Food Lifesavers for the Lazy Dieter

If there’s one thing that can be said of me, it’s that I’m really lazy. Or, if I’m nicer to myself, I’m “low-key” and “relaxed.” When it comes to life’s intricacies, I want it simple and I want it easy because I just don’t have the time or patience otherwise. Life is complicated enough without my having to worry about washing, cleaning and cutting up fruit. For years I cheated on diets and cheated myself because it wasn’t “easy” — I didn’t have the tools I needed to be successful. And for me, food and food prep has to be EASYYYY. I totally lack willpower when it comes to food — it’s just much easier to grab a large bag (and not watch portions) or eat processed food than it is to eat properly and sensibly.

Until now. In this incarnation of Weight Watchers, several things have changed for me. First of all, I’m willing and able to invest the significant money one needs to have it “easy.” Secondly, I have ample resources in Los Angeles/California when it comes to healthy, sensible choices. And I’m finally listening to food recs from meetings and blogs. I’m experiencing steady success in part because of WW PointsPlus, partly due to my environment and in large part due to an array of handy new food tools. I’d like to share my latest and greatest with you.

Laughing Cow cheese

PointsPlus: 1 point per wedge

Love, love, LOVE Laughing Cow cheese wedges. If you love dairy, can’t give it up, but cry every time you think about the points in cheese, Laughing Cow is a wonderful alternative. It’s a soft, spreadable cheese that comes in a few “flavors” – original swiss, swiss light, garlic and herb and blue cheese. I love it on whole wheat toast – it’s a crunchy, filling, cheesy snack. Honestly, sometimes I eat it for dinner! It also works nicely on crackers, instead of my favorite cracker accompaniment, brie.

Pre-cut fruit cups/apple slices

PointsPlus: ZERO!!!

Again: I’m lazy. Which is why I love pre-cut fruit from Fresh & Easy and Trader Joes. I know, I know – you can’t just eat an apple/buy strawberries on their own/get a pineapple? Well, yes, I could, but these stores make it so easy nowadays. I buy a giant bag of apple slices which is my daily snack for the week — all I have to do is plop a bunch into a Ziplock and throw it in my bag. Fresh & Easy’s fruit cup mixes are my favorite dessert – I don’t have to worry about cutting up a pineapple or buying a bunch of strawberries/grapes of which half will go bad when I don’t eat them fast enough. The drawback is price — usually $3.99 or $4.99 per package. But I’ll pay it if it means I eat fruit every day.

Frozen strawberries


I’m really bad about strawberries. I love them to pieces, but whenever I buy a full carton, inevitably some goes bad because I don’t eat them fast enough. Enter frozen strawberries. I’d never even considered frozen fruit (and still prefer fresh), but knowing I always have a bag handy in my freezer is comforting, plus it’s cheaper than fruit cups (only $1.99 a bag at Fresh & Easy). I pour about half a bag into a bowl, shake one packet of Splenda over and let them defrost. In 3-4 hours, they are ready to eat and so yummy. If I put them out when I get home from work, they’re a great 9 or 10 p.m. dessert, if I’m still feeling hungry.

Single serving size ice cream cups

PointsPlus: Haagen Dazs is 6 points per cup

If you love ice cream, but just can’t control yourself around a pint of it, single serving cups, such as Haagen Dazs’s (Ben & Jerry’s & Edys make them, too), are ideal. You get a taste of yummy, full-fat, real-deal ice cream… but all in a controlled portion. I’ve found they’ve been helpful in reprogramming my mind in terms of understanding what a proper serving size of ice cream is.

VitaTop Muffins

PointsPlus: 3

Oh, VitaTops, HOW I LOVE YOU. Just like probably every other weight loss guru, I found these through Hungry Girl. I eat them for breakfast, with coffee, for dessert… and I got some tips last night on how to make them work for dinner. The possibilities are endless! How to describe them? They are high-fiber muffin substitutes that are amazingly tasty — 100 calories a piece! Personally, I love their chocolate flavor, and every iteration of it — I LOVE the Triple Chocolate flavor in particular. My fave non-chocolate flavor is a toss up between Corn and Banana Nut. Beware sticker shock — VitaTops are expensive, but WORTH IT. If you pick them up at your local store — I’ve seen them at Target — you’re going to pay at least $5-$7 a box (4 VitaTops a box). But look for coupon deals on — recently, I got 36 chocolate-flavored VitaTops for $44 (including shipping!). Vitalicious also makes a tasty brownie substitute… but that’s a topic for another post :)

Microwaveable steam-bag corn

PointsPlus: 2 per serving

The steamer bag food revolution has CHANGED MY LIFE. I love veggies, but have always preferred them microwave steamed to done on the stovetop. However, most of the corn brands I was buying had to be done on stovetop… it was an extra step, and I was lazy (see how bad it is!). Enter steam bag microwaveable corn. In 3-4 minutes, you have a GIANT bag of yummy corn. I often eat an entire bag + whole wheat toast slices for dinner. My go-to has been Birds Eye brand “Steamfresh” (they also make faboo green beans), but Fresh & Easy also makes their own brand of steamer veggies. Try it — you’ll find eating your veggies has never been easier!

Weekly Weigh-in: Week 12

After my last weigh-in on Tuesday, I took the bull by the horns, and decided I would NOT have another lack-lustre weigh-in. A .6 weight loss is well and good, but not when I’ve yet to hit the 10lbs weight loss mark… and I know I could be doing better.

Then, I found out my WW buddy couldn’t go to the Tuesday meeting, which meant my ride was gone. In the past, I’ve just written off weeks such as these, and gone two weeks without weigh-in. This week, I took charge, and went to a Sunday meeting (via the bus). And I lost 1.4 pounds! It puts me .2 lbs from 10, and 2.2 lbs from my 5% goal. My daily PointsPlus target also went down by one.

So I’m feeling reenergized, and ready to bust through the 10lbs mark next week. The weight loss is still going more slowly than I’d like, but it’s still going…

What did I do this week that worked? I still wasn’t perfect, but I:

  • Didn’t go to the grocery to buy more snack food when I ran out
  • Was disciplined about eating a light dinner on the days I had a heavy lunch
  • Made my balsamic & olive oil green beans for the first time in a month
  • Didn’t beat myself up when I went to the food trucks & went to The Counter, twice in one week (more than I’d like). I made the best choices I could (no cheese on my burger, for example), and then was smart about my dinners both days.

My personal lesson for the week: get back to your veggies, and watch your Points closely. You can be “totally sticking to the plan,” but if you’re honest, you may not be as disciplined as you should be.

Debunking Weight Watchers myths

There’s been a lot of Weight Watchers hate on Jezebel recently, which brought into focus some of the common misconceptions about the program that I’ve heard repeatedly. I’ve blogged plenty of times about various elements of being a Weight Watchers, but always with the assumption that my audience “got it” the way the I do. I think it’s time to address some of the largest misnomers about Weight Watchers, based on my experience. Take a look before you dismiss it… or diss it (*coughjezebel*)

Biggest misconception: WW is NOT a diet!

1) Weight Watchers is a diet

Nooooo. Weight Watchers is not a diet. Atkins and South Beach are diets. Nutrisystem, despite having “system” in the name, is a diet. Weight Watchers is a program, and a lifestyle, that teaches you healthy habits, helps you with proper daily food intake/activity and coaches you through the realities of food and body issues, and long-term weight loss.

2) Weight Watchers uses a BMI chart and tells you what you need to weigh.

Ok, they used to, but they don’t anymore. When I was 14, in 1998, this is how my “goal weight” was determined. I was told that, at my age and height — 5 foot 9 — I should be between 135 and 145 pounds. It was a scary target, and felt pretty unobtainable. I got down to 160. I’ll tell you, as a sensible adult who has since ballooned way higher than 160, let alone 135 – there is NO WAY IN HELL I ever want to be that thin. 140 on my frame is a size 4/6. Noooooo. Weight Watchers was CRAY-CRAY.

Weight Weighters no longer tells members what their goal should be. You can set your goal anywhere you like. You can use BMI as a guide, and set your goal within that range if you like, but for some people – including me – it makes more sense to set a goal that will put us at a size 8, 10 or 12. Or, your *goal* goal may be too daunting — you can set up a mini-goal. Your first 20 pounds. Or your first 50. You could make your goal inches. Or dress sizes. It’s up to you.

3) You can only work for Weight Watchers if you’re thin

Not exactly. You can only work for Weight Watchers — as either a leader or a receptionist — if you have successfully completed the program, ie: hit your goal/become a Lifetime member.

The idea is pretty simple: it ensures that anyone working on the “public facing” side of the company knows the program inside and out, because they’ve lived it. It provides an authenticity to the proceedings, and you know that the thin person weighing you in, seeing your deepest, darkest moments on the scale has been where you are. And they’ve made it through the journey.

4) Weight Watchers makes you weigh in at meetings, in front of everyone!

Yes, you weigh in at meetings; no it is not in front of everyone. I don’t know where people get this impression — the Little Britain “Fat Fighters” sketch, perhaps? (dust, anybody, no?, dust?) Weigh-ins are private – between only you and the receptionist. No one but the receptionist sees your weight; they don’t say it out loud (unless it’s a loss — they may tell you the good news, ie: “you lost two pounds!”) — it is recorded in your member book and handed to you.

Now you see why you want your receptionist to be a successful Weight Watcher? Would you want Susie Always-Been-Skinny to see your 350 lbs, or your 2 pound gain, etc. etc.? No way. There’s a level of comfort knowing that the person who records your weight knows where you’ve been, and isn’t judging you.

Jennifer Hudson is the new WW spokesperson -- she is young, fun and happy

5) Weight Watchers is for my mom — old, overweight, suburbanites

Weight Watchers can be for your mom, but it’s not just for your mom. WW has undergone a branding transition over the years, and honestly I think the plan is more targeted to the Millennial/Gen X set than anything now. Some meetings, especially in the suburbs and that take place during traditional work hours, will be majority older folks with a lot of weight to lose. But meetings in the city very often have younger, relatable members and leaders. It can also work for teenagers — I joined at age 14, with my mother’s written permission. It was a life-saver!

If you’re really gun shy, or can’t connect to your local meeting, consider Weight Watchers online, where age is irrelevant!

6) You have to need to lose a lot of weight to join Weight Watchers.

Definitely not. It’s actually most common for people to need to lose between 20lbs and 40-50lbs. There are people who have a lot to lose — 100lbs or more — and for those individuals, WW is a wonderful program and support system for a long journey. Now, we all know I’ve talked about the “skinny bitches” clogging my meeting before (a term I try not to use anymore). Here’s the thing: if you don’t need to lose weight (medically), Weight Watchers will not let you join — this is to prevent those with eating disorders like anorexia being enabled by meetings and the program. I’m a bit skeptical that my former at work meeting held the same standards. There were incredibly thin, fit people in my meeting with less than 10lbs to lose.

That said, don’t think Weight Watchers can’t help you take off that pesky 10-20lbs. It can. If you have this amount to lose, the online program can be particularly effective — for a small chunk of change, you can be use the program tools for a few months and figure out how to drop that weight.

7) I can lose a ton of weight fast on Weight Watchers

You could, but you probably won’t. You also shouldn’t. Again, Weight Watchers is not a diet. It is a program and a lifestyle plan. You have daily points to eat, plus a weekly allowance, and the numbers are calculated to effect a healthy, gradual weight loss. It is common and recommended you lose 1-2 pounds a week. If you’re looking for a crash diet, WW is not for you. But if you’re willing to give it a proper go and lose weight the right way, WW is a good idea.

8 ) You have to attend meetings. I don’t have time for that.

You don’t *have* to attend meetings. As I’ve said before – to be truly successful, you really need to attend. But there’s no one at Weight Watcher’s twisting your arm, forcing you to sit and attend meetings. You do have to go to a WW center to weigh in, but you can just stay for a few minutes for that and leave if you want. Plus, WW has an online only program for those for whom going to a center just isn’t practical. You can read all the program material and use WW’s awesome eTools, for a lower price than “regular” members. That format would never work as well for me, but if you’re strapped for time or freaked out by “AA for fat people” (lol), you don’t have to go.

Weight Watchers has a whole, new ad campaign just for young people doing WW online, like this one:

9) Weight Watchers is expensive. I can’t afford it.

You have to prioritize what you’re willing to spend money on, obviously, but WW is not cost prohibitively expensive. The best deal, the Monthly Pass, is $40 a month and gets you everything — meetings, online and eTools. You can have it either auto-debited or charged to your credit card each month. You can pay ala-carte each week, at meeting centers — ie: only pay when you attend. This one will end up costing you more than just subscribing. If you really need to scrimp, you can always consider the online program — since you don’t go to meetings, you’re only paying for eTools and website access. This option is only about $20 a month. Eating out one less night a week or not grabbing your morning Starbucks every day will cover WW (and help you lose weight!).

10) I don’t want to talk about being fat. Meetings are too embarrassing.

Weight Watchers meetings aren’t school. Or like Little Britain. Your leader will never “call on you” and ask you to talk about anything you don’t want to. Participating is completely voluntary! I find that sharing is helpful, but there are definitely “wall flowers” at every meeting who just absorb information. It’s totally ok.

And no one is judging you at a Weight Watchers meeting. Most people are there for the same reason: obsessive, abnormal food behaviors, bad relationships with food and body issues. And, of course, healthy, long-term weight loss. You can lurk for as long as you like, and speak up when you’re ready (or not at all). I find that sharing is really cathartic. Plus they give out GOLD STARS! :)

No worries - Weight Watchers doesn't hock a line of knock-off foods you have to eat/drink

11) Weight Watchers is going to try and sell me their crap.

Yes, Weight Watchers is a business, but there are no “required” meals or merchandise. Every center sells Weight Watchers products — PointsPlus calculators, scales, measuring spoons, pedometers, magazines, books, meal guides and snacks. You are not required or expected to buy any of them. I will say, however, some of their products are worth it.

Two tips – wait for free samples (they do them for crackers and snack bars periodically) and wait for SALES. My absolute favorite, the mini snack bars are way over price — $7.50 a box! That’s insane. But when they’re on sale, you get two boxes for $10.  These mini bars are tasty, filling, great dessert supplements and my LIFESAVER at work. I always keep 2-3 boxes of mini bars in my desk for emergencies. I also recommend the Eating Out Companion if you eat out a lot. I haven’t needed it for years, but if your reality involves chain restaurants and fast food, get it — better to go in knowledgeable than blind! When the cookbooks go on sale, they’re also a steal.

12) I’m going to feel deprived on Weight Watchers, and not be able to live my life.

Again: Weight Watchers is not a diet. The program is designed to let you live your life while getting healthy and losing weight. You can eat ANYTHING you want on Weight Watchers. Now, that doesn’t mean you should. But if you want to or need to, you can. Just count your points, and keep with the other tenets of the program – fruits and veggies, protein, fiber, fitness. A piece of cheesecake won’t kill you. Neither will a wedding or a night out with the girls. That said, you can’t do anything you like, all the time, and expect the program to work. But Weight Watchers can give you guidance for navigating your life and coming out the other end sane, and fitter.

Those are the big ones I can think of. If there’s anything else you’ve heard about Weight Watchers or have questions about, please comment!

Weight Watchers – it’s all about the meeting

You can't be a WW leader unless you've successfully completed the program

The weeks are chugging along, and I have to say I’m really enjoying PointsPlus. I was skeptical at first, but Weight Watchers put their money where their mouths are. Even though things are essentially the same (counting points, tracking, etc.), it feels very different.

I’ve lost 6.2 pounds, which is pretty good for six weeks in which I’ve never felt deprived, starving or guilty. I’ve also lost an inch here or there, though that progress is primarily getting back to where my inches were in September. A friend commented the other day that I looked thinner, which is always awesome and appreciated. It’s early days, but Weight Watchers PointsPlus is a home run so far.

Let’s talk about Weight Watchers meetings. I’ve said before and I”ll say it again: Weight Watchers is like AA for fat people. If you’re going to the meetings, that is. WW has a whole incarnation of their program that is online only — you pay a small(er) monthly fee and get access to program materials and e-tools, but you don’t have to go to meetings (but if you want to, they are free with your plan). Frankly, this wouldn’t work for me — I have to be accountable to an outside force, because if I’m by myself, I will cheat. Likewise, if I don’t like my meeting or my leader, I’ll start cheating — going but not weighing (oh, the glorious “no weigh in” pass), weighing but not staying, or skipping meetings altogether.

So why AA for fat people? Meetings are like therapy, mixed with some self-help guruism and community support. I’ve been with many different leaders — an aerobics instructor, a happy “Massachusian” housewife (with the accent), a behavioral psychologist from Queens with heavy Jewish flair, and three very different people at my L.A. center – an East Coast lesbian transplant, a gentile Cali native and this past week my new “regular” (the others were subs): a loud, also very Jewish, therapy-based guru type. She said to us this week – “If you want to go to a meeting where you talk about food and leave, this isn’t the one for you. We talk about issues. I help you through this process. Stick with me, and we will deal with your issues.”

Frankly, I’m excited. My favorite Weight Watchers leader was Beth in Brookline, the aforementioned behavioral psychologist. First of all, the meeting attendants were a good bunch — actually overweight people, suburbanites and young professionals, unlike my “skinny minnies” work meeting — and Beth and I had a similar background. Everyone’s weight struggle is valid, but your outlook on life and being fat takes on a different form when you’re fat your whole (or most of) your life. Like me, Beth chunked up around puberty, and spent her pre-teens and teens on diets and going to nutritionalists (I never did the latter, but the former is all I know!). When this is your foundation, fat is really a part of your identity or, more accurately, your (warped) behaviors and feelings towards food are.  Being a behavioral psychologist, Beth approached being fat, food issues and losing weight cerebrally – how and why do we do x, y, z and what mental tricks to use to overcome some of them. She also helped me accept some of my food issues – once you realize that you can’t necessarily change yourself, but can learn to manage ingrained ideas, forgiving yourself and feeling less guilty becomes easier. I didn’t lose a ton of weight with Beth (though I did lose), but I DID make a lot of progress mentally and emotionally.

WW meetings aren't like this, I swear XD

When I was 14, having an upbeat cheerleader was good for me — that would be my former overweight housewife turned aerobics instructor. Tracy was peppy and funny, and though I couldn’t relate to her personally — she was petite and cute where I was tall and geeky — she was the right leader for me at the time. Now? I don’t think a cheerleader would suit my needs. But for a lot of people, a cheerleader leader — and fitness guru — is exactly what they need to make their weight loss journey. Others of us need someone who takes the theraputic approach — AA for fat people. Enter my new leader, Amy.

I’m excited to see where she takes me in my journey. Amy glosses over the “set meeting topic” and goes off-book, presenting the topic and then digging really deep into the emotions, food issues and personal stories that tangentially relate to it. The by-the-book lessons are important, but since I’ve done WW many times before and heard some topics 3-4 times now, it’s refreshing to go into the meeting knowing I won’t hear the same old thing. I think this meeting (Wednesdays at noon on Beverly with Amy, for those who are L.A.-based and curious) is the right one for me right now, because I can take the deep-dive into WHY I do some of the things I do.

There are two components to your meeting that must work in combination: weighing AND staying. If you just weigh in and skip the meeting part, you’re only getting half the benefit. And while everyone uses their “no weigh in pass” eventually, going to meetings and not weighing in for several consecutive weeks isn’t good, either. Facing the number on the scale each week (good or bad) and staying to take in that week’s lesson and share with your fellow Weight Watchers (or just listen to them) is key. Part of what makes Weight Watchers work is that it holds you accountable to the plan AND then gives you tools to get you through rough spots, and to make the plan really work for you. Very few people can diet (successfully) in a vacuum.

So it’s all about the meeting. I believe to be truly successful in the long run, you have to go. Studies have proved it over and over again. And I know that personally, I’ve seen myself fail in two ways — 1) by not attending my meetings and 2) by attending the WRONG meeting for me. My “skinny bitches” meeting was the first time I’ve been on WW and gained weight. It clearly was the wrong meeting for me at a time in my life when there were some big forces contributing to my being out of the control.

Here’s hoping this one is the right meeting, right time. I weigh in tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

Things that are awesome: zero/low point veggie snacks

Part of Weight Watcher’s new ploy to get fatties such as myself eating fruits and vegetables is that they’ve made them all zero points. When you’ve had a “bad” day, or you come home and you’re starving and don’t want to pig out on chips while you cook dinner, fast and easy zero point veggie snacks are essential. But plain vegetables are boring — its all about how you dress them up. Here are two recipes that have been my life-line for the last month.

Pic right from WW's recipe!

Zesty Cauliflower Poppers

Original from; modified to fit my tastes & lifestyle

You’ll need:

  • a ready-to-steam bag of cauliflower (Fresh & Easy sells them) or a medium head of Cauliflower (cut into small pieces)
  • olive oil (1-2 tsp) or olive oil spray*
  • salt & pepper
  • cumin (seed or powder)
  • curry powder or chili powder (to preference)

I’m a lazy Lucy, so I do the following:

  • preheat oven to 400°F. Coat baking sheet with either olive oil or olive oil spray*
  • steam cook cauliflower in the microwave 1-2 minutes
  • toss cauliflower in medium bowl with salt, pepper, cumin and curry powder to taste.
  • put on baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.

If you buy a head of cauliflower there’s a longer process of cutting it up, and they come out of the oven crunchier b/c you’re not cooking them beforehand. But I can buy steamer bags pre-portioned at Fresh & Easy, so that’s how I roll :)

They are super tasty, and can be eaten as a snack, meal or as a side to a yummy Indian dish.

*if you use olive oil on the pan, add points per tsp. Using olive oil spray, makes this zero points

My other go-to I came up with myself, though I’m sure other geniuses have come up with similar if not identical “recipes” before :)

My green beans look like this... except they're drowning in yummy balsamic!

Crispy Balsalmic Green Beans

You’ll need:

  • Steamfresh green beans/Fresh & Easy steam bag/Trader Joes frozen organic green beans or fresh green beans
  • olive oil (1-2 tsp) or olive oil spray
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt

If you have (LAZYAWESOMEFAST) pre-portioned steam bags, steam your green beans in the microwave. If frozen or fresh, boil on stove top until cooked & crisp. Lay green beans on a plate with a tapered lip or a shallow bowl. Drizzle olive oil, then drench in balsamic vinegar to your preferance (I like a lot), shake some salt on top to taste (optional).

Annnnd now you have a crunchy-salty-snacky food that can be an entire meal, a side or a snack so you don’t gorge yourself between meals. If you used olive oil spray, it’s zero points. Personally, I don’t mind using 1 point of actual olive oil, because the balsamic is zero and so are the green beans. And OO is good for you :)

I’m really lazy, and need low point foods that are fast and easy, or else I am tempted to go to Bad Things like chips and crackers. These are perfect, because with the steam bags, prep-time on these is 5-10 minutes (more for the cauliflower, less for the green beans), and they’re salty and savory, which is my vice.

You know you live in Hollywood when you’re the fattest girl at the gym

Well, so far Weight Watchers, you have me convinced. I’ve lost 4.2 pounds in two weeks, and coming up on my week three weigh-in, I am optimistic (and my home scale says I’m down at least 3 more pounds, as of this morning). There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. I am more serious about the program this time than I was last time
  2. In order to kick-start things and not be surrounded by temptation, I’ve been staying in a lot and only eating food at home
  3. No major life events or stresses yet
  4. Honeymoon period of the diet
  5. I went back to the gym
Imagine this L.A.Fitness full of ridiculously thin, beautiful people. And me.

Now, as the title of this post alludes to, I was, in fact, the fattest person at the gym. I’m 5 foot 10 and a size 16/18, so you can imagine this makes me feel rather strange. Yes, I accept that I am fat, because not to would mean pretending I’m “normal” and just getting fatter. But I also acknowledge, that I’m not *that* fat. I have never been the fattest person in the room. Until now.

This produced in me a variety of feeling, including but not limited to embarrassment, shame, paranoia, determination and a bit of smugness. Because you can’t help but feel a little bit smug knowing that a) you have no plastic parts b) you actually eat and c) that your cardio intervals are burning more fat than the tortured 40-minute running session everyone else at the gym is suffering through. But embarrassment and shame won out. I know shouldn’t be embarrassed — if you’re at the gym, trying to better yourself and your health, you have nothing to be ashamed of. But as I felt sweat collecting in my back-fat creases (HATE THOSE) and gazed at a sea of size 0-4s, buff, trim men and women running in unison, I felt paranoid — were the people behind me looking, judging? How stupid did I look sweating from power walking at a steep incline? Also, thank God all these people were so thin, because you could literally feel the floor shaking, bouncing ever so slightly, and a fatter clientele surely would have made this 2nd floor loft of cardio machines collapse. I repeated to myself a manta (inbetween prayers against collapse and reading the subtitles on Top Chef): no shame. But still — God dammit, Hollywood, you make me feel epically enormous.

Look over the Hollywood sign after the climb. The front was too hideous to show XD

Hollywood also makes me feel terribly out of shape. It is a right of passage in Hollywood to hike Runyon Canyon, which is situated just two blocks from my apartment. The view is beautiful! Celebrities do it all the time! Free exercise! People forget the part where it can totally kick your ass and feel like you are going to vomit, pass out and die. I celebrated Martin Luther King Day joining with this Hollywood tradition, along with three of my friends. The good news is, I survived. The bad news is, I thought I was going to fall off the side and tumble into the hills on more than one occasion.  Runyon? Kicked my butt.  My friends and I, the gluttons for punishment that we are, decided to do the “hard trail,” which is all sandy, rocky terrain and many stretches are at a vertical incline. As I huffed and puffed, heaving myself over the wooden plank steps, it was reassuring to see an 8 pound Chihuahua traverse the rocky terrain with greater ease than I. (in all seriousness, why would you take an animal with four inch legs on such a steep trail?) But I made it!

I’m so L.A. now, right? One can only hope so. Going Hollywood feels like my only option — being the “fat man out” is no fun, especially in a place where looks are everything. I have no intention of going plastic, but dammit, I am going to get thin (though I’ll never stop enjoying food).

No one can diet in a vacuum, and help and support from friends and experts is essential. I miss my Boston trainer, Serena, horribly. Thankfully, she, too, is a blogger! Please read her blog The Naked Dish, which gives not only exercise tips, but also talks about healthy eating and cooking. Serena has just started a series on Interval training, which is the thing that has totally turned me around on going to the gym, and may actually turn me into a “gym person.” (and for those who are lucky to be in Boston — Serena is the head trainer at Healthworks Coolidge Corner. Join, and work with her!)

It’s also helpful to know that my friends are on the same journey. A good friend out here is on Jenny Craig, and is my new Runyon buddy. Another, Emily, has done the “beautiful Hollywood” diet, looks amazing, and is running the L.A. marathon in March. Another friend, who shall remain nameless, just joined Weight Watchers last week, and is blogging her journey under a pseudonym at The Right Size. She is witty, an astoundingly talented writer, and I know will be rocking PointsPlus with me.  You can also follow “Alice” (love it) on Twitter.

ALSO — if anyone knows of a normal, sane, good trainer in L.A., let me know. I’ve seen some Barbie doll bitch types and beefcake hotties out here and, sorry, not going to happen. I want to train with someone who doesn’t fat shame, hasn’t been ridiculously thin and beautiful their whole life, isn’t intimidating and feels like a real person. Tall order for L.A.? :/

Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus – UR BLOWIN’ MAI MIND

What better way to start off the New Year, and break from a writing hiatus (I’ve actually been writing on Tumblr regularly…), than with “fat kid goes back to Weight Watchers.” As you may recall, I stopped attending my last meeting, when a skinny bitch takeover* lead to my actually GAINING weight on the program. Whoops. Four months of gym-going was great, but post-move I’ve been inert and all too frequently stuffing my face. I don’t think I’ve cooked properly in YEARS, which hasn’t helped matters.

And you can’t live in Los Angeles and be a real fattie, so it’s back on the wagon I go! I’m actually jazzed for this go-round for a number of reasons, not only because I’m in a psychologically torturous and guilt-tripping environment (helloooooo Hollywood), but I have the budget for the Good Stuff (fresh fruits & veggies, organic, etc.), a fridge & kitchen all to myself so I can actually cook and because I may actually get going to the gym & being on Weight Watchers to HAPPEN AT THE SAME TIME. Crazy, I know. 2011 is the year of NO MORE EXCUSES.

But most of all, MOST OF ALL PEOPLE, Weight Watchers has… CHANGED. I was a skeptic when I first saw commercials, given I have lived through not one, not two, but THREE WW program reincarnations over the last 13 years (I started right after Points were created. Old Skool), and neither of the last two versions were all that innovative — they just made “official” and “mandatory” things that were common sense, and mostly made changes to compete with fad diets. PointsPlus does, in its own way, try to compete with other diets, but who cares because POINTS NO LONGER TAKE INTO ACCOUNT CALORIES. AND ALL FRUITS & VEGGIES ARE FREE.

Wait. What? I can’t even handle it… NO MORE CALORIES & BANANAS ARE FREE?!?!??? That’s a 2 point food. Now “free.” I… what? *stuffs banana into mouth, om NOM NOM NOM*

Basically, WW has revamped how points are derived, in order to follow new diet science, and compete with fad diets such as Atkins. Throw away all your old materials & your Points Slider, Weight Watchers, because it is all completely irrelevant. Points are now calculated using fat grams, carbohydrates, protein and fiber, with some complex algorithm that they don’t explain — you have to buy a points calculator, use eTools or download the iPhone/Android app to figure things out. Grannies are going to haaaattteeee this XD


But you can’t hate free fruits & veggies. As we all know, most vegetables were always free… but not the Sexy ones. You know what I’m talking about. Points were the only thing holding me back from inhaling potatoes. But now? Potatoes are ZERO POINTS. CRAZYTOWN. The even bigger gain is in fruit world — you used to have to count all the yummy goodness, strawberries, grapes, apples, bananas. No more — eat as much as you want, and they’re zero points. I know what you’re thinking — “that’s insane, they can’t all be zero points. If you eat 20 bananas, that’s a lot of calories.” Yep. Obviously you have to use common sense. And if you have less than ten pounds to lose, you can’t count them as zero. But the idea is to encourage people to eat fruits & vegetables instead of other things… and if you make it “free,” it’s hard to turn down. If you’re over points and starving, now you can have an apple, or grapes, or strawberries, where it used to be you couldn’t. Better to eat fruit & veggies than freak out and binge on crap, right?

The strangest psychological element is that all points have gone up. But so have daily points limits & weekly allowances. So I feel like I have more points and can eat more… but my favorite foods are more points, so it kind of evens out.

Will my inner skinny bitch come out to play? What hilarious stories will I bring home from my co-ed, Hollywood gym? How quickly will I tire of fruits & vegetables? Stay tuned. This should be interesting.

(On a side note, the new Weight Watchers commercials are fabulous, and in part enticed me back. I knew I needed to eventually, but a new plan and bright, fun commercials aimed at my demographic were the real kicker. (And Jennifer Hudson really does look AMAZING).)

* no offense to actual skinny bitches, especially those who may join Weight Watchers to improve their health. But we can’t be in the same meeting, kthanxbai.