1/4 cup have gone from 2 points to 4 points
  • Raisins, 1/4 cup have gone from 3 points to 6 points
  • Chocolate, any type, 1-1/2 ounces has gone from 6 points to 12 points
  • Potato chips, regular, 1 ounce have gone from 4 points to 5 points
These are due to the higher values for items with sugar and those with saturated fat.

  • Egg whites, 1/2 cup have gone from 1 point to 0 points
  • Chicken breast without skin, 3 ounces has gone from 4 points to 2 points
  • Tuna canned in water, 3 ounces has gone from 2 points to 1 point
  • Shrimp, 3 ounces has gone from 2 points to 1 point
These are due to the lower values for items with high amounts of protein.

The general consensus among the members at this meeting is that Weight Watchers is steering us toward getting more protein into our daily diets, and away from sweet and fatty snack foods.  Yes, we can still have those things, but likely fewer of them and perhaps only as flavor enhancers in some casesinstead of main ingredients.... 1 Tbs of dried cranberries on a salad instead of 2Tbs or even 4Tbs.... a piece of chocolate every couple of days instead of daily... that sort of thing.

And something else that came up was in regard to fruit and vegetables when they are used in recipes and especially around the RECIPE BUILDER function on the Weight Watchers web site.

In fact, most fruits and vegetables have zero points... and if you add them to soup, or stew, or make a fruit salad, they are still only zero points.  But when you BLEND or LIQUIFY them, they take on different characteristics... they are quicker to digest, and sometimes you will consume many more servings than you would if you were chewing whole raw or cooked food.  And the body is not as satiated by eating these emulsified foods either.

So, when you add a fruit or a vegetable as an ingredient when creating a recipe in the Recipe Builder, the overall SmartPoints value will not include any points for it UNLESS you check BLENDED as one of the steps.  If you do check BLENDED, then points values for the fruit and vegetables that have been used will be calculated and added to the overall value.  

I tested it when I came home today... I used 1 cup of blueberries in a recipe.  When I checked BLENDED as on the above illustration, 4 SmartPoints were added... when I unchecked BLENDED, 0 SmartPoints were added.

Now know there is going to be some personal tweaking going on around this situation. If you make a protein shake and you only put in a handful of blueberries or half a banana, or some other small amount of fruit, you may balk at counting that... and that is totally up to you.  I think you need to use your own common sense, and gauge things by your scale in this case.

Overall, I am happy with the way my week is going... and I will keep ya posted!

What kinds of fruit and in what amounts do you put in your own protein shakes?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Trying the New Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program

Last week Weight Watchers rolled out a new program called Beyond the Scale.  Apparently their members asked for a more comprehensive, whole-person approach to weight loss and the company has delivered.

Beyond the Scale focuses on the three areas of Food, Fitness, and Fulfillment to help members reach more personalized goals.  And they have changed the Food plan in a major way.

Members will now be counting SmartPoints which are based on calories.  Saturated fat and sugar increase a food's SmartPoints value, while protein decreases it.  The old PointsPlus system only used grams of carbohydrates, fat, fibre, and protein in its calculations.

And there is still a no-counting option as well, called the Simply Filling Technique, wherein the member eats from a huge, long list of whole, real, nutritious foods... and only needs to count SmartPoints for any indulgences not on the list... chocolate or wine, anyone?

Beyond the Scale

Unfortunately, through most of last week, the digital tools for the new program were not working round the clock. There were lots of glitches with the web site itself, and the apps were not functional as well.  I know there is written material, and there are paper trackers and a hand-held SmartPoints calculator, but once people get used to those digital tools, they tend to panic and get kinda cranky when they are not available.

But today things appear to be working somewhat better, and my head seems to be in the right space, so I have decided to commit to following the new plan for this week and see what I think of it compared to the old one. I was not immediately a fan of PointsPlus when Weight Watchers converted to it many years ago from the former Points system.  I thought they were allowing too much food every day and as it turned out, they were, because after a couple years, they decreased the lower allowable daily target.

The new SmartPoints system is very personalized and every member gets a Daily Points Target and an additional Weekly Allowance based on age, sex, height and current weight.  They are also encouraged to earn FitPoints throughout the week and can be assigned a target for that as well, based on an assessment about current activity levels. Yes, we Weight Watchers tend to get quite numbers-oriented!  Along with adding Me Time and encouragement to take care of ourselves, the picture is complete.

So today, Sunday, is the beginning of my new week.  I have done an assessment and have been assigned a Daily Points Target of 30, a Weekly Allowance of 28, and am aiming to earn 28 FitPoints throughout the week... 4 per day.  It's on!

I have chosen to use both the paper tracker that is given to members at meetings...

and the Android app on my Samsung smartphone.  It has a working barcode scanner which I am somewhat excited about.

I spent some time looking up the SmartsPoints values of some of my favorite foods... happy to see that most veggies and fruits are still zero points... and I also did some calculations from the nutrition labels on things in my pantry that I could not find in the food listings, or that the barcode scanner didn't locate in the database.  I am happy to report that coffee, tea, and herbals, along with water, are still zero points.

Now I know I do better on any given food program when I do some planning.  Makes sense, right? So I made some mental notes about what my day's menu is going to look like and did a rough calculation of the SmartPoints it will all cost me... and here is how it turned out.

Breakfast at 8:30 a.m.

This is my go-to breakfast and I enjoy it a couple of times a week at least.

2 large eggs scrambled in non-stick pan with 2 grape tomatoes and 2 slices of white onion
1 small mandarin orange
SmartPoints used = 4

Lunch at 12:15 p.m.

It is a gloomy and wet day so I decided against my normal salad and chose to have something warm and filling.   Comfort food. 

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup zucchini
3 grape tomatoes
3.5 ounces canned chicken breast
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 ounce light parmesan cheese
SmartPoints used = 7

Afternoon Snack at 3:00 p.m.

This is a common one.  I love powdered peanut butter.

1 medium gala apple
2 Tbs Chocolate PB2, reconstituted with 1 Tbs water
Green Matcha tea
SmartPoints used = 1


Glass of red wine at 5 p.m.

Love that I can now measure right in the glass!
SmartPoints used = 4


Dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Candlelight.  Bad picture.
4 ounces baked chicken breast
3 ounces baked sweet potato
baby carrots
5 ounces red wine
Smart Points used = 9


Evening snack at 7:45 p.m.
2 fresh medjool dates
1 Tbs raisins
1/2 ounce roasted and salted cashews
SmartPoints used = 4


So, in total, I used 29 out of my allotted 30 SmartPoints, and, because I walked for 55 minutes I earned 4 Fit Points... the proof in a screenshot from my app...

There are still a few questions... and I will be be addressing those in future posts this week.  

Oh, and, in case you forgot... yes, I do work part time for Weight Watchers... and these blog posts are in no way endorsed or even encouraged by them.

What is your favorite snack these days?  Have you tried fresh medjool dates?