WW on the road

Texas sunsetI’m still in Texas visiting family, taking an extended Thanksgiving visit, and missed my regular WW meeting yesterday.  But before leaving home, I checked the Weight Watchers website and found a meeting that I could attend here. In fact, it was so close that I walked over in about 10 minutes this morning, getting in some exercise on this dreary day as well as getting myself to a meeting to start the week.  It was a small group but very welcoming and I was pleased to see I’d lost 1.2 lbs even over the holiday while I wasn’t overly obsessed with what I was eating.

Following program when we’re at home and in our normal routine is hard enough.  Doing it on the road can present challenges.  I’m used to cooking for one and having only food around that I know won’t be dangerous for me (as in, no red light food).  But that doesn’t always work when we travel, especially when holidays are involved and there are things like pies in the kitchen and pecans fresh from the yard that are being cleaned.

But I’ve managed.  I’m getting sick of talking about food and WW and meal choices but I am going to have to deal with that the rest of my life.  I’ve been sick of it before and will be tired of it again.  At home I live alone and don’t have to talk about it quite as much as I do when I’m around people in such concentrated doses, seeing most for the first time in months.   I have my water bottle and am guzzling as much as I can stand because I really am thirsty a lot and am more willing to fill a craving with water first and not with something else, though I am willing to head for the something else if water doesn’t do it.

Today we walked our feet off looking at things at Walmart and Target, two huge stores bigger than what we have at home, and that got additional exercise.  Kind of balanced out the small fries with lunch but who’s counting?  I head home tomorrow and much as I love my family and have enjoyed the visit, I will be ready to get back to my “regular life” – though I will only be there for 36 hours before I head out again for another short trip.

It’s a good thing I’m getting better at making choices that feel like normal eating and less like being on a strange regime when so much flies out of my control.   Or I fly into a place where control is harder to hold on to.

Giving thanks for family

Tia and LisaAll of the family is gathered here for Thanksgiving except for my youngest nephew out in Utah, who is playing college football tomorrow. I haven’t been here for the holiday in several years; usually when I come I go to Houston for Christmas, not to my parents’ house in the eastern part of the state.

We had a lovely day yesterday with good food and good company. There’s a little song we sing when we stuff the turkey (silly song but it’s a family tradition – there are LOTS of traditions around here) and we take a million pictures of people stuffing it.

Our traditional meal is at 5:00 and we have turkey with “Yankee stuffing” (which is bread stuffing cooked inside the turkey) as well as cornbread dressing cooked separately, sweet potatoes with oranges and marshmallows, green bean casserole, red cabbage, rolls, homemade cranberry sauce. And desserts – there were four different kinds of pies.

One of the things we do at our meal is to take time to go around the table and reflect aloud on the things we are thankful for this year. As wonderful as the food was, no one mentioned that. We weren’t thankful for it; it was simply there to be enjoyed. Instead we gave thanks for health and family, good friends, safe travel, job possibilities, finishing school, marriages that were solid, support through difficult times. Things that matter.

It’s good to remember this and we should do it more than once a year, but at least that often it’s worth taking the time to be deliberately reflective of the people and things that are important to us.

Pictured is me with my lovely goddaughter.

Over the river and through the woods

Inflatable turkeyWhen I was in elementary school, we used to have “theme music” for all the holidays. I guess singing kept us distracted and entertained. The Thanksgiving Music was “Over the River and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go; the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through white and drifted snow; over the river and through the woods, oh how the wind does blow! It stings the toes and bites the nose as over the ground we go.”

Okay, sounds good, but when I went to grandmother’s house we went in a car, not a horse-drawn sleigh over snow drifts. In fact, I’ve never been in a horse-drawn sleigh over snow drifts and this Thanksgiving the weather at home is rain and here at grandma’s house, it will be in the 70’s. So much for the song.

But the family is gathering in spite of that. I flew in yesterday after waking up at 2:30 am to get to the airport and off on a 6am flight. Ended up bumped from my connector flight because the little bitty plane was overweight with cargo. Since I saw this happen on multiple flights to multiple locations, it made me wonder why the paying passengers were always getting the short end of the stick or in our case, left behind in the airport to wait for another shot. I did finally arrive with a $250 voucher for travel on another future flight, which will be on a real plane and not one the size of a mosquito.

Today people arrived from two other places, my sister in law and niece from Houston and the car of college kids who drove for hours across Texas from Lubbock. Thursday morning my brother will come up, having finally agreed with us that trying to leave on Wednesday night after a long day was not the best idea.

The clan is gathering. We grocery shop, stocking up on what we think people will eat, but we know perfectly well that there will be at least one trip a day to the grocery store to get things we forgot or didn’t know that someone had to have. Today on my trip to get green onions, parsley and milk, I grabbed a bottle of water. That seems like an indulgence out here where people are drinking out of glasses but without a bottle, I simply don’t get my water. I’ve refilled it three times already from the tap, and where the water comes from isn’t the point. I simply know that I have to hold on to something and drinking my water is an absolute. Along with all the other good things about it (filling me up, good for my face, blah blah blah), it reminds me that I am deliberate about my choices and choosing to drink a bottle of water instead of a glass of wine is one of them.

I may not make all of the planned choices that I practiced. And if I don’t, I will not be a failure and will still move on and do whatever’s next. But I do know that drinking water is one way to make sure I can do that. What is the one anchor that you are hanging on to this year for the holiday?

Fireplace Feast

Fireplace FeastYesterday I went out for a very special dinner at the Salem Cross Inn, established in 1705. At the Fireplace Feast the prime rib is roasted in this giant fireplace that’s big enough to stand in. The meat smelled amazing and tasted even better. I was with a group of 20 friends which made it even more fun. There were lots of other people there as well, enjoying hayrides (which didn’t work quite as advertised since the wagons didn’t have any hay) and glasses of hot mulled wine and cider to warm up after.

After the prime rib was removed from the fireplace, the staff brought out a big iron cauldron filled with the makings for fish chowder. We took turns stirring it (wearing suitably long protective gloves since the fire was HOT), and they added huge clams and fish. It was very tasty as our first course, and I don’t even like chowder. Though I didn’t eat it all because I was saving room for the prime rib.

On the other side of the room from the fireplace, other staff members were making our deep dish apple pie in large batches. Dozens of apples were cored, pared, sliced, sugared and spiced, and topped with pastry. I loved watching the little corer/parer machine thing which was amazingly efficient and fast.

It was a fun evening and I ate everything – mulled wine, cheese and crackers, fish chowder, prime rib, fresh rolls, butternut squash, spinach, herb roasted potatoes, and apple pie with whipped cream (not cool whip) served from the largest bowl of whipped cream I’ve ever seen in my life. It was all wonderful. Definitely not something to do very often – I couldn’t afford the price or the calories – but the setting, the food, and the company were all worth it this weekend.

Hungry Girl advice

Hungry Girl logoEvery Monday-Friday morning I get an informative, fun email from Hungry Girl with information about one or two new food products, or shockers about things I’ve been eating, or recipes to skinny-up stuff that’s way too over the top for most of us to eat once we know what’s in it.

The Hungry Girl herself follows Weight Watchers and she provides WW points values for the foods she talks about, but the info isn’t associated with WW officially. And you don’t have to be a Weight Watcher person to appreciate what you get.

One thing I’m trying to do is to try one new product/food recommended by Hungry Girl every week. It doesn’t always work because I forget or can’t find one. But I’ve rarely been steered wrong – e.g., those Lean Cuisine Paninis are to die for, but HG was absolutely right about which one is the best and it’s not the one at my store. Worth knowing about so I can hunt it down.

This week she told us about new yummy Lean Cuisine Cafe Classic Bowls. I know I can’t live on them but they sure are handy to have in the freezer when I’m overwhelmed and otherwise would just eat weird stuff. Anyway, I usually agree with whatever HG says is the best one, so that’s what I tried and it was AWESOME. Three Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni is really more just ravioli but they are big raviolis with bright fresh veggies in the bowl, and a satisfying amount of food. I heartily recommend this one – and only 24o calories/4 points! Amazing.

Eating new food keeps life interesting, whether it’s trying something new from the fruit and veggie aisle, a new spritzed salad dressing, a dessert like Vitatop muffins, a tangerine Frappaccino at Starbucks, or cool new varieties of frozen products. Some you will just find so-so, some you’ll hate, and some will become new staples of your weekly dining. Give it a whirl.

If you are not on the Hungry Girl email list, sign yourself up right this minute. The website is wonderful, sure, but the email is better.