Thursday, September 22, 2011

Still not as great as Zumba

Everyone who knows me knows I love Lady Gaga, and Richard Simmons is quite a character. I have always got a kick out of Richard Simmon's excessively short shorts and his cheesy inspirational comments. Well, this Simmon's dance number is amusing, but it's not nearly as fun as Zumba! Lol.

September: Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Today, more than 23 million children and teenagers in the United States are obese or overweight. Health and medical experts are now labeling child obesity an epidemic.  Childhood obesity puts nearly one-third of America’s children at early risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke.  September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, giving elected officials, educators, physicians, and readers like you the opportunity to take a stand and fight childhood obesity. 

There are plenty of sources out there telling you how to raise your children. I don't have children of my own, so I feel I am in no position to tell you how to raise yours. However, I was definitely part of the child obesity statistics, and I can speak from personal experience.

Maple Shade Softball- 8 Years Old
As a child, I recall one moment on the scale in particular. In forth grade, we were doing a gymnastics unit in gym class. I was so excited because my younger sister was in gymnastics, and I was dying to try it. I'm not sure why, but before the tumbling unit, all the students were weighed. I stood in line patiently--  back when I was too young to have scale anxiety. The number on the scale still sticks with me... 146 pounds... I was 146 pounds in 4th grade?! Granted, I was about 5 foot tall, but still... I get sad thinking about it. That gym unit is when my weight was brought to my attention. I remember the gym teacher's surprise when she read the number on the scale; that's when I knew I wasn't like everyone else. When we finally got to the trampoline and tumbling activities I was so anxious to try, I recall the teacher telling me that I was too big-- she couldn't spot me doing a flip. I was crushed. At eight years old, I was "too big."

Growing up as "the fat kid" has really impacted who I am today. Growing up, there were a number of children that made my life hell as I was their target everyday for any weight-related insult, whether it was ridiculing the size of my lunch box or whether I packed a cookie for a snack. Their taunting continued until I graduated high school. I couldn't go to gym class without the girls reminding me about my weight with such comments as, "You need to call Jenny [Craig]!" or acting as though the ground was shaking when I walked past them. I still cannot forgive those girls for how terrible they made me feel.

Senior Year of High School
Now, despite losing 85 pounds, I still live with what I have labeled as "fat-phobia." For instance, I find myself determining if I'm the fattest person in the room. I cannot be the first in the buffet line and will never eat the last of something. I check the weight requirements on amusement rides, rafts, etc. I hate sitting in an aisle at a restaurant and feeling like I'm sticking out in people's way. I could go on and on. Looking back, I can't help but wonder what life would have been like growing up "average" sized. My mom tried-- I remember following whatever diet she went on. As a kid, I did Weight Watchers, tried Metabolife herbal supplements, and tons of other diets. I hated the word "diet." I remember when my mom forced me to cut chocolate and potato chips out of my diet. I lost 30 pounds in a summer! I was so proud of myself.  Unfortunately, that success was short lived. As I got older, I was gaining at least 20 pounds a summer. It wasn't until over halfway through college that I was so scared of the scale that I decided to make a change. At almost 250 pounds, I had had enough.

When I think back and wish my parents had done more to help me with my weight, I cannot help but struggle to come up with a solution. It's not easy once you get far enough into the problem. There's a new children's book out called, "Maggie goes on a Diet." It's meant to help children with weight issues. It's one approach, but this book is definitely not what I had in mind. Using the term "diet" with a child puts all kinds of body image pressures on them that they don't need. We should be teaching our kids healthy eating habits-- they should understand the concept of a "treat." We should limit TV/video game time to get them out of the house and playing. Get them involved in something active that they love, like sports, dance, biking, cheerleading, etc. Take them to the park instead of a movie. Treat them to toys or activities instead of food. There are tons of changes that could be made before the problem gets out of hand. I just wish I could save the 23 million obese children from the humiliation and pain I endured growing up. I wish I made the decision to  live a healthy life much sooner.

Thanks for listening today. Remember, you too can do your part to take a stand against childhood obesity. Help save our children.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Geocaching with DK Brownies

Thanks to Dan, we started a new hobby, geocaching! I was hesitant at first because I'm more of the "window shopping at premium stores I cannot afford" than "trudging through the woods" type. However, we started gradually by finding cache just off trails in the park before he convinced me to go bushwacking so far into the woods that we stumbled upon a tent community and started questioning if we were too lost to find our way out. Lol! Despite my fear of ticks, bugs, dirt, and all things outdoors, we have a great time. 

What is "geocaching?"
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

Where can I find geocache?
Geocache can be found all over the world. Cache may be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater, or on the side of a city street. I like geocaching because it takes us to places we've never been before. It has helped us explore many of our local parks. We found all 8 cache located in the Joe Palaia Park. Dan has navigated through the woods in Green Spaces behind a few of the local schools and even in the woods across the street from his Mom's house in Delran. To locate cache in your area, log on to the official website and create an account.   

What do I need to start?
Technically, starting can be as simple as using a smartphone (or GPS enabled device). Enthusiastic participants can use a professional GPS, personalized caches, and create their own geocaches for others to find. Personally, we started with the geocache application on our smartphones, some bug spray, and a few small items to place in the cache we found. Based on our travels so far, I highly recommend bug spray, outdoor shoes, pants, and a hat. We have encountered many thorns, mosquitoes, and plenty of mud while we  walking in the woods off trails (referred to as "bushwacking"), so I suggest dressing the part.

Remember to bring something to put in the first cache you find! If you don't have anything on you, etiquette asks that you leave a dollar. You're supposed to record your name in the log, take an item, leave an item of equal or greater value, put the cache back where you found it, and record the find on the official website. It's also helpful to bring a pen for the log because sometimes the cache is too small to hold a writing implement or the enclosed pen doesn't work.  

What can I expect to find?
For the most part, we've found our fair share of random junk. Inside the cache, it often looks like the prize counters at a Chuck E Cheese: pins, army men, small plastic toys, playing cards, poker chips, key chains, etc. However, some cache have trackable items ("travel bugs") that have traveled throughout the world, some with a specific destination in mind. We've come across items such as wine corks, business cards, travel bugs, a toy giraffe, a $30 silver spoon, sand dollars, personalized poker chips, and CDs/DVDs. We often leave items from previous cache or Magic Cards.

Mr. Bendy-- a travel bug Dan found that came all the way from Ireland

I want to make my own geocache for people to find. We've seen containers ranging from Mason jars and camouflaged mayo jars to store-bought geocache boxes, ammo cases, and nano containers disguised as a wad of chewing gum. We're just getting started with this hobby, and we have so much more to explore. Now, when we travel places, we find ourselves researching if there are an geocaches in the area. Plus, it is a great way for us to get some exercise and enjoy the fall-like weather. Recently we're walking miles as we wander from cache to cache in the large local parks.

Our geocache username is DK Brownies-- Find us on! If you decide to give it a try, we'd love to hear about your experience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekly Weigh-in!

After a few months away from the Weight Watchers program, I'm back on the bandwagon. I slipped off this weekend when we went out to eat, dinning on fried mozzarella balls, rigatoni with meatballs, and cookies with milk at Brando's and cheesesteak nachos and a fried chicken sandwiches at Chickie & Pete's. In my defense, I went to a yoga class, Zumba class, and geocached through the woods for hours last week. 

Overall, I lost 2 pounds! That's not bad for my first week back :)  Imagine the pounds I can lose this week if I count all my points, including on the weekends! I'm doing Zumba twice this week AND yoga. Here's to hoping for a three pound loss in the coming week!

Losing those two pounds put me back to where I was before I took a weight loss break for the bar exam. I've lost 85 pounds overall. I am 15 pounds away from 100 pounds!!! I cannot wait to lose those 15 pounds! It will be such an achievement. I'm 32 pounds away from a normal weight for my height (currently set as my goal weight). It's seems like such a small number in the grand scheme of things, but many people set out to lose that kind of weight from the start... I have a long way to go, but I've come too far to give up now. 

Zumba: More Fun than "Sweatin' to the Oldies"

On Saturday morning, I conjured up the guts to try Zumba. I had such a great time, and I can't wait to go back. In fact, I am going to try to rearrange my evening so I can go tonight AND on Saturday mornings. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with Zumba, it's a Latin-inspired dance fitness program. It reminded me of a modern version of the Jazzercise classes my mom did when I was a child. It took me back to when I used to do the Richard Simmon's "Sweatin' to the Oldies" videos with Mom, who was so embarrassed she made us pull the shades down when we did it. Mom, if you're reading this, you would love this workout and could dance to it without feeling ashamed for liking it. For me, Zumba was like dancing at the club. I knew about half the songs-- we warmed up to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem" and danced to Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," to name a few. If only the class incorporated my favorite song of the moment, Maroon 5's "Moves like Jagger," I'd be in heaven.

The dance moves took us from warm-up stretches and workout to cool down. You're always moving. There is lots of "booty popping," which acts like standing crunches for your abs while working your upper body, and hip rotations that make you feel sexy until you start to feel the burn. The combination of Latin-inspired moves and upbeat popular music makes it easy to forget that you're working out. However, according to my Polar heart rate monitor, I burned close to 700 calories that hour, and did it all with a big smile on my face. My favorite part was that I was dancing again. I swear I was born to dance-- I've been dancing since I was 3 or so and even won my fair share of dance-offs. You don't need to know how to dance to do Zumba, you just need to like dancing-- I love it, so I'm able to really get into the moves and see them for more than a workout.

Neptune Township is offering a variety of affordable activities to its residents this fall, including the Zumba class I attended provided by Jersey Shore Zumba. It's only $5 per session, which is such a great deal compared to the classes offered at local gyms. The classes are offered twice a week in the gym of the local elementary school. Carol, the instructor, keeps it fun and casual, so there is no pressure to get the steps perfect. The point is to move and have fun doing it. Zumba attracts people of all ages and sizes, and you don't need a dance background to keep up. I highly recommend that you visit the national Zumba website and locate a class near you. If you're in the Jersey Shore area, check out Jersey Shore Zumba to find out if Carol is offering a class near you. Maybe I'll see you there! I'll be the one in the front-center (like the good student I am) grooving to the songs (and singing along) like I'm at the club. Don't judge... lol. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cauliflower, it's what's for breakfast!

The other day, Dan and I made Gina's cauliflower fritters as a side dish to a mushroom risotto. I was trying to maintain a "vegetarian" dinner, but in hind site, it wasn't the best combination. However, we really enjoyed these cauliflower fritters. They taste a lot like a potato pancake, but they're made of cauliflower and are only 3 WW Points+ for two fritters! We topped them with ketchup and ate them like hash browns. 

The past few days, I've eaten the leftover fritters for breakfast as hash browns topped with egg beaters, some shredded cheese, and either ham or salsa. It's hard to believe that these fritters are so low in points because I feel so guilty eating them. Plus, it's a great way to get a vegetable in for breakfast!

If you're craving hash browns or potato pancakes, I high recommend trying Gina's cauliflower fritters. You can find the recipe here. I would suggest using frozen cauliflower that you cook until barely warm, rather than  fresh, to save time. 

Happy eating, everyone!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Need to Shop

Last night, I went to bed hungry. I was craving a cheeseburger or tacos (thanks to a late night Taco Bell commercial). It's the first time I've felt hungry in awhile. Then again, I haven't been hungry because I haven't been watching what I eat.  However, even when I eat healthy, I don't go hungry. I could have a piece of fruit if I had no points left or a light snack if I had the points. As we got ready for bed, I looked at Dan with big puppy dog eyes hoping he would give in and come along for a late night snack of greasy food. Thankfully, he didn't. 

I had used all my daily points and was still hungry. This tells me that I'm not eating the right foods, but I knew that. Sure, you can eat a serving of Pizza Rolls (6) for 5 WW Points+ for lunch, but it's not nearly as nutritious or filling as a veggie burger loaded with veggies and some baked chips on the side. I miss fruit and veggie snacks! I miss my Babybel cheese! I haven't been snacking these last few days because I don't have healthy snacks to munch on. I DO have bags of peanut and peanut butter M & Ms on my kitchen counter that wink at me when I walk by. 

I'm going to the grocery store tonight because following the WW Points Plus system can be difficult without having the right foods in the house. Here are some of the items I'm going to pick up to keep in my "dieting tool box:"
  • Apples
  • Special K Chips
  • Egg Beaters
  • Non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Hummus
  • Babybel cheese wheels
  • Baby carrots
  • Boca Burgers
  • Lorna Doone 100 Calorie Packs OR WhoNu cookies

Monday, September 12, 2011


You have GOT to be kidding me. 

Today, after breakfast, I decided I was going to start logging my points again. Despite trying to stay within my daily point allowance, I exceeded my daily point allowance by FOUR points!!! Stupid lunch! Last night, Dan and I made mushroom risotto. It took forever to make, but it was well worth the time. Like usual, we ate leftovers for lunch. Well, the same risotto that is 5.5 points (under the old system) is 11 points+!!! That is insane! Then, the "homemade" dressing by Good Seasons dressing I made had the same points for two tablespoons as a half of a cup of my favorite homemade bolognese sauce.Unbelievable... This is a great example of why it is so important to know the points for a dish before you eat it. This is also why the WW Points system works for me-- without assigning points to each of these items, I would have had no idea that a little salad dressing is as bad as my ENTREE!!! 

Better luck next time. Happy eating, everyone!

Picking myself back up again...

Not only have I not been blogging or counting points lately, but I've also stopped making good decisions as well: "Sure, I can eat peanut M&Ms for breakfast!" and "White Castle sounds like a great idea!" The buck stops here. I've been avoiding my scale. The number has climbed about four pounds, and I'm ready to find my zen again. I miss eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Top 10 signs it's time for me to get back to Weight Watchers:

  1. It's getting very difficult to chose the healthy option when we're out.
  2. I having serious body aches from lack of daily movement.
  3. I starting to I forget what nutritional facts are used to calculate PointsPlus.
  4. I've picked up Dan's habit of having dessert each night.
  5. I couldn'tt find my where I unpacked my heart rate monitor from the move in August. 
  6. There's nothing but dirty silverware in the dishwasher (in other words, I haven't cooked in ages).
  7. The produce drawer in the refrigerator is empty.
  8. I avoid the scale like it's the plague.
  9. I'm planning bike routes around my favorite bakery.
  10. I haven't had to buy new clothes in a long time.
Enough is enough. I just ate whopping 8 point breakfast, and I'm determined to stick to counting this week. Maybe I'll even hit the gym after dinner. One thing at a time...