Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Weigh-in and a holiday!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I was ecstatic to weigh in on Friday and see that I had lost 800g for a total of 1.3kg (2.9lb) in two weeks! Yay me!

I have eaten almost all of my weekly extra points both weeks, so I know that I am losing more slowly this go around with Weight Watchers due to those extra weekly points. However, I started at 20 pounds lower than the first time I began WW! With less weight to lose, it's no wonder it comes off slower!

(PS - Congratulations to me for having kept off 20 pounds for 2 years!)

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I visited Segovia, Spain, since we both had a vacation day! It was a beautiful, cold, sunny day in Northwest Spain, and we had a wonderful (although quick) trip! I even drove all the way there and back... yes, I've learned to drive a manual SUV in another country! Beginning next week - once we receive the insurance paperwork - I will start driving myself to work and back each day. Wow!

We packed our lunch to take to Segovia so that we could save by not eating out. I packed a bocadillo (a sandwich normally made on a baguette that contains ham, olive oil, tomatoes and salt) but I made it a bit more waistline friendly! I bought rye bread from the bakery and added a bit of light mayo and some sliced turkey breast.

Instead of baked dessert, I took a petit suisse. Petit suisse (pronounced "petty swees") would be the bastard love child of a menage a trois between Spanish queso fresco (solid cottage cheese), pudding and fruit-flavored yogurt. It has a thick consistency, a sweet fruity taste, and is relatively low in calories. A large petit suisse has 2PP.
Petit suisse! Yum!
After lunch, we visited the Alcázar, the Roman aqueduct (still functioning today!) and the cathedral. We also had a wonderful merienda, or Spanish version of late afternoon snack, in a local bakery. I had a strawberry tartlet for a wonderful 8PP. It was worth every single point!

Incidentally, I tracked all of my points yesterday and clocked in at 41PP. However, between all of the walking (up and downhill!) and the 152 stair climb of the Torre de Juan II, I earned 12 activity points!

Even though yesterday was an amazing holiday, today I am back on track and only 1PP over my daily limit. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip!

Fighting a knight!

The beginning of the famous arches of the Segovian aqueduct! We touched it!

The façade of the Alcázar, one of the castles that inspired Disney's Cinderella's Castle!

Handsome Jorge atop the Torre de Juan II.

The cathedral in Segovia at sunset.

Me and my new crocheted conductors cap!

The beautiful Segovian countryside viewed from the Alcázar!
One of the most ornate ceilings I have ever seen, and Spain is famous for ornate ceilings!



Weigh-in and a holiday!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I was ecstatic to weigh in on Friday and see that I had lost 800g for a total of 1.3kg (2.9lb) in two weeks! Yay me!

I have eaten almost all of my weekly extra points both weeks, so I know that I am losing more slowly this go around with Weight Watchers due to those extra weekly points. However, I started at 20 pounds lower than the first time I began WW! With less weight to lose, it's no wonder it comes off slower!

(PS - Congratulations to me for having kept off 20 pounds for 2 years!)

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I visited Segovia, Spain, since we both had a vacation day! It was a beautiful, cold, sunny day in Northwest Spain, and we had a wonderful (although quick) trip! I even drove all the way there and back... yes, I've learned to drive a manual SUV in another country! Beginning next week - once we receive the insurance paperwork - I will start driving myself to work and back each day. Wow!

We packed our lunch to take to Segovia so that we could save by not eating out. I packed a bocadillo (a sandwich normally made on a baguette that contains ham, olive oil, tomatoes and salt) but I made it a bit more waistline friendly! I bought rye bread from the bakery and added a bit of light mayo and some sliced turkey breast.

Instead of baked dessert, I took a petit suisse. Petit suisse (pronounced "petty swees") would be the bastard love child of a menage a trois between Spanish queso fresco (solid cottage cheese), pudding and fruit-flavored yogurt. It has a thick consistency, a sweet fruity taste, and is relatively low in calories. A large petit suisse has 2PP.
Petit suisse! Yum!
After lunch, we visited the Alcázar, the Roman aqueduct (still functioning today!) and the cathedral. We also had a wonderful merienda, or Spanish version of late afternoon snack, in a local bakery. I had a strawberry tartlet for a wonderful 8PP. It was worth every single point!

Incidentally, I tracked all of my points yesterday and clocked in at 41PP. However, between all of the walking (up and downhill!) and the 152 stair climb of the Torre de Juan II, I earned 12 activity points!

Even though yesterday was an amazing holiday, today I am back on track and only 1PP over my daily limit. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip!

Fighting a knight!

The beginning of the famous arches of the Segovian aqueduct! We touched it!

The façade of the Alcázar, one of the castles that inspired Disney's Cinderella's Castle!

Handsome Jorge atop the Torre de Juan II.

The cathedral in Segovia at sunset.

Me and my new crocheted conductors cap!

The beautiful Segovian countryside viewed from the Alcázar!
One of the most ornate ceilings I have ever seen, and Spain is famous for ornate ceilings!



Monday, January 21, 2013

My first day under points in a week!

Adjusting to Entulínea / Weight Watchers has been more difficult than I imagined! When I followed Weight Watchers in the US, it seemed like it was so easy to meal plan for the day and stick to my plans because I wasn't very hungry and there were a ton of foods for which I already knew the PP value! In Spain, it's a bit more difficult because the cuisine is different and I am not entirely used to what is "healthy" and what's not.

All of last week, I was over my Points Plus daily target of 31 and I used almost all of my weekly allowance. In the US, I almost never used my weekly allowance unless I was eating at a special occasion.

Instead of being discouraged, I tried to listen to my body and eat when I was hungry. I tried to make smart choices (like packing a salad with greens, tomato, onion, surimi and cheese to eat while watching the soccer game with Jorge's family instead of gorging myself on the chorizo, cheese, bread and chocolate con churros that is standard fare for game day) and I started to look at my first few weeks on the plan as a learning experience.

After all, isn't Weight Watchers - or any healthy lifestyle - all about teaching you what's good for your body and what isn't?

Today, I finally had a great day on plan, clocking in at 29 points after finishing dinner and dessert. And by the way, the dessert consisted of 2 chocolate cookie sandwiches for 3PP. Delicious.

These are great cookies to crunch your craving, made with lots of fiber and no added sugars. Tonight, I enjoyed the ones in the top picture, chocolate sandwich cookies for 2PP per cookie, or 2 for 3PP.
Not surprisingly, one of the reasons that I came in under points was because of veggies. I ate a big salad at lunch and then had a small side of pasta with tomato and an egg. For dinner, I adapted an Entulínea recipe for my tastes and it was super filling and very low points.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell us that veggies are our friends on any weight loss plan. We are all familiar with (for better or worse) the famous "zero point soup" that helps get us through those first few hard weeks of Weight Watchers. My sister calls it the "kitchen sink soup," but sometimes soup leaves me wanting. Tonight, I preferred to eat a hearty dish that was low points and didn't include green salad. The plate I came up with would be perfect for a hot summer day, too!


"Everything But the Kitchen Sink" Salad
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
  • 120g canned beans of your choice (I used white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 100g canned green beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons shredded carrot
  • 1 egg, hard boiled and sliced
  • optional: 3 sticks of surimi, or crab sticks (you can substitute this with 1 can tuna packed in water if you don't like crab sticks, drained)
  • 1 teaspoon oil (I used extra virgin, but use whatever you have on hand
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • salt to taste
First, boil your egg and rinse with cold water. Set aside to cool while you mix all of the ingredients except the oil, lemon juice and salt. Toss with oil, lemon juice and salt. Slice the egg and put on top. Enjoy!

This hearty salad has 7PP (2 for the egg, 3 for the beans, 1 for the crab [or tuna] and 1 for the oil). Trust me, you will feel like you've eaten a big meal, and it won't include a green salad! :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to save money on Weight Watchers / The week ahead

Friday was my weigh-in and I lost 600g, or 1.3 pounds! I was pretty excited, seeing as how it was my first week on plan and I only followed four days before weigh-in! It gave me the motivation I needed to track everything (yes, even the McDonalds dinner that we enjoyed on Friday night) over the weekend and to meal plan for the week ahead.


There's a common phrase in Spain: "Estamos a final de mes." It translates as "We're at the end of the month," but what it really means is "It's the last week of the month, and I won't get paid until sometime between the 1st and the 5th, and I'm quite cash poor."

Most Spaniards get paid monthly or quarterly, and with the economy hanging by a thread, tightening ones belt is paramount. One of my concerns about starting Weight Watchers was the amount it would add to my expenses, not only in the monthly cost of the program (which, in Spain, is currently 15.50€ per month for eTools) but also in the cost of whole foods, produce and lean meats.

The first week's food expenses were around 80-85€, not bad considering we had to stock up on a lot of staples, such as oil, vinegar, milk, etc. However, compared to the 30-40€ we were spending per week before Weight Watchers, I couldn't help but wonder how to keep save money and lose weight with Weight Watchers.

I tried a few tricks this week to see if the grocery bill was lower, and the proof is in the (fat free, no sugar) pudding: 39€ for one week of food. This doesn't include the pure rye bread that I have to buy tomorrow (5.75€ for two loaves) and the chicken that Jorge will buy at the fresh market tomorrow (spending another 3-4€). Still, 48€ is almost half the cost, and we are eating just as well!

So what did I do to save some euros?


First, the most important thing is to meal plan. (Yes, I hear you saying "duh!") I planned out each meal and snack for the week, leaving a few holes in the weekend for the meals that we share with Jorge's family. Here's what my plan looks like for the week:


If you are looking for meal ideas, here are a few things to bear in mind:
  • DAS means "Día de alimentos saciantes," or Power Food Days. I don't count points these days but eat from a limited list of foods.
  • The Spanish recipes were found through the Spanish eTools and are delicious, but I'm sure you can find similar recipes on the Weight Watchers version of eTools.
  • One big way that I can save money is by eating at school, where I have free lunches as a teacher, but this involves me getting home about 2 hours later and sometimes I have errands to run that don't permit it. It's also more difficult to eat at school on DAS.
Second, make a grocery list based on your meal plan. I write out everything that I need to complete my meal plan (how many servings of fruit, how many yogurts, how many grams of a meat, etc.) and then I cross off what I already have in my fridge and pantry. I stick to the list. Always.

A great meal planner / grocery list template from www.theprojectgirl.com


Third, be creative when meal planning! For example, eating a chicken breast and fresh vegetables with a starch side dish would be the same amount of points as the "Ensalada de alubias" that we will have for dinner on Monday. However, the salad is made from canned beans, canned tuna, onions, tomatoes, garlic... all ingredients that will last for a long time if something comes up and we can't eat what we planned. A chicken breast and fresh vegetables probably won't last very long if your dinner plans suddenly change. This may seem like a silly process, but if you throw out food because it is spoiled, it ultimately increases your food costs. Attempting to incorporate a few meals a week with a long shelf life will give you flexibility and, not to mention, a can of beans are cheaper than chicken breasts (dried beans are even cheaper if you can afford the extra time to soak and cook them!).

Here is a great article from SoFeminine about how to swap pricey foods for cheaper (and healthy) alternatives!

Fourth, find the deals in your city. We frequent three grocery stores: Carrefour, Mercadona and Día. Carrefour is like Walmart, Mercadona is like Kroger or Whole Foods, and Día is like Aldi, Food Lion or Big Bear. We always try to shop at Día because the prices are much cheaper, although there is less variety. If we need a special ingredient, such as oatmeal, we get it at one of the bigger stores. And we always buy meat at the local market instead of in the store.

It took a long time to figure out that the grocery bill was cheaper shopping at Día, but we saved our receipts in a notebook over a few months and noted the date and total amount paid until we saw a trend emerge. Since it doesn't take very long to tape a receipt in a notebook, it was a little bit of extra work that paid off big time!

Fifth (and this is a new trick for me!) is to never pay for recipes. When I lived in the US, I had five or six cookbooks that I used frequently and loved, but I haven't paid for a cookbook since moving to Spain. Instead, I use the internet or rent cookbooks from the library. I find recipes on the Weight Watchers website, on fellow bloggers' sites, and on Pinterest. I am currently compiling a board for "Entulínea / Weight Watchers" so that I can keep everything in one place! You can check it out here. The 60 euros that I saved in not buying cookbooks may seem frivolous, but it's 60 euros that went into savings!

Click on the tortilla for my Entulínea / Weight Watchers Pinterest board!

So there you have it! Five ways to save money while following Weight Watchers! In reality, these can be applied to any weight loss program or any lifestyle because they are general money-saving tips. I hope that you enjoy them and that you feel the difference in your change purse.

Please share your favorite money-saving tip with our readers in the comments section!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 1 of Entulínea de Weight Watchers

I blame yesterday's overly melodramatic post on hunger pangs. The first day of Entulínea, or Weight Watchers, after the holiday bulk of sweets and treats was a bit harder than I remembered the first (ahem, and second.. and almost third) time around. Then again, yesterday presented a few challenges that won't be part of my everyday life, like:
  • I had to go straight from school to the doctor's office, and since I have a two-hour train commute, I didn't have time to eat lunch. I bought a faro and cranberry cookie at the local natural food store when I went to buy bread and ate it on the train because I was feeling shaky. I later learned that a similar cookie (the exact brand is Italian and didn't have any nutrition info) had 6 points... big mistake!
  • I walked 4km yesterday because I walked to the metro and then to and from the doctor. I normally walk about 2km per day from school to the train, and with less food in my body, the 4km felt like forever!....
  • .... which made me super hungry last night! It wasn't "I want to eat something" hunger, it was "my stomach hurts from being hungry" hunger.
So, I listened to my body and ate a late lunch, a big snack, a dinner, a small cup of oatmeal, and a piece of Wasa cracker before bed. Wow!

I was way over on points. Here is a look at my eTools for yesterday:


That's right! 46 points! Even if you subtract the 6 point cookie, that's still 9 points over my daily limit! :-(  But I told myself that I had to write down everything, even if I didn't like it, because it did go in my body, after all.

So day 1 was definitely a struggle, and I'm still not sure whether I won or lost the battle. Today I tried doing what's called a "Día de alimentos saciantes" or a day where all you eat is Power Foods. I am still hungry, but I feel better knowing that I can satiate my hunger without worrying about eating half a billion points! :)

So what is helping me on my DAS ("Día de alimentos saciates")? This bread:


I bought this bread at a local herbolario, a Spanish shop that is somewhere between a health food store and a natural products store. They sell everything from dried herbs (like malva flower, mint and rosemary, that you boil and strain to make a tea that settles your throat if it's sore!) to 100% natural and ecological peanut butter.

This bread is the only bread that is accepted by Entulínea as an alimento saciante ("AS"). It has to be 100% pure rye bread, and luckily this one is! It's also 100% organic and costs 2.89€ (currently about $3.85) per loaf of 400g. It is very small, but the bread is extremely dense. Each loaf has 8 servings of 50g each and each serving is worth 2PP. It is also an AS, the Entulínea equivalent of a Power Food, and it tastes great. It isn't sour like rye in the US, and it doesn't have an aftertaste. It is chewy and tastes great with fat-free cream cheese (also an AS!). It is really filling, and I've eaten 6 servings between yesterday and today!

I can tell that my body is responding to my new eating habits since it keeps asking me for more food. And I sure am glad that I have something dense, chewy, nutty and tasty to feed it. It makes me glad that I don't have to worry about the 45-calorie bread anymore! :)

Let's just hope that I make it through today's DAS on a higher note than yesterday's first day on plan!