Monday, July 1, 2013

WIAT: What I Ate Today, July 1, 2013


It's been a while. I know. I don't have a good excuse for not writing other than the fact that for the past few months I've been teetering between two to five pounds above the weight where I usually buckle down and start tracking again. This isn't my "happy" weight, but rather the weight where I realize I'm on a slippery slope back to my old ways.

While I've been away, I've been battling wheels of brie, saying no, I will regret eating this cheese. But giving in, and yes, I love you, brie, you are so tasty. I've been embracing late night pizza, but regretting it shortly after. I've been convincing myself I won't eat another packaged cookie or candy, but then eating five more. Five more that I promise myself would be the last. But there never is a last cookie or candy, just a chance to recommit and start over, and that's why I love Weight Watchers...it always forgives.

A few weeks ago I recommitted and I've slowly worked towards tracking regularly and getting back on a healthy path. Something that I've been wanting to do for a while is share some meal plans from my actual life. I'm hoping this will help those who get off track see that it's possible to get back on track, but also feel satisfied. Introducing a new feature on City Skinny Life: What I Ate Today (WIAT for short).

This new series will showcase the different ways I make meals happen without breaking the PointsPlus bank.

Here's my WIAT for the week:

Breakfast

I try to eat something high in protein right away when I get to work so that I'm not starving until lunch time.
Water (0 PP) and Two Hard-Boiled Eggs (4 PP)

 Mid-Morning Snack

Despite eating my nutritious breakfast, I sometimes get hunger pains before lunch time. Today, I fended them off with a little tea. On other days I'll often eat a fruit.

Tea with an Equal (0 PP)

Lunch

Today I bought my lunch. I went for a small Greek salad with grilled chicken breast and a half cup of cous cous. To keep it extra light, I skipped adding dressing to my salad. My sweet treat was a Diet Coke.
 
Greek Salad (5 PP), Cous Cous (4 PP) and Diet Coke (0 PP)

Mid-Day Snack

I can't help it. I needed a pick me up around 3 p.m. I went with a small bag of pretzels today.

Pretzels (4 PP)
 
 Dinner

I'm often on-the-go for dinner. Tonight I met my roommate for a quick dinner after work at my favorite healthy spot, Soho Cafe & Grill in Astoria. 

Iced Tea (0 PP)
Grilled Veggies with Feta (2 PP)
Mediterranean Wrap with Grilled Chicken (7 PP) and Side of Tzatziki (1 PP)
Fresh Juice (0 PP)

After all that I still have 3 PointsPlus left for the day.

I hope this new feature is helpful, and would love feedback. Please note, I make rough estimates for some items when it comes to PointsPlus values, and in some ways have a few of my own rules. Please feel free to share if you track items differently.






Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Skinny Talk: Navigating the Ups and Downs of Maintenance

I've never felt like I was starving on Weight Watchers, except during my first week when I was training myself not to overeat. But lately, as a Lifetime Member no less, I get these feelings that I'm starving. And inevitably, a binge follows.

Ultimately, this cycle has not helped me to lose weight or maintain my weight, but has actually caused me to gain weight. So, instead of focusing on maintaining my weight, I obsess over the few pounds that I gain and lose as a result of this cycle.

For a while I thought that this was just one of the difficulties that comes with trying to maintain weight. After all, many Weight Watchers I've met along the way will argue that maintaining is actually harder than losing. And, wow, are they right.

But recently, it's been harder than just that. For all that I know about weight loss, for all the writing I do about my food adventures, it has felt a little too hard.

So I took a look at what's different. What's different from when I was losing. What's different from when I was maintaining -- happily maintaining.

I started Weight Watchers on the points system with 18 points each day. However, about one week after I started, the program switched to PointsPlus -- I had 29 points each day (here's an article about the new program that explains why the number went from 18 to 29 if you're curious). I lost my 40 pounds and kept it off for a while eating 29 PointsPlus per day.

When I went on to maintenance I had the option to up my PointsPlus to 35. I decided not to, because of course, I wanted to see if I could lose "just a little more." We're never satisfied, are we?

So I stayed at 29. My weight ebbed and flowed, but ultimately, I maintained it, and it was within the healthy range for my height.

Then, Weight Watchers made the lowest daily PointsPlus value 26 -- this was after some research they did on the program and how it was working. Eager to lose "just a little more," I moved my daily PointsPlus intake down to 26, despite being on maintenance.

It was really hard to only eat 26 PointsPlus worth of food. I had to get creative again -- eat more fruit, eat more vegetables. But actually, that's not what happened. I ate more fruit and more vegetables, but still felt hungry. And when I felt hungry, I didn't go for another banana, I went for a chocolate bar.

For a while, I chalked it up to boredom. But finally, I realized, I was hungry.

I moved my PointsPlus value for the day back to 29. I feel so much better. I'm not eating too little and then binging -- I'm starting to eat the right amount of food for my body.

People seem to think that it's easy once the weight is gone, but I have to tell you, it's a whole new set of issues. It's easy to forget everything I learned about portion control and healthy habits at the sight of a bowl of ice cream, or on the flip side, the sight of the scale.

I'm not a nutritionist, but the lesson here is that I had to listen to my body. Something was not right. I never set out on this journey to become super skinny. I set out on this journey to become healthy.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with maintenance. What have been your struggles? Where have you faltered? Where have adjustments have you made along the way? How do you make this lifestyle work for you?


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Restaurant Skinny: Upscale Greek at MP Taverna

Last week, I hit up MP Taverna, the new Michael Psilakis restaurant in Astoria, twice for opening week. After all, it is a stones throw from where I live. I enjoyed MP Taverna's refined take on the classic homestyle Greek cuisine that the neighborhood is famous for serving.

The menu is loaded with options for healthy eaters -- tons of veggies and grilled options. In fact, an entire section of the menu is dedicated to grilled specialties like chicken, branzino and fish of the day.
 
The first time I was there with my parents after a particularly long day, which usually makes me more prone to overeating. Since I was in that state of mind I was glad for the healthy options. Here's what I had:
 
Drink: One glass of Cava
 
Appetizers: Split tzatziki and pita with my Mom and grilled octopus with my dad

Tzatziki is a personal favorite. It tastes a sinful as say...sour cream or cream cheese, but it's very few PointsPlus. I liked this version because it was covered with delicious veggies.

And, octopus. Also delicious, also just a few PointsPlus per piece.
 
Tzaziki Covered with Vegetables!
Grilled Octopus with Chick Peas and Tzatziki!
 
Dinner: Grilled Chicken
 
I honestly couldn't go wrong with the grilled chicken. Sometimes I hesitate because it feels boring, but not at MP Taverna. Not only was it covered in an array of vegetables, it also came with a Greek-style side salad with tomatoes and feta.
 
Grilled Chicken

Side Salad
The dinner was delicious, and so filling. I brought half of my chicken and side salad home and ate it at work the next day for lunch.

The second time I went, I split the tzatziki as an appetizer, but went for the chicken souvlaki as my dinner. A pita filled with chicken, vegetables and tzatziki -- what more could I ask for?

I'm thrilled to have this new spot in my repetoire of neighborhood restaurants.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

At-Home Skinny: Guilt-free Takes on Guilty Pleasures

Many of my friends are horrified when they see me indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure: French Fries and mayo.

How could someone who claims to be health-conscious take fried sticks and dip them into pure fat?

It's delicious, people, and I can't help it, and no I can't only have a little taste. I most frequently indulge in this at Bohemian Hall, the beer garden near my apartment, because I love their spicy fries and limitless mayo.

Well, I certainly can't eat that every night, and alternatives are welcome.

When Nasoya gave me the opportunity to try out Nayonaise, a vegan version of mayo. I knew that it was the perfect chance to create a healthy version of my favorite guilty pleasure. This is why cooking at home can be great -- it really gives me the opportunity to explore alternatives.

Thanks, Nasoya!
I made baked fries sprinkled with cajun seasoning, and used two tablespoons of Nayonaise for dipping. I calculated two tablespoons of Nayonaise to be 2 PointsPlus, as opposed to 6 PointsPlus for two tablespoons of traditional mayo.
My Yummy Creation

While I can't sit here and say it tasted exactly the same, the fries had a great crunch and the Nayonaise had a unique tang and creaminess to it, that was different than traditional mayo, but really delicious in it's own way.

After the success of the baked fries with Nayonaise, I also added it to my sandwiches this week.





Monday, February 25, 2013

Exercise Skinny: A Delicious Treat for the Mind and Body

No, not food. Yoga!

All of my latest gym adventures have helped me to discover a new found love for yoga. I love it because not only do I get physical benefits, but yoga also has a very strong impact on the mind. 

I kid you not, there have been nights that I've been so irritated, frustrated or annoyed, but then went to yoga and come out feeling invigorated, happy and healthy. It's amazing.

Most of the yoga that I have done has been at Crunch, but I'd love to try other studios in addition to my Crunch workouts -- so please feel free to chime in with recommendations.

I'm also eager to do a yoga retreat at some point, and would love ideas too.

Since my day-to-day schedule is very up in the air, I end up trying a lot of different yoga classes depending on what is available when I am free. Rather than being a disadvantage, this has been great because going to different classes has exposed me to a variety of styles and techniques.

I thought I'd share my favorite classes so far at Crunch:

Vinyasa Yoga with Carrie S. on Fridays at 6 PM at E. 34th Street
I love the Friday night time slot. It's the perfect transition from the hectic workweek to the weekend. I can clear my mind and get ready to enjoy my downtime. The only problem is that some times life's other demands get in the way on Friday night at 6 PM, and I can't always make the class. I try my best to make this class though, because it's amazing. I love Carrie who takes time to teach yogis a little bit about how to practice yoga properly (for example, she makes you take your socks off so that you actually feel the earth underneath you), but she also takes the time to come around and adjust. Carrie's adjustments have made me more mindful of my practice, and will hopefully get me to a better place as a yogi.

Rock Yoga with Justin R. on Saturdays at 1:30 PM in Chelsea
I was intrigued by a yoga class that was set to rock music, and so I went out to Chelsea to try it. The music made the class upbeat and gave a faster pace to the yoga. Justin also took some time teaching breathing, and it helped to actually learn how to breathe properly -- especially, for someone like me who is just starting to get the hang of yoga.

Hippie Yoga on Thursdays at 7:30 PM in Union Square
This class is interesting because it focuses on the lower back and hips. For people who sit in a chair all day, it's the perfect treatment to loosen up a tight lower back. The first time I went I felt as though I had come out of a massage. This class is good for any level. It was one of the classes that I started with when I first got back into going to the gym. I also brought my mom one time, and she really enjoyed the class too! There is a new teacher since I've been, but I've heard the new teacher is great as well.

Namaste.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Restaurant Skinny: The Fat Radish...Actually, Skinny

There's nothing fatty about a radish, but the name of the Lower East Side spot, The Fat Radish, reminds me that veggies are fat with nutrition.

Every once in a while, I love a meal where I don't have to think about counting, where most items on the menu are healthy options.

The menu at The Fat Radish was full of delicious vegetable options, but also had hearty proteins like chicken, scallops and pork chops.

Here's what I had:

Drink: Tequila Rose

I had to have a cocktail, because even the cocktails at The Fat Radish had a healthy feel.  In addition to the tequila, my drink had fresh-pressed beet juice, grapefruit juice and a splash of Aperol. It was totally refreshing and made drinking tequila feel like I was doing something good for my body. Now that's a novel idea.

Appetizer: Whole Roasted Local Cauliflower, Olives, Almonds and Pecorino Cheese

Pictured below, this dish was one of the best vegetable dishes I've ever eaten in my life. It was savory, sweet and delicious, and I delighted in each and every bite, feeling a sense of loss when it was all over. I wanted more.

Roasted Cauliflower
Dinner: The Fat Radish Plate

A macrobiotic mix of vegetables with a touch of rice. I learned that macrobiotic simply means focusing on locally grown veggies and grains, and avoiding processed foods -- you know, the stuff that comes out of a box.


The Fat Radish Plate

 
The plate had yams, beans, swiss chard, carrots, seaweed, cauliflower, ginger, carrots and rice (and maybe even more that I missed as I write).

I added even more to my meal by tacking on a side of kale with chile.

Dessert: Doughnuts

Since the meal was so light, I felt totally guilt-free and split dessert with my roommate, who shared this dinner with me. The doughnuts were light and fluffy, and actually didn't feel heavy at all.

After the meal we meandered from Orchard St. to Union Square. It's a chain reaction, doing one healthy thing for my body makes me crave the next.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Skinny Tip: Healthy Snacks by Graze Straight to My Desk

When a friend and fellow blogger from Awesome in New York shared a link to try a free box of healthy snacks from Graze that would come right to my desk at work, I couldn't resist and signed up immediately.

One of my problems with eating at work is that I'll strive to be super healthy and forget to bring snacks that I'm actually excited about, which usually results in eating other junk that I manage to find.

Graze solves this problem perfectly. Every week, for just five dollars (and I even got a few dollars off for referring friends), a variety of healthy snacks is shipped straight to my desk. There are four different snacks each week, so I'm only left up to my own devices for a snack on one day out of the five work days.

My First Box from Graze

Graze has two options: a lightbox and a nibblebox. The nibblebox offers more variety, while the lightbox guarantees that all snacks are between 50 and 150 calories. I've opted for the lightbox and have received a variety of nuts, dried fruits, crackers and seeds varying from sweet to savory.

Each week Graze customizes a new box for you, and you can rate the treats so you receive favorite options again and avoid less exciting options for the future. The individual boxes contain nutrition facts for that week's selections. So far, all of my treats have been between three and four Points Plus, which is much better than seven or eight for a candy bar or bag of chips.

At first, I thought I would just do the free trial, but I'm hooked. I can't wait to try all the yummy light options. It also means one less thing for me to tote around from my home in Queens to my job downtown.

For honesty's sake, I devoured all four snacks in my first box in one sitting, so I've since learned to hide them so that I only eat one at a time. Be careful -- the deliciousness may get you too!