Thankful Thursday



thankful thursday


When it seems like everything is going wrong, or there is too much stress, it is easy to fall victim to negative thinking. I hate negative thinking and I try my best to not do it because you can always find something to be positive about. Today seems like a good day to share what I am currently thankful for…



  • I am always thankful for my hubby. We both work so hard and sometimes our real time together is few and far between. Last week our quick getaway was perfect timing and very much needed. We need to find a way to do that more often.


me mike universal 062113



  • I am thankful for the ability to run. I need to run and every time I get out there, I am so happy to be able to. It’s been almost a year since my sciatica and those 6 weeks or so that I could hardly move, let alone run, were absolutely miserable. You know that saying…. One day I won’t be able to run. Today is not that day. One of the many reasons I run…. Because I can.


IMG_8127 edit



  • I am thankful for the confidence I have found this year. I am naturally shy and this blog has really helped me come out my shell and not question my abilities as much as I have in the past. I have met some pretty fabulous people and I’ve done things that take me out of my comfort zone, like speaking at the WW Live Life Active event.


ww live life active 060113



  • I am thankful for coffee. It seems trivial, but I am being serious. Coffee is a wonderful thing and in my world, it’s absolutely necessary. No coffee, no workee.





  • I am thankful for my strengths. I know that I am a strong-willed woman and I have goals and I am determined.  My husband says I am stubborn, and maybe I am. But I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe, fight for what I want, and bust my butt to reach my goals.


she believed she could



What are you thankful for today?

Just move it!


A week and a half ago, I bought the ActiveLink at WW. I had been thinking about buying a Fit Bit to count my steps and such, but I decided that the ActiveLink would be better for me since it works directly with WW, incorporates right into my eTools, and tells me exactly how many activity points I earn on a daily basis. Not to mention, I am a sucker for cool technology and fun tools.

The first week is an assessment period, where you go about your day as your normally would. This is setting the baseline of your activity levels for each day. You do not want to go crazy during your assessment week because it would then set the bar crazy high. On the last day of the assessment, it tells you were you were at for the week. For my full assessment week, I earned 8 points.

Marilyn, one of the wonderful receptionists at my WW meeting, explained the ActiveLink to me like this… You start out with a bucket. Whatever your normal activity is each day fills that bucket. It’s not until your bucket is overflowing that you are earning those higher activity points. Great explanation, right? You need to move more than you normally would.

So yesterday, when I got home from work, I did a few things around the house and then I decided I was going to go out and run for 30 minutes. I rarely run for a set time, I usually try to do a set distance – like 3.11 miles. In my all or nothing brain, if I don’t have time for 3.11 miles, maybe it’s not worth it. STUPID way to think. I knew I was going to hot yoga at 8 and I was going to make dinner (already partially made Sunday!) and eat with hubby, do dishes, etc… before then. So I could take 30 minutes and go out and run.

It was a nice run – I ran just a little slower than my pace at the Rock N’ Roll half, with walk breaks. I did a couple loops around my neighborhood. After the 30 minutes, I felt great. I had 2.31 miles to track on dailymile, and I was already wondering how it would reflect on my ActiveLink.


post run 021813   run proof 021813


After dinner, dishes, etc… I headed to hot yoga for 60 minute class at 8pm class. Class was great as usual and the heat in the room felt great. I still had my ActiveLink and after class it was flashing at me so I knew I had exceeded my baseline for the day and couldn’t wait to get home and plug it in. I’ll say it again…. Hot yoga is no joke. I feel so good when I leave there and there is nothing better than taking a hot shower when I get home and I sleep amazing afterwards.


post hot yoga 021813 

When I plugged my ActiveLink in, this is what it told me… On Sunday (“yesterday” in this graphic), I earned 2 points. This was grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and napping. See what it says below that? Today’s progress (really yesterday’s), I earned 7 activity points and hit 190% of my goal.




And here is the breakdown of my day. One thing I really like about the ActiveLink is how it shows you hourly how you’re doing. Since I was at the office between 9 and 3 yesterday, I was not active. This will be a great tool and reminder to get up and move, knowing that I have lower activity during those hours. Another cool feature, it lets you name your activities during the exact time they happened. It’s clear when I was running from the high intensity. And while hot yoga is a lower intensity as far as movement, it helped earn points as well.


al 021813


Do you see where it says I reached my baseline right in the middle of my run? So it wasn’t until mid-run and going to hot yoga that I exceeded my goal, overflowing my bucket, if you will.

These activity points that I earned are added into my eTools at the touch of a button. No time spent calculating my activities. It’s all done for me. This will be a great tool. Accountability, people!! As I continue to use it, I can change my challenges and continue to name my activities. I love having tools that help me to succeed!


Do you use the ActiveLink? What is your favorite thing about it?

Thoughts on… WW Weekly Points


Since I’ve been back on WW now for 5 weeks, I’m in a pretty good routine. I eat a filling breakfast (protein or oatmeal), a lighter lunch, and then dinner is usually my biggest meal simply because it’s the one I enjoy the most. I’m rushed at breakfast, lunch is usually at my desk (I know, bad….), and dinner is the one I put the most effort into cooking and I enjoy having dinner with hubby. I also have two snacks, one mid-morning and one mid-afternoon. I always have dessert at night, hopefully before 8 because I don’t like eating too close to bedtime. Dessert can be a 0 point treat like sliced bananas with fat-free cool whip or a low-point treat like pineapple cake. In my world, you have to have a sweet treat after dinner.

One of the wonderful things about Weight Watchers is the extra weekly points you get – 49 glorious points on top of your daily points. I can have 26 points in a day, plus however I want to use the weekly points.

During the week, it’s not uncommon for me to go into my extra weekly points each day. That’s what they are there for. Some days I don’t use them, other days I may use 7 or 8 in a day. Some weeks, I’ll have a few left over unused. I always try to use them. Weight Watchers is not about starving yourself and I am always more successful when I do use the extra weekly points.

Here is my progress report for Jan. 5 – Feb. 1st showing how often I track my food, activity earned, weight loss during that period, how I met my daily target, and activity tracked.



WW eTools Progress Report – Jan. 5 – Feb. 1. 2013


Since I weigh-in on Saturdays, that is day 1 for my new week so my 49 weekly points start over then. This is perfect timing for the weekend as we are definitely more likely to eat out or on the run on the weekends and I will likely tap into them before the weekend is over.

This past Saturday, being my birthday, I chose to have whatever I wanted for dinner and dessert. It was my birthday, I wanted to enjoy it, and let’s face it – I love food and enjoy eating. I didn’t calculate any points before ordering my dinner or dessert, I just enjoyed. We went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and I ate Frizzled Onion Strings, Shrimp New Orleans, and garlic bread. I enjoyed two glasses of white sangria. It was delicious and I enjoyed all of it. For dessert, we went to Kilwin’s Ice Cream and I had a waffle cone with salted caramel ice cream. It was sinfully amazing and I wasn’t worried about the points. Every bite was worth it.

When we got home later that night, I was so stuffed I felt sick to my stomach and this was a huge reminder of how I used to eat to the extreme of feeling so full that it was uncomfortable. I don’t need to eat to that extreme. I don’t need to feel so stuffed that I have to lay on the couch because I almost feel sick.

In addition to the weekly points, you can also earn activity points. For example, the 5K that I ran on Saturday earned me 8 points. You can even choose if you want your activity points used before or after the weekly points. I may not use my activity points that I earn.

On Sunday, I decided to calculate the points from my birthday dinner and ice cream dessert so I could track it. I went online and did my best to calculate it either with actual nutritional info or something close if that’s all that was available. So it was really a close guesstimate of points. What did I come up with? 68 points. 68 POINTS.

I had my 49 weekly points, the 8 points I earned from running the 5K, and the 8 points from our 10K walk on Sunday. I had 65 points given to me and immediately taken away. And I was 3 in the hole.

So was it REALLY worth it? As I sit here and write this, the answer is NO. Yes it was delicious and for that time it was nice to not think about how many points any of it was. But now, I have to go the rest of the week and not go over my 26 daily points which is proving hard to do because of how I go about my day and my meals. Or if I want to splurge and have a beer or two during the week, or maybe a meal that may be higher points than normal. Despite the fact that I got to use and enjoyed every one of those 68 points in the moment, I now feel like I’m being deprived as I go about the rest of the week.

The wonderful thing about Weight Watchers is how accommodating the program is. It can work for every one. You don’t have to eat a certain thing at a certain time, and nothing is off limits. The thing about the weekly points is they are flexible. You can use them however you want. And I know there are people who use them exactly as I did, all in one shot. And that is fine. But it doesn’t work for me. Being on this side of it, and trying to eat as I normally would without the extra points is proving to be a challenge. There is no right or wrong way to use them – each person can decide how to use them. But for me, using them all in one shot is NOT the way to do it and I will think twice about doing it that way again.

If I have a gain this week, it will be even more proof that that did not work for me. Even if I had just had less of those foods – one less drink, half as many onion strings, and just half of the Shrimp New Orleans, I’d still be better off than I am now. I’m counting this as a lesson learned in the every day struggle that is weight loss.


If you follow WW, how do you use your weekly points?

Trader Joe’s and Weight Watchers


Ever since I went to Trader Joe’s back in November, I’ve wanted to go back. You can read about my first trip here.    It’s a little bit of a drive, down in Sarasota, and it’s hard to get down there with everything we have going on. I also wanted to go on a weekend so that hubby could go. Yesterday was finally the day! We decided to hit the road early and my mom joined us. The drive over the Sunshine Skyway was pretty, but the bridge will always freak me out.





Being back on WW, I decided to plan ahead and try and make a list. Thanks to the interwebs, I found a couple lists of Trader Joe’s popular items and their WW points plus values. This made it much easier, although I totally would have gone through the store with my handy dandy WW iPhone app and calculated points on whatever I wanted. I ended up doing that for a few things not on the list.

My last trip consisted of a lot of carbs (pasta), sweets, and alcohol. This trip was much different. I knew going there I would not be buying certain things, such as the most evil Cookie Butter and even posted as much on Facebook when we were headed there. Accountability rocks. When we got there, I even took a picture of the evilness in all it’s glory on the shelf and posted a picture about how I was NOT buying it. Which by the way, did you know they now have a Chunky Cookie Butter? Holy yummy goodness, I can only imagine. I steered clear of that too. I could totally have it, 2 points for a tablespoon, but I am here to tell you there is no way I could stop at one tablespoon. Best to just not have it. Nanci – 1, Cookie Butter – 0


evil cookie butter


We were there probably about an hour and a half. I had my lists printed out and my iPhone app out. I checked just about everything I bought, except for anything I knew was 0 points. I made out pretty well and can’t wait to make many yummy meals with everything I bought. Here goes… And yes, I have four Trader Joe’s bags, one of them insulated. A girl has to be prepared.


all stocked up




trader joes haul




frozen veggies 1       oatmeal


entrees rice brats


prosciutto bacon


salsa dressing soup mushrooms




tortillas and dips


cookies chips


Here is a list of what I bought and the WW Points Plus values, just for you! (ppv = points plus values)

Reduced Guilt Tortilla Chips – 3 ppv / 14 chips

Reduced Carb Whole Wheat Tortillas – 1 ppv / 1 tortilla

100-Calorie Pack Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies – 3 ppv / bag

99% Fat Free Blueberry Wheat Bran Muffins – 2 ppv / 1 muffin

Butternut Squash Soup – 2 ppv / 1 cup

Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette – 1 ppv / 2 tbsp

Cilantro Salad Dressing – 1 ppv / 2 tbsp

Marinated Mushrooms With Garlic – 0 ppv / 1/3 cup

Pineapple Salsa – 0 ppv / 2 tbsp

Mild Fresh Salsa – 0 ppv / 2 tbsp

White Bean & Basil Hummus – 1 ppv / 2 tbsp

Guacamole Hummus – 1 ppv / 2 tbsp

Sliced Prosciutto – 2 ppv / 1/4 package

Peppered Uncured Turkey Bacon – 1 ppv / slice

Roasted Potatoes with Roasted Pepper and Onions – 2 ppv /  3/4 cup

Frozen Steel Cut Oatmeal (Brown Sugar & Maple Syrup) – 4 ppv / packet

Shrimp Fried Rice – 4 ppv / 1 cup

Frozen Organic Brown Rice – 5 ppv / 1 cup

Frozen Stacked Eggplant Parmesan – 6 ppv / 1 cup (1/2 package)

Frozen Eggplant Parmesan (Not Fried) – 7 ppv / whole container

Frozen Asparagus Spears – 0 ppv / 12 spears

Frozen Harvest Hodgepodge – 1 ppv /  3/4 cup

Frozen Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions – 1 ppv /   3/4 cup

Frozen Kale – 0 ppv /   2/3 cup

Frozen Artichoke Hearts – 0 ppv /  3/4 cup

Avocado -  2 ppv /  1/4 avocado

Asian Veggie Stir Fry (produce) – 0 ppv

Broccoli Slaw (produce) – 0 ppv

Shallots – 0 ppv


Another fun trip in the books! I’m sure I’ll make another trip down in a couple months. For now, I’m good with what I bought. On our way back, we stopped by PDQ in St. Pete for lunch. I absolutely love their salads, it really hits the spot.

For dinner last night, I had the Trader Joe’s Eggplant Parmesan (Not Fried) frozen entrée. I baked it in the oven and it was really good! I’ll have to get it again next time I go to Trader Joe’s. The flavor of the sauce was just right. I also made a salad to go with it – baby spinach, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Trader Joe’s Marinated Mushrooms (YUM!), and homemade Italian dressing. The eggplant entrée was 7 points for the whole tray, I ate about 2/3 of it, and just 1 point for the salad. So 8 points for a filling dinner.


tj eggplant parm



If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, what is your favorite go-to item from there?

Before & After: 2006


I was recently going through some photos, a trip down memory lane, and I came across my before and after photos from the very first time I did Weight Watchers. After hitting my goal and making lifetime in 7 months with a 30 pound loss, I made a little photo album of my success. Why I ever put the photo album away makes no sense to me because it should have been kept out as a reminder of how far I had come, and how I never wanted to go back that place before. Ironically, not only did I go back to that place, but I went even farther, as you know since I revealed my starting weight in Saturday’s weigh-in post.

To date, there are two times in my life when I have lost a lot of weight. Back in 1997, I lost 43 pounds strictly eating low-carb, going from 173 pounds to 130. I will never ever do low-carb again. Yes, it worked, but I was miserable. I’m Italian, I can’t give up entire food groups. The whole theory of telling me I can’t have a certain food just does not work and I am not sure how I did it back then.

By the time I joined Weight Watchers in January 2006, I was 156 lbs… Not to discount any of the hard work I have ever done to lose weight, I almost have to laugh at the fact that I was so unhappy at 156 lbs.. What I would give to weigh that now. But, there is no sense in going there. Everything happens for a reason and if I felt strongly enough about it at the time, then it was important that I do something about it. And Weight Watchers is a FANTASTIC program, I can never say enough about it.

What prompted my decision to join Weight Watchers in 2006 was seeing a photo of myself. When I first put saw it, I put it away. Months later it came out again, and within weeks I joined Weight Watchers. This is the picture…


scan 027 before aug05


Worst photo ever, I thought. That can’t be me. There’s no way. I can’t even stand looking at it. And off I went… At the time, there was a Weight Watchers in the shopping center around the corner from our house, right next to the Publix we shop at. Talk about accountability. I knew it was right for me the minute I walked in. Everyone was very welcoming and the meetings were great. No one was telling me I couldn’t eat pasta or bread. Getting on the scale every week was enough of a motivator for me.

For 7 months, I went to meetings, followed the program, and stuck to the points like my life depended on it. I never felt deprived. I worked out. Hard. Often times, twice a day. I did TaeBo and turned my walks into runs. I was a machine. Shortly after making Lifetime, I took a new picture of myself.


scan0028 after aug06


Quite a difference. I was so proud of myself. I went from a size 14 to a size 6. I felt much better that time around than when I did the low-carb diet years before. Amazingly, shortly after hitting goal, my family opened an Italian restaurant and for much of our time there, and I STILL kept the weight off. I would allow myself one day a week to have whatever meal I wanted (and would make it myself since my mom and I were the cooks!).

So here we are, 2013 and I am working the program again. Three weeks in and I am down almost 8 pounds. It’s not all going to be easy and I will have a week where I gain. It happened the first time around, I know it will happen again. But I am not going to give up this time. I can’t keep giving up. Starting this time around 22 pounds heavier than the last time is just not acceptable. I’m not going to keep asking myself how I got to this place, how I let it go so far because I wasn’t ready before. It wasn’t the right time. I wasn’t mentally prepared to tackle it. But I am now, and that’s what’s important.

I have a new before picture picked out for this time around, this one from New Years Eve, the day before I went back to Weight Watchers. I was not comfortable in my dress, but I wore it anyway because I wanted to dress up. Here it is…


before jan 2013


I can’t wait to be able to post an after photo. I want to dress up comfortably. I don’t know how long it will take, but it will happen. I will get there – you can #ExpectAmazing.


Do you take before and after photos as part of your weight loss journey?

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