Your Weight Loss Holiday Survival Guide & 15 Smart Points Appetizer Recipes!

lexitini

This time of year, there are so many cocktail parties, office potlucks, holiday dinners, dessert buffets and happy hours, it’s a miracle we survive without gaining weight!

Did you know the average American gains 1-2lbs during the holidays? I don’t know about you, but I must be an overachiever because I always gained at least 5lbs with all the junk I ate! 
In the spirit of “Let’s not do that this year!” and from a question posed by Michele P., I have developed the following 11 tips for handling these “grazing” situations. And below that, I’ve compiled links to 15 appetizer recipes (with their SmartPoints totals) from SkinnyTaste and Emily Bites. They’re sure to wow your friends & family, while helping keep YOU on track!

1. Eat before you go. If there are no healthy options, I’m going to eat something before I go and skip the food.

2. Bring something you can eat. When possible, I bring a platter of chilled, grilled veggies and a healthy Greek yogurt dipping sauce to share! If it’s a potluck meal and I feel comfortable, I just bring my own plate. 

3. Save your points. If I have a situation I know will be tough, I might consider eating very lightly, mostly 0SP fruit, veggies and maybe low SP seafood all day before the party to save my points. For example:

Breakfast

  • 1c. egg whites = 1SP

  • 1.5c sautéed kale, mushroom, onion, zucchini & fresh herbs = 0SP

  • 1 medium banana = 0SP

  • 12oz iced I fee, black = 0SP

Snacks

  • 1 medium apple = 0SP

  • 1c. cucumber & carrot sticks = 0SP

  • 12oz unsweetened iced tea = 0SP

Lunch

  • 8oz grilled shrimp = 3SP

  • 2c zucchini, red onion, yellow squash, broccoli in 2Tbsp stir fry sauce = 2SP

Snack

  • 2c. fruit salad = 0SP

  • Side salad with Marzetti Light Red Wine Vinaigrette = 1SP

And now you have at least 23SP (depending on your daily target) to enjoy your evening event!

4. Help the hostess. Every hostess loves that friend who helps clear, do dishes and clean up with her, so why not lend a hand? Since your hands will be busy and either dirty or soapy, there’s less impulse to snack mindlessly.  

5. Drink WATER! A great way to trick your brain (and stay hydrated) is to drink a glass of water before each course, trip through the holiday buffet, etc! 

6. Chew gum! Sounds crazy but you can’t eat a meatball (or three) with a stick of gum in your mouth!

7. Buffet Advice: Fill your dinner plate 1/2 full of healthy veggies or salad before you consider adding anything else! The same works with fresh fruit on the dessert table!

8. Move your butt! Whether you use your FitPoints or not, you will feel better if you exercise before and after eating heavy,  or processed snacks! 

9. Pick the item you want most to enjoy, and plan your meal around it! If you can’t miss Aunt Jane’s mac & cheese or Grandma’s pecan pie, plan ahead so you know (relatively) how many points it is, and build the rest of your meal around your remaining points!

10. Be accountable. Whatever you eat, track it or something like it as honestly as possible and get back on the horse tomorrow! 

BONUS: Why not offer to be the Designated Driver? The rate of drunk driving accidents (and arrests) goes up around the holidays, so why not make sure you and your party arrive alive, and volunteer to be the DD? 

*Thanks Saba, Jennifer, Beth & Chris and everyone else for your great tips!
Now, let’s talk about GREAT SP appetizers for all occasions:

Seafood:

This past weekend Mr. Big and I hosted a cocktail party, and one of the items I love to include is Shrimp & Dipping Sauce! The guests love a dipping sauce, I love low-SP shrimp as an option:
1a
Or one of those great recipes:
1
Shrimp Salad on Cucumber Slices
1SP
2
Hot & Cheesy Crab and Artichoke Dip
2SP
3
Steamed Clams with Fresh Basil
2SP

Vegetables or Vegetarian:

A crudité or veggie platter does not have to be boring! First, there’s always an option to spruce up your presentation:
2a
Second, why no serve chilled, grilled veggies with a Greek yogurt dipping sauce:
3a
Or you can try one of these fun veggie appetizer, which add a little pizzazz to your veggies:
4
Mushroom “Ceviche”
2SP
5
Zucchini Carpaccio
2SP
6
Spiralized Mediterranean Beet Salad with Mint
4SP

Baked Appetizers:

7
Baked Jalapeno Poppers
1SP
8
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Bites
3SP
9
Baked Eggplant Sticks
3SP

Vegetarian:

10
Cajun Roasted Chickpeas
3SP
11
Zucchini Tots
1SP
12
Cheesy Spinach Pinwheels
4SP

Meat Lovers:

13
1SP
14
3SP

15
2SP
So what about you? Do you have a fool-proof tip for surviving the holiday season, or a must-have appetizer recipe to share? I’d love it if you share in the comments section below! 

As always, stay tuned with what’s going on with Trading Cardio for Cosmos on Facebook for daily recipes, motivation and more!

Three Weeks On SmartPoints: 7-Day Menu Plan & Online Resources (Part 5 of 5)

Happy Friday! TGIF!

We are officially on Day 5, and Part 5 of our “Beyond the Scale” Rollout, and I’ve been completely blown away by the response to the series.

9 shot progress

I started blogging through my journey because I didn’t hear or read anyone who sounded like me. Come to find out, you’re all like me in some respect! It’s a wonderful feeling to know that no matter what you’re going through or working through, there’s a network of people who are working through similar things. There is SUCH strength in feeling like you’re not alone!

Next week the blog will still continue with 2-3x a day postings via our Trading Cardio for Cosmos Facebook page, so I encourage you to “like” it and stay connected. I’m planning to going back to long-format blogging once a week, or more if the spirit moves me! I welcome your questions, topic suggestions and thoughts!

NOW, let’s get into the good stuff. I’ve heard a lot this week that now certain foods are “off-limits” or restricted, or that people are feeling deprived. I think that’s a lot of fear and uncertainty about the unknown, or at least that’s what it was for me my first week on SmartPoints. Everything that was available to you before is still available to you today. You may have to adjust your other meals, snacks, etc to accommodate them, but you can have your cake and eat it, too.

I designed this 7-day menu (I know I said I was only going to 5, but I’man overachiever and thought you guys deserved all 7) to show how all of your favorites will still be possible: chinese takeout, wine, potatoes, toast, pasta, dessert, they’re all in here:

MONDAY

Breakfast
Quaker Oatmeal Cups Apples & Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal to go – 6SP
1 Hardboiled Egg – 2SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
1c. Carrrot & Zucchini sticks (raw) – 0SP
1.5c Grapes – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch
6 ounces sauteed shrimp – 3SP
2c Sauteed Zucchini, Squash, Green Leeks and Capers – 0SP
2Tbsp Parmesan Cheese – 2SP
Mixed greens with tomato – 0SP
2Tbsp Marzetti Red Wine Light Viniagrette – 1SP

PM Snacks
1c. Cucumber – 0SP
2oz Tzatziki Sauce – 2SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c. Skim Milk – 1SP

Dinner
6oz Captain’s Cut Cod – 1SP
4oz Shrimp – 2SP
1c Sauteed Kale with garlic, onion and 1 tsp olive oil – 1SP
1/2c Minute Brown Rice – 4SP
5oz White Wine – 4SP

30SP Total

(TACO) TUESDAY

Breakfast
2 Eggs – 4SP
1 Alfresco Chicken Sausage (Breakfast Patty) – 2SP
1.5c. Sauteed kale, onion, mushroom, zucchini & herbs-  0SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
Banana – 0SP
1.5c Grapes – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch
6 ounces grilled chicken – 4SP
1/2c Tomato-Caper Relish – 0SP
1c Roasted Broccoli – 0SP
Mixed greens with cucumber – 0SP
2Tbsp Marzetti Red Wine Light Viniagrette – 1SP

PM Snacks
WW String Cheese – 1SP
Honeycrisp Apple – 0SP
14 Almonds – 3SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c. Skim Milk – 1SP

Dinner
5 oz Ground Beef with Taco Seasoning – 7SP
1.5c Grilled Bell Peppers & Red Onion – 0SP
1c. Lettuce – 0SP
1/2c. Tomato – 0SP
1/2c. Homemade Salsa – 0SP
1oz Tortilla Chips – 4SP
2Tbsp Light Sour Cream – 2SP

30SP Total

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast
1c. Egg Whites – 1SP
1 Alfresco Chicken Sausage (Breakfast Patty) – 2SP
1.5c. Sauteed kale, onion, mushroom, zucchini & herbs – 0SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
Banana – 0SP
1.5c Grapes – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch
4 ounces grilled chicken – 3SP
Chop Salad with Mushrooms, Bell Pepper, 1/2c black beans and pico de gallo – 3SP
Cup Chicken Rice Soup – 3SP

PM Snacks
WW String Cheese – 1SP
Bartlett Pear – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c. Skim Milk – 1SP

Dinner
6oz Filet Mignon – 7SP
Sauteed Spinach with shallots garlic & 1 piece bacon – 2SP
Roasted Broccoli Spears – 0SP
7oz red wine – 6SP

30SP Total

THURSDAY

Breakfast
1c. Egg Whites – 1SP
1 Alfresco Chicken Sausage (Breakfast Patty) – 2SP
1.5c. Sauteed kale, onion, mushroom, zucchini & herbs – 0SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt with Chia Chewy Granola Bar – 5SP
1.5c Grapes – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch
5oz pork loin (cut into strips) – 5SP
2c. Stir Fry Veggies (peppers, onion, broccoli, water chestnuts) with 2tsp Garlic, Ginger, Soy Sauce & Sesame Oil – 2SP

PM Snacks
WW String Cheese – 1SP
Honeycrisp Apple – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c. Skim Milk – 1SP

Dinner
1/2 Whole Wheat Tandoori Naan Bread – 5SP
2oz mussel meat, 2oz clam meat, 6oz shrimp steamed in FF seafood stock, chopped tomato, garlic, shallots – 6SP
Mixed Greens with 1tsp olive oil, lemon juice – 1SP

30SP Total

FRIDAY

Breakfast
1c. Egg Whites – 1SP
1 Alfresco Chicken Sausage (Breakfast Patty) – 2SP
1.5c. Sauteed kale, onion, mushroom, zucchini & herbs – 0SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
1c. Cherry Tomatoes – 0SP
1.5c Grapes – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch – Chinese Takeout
2c. Egg Drop Soup – 4SP
Steamed 4oz. Chicken & Chinese Veggies – 2SP
1/4c Low Sodium Soy Sauce – 1SP

PM Snacks
2c. Fresh Fruit Salad – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c. Skim Milk – 1SP

Dinner
1c. Eggplant breaded with 3 Egg Whites & 1/4c. Panko – 3SP
1c. Tomato Sauce – 0SP
1oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – 3SP
1c. Spaghetti – 5SP
2Tbsp Parmesan Cheese – 2SP
Mixed Greens with 1tsp olive oil, lemon juice – 1SP
10oz Red Wine – 9SP
1/2c Sorbetto Classico Red Raspberry Sorbet – 5SP

30SP, 9WP Total

eekend.jpg

SATURDAY

Breakfast
2 eggs – 4P
4 slices Canadian Bacon – 1SP
2c. Fresh Fruit Salad – 0SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

AM Snacks
Banana – 0SP
Bartlett Pear – 0SP
8oz Coffee with 1/4c Skim Milk – 1SP

Lunch at Panera
1c. Panera Lowfat Chicken Noodle Soup – 3SP
1/2 Panera Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT on Sourdough – 6SP
12oz Iced Tea with Lemon – 0SP

PM Snacks
2c. Cucumbers and Celery Sticks – 0SP
4oz Tzatziki Sauce – 2SP

Dinner
6oz. Roasted Pork Loin with Sage, Garlic, Pepper and Kosher Salt – 7SP
1c. Roasted Asparagus with 1 tsp. Olive Oil – 1SP
3oz Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with 1tsp. olive oil – 3SP 
Mixed Greens with 1tsp olive oil, lemon juice – 1SP
10oz Red Wine – 9SP

30SP, 8WP Total

SUNDAY

AM Snacks
1 Granny Smith Apple – 0P
1 Banana – 0SP
1 Egg – 2SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

Sunday Brunch 
Two Poached Eggs with Wilted Spinach &  Toasted English Muffin – 8SP
3oz Roasted Potato with 1tsp Olive Oil – 3SP
10oz Champagne – 8SP
2oz Espresso – 0SP

PM Snacks
2c. Cold Roasted Mushrooms with Fresh Rosemary – 0SP

Dinner
8oz Dover Sole with 2tsp. Olive Oil – 6SP
1c. Melted Leeks with 1 tsp. Olive Oil – 1SP
1/2c. Brown Rice – 4SP 
Mixed Greens with 1tsp olive oil, lemon juice – 1SP
5oz Red Wine – 4SP

30SP, 7WP Total

So this menu utilizes a full 30SP each day, and another 24 Weekly Points. I hope it demonstrates that you can have your treats, your sweets and tons of variety in your menus!

IMG_8637-0

I was blessed to work with a number of other Food & Lifestyle Bloggers through the beta testing process, and I want to encourage you to check out their blogs. They have tons of new recipes, information about managing Starbucks on SmartPoints, stories about their own experiences and GREAT resources to help you succeed:

SkinnyTaste

Emily Bites

The Daily Mel

Pretty in Points

Simply Nourished Living

If you would like to go back and look at Parts 1-4 of my “Three Weeks With SmartPoints, please find them here:

Part 1: What I Learned

Part 2: Lets’s Talk Food

Part 3: Working on My FitPoints

Part 4: How Did You Do It?

As always, please join the conversation on Trading Cardio for Cosmos Facebook!

Three Weeks On Smart Points: How Did You Do It? (Part 4 of 5)

You guys! Holy. Cow. You broke my Internet yesterday!
In what has got to be one of the coolest moments of my weight loss journey, Weight Watchers shared this blog, and its Facebook page on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook yesterday.

And just as this was happening, I decided I probably needed to pony up the $18 to buy the website domain, and between that and the traffic to the site, they just could not keep up with your awesome-ness.

So you’ll find that we are moving to a new website, but we’re gonna stop that process until after this crazy week is over!

 

  

I don’t know about you, but this week has been hard. There are a lot of people who are very upset about the functionality of the website, the rollout of the plan and several other issues. But you know what? I think a lot of the angst is fear. 


Weight Watchers promised us that if we learned the PointsPlus program, we would lose weight. And we did! And now that system is gone, and we are afraid to go it alone. Except we are forgetting one key point: we are not alone! 

We have each other, and we continue to support and respect one another on our journey. 

We also still have Weight Watchers and a new and improved program! 

Just like before, WW is saying “Learn the program and you will lose weight!”

And all of the WW leaders and staff, the beta test group and I are living proof that it works! 

We learned or are learning the program, and we are losing weight. And so will you!



So today, we are going to talk about how to make it work.

I could go on and on about how the program works for me, but instead I’m going to give you 10 ideas that work for me, and you can ask questions you have, and I will do my best to answer them. Sound fair?


1. Just like when you were first starting out with WW, I strongly encourage you to take a sharpie marker and go and mark everything in your kitchen. Whether it ends up being 10SP or 0SP, mark it. The act of looking up all of these foods will make you more familiar with the app (and let’s hope to gosh it works), but it’s also going to show you food values for other items as you’re looking.


2. Go through your tracker, and figure out the SP values for everything you ate last week. Again, these are probably food you eat regularly, so knowing their point values is good.


3. Draw up a sample menu for next week and, (you guessed it), look up the point values for every food item and meal you are planning to eat. You can see where you will have to adjust and maybe eat more protein, have fruit instead of granola for a snack, or where you have points left over to enjoy glass of wine! And you can also plan ahead to ensure that you get all of those foods and treats that you really love.

*Tomorrow I am going to share a weeklong menu plan, and it includes eggplant parmesan, Chinese takeout, steak, pork stirfry, taco salad, three different kinds of breakfast, and room for a cocktail or desserts, too! 

4. Meal prep. My week is a standard Monday through Friday, so I do meal prep for my breakfast and at least half of my lunches on Sunday. I also bag up snacks, make sure I have enough bottled water for the week. These things help ensure that I have healthy choices readily available to me every day. 

  

5. Treat your “treats” like they are special. Some people love chocolate. Others love cake. Some very fabulous ladies love cosmos! *Wink wink* But one of the things that I am learning through BTS is that treats or splurges are not part of every day life. If you want to have a cupcake on the weekend, that’s great! Want to glass of wine with dinner? Awesome. But that doesn’t mean you have to have one of those items every day. Learning moderation is an important lesson in weight loss.


6. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Part of my program is trying out things I have not tried before. I eat a ton of seafood, but I have not eaten a lot of beans, legumes or meatless protein options. I’m going to work falafel into my menu next week. I also want to try quinoa, which I have never made at home. Before WW, I didn’t like spicy food, and now include it several times a week. I didn’t like squash or carrots before PointsPlus and now I eat both. I am excited to see what new food I will try and love next!


7.Consider alternatives to making your favorite meals more healthy, and more SP-friendly. For example:

  • Instead of a Venti latte, try a Tall latte with a banana.
  • Instead of a whole serving of cookies or cake, try half a serving and some fresh berries.
  • Instead of fruit-flavored yogurt, try plain nonfat Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.
  • Add kale (oh, how I love me some kale), mushrooms and other high-protein veggies to your veggie omelettes, lunches and even snacks! 


8. Move your body. I cannot underscore the importance of exercise. I know we’re all upset and unsure with the move to FitPoints, but our anxiety isn’t healthy and exercise is our best anti-anxiety and anti-depressant! Those endorphins are our best defense against stress eating!

  

9. Make the program your own. I’ve decided I’m keeping my Good Healthy Guidelines because the hydration and the healthy oil are good for me. I’ve also decided to experiment and test out eating the FitPoints I earn over my weekly target. The program works when we work it, so let’s make it work for us!


10. Be kind to yourself. Most importantly, each and every day, is encouraging yourself, being kind to yourself and patient with yourself. 

  

You have undertaken a journey to lose weight, get healthy and change some things you don’t like about yourself. It’s incredibly personal, it leaves us feeling vulnerable, and the best thing we can do to help ourselves is love ourselves.

Give yourself time to read and learn the plan. Give your body time to get adjusted. And give yourself a hug from me. You’re worth it!

  

Now, do you have questions I can help with? LMK in the comments or by visiting Trading Cardio for Cosmos on Facebook!




Three Weeks on SmartPoints: Working on My FitPoints (Part 3 of 5)

Happy Wednesday! How are you doing with the third day of #SmartPoints?
I am 3.5 weeks into SmartPoints, and I can tell you that I do not have it all worked out yet, so if you don’t either, it is OK! My breakfast and lunch are so low in SPs that I am finding myself hungry in the late morning and hungry in the late afternoon, which never happens to me.
Also, I’m ending up with about 16-18 points left at dinner time, which is never good. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about having a glass of wine with dinner, but I need to work on menu plans that distributes my points a little more evenly throughout the day so I’m not hungry!
But today is not about the food, at least directly. Today we are going to work on our fitness!
A little background for those of you who may not know me already:


The whole reason I started blogging with the name “Trading Cardio for Cosmos” was that I viewed my body like a bank account. Deposit some exercise, and feel free to withdraw some points for cosmopolitans! Because of my active social life, I found that trading my activity points for my weekend splurges was like my own little system of checks and balances.


When I started out my weight loss journey in November 2014, I could not walk up stairs without becoming winded. I was always hot, and I felt like my skin and my body was stuffed and stretched to the limit. Imagine the shame and humiliation that comes with not being able to do the things you should definitely be able to do at 32 years old.
So when I embarked on an exercise routine, I knew that my best chance for success would be to start small and gradually build up. I knew if I went out guns blazing, I’d end up pulling a muscle, hurting myself and not following through on my exercise routine.
The first week, I biked for half hour, and then I walked a mile on the treadmill. I did that for four days. The next week I added a little resistance to each of those pieces. After that I went a little faster, and finally I came to find my love, my favorite place in the gym: the elliptical.


I know tons of people who would preferred to lift weights, circuit train or bike, but I love the elliptical. 


When I started out I was doing just 10 minutes. One year later, I do 45 minutes to an hour, running hill intervals on a level eight. If that sounds like gobbledygook to you, it means I run up and down hills fast, for an hour.


Today I enjoy a variety of activities, mostly to see what I can push my body to do. I love Bikram yoga, I’ve taken a number of Aqua Tabata classes, and I have learned I am not coordinated enough to manage Zumba. LOL
But most of the time, it is me and Planet Fitness. I was definitely slow to the circuit training, but now my week routine looks like:

3 nights per week of 45 minutes = one hour cardio, be it elliptical, StairClimber or bike.

2 nights per week of 30 minutes cardio, and 30 minutes circuit training.

As a method of scale, I earned roughly 80–90 activity points a week under Points Plus.
So what happens to the concept of trading cardio for cosmos when we move to fit points? The shortest answer is “I don’t know.”
:::Cue sad music:::
What are FitPoints?

FitPoints are the modern day, new program equivalent of Activity Points. But, you earn many more FitPoints then you would have Activity Points. For example, a half hour of elliptical at a high intensity would have gotten me six Activity Points, but nets me 11 FitPoints.
FitPoints are cool because they are The next aspect of the program to be customized by the user and the user’s age, gender, activity level and goals. From there you receive a baseline, which tells you how many points you should try to achieve each day.
I am incredibly active, so my plan has me striving to earned nine points per day. This can be achieved by walking 9000 steps, or one half hour of moderate impact cardio each day.
I like the idea that my goal is specific to my person, my goals and my activity level, but here’s the twist:
Weight Watchers is no longer encouraging you to swap your points for smart points. Weight Watchers is moving the program to the idea that you should be exercising for The benefits of exercise, not simply to swap for more food or cosmos.
:: Cue the really sad music.::
I understand this rationale, because when people are intends on their weight-loss journey, they often are all so intense in their fitness. And when you are attending the gym regularly, you can eat more junk, or at least more food, because you are burning it off. It is definitely more sustainable weight loss if we don’t swap the FitPoints for SmartPoints.
Now, with that said, I’m going to be a little bit of a rebel and tell you, “I’m still gonna eat them!”
Just because you are discouraged from eating them, does not mean you will not be able to do so. There is a feature on the desktop tracker that allows you to swap your fit points for smart points.
I understand that my body requires a certain amount of protein, a certain amount of calories and good stuff to continue to function at the level I exercise. And I have no intention of stopping with my exercise, because it makes me feel better. Not just physically, though there are significant benefits to the level of cardio I complete, but also emotionally and mentally. If I have a bad day, Mr. big will encourage me to go run, because he knows it will allow me to essentially run out my stress and my angst, and make it much easier for me to sleep.


Also, and they cannot be understated, the endorphins that come from pushing your body through exercise are amazing. Ah-mazing! I am always in a better mood when I leave the gym then when I arrived.
So, if I feel better when I exercise, but I need more fuel for my body when I exercise, and I’m not willing to give up my weekly points which I utilize for my social life, then I’m going to have to play around with eating some points:

  • I have tried eating all of them, which is not really a good plan because I gained 1 pound.
  • I have tried eating none of them, which meant in order to enjoy nights out with my friends I had to live on 0SP fruits and veggies all day. This was incredibly unsatisfying, but helped me lose the 1 pound I gained, plus another 2.2 pounds.
  • So the answer for me is probably somewhere in the middle. With all things, this is a work in progress. I’m trying to figure out if I can still lose weight by meeting my baseline for activity each day, but then eat any points I earned over that mark.

For example, if my daily FitPoints target is 9 and I earned 16 points, will I still lose consistently if I eat the other 7? In my first week of trying this moderation concept, I lost 1 pound. It will be interesting to see if that rate of loss continue moving forward.

As I wrap up today, I want to take the opportunity to speak to those of you who are freaking out about the changes. First of all, let me say “I totally, totally understand!!!” 

I have spent a year+ losing with PointsPlus and making my “Trading Cardio for Cosmos” plan work for me. I was very reticent about the new program and the associated changes, but then I remembered:
What makes Weight Watchers so great (and what I love about the customization of BTS), is that the program works when you work it. 
If you need to modify the guidelines because they help you succeed more, or lose more or encourage you to exercise more, then do it! There is nothing holding any of us back from being successful, except our own unwillingness to try.
Despite my perfectionist tendencies, I am giving myself permission to test out my theories about the new program, test out new menus and see what works best for me. I’m not concentrating on losing pounds by Christmas, but rather having a full understanding of BTS, smart points and points by December 31, so I can kick off 2016 right!


What do you think, what do you think about FitPoints and having a specific target created just for you each day? Is anyone thinking they need to change up their workout routine? If so, what are you going to try?

Check out Part 1 “What I’ve Learned After 3 Weeks With SmartPoints

Check out Part 2 “Working on My FitPoints!”

Check out Part 4 “How Did You Do It?

Don’t forget to follow Trading Cardio for Cosmos on Facebook for tons of recipes, meal ideas and inspiration daily!

Three Weeks On SmartPoints: Let’s Talk FOOD! (Part 2 of 5)

When they asked me to help beta test “Beyond The Scale,” the first dozen questions running through my head were all about the food: “How many points is…” or “I wonder if fruit is still free?” or “How many points is a Cosmo?!” Sound familiar?
Because our love of food, or at least our relationship with food, is what brought us to Weight Watchers in the first place. So the food part is pretty important!
qa
BTS is all about teaching us to make more healthy, and more sustainable choices for our meals. Yes, you can absolutely spend all of your points on a bag of peanut M&Ms and spend the rest of the day eating cabbage soup, but you probably shouldn’t. Not only is that not sustainable, it also doesn’t provide you the vitamins, nutrients and protein in your body needs to adequately fuel itself.
Side Note: Also, and you’re going to have to take my word for this, if you eat that much cabbage soup, you will stink. I mean it, you’re going to smell bad. Don’t try it!
So let’s talk turkey, and chicken and all kinds of other lean protein! Lean proteins all went down in SmartPoints. A shrimp cocktail is now the same as what three egg whites would have been before. How awesome is that? And chicken breast, which is like mothers milk and the most common thing I find in every Weight Watchers users’ recipes, also went down. So protein is a good thing!
Side Note: I see a lot of people starting to compare the BTS plan to Atkins, and all I can say is “You clearly haven’t checked the new SP for bacon!” The new plan focuses on lean proteins, not any protein, and all of your regularly scheduled pasta, rice and bread are still accessible to you through this plan. You just have to PLAN your plan!
Things like processed snacks, crackers, cookies, most desserts and quite a few yogurts all went up in points, mostly due to the sugar content or the saturated fat content of the food. That doesn’t mean you can’t have them, but what BTS is saying subtly is, maybe you shouldn’t eat those every day. And as much as I love my chocolate, that’s probably a true statement. We don’t really need cake every night, do we?
Oh, and a clarification on free or “no count” fruits & veggies. If you eat the fruits/veggies plain or in a recipe, they’re free. If you put them in a smoothie, they count now. Here’s the explanation I got from WW:
Part of the reason is that we know that people tend to over consume juices and other beverages, and under-estimate how many calories they have consumed. We are counting the points values of fruit in smoothies in order to help our members realize exactly how many calories they consume when drinking in order to make healthy choices. Of course, it is still in your hands as members to decide if it is worth the SmartPoints to have a smoothie.
Take a look at this comparison:
comparison.png
Latte with whole milk (8 ounces): 3 PointsPlus, 5 SmartPoints
Cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (3 ounces): 3 PointsPlus, 2 SmartPoints
Cooked broccoli (1/2 cup): 0 PointsPlus, 0 SmartPoints
Glazed yeast doughnut: 7 PointsPlus, 10 SmartPoints
Cooked tuna (3 ounces): 3 PointsPlus, 1 SmartPoint
Fat-free fruit-flavored yogurt (1 cup): 6 PointsPlus, 11 SmartPoints
Two pieces of rye toast: 4 PointsPlus, 5 SmartPoints
1c. egg whites: 2 Points Plus, now 1 SmartPoint
Because I know not everyone thinks like I do, I asked my fellow bloggers and a beta tester’s for some information about how they were handling their new food choices. They said:
What’s one food you were SO excited to see go down in SP value? 
  • Protein. I love lean protein and am excited to see it go down. I see myself indulging in more shrimp cocktails and fewer cookies this holiday season.
  • Seafood! Seafood is so low in SP, it’s practically free!
  • I loved that most proteins went down in points!
  • I haven’t investigated far enough to really answer this question, but at least some of my favorites, like chicken w/skin, either went down, or at least stayed close to the same points, so I can continue to enjoy them. I eat a lot of Trader Joe’s convenience foods, and so far, most of them are still doable. With the exception of my desserts, of course.
  • Chicken breasts and lean fish!
What’s one food you’re bummed went up in SP value? Do you have a plan for how to make it work going forward? 
  • Sweet treats went way up so I’m going to have to me more judicious. One strategy that has worked for me is to be really selective and seek out the highest quality treats possible. I’ve found that for me the higher the quality, the less I need to be satisfied. This is especially true with good dark chocolate.
  • The increase in SP for olive oil had me concerned initially. BUT, with what I “save” in SP on lean proteins, it usually evens out!
  • I was upset that my fav fat free flavored creamer went up a point and that fat free half and half is now 1 point instead of 0. I’m hoping that this might encourage me to limit my caffeine intake  hasn’t yet but I’m hopeful!!
  • The massive points increase in my sweets. My favorite candy bar went from 6 to 12 points. As far as a plan going forward, I’m going to continue to work at ways to fit in items that may take their place, while still giving me the satisfaction level.
  • Noosa yogurt. It nearly doubled in points value, so it will be a very rare treat for me now and, even then, only in the 4 oz portion instead of the 8 oz portion.
Now, I know I said I was not going to give you a sample menu until Friday, but so many of you asked, so I’m going to share what yesterday looked like for me. I get 30SP daily, but I only ate 28SP because I was full!
Breakfast
1c egg whites = 1SP
1 alfresco chicken sausage = 2SP
1.5c of sautéed kale, mushroom, onion and zucchini
2 oz espresso
AM Snack
1 banana
8 oz black coffee
1 medium Apple
Lunch
3oz shrimp sautéed with Belle and poblano peppers, leaks and squash = 1SP
2c mixed greens with 1/2 medium tomato
2Tbsp Marzetti light red wine vinaigrette = 1SP
PM Snacks
5oz grilled chicken breast on a Chop salad with cooked mushrooms, red cabbage, roasted red peppers and pico de gallo, dressed with salt, pepper and lemon juice = 3sP
1.5c Red and green grapes
12oz black coffee
Dinner
8oz wild caught cod = 2SP
1c sautéed leeks
1c sautéed sugar snap peas
1/2c. Minute Rice Brown Rice = 4SP
1 Tbsp Olive Oil = 5SP
10oz White Wine = 9SP
How is your week going so far? Have you found some new SmartPoints foods to try or add to your menu plans?
Check out Part 1 “What I’ve Learned After 3 Weeks On SmartPoints!”
Check out Part 3 “Working on My FitPoints!”
Check out Part 4 “How Did You Do It?
Don’t forget to follow Trading Cardio for Cosmos on Facebook for tons of recipes, meal ideas and inspiration daily!