Month: February 2012

Upside Down Tracking

I thought it might be fun to do a little series diving into some different tools and techniques that Weight Watchers has that people might not know that much about. Some ideas I have besides today’s topic are:

    • Simply Filling Technique
    • Activity Points v. Weekly Points – which to use first
    • Activity Point Goals
    • Weight Watchers for Endurance Athletes

If you have any others, please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Upside Down Tracking

For me, from the time I get home from work on is the hardest time of day for staying on track. I am generally quite good during the day – I bring my coffee, breakfast, snacks and lunch to work and am usually good at sticking with what I brought. Unless cookies/cupcakes are brought into the office, but that’s another story for another day.

A few weeks ago, the meeting topic was all about tracking, and the idea of Upside Down Tracking was brought up, which I’d heard about but haven’t yet used. The basic idea is this: your daily PointsPlus target is the amount of points you get for a 24 hour period. For those of us who struggle more at night, you reset your points before dinner, and then based on how many you consume at night, you plan your breakfast/lunch/snacks for the next day.

So, for an example, I get 29 pts+ per day as my allowance. Monday night I had a (three hour) Weight Watchers training session, and here’s what I ate during and after the training:

    • Sandwich Thin (3 pts)
    • 2 servings pretzels (6 pts)
    • 2 oz. turkey (2 pts)
    • 1/4 cup hummus (3 pts)
    • 1 banana (0 pts)
    • 1 orange (0 pts)
    • 100 calorie dark chocolate bar (3 pts)

If my math skills serve me correctly, that adds up to 17 pts. Since I get 29 a day, I’d subtract the 17 pts and am left with 12 to use between breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the next day. Then, the next day’s dinner, my points would reset back to 29. Make sense?

I think this technique is quite interesting and something that could really work to my advantage since nighttime tends to be the hardest part of the day for me. Rather than feeling guilty for having an extra snack at night, I’d just know that I had to make some adjustments the next day. If you’re a calorie counter rather than a Points counter, this same technique could work with restarting your counting from before dinner or whenever the hardest part of the day is for you.

What do you think about this concept? Had you heard of it or tried it before? Is it something you think could work for you?

Ode to Tuesdays

Tuesdays used to be my least favorite day of the week by far. Mondays are a fresh start, Wednesdays mean you are half way through the work week, Thursday is Friday-eve/happy hour day, and Friday is the start of the weekend. So Tuesdays really left nothing to be desired for me, until the last few weeks.


When I first was asked to lead the Tuesday morning Weight Watchers meeting, I was a bit hesitant. Since it starts at 7:45am (7:30am starting next week and going forward), that means I have to be at the meeting at 7am and get up at 6am to be there on time. Because of that, there’s no way for me to squeeze in a morning workout on Tuesday, so I felt like I had a lot piled against me.

But, over the last several weeks, Tuesday has quickly become one of my favorite days of the week. Starting my day off with a Weight Watchers meeting leaves me feeling almost as energized as a morning workout does, and really helps me to focus. I mentioned this yesterday, but sometimes I feel like the meetings are more for me than the members, and I am really loving the Tuesday morning group.

This week’s topic is Moving More – and thinking about all the ways that we can work exercise into our lives. I opened up the meeting with people giving excuses why they can’t exercise, and then we talked about what would be on the list if we made a list of reasons why we SHOULD exercise. After that, we came up with some ideas to combat all the excuses we brainstormed, and overall, it was an awesome meeting.

It’s funny, because as a total coincidence, yesterday I didn’t have time for a legit workout. Monday mornings are never really an option for me because no matter how hard I try, I can’t get up to get in a workout before work. And last night, I had a 3 hour Weight Watchers training session, so I decided to do what I could. I walked to work, which is about 22 minutes, took a 20 minute walk over lunch, and then walked 20 minutes home, for a total of one hour of walking.

I posted it on my Facebook page, and someone commented (Hi Barbara!) saying that that’s exactly what they talked about this week at Weight Watchers, and I hadn’t even made the connection! You can guess which story I shared about myself today.

After leaving the meeting to walk to my desk job, I had a bounce in my step, and I’m sure you can hear it from the tone of this post – I am in a much better place than yesterday. I feel refreshed, reenergized, and refocused. And, excited about tonight’s 5 mile run home!

What is your favorite day of the work week?

True Story: I’ve Been Slacking

I’ve hesitated writing this post for a little while now because I honestly feel like a broken record. I’ve been struggling with the same few pounds for several months and keep vowing to recommit and restart, and just haven’t. The past two weeks have been particularly bad because not only have I been eating pretty poorly and far too much like has been the case for several months, but I’ve also been really inconsistent about exercising. And now, 3/4 of the way through my half marathon training, is not the time to start slacking.

I think the bottom line is no matter where you are into your journey, you have to fight for it. Every day. There’s a part of me that will always choose sleeping in over getting up to workout, french fries over a side salad, and eating to the point of being uncomfortable instead of satisfaction. Lately, I feel like I’ve let that part of me take over way too much of my decision making.

Last week, I didn’t go to the gym or run outside ONCE. I did my 10 mile run last Saturday, and then didn’t do any form of physical activity (besides walk or bike to work) for the entire week until yesterday. I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting up to workout before work, and I know that’s what i need to do to be consistent because I have so much going on at night and it’s too easy to make excuses for other things I need to do.

So yesterday morning when I woke up, rather than sit in bed watching Gossip Girl for a few hours like I did on Saturday (I know), I got right up and headed to the gym. Even though I had 9.3 miles on my training schedule, I just could not convince myself to want to do it. Rather than avoid activity all together like I’d been doing the last two weeks when that has happened, I decided to walk to the gym and do SOMETHING.

I got on the treadmill and ended up running 2.5 miles before having to stop because I got a nasty blister on my right foot. I think my feet were starting to forget what running shoes felt like… After I had to stop running, I went on the stairmaster for 20 minutes, and then I did some stretching, ab work, and pushups. One hour and almost 700 calories later, I remembered why my body loves exercise.

And, I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but the meeting topic this week for Weight Watchers is “Move More, No Excuses.” Lately, I’ve felt like the meetings I’ve been leading have been more for me than for the members!

After getting home yesterday, I made myself a healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs on an english muffin with salsa and grapes, and then spent a little time working on a menu plan for the week.

Here’s what I came up with:

Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Monday Savory Oatmeal w/Spinach + Cheese Tempeh Chili Verde Grapefruit + Cottage Cheese WW Pasta w/chicken sausage + sauce
Tuesday Pumpkin Oats w/cottage cheese Tempeh Chili Verde Egg drop soup, pear Spicy Lentil Tacos
Wednesday English Muffin w/PB + Banana Spicy Lentil Taco Salad Grapes + Greek Yogurt Scrambled Eggs w/Black Beans, Cheese, Salsa + Corn Tortillas
Thursday Savory Oats Tempeh Chili Verde Banana mashed w/ Greek Yogurt + Stevia
Friday WW Waffles w/PB + Banana Spicy Lentil Taco Salad Grapefruit + Greek Yogurt TBD


Just having a plan in place makes me feel a lot better, and my goal is to use this week to really transition my body back into workout out consistently in the mornings. When I do, I set each day up for success and make better eating decisions because I think twice about reaching for a (third) cookie in the office, or going out for lunch rather than eating what I have packed.

My goals for today:

    1. Drink 2 bottles of water while at work.
    2. Get outside for a 10 minute walk mid-day.
    3. Get into bed by 10:30pm.

What’s one thing you want to focus on today or this week?

Let’s do this!

Attune Foods: Grocery Staples

As part of being an ambassador for Attune Foods, my second monthly post in the “Weight Loss Wednesdays” column went live yesterday. The theme of the month is “Real Food” so click the real food you see in the photo below to check out my approach to grocery shopping.

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And don’t worry, that photo was not taken in an actual grocery store, so I wasn’t kicked out or anything.

Leave some love over on the Attune Foods Blog!

The Irony of the #1 Happiness Trick

After Saturday’s 10 mile run, I decided to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure. There is this place I’ve been going for a few months now that does a great job for $25 for both, and I was excited when they had an appointment available with my favorite technician, Michelle. Even though I have tons of magazine subscriptions, I rarely make the time to read them at home, so decided to bring the newest issue of Health Magazine with me with Jillian Michaels on the cover.

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Once I settled into the chair to get my pedicure, I dove into the magazine and found one article in particular that struck me called “#1 Happiness Trick”.

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It said to write down five things you’re grateful for once a week, every week. People who did that activity in a study felt happier, healthier, and exercised more after 9 weeks, and writing down what they were grateful for made them focus more on the blessings and less on the shortcomings in their life. I made a mental note to write about it on here because I think it would be a good activity for me to do each week for at least a little while, but then backburnered it once my pedi was over.

Fast forward to Monday, and I woke up with my middle finger being a little sore around the cuticle. I didn’t think too much of it, but then when I woke up in the night yesterday from it throbbing, I realized something wasn’t quite right. I slathered it with Neosporin, went back to sleep, and then woke up to a swollen and very sensitive middle finger yesterday morning. It felt pretty silly making such a big deal of it since it was just a finger, but as the day went on, it was getting worse and worse.

It doesn’t look too bad in the photo, but I promise you, it was very painful.

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Sorry for over sharing in advance, but towards the end of the day, it was throbbing so bad and felt like it was burring, and then when gross stuff started coming out of it, I knew I needed to see a doctor. I ended up going to Urgent Care, and as I was sitting in the room waiting patiently to see a doctor and feeling pretty annoyed that I got an infection from the mani/pedi, my mind went back to the article that I was reading while the transaction was taking place.

Rather than focusing on the fact that I was waiting to see the doc, I decided to take some time to think about what I’m grateful for. When all was said and done, I was sent home from the doctor with antibiotics and assurance that my finger would stay attached to my body. I also was sent home with this list of things for which I’m grateful fresh on my mind, in no particular order:

    1. My health. I never take it for granted anymore and am humbled every time my body does something amazing for me, like carries me 10 miles.
    2. My family. I am very close with my immediate family, and I don’t know what I’d do without my sisters and my parents. It’s funny because growing up, I was never THAT close with my aunts/uncles/cousins, so I didn’t quite have my head around what a close relation that was. Now that both of my sisters have kids and I am their aunt, and one day my kids will be their cousins, I can’t imagine not seeing them as much as I can and having them be such a major part of my life.
    3. My career. Every job has its pros and cons, but I am very lucky to have a mostly-pro list for mine. I work with really awesome people that I actually enjoy being around, have the opportunity to do a lot and really own the program that I manage, and get a steady paycheck twice a month. I well aware that a lot of people don’t have all those luxuries.
    4. Weight Watchers. I loooooove having not just the program itself to follow, but having the opportunity to be involved in it with it on so many different levels through this blog and through Leading the meetings. I had my 5th week of my Tuesday morning meeting, and each week I am loving it more and more. Starting the week after next, I’m taking on a second meeting Monday evenings, and I feel so grateful to be able to pay forward everything that WW has given me considering how much it changed my life for the better.
    5. My friends. I know this sounds like the most cliche thing ever, but I really do have the best friends in the world. They’ve been by my side through thick and thin (literally) and have been there at the drop any time I’ve needed anything. When I ended up moving into DC, I moved within just a few blocks of two of my best girlfriends and I feel so lucky to be so close to them and to have them in my life.

Please share one thing (or more) that you’re grateful for today!


I think I’ve figured out the trick for me with long runs… make sure I have no time sensitive plans scheduled for afterwards. When I do have plans and have to make myself get up at a certain time to get my long runs done, I start looking at it as a chore and it really messes with me mentally. We’ll see how that goes three weeks from Saturday (!!) since I don’t get to influence the start time of the race itself.

I slept in later than I have in a LONG time on Saturday, and woke up around 11am! It felt so great, and I took my time making a simple breakfast, my staple pre-run fuel.

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An english muffin with peanut butter and banana… plus coffee with half and half. (Side note – I’ve completely switched over to regular (organic) half and half with my coffee and have been loving it. It’s so creamy and at 1 pt for 2 tablespoons, totally worth it in my opinion.)

After eating, I got myself dressed up and ready to go. I have been experimenting with different hydration techniques the last few weeks because I go through phases with what works for me. For a while there, I was using my fuel belt, but then I started not liking the way it felt around my waist and how it would ride up. After that, I switched to a Camelbak, but I haven’t been that into using it for training runs because it feels like such a hassle to fill up and clean even though I know it’s not.

Last weekend for my 9 miler, I bought a bottle of water during the run, but this past Saturday, I tried my handheld waterbottle for the first time in a while.

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I like it because it has a little pouch that I put my two Vanilla Bean GUs in for the run, and its not heavy at all. I barely even have to hold it since my hand goes through the strap, but it does occasionally make my hand go numb which can be annoying.

After getting geared up, I headed out for the run. I had mapped out a route on that I took one last look at before slathering my (once non-existent) collarbone with BodyGlide, and then I was off.

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The run itself was awesome. I tried to just run at a pace that felt comfortable and soak in the perfect weather and scenery. I almost never stop to take photos when I run, but as I was passing mile 7 and looked to my left, I couldn’t help it.

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Sometimes I take for granted the gorgeous scenery I get to run around… but not Saturday. It was breathtaking. Or maybe that had something to do with the fact that I was 7 miles into my run… either way it wasn’t bad to look at.

I don’t have too much to say about the run itself – the first two miles were a little tough mentally but then I got in my groove and just kept trucking along. I ended up finishing just under a 10 minute pace, which was perfect for the training run.

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In terms of fuel, I ended up taking both GUs even though I wasn’t planning on it. I took the first one at about 4.5 miles (~45 minutes) and then the second one around 7.5 miles because I was starting to drag a bit and wanted to finish the run strong.

And you know what? I did just that.

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I felt like a million bucks when I was done – my first double digit run in almost 6 months. Booya.

What is your preferred method of hydration? And distance-wise, at what point do you carry water with you for a run?

I tend to carry water only if I’m going for more than 6 miles. If I’m running for less than an hour, I am usually good with just drinking before and after the run, but any more than that and I like to have something with me. In terms of hydration method, I really go through so many different phases with what works for me at the time like I said above. I think I will use my Camelbak on the day of the half like I did last time, but it doesn’t seem worth it to go through the trouble for every training run.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I’m not sure why, but stuffed peppers are one of those dishes that has always intimidated me. My mom used to make them a lot growing up, and she would make extra filling into little meatballs that she would cook into the sauce and call “Porcupine Balls”. I always loved them, but it was never something I attempted in my own kitchen until last week. It seemed pretty complicated and labor intensive, but now that I’ve done it myself, I know that’s not true!

This is the first recipe on Beth’s Journey that contains meat – ground turkey, to be exact – but you can easily omit the turkey if you want to keep it vegetarian. And, if you don’t add the cheese at the end, they can even be vegan, too, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

These stuffed peppers are loaded with Mexican flavors – ground turkey, black beans, brown rice, cilantro, cumin – and then use salsa in place of sauce which adds moisture and takes them to the next level. They hold up really well as leftovers and are very versatile based on what you have in your kitchen if you want to switch things up. Try adding corn, different spices, different cheese, or different veggies, and let me know how they turn out!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

    • Prep Time: 15 minutes
    • Cook Time: 30 minutes
    • 6 servings, 4 pts+/pepper


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    • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
    • 1 tbsp minced garlic (~ 3 cloves)
    • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 large tomato, chopped
    • 1 cup cooked brown rice
    • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 cup salsa
    • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
    • 3 bell peppers, seeded and sliced in half
    • 2 ounces shredded cheddar (or other cheese of choice)

First, preheat your oven to 400º.

Next, heat a pan over medium heat with nonstick spray and add in your red onion and garlic.

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Heat until translucent, about 5-6 minutes, before adding in the ground turkey.

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Break the turkey up with a spatula or wooden spoon and continue to keep over the heat until the turkey is cooked through and you don’t see anymore pink, about 5 more minutes. Once the turkey is cooked, add in the cumin, black beans, brown rice, and chopped tomato.

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Cook for another 2-3 minutes until mixture is heated through, before stirring in the salsa and cilantro.

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Once the mixture is combined and heated, it is finished and read to stuff into the peppers.

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To prep the peppers, you want to slice them in half the long way and then remove the seeds and the insides. Place them in 1 (or 2 if necessary) baking sheets sprayed with nonstick spray.

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Then get to stuffing. Evenly distribute the Mexican filling between the six pepper halves.

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And then cover the tray(s) with tin foil.

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Pop in the oven for 30 minutes, and then carefully remove the foil, sprinkle the cheese evenly between the peppers. They are hot enough to melt the cheese in just a few seconds, so get ready to dig in!

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You can easily have 1 or 2 of these for 4 or 8 PointsPlus respectively, and serve it with salad for a complete meal. They also make GREAT leftovers for lunch.

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So this is one of those dishes that I’m not sure why I waited so long to make! They were super simple and honestly pretty foolproof and forgiving, while completely delicious and satisfying. Give them a try!!

Are there any dishes that intimidate you to make? Anything you’ve waited a while to try and realized it wasn’t as complicated as you thought?

Besides stuffed peppers, risotto scared the heck out of me! I’ve only made it a handful of times, but it’s always way easier than I think it’s going to be, just requires a bit of attention!

Getting Sh*t Done

When I got home from Shenandoah Valley on Sunday afternoon, I had high hopes of getting a bunch of sh*t done. I planned to go to the grocery store, workout, and cook dinner at the very least, and then maybe relax a little. But you know what I did instead? I laid on the couch and didn’t move until it was time to get up for work on Monday. Sometimes that just needs to happen.

After work on Monday, getting things done was no longer an option, and I ended up having the most productive post-work night that I’ve had in a LONG time. It included:

    1. Going grocery shopping at Whole Foods on the way home from work.
    2. 2. Putting the bag full of groceries into the fridge (unpacked) and leaving immediately for a super hilly 4.5 mile run.
    3. Putting together my new bed that arrived, which took about 45 minutes since I put the rails on the wrong sides the first time around.
    4. Whipping up tofu, soba noodles, and veggies for dinner with homemade peanut sauce (peanut flour, water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger powder, garlic powder, and sesame oil).
    5. Cleaning the entire kitchen post-dinner since I was ravenous by the time dinner was ready so things might have been thrown around a bit.
    6. Packing breakfast/lunch/snacks for the next day.
    7. Showering. Yes, this counts as an accomplishment.
    8. Blow drying my hair.
    9. Planning my weight watchers meeting for yesterday morning, which was all about Decoding Menus and figuring out good things to order at restaurants. Did you know the average American eats 4.2 meals out per week!?
    10. Writing a blog post about my trip.
    11. Watching one episode of my newest obsession, Gossip Girl. Don’t judge.
    12. Making this meal plan for the week:
  Breakfast Lunch Snack Dinner
Monday English Muffin w/PB + Banana Leftover Mexican Stuffed Peppers (recipe coming tomorrow!) Greek Yogurt + Orange Tofu w/Soba Noodles, Veggies + Peanut Sauce
Tuesday Savory Oats w/Spinach + Babybel Cheese Leftover Mexican Stuffed Pepper w/Salad, Apple Greek Yogurt + Strawberries Red Lentil + Spinach Soup
Wednesday Oatmeal w/greek yogurt + thawed strawberries Red Lentil + Spinach Soup w/salad Cottage Cheese w/orange Out for Dinner
Thursday Toasted Waffle w/PB + Banana Leftover Tofu + Veggies w/Peanut Sauce Greek Yogurt + Strawberries Out for Dinner
Friday English Muffin w/Egg Whites + Cheese, Apple Red Lentil + Spinach Soup Popcorn + Orange TBD

Even though I didn’t sit down until after 10pm that night, it felt good to cross so much off my list, have a workout under my belt, and feel good about the week ahead.

Do you tend to get stuff done during the weeknights or mostly relax? I’m half and half. That was my Monday night, but then last night I just watched Gossip Girl and barely moved. 🙂

Taking Over Shenandoah Valley

I really do love living in the city, but sometimes getting away from the city can’t be beat. Especially when the view from the back porch while you’re drinking your morning coffee is this:

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I’d been to the Shenandoah Valley once before for my birthday last year, but this time was very different because there were.. 22 of us! A bunch of friends and I rented a huge house from Absolute Perfect Escape properties… and the name really says it all.

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We rented a 9 bedroom house that had the works. A huge kitchen, a fireplace, a hottub, a fire pit outside, a pool table, air hockey (!) and so much more. Somehow, almost every single person got a bed and we really made the space work to our advantage.

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Outside of the features of the house itself, the views were just breathtaking.

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We all spent a lot of time just staring out in awe and breathing in the fresh air.

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And also went on a “nature walk” (gentle hike) despite the cold. Some of us even balanced in yoga poses on fallen trees.

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To be honest, I was a little nervous that I was going to feel super overwhelmed with the number of people there since I’m used to living alone by now, and was worried I might not be that pleasant to be around towards the end of the trip. But, it really turned out great because the house was so huge that there was plenty of space for all of us. A bunch of people did their own thing on Saturday during the day, but it really didn’t even seem like there were that many people there which was great. That is, until breakfast time.

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But who can blame ‘em? Check out this spread for our last day:

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From the top:

    • Veggie and Cheese Strata
    • Breakfast hashbrowns with cheese and sour cream
    • Cinnamon crunch french toast
    • Orange zest french toast
    • Regular Bacon
    • Maple Bacon
    • Fruit Salad (the one remotely healthy thing)
    • Tater tots (hiding in the WAY back)

Overall, the weekend was really fun and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I do wish I had made some healthier choices, especially with eating, because there were a few times over the weekend where I literally ate to the point of feeling sick because there was so much good food. I tend to do better with that when I control my own environment, but you gotta live a little, right?

Have you ever gone away with a group of friends? Where’d you go?

Best One Yet

I woke up today to a vivid dream where I had gone out to run 9 miles, and while the run itself was good, towards the end I was running through grass and looked down and realized I didn’t have any shoes on, and also didn’t have the keys to my apartment. Another random thing I remember was that I didn’t fuel at all during the run, but I somehow made it to the end, even if I couldn’t get into my apartment afterwards.

As soon as I opened my eyes today, I had nine miles on the brain, and not just because of the dream. I am going to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend with a bunch of friends, so I decided to use some of my comp time from San Antonio to take the day off to get ready to go and get my long run out of the way.

I started with my usual pre-run breakfast of a sandwich thin with banana and peanut butter:

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Plus coffee and a bottle of water. I got myself dressed pretty quickly after eating, making sure not to forget my shoes or my keys:

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My mentality going into this run was really different and I need to make an effort to use it more consistently. The last time I attempted a long run, I fell at just past the half way point and had to have a friend come scoop me and drive me home. When I started that run, my goal was to get it over with. With this run, I wanted to just enjoy it, and that I did. I put no time pressure on myself because I had a lot of flexibility in that department with taking the day off from work, and that worked out great.

    • Mile 1: 7:36 (ummm I’m not sure how this one happened)
    • Mile 2: 9:52
    • Mile 3: 9:44
    • Mile 4: 9:47
    • Mile 5: 9:48

Around the 50 minute or 5.3 mile mark, I took a Vanilla Bean GU (my favorite – tastes like frosting to me!) and stopped very briefly to buy a bottle of water from a street vendor, which I chugged on the go.

    • Mile 6: 8:54
    • Mile 7: 9:38
    • Mile 8: 10:31 (big hill)
    • Mile 9: 10:08 (tired)

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    • Total Distance: 9.0 miles
    • Total Time: 1:25:57
    • Average Pace: 9:33

I’m not gonna lie… the last .25 miles was tough because I was definitely ready for the run to be over, but I felt the best I’ve felt in a LONG time during this run! So then I decided to take this goofy picture of myself:

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And now, time to eat and pack for my weekend away!

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