Significant Milestone = Time for Reflection

Though not exactly a resolution, on January 1, 2015, I set a goal.  It was somewhat far fetched, and would require equal parts persistence, sacrifice, grit and luck.  As I reached this goal on Saturday, with about three weeks to spare, it sent me into a state of reflection.

The goal that I achieved is running 1,000 miles.  Even though I ran every step, it’s difficult to wrap my mind around that distance.  That’s like running from Wisconsin to Florida, from Georgia to Rhode Island, or Southern California to Oregon.

Getting there didn’t happen quickly or easily.  And it’s actually quite similar to the broader journey to health and weight loss.  It was accomplished through many small steps adding up to one larger journey.  Each small step taken alone seems rather insignificant, but when chained together, produces something meaningful.

As coincidence would have it, the seeds that grew into the beginning of those small steps were planted four years ago Saturday.  That was the day that my “before” picture was taken, as we headed out to a Christmas party.

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Before (Dec. 2011)  – During (2012) – Now (Dec. 2015)

As we got ready for that same Christmas party this year, I couldn’t help but think of the changes that I occurred in my life and my family’s life over the past four years.  The external changes, while obviously easy to see, only show a small portion of the story.  The internal and interpersonal changes, however, are much more meaningful.

As noted by a physician after losing weight, my health benchmarks have all improved.  Additionally, I’m now able to enjoy activities with family and friends in ways that I previously wouldn’t have been nearly as quick to embrace.  As a family, we enjoy skiing, swimming, running, playing tennis (and much more!) with friends and extended family.  And thus these relationships have also benefited.

At the end of the day, strong relationships are what make a healthy and active lifestyle truly sweet.  A most sincere thank you my friends and family who have stood by my side and helped me to achieve this 2015 goal.  xoxo

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Every Darn Day

A friend recently paid me a compliment.  She congratulated me on “figuring things out” regarding eating, exercise and weight maintenance.  While I am appreciative of how she perceives my existence, it has nagged at me.

Before I lost weight, I distinctly remember having friends or acquaintances who slimmed down, and thinking that they had broken through to the “other side.”  You know, the side where you just have it figured out, where you magically are able to balance what you eat with how much you exercise, where you know when to stop eating and where you’re not tempted by sweets and treats.  I remember being quite envious of their newfound enlightenment and wondered if or when my time would arrive.  (Trust me, I begged and pleaded with my own brain to figure it out.)

The fact of the matter is there is no “other side.”  There is no magical enlightenment that happens that allows me to effortlessly make sound decisions.  Even though I have maintained my weight loss for nearly 3 years, it’s still requires effort.  It requires effort every day… every single day… every single darn day.

But what’s the alternative?  The alternative is to be somewhere I’ve already been, and somewhere that I’ll hopefully never return.  Thanks to a friend who traveled this same road 13 years earlier, from nearly the beginning, I had the understanding that this is a life-long journey.  If weight loss and maintenance has an end point (i.e. a goal weight), limited success is possible, but life-long success is unlikely.

The point of this post is that I know and accept that this will require work every day of my life.  Though I do it for myself, I also do it for these munchkins, two of three pictured here.

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Yes, some days, weeks or months might be harder, some will be easier.  And in a twisted way, I enjoy it.  I enjoy learning new things, challenging myself and talking with friends about our collective journey.

Is it work?  Yes.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

I wouldn’t change a thing.

Weight Watchers Founder, Jean Nidetch, Dies at 91

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Jean Nidetch, who founded Weight Watchers in 1963, died today.

This USA Today article about Jean, and how she came to start her business, is very interesting.  As mentioned in the article, she lost 72 pounds and transformed how people approached weight loss. When the business first started, Weight Watchers helped those struggling with weight loss to adopt a sensible food plan and to provide social support through weekly meetings.  A format that is still in use today.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/people/2015/04/29/weight-watchers-founder-jean-nidetch-dies-at-age-91/26595677/

I’m thankful that she started her business and shared it with many thousands of people around the world.  I might have to try to find a copy of her autobiography to read.  (Though not on Amazon… it’s listed at $164.94.)

Weight Watchers Works

Not that I didn’t already know that.  A new study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed various commercial diets.  Their results found that, according to their standards, two plans worked:  Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.

The only real problem that I have with their study is calling Weight Watchers a diet.  It’s a LIFESTYLE.  Really.

Today Show coverage of the story.

Homemade Shamrock Shake

My husband and son were recently driving together when my boy realized that it’s that special time of year when all of the talk in the treat world seems to find its way back to the shamrock shake.  My husband, who has more faith in my kitchen skills than I deserve, suggested that Mom could make one that would be much healthier and just as delicious as the fast food giant’s shake.

Taking it as a challenge, I set out to make a shamrock shake that the kids would love and that I could feel good about serving.  After several test runs, we came up with a tasty concoction.

Homemade Shamrock Shake (Makes 4, 1/2 Cup servings)

  • 2 C vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt
  • 3 C fresh spinach, loosely packed
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 frozen banana (Freeze ripe bananas whole.  To partially thaw, microwave at 20% power for 1 minute.)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract

Combine ingredients in a blender.  Enjoy!

In the spirit of “just a dot,” my recipe is for 1/2 cup servings.  Using Weight Watcher’s recipe builder, a 1/2 cup serving is 4 PointsPlus and a 1 cup serving is 7 PointsPlus.  (Topping with whipped cream and cherries could add to the PointPlus total.)

Can you believe that the beautiful green color is all natural?  No green food dye!

When you want to eat a lot, eat THIS popcorn

If you’re feeling the need to eat a lot of something, popcorn just might be the answer.  A huge bowl (which is about 7 cups) of THIS popcorn, is only 5 PointsPlus for Weight Watchers followers.  And making good, healthy popcorn that is free of the chemicals and additives often found in microwave popcorn is easier than you think.

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What you’ll need:
A pot with a capacity of at least 2 quarts and its lid
1 tsp. oil (preferably coconut oil or canola oil)
1/4 cup popcorn kernels (gourmet kernels are a real treat, if your grocery carries them)
1 tsp. melted butter
Popcorn salt

How to:
Heat oil in the pot over medium-high heat.  After hot, add the kernels and cover with the lid. Periodically give the pot a few firm shakes, so the kernels don’t burn.  As the kernels pop, continue to give the pot a few firm shakes periodically and vent the lid briefly to allow steam to escape.  As the popping slows, remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl.  Top with the melted butter and popcorn salt.  (Note: Popcorn salt is a finely ground salt that allows it to settle in the crevices.  Table and kosher salt are larger and heavier, and the granules tend to fall to the bottom of the bowl.)

A quarter cup of kernels yields all of this:

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So when you’re feeling the need to have a snack with a lot of volume, try popping some stovetop popcorn.  It’s healthy, delicious and satisfying.

(If want your popcorn to be really lean, you can forego the oil and butter and simply place the popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag, roll down the top a few times and place the bag in the microwave on high until the popping slows to one pop every 2 to 3 seconds.  This “naked” popcorn would count only 3 PointsPlus for Weight Watchers followers.)

Finally! An Easy Way to Seed Pomegranates

I’ve tried several different ways to seed pomegranates, each touted as “the” easy way.  So when a video showed up in my Facebook timeline this morning, claiming to be yet another easy way to seed this fruit, I’m sure my eyes did a little roll.

As luck would have it, I had a pomegranate in my kitchen.  While preparing my lunch, I decided to give it a whack (literally).  It turns out, that it worked!  My apologies to Martha Stewart for the eye roll.

The Easiest Way to Seed a Pomegranate Video

In case you’re not familiar with pomegranate seeds, they’re delicious.  My kids and I both love them.  The seeds are encapsulated within a membrane that’s filled with pomegranate juice.  When you eat one, you get a splash of the sweet and tart juice, then you are left with a small seed to chew.

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Pomegranates are great on salads, as well as by the spoonful.  And now that they’re not so much work, I foresee them making a regular appearance in our winter fruit rotation.

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(As you would expect, pomegranate seeds are 0P+ for Weight Watchers followers.)