Trading Cardio for Cosmos Birthday Giveaway!

You know those people who are just really excited when it’s their birthday? Not so much for the swag or the cake, but for the chance to have dinner (or many dinners) celebrating with their friends and family (and occasionally the drunk girls you meet in the bathroom)?
I’m sure this is going to come as quite a shock, but I am 1001% one of those people! LOL

I love my birthday! I love to have family dinner, dance to 80s music, brunch with my friends and generally use my birthday as an excuse to gather the people I love most together over a day, a week, heck I made it into a month-long celebration once!


And since I can’t be with each of you, whom I also love and adore and am profoundly grateful for, I’ve put together a Trading Cardio for Cosmos goodie bag packed with some of my favorite things, some fun things and even some snacks I like. And one of you is going to win it!


The Trading Cardio for Cosmos tote has:

  • A “But First Coffee” mug 
  • A Pink Chevron Patterned Tumbler 
  • The latest SkinnyTaste Cookbook
  • A 10-PC Fitpacker Original Container Set
  • 1 Box of Nonni’s Biscotti (4SP each)
  • 4 Hippie Runner Headbands
  • 4 Walking With Leslie Sansone DVDs
  • 6 Individual Enlightened Snack Packs (4SP each)
  • 1 Coupon for a free Enlightened Ice Cream product (SP varies)
  • A “Don’t Look Back” sign
  • A “Tracking on Fleek” makeup bag from Weight Watchers that’s not even available for purchase! 

This goody bag is valued at $180 before shipping, and to win it, the rules are simple:

You may enter 1 entry on Facebook, 1 entry on Instagram and 1 entry on the blog, per day. 

For Facebook and the Blog: Your entry on the Birthday Giveaway Thread or in the comments should include a link to your favorite recipe WITH SmartPoints!

For Instagram: You must publicly share or regram the prize photo with the hashtags #tradingcardioforcosmos #birthdaygiveaway! 

One winner will be chosen on Saturday, August 6, 2016 (my birthday)! 

GOOD LUCK!!

The Fine Print: 

I received no financial support for this contest. All items were donated for this giveaway as listed above. All postage is paid by Trading Cardio for Cosmos, LLC.   

One winner per household, per 30 days. All winners have 30 days to claim their prizes by emailing their FB screenname/Instagram handle and mailing address to tradingcardioforcosmos@gmail.com. All winners must live in the continental United States. 

Thank you to Weight Watchers, Anchor Bay Entertainment, SkinnyTaste, Fitpacker, Organize Yourself Skinny, and Enlightened Foods for providing some of the items in this giveaway. 

Weight Watchers, Anchor Bay Entertainment, SkinnyTaste, Fitpacker, and Enlightened Foods are not affiliated with Trading Cardio for Cosmos.


 

25 Ways to Celebrate Your Weight Loss Goals That Do Not Include Food!

“Mazel tov on your wedding! Now let’s eat cake!”
“Congratulations on your promotion! Let’s go for cocktails!”

“You scored the game-winning homerun, son. Yay! Let’s go for ice cream!”

“Happy Holidays! Let’s eat 3,000 calories in one sitting. And then have PIE!”

Does anyone else feel like all of their celebrations focus around food? It’s an easy way to gather and celebrate the kids’ accomplishments, our work achievements, a birthday, a Tuesday (hey, don’t judge), you name it! But as I progressed on my weight loss journey, I realized it was a little silly to celebrate losing -1.8lbs by eating something indulgent and setting myself back.


In my weekly column for Organize Yourself Skinny I’ve developed this list of “25 Ways to Celebrate Achieving Your Weight Loss Goals That Do Not Include Food” to give us some alternatives for when we still want to celebrate and be festive! 
Once you’re read my list, I’d love to hear how you celebrate achieving your weight loss goals in the comments! 

Twenty Questions With JANNA!

Each Tuesday we feature a different success story from the Trading Cardio for Cosmos community in a segment called “Twenty Questions With…” Young, young at heart, marathon runners and those who can’t exercise at all, vegetarians, pescatarians, working mommas, work-from-home professionals and retirees. We’re going to showcase them all, because when you read about someone like you succeeding, I think it gives you the confidence that you too can succeed! This week I want to introduce you to Janna!
Janna is so amazingly inspiring, having lost -113 lbs over the past year and a half!

I love, love, love her realism! She addresses her past unhappiness and her weight problems and uses them to fuel her weight loss journey! I also like her meal and snack ideas, and her own mini #wwsisterhood. Check her out:

1. Give us the basics about you – your first name, age, region you live in, etc.

Hello everyone! My name is Janna and I am 32 years old. I grew up in Michigan, lived in Missouri for a while, but I now reside in Massachusetts. I have been here for 2 years and this is where my weight loss journey has been most successful.

2. When did you start your weight-loss journey? What was the “tipping point” that made you start?


I began my weight loss journey with Weight Watchers in January of 2015. Shortly before then, I started making small changes and lost a few pounds without really doing much. I stopped eating fast food, and I stopped drinking pop (or soda for those of you from down south). When I started to see the changes on the scale and in how much better I was feeling, I decided to take it up a notch and join Weight Watchers.

I would say the tipping point was the level of misery I felt when I looked at myself. I couldn’t believe what I had let myself become. I didn’t want to hate looking at myself, and I wanted to be healthy. I was starting to have some health related issues that weren’t necessarily caused by being overweight but being overweight definitely did not help the issues I was having. I had wasted enough time being miserable; it was time for me to focus on myself and truly find out what I was made of.

3. What is one piece of advice you wish you had known when you started out?

One piece of advice that I wish I would have known when I started out would be that drinking enough water really makes a big difference. At the beginning of 2016 I rededicated myself to the Weight Watchers plan. I had kind of been slacking throughout the holidays and not really putting in a lot of effort. I started following the plan to a ‘T’. I was tracking, exercising, and doing all the things the plan tells you to do and my weight loss was very sporadic. I couldn’t get a handle on it, big losses, big gains, up and down even though I was doing the same things every week. I was confused and getting very frustrated. We had a substitute leader at one of my Weight Watchers meetings who suggested drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. She said it should make a big difference.  That was back at the beginning of March. I took this advice to heart, and gave it my best effort. Since then, I have only had one week where I gained 0.6 ounces! Every other week since then I have stayed the same or lost. And I have a lot of water to drink per day, but I do it, and wish I would have started it sooner.

4. How much weight have you lost? If you are done losing, and are on to maintaining? How long have you been maintaining your loss?


So far, I have lost 113 pounds!!! I am far from being done losing. I will get there one day though.

5. How do you keep your motivation up?

The positive changes I see in myself on a daily basis are a huge motivation for me. I like what I see when I look in the mirror now, and I want that to continue. I like feeling healthy and setting new goals for myself and I like when I reach those new goals. Another big motivation for me is my family. My mom and one of my sisters have been following the Weight Watchers plan as well, and we have lost 310 pounds total! Seeing how much our lives have changed because of our successful weight loss keeps me going every day!

6. How do you handle cravings?

Cravings are hard. If there is something that I can’t stop thinking and obsessing about, I have found that it is just better to have a little bit of it. Just count the points for it and move on!  Macaroni and cheese is one I often crave so I make it, portion it out to start and put the rest in the refrigerator or freezer. If I have healthy options to go along with the mac and cheese, it helps to fill me up and make me not want more. I am often fulfilled with one portion and then can move on. If I don’t let myself have it, sometimes it will get to the point where I don’t care anymore and I will eat the whole box! I don’t want that to happen, so having a little bit here and there is a better solution for me.

7. What are your top three tips for success?

Do Not Give Up! I have stopped and started this weight loss charade so many times in my life. There are several times in the last two years that I thought it would be easier to just not throw in the towel and call it quits. But then I would remember how I felt at my heaviest and I realized quickly that going back was not an option.  I have bad days.  I have bad weeks. But sticking with it has been very rewarding for me. It works if you work it, and give it time because it is not a quick fix!

Set mini-goals. When I think about the amount of weight I have lost and the amount of weight I still have left to lose, it becomes quite daunting. Setting smaller goals along the way helps overcome the burden of the long haul. Celebrate every 5 or 10 pounds with a new shirt or a piece of jewelry.  Whatever keeps you going because those mini goals will all add up and eventually you will reach your ultimate goal.

Have a support system in place. I mentioned my mom and my sister earlier. We have a group text with another friend who is doing Weight Watchers as well. We are all over the country but if we are having trouble making a good decision or if we need advice on a recipe we can get help and encouragement with a simple text message. I also attend meetings every Wednesday. I found the right group that works for me with an amazing leader and staff members that have been instrumental in  my weight loss journey. Having people to share this journey with is one reason I believe I have been so successful this time around.

8. Do you exercise? If so, how often, for how long and what type of exercises do you do?

I do exercise!  When I started Weight Watchers I exercised maybe once a week, if that.  As I started losing weight I realized how important exercise was for me. I typically work out 5 days a week now. I do at least 30 minutes of cardio each time on the arc trainer or treadmill or even walking outside.  At least 2 days a week I meet with a personal trainer and do 30 minutes of strength training. I just added this into my workouts about 3 months ago and working with weights has made a huge impact on my weight loss.

9. What is your favorite breakfast?

My favorite breakfast is on Saturday or Sunday when I sleep in late and can spend a few more Smart Points on a nice brunch. I will have half a cup of egg beaters mixed with diced onions, mushrooms and green peppers, topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. I have 3 slices of turkey bacon and 1 blueberry waffle with fresh strawberries and blackberries with a dollop of fat free cool whip. So yummy and very filling!! I can have all of this for about 11 SmartPoints.

10. What is your go-to lunch?

My go-to lunch at work is Yoplait Fat Free Greek yogurt. I like the key lime or lemon flavor the best. I mix that with fresh blackberries. Then I have raw veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers with 4 tablespoons of roasted garlic hummus. I also have a flat bread wrap with 1 light swiss laughing cow cheese and 2 ounces of deli lunch meat. This uses about 9 SmartPoints.

11. What does a typical week night dinner look like? What about a weekend dinner?

My weeknight dinners are similar week to week. I will have turkey burgers with no bun topped with a tomato, cucumber, feta salad. I have grilled chicken with mashed potatoes and a side of veggies. I also like pierogies with hardwood smoked turkey sausage and sautéed green peppers and onions.

The weekend dinner might consist of a meal out with friends, or sometimes I will try a new recipe since I have the time to make it and concentrate on getting it right.

12. What kind of snacks do you like?

I love snacking on the Quaker mini popped cheddar rice cakes (18 for 4 smart points). If I need a low point snack I have been having celery with Starkist Tuna Creations – Hot Buffalo style. This snack is 1 SmartPoint and it gets me to eat celery which I typically would not eat otherwise!

13. What kind of desserts do you eat?

I try to stay away from desserts.  They are very hard for me to enjoy in a healthy portion. I will have at least one Dove Sea Salt Caramel chocolate square every day, just for a taste of something sweet. It is 2 SmartPoints and totally worth it for me. The other plan-friendly snack I enjoy is one I included a picture of. I will chop up a bowl of fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and top it with 1/2 a cup of FROZEN fat free cool whip. I sprinkle it with 1/2 a teaspoon of cinnamon sugar. It is light, refreshing, sweet, and only 2 SmartPoints. By freezing the cool whip it gives me a slight reminder of ice cream, which I love more than anything!


14. What kind of adult beverages do you enjoy?

Yay Drinks!  I don’t have adult beverages as often as I would like. I have found they typically aren’t worth it for me, depending on the occasion. I do love a good Moscato though. It’s a sweet and delicious white wine. I also like ciders, like Angry Orchard or Redd’s Apple Ale.

 

15. What is your favorite meal to eat in a restaurant?

TGIFridays has a good meal that I stick with when I eat at their restaurant. It is the Bourbon Barrel Chicken for 7 points. I will have the Tomato Mozzarella salad and the broccoli for a side which brings the total of the meal to 12 SmartPoints. This chicken is very tasty!!

16. Do you have a favorite fast food/casual dining meal?

I try to stick with fast food options where it is easy for me to make a healthy meal decision.  I like to go to Subway or Panera Bread most of the time. I have found eliminating the temptation for the food that got me to my heaviest is best for me in the long run.

17. Do you have a favorite weight loss blog/website/FB group that you visit for inspiration?

There are a few different places I go for motivation. My weight watchers group has our own Facebook group and it’s good for when we need a little extra support or a safe place to ask for help. I also enjoy scrolling through the new Connect feature on the Weight Watchers app. Seeing the multitude of people who have been successful makes me realize this is possible and it makes me want to keep going!

18. Do you have a favorite website for healthy recipes?

If I need a healthy recipe I always find myself scrolling through Skinnytaste.com. I like how they give us the SmartPoints totals and they have so many options! I also enjoy hungry-girl.com. My mom has been emailing me recipes from that website for years!

19. Do you have a favorite quote, meme or thought that keeps you motivated?

I have written aspects of this quote on my bathroom mirror.  I see it every day and it motivates me, keeps me going, and reminds me that I am worth the struggle of losing weight!


20. What’s one final thought you can share with someone who’s interested in losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight?

Just go for it. You never know what you are capable of accomplishing until you actually try.

When I started Weight Watchers this time around, I didn’t really know what I expected to happen. I probably figured I would lose 10-20 pounds like I had in the past, I would feel good about myself for a minute, and then I would give up because it is hard.

Something was different about this time. I was ready for change, and I was willing to put in the work that it would take to begin my transformation. There are many times along my journey where I have wanted to give up. But I have realized this time that if I stop now, I will go right back to where I was two years ago, and I don’t want to be miserable again because of my weight.

 

It is hard. There will be days that you want to quit. But trust me when I tell you that it is worth fighting through every struggle to come out on top. You will be proud of yourself and you will want to inspire others around you to make a change. Just take the first step on your journey and don’t give up – it will be an amazing one and you will have an awesome story to share with others!

Thank you so much for listening to my journey.  I am excited to continue losing weight and I hope you have found some form of inspiration with what I had to say! Best Wishes and Good Luck!

 

Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Janna! Have questions for Janna? Please share them in the comments below!!

29 Farmers Market-Inspired Recipes (and Their SmartPoints)!

I love, love, love summer! I love the weather, I love the sunshine on my skin and I really love getting to buy my produce, eggs and even some meat from our local farmers markets.

Every summer Mr. Big and I spend a day driving around the Hudson Valley, stopping at different local farm stands to buy the ingredients for a seriously epic feast. We call it our “Locavore Adventure” and it’s like our own version of Chopped! where we buy stuff that looks great and then figure out how to make a cohesive menu that highlights the awesome ingredients.

Last year we had purple cauliflower, baby potatoes sprinkled with local cheese and a seriously amazing local chicken, and the year before we had pork chops and bacon with the first apples of the season and some greens. I’ve already started to look up places we might want to visit for this year’s adventure, and it got me thinking about all the awesome local produce that will be available and what we might do with it.

So to get myself ready, I put together this list of 29 recipes focused on corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and zucchini – all the stuff that’s in season or coming into season – so you can have your own locavore adventure wherever you are! We’ve got lots of resources from our friends at SkinnyTaste and Emily Bites, and also some from Food52, LaaLoosh, Food & Wine magazine and Simple Nourished Living, too! 

If you do decide to take your own Locavore adventure or make one of these recipes, share it to our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram and use the hashtag #wwlocavoreadventure! We’ll be on the lookout for your posts now through August 31st and one lucky poster will win a Trading Cardio for Cosmos prize pack filled with fun goodies! 

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TOMATO

Chicken with Roasted Tomato and Red Onion
3 SmartPoints

Pesto Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
1 SmartPoint

Two Tomato Bruschetta
6 SmartPoints

Tomato and Zucchini Frittata
4 SmartPoints

Savory Zucchini Asiago Tomato Scones
6 SmartPoints

Easy Garden Tomato Sauce
1 SmartPoint

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CORN

Chilled Lobster Salad with Sweet Summer Corn
8 SmartPoints

Summer Tomatoes, Corn, Crab and Avocado Salad
3 SmartPoints

Grilled Flank Steak With Black Beans, Corn & Tomatoes
6 SmartPoints

Corn & Zucchini Summer Frittata
6 SmartPoints

Grilled Corn With Basil Butter
5 SmartPoints (1 ear of corn and 1 tsp of basil butter)

Crispy Corn Fritters
3 SmartPoints

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CUCUMBERS & CARROTS

Quinoa Cucumber Tomato Salad
5 SmartPoints

Crockpot Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
7 SmartPoints

Orange & Cucumber Salad
1 SmartPoint

Garlic & Thyme Roasted Carrots
1 SmartPoint

Farro with Feta, Cucumbers and Sundried Tomatoes
6 SmartPoints

Easy Carrot Apple Slaw
2 SmartPoints

Cucumber & Tomato Salad
2 SmartPoints

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ZUCCHINI

Quick Spiralized Zucchini and Grape Tomatoes
1 SmartPoint

Zucchini with Basil, Mint & Honey
4 SmartPoints

Zucchini Tots
1 SmartPoint

Dover Sole with Herb Oil and Zucchini
5 SmartPoints (8 oz fish per person, using 1 Tbsp olive oil)

Sauteed Zucchini and Plum Tomatoes
2 SmartPoints

Zucchini Casserole
3 SmartPoints

Grilled Zucchini and Tomato Salad
0 SmartPoints

Parmesan Zucchini Rounds
2 SmartPoints

Zucchini & Pepper Gratin with Herbs & Cheese
6 SmartPoints

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins
6 SmartPoints

 

Wanna scroll back through some of our past Recipe Roundups? They are a treasure-trove of useful and delicious recipes every WW devotee should have!

7 Things I Never Thought I Would Say Before My Weight Loss Journey

Losing -115lbs changed my life. Not because I went from a Size 22 to a Size 10 (and on my best days, a Size 8!), and not because I’ve gone from being winded walking up the stairs to running four nights a week, but because it truly changed my outlook on what my life could and should be.I spent a long time hiding myself behind a big personality, long red hair, black dresses and an attitude of “I’m going to reject that person before they have a chance to reject me.”

My weight defined my career trajectory, and what I thought I was capable of achieving. I didn’t feel like I could compete with girls who were thinner or more athletic than I.

I didn’t feel worthy of friendship that wasn’t tied to me being “the funny one,” the hostess, the sidekick.

I didn’t feel worthy of love, or at least not the “fall in love with your best friend,” kind of love I truly wanted.


So my column for Organize Yourself Skinny this week is “7 Things I Never Thought I Would Say Before My Weight Loss Journey.” Some are funny, some are serious, and hopefully at least one makes you think “Oh, me too!” There’s such strength in knowing we are not alone in this journey!