Auld Lang Syne: 2015 My Year in Review

As 2015 comes to a close, I want to send out a huge “Thank You” to all of you who have been reading and following my blog this last year and the Happiest of New Years to each and every one of you!

Over the last couple of weeks I have been reflecting on what opportunities I have been able to experience and what I have accomplished in 2015.  This year gave me some once in a lifetime experiences and some memories that I dearly cherish.

2015:  A Year in Review

  • In mid April, I submitted my Weight Loss Story to People Magazine and to Joy Bauer’s Joy Fit Club.
  • I heard from a producer (Kate) of the Today’s Show’s Joy Fit Club and interviewed me on the phone and I sent in photographs for them to consider in their meeting.  They would be making a decision the end of April.
  • In April, I began learning how to cross-stitch and began working on a couple of quilts.
  • I took a cruise in late April to Cozumel and Grand Cayman and found out I was invited to be on the Today Show/Joy Fit Club in May when I was in Grand Cayman and I was told I had to wear my 1984 Halloween costume!
  • In May I was blessed to reach a weight I wanted to reach when I was 23 years old but only came within 8 pounds of reaching it.  Which happened to be half my body weight when I began trying to become healthier.
  • In May, I appeared on local NBC affiliate News Channel 8 pre and post Today Show appearance.  The Pre Today Show interview with Melanie Michael, she did an awesome job! I only had 45 minutes notice that she was coming and I happened to have a bunch of bananas under my desk that day! lol
  • On the evening I arrived in NYC, I met up with Weight Watchers from CT while I was in NYC whom I had met in a Facebook Weight Watchers Group. This was so much fun to walk about NYC and talk face to face as we enjoyed the sights of the city. (Amy, Donna and Jo-Anne)  We walked through Central Park, Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza.
  • On May 17th, I was blessed to appear on NBC’s Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb and Joy Bauer wearing my Halloween costume from 1984! Talk about fun!  The cast, crew and producers were awesome, especially Kate!
  • The Post Today Show (right after the show literally) interview was done from the Orange room with WFLA’s Rod Carter.  He happened to be in town covering the Tampa Bay Lightning who were playing in the playoffs with the New York Rangers.  So cool! GO BOLTS!!!
  • Met and talked with Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) in the Orange Room at the Today Show.  BONUS:  He knows about the USF Bulls!
  • I saw Ricky Schroder that day too but I was in hair and makeup and didn’t get an opportunity to meet him but my mom did.
  • After the Today Show, I was hungry and my mom and I had New York Pizza at the Concourse!
  • Tried to get in to see Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show taping but that day the show was being done for an all military audience.  Saw many of them around the Concourse in their uniforms and in the NBC Experience Store.
  • Walked to Macy’s on 34th Street after having pizza.  So much fun seeing “the” Macy’s where the Thanksgiving Day Parade happens every year!  I grew up watching the parade so this was a “must do” for me while in NYC!  Also taking the wooden escalator was fun too!  That is a HUGE store!
  • The next day we walked to Weight Watchers International and toured the headquarters in New York City.  It was foggy that morning but could see the top of the Empire State Building from the rooftop of Weight Watchers!  Thanks Jenny! Also noticed that Mattel has offices in the same building.
  • In early July, I celebrated one year at my goal weight and Lifetime.
  • In Mid July, I recorded a series of video interviews about my weight loss journey to be used to train professional counselors when working with clients for weight loss and to be used in counseling classes at Penn State.
  • In July, I underwent a surgical biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer and declared breast cancer free.  I became a Breast Cancer Survivor.
  • My Weight Loss Story appeared in the Tampa Tribune on Saturday, September 5th.  Thanks Mia!
  • In September/October,  I redesigned and relaunched my Weights and Balances website with a new design and more information with my own dedicated email.
  • In early October I designed business cards to hand out at meetings, etc.
  • Spoke to both Graduate and Undergraduate Exercise Science students about my weight loss journey with a focus on Behavioral Theories in October and November 2015.
  • Throughout the year I wa invited to speak at Weight Watcher Meetings in Tampa Bay about my weight loss journey.
  • Participated in the FIT Program for the 5th time and gained some more strength in my arms and upper body. Had the most awesome trainers too!  Thanks Rachel and Michael (more about them later in a separate blog entry on the FIT Program)
  • My mom and I took a 9-night cruise in November to Aruba, Bonaire and Grand Turk.  We had a wonderful time and I completed 4 quilt blocks (cross stitch) on the cruise for a project which I just completed today!)
  • While I was on the November cruise I spoke with a lady who said she had heard about me and watched me on the Today Show, that was a very fun experience.
  • n December, I began the new Weight Watchers SmartPoints Program in December. It hasn’t been a seamless transition but I am working on it!  The phone application and computer etools still do not contain all my information.
  • My blog entries about my first week’s experience with the new Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale Program had over one-thousand views!
  • This year I kept my blog going and began to organize my articles and blog entries for a book.

2016: What’s Next?

There were many exciting adventures in 2015 and I am not sure how 2016 can top many of those adventures but it will be interesting to see.  In 2016, I want to keep encouraging and helping others in their journeys to greater health.  Another big accomplishment I am looking forward to is to celebrate 2 years at or below my Weight Watchers Goal weight!  One challenge I will be facing next year is the loss of my current supervisor at work.  She has accepted a position as Dean and will be moving away by summer.  More change.  While I am thrilled for her new position, I am sad for me as she has been wonderful to work with in the last two years. Like the saying says “the only thing in life that is constant is change.”  2016 will bring me a new supervisor and more changes on the work front. I will be praying that I will be able to meet the new challenges ahead of me.

2015 was an amazing year and 2016 will be spectacular!

Happy New Year 1

Weights and Balances (Year 3 Issue 31) December 30, 2015

December 30 2015

Scale Wars: The Dark Side of Eating

I haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie as of today, but I think the firestorm of heated criticism of the new Weight Watchers Program Beyond the Scale (SmartPoints) could compare with StormTroopers trying to defeat rebel forces (that is the theme of all the past movies).  In my version of Star Wars I see the Weight Watcher Program as the “good” guys (rebels) and the Weight Watchers members are Stormtroopers who are moving at the command of “Lord Dark Fatty Sugar Vader.”   A bit harsh? Maybe but bottom line it is true.

All of us good little sugar and fat stormtroopers (myself included) are so yes I will use the word “addicted” to “dark side” of eating that we are reduced to helpless screaming two-year olds when we are told “no” that isn’t good for us! While we have known it for a long time, Weight Watchers has in the past played the role of the endearing/enabling Grandparent who loves to spoil the grandkids with those sugary fatty treats.  Even Weight Watchers are reconfiguring their products (to some degree) to make them more compatible with the new program.

We all know junk foods are formulated to make us addicted to them.  Manufacturers spend billions of dollars on junk food science to manipulate us into eating their products.  But yet we willing to continue to eat these chemically altered foods designed to enslave us to sugars and saturated fats.  We have to break the cycle of depending on these types of foods not only for our health but for the sake of the generation to follow.  Be an example to your children, grandchildren, students, friends and anyone, break the sugar/fat cycle!

What can you do to lessen your eating on the dark side?

I found this great article called “Sugar Addiction Escape Plan”  that give ten steps (yes, that might sound like something else) to help free yourself from sugar addiction.

Lord Fat Sugar Vader

Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale – Part 5 (Week 1 Summary)


This week has presented some challenges and some victories.  I am not sure what to expect on the scale in the morning though.  I stayed within my daily points, didn’t use any weekly points and I earned 49 FitPoints this week.  Everyone has commented how easy it is to earn FitPoints and I found my FitPoints to be almost equal to what they were on the PointsPlus Program with only one exception.  My daily walking seems to be about the same points wise.   I manually enter my fitness data into the website I do not use a fitness monitor at this time.  I know those with fitness monitors are reporting very high FitPoint numbers.

My week started off with my Sunday morning breakfast having to change due to the increased amount of points of the Special K Chocolate infused cereals.  I can see maybe mixing the Special K with Cheerios or Rice Krispies to extend the bulk and spread the points out a bit better.

Monday was fairly routine with my weekly stop at Chick Fil A.  My chicken biscuit on a regular non toasted non buttered bun had gone down one point YAY!  I was surprised to see that my normal 2 hard-boiled eggs which had been 4pp were mysteriously now 5sp BUT yet 2 eggs were 4sp.  I think that is a mistake and was advised to use the 4sp for two eggs.

Tuesday was the first morning to fix my oatmeal and I already knew I was going to have to stop putting the one ounce of raisins in my oatmeal.   I have used frozen cherries and mixed berries and that has been very good.  I had a lunch at a local Greek restaurant with coworkers. I chose chicken kabob and roasted vegetables, very tasty!  I also had a piece of their bread with some Tzatziki sauce and a wedge of lavash bread.  I took half of my food home.

Wednesday was routine and nothing surprising other than I noticed my FitPoints were mirroring my old Activity Points and didn’t seem to be inflated as others.  I started wondering if the difference was manual entry vs fitness monitor and that seems to be the case.  It would appear the fitness monitors are not as accurate as many believe.

Thursday was fairly routine as well.  I ate the other half of my leftover Tuesday lunch for Wednesday dinner. I earned 15 FitPoints yay me!

Today was the last Friday at work before Christmas and the office was invited to our Dean’s house for lunch for homemade Cuban food.  I planned out my strategy for lunch and pre-tracked what I thought I was going to have and in what serving sizes.  Yes I would use most of my daily points but it was going to be worth it.  I reviewed my tracker when I got back to the office and found I had  over-estimated several items on portion size and had points left for the evening! Yay!

Week Ending Thought
I would say I would get a 95 on a scale of 100 for following the plan this week but I am not sure what I will see on  the scale as this with the week that my hormones reap havoc with my body and the scale.  I know it kept me reaching for candy earlier this week!

I was up one pound today.  I wasn’t shocked with the week of birthday celebration with cake, Greek Food, Cuban Food just yesterday, monthly hormones, lack of water and my earlier in the week wrestling with the hard candy jar.  In fact, I am thrilled I was up ONLY one pound!

1. Drink more water, every day all day! (I am a purist about this one.  I know Weight Watchers let you count other beverages toward your liquid consumption but having had kidney issues growing up, I know about the proper functioning of the kidneys and what makes them work more efficiently, water just plain old water, not coffee, not tea, not soda, not anything but water with a slice of lemon for zest!)
2. Be more active.  Push for two walks a day and the gym 3 times this week. Try a new “Sunday” breakfast instead of dry cereal.
3. Try a new recipe (I made salmon patties for the first time in ages today for dinner.  They were good but I know I can “tweak” the recipe a little to make the more tasty! 4 patties were 8 SmartPoints, not bad at all!
4. Enjoy  Christmas Dinner within reason and drink lots of water since my next weigh in is the very next day! I will be eating ham which I love and we know is high in sodium.  I will have a reasonable portion! Yes I will! (programming my head for success! LOL)
5. Faithful tracking and measuring my portions. 

Do I wish I had a loss this past week? Yes I do!  BUT I have learned with your body and weight loss you don’t always get what you expect and sometimes for me, the work I do this week might not show for 2-3 weeks.  The old phrase “stay the course” is the best plan of action!  One poor choice or one bad eating day is no reason to toss in the towel and give up nor is not getting what you expect any reason to give up as well.  Your body might fight you but you have to persevere and know that sooner or later (often later) your efforts will pay off.

Celebrate 2

Weight Watchers Beyond the Scale (Part 4) Settling In

I am half way through my first week on the new program and I am still feeling very positive about the changes to the program.  Things are starting to settle in as I have only had to make minor changes to my normal eating.

Today I fixed my oatmeal breakfast for the first time since the plan changed.  I forgot to add my frozen fruit that I have in the freezer but enjoyed my oatmeal with almonds and cinnamon.  I keep forgetting to add my frozen fruit!  I did remember yesterday and added dark sweet cherries to my oatmeal and it was delicious! Breakfast isn’t going to be a big deal to modify IF I can stop forgetting to add my frozen fruit to it!

My 5th day in and I had my first eating out challenge.  I reviewed the menu the day before online which helped a great deal.  I was invited to lunch at a local Greek Restaurant and chose chicken kabob with roasted vegetables.  It was great and from what I can figure very Smart Points friendly too!  Large chunks of roasted chicken with large chunks of green pepper, onions and tomatoes.  Very tasty!  I only ate half and took the rest home to have for another meal.

One of the “targeted” items on the SmartPoints plan is sugar and I battled with some hard candies earlier this week.  I suspect those candies will most likely affect my weigh in results this first week of SmartPoints.  To make it even more complicated my sugar cravings were tag teamed with the female monthly hormone cycle.  We are so quick to dismiss the affect hormones have on our eating and cravings but they are directly related.  One friend online said there is no way that hormones would affect her weight loss because she no longer has a monthly cycle.  In humorous style, I said “Just because that ship has sailed it doesn’t mean the wind can’t flutter your sails!”  Why there might not be typical physical signs of the cycle, the hormones do continue to cycle every month.  Even post menopausal women continue to feel “bloated” “puffy” etc. long after that time has passed each month but don’t often connect that to their hormone cycle.  I can safely say the monthly hormone cycle was most likely the basis of me keeping my hand in the candy jar for a couple of days this week.  I am trying to avoid them the rest of this week!  This time of year we are bombarded with sugared everything being pushed at us! But, I know how to say “no, thank you” and move on.

This past summer the Weight Watchers meetings were focused on being happy and how to be happy.  Research has shown that happy people make better food choices which is one of the concepts behind the new name “Beyond the Scale.”  There is more involved to losing weight than the number on the scale.  Which brings me to FitPoints.  We are no longer encouraged to exchange our FitPoints for food.  Many have been very disappointed with this new approach as they have been used to exercising more to eat more.  Weight Watchers is taking the stance that we should be exercising to feel better not just to eat more.  I couldn’t agree more since it appears those with activity monitors can rack up FitPoints for almost nothing!  I still enter my activity manually as I do not use an activity monitor and my points are about the same as they were before the program switch which doesn’t seem fair but since I am not using them, it really doesn’t matter in the big picture as I am one who has always held the belief that I am exercising to be healthy so I am not sure if it is even necessary for me to count them anymore.  I hope Weight Watchers will come up with a good compromise such as for every ten FitPoints you earn, you will have one additional SmartPoints to use in your daily points total.  Or something like that.  I think it isn’t an even exchange with the increased points being earned by those with fitness monitors and maybe that kind of formula could work.  Just my two cents.

Something you know something but yet you refuse to acknowledge it which I choose to call it conditional amnesia better known as denial.  I KNOW Weight Watchers works BUT I keep second guessing myself and keep wondering how I am supposed to be able to lose with having more daily points.   I KNOW to trust the program and not to panic but I keep having waves of second guessing myself and Weight Watchers on their approach.  I still hear my two-year old toddler self trying to playing with my head.

My weekly Weight Watchers weigh in is on Saturday morning and I am hoping for a “down” no matter how small.   My results will be in my summary/wrap up post I will post on Sunday or Monday.

Beyond the Scale

Be Your Own Santa!

Don’t forget yourself this holiday season!  Be your own Santa and give yourself a break!  You have been good this year, haven’t you?  We often get so busy this time of year that we forget we need a little down time to recharge, refresh and recreate! Here are some suggestions that I gathered for those of us who have been especially busy trying to shed some extra pounds this year.  Small rewards do not need to be costly monetarily but should make you feel good and/or give your mind a break from routine or rushing.

Small Indulgences/Rewards 
These are the types of things for getting through some rough spots, extra busy times, not sitting on the horn and yelling at the car in front of you or small rewards for reaching a weight loss milestone.

  • Take a couple hours off to disconnect
  • Take a  R&R Day
  • Go shopping
  • Manicure or Pedicure
  • New nail polish
  • Massage
  • New tool for your tool box
  • New pair of earrings
  • New Belt
  • Expert Bra Fitting
  • New Workout Clothes
  • Aromatherapy Oils (for better rest)
  • New Book
  • R&R Day
  • A new kitchen gadget
  • Take a cooking class
  • See a new movie
  • Professional Make up Lesson
  • Personal Training Session
  • Exercise for 15-20 minutes
  • New hair/cut/color
  • Gift Card to your favorite store
  • New tube of lipstick
  • Day trip to a special place
  • Give yourself permission to take a nap.
  • Visit the library or bookstore all by yourself.
  • Have a guilt-free home spa afternoon.
  • Take a selfie to celebrate your progress.
  • Spend an hour away from your phone or computer.
  • Eat lunch outside or at least away from your desk.
  • Clean out your closet and donate all your too-big clothes to charity.
  • Post your progress on social media so your friends can celebrate with you.
  • Take a bubble bath.
  • Drive to a beautiful neighborhood or park to walk instead of taking your usual walking route.
  • Make or buy a refrigerator magnet with a motivational quote.
  • Unwind with a movie of your choice.
  • Plan a night out with your friends.
  • Subscribe to a fitness or healthy cooking magazine.
  • Download a new fitness app for your phone.
  • Buy a new workout song.
  • Get yourself a bottle of fancy shower gel or lotion.
  • Pick up a new plant for your garden.
  • Invest in some moisture-wicking workout socks.
  • Try a new shade of nail polish.
  • Get some new shades for outdoor exercise.
  • Come home with a bouquet of flowers.
  • Buy a small personal blender for smoothies and protein shakes.
  • Order a pair of high-end wireless headphones.
  • Invest is a fitness tracker to motivate you even more.
  • Sign up for a charity walk or running event.
  • Splurge on some nice yoga pants.
  • Get fitted for workout shoes at a running store.
  • Start a charm bracelet.
  • Get your rings resized to fit your smaller fingers.
  • Adopt a dog so you’ll always have a walking buddy.
  • Hire someone to clean your house so you have more time to hit the gym.
  • Try a fun exercise class like Zumba, Pure Barre, Pilates, a dance class or Pole fitness.
  • Doodle – adult coloring books are very therapeutic!
  • Read a book


Moderate Indulgences/Rewards
These are more involved and can be more costly for reaching a bigger goal or milestone or a bigger break or a bigger indulgence!  Did the relatives come at Thanksgiving and not leave until after the new year?  Then, this list might be for you!

  • Schedule a professional portrait shoot.
  • Enjoy a stay-cation
  • Attend a performance driving school
  • Learn a new sport – Try fencing, karate, tennis, or hockey
  • Learn a new skill – Try playing the piano, singing, acting, or painting
  • Enjoy a laugh at a local comedy club
  • Take a day trip to your favorite local town
  • Take a hunting or fishing trip
  • Go see your favorite band
  • Attend a local sports game
  • Golf at your favorite course
  • Learn to make your own healthy salsa
  • Buy a new water bottle
  • Start a garden
  • Go for a hike and enjoy nature
  • Go camping in the wilderness
  • Take a class in photography
  • Buy a new piece of furniture
  • Buy a new purse or laptop bag
  • Get the new iPhone or Android
  • Take a class in knitting or woodworking
  • Trip to the go-cart track
  • Get a facial
  • Buy a new book and enjoy a relaxing afternoon reading


Larger Indulgences/Rewards
Did you reach a goal?  Did you accomplish a task that you never thought you could accomplish?  Did you get a promotion? retire?  Then this list might be for you! These are more costly in both time and money but oh so wonderful!

  • Vacation
  • Weekend getaway
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Spa Day
  • Two words: Dream vacation!
  • Ski or snowboard vacation
  • Go on a beach vacation
  • Go on a cruise
  • Attend the next Olympics
  • Gift card for your favorite store
  • Hiring a maid
  • Horseback riding
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Investment
  • Personal training sessions
  • Sky diving
  • Smaller wardrobe
  • Spa day
  • Vacation
  • Weekend trip

Mental Break 1

Weights and Balances (Year 3 Issue 29) December 16, 2015

December 16 2015