weight loss support

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

blog2 edible christmas trees

Looking for a festive addition to your holiday buffet that offers a tasty alternative to sugar-laden treats? Here are 5 colorful options that are fast, festive and easy on the calories. Presenting: EDIBLE CHRISTMAS TREES!

The kiwi tree comes complete with ornaments – with very little assembly required!

5 Fast, Fit and Festive Christmas Foods

If you want a little more drama, start with a styrofoam cone and some toothpicks to have your tree go vertical. Berries, melons, kiwis – plenty of fruit options to make your own masterpiece!

Fat Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

For those impromptu gatherings, you probably have the ingredients for a vegetable tree in your fridge already. Sliced pepper stems, cauliflower tree lights, broccoli floret greens all make great substitutions for the cucumber/carrot/tomato version shown. While a click on the picture gets you to the site it originated from, I couldn’t find the specific link for this  tree. I suspect you’ll be okay on this one without specific instructions!

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Tree

Does it get easier than a one-fruit tree that’s naturally decorated in Christmas colors?? Click on the picture for Eating Vibrantly’s suggestion on attaching the “tree trunk.”

Fast Fit and Festive Edible Christmas Trees

These pita trees are a great choice for an appetizer to contribute to the office party or family potluck. You will arrive knowing that no matter what is on the buffet, you have a great choice to snack on. They look artful and the recipe is an easy mix of seasoning, fat-free sour cream and guacamole. This substantive finger-food is a calorie bargain at only 30 per tree!

Fast Fit Festive Edible Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees never tasted so good!

Make Me Laugh!


It’s Friday!!! Best way to celebrate is with some humor! (Maybe we should change this to Monday Morning Mood Makers!!). Any who – enjoy the following Friday Funnies – in no particular order.

  • In honor of our weight loss journey

Zero to Eight

  • Just because it made me laugh


  • Because I recently had to show my granddaughter how to play solitaire after she lost electronic privileges.


  • Because it reminded me of some of the ‘hearing (loss)’ funnies shared at our house lately.

Recipe Error

Birthday Suit

We feel you are now sufficiently (and possibly inappropriately) armed and dangerous and ready to enjoy the weekend (like that never happens!).

Boredom Busters: 5 Guiltless Snack

Boredom Busters - 5 Guilt-Free Snacks

The only thing harder than getting healthier and losing weight is staying healthier and keeping the weight off. I know this because in every adult decade of my life I have lost a significant amount of weight, followed by backsliding into a condition more unfit than when I started. One of the (many!) reasons I haven’t gotten off the roller coaster is I get lazy.

My most recent journey toward a smaller, healthier me has included cutting way back on processed foods, and eating “cleaner.” Frankly, clean eating is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. I’m currently at the point where I’m battling the post-success lazies, so I’m on the lookout for mini-meals and snack ideas that won’t make me feel too guilty about the additives. Here are five of my current go-tos:

5 Guiltless SnacksSweet mini-peppers stuffed with hummus. It takes no more time than pulling out cheese and crackers, provides some crunch, and counts as healthy calories! My current favorite hummus is Sabra’s Lemon Twist, which is 70 calories per two tablespoons. I figure I can go hogwild and eat 2.5 servings for under 200 calories because the peppers are “free”!

On those evenings when I’m not really in the mood for a meal, but know I should have something, I throw together my favorite fruit-and-fiber meal: wine and popcorn. Skinnygirl5 guiltless snacks Lime & Salt popcorn has a nice zing and weighs in at about 150 calories per bag. Factor in another 150 calories for each 5-oz glass of wine. Total prep time: under 3 minutes.

5 Guiltfree SnacksFor crunch, portability, and touch of sweet, Emerald Cocoa Roast and Cinnamon Roast almonds work well for me. One ounce (1/4 cup) provides 3 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein in 160 calories. Our local Publix offers the 8.5 ounce containers as a buy-one/get-one-free deal every so often, so I stock up. I like the cinnamon ones – chopped up – as an oatmeal topper, or mixed in with honey-sweetened Greek yogurt.

When I started tracking my sugar intake on My Fitness Pal, I was dumfounded at how much I consume! Happily, wine doesn’t count as a sugar, but it seems like almost everything 5 Guiltless Snackselse I like is loaded with it. KIND bars have always been delicious, but high in sugar, so I am happy to see their new Nuts & Spices line. Each bar contains 4 or 5 grams of sugar (compared to the 9-12 grams in their other bars,) so I can get my sweet and crunch all wrapped into one 200 calorie bar. They’re also loaded with healthy nutrients, and are about as “natural” as any processed food can get. I’m crazy over the Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt flavor. In my area, Target offers the best selection of flavors.

5 Guilt-free snacksFinally, my keep-in-the-purse snack is a Health Warrior Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Bar. Its 100 calories include 3 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 1000 mg of Omega-3. It’s 100% vegan, and free of gluten, dairy, and soy — none of which matters to me because I like the taste! The one caveat to this treat is I do find myself tonguing the chia seeds out of my teeth for several minutes afterward. However, it’s worth it. I was introduced to these by a friend, and they’re not available in retail stores where I live, so I purchase them on-line.



Natine at Write-Minded WomanGuest blogger Natine Abreu-Shaw  is a recalibrated woman of the Sandwich Generation, who enjoys writing and occasionally  mines her mind, flexes her fingers, and publishes her pith at Write-MindedWoman.com – when she is able to take a break from  some of her other pet (pun intended!) projects – such as writing as the persona of her fur-kids at their Facebook home Corgi Characters!

Getting Fierce GOALFEST!

Get Fierce GoalFestGoals play a major role on the journey to getting fierce. Planning them, setting them, realizing them. Studies show that you are more likely to accomplish your goal if you write it down. And to boost your chance of success further, tell someone else about the goal for built-in accountability.

In order to help us get more intentional about reaching our goals, we are starting PROJECT GOALFEST. The first Monday of every month we’ll each set a goal for the month and record it here. Whether it’s trying something new, exercising more, cutting an unhealthy food from your diet, adding a healthy food to your diet, connecting with a neglected friend, meeting a writing word count, organizing a closet, or anything else you want to achieve, set your goal. We’ll help you get there by encouraging you, cheering you on and providing a source of accountability.

And to make it just a little more fun, on GoalFest days we’ll have a random drawing from the names of those of you who have met your goal for the previous month. The winner will be sent a small just-as-random prize to celebrate the accomplishment!

Okay – we’ll go first:

Getting Fierce GOALFEST!

I can be a bit like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to starting new projects – I want to start them all. Problem is, I don’t always want to finish them all. The pile of ‘must have’ yarns and closet organizers and menu sorters is quite impressive as you walk through my house.  My OCTOBER GOAL: Complete the aghan I started for my daughter many, many years ago AND tackle one pile of torn out recipes from magazines and file them accordingly.


Getting Fierce Goalfest!

My bike hasn’t made it out of the garage in 3 years. For the past two, I planned to take it to a bike shop to get it new tires and the attention it needs to hit the road again. It’s time to convert that plan into action. OCTOBER GOAL: Find a bike repair shop, take the bike in for service, and log 20 miles on it by the end of the month.


Head toward FIERCE with us! Declare your October goal in the comment section below. We’ll be checking in with you from time to time.

Get Fierce GoalFest!

Now let’s DO this thing!

Diet Sabotage

Diet SabotageMany of us were raised with the parental phrases “Clean Your Plate!” and “Don’t waste food – there are children starving in China.” My earliest thought of helping “those less fortunate” may have been my selfless desire to send my broccoli to some of those starving children.

From a health perspective, I realize that ‘cleaning my plate’ is an activity better left to a dishwasher  – and no matter how much food I eat there will still be starving children somewhere. So why, at the end of a meal, am I the only one with no food on my plate?

And then it hit me. I save the best for last. I save the BEST for last! Like it’s a reward for getting through the just-okay stuff. I’m not sure how or why I developed that habit, but I knew it was one I had to break.

So now when I get food, I head right for the tastiest morsel. It still feels weird to scoop out the very center of the dressed baked potato, or to eat the cheesiest piece of pizza first. But doing so ensures there will be food that’s easy to leave on my plate. The dryer edges of the potato and less cheesy pizza slice are not dangerous temptations. But on the flip side, no matter how full I might be, there’s no way I’m leaving he cheesiest anything behind!

My new motto? Eat the best and save the rest for last!  -El

Diet Sabotage


Why Willpower Ain’t All it’s Cracked Up to Be

While willpower can be an important ingredient to our weight-loss success, it is too easy to place the entire burden of success or failure upon it. Ever heard: “She just needs to exercise some willpower”? As if putting the word ‘just’ in there makes it much more doable. Instead of deciding we either have willpower or we do not (read: we will succeed or we will not), we need to combine our bouts of willpower with good planning and preparation for when our willpower fails us. And it eventually will. Here are 5 ‘take-aways’ from Cindy Hatcher’s Cooking Light article Willpower is Overrated:

1. Emphasizing momentary failures hinders long-term weight-loss success.

2. Quoting Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State and author of The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: The biggest myth about willpower is that it’s always going to be there. We all have moments of weakness, but if you find that motivation it’s going to be easier. But it’s not easy.

3. Self-control with food eludes everyone eventually. If you keep your eye on the long-term goal – new habits, overall behavioral changes – a short-term setback loses it’s symbolic power.

4. The side effect of putting too much stock in the idea of willpower is what obesity researchers call the “What the Hell?” effect: As soon as you eat something you think you shouldn’t have, you figure you’ve already blown it for the day, so what the hell – you might as well keep going. But all is not lost because of one choice – you can do some calorie-compensation at the next meal.

5. If you have healthy defaults in place, then it won’t matter as much if your willpower fails.  -El



Weight Loss Challenge Update

Several weeks ago I talked about reinstating the Women’s Weight Loss Challenge at Work to help get, and keep, me motivated to lose this weight once and for all. I tried to get Weight Watchers to hold meetings at work for our campus but, I was only able to get 4 people (including myself) to sign up. Sooooooo I bit the bullet and started the Challenge. We had 23 women sign up which at $20 a piece started our ‘pot’ out quite nicely. We lost 42 lbs the first week and received these comments/tips from the group.

My biggest advice is dedication! My tips are as follows:

  • Cut out snacking unless it’s a healthy snack
  • Eat three meals a day
  • Drink plenty of water (at least 48 ounces)
  • Follow a workout routine (I did two days at the gym which included 20 minutes of cardio and one day of yoga)
  • Quality not quantity on desserts (had none this week)
  • If you go out to eat order a healthy meal including your sides.  Stay away from bread unless it is wheat or multigrain.
  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Eat breakfast at home
  • Cut back on potatoes
  • Cut back on alcohol (had two glasses of red wine on Friday, that was my one treat!)


Followed by this re-statement of the tips above.

  1.  If it looks good – don’t eat it
  2. If it smells good – don’t eat it
  3. If it tastes good – don’t eat it
  4. If it’s something that makes you feel good – don’t eat it, drink it
  5. Don’t walk….RUN away from everything that brings you eating/drinking pleasure (running burns calories)

And possibly my favorite –

If I give up potatoes and bread, what will I put my butter on?

We’ve had fun with some ‘contestants’ leaving snacks for our Biggest Losers (all in fun) and truly supporting those of us that really need it! I’m excited to have the group support and competition! We are fiercely determined to be successful :). Hopefully each of you has a support group (in this case 1 or 2 constitute a group) that you can depend on for some fierce support in all your goals.

blog2 mm not ww pills




Confessional – Facing phobias like Hypengyophobia and Chronomentrophobia

True ConfessionsOK, so I have already ‘fessed’ up to breaking the toilet seat in our “About” page. We, in the family, had a good laugh about it but it is still embarrassing. So much so that I now confess to not having replaced it. The toilet seat sits in the bathroom, repaired by black duct tape – which itself is now starting to show some stress. I was in Home Depot contemplating which ‘heavy duty’ seat to buy when it occurred to me that I can’t replace it. I had a vision of replacing it and having it break again – thus shattering my illusion (delusion?) that it was just a ‘one-off’, a faulty seat, a flawed design. The toilet seat stays as a reminder that I need to stay fierce about my fitness goals. Once I hit my toilet seatnext milestone, I will visit Home Depot again and see what visions guide me. It is possible I have a bit of Hypengyophobia: fear of responsibility. Also known as hypegiaphobia. If by chance, these phobias are not spelled correctly. . . it’s not my fault!

This next confession could fall under the phobia Chronomentrophobia: fear of clocks. I don’t know that I actually fear clocks, I guess I sometimes just resent that they don’t have more hands/hours. I confess that I am not good at ‘springing forward’. I totally rock at ‘falling behind’ though – I mean totally. Having to set my clock an hour early thereby losing a precious hour of sleep, makes me feel  as though I have lost a whole night’s sleep. Having to arrive at work a whole hour early does not sit well with me. It always takes me a few weeks to get on schedule. going to the gym

Come fall when we set our clocks back and I gain a whole hour, I feel like I am on vacation and I enjoy every single minute of that hour. I re-set myself to that clock immediately and have no problems staying on that schedule. This year I am trying to have the attitude that somewhere in there, I hear Spring so…. it may just be getting closer. This snow may all turn to mud one day soon and it may be time to take one last look at my Burpee catalog before sending off that order for garden seeds.

And just because it made me laugh and forget about all my phobias…

Weight Loss_Virginity

Have a great week (and face down all fears that stand in the way of that)!   – M

Supportive Accountability – Working together

Bathing Suit SeasonOK ladies – swim suit season is approaching. It may be harder to believe for some of us what with the frigid temperatures we have all shared but….warmer weather (i.e. less clothing) is coming. Are YOU ready? Kind of makes one long for the old style swim suits!

Metal Fillings CartoonAccountability and support are two of the best tools we can have in our box if we want to get healthier and more comfortable in our lighter clothing. And of course, that what’s this blog is all about – giving us all tools to get us to our best selves.

One of the best support tools we had at my place of work in the past was a weight loss challenge program championed by a couple of co-workers. The premise was that in a set period of time, ours was 12 weeks, participants would lose a certain percentage of weight. Everyone had the same goal, let’s say 5% weight loss in 12 weeks. For a 200 lb person that was equal to 10 lbs overall with each week’s goal being .8 lbs. We all paid to join – we put in $20 but the amount could be anything. Each week, we were weighed in by one person, no actual weights were ever distributed, only % lost. You knew your standing each week in relation to the other ‘contestants’. The winner of the challenge – the one that lost the biggest percentage of weight, was awarded half the money collected over the 12 weeks including the penalties! If you didn’t meet your weekly goal (e.g. the .8 lb for the 200 lb woman) you were penalized a dollar and had to ante up. If you didn’t show up to weigh (and were at work that day) you were penalized a dollar. If you gained weight from the previous week (even if you met your goal) you were penalized a dollar. We awarded the other half of the money to the next two runner ups (with decreasing amounts going to each standing). You could do it however you chose – all the money to the winner or some other winning scheme. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we were supporting each other and keeping each other accountable.

Chewing - favorite exerciseEveryone did their own thing regarding diet and exercise but were always willing to share tips. Usually the ‘biggest loser’ for that week was asked what her secrets were. Recipes were shared, fitness tips distributed, etc. I never failed to lose weight when I participated in that program and once I even won (over $100). I was held accountable by the weekly weigh-ins and possible fees and I was supported by doing this with a group of people.

There’s so much literature out there that reinforces the advantage of having a support group when trying to lose weight. It’s just like anything else, it is easier, more fun, and WAY less stressful when you are doing with others. “Most people put all their effort into finding the right diet or exercise program but don’t put any energy into creating a support and accountability system, and too often, that’s where the devil lies,” says Adam Shafran, DC, an exercise physiologist and chiropractor who is the author of You Can’t Lose Weight Alone: The Partner Power Weight Loss Program.

No one is running the weight loss challenge at work right now and it has been on my mind so much, I just may need to put my ‘fierce cape’ on and get it started again. I have the spreadsheet to calculate everyone’s weekly goal if any of you are interested in also being a ‘caped crusader’. I would love any suggestions for re-motivating the group at work and any special challenges I could include along the way to make it fun for all – maybe some little incentives for fourth and eighth weeks?  I know I can count of this group for support.  🙂

You are what you eat