Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pal Power!

"I did this all by myself, on my own, without any help!"

Do you remember proclaiming that proudly as a kid after such feat as tying up your shoe, or buttoning up your coat? Such pride, right? A lot of us were taught early on that we should be able to handle things on our own. "Don't be a baby, you don't need any help!" As if needing help was a sign of weakness...

Sometimes things gets difficult, or boring, motivation wavers, and we find ourselves moving away from our goals. Nobody can lose weight for us, obviously, but a buddy can be of great help in many ways.

This week we will see how having a weight loss buddy (or buddies) can really help you in your weight management efforts. The trick is to find the right person (s)!

If you have a special someone who is helping you out with this weight management journey, we want to hear about it, or even better: meet that person!

Tool of the week

In San Francisco we love our restaurants don't we? We love to eat out. Sometimes it can be challenging to go out and still stay on plan. The Dinning Out companion is just the tool to help you do that!

It has all the major chains in the US and Canada, it has an ethnic & regional favorites list and finally an A to Z list of foods you find when eating out. It’s the perfect tool to help you keep on track when eating out!

In the Kitchen

I have been going over my old blogs, reviving some of them, putting aside others, and I found a few things that I had forgotten about. One of them is my Black Bean Mini Burgers. Those little guys are great for dinner, but even more for packed lunches!

I made up the recipe by mixing up a few recipes that I had found on different food blogs. I didn't want to put in bread crumbs, so somebody suggested to use cornmeal instead. Later on I would a little bits and pieces of roasted red pepper to it but not too much, so it doesn't start falling apart.

Here's what I did:

Black Bean Mini-Burgers
9-10 servings 1P+/serving

1 can of black bean, rinsed drained
1/2 carrots grated (very mushy, but that's ok)
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper minced,
1 whole egg lightly beaten
4 tsp (more or less) fine cornmeal
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 Indian red chili powder
Pinch garam masala
Salt, pepper

I mashed the beans with a fork, it makes a coarser texture than processing it. Then I added all the ingredients and mixed until combined. The mixture was pretty wet, but I managed to make 18 tiny patties that I put on a rimmed baking sheet (I covered it with aluminum foil and used cooking spray, less cleaning).

I pre-heated the broiler, sprayed garlic olive oil on the patties and then put them about 4-5 inch under the broiler for 3 minutes. Then I took them out, flipped them gently (use a flat spatula to keep half the patties from staying on the sheet) and cooked them another 3 minutes.

Finally I flipped them again and cooked them about 1 minute. Don't overcook them cause they'll get dry. Keep an eye on them!

They are about 1 P+ per 2 mini patties.


Next week we are starting the Walk It Challenge! You don't want to miss it, even more since it's coming at the perfect time to prepare for Bay to Breakers!

Now, I've been bragging about starting to work again with a personal trainer. I do realize that it involves quite a bit of money (even at the Y!) and that it's not possible for everybody. Still I think that if you can afford it, it's a good way to get yourself well on your way to achieving your goals.

There are quite a few things to take into consideration when choosing a personal trainer. The right trainer will motivate you to push yourself (safely) and will design your training in line with the goals you are trying to achieve.

I thought I'd give you a few hints that will hopefully help you make the right decision.


Not anybody should proclaim themselves "Personal trainers", but sadly it happens a lot. You want to make sure that the trainer you are hiring is certified by a reputable organisation.

You want to ask when the trainer was certified, and how committed the trainer is with continued education. Personal training, like so many other fields, has changed enormously in the last 15-20 years.

The point is that somebody who is certified (and insured!) is serious about being a personal trainer and has the background and the education needed to be able to build a routine that will be safe and effective.

Availability - Price

One of the advantages of being a personal trainer is that you can more or less make your own schedule right? Well, if you like to work out first thing in the morning, and super dude doesn't start until 3pm, it might not be the best fit.

Don't be afraid to ask if there are discounts, bundles (I just got a great deal at my gym, 16 sessions for the price of 12!). Mid-March to Mid-April is a little bit of a slow season, in Mid-April people will start thinking about the coming summer and hit the gym again. It's the time to go for great deals.


Ok, that seems obvious, but you want to find a trainer that will have a personality that fits with your own. I remember a trainer I hired a few years ago that I dropped in the middle of the first session. He was yelling at me, trying to bully me into something I knew my bad knee would not do. I stood up and left, got refunded and took my money elsewhere. I don't do very well with bullies, I just end up yelling back...

What kind of personality do you think would keep you motivated?

Laura, my trainer, has a great sense of humor. We laugh all the way through the training and that makes it all the more fun. She also knows to tweak my pride when I would flake. That's what fits me!

You want to find what you want, someone very focused and "military"? Someone who can make it fun? Someone pushy who will "force you" to go beyond what you thought possible?

Don't be afraid to speak up!

You should always feel very at ease to discuss with your trainer about your goals, your expectations, how you think it's going, modifications you would like to see.

One of the big challenge for a trainer is to really know what the person wants and expect, the clearer you explain that, the more you will get out of the sessions :o) Personal trainers are not mind readers, "I want to get fit" can mean a million different things.

Have a great week!

There's a lot going on!! We have the first Lifetime member monthly meeting on April 3rd at 11:30. We also have the Walk It Challenge starting next week, Bay to Breakers coming in mid May, and other things that I'm forgetting about just now. I will put up the April Events on the Events blog tomorrow, next weekend at the latest! Come back and look it up.

I have added a tab (up top!) for my Bento Blog. This blog is part of the "Willow" blogs. There are several of them and they represent my personal thoughts, adventures and opinions. Feel free to read if you will, but be aware that those are no in any way connected to Weight Watchers. ;o)

In the meantime, please never be afraid to drop me and email if you need anything. You can also comment on any of these blogs, I will answers those as well!

I'm here for ya!


“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Gift of Hindsight

I had a moment of clarity reading this week's topic: We know that one of the major strength of the Weight Watchers program is that it's so flexible, it can fit any lifestyle.

What does that mean really? That means that you don't have to mold yourself to it, you can mold it to you. Of course you have to change certain behavior, switch some habits around, add a few new ones, but you don't have to make a revolution in who you are, and how you live your life.

You are not following the program, it is following you.

The trick is determining what it is that works for YOU. The only way to really learn what works for you and what doesn't is to look back at your previous weight loss efforts. What worked well? What tripped you up? What did you enjoy? What did you really didn't enjoy that much?

This week we will take a look at ourselves and see if we can learn from experience to make a better today and tomorrow. This is YOUR plan and YOUR lifestyle. Figure out what works for you and see how you can use that knowledge to make this work for you.

March Challenge

What new thing will you try this week? A new exercise? Food? Recipe?

The goal is to try 1 new thing every week, something big, something simple, a little change or a big one.

Share your discoveries with us, we want to know!

Tool of the week

It's the last week of the super sale on the Mini Bars, the Smoothies and the Oatmeal. Don't forget to stock up!
Let me know what you want and I'll make sure to bring in extras!

In the Kitchen

I get a lot of questions about grains. I use grains a lot, and often people tell me that they would like to experiment, but aren't sure how. I thought it might be helpful to give a little "How to" of my favorite grains.

I cook grains with very little fat if any. Some will say that you need to add oil (or butter) to this, see what you like and go from there. This is how "I" like to cook them.

(also bulghur or burghul) is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. Its use is most common in Middle Eastern cuisine, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. Bulgur is easier to find than ever, but best bet is health food stores, specialized groceries etc.

Uses: I use instead of rice (in anything) or in tabbouleh.

I put 1 cup of bulgur in a tupperware along with salt, pepper and whatever spices I want (I like a little cumin, but since I make it in batches, I try not to over spice so it will go with anything).Add 1 1/2 cup of boiling broth (generally veg. but chicken will do). I set it aside, covered for 40-45 minutes. Fluff, serve what you want, put the rest in the fridge for further use. It makes about 4 cups (depending on how big the grain is, how old it is, etc).

is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds it is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. It can be a little hard to find sometimes, Whole foods or Rainbow Groceries are your best bet. There is red and white Quinoa.

Uses: Quinoa is loaded with proteins, so it's very filling. I like to use Quinoa as a side dish with vegetables, but also as the main staple in my lunches. I now use red Quinoa almost exclusively because it looks cooler. There is no significant difference in nutritional value. ;o)

Rinse the grain thoroughly for a minute or two. That removes saponins that can still be on the grain and makes digestion a little difficult.On the stovetop, bring 2 cups of broth to a boil, put in the rinsed Quinoa and lower flame to a simmer. Let cook for 14-18 minutes. You will see the germ separating from the seed when it's ready (little circles).

Note: Quinoa can be a little tricky at first, but it's delicious and very filling!

couscous granules are usually made by rolling moistened coarsely ground semolina wheat into small balls, which are then coated with finely ground wheat flour.You can find is pretty much anywhere. There is whole wheat, and regular. I use whole wheat myself as it is much more tasty.

Uses: Couscous is fabulous to eat along with stew because it absorbs the juices and the flavor so easily.

You can't get easier than couscous. Add 1 1/2 cup of boiling broth to 1 cup of couscous, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Add 1 tsp of olive oil (and a little lemon juice is good too) salt and pepper and fluff with a fork. Et voila! People usually put butter in couscous, I don't. Your call!

Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. They are golden in color and resemble small rice pieces.

Uses: I start a batch of SCO on Sunday everything to give me breakfast for the week. I'll put in a dollop of Greek yogurt and different toppings.. Favorites: slices of apples, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg; pureed pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices; Banana, raisins, caramel (shhhhh!). The possibilities are endless really!

Cooking (several days worth)
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and a stick of cinnamon. Add 1 cup of Steel cut oats and boil for about 1 minutes. Turn off the fire, cover the pot with the lid, let sit on the stove overnight.
The following morning, take what you need, mix with toppings, and put the rest in a sealed tupperware in the fridge for future use.

Note about grains:
It's sort of difficult to give you the PointsPlus value of grains because amount varies so much. The way I count it, I find the PointsPlus value of my start amount, dry, and then divide that by the number of portions I make. Use E-tools on that one, much easier!


The Walk it Challenge is coming in April!! It's time to take a good look at your walking shoes, look up your walking routes, find the perfect time to walk.

Spring is there (who would have known after this weekend rain?) and with the time change we have a little more time of daylight every night!

My plan is to go out and walk every night that it's not raining for at least 45 minutes.
What is YOUR plan?

Pedometer: Did I ever mention that I love the pedometer? I forgot it every day last week, and was so bummed since I walked so much. So back on it goes!

Map my walk/run/ride:
You can map your walk/run and figure out how many miles/Km you are walking, even the terrain!

What do you do to stay active? What's your favorite activity. Weight loss/management isn't only about food!!

Have a great week!

Spring is there! It's beautiful, clean, wet! HA! Take a deep breath, feel the energy, enjoy the light! It's time to revive ourselves and get going! Hibernation is over! It might be a Canadian thing ;o)

I am always available by email, you can also look up my meeting schedule

Have an awesome week!! See you in the meeting room.


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
Albert Einstein

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Deprivation is a Don't!

Embarking on a weight management journey can be intimidating. I remember thinking that I would have to be miserable, hungry, eating broccoli, lettuce and plain grilled chicken all the time. Oh the deprivation!!! I heard once somebody say "Losing weight is easy, you just eat as much as you want of something you don't like". Riiiight! Well, maybe that would work for a time, but I don't see myself maintain something like that, do you?

The key to long term weight management is to find a lifestyle that works for you. That means finding a way to eat that is healthy and that is satisfying. It's not as hard as it sounds! Whether you cook everything from scratch, or you eat straight out of a can (or a box) you can always find a way to make your meals and snacks satisfying. Losing weight does not equal deprivation, quite the contrary!

This week we will explore the different ways we can eat healthfully, for weight loss and for satisfaction!

March Challenge

The challenge for the month of March is to try something new every week. A new food, a new activity, a new snack, a new way of doing something. It doesn't have to be big, it doesn't have to be complicated, it only has to be new!

What will you try this week?

This last week I tried a new lunch spot! We had lunch at the Warm Hut Cafe at Crissy Fields. We had delicious sandwiches that we ate outside at the picnic tables watching the kids play and making friend with several puppies (we had Grace with us). Fun, fun, FUN!

I'm still trying to decide for this week! I was hoping to find something new at the Fort Mason farmer's market, but I didn't really. Maybe Wednesday at the Civic Center Market.

I'm thinking I will be trying a new recipe as I have 2 new cookbooks in hand, and 2 more coming in a few days!! I shall be reporting on that next week!

Tool of the week:

Have you looked at the Easy Measure set yet? Those are pre-measured serving spoons that makes your life so much easier!

The bigger spoon holds 1 cup, the smaller spoon holds 1/2 cup, and the ladle holds 1/4 cup. No need to go from the pot, to the spoon, to the measuring cup, to the spoon, the plate. Saves you time (and tons of cleaning!). Not only that, but the stainless steel actually looks neat! Nobody needs to know that they are measuring tools!

Let me know if you want a set of those, I will bring them to your meeting!

In the Kitchen

Feeling a little creative? I like interesting looking food. I feel that how my food looks impact strongly on how satisfied I really am with what I eat. That can sometimes mean long complicated preparation, and sometimes not!

This is a recipe I tried recently and I really enjoyed, both for its simple taste and its funky look! It will come out brightly colored by the beets, it's supposed to! I served that with white fish which I steamed in a bamboo steamer with broccoli and zucchini.

Scarlet Barley
6 servings, 3P+/serving

1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
2 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/4 tsp salt
1 beet (about 3/4 pound), grated
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fresh dill, for garnish (optional)

Preheat a 2 quart pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the olive oil for about 30 seconds. Add several pinches of pepper and the bay lead. Add the barley, broth, and salt; cover and bring to a boil. Once boilingm stir and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When most of the water has absorbed, mix in the grated beet. Cook for about 20 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, mix in the lemon juice, and taste for salt. Cover and let sit for about 10 more minutes. Remove the bay lead and serve topped with fresh dill.

Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 2011, p. 69

Event this week:

Do not forget that we have the Quick Cooking with PointsPlus event this Sunday (the 20th) at 11am at the Stonestown center!

Have fun learning about the tools, tips and tricks that will save you a bundle of time in the kitchen while cooking tasty healthy meals!


I'm still on my walking phase. Friday i walked from the downtown center at 50, 1st street to home. Saturday we went to play tourist at Crissy Fields my husband, my dog and I. Both days I passed the 18 000 steps! We visited Fort Point, I had never seen it!

These are not "work outs" per say. It's more like I happen to be moving while I'm doing my favorite thing: exploring San Francisco! (and people watching, but that's not nearly as PC... hehe).

How about that? Pick a visiting spot you haven't seen yet, or that you haven't seen in a long time and walk it!

What activity do you truly enjoy?

If you are planning to walk Bay to Breakers with us, start thinking about your outfit! "My dream" that's the theme!

Have a good week!

Never fear to email me if you need anything. We are making March the Weight Watchers month of stick-to-it-iveness! Make sure to come to the meeting so that we can keep ourselves motivated and inspired to achieve our goals!

See you in the meeting room!

Melanie Bourgeois

“What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”
~ C.S. Lewis

Monday, March 7, 2011

Celebrate Success

The theme for the March meetings is "Staying Power"or, as I like to call it "stick-to-it-iveness.

Since December, we've discovered the new PointsPlus plan, learned to live with it, and now the challenge is to keeping it up for the long haul.

Through the whole month we will talk about ways to do just that. This week is all about Celebrating Success. We will take a look into the skills that we have acquired, the tools we have mastered, and our achievements on the PointsPlus plan.

Lets start our Stick-to-it-iveness campaign by remembering our success!

Did you see it?

Today's San Francisco Chronicles (Monday) had an article about the new approach to nutrition and weight loss and how Weight Watcher's new program fits RIGHT IN!

Not only that, but pictures that came with the article were taken at our Noon meeting at the Stonestown Center! There's Amy and Barbara, my two fearless receptionists, and me, and my fabulous members! Go take a look if you can catch it. :o)

Tools of the Week

Did you take a good look at the PointsPlus cookbook?

The cool thing about the program cookbooks, as opposed to the smaller more specialized ones, is that they are good all over cookbook. In there you can find anything: entertaining recipes, family-friendly recipes. Take a good look at it!

In the Kitchen

I cannot believe that I haven't shared this recipe already! This has been a favorite of mine for years, and for some reason is sort of slipped off my list. It is delicious, easy to make, and reheat perfectly. Love it!

Turkey Mulligatawny
4 servings

2 teaspoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup long grain white rice (I use bulgur instead)
2 teaspoon Madras curry powder (2 to 3)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
5 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small apple, unpealed and diced
1 pound bonless, skinless turkey breast cubed (3/4 inches)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until golden. 7-10 miuntes. Add the rice, curry powder, turmeric and cloves. Cook stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the broth, bell pepper, and apple; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the turkey and salt; return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered. until the turkey is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with the pepper, then sprinkle with the tomatoe and cilantro just before serving.

Weight watchers "In one pot" cookbook, p. 21


Its cold, it's windy, it even rains a little, maybe it's a good time to take your workout inside?

What do you do when the weather is not cooperating?

Here's my list, please feel free to add your own!

  • Swimming
  • Gym
  • Skating rink
  • Walking the mall (I didn't say buying, I said walking!)
  • Dvds
  • WII fit

What will you do on the rainy days?

Walking is still it! My pedometer is still my friend, and I'm planning on walking every day! Bay to Breakers is coming!

Have a good week

Lets not have March be the time when our efforts slows down. We have a good thing going and it has to keep on keeping on! Come to your meeting and never be afraid to bring in any ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns that might pop up. That's what we are there for!

You know I'm only an email away, let me know if I can do anything.

Have a skinny week and I'll see you in the meeting room!


“Celebrate what you want to see more of.”
Thomas J. Peters