4 Ingredient Baked Onion Chicken

I’m currently making my way through the depths of my pantry, and one ingredient I have on my list is Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix. I stocked up on it earlier this year when it was on sale and have made french onion dip with greek yogurt a few times, and have also used it with beef in the slow cooker. Until last week though, it never occurred to me to use it with chicken, and now that boneless, skinless chicken breast is on the Zero Points list with Weight Watchers Freestyle, I was especially excited to experiment!

This Baked Onion Chicken recipe is super simple to put together, but has so much flavor it’s hard to believe how easy it is. The entire recipe uses just 4 ingredients (5 if you count salt & pepper!) and has just 10 SmartPoints.5

The hardest part is coating the chicken, and if you make sure to let the extra egg wash drip off the chicken before adding it to the dry mix, as well as use a different utensil in the dry mix (again, so it stays dry) than you use for the egg wash, you should be good to go.

As it’s baking, the coating crisps up nicely so there’s good texture on the outside, while the center stays juicy and delicious.

I cut the chicken into strips and found the amount of coating to be just enough, especially if you ignore the last strip.

But feel free to cut into different shapes (chunks, thin sliced chicken breasts, chicken tenders, etc.) and adjust the ratios as you see fit. In any case, this dish should go over well with the whole family, and may just become part of your regular rotation.

Enjoy!

Print Recipe
4 Ingredient Baked Onion Chicken
This is a super simple, delicious way to change up your typical chicken recipe and make a dish that's so flavorful on it's own you don't need any dipping sauce! Serve over a salad, with oven baked fries, or with rice and veggies for a full meal. For those following Weight Watchers Freestyle, the full recipe has just 10 SmartPoints, so feel free to divide into however many servings you desire. Enjoy!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Servings
servings
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Servings
servings
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Get your coating station ready. First crush onion soup mix in the packet as best you can, then add to a shallow bowl with the bread crumbs, stirring until well combined. Add salt and pepper if desired. Then beat the eggs with a fork in a separate shallow bowl.
  3. One by one, coat the chicken strips! Take a piece of chicken and dip it in the egg mix, then let the excess drip off before dropping it into the bowl with of dry coating. Use a separate spoon to coat chicken in the dry mix, and then place the coated chicken on a lined baking sheet. Repeat process until all chicken strips are coated.
  4. Once oven is preheated, put the chicken in to bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping half way through. The chicken should be cooked through with a crispy coating while still juicy when you bite into it!
Recipe Notes
  • Options for tweaking this recipe include cutting the chicken into different shapes and adjusting the ratio of chicken to mix and baking time as appropriate; as well as using panko or seasoned breadcrumbs, and if you use seasoned, just omit the salt & pepper.
  • For coating the chicken, a fork in the egg wash and a spoon with the dry mix works best for me, plus making sure to let the excess egg wash drip off the chicken before adding it to the dry mix.

Thoughts on Weigh In Day, Plus Weigh In Results

When I first joined Weight Watchers and meant it back in March 2009, I chose Thursdays as my weigh in day and it worked pretty well for me that time around. I found that the weekdays were much easier for me to stay on track, so weighing in on Thursdays gave me enough time to make progress during the week, plus I had a regular leader/meeting I pseudo-liked on that day.

The downside was that I \found myself in a cycle where after my weigh in, I’d overdo it big time because not only was the weigh in behind me, but it was the start to the weekend. An indulgent Thursday lunch and/or happy hour would morph into a full weekend off track, and then inevitably Sunday night would come around and I’d be in a bit of a panic from how much I’d eaten during the weekend. I’d plan out my week and be really “good” with being on track so that I made up for the damage done (and then some), but it made the process a bit more frustrating than it probably needed to be.

This time around, one of the things I’m doing differently is experimenting with having Monday or Tuesday as my weigh in day, and it seems to be working really well. I find that the weekdays are still easier for me to stay on track, even after weighing in, and by the time the end of the week and weekend roll around now, my next weigh in is just a few days away, so it helps keep me accountable. I originally was set on having Mondays as the day, but I do tend to be a little more lax with the plan over the weekend, and am leaning more towards Tuesdays as my regular weigh in day. Tuesdays give me a bit of a balance – one or two days fully on track post weekend before weighing in, but still early enough during the week where I won’t run into the issue with my weigh in day overlapping with the start of the weekend.

Weigh In Results

And now, for the weigh in results. I rejoined Weight Watchers on October 30, so it’s been just over 5 weeks following the SmartPoints plan (which is now WW Freestyle, and I’m slightly obsessed). I saw a big loss of 6.8 pounds with my first weigh in, with a small gain of .8 pounds at the next weigh in, meaning I went into vacation down 6 pounds from the start.

As I mentioned in my last weigh in post, I wanted to be mindful during my trip to Antigua, but also to enjoy myself and not be obsessive, and I did a really good job striking that balance. I was really active when we were there and snorkeled every single day for at least an hour, plus walked a ton. We also ate a lot of fish, cooked at the villa most of the time, and I didn’t drink that much which was not intentional, but I’m sure helped. I committed to myself that I’d weigh in the week I got back from my trip even if it wasn’t pretty, and I’m proud to say that I weighed in last Tuesday and was actually down 3.8 pounds (over the two weeks), bringing my total loss up to 9.8 pounds!

After the weigh in, I was super motivated to stay on track to pass the 10 pound threshold, and then came down with a really bad cold that I went to the doctor for on Thursday, and it turned out I had an ear, sinus, and upper respiratory infection and needed to go on strong antibiotics to kick it to the curb. That actually made the weekend super easy to stay on track since I wasn’t doing much except resting and eating soup, so when I went in for my weigh in yesterday, I was pretty excited to hit not just the 10 pound mark but also my first 5%, with a weekly loss of 2.6 pounds (!), bringing my total to 12.4 pounds down in just over 5 weeks on the program. (As an FYI, this is a higher rate of weight loss than I expect long-term, as WW recommends an average of .5 to 2 pounds per week.)

I was given a keychain plus 3 charms for hitting all those milestones, and I’ve gotta say, I’m pretty proud of myself for being so committed to my goal before the start of the New Year. It feels so good to have shed over 10 pounds and makes me feel really confident going into the holidays. These results are just what I needed to stay motivated to keep going and make more progress before 2018, with just 3 weigh-ins left for the rest of the year!

First Impressions: Weight Watchers Freestyle

Hey guys! Yesterday the new WW plan rolled out, Weight Watchers Freestyle, which is basically an extension of SmartPoints (SPs), with a few tweaks that I am pretty excited about. If you’re a WW member, everything will update on your weigh in day (and unfortunately they’ve freezed Weigh In Day changes this week while the new program rolls out, so you really do have to wait). Emily from Emily Bites wrote a great overview of the changes to the plan (and has had more time to digest, so her review is more thorough!), but I thought I’d share my take on the biggest program changes.

1.) Weight Watchers Freestyle adds a bunch of new zero point foods.

Previously, it was just fruits, veggies, and some random flavors (think salsa, vinegar, herbs, etc.) that made the cut of zero point foods. I remember when that change first came to be and we were all freaking out over bananas being zero points rather than 2 points. There were of course some doubters saying “How can they be zero points when they still have calories!?” and many of us came to realize it was never bananas that were making us fat in the first place. Now, in addition to all those “free” foods, they’ve added a bunch of lean protein options to the list, and here are the new additions I’m most excited about:

  • Eggs (including the yolk!!)
  • Beans (including black, refried, chickpeas, etc!!!)
  • Fish and Shellfish (including Sashimi!)
  • Tofu (any kind)
  • Nonfat Plain Yogurt (greek or regular)
  • Chicken Breast
  • Turkey
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Edamame

For someone like me who struggles with rules, these new additions are a very welcome change to the program, because it gives flexibility with what you can eat when you’re out of points for the day. Before, I may have chowed down on a copious amount of fruit while still not feeling satisfied because there wasn’t any protein, but now I can have a legit satisfying meal with ZERO SPs. Some meals I’m super excited about creating zero point versions of:

  • Egg Muffins (these ones are zero if you omit the cheese!)
  • Turkey Chili (Ground turkey, onion, bell peppers, beans, Rotel, chili seasonings, plus corn and black beans if I feel like it!!!)
  • White Bean Chicken Chili (Ground chicken, white beans, garlic, onion, seasonings)
  • Curried Chicken Salad (using chicken breast, grapes, onions, greek yogurt and curry powder)

2.) The Daily Points have adjusted (gone down) to account for the new Zero SmartPoint foods.

Mine went from 31 to 23. Losing 8 SPs made me cringe for a bit at first, but when I reframed my thinking to see it as a way to eat exactly the same amount as long as I included at least 8 SPs from the “new” zero point list, it made me feel a lot better about it. For example, looking at A Day of Eats: What 31 SmartPoints Looks Like, there are 4 SPs from the eggs in the morning, 3 SPs from the lean ground turkey bolognese (1 for oil), and 2 SPs from the salmon for dinner would take away 9 SPs from the daily total (and I also will probably switch to nonfat greek yogurt over the 2% because it’s just too tempting, which would take away another 2 SPs for 11 less for the day). And, like I noted above, it’s now pretty easy to come up with a zero SP meal that’s satisfying if I do run out of SPs for the day, so overall I’m feeling good about this change, too.

3.) We can now rollover up to 4 SmartPoints a day into our weekly points.

This, I love. And, I think it makes sense given how many foods are on the zero point list. It used to be that you had to eat all your daily points… or else! And considering many of the foods that satisfy did cost SPs, it made sense that this was the case. Now, I think there’s an opportunity to make the plan work for us even more, which is especially awesome given the time of year. Planning is one of the key things that makes anyone successful on Weight Watchers (or in life, really), and being able to carry points over may make some of us plan our weeks out a bit more when we know events, celebrations, and/or challenges are coming up.

Today is my very first day on Weight Watchers Freestyle, so I’m still learning the program and will see how these changes on paper play out in real life as I go. Overall, I’ve been really loving the SmartPoints program, and have been having a lot of success with it, but these changes make me even more excited about the program.

20 Best Healthy Aldi Finds (With SmartPoints & Calories)

I absolutely LOVE grocery shopping, which I know makes me pretty weird by some standards. That aside, Aldi is one of the grocery stores I’ve only recently discovered, and I’ve been going about once a month to stock up since the prices are so much less, though it’s a bit far from me to be my go-to grocery store. I put together a list of my top 20 healthy Aldi finds and have included SmartPoints and calories per serving below so you can look out for these items next time you go if you’re interested. Please let me know what other healthy items you’ve found at Aldi that I’ve left off this list in the comments. Enjoy!

SimplyNature Peanut Butter Powder with Cocoa (1 SP | 40 cals)
SimplyNature Green Pea Crisps (3 SP | 120 cals)
Earth Grown Veggie Burger (3 SP | 90 cals)
Friendly Farms Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (1 SP | 30 cals)
Fit&Active Shredded Cheese in Mozz (2 SP | 70 cals) Cheddar (3 SP | 90 cals) or Four Cheese Mexican Blend (3 SP | 90 cals)
Fit&Active Turkey Bacon (1 SP | 25 cals)
Fit&Active Fresh Ground Turkey (3 SP | 160 cals)
Fit&Active Fresh Ground Turkey (3 SP | 160 cals)
SimplyNature Free Range Chicken Broth (0 SPs | 5 cals)
SimplyNature Unsweetened Apple Sauce (0 SPs | 50 cals)
Little Salad Bar Layered Dip (2 SPs | 30 cals)
Never Any! Spinach & Feta Chicken Sausage (4 SP | 140 cals)
Never Any! Uncured Black Forest Ham (1 SP | 60 cals)
Appleton Farms Breakfast Ham Slices (1 SP | 60 cals)
Fit&Active Flatbread Multi-Grain with Flax (2 SP | 100 cals)
L’Oven Fresh Sandwich Skinnys (3 SP | 100 cals)
Rice Cakes in Lightly Salted (1 SP | 40 cals) or Caramel Corn (2 SP | 50 cals)
Milleville Rice Squares (3 SP | 100 cals)
Northern Catch Wild Alaska Pink Salmon (2 SP | 90 cals)
Souther Grove Pistachios (4 SP | 120 cals)

A Tropical Thanksgiving: Antigua 2017 Recap

2017 was the first Thanksgiving of my life where I didn’t eat turkey for dinner, and I have to say, it was probably my best one yet. My dad’s 70th birthday was in August, and for this monumental birthday, he wanted to have the whole family together on vacation over Thanksgiving. We originally rented a villa in Anguilla (hey, that rhymes!), but had to shift gears after the hurricanes wrecked havoc on the Caribbean, and somehow Antigua made it through unscathed.

There were 12 of us total – my folks, me and John, both my sisters, their husbands, and their four (total) kids. If I’m being honest, I was a liiiiiiiittle nervous about having the entire family under one roof for a whole week for the first time in… years. We’re all pretty intense and 12 people, including 4 kids between 2 and 10, is a lot, but everyone got along really well and it was one of the best vacations I’ve been on!

To start, the villa we stayed at, Perfect Sunshine, was absolutely breathtaking. Here’s the view from the back porch, looking out over our private (!) infinity pool and the resort itself.

And this is was view from the back balcony every.single.night.

Another reason I loved this trip so much was that John and I went snorkeling every day while we were there, and saw some pretty cool stuff!

The island itself has 365 (!) beaches, and we made the rounds visiting quite a few during our stay.

One of the other really fun things we did was take a sunset cruise, which was actually my and my sisters’ gift to my parents, and we spent about 4 hours cruising around on a private catamaran.

And then when the sun started to set it was hard not to be mesmerized by the view.

The one downside, and I’m not even sure I’d call it that, was that food was REALLY expensive in Antigua. We cooked breakfast at the villa each morning (and by “we”, I mean my sister Wendy) and for the most part ate one meal out per day and cooked the other at home. We had some great meals out, including lunch at the Beach Bum Bar & Grill (times two).

Lunch at Papa’s By the Sea (side note: it’s REALLY hard to take a selfie and get 12 people in the photo. This was my best try…)

And probably my favorite meal of the trip – a whole red snapper grilled with garlic butter, plus fries, veggies and salad on the side from OJ’s Bar & Restaurant.

The only other thing that was less than ideal were the roads in Antigua. I’ve traveled in the Caribbean quite a bit and there’s usually potholes and narrow roads, but Antigua took it to a whole different level. The roads were so narrow it didn’t feel like two cars could get through side by side, and cars were randomly parked on the side of the narrow streets all over the place. Our villa was a bit isolated so we had to drive about 45 minutes to get to the other side of the island, and it was really intense each time. We ended up on a few dirt roads that were mostly just potholes on top of each other and I definitely considered getting out of the car and walking a time or two.

The best part of the trip was getting to spend solid quality time with my family, which is much rarer than I’d like it to be these days. I remember when I first got out of college and went home for the holidays and was shocked that I only got one day for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It felt like it was time to head back to DC/get into work mode before I’d even realized the holiday was upon us, and that’s continued to be one of the things I struggle the most with in terms of adulting.

The upside to that is it makes times like these that much more precious.

Who knew I was such a sap!?

10 Healthy & Easy Recipe Ideas Using Canned Black Beans

Canned black beans are one of my favorite pantry ingredients because they’re delicious, healthy, and versatile. Since I’m always experimenting with them, I thought I’d put together a list of quick, healthy, and easy recipe ideas to keep from get bored with this pantry staple. You’ll see that a lot of these call on the same flavor combinations, which is the way I like to approach cooking — by learning key flavors that work together and then using them in different combinations to keep it interesting. Let’s dive right in – my 10 favorite ways to use black beans. Enjoy!

1.) Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger – Veggie burgers are one of my favorites, and while I still like to buy the frozen kind, making them at home is super simple too. One of my favorites involves just 3 ingredients – cooked sweet potato, black beans, and bread crumbs. You can experiment with the ratios here but I like to do 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup sweet potato, and 1 tbsp bread crumbs per patty, which works out to be 4 SmartPoints. These also freeze really well!

2.) Roasted Black Beans – By now, everyone has heard of roasted chickpeas, right? Did you know you can do the same thing with a can of black beans? Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, drain, rinse, and dry off the beans, then drizzle some olive oil and spices over them and bake for 20 minutes until they start to pop, stirring half way through. My favorite spice combo with these is chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

3.) Black Bean Soup – This is a super quick and easy weeknight meal, or great for lunches during the week. I’ll use 2 cans of black beans (not drained), 1 cup of veggie stock, and 1 can of diced tomatoes with chiles (Rotel). Combine everything in a pot and bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Once finished cooking, use an immersion blender or a regular blender until desired consistency.

4.) Black Bean Dip – I’ve been using this Weight Watchers recipe for years, and it’s super simple with just canned black beans, salsa, yogurt, cilantro, cumin & salt. The hardest part of this recipe is a tie between opening the can of beans and then cleaning whatever you use to combine the ingredients. This is great with veggies and/or tortilla chips, and if you have any leftover, you can use it in place of mayo/mustard on a sandwich and it adds great flavor!

5.) Black Beans & Rice – A lot of times I’ll cook rice according to package directions, and then stir a can of rinsed and dried black beans directly into it. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll also stir sauteed onion, cilantro, and lime juice into the mix (plus salt and pepper, always!). This is great on it’s own, or over salad, or topped with a fried egg, salsa, and/or chopped avocado.

6.) Chilled Black Bean Salad – Combine rinsed and drained black beans with chopped veggies of choice – my favs are tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, corn and cilantro (which is an herb not a veggie but hey) – plus a squeeze of fresh lime and salt. You can also add in olive oil if you like, or any cooked grain (like rice, couscous or quinoa) to round it out.

7.) Black Bean Pizza – For a quick lunch or dinner, I’ll mash up black beans with salt and lime and use it in place of sauce on a homemade pizza. I’ll usually do it on a tortilla or an english muffin, but you can use regular pizza crust too. Then I’ll add diced tomatoes, corn, red onion, and chicken, before sprinkling shredded cheese (cheddar or mozz for me!) over the top and baking or toasting.

8.) Black Beans over Sweet Potato – This is one of my favorite combinations and something so easy to throw together, especially if you have leftover sweet potatoes. If not, you can poke a few holes in the sweet potato with a fork and microwave on high for 10ish minutes until it’s cooked through. You can use the black beans as is out of the can, or you can mix them with tomatoes, cumin and salt. Garnish with sour cream and/or cilantro if you want to take it up a notch!

9.) Mexican Egg MuffinsFull recipe here, but these are delicious egg muffins filled with with black beans, pepper and onions, salsa and cheese. Made with the exact quanities in the posted recipe, this works out to 2 SmartPoints per egg muffin, which is a steal with how much flavor these have.

10.) Black Bean Tacos – I use 1 can of black beans, red onion, cilantro, cumin, and salt and mash it together with a fork or spoon for the taco filling. I’ll heat corn tortillas in a pan and add the black bean filling, and then top it with shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa, and/or sour cream. So good and easy. This is great to bring as a vegetarian option alongside ground beef or turkey on a DIY taco spread.

Two Weeks on SmartPoints: Takeaways & A Gain

I may have been stretching the truth when I said I was just looking to maintain this week after having such a big loss my first week following Weight Watchers’ SmartPoints. Truth be told, I was obviously hoping to lose again, so when I went in yesterday to step on the scale, I was pretty disappointed to see that I’d gained .8 pounds. I started to pout, but forced myself to stop when I looked down and saw that I’ve still lost 6 pounds total from the start, which averages to 3 pounds a week, aka more than I should get used to losing. And, before stepping on the scale, I’d walked in feeling pretty good about the week. So, rather than mope, I thought I’d share some takeaways from my first two weeks back on SmartPoints.

  1. Losing weight is hard! Even though I’m more familiar with this concept than I’d like to be, switching back into weight loss mode these past few weeks has reminded me just how hard it is. Every single day I’ve found myself having to make unexpected food-related decisions, like whether to take the free sample of fried chicken at the food truck (I did, and it was delicious for 1 SP which maybe should have been 2) or a treat from the tray that was passed around at a work meeting (I didn’t, and kept picturing everyone’s dirty hands all over them any time I considered going back on that). It’s just in your face all the time, and makes it much harder to stick with your plan than if there weren’t temptations at every turn.
  2. It really is a good idea to look up the SmartPoints value before I eat something, just so I know. Especially as I’m adjusting to the new system, seeing the high SP value of certain foods (ahem, anything with sugar) really makes me consider if it’s worth it when I do it on the front end.
  3. If I know I’m going to have something pretty point-y (see #2), adding it to the day before so it comes out of my weeklies instead of out of my dailies helps me stay on track. There’s something disheartening about seeing your daily SmartPoints dwindle, especially if you have a treat earlier in the day. I’ve found that even though it doesn’t make a difference except in my head, I’m able to stay on track after the “treat” better when it hasn’t blown my whole day of SmartPoints.
  4. Social gatherings and weekends are still my biggest challenges. I am really good and on track during the week, but having less structure on the weekends and alcohol during social gatherings, definitely makes it harder for me to stay on track. One thing I used to do that I’ve considered reintroducing, is dedicating my weeklies to the weekend in chunks. So, since I get 42 weeklies, I’d give myself 20 extra for Friday night (or Thursday night, or whichever other night I had something coming up) and 20 extra for Saturday, which made it feel like I still had some flexibility to indulge but gave me a good framework to limit myself. Again, just a mind trick, but whatever works, right?
  5. I don’t mind having the same few things for breakfast every day. I’ve found myself having the same two things for breakfast almost every day — either eggs or oatmeal — and I don’t get tired of it. I usually have hard boiled or fried eggs with veggies and toast, or steel cut oatmeal with cottage cheese and fruit, or with spinach, cheese, and egg for something savory. I look forward to those same things each morning and don’t mind having the same exact variation day after day.
  6. I do mind when it comes to lunch (and dinner). I’ve gone two days in a row having leftovers for lunch and can barely make it through the second day (third serving). I’m trying to overcome this without having to go crazy cooking by rotating what I’m having for lunch so I don’t have the same leftovers more than two days in a row. It seems to be working!
  7. “Free” fruits and veggies definitely makes me eat more of them than I would otherwise. Shifting into the SmartPoints budget mindset makes fruits and veggies being 0 SPs that much more appealing. I’ve found myself eating 2-3 servings of fruit and 4-6 servings of veggies most days, which is much more than I’d been having pre-recommitting to WW. I’ve been eating lots of frozen berries and bananas from the grocery store, plus honeycrisp apples, baby spinach, onions, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli from the farmer’s market.
  8. There’s something refreshing about seeing my renewed daily SmartPoints budget at the top of the WW app each morning. You always hear “everyday is a new day!” but those refreshed dailies really drive home that point, especially if I’ve gone a little overboard the day before.
  9. Even just weeks committed to a new regimen can make a big difference in how you feel. I’m sure there’s a bunch of factors contributing to this (see you Saturday, Antigua!), but I definitely feel GOOD and like I’ve had extra pep in my step these last couple weeks.

Since I leave for vacation on Saturday, I won’t weigh in again until I’m back from the trip. My plan is to enjoy my vacation and not be obsessive about WW or let it prevent me from enjoying myself, but I do want to try to be mindful about what I’m eating and make an effort to be active. In an ideal world, I’d see a loss on the scale, but I realize it’s pretty ambitious since I’ll be traveling, so I won’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. Onto the next!

A Day of Eats: What 31 SmartPoints Looks Like

I thought it’d be fun to share what 31 SmartPoints (SPs) looks like spread throughout the day, since I’m always curious myself to see how other people eat. After having such a great first week on the program, the only downside is that I went from 32 SPs down to 31. Luckily, 30 SPs is the lowest anyone gets in a day, so I shouldn’t have to cut down too much more from here. Without further ado, here’s my full day of eats!

9AM: 2 scrambled eggs (4 SPs) with cherry tomatoes (0 SPs) from the farmer’s market.

I’ll usually have an english muffin or toast on the side, but yesterday I didn’t so I had a small snack at 11am of 2 mandarins and 10 almonds (2 SPs), plus an apricot LaCroix (my FAVORITE), bringing the day’s total up to 6 SPs.Around 1:30pm I had leftovers for lunch, which was spaghetti squash (0 SPs) with turkey bolognese (4 SPs) and shredded mozzarella (2 SPs), adding up to 12 SPs for the day so far.Around 4pm I had another snack consisting of 1/2 cup of Cheerios (1 SP) and 1/2 cup 2% plain greek yogurt (2 SPs) plus blueberries (0 SPs), bringing the day to 15 SPs.

Dinner was at 7 and started with a cup of Potato Leek Soup (4 SPs)

And rounded out with 4 oz sockeye salmon (2 SPs), roasted broccoli (0 SP), and a medium baked potato (5 SPs) with 2 tablespoons light sour cream (2 SPs), bringing the day to 28  SPs.

I always like to have a little something sweet to end the day, and this week I’ve been slicing and freezing bananas (0 SP), and then drizzling 1 tablespoon of melted semisweet chocolate chips (3 SPs) over it. I like to use the mini semisweet chips if I can find ’em because I get more bang for my buck that way!

And that, my friends, is what 31 SmartPoints looks like!

A Week on SmartPoints: The Good, The Bad & The Weigh-In

Yesterday marked my first full week on the Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale plan, and overall I’m really digging SmartPoints (SP). I’ve written about several of the Weight Watchers plans over the years, including:

But since rumor on the street has it that a new plan will be rolling out in the next few weeks (rumors are discussed here), rather than go into the nitty gritty details, I’ll just share five things that stuck out to me from this first week.

  1. SmartPoints seems more in line with the latest nutritional research, steering us towards foods lower in sugar and higher in protein. It seems like it’s a lot harder to “cheat the system” that it has been on earlier iterations of WW.
  2. I love that there’s a focus… beyond the scale, including thinking about (& writing down!) why you’re trying to lose weight at the beginning and setting non-scale related goals for yourself in addition to weight goals as you go along.
  3. I really miss the Healthy Living Guidelines tracker. I used to love checking off each cup of water and fruit and veggie as I ate it. (Can you tell I’m Type A much??) I’m not sure why they removed this feature, perhaps to simplify the program and not overwhelm those of us who don’t like having to check boxes, but I wish it was an option because I miss it!
  4. I’m a lot less impressed with the format for the Weight Watchers Weekly. It seems like there’s a lot less information and a lot of repetition from week to week. For example, each week uses a full page to talk about reframing your thinking, and the examples they give are just… dumb. This week’s topic was “Use Your Beans” and it did include one recipe, but it seemed like the rest of it was trying to convince me that beans are a good source of protein and alternative to meat… I’m convinced, now give me something useful!
  5. I love that fruits and veggies are still no points, and that they figured out how to tweak the Recipe Builder so that when you create recipes, fruits and veggies aren’t counting against you like they did before.

So, there’s definitely more things I like about SmartPoints than I dislike, and overall my first week went really well! I get 32 SmartPoints per day and 42 per week, and this first week I ate them ALL. I am actually really enjoying tracking again and have gone to town with the scanner at the grocery store. The week itself was pretty low key and easy to be on plan since I was mostly cooking at home, but then I had a bunch of social stuff over the weekend which is always more challenging. But, I tracked everything I ate, tried to make good decisions for the most part, and felt pretty in control.

So, when I went in yesterday for my weigh in, I was feeling pretty confident that I’d lost, but wasn’t sure what to expect numbers wise. I was quite pleased when I stepped up on the scale and was down 6.8 pounds!! I am obviously SUPER happy with this result, but I know most of it is probably water weight, so my goal for next week is to just maintain the loss from this week. Onwards!

One of the things I am excited to dive into this week is Connect on the WW app! For those on WW, any tips or insights on how best to use it?

The Real Reasons Why

For a good part of the last year or so, I’ve been wanting to focus on getting healthier and losing weight, but with so many changes and health issues along the way, I just haven’t made progress in the ways I was hoping to by now. And somehow, it’s already November and 2017 is almost behind us (thank GOD for that though), which is really hard to believe. Since I feel like I’ve stepped out of the fog hanging over the last several months, rather than letting a few more slip away with no progress, this week, I decided to rejoin Weight Watchers. And while I’ve joined a few times over the last couple years here and there, this time it feels different. I think I’m just ready to commit to making my health a priority again, and have the bandwidth to focus on it for the first time in a while.

One of the things I love about the Beyond the Scale Weight Watchers program is the whole “beyond the scale” part. At the beginning when you sign up and weigh in for the first time, they have you to take a few minutes to write why you want to lose weight. The receptionist actually had me write something down right then, which I think is good because it forces you to think about it. They say the more specific and detailed you can be the better because then you can start to visualize it, which can be pretty powerful, especially in moments of weakness.

After leaving the meeting, I’ve been thinking more about all the whys – why do I want to lose weight in general, why Weight Watchers again, why right now – and thought I’d share what I came up with. It’s really easy to list off surface level reasons, so I forced myself to dig a bit deeper with each.

  1. I don’t want to be back to the “before” and I’m terrified that’s the direction I’m heading if I don’t make some changes.
  2. Weight loss is mostly related to what I put into my body, which is something that’s totally within my control. Lately, so many things have felt outside my control, especially related to my back issues, so I’m looking forward to focusing on something where the outcome is completely up to me.
  3. I want to get excited when I see someone has tagged a picture of me on social media, rather than be filled with dread for how bad I might look in the picture.
  4. I’m currently a size 12, which is towards the top end of the range of sizes regular clothing stores carry. I want to be able to shop at regular stores, not have to go to the back of the rack to pick the biggest size they carry, and to feel good when I try on the clothes.
  5. I want to feel proud of my body again. I worked so hard to lose all the weight last time, and I’m ashamed I’ve gained some of it back, especially after undergoing plastic surgery to memorialize my hard work.
  6. I want to wear a bikini with confidence again. I vividly remember the first time I ever wore a bikini in my entire life by myself at a public pool in DC, and how liberating it felt. I truly believe that people should wear whatever they’re comfortable in, and I’m at the point where I don’t feel comfortable bearing my stomach.
  7. I want to be comfortable changing in a locker room or in front of friends again, instead of turning towards a wall and doing it quickly in a panic or going into a private bathroom stall.
  8. My parents have a long list of health issues related to being overweight, and I’m at the age where those things aren’t too far off if I don’t get it under control. My dad had a heart attack at age 40 (!) and both my parents have struggled with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being prediabetic/Type II diabetes. I don’t want the same fate.
  9. Holidays are a really tough time to lose or maintain weight, so rather than let myself spiral out of control these next few months, I want to focus on taking care of myself and get a head start. Time goes by so fast, especially as we get older (it’s science!) so rather than let a few more weeks turn into a few more months, I’m starting now.

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