I Know It’s October, But…

The last couple of days have been great, and I’m officially excited about Fall.  It’s my favorite season because of the crisp mornings, the array of squashes found at the supermarket (love every kind of squash I’ve ever tasted) and college football.  And at this time of year, I start preparing for the holidays.

I went to Hobby Lobby and Bed, Bath and Beyond today with Mom yesterday, and they already had Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations all over.  And I love it, and Mom loves it too.  (Sorry, Kelly..ha)

I love the holidays, and I also love the anticipation that starts building for me in October.  I love cheesy movies, baking cookies and making candy and Christmas music.  Yes, I realize that it’s October, but it’s who I am. =)  Tomorrow, after our trip to the gym, Mom and I plan to venture out to explore other stores with Christmas displays.  See? I come by it honestly. ;)

Christmas 2008 at Macy's on 34th St, NYC

I bake sugar cookies (among other things) every year, but sugar cookies are one of my favorites because I like decorating them more than I like eating them.  I can pass by cookies on the counter without feeling the need to eat them though it’s harder for me to pass up cupcakes.

This year, I’m trying new recipes for cookie frosting because somewhere along the line, I lost my favorite.  I found one today that is very similar, and it seemed to work though it still needs to be adjusted a little.  I want my cookies to look and taste great before the benefit that my family is hosting for my Uncle Wesley at the end of the month.

My latest frosting attempt...It needs work. ;)

I was out of icing bags so I used ziploc bags. Ha...

I typically bake sweet treats and make candy over the holidays, but this year it’s starting early.  I plan to share them at a benefit at the end of the month so it’s important to create a plan of attack before the parties begin.  I wrote about it during my first year of weight-loss, and I think it’s important to remember what worked so I can do it again.  Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote in December of 2009:

Over Thanksgiving I learned that I could eat things that I enjoy without gaining weight, and I plan to do that again over the Christmas holidays. Baking, making homemade candy and fudge and parties can be challenging though I try to remind myself that the next bite will taste like the last. And so far, it has worked for me.

This is really good advice to give to myself because it applies everyday, and in the past, I’ve proven that it works. And now it’s time to prove it to myself again.  I’m a firm believer in living life and enjoying it, obviously.  But I also know that it’s important to remember that I have goals if I want to achieve them, and I do.  I made great strides (including solid losses on the scale) in September, and I’m going to stop letting one week define how I feel about my progress.

So while it’s only mid-October, it’s never too early to start preparing mentally.  I’m working on a list of things that I can do to make it through the holidays without a hitch, and I’ll share that list in detail at some point later.  Until then, I’m going to keep trying to perfect my recipes and remind myself that each healthy decision I make will lead to a longer, healthier, holiday-filled life.

 

Friend Makin’ Mondays: Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s Monday again which means it’s time for FMM. If you’d like to take part just answer the question on your blog and add your link at the bottom of this post. Also take a few minutes to read and comment on other blogs.


I’m a little late posting this week. It’s almost time for lunch, and I’m hungry so we’re going to talk about food. :) Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away, and I’m ready to have a piece of pecan pie which leads me to this week’s question:

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

My family’s Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without cornbread dressing. I think it’s a southern thing, but I’ll always love it. I spent the last few years celebrating Thanksgiving in New York, and I brought cornbread dressing and Watergate salad. I didn’t care if I was the only one eating it. ;)


Now I want to know about your favorite Thanksgiving dish! And don’t forget to add your link!

It Starts Today

I’ve been eating pretty well lately, and my monthly exercise goal is within reach. But I haven’t been tracking food properly, and it’s time for that to change. I’m pretty good at knowing how much I should eat, but I don’t want to play the guessing game when I step on the scale.

Starting today, I commit to tracking and journaling regularly again. I know it works, and it’s not hard so there’s no excuse for skipping it.

And Tuesday I’ll start attending a different WW meeting (my first in a month) because I am absolutely determined to lose weight Thanksgiving week for the second consecutive year. :) I know that I can lose weight while enjoying good food because it’s what I do. And I’m thankful that I have the tools to make the upcoming week a healthy one.

Do you track your daily food intake? If so, do to plan to do it on Thanksgiving?

Getting Serious

I have begun to get back into a serious groove over the last couple of weeks, but I’m still not completely secure in my standing. And now that it is (unofficially) the holiday season, it’s time for me to ramp up my efforts even more.

I’m not a big fan of Halloween so I managed to get through the holiday without consuming much candy again this year. But this is the time of year in which I begin baking tasty treats, making enough homemade hot cocoa mix to last through Winter (actually, that’s already done) and asking Mom for her homemade secret candy recipes.

Saturday I made 11 mini-loaves of pumpkin bread, and it was delicious! I brought a few loaves to the church hayride that Dad and I went to over the weekend and froze a few loaves to take home too.

It would be easy to say “It’s just one slice of pumpkin bread” or “It’s just one cup of cocoa with whipped cream.” You get the idea…but it’s far more important to me to make choices that will leave me feeling confident and healthy going into the new year.

Life will be full of tempting treats for most of us in the next 60 days, and I plan to enjoy some myself. But I’ll remind myself to look at the bigger picture, just as I did last year.
Here’s an excerpt from a post about holiday eating last year:
I also post status updates on Facebook almost religiously. (Yes…I am that person. hehe) And over the the last week or so, I’ve posted messages about standing over the stove preparing this stuff, and I’ve heard the same question from several people, including the woman at the market:

“How do you make that stuff and still lose weight?”

My answer is pretty simple…I don’t eat much of it. I have a piece here and there, but I plan for it first. When I make any dish (dessert, dinner, hot chocolate) I use the recipe builder on WW e-tools to figure out point values of each piece. And believe me, when a tiny piece of peanut butter fudge is valued at 3 points, it’s much easier to say no. I also store the goodies in air tight containers rather than leaving them on platters because it takes more effort to nibble. ;)


When I get the urge, I remind myself that I already know how it tastes. I picture it then I picture how I’ll feel when I step of the scale showing a loss, and that seals it for me. I would rather lose weight than eat junk — even if it is quality junk food. ;)

There is so much more to the holidays that rich foods and decadent treats. And while it’s absolutely okay to indulge in a bit of that, I choose to indulge in the fun and excitement that surrounds this holiday. It worked at Thanksgiving, and it will work again.
So my plan going into the holidays will be to embrace the season and my loved ones rather than focusing on the dinners, the treats and the decadent desserts. Life is about so much more than food! And if I go into this time of year prepared, I think I can come out of them healthier and happier than I was going in.
Do you have a plan of attack for the holidays? Am I ridiculous for thinking about this early?!

Holiday Game Plan

I lost 5.6 pounds this week which takes me to 68.8 pounds lost since April. My current goal is to reach 75 pounds lost by the new year, and I’m right on track to do it.

Over Thanksgiving I learned that I could eat things that I enjoy without gaining weight, and I plan to do that again over the Christmas holidays. Baking, making homemade candy and fudge and parties can be challenging though I try to remind myself that the next bite will taste like the last. And so far, it has worked for me.

Tomorrow night, I’ll enjoy Thai food with friends at the best restaurant in New York City. And I’ll eat there with other friends Monday night as well before going to the opera. They key, for me, is to enjoy proper portions of the things I love most while remembering that this won’t be the last time I eat it. ;)

Saturday night, my boyfriend and I are going to a Christmas party so I’m going to introduce him to one of my favorite restaurants. It’s a Mongolian BBQ so I will eat vegetables (stir fried with water and teriyaki) until I’m satisfied, along with a little protein which will make it a lot easier to make good choices at the party.

So I’m looking forward to the new week, and I’m ready to face the challenges ahead. I hope to feel better soon too because it’s much easier to workout when I’m not coughing so much that I feel like my chest might explode.

How do you cope with holiday eating? Do you have a game plan to guide you through this holiday season?

Holiday Weekend In Review

I hope everyone enjoyed this holiday weekend as much as I did. My boyfriend and I started our holiday by visiting with an elderly friend then enjoyed the rest of the day with his family.


I made homemade spanakopita, and it was very good if I may say so myself. ;) I also made homemade cornbread dressing, watergate salad and pumpkin cream pie. I think I’m one of the few people in the state of New York who cares about cornbread dressing, but it is an essential part of the Thanksgiving spread in my family.


And I have to talk about what I ate…I definitely ate a lot, including about 9 servings of fruits and vegetables.


As you can see, I ate corn on the cob, 2 cups of veggies, 1/4 cup of sweet potatoes, 1/8 cup mashed potatoes, 1/2 cup corn bread dressing, 2 small pieces of spanakopita and a small serving of lasagna and a small piece of turkey breast. I also had a slice of italian bread with low fat butter. I drank green tea with dinner and 1/2 a glass of wine.

So, I ate the things I really wanted to eat without over indulging too much. I didn’t clean my plate either. I ate all of the veggies and dressing, but I didn’t finish the lasgagna.

For dessert, I ate a few bites of Junior’s Cheesecake and a bite of apple pie and a small piece of strawberry shortcake. I also filled up on fresh fruit before eating dessert. Seriously, self? Yep…I ate what I wanted, and went a couple of points over my daily allowance which is fine because I worked activity points at the gym later that evening. I also had 35 flex points if I needed them — thank you, Weight Watchers, but they weren’t needed. Though I have lost over 61 pounds, I still have a lot of points to work with everyday. Sometimes it’s tough to eat enough, but it was easy to eat enough Thursday. ;)

Following dinner, I mapped out plans for Black Friday though I have to say that there were no door busters of interest so I didn’t shop until later in the evening.


Actually, I started shopping shortly before I volunteered as a gift wrapper at a boutique cooking store. We were wrapping gifts and taking donations for an organization that helps abused children in NY.


Wrapping gifts with friends, in a store I love, helping out for a worthy cause is a great volunteer gig for me. I can’t wait to do it again.

So…it was a fantastic weekend filled with shopping, a lot of exercise (including a midnight trip to the gym after Thanksgiving dinner) playing cards and spending time with friends…I miss my family terribly, but I’m lucky to have such loving people here in NY too.

How was your holiday? How did you celebrate? Were you mindful of what you ate? Or did you enjoy the day without thinking about it? What was your favorite part of the holiday weekend?

Thanksgiving Wishes

A poem for my friends from a friend….


May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump!
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I feel like sharing a recipe for light and tasty chocolate chip macaroons. They’re so simple to make! And each cookie is less than 2 Weight Watchers points which means I can enjoy a big cookie without wrecking the healthy eating I do throughout the rest of the day.

The recipe is simple:
1 box Angel Food cake (preferably America’s Choice)
1/2 c. water
7 oz. coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix the first four ingredients well then add the chocolate chips. Drop on a greased cookies sheet. (I use Pam.) Bake for 15 minutes and cool completely before removing from the pan.

Yield: About 30 cookies/2 WW pts. each
These are so easy to make, and they are cute and delicious! I plan to bring these, along with other foods, to Thanksgiving dinner this year so I can be sure to eat without falling into a food coma. ;)
This is definitely my new ‘go-to’ recipe. I think I’ll bake some tomorrow. :)

Friend Makin’ Monday: Thanksgiving

This week, the topic is Thanksgiving. Amber has come up with a list of fun question questions so if you want to join in, just click here.

All About About Thanksgiving

1. Turkey or Ham?

I prefer ham though this year I’ll probably focus on turkey breast.
2. Favorite side dish.
Candied Sweet Potatoes
3. Favorite dessert.
Pecan Pie and Pumpkin Pie
4. Black Friday: Are you going or not?
Totally…I go every year
5. If so, what’s on the top of your list?
I’m not sure where I’ll go first. I’ll map out a plan on Thursday when I see the official sales circulars.
6. Going out of town or staying close to home?
Staying close to home…I’ll be here in NY, but I’ll enjoy having Dad here for Christmas.
7. Hosting or helping?
Just helping…I’m making the homemade spanakopita (I’ll be dining with the Greeks who have taken me in as family…they taught me how to make the spinach pie so now it’s my job during the holidays.)
8. Name one family tradition at Thanksgiving.
We used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade on TV every year. It’s pretty cool to know that I could just pop down to watch it in person if I wanted to. (I don’t hehe, but maybe another year.)
9. What do you do after dinner?
In previous years I have laid around then mapped out my black Friday plan…we’re talking graphs and order of importance lists…this year I will go on a nice after dinner walk to burn off some calories then map out my plan.
10. What are you most thankful for this year?
I am most thankful that I know I can lose weight. In recent years, the pumpkin pie was the most exciting part…now I’m free to concentrate on being thankful for the abundance of blessings I have in my life. And that, in itself, is a reason to be thankful.
—–
And because I plan to lose weight even through the holidays, here’s a list of WW point values for popular holiday foods. I plan to enjoy what I eat just as I always do, but it is definitely helpful to have a guide…
Holiday Food Point Values
Slice of Turkey (white meat without skin) — 2 pts.

1/2 c. Homemade Stuffing — 4 pts.

1/2 c. Cornbread Dressing — 4 pts.

Slice of Ham — 6 pts.

1/4 c. Cranberry Sauce — 2 pts.

1/2 c. Candied Sweet Potatoes — 3 pts.

1 c. Green Bean Casserole — 5 pts.

1 c. Creamed Vegetables — 10 pts. (Seriously, for veggies..I’ll be skipping the cream. Just saying.)

1 tbsp. Butter — 3 pts. (I use Land O Lakes Light Butter. It tastes the same a 1 tbsp. = 1 pt. I’m going to bring it with me to Thanksgiving dinner.)


Roll — 3 pts.

Cornbread (2 in. square) — 3 pts.

Sweet Potato Pie (1/8 of 9 in. pie) — 11 pts.

Pumpkin Pie (1/8 of 9 in. pie) — 9 pts.

Pecan Pie (1/8 of 9 in. pie) — 12 pts.

Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese frosting (3 in. square) — 16 pts.

Pumpkin Cheesecake (1/16 of 10 in.) — 10 pts.

1/2 c. wine — 2 oz.

**All point values are approximate**
Whatever you’re doing on Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoy it. I know I’m looking forward to it…and I hope you are too!

A New Spin On Thanksgiving

The holiday season has officially begun (at least in department stores and in my mind.) And I couldn’t be happier about it. I love decorating and baking, having friends over for parties and listening to Christmas music. Perhaps it’s a little early for that, but I did it today. I even kissed a toy soldier….just keepin’ it real.


But this year, the season will bring some pretty big challenges because part of the fun, for me, is baking cookies and cakes and making homemade hot chocolate to drink while sitting by the fire…and while I plan to do some of that this year, I know I need to make a game plan because holidays are not a good reason to gain weight.

I’d like to reach 75 pounds lost by New Year’s Eve, and I think it’s a realistic goal. But I’ll have to be earnest in my attempts to limit the sweet treats and decadent snacking while stepping up the exercise. On Thanksgiving Day, I plan to eat pie, but I also plan to exercise a bit more than usual that day. And the same goes for Christmas.

Over the last several months, I have learned that I can thoroughly enjoy vacations and holidays without sabotaging the work I do on other days by making smart choices. And one way I can do that is by bringing something healthy to Thanksgiving dinner even though I’m not hosting it.

I’ll bring this amazing pumpkin cream pie which is only 5.25 WW points per slice. You can make it even skinnier if you use Fat Free cream cheese, but the Reduced Fat is my favorite.

And I’ll also bring this squash casserole because it is only about 2 WW points per serving, and it is delicious and filling. My ‘neighbor’ down south (more accurately, my mom’s neighbor) make this during my last visit, and she included ground turkey in it to make it a main dish.

I will enjoy the turkey and stuffing and ham, and some of the other “must-have” dishes on the table. But after we eat, I’ll go for a walk through the neighborhood that we’ll be in because I’d rather feel light on my feet than feel myself falling into a food coma.

The holidays will definitely be filled with rich, decadent foods, but this season means so much more than that. And part of changing my habits means recognizing that I can take part and enjoy friends and family without eating everything in sight. Food is necessary for survival, but it is not the most important part of the upcoming holiday or the following holiday.

I will be mindful of all of the reasons I have to be thankful, and one of the biggest things to be thankful for this year is the opportunity to take care of myself in ways that I haven’t before. I’m thankful for strength, the ability to exercise and the support system that has been in place since I started this journey to a healthier me. These are things that will make Thanksgiving 2009 special for me. What will make it special for you?