Losing Weight with Wolfram Alpha

Hey Y’all!  So you know how I’ve mentioned a few times that I work for this company called Wolfram|Alpha?  Yeah, well, we’re awesome and so is our “Computational Knowledge Engine”.  Yup.  That’s what I said.  We actually compute data for you right on our website.  In fact, we can do a lot more than that…. like help you to lose weight!

They asked me to write a post for our blog about how to use W|A to lose weight.  I thought I might have to do a lot of research and querying on our website to find a good way to actually do that, but in fact, it was extremely simple.  We can show you the nutrition value of thousands of foods.  We can show you the estimated caloric burn of different activities based on your height, weight and age.  We can help to calculate what your caloric intake should be every day depending on what your goal weight and time allotted is.  We can do so much!  So check out the blog that I wrote to see just how handy it is.

And if you’re not interested in using it, just go and read it because you think I’m neato and you like reading what I write!  =D

One more thing.  I’ll be guest posting on ANOTHER blog this week!  Dacia over at 33 and Counting asked me to write a post, so I went all out and wrote a little about my journey and lot about food!  I even included a recipe for another delicious Indian meal.  It’s all broken down into WW PP just like I do here.  Dacia’s pretty amazing.  She’s lost over 100 lbs in less than a year with Weight Watchers!  So make sure to check it out this Friday!

I’m Bugging Out

Bodybugging that is.  And so far, I’m loving it.

It’s interesting to look back on my life and see how my journey towards health has changed.  From the fifth grade until about age 25, I tried so many different “diets” – Slimfast, diet pills, South Beach, starvation, Jorge Cruise’s 8 Minutes a Day, even some Richard Simmons stuff – and it never worked for very long.  I never felt like they were “livable” after a couple weeks, and obviously (in my experience), they weren’t.

Now that I’ve found something that works for me, I’m trying out a new kind of “supplement” – apps and products that help me to better track my calorie intake and calorie burn.  I’ve tested out all the different websites and for me, www.fatsecret.com has the best Android interface for calorie tracking, but www.myfitnesspal.com comes in a close second.  I actually think myfitnesspal has a lot more options food and exercise on the website, but their android interface doesn’t provide a widget and that’s what I want.

This Bodybugg is a recent purchase.  I found a fantastic “cyber Monday” deal and couldn’t pass it up.  I’ve been watching The Biggest Loser constantly since its now available to watch instantly on Netflix and I always see them wearing their bodybuggs.  I did my research and found the one that works for me, and wouldn’t you know it… I can track it on my phone!  So I have all my information right at my fingertips.  It’s been really fun this weekend testing out my calorie burn.  These are a few of the things I’ve learned:

– Grocery shopping makes you take a lot of steps
– My body burns an average of 1-2 calories per minute in a sedentary state (like sleep)
– I burn a lot more calories than I thought I was based on activity calculators on websites
– It’s a lot easier to burn more calories when you’re in a happy relationship ;)
– Running burns a TON of calories
– Even when just hanging around at home getting things done, I still take around 2500-3000 steps in a day

I love seeing the physical proof of a hard days work. I can track everything and feel good about my progress. And I definitely feel like I have more control over my weight loss because I know exactly what’s going in and what’s getting burned off! I’m the only one to blame for any discrepancies.

Check out the links to see what might work for you. I bought my bodybugg for $100, so don’t spend too much more than that. There’s going to be better deals out there than buying at full price!

PS – I still use fatsecret for food/calorie tracking since the bodybugg program for tracking food it severely limited.  They seriously need to team up with another website to take advantage of their food database!

GAME ON!!

Kicking your friend's butt while shrinking your own! (that's their tag line)

Today starts a new adventure worth $200. Seriously. If Bella and I win this game against our friends Jenna and Mike, we’ll win $200. So, we’re gonna win it! GAME ON!

The Game On! Diet book is the most hilariously written, honest diet book I’ve read so far. It’s written by Krista Vernoff, the executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy. Um, LOVE THAT SHOW. I can see why the show is a success. This book is just further proof.

So basically, we get points each day for doing things like eating 5 balanced meals a day (fist-sized carb, palm-sized protein, thumb-sized fat, no unnatural sugar, no bleached grain foods, etc.), exercising at least 20 minutes a day, getting 7 hours of sleep, breaking an old habit, starting a new good habit, well, you get the picture. You count up all your points and if you lose 1% of your starting body weight each week, you get to add 20% of your total points to your overall score. That could make or break a win!

Why is this worth $200? The four of us decided to go all in and up the stakes. $50 per person going in, and only one couple will get the pot. Double or nothing! And I really don’t feel like LOSING $50 right before the holiday season. It’s only three weeks long, so I think we’ll be able to do it. No, I KNOW we will! I’m using that money for Christmas presents!

As far as the food goes, I really don’t feel like it’s too restrictive. You get 100 calories a day of whatever you want without incurring a penalty (as long as it’s not a “snack”), you get 5 filling meals (or three meals and two hearty snacks), one free meal per week AND one entire day of the entire plan each week. Gotta trick our bodies into continual hard work, otherwise they get used to only getting like 1600 calories a day!

So this morning, Jess and I played some Kinect Volleyball for 20 minutes and kicked BUTT. Then I made breakfast – 2 egg whites, 2 handfuls of spinach, 2 tsp of cheese and some Pam spray. Flavored it with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Wrapped that up with a tasty 100% whole grain whole wheat Mission wrap. It was still kinda bland, but filling! Jess chose two kiwis instead of the wrap for her carb. Second meal will be cashews, 2 cheese sticks, a carrot and a small apple. See? That’s quite a lot of food for a “snack”! I’m thinking maybe a mexican wrap for third meal? We’ll see, though. This will really require some meal planning. I plan on doing a bunch of that tonight. And cooking up a ton of brown rice to use throughout the week.

We might just take some before and after pictures throughout this game too, so look forward to some of those in three weeks! And if you’d like to check out some of the stuff the other team is doing, go to Jenna’s blog.  She’s one crafty mo fo!  I already taunted her this morning with CUPCAKES CUPCAKES CUPCAKES.  Oh man, I’m horrible, lol.

Fiber One 80 Giveaway! CLOSED

Photo Courtesy of: The Tippy Toe Diet blog

My family has a history with Fiber One products.  Thanks to my brothers, Fiber One bars have been affectionately renamed “fart bars” due to their dramatic effect on the digestive system.  We’ve also tried a bunch of different cereals and I can’t say I’ve continued to buy them on a regular basis.  Sometimes a girl just doesn’t want her stomach or nether-regions singing opera to anyone within earshot of her cubicle.

When I signed up to get a free box of Fiber One 80 to try out, I thought I’d be getting a box of bland, twig-like cereal that would cause me to run to the bathroom a lot.  Why sign up?  The free pedometer and iPod armband thingy that came with it!  I thought I’d be crushing up the cereal and using it as a bread crumb coating for a chicken or fish dish.  But when the box showed up on my doorstep and I grabbed a handful to try, I was pleasantly surprised!  It has a great honey-sweetened flavor and it does NOT taste like twigs.  It doesn’t even look like twigs.  And it has a whopping TEN grams of fiber per serving!  (I didn’t rush to the bathroom all day, but I was definitely feeling lighter by the end of the day, lol).  In fact, one serving (3/4 cup) of Fiber One 80 is only 2 PP!

I’m already thinking of ways to use it in cooking rather than just eating it in a bowl with milk.  I was already planning on a parfait with some of the chobani, so I’m going to chop up some of this cereal, mix with some graham cracker and oats and make a super tasty carby layer for my parfaits.  Maybe it would be a good addition to a graham cracker crust for a pie of some sort…. the honey flavor would lend itself very nicely to a pie crust!

So yeah, I’m actually a fan of this new Fiber One 80 cereal.  I mixed some of it into my strawberry-banana chobani and had a blasty blast!  I recommend getting a box and trying it out for yourself.  Or… you could win a box of your own (plus a pedometer and an iPod armband!).  The pedometer is pretty cool too.  Small and perfect for a pocket… but easy to forget about (put it in your pocket, ANGELA!)

That’s right, you can win a Fiber One gift package right here!  It includes a box of the cereal, a pedometer and an iPod armband.  There are five ways to enter.  You can enter once or all five different ways.  Just make sure to follow the directions!  All entries must be completed by MONDAY, JULY 4th at MIDNIGHT.  The winner will be chosen on random.org announced on July 5th.  Good luck!

1. “Like” Fiber One on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them how you found their page and what product you’re trying to win and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you did.
2. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.
3. Subscribe to my blog through RSS feed or through email and leave a comment telling me that you did.
4. Share my blog post on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a free pedometer, iPod armband and a box of the new Fiber One 80 cereal on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.
5. Tweet the following message “Win a free pedometer, iPod armband and a box of Fiber One 80 cereal from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-lg” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

Note: the product, prize pack, information and giveaway have all been provided by Fiber One through MyBlogSpark.  All opinions of the product and prize pack are personal opinions (they didn’t pay me to speak on behalf of it all).

Adobo Roasted Potatoes

Perfectly cooked with just enough spice. Add a little ADOBO to your life!

If there’s one culinary thing I’ve learned in the past couple of months, it’s that the best way to make proper “roasted” potatoes is by using a ROASTING PAN.  Imagine that?!?!?  All these years I’ve been making them with cookie sheets thinking they were just as good, but it wasn’t until I made a pork roast with roasted veggies that I actually used my roasting pan… and the vegetables were pure perfection.

I got the roasting pan for either Christmas or my birthday last year and I’ve used it a few times, but there are some kitchen things that I find a hard time understanding their purpose…. like a lemon zester.  Umm, that’s why you get a cheese grater with four different sizes on the sides.  One of them is pretty much a zester.  I’m sure true bakers would strongly disagree with me, though.  To each her own!

Either way, I NOW see the beauty of a quality roasting pan.  And when I decided to do steak and told the girlfriend she was in charge of the side, she chose potatoes (and cut them up) and I spiced them to play off the steak marinade and roasted them in that pan like a pro.  I probably could have put a teeny tiny bit more adobo on them, but it’s all personal preference.  They tasted just like seasoned french fries… without all grease and loads of salt!  I really enjoyed them!  And they would be perfect to cook up in a skillet the next morning (if you have ANY leftovers) as breakfast potatoes and pair em with an egg or two.  Oh, and make sure to bring the ketchup.  Nothing like potatoes and ketchup!

A little ketchup, a lotta love!

Adobo Roasted Potatoes
Servings: 4 (1 cup per serving)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5

Ingredients

  • 4 cups quartered small white potatoes, 10 PP
  • 2 tbsp Land O Lakes light butter w/ canola oil, softened, 3 PP
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, 7 PP (although you could probably use just 1 tbsp and cut the PP to 4 per serving)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp adobo spice
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp peach mango hot sauce (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Put potatoes in a mixing bowl.  Pour in softened butter and olive oil.  Stir.  Then put in all the spices and hot sauce if you’re using it.  Mix well.

3. Pour into roasting pan.  Roast for 30 minutes, take out and mix up, then put it back in for another 15-20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

This is one of those great dishes that you can prepare easily, put in the oven and get other stuff done while it cooks.  Gotta love that!  Now, got get yourself a roasting pan if you don’t have one already!

Why, Could You Please Pass the Gas?

Photo Courtesy of: chriscantwel.tumblr.com

I need to talk to you about a serious topic, people.  And I need to talk about it now.

There’s one specific thing that undoubtedly catapults a relationship between two people to an entirely new level.  It forever changes the relationship, brings a new sense of honesty and openness, and often it means that long-term commitment (if handled correctly) is in the foreseeable future.  What is that thing, you ask?  Farts.

Now, I was tempted to put “gas” as the pivotal word, but no.  People burp in front of each other all the time; it’s no big deal.  Carbonated beverages have minimized the significance of burping, therefore destroying the poignancy of “gas” as a wholly important word (in this discussion).  Burps are small potatoes.  Farts, on the other hand, are equivalent to Thanksgiving dinner.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this journey, so far, it’s that farting comes with the territory.  My relationship with myself has reached a whole new level now that farts are a definite part of my daily life.  With the increased amounts of fiber I consume and the consistent weekly exercise, I find myself farting a LOT more.  And not just in the comfort of my own home.  I go for a nice walk before or after work and ten minutes after I’ve started… pfffffffft.  Attempting to run the day after a delicious leafy green, fiberlicious meal…. pffft.  pfffffft. pfft.  pft.

At first, I was quite mortified.  Who do you blame when you’re the only one coming out of the elevator?  What do you say to the old lady who unknowingly walked into your string of little bombs as you stroll around the park a few times?

As a woman who’s proud of her European mutt roots, farts and I have never been strangers.  In fact, gassing it up after a meal is considered to be a compliment in some countries.  “Pfffffffft… My compliments to the chef.” (At least that’s what Dad always told me!)  But still, I was worried about what people would think.  “GAWD, that fat girl just FARTED and it smells like BUUUUUUUTTTTT!”  I already have to deal with the fears that come from being the biggest girl in the workout class or the sweatiest, most red-faced girl on the elliptical, but do I really have to be the gassy girl on the track too?

Why, yes.  Yes I do.  I eat the right foods now and I exercise like I should have been doing all my life, just like all the other healthy people in the world.  And guess what?  They fart too. You hear them in the bathroom (like in Vegas.  What happens there stays there.)  We all think “gross!!” and raise our eyebrows a little as we sit in our individual stalls, but we never actually say anything to one another because we KNOW we’ve been in that same unfortunate position.  No one in their right mind is going to make fun of the person who ate some bad Chinese food and is paying for it in unholy and uncomfortable ways!  Karma is real, and you know you’ll pay for it if you do.

I’m finally starting to accept my farts for what they really are, and they are a bunch of things.

– tiny little pushes towards my ultimate goal
– bits of inspiration to get my ass moving away from the stank
– mini shouts of gratitude from my digestive tract for feeding it well
– reminders that I’m a normal, imperfect human like everyone else
– non-verbal communication from my body letting me know that my diet is on track (or off track depending on how much it burns my eyes.  TMI?)

But most importantly, my being able to accept my farts as a normal, albeit HILARIOUS, part of my new and improved lifestyle has definitely brought my relationship with my body to a whole new level.  I suspect I’m on the brink of a long-term commitment here, people!

Hello, my name is Angela and I fart.  A lot.  If you can’t handle that, then it’s your problem, not mine.  Pffffffffffffft!

My First 5K

Just a few minutes after we passed the Start line!

We did it!  My girlfriend and I finally completed our first 5K!  Wow.  What a rush of emotions.  It was amazing to be two people in a crowd of 4800 participants.  We took our places close to the very end of the crowd since we were in the “walkers” group (although we ran at LEAST a mile of the whole thing!), did a little stretching and let out a squeak when we finally started moving towards the start!  We didn’t actually cross the “Start” line until about 10 minutes after it started, since we were at the end all squished together like an old bag of marshmallows, lol.  But once we got out of our squishy surroundings, we were really able to get into a great routine of walking and running.

But since I’m not the only one who experienced this race, I asked the girlfriend to write a blurb about her experiences for this post. So, without further ado…

Special Notes from The Girlfriend

Our view from the back of the line of participants! We're so far back that you can't even see the START LINE.

The Illinois 5K was simply amazing. Going into it I didn’t think that it would be much of an event, but with 5000 runners/walkers…. it was a sight to see. When Ange and I were getting ready at home, it reminded me of when I used to get ready for track and field in high school. “The Rush”, or as I like to call it – the healthy feeling of competition :) I have always been one for contact sports. Obviously, running in a 5K doesn’t include competitive contact with the ones running next to you, BUT it does require a sense of competition within yourself. The challenge of running the 5K is between you and the ground.

While running in the downtown streets, several community friends were there to cheer us on. “Way to go, Ange and Jess!!” This was the point where my body felt like it could run a marathon. The rush went running through my veins. As we ran into the stadium, thousands of families, friends, and supporters were there to cheer on the race runners, including Angela’s family. It was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment! I would recommend walking a 5K – odds are you’ll end up running to your goal too!

So we finished our first 5K and we loved it so much that we’re going to do at LEAST one more this year!  And, if you didn’t know, Weight Watchers has started a “Walk-It!” day.  Although I won’t be walking on that specific day (which I believe is May 22nd), they did put out this AWESOME training schedule to get people running a full 5K in 6 weeks!  I’m TOTALLY doing this.  It has officially become my next goal.  I also downloaded an application on my phone called “My Runkeeper“.  The girlfriend and I used it on our walk the other morning.  It timed it, made an announcement at every minute (I set it that way), and it tracked it through GPS, so we could see just how far we went and in how long!  The maps/routes can be saved, you can pick from a variety of activities… it’s just awesome!  Definitely gonna be using this a lot.  In fact, I used it yesterday to track my walk from home to work and figured out that it’s .26 miles to the office and it takes me 6 minutes to get there at a leisurely pace.  So, if I walk to work and back, it’s a half mile and if I also walk home and back for lunch, I’ve walked an extra full mile each day!  Pretty schweet.

Just before we reached the turn to the Finish!

If any of you have smart phones, I would definitely recommend checking these kind of applications out.  There’s a bunch of different ones that track distance, steps, etc.  There’s also ones that are just special stopwatches that would be super helpful in circuit training!  You don’t even have to pay for most of them.  Anything that makes working out easier or more fun should DEFINITELY be incorporated into regular activities!

And the girlfriend and I BOTH encourage you all to sign up for a 5K… or a 10K or some other race or competition that will give you a focus or a reason, or maybe just enjoyment of exercise because when you cross that finish line, you too will see that you’ve really just begun :)

Weekly Weigh-In

Happy to be alive and thriving!

I totally forgot to put up last week’s weigh-in!  It was -3.3, by the way :)  Almost to my 5%!  But then this past week I gained 1/10th…. and my girlfriend and I went on a couple long trips the past two weekends and we weren’t good at all with counting.  We DID try to make healthier choices, though!

The Reluctant Losers have lost almost 50 lbs all together!  How great is that!?!?  There’s a lot of exercising happening, which is AWESOME.  I think, as a group, we’re at a point where we’re struggling a bit to get back on track.  We’ve all had some success and then life happened and we’ve hit a group plateau.  So, it’s time to get back on that wagon!

I’ve been fighting getting sick for the past two weeks since my parents and my girlfriend have both been sick, but alas, I did not win that fight.  I’m pretty sure I have bronchitis!  But you know what?  That just means I’ll be drinking more water and staying away from too much dairy.  But enough about plans and weight loss.  Let’s talk about food!

Right before we left our friends’ house to head home yesterday, we saw that they had written out a meal plan for the week.  It was so nice and simple!  Just one line of what dinner was going to be.  My girlfriend said, “That’s such a great idea!  We should do that.”  So, we did one in the car on the way home.  AND, we’re going to get a little “weekly menu” art piece to put in the kitchen so we can write it down and stick to it.  I’m really quite excited!  I love planning menus :)  Here’s our dinner menu for the week:

Monday – Asian chicken stirfry over jasmine rice
Tuesday – Tomato soup and grilled cheese naan (an indian bread)
WednesdayBaked mac n cheese and green beans
ThursdaySavory breaded shrimp and teriyaki broccoli
FridaySweet chili chicken and veggies
Saturday – Grilled marinated pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and peas
Sunday – Homemade chicken noodle soup

Sweet mother, I’m excited! We weren’t able to do as much cooking as we wanted last week because we didn’t have a lot of groceries. There wasn’t much sense in shopping when we knew we’d be gone two weekends in a row. But we hit Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Plum Market this past weekend and stocked up on everything good and tasty… including four new bottles of wine. We’ve gathered quite a collection ;)

I think that’s all the random thoughts I have for today. Recipes will come later this week. If you have a request for any of the specific meals above, just leave a comment! And good luck to all of you this week with making healthy choices and keeping up with exercise!

Vinegar is Your Friend

I was going through my google reader yesterday updating myself on all the new blog entries that had been written lately and I came across this one from the Healthy Easy Recipes blog.  It blew my mind!  I’ve heard lots about the uses of vinegar over the years, but this article laid it out all nice and neat for me.  I knew I had to share.  So, here it is, almost verbatim.  The article was taken from….

http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/vinegar

All Around the House
1. To remove stickers that have been used to “decorate” furniture and other surfaces, moisten with vinegar. Let sit for at least ten minutes, then remove.

2. For persistent room odors, place a bowl of vinegar in the room overnight.

3. For spills on carpet, use a sponge or cloth to soak up as much liquid as possible. Then spray with a mixture of half vinegar, half water. Let stand for about two minutes, then blot with towel or sponge. Repeat as needed.

4. For more persistent stains, use a mixture of 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap, and 1 cup warm water. Proceed as suggested above. When finished cleaning, dry using a hairdryer set on low.

5. To clean windows, spray with half vinegar, half water. Wipe clean with either newspapers or cloth.

6. To clean silver, pewter, copper, or brass, dissolve 1 teaspoon salt in one cup vinegar. Add flour to create a paste (1/4 cup or more). Apply the paste to the metal item, and let stand for at least fifteen minutes. Rinse with warm water and polish with a soft cloth.

7. No-wax floors can be cleaned with a solution of 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water for a shinier surface.

8. To clean wood paneling, use a mixture of 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Apply to paneling with a soft cloth. Dry with a clean cloth.

In the Bathroom
9. To remove corrosion or chemical build-up from showerheads, soak in vinegar overnight.

10. Remove stains from the toilet bowl by spraying with vinegar and spraying.

11. To remove soap build-up from faucets, clean with a mixture of 1 part salt to four parts vinegar.

12. Spray shower walls and shower curtain with vinegar to help prevent mildew.

In the Kitchen
13. To keep ants away, spray vinegar along doorways, windowsills, countertops – anywhere that ants are likely to appear. If you find an ant trail (path that ants use repeatedly), clean it with vinegar.

14. To remove odors from the sink or garbage disposal, pour in a cup or more vinegar. Do not rinse out again for at least an hour.

15. For a clogged drain, first pour in 1/2 cup baking soda. Then add an equal amount of vinegar. When the mixture finishes bubbling, rinse with warm water. (Note: some garbage disposals do not react well to this cleaning method; check with the manufacturer first.)

16. Wipe your hands with vinegar after chopping. It will remove strong scents like onion and garlic, as well as stains from fruit juices.

17. To clean wooden cutting boards, wipe with vinegar.

18. Remove strong odors. Rinse jars with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water to remove garlic or other strong odors. Boil water with several spoons of vinegar to remove the smell of burnt food from your kitchen.

19. Vinegar is an excellent cleaner for all kitchen surfaces – counters, refrigerators, stovetops.

20. To clean your microwave oven, put a microwave-safe bowl of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in the oven, and cook long enough to boil. In addition to removing any lingering odors, this will loosen any baked-on food from the microwave’s walls.

21. To remove coffee or tea stains from china, clean with a mixture of vinegar and salt.
In the Laundry
22. To keep colors from running in the wash, soak in vinegar before washing.

23. To decrease lint on clothing, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

24. Many persistent stains can be removed with vinegar: coffee, chocolate, ketchup, jam, cola, wine. Gently rub stain with vinegar, then wash.

25. To make your “brights brighter”, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.

26. For fresher cloth diapers, add one cup distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle. This will break down uric acid and remove both lingering stains and scents.

27. To remove scorch marks from an iron, rub with a mixture of vinegar and salt.

28. To remove soap residue from the washing machine, run an empty (no laundry) cycle with one cup vinegar added.

29. To remove the smell of smoke from clothing, add a cup of vinegar to a tub of hot water. Let clothing hang in the same room for several hours.

Pet Care
30. To keep cats off windowsills or other surfaces, spray with vinegar. This will also keep them from scratching upholstery (spray an unnoticeable area of the fabric first to make sure the vinegar doesn’t cause a stain).

31. To keep dogs from scratching their ears, clean with a soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar.

32. If your dog should have a run-in with a skunk, vinegar will take care of the smell better than even tomato juice. Using vinegar diluted 50% with water, rub the dog’s fur. Rinse with warm water. Repeat as needed.

**Additional Tips from Me**
1. If you have standing water or food particles left on your dishes after you run a dishwasher cycle, run an empty load with 1/2 cup vinegar. It will break down the food particles that may be blocking the drain and get it working again! (I learned this one from my maintenance guy!)

2. Try soaking your stinky flip flops and sandals in a bucket/tub of hot water and 1/2 cup vinegar. Soak for a couple hours. It should help!

I hope all these tips help!  I’m gonna print out this list and put it on my fridge!

Weekly Weigh-In

Note the crazy hair and lack of make-up. Aaaahhh, friday!

Minus 1 pound!  I did it!  I broke my plateau and I’m finally out of the ridiculously frustrating pound that I was stuck in for almost a month!  It was hard work though, REALLY hard work.

As nice as it was to see a full pound loss, the frustration of not losing weight when I thought I would still hits close to home.  I know some people that are really struggling with the Weight Watchers plan.  And you know what?  It’s not for everyone.  If it worked for everyone, everyone would do it!  Some people work better counting calories rather than points.  They’re easier to find anyway!  Not every single one of the Reluctant Losers is using Weight Watchers to get healthier.  They’re following their own plan or a different one.  Either way, it’s still working for them!

So, instead of talking about all the things I did differently and what I’m going to improve upon for next week, I’m going to highlight a few different websites where you can start or continue a weight loss journey for free!  They all have different pros and cons and different set ups, so it’s really personal preference when it comes to which one works for you.

Fat Secret: “FatSecret is a place for people interested in food and diet. Sign up and achieve your food, diet and exercise goals. We think our features such as easily recording your food and exercise, keeping a lifetime record of your weight, finding buddies to support you and discovering recipes that are right for you are pretty special, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can use your FatSecret profile with many other services like Facebook, iGoogle and even on your mobile phone. FatSecret is your one-stop-shop for all things food and diet – the secret is out!” ~ The Fat Secret Website

I’ve checked out fatsecret before and it’s great!  They have an AWESOME database of nutritional information for food and restaurants.  You can track your food intake with a food diary and they also have a weight tracker.  I go to Fat Secret whenever I’m trying to find info to calculate the points of a dish I’ve eaten at a restaurant since the WW database is quite limited.  They also have a great community with challenges, recipes and a lot of support!  They also have a great app for droids and iphones.  Very helpful.

Spark People: I don’t know as much about this site, but one of my fellow WW peeps has told me about it a few times.  She says “Spark People is a free online resource for tracking food, exercise, and weight loss progress.  What sets SparkPeople.com apart from Weight Watchers is that food is tracked on a calorie level (which is automatically computed for you based on your current weight and your weight loss goals), but it goes a step further by tracking individual macronutrients (sodium, cholesterol, fat, etc.) and providing weekly ‘grocery lists’ based on your customized nutrition plan.  This is a full featured weight loss resource with nutrition and exercise information, and in some respects more powerful than Weight Watchers.”

It’s got the same kind of tools as fat secret, although some can be a little harder to find.  The tools they highlight on the site are Calorie Counters and Meal Plans, Fitness Programs, Motivation Systems and Feedback Reports.  Sounds good to me!  One of the really nice things about it is that they’ve branched off into sister sites for teen and pregnant women.  They also have phone apps, which is always helpful!  There’s a lot of good things on Spark People, so check it out!

Lose It: My girlfriend just signed up on Lose It and it looks awesome!  It’s basically a more user-friendly, calorie-oriented WW site.  There’s a recipe builder (HUGE plus!), goal tracker (for other things besides just weight), and lots more!  Here’s their screenshot page so that you can see for yourself just how user-friendly it is.  I love that aspect of it.  And did I mention the recipe builder!?!?!  They too have apps for the ipod and iphone.  They don’t have one for droids yet (boo.), so that’s the only downside I see as of now.  But you can still do it all online!

So take a look through those sites if you want and see what else they have to offer.  They’re all free, so you’d might as well at least check them out!  It’s important to remember that there’s more than one way to lose weight and be healthier.  I’ve definitely tried my fair share of them.  One great point that was made at last night’s WW meeting was this – “If you kinda do it, it kinda works.  If you really do it, it really works!”  Ultimately, our success is solely up to us.  We just have to WANT it bad enough!  And you know what?  I finally do :)