Project Unfluff Update #healthytimes

Apparently, it really does take at least 21 days to build a new habit. I’m eight weeks into Weight Watchers and almost 10 weeks into the Fresh20. These two moves have revolutionized our my lives. Progress on WW has been a little slow having just started the online plan prior to heading off for Thanksgiving. At first, between changing my habits and moving more due to all the walking and bus/train riding to work, I lost 5 lbs in no time flat. And then of course it started creeping back up…2 lbs after thanksgiving, 1 more lb after that…and then even after a weekend that could have ended disastrously, I was pleasantly surprised at today’s weigh-in to learn that I’m two pounds back down. To date, I’ve lost 6.4 pounds which is officially half a pant size! I don’t expect this to be an easy journey but it will certainly be a tedious one.

With so much work to be done, I want to highlight the things that I have really enjoyed about all of this because we all know I have the tendency to spend a little too much time on the negatives instead of the triumphs.

1. Control: we all know that when anything in our lives starts going haywire, the first thing to go is a feeling of control. And not to say I have necessarily had a lot of instances of chaos these last few years but there have certainly been a lot of changes, some of which were out of my control. In the span of three years, I planned a wedding, got married, got pregnant, had my first child and completed a master’s degree and a 700 hour internship. And those were the things I could actually plan out! I think the hardest part actually came after graduation when I had absolutely no idea when and where I would be working again. And because I could not control that, I reacted with a lot of emotional and boredom-induced eating. That was something I could control and now that I’m on a very well-planned out eating plan, I’m shocked at how much MORE I used to eat in the past. For no reason whatsoever, not even the most important reason being actual hunger.

2. Supply and Demand: one of the shocking truths about adapting to healthy eating is that you must change the contents of your refrigerator, pantry and overall accessibility to bad food. This past year was full of new challenges especially when it came to our budget. It became imperative that we stick to a grocery budget and eliminate virtually all trips to restaurants, at least during the work week. This exercise in willpower paired with sheer financial limitation proved to have us all emerge healthier and less cash-strapped on the other side. It is astounding the amount of money one will pay for one meal in Chicago. Most of the time, that same amount of money would cover at least a third if not half of our meals a week in groceries. We simply cannot afford or even be ok with dropping that amount of cash on something more than once a week while also consuming extra calories in the process. The Fresh 20 plan has completely changed the contents of our kitchen. Never before have our fruit and veggie drawers been so full of produce in our fridge that we also use most of the bottom shelf too! In order to keep saving money, this plan which is meant for a family of four, feeds the three of us dinner AND lunch all week. And these meals have only a fraction of the fat, salt, sugar, enriched flour and processed ingredients as any traditional recipe or even restaurant meal we’ll ever order.

Not only have our meals changed, our overall snacking habits have changed too. I’ve put more effort into creating healthier versions of the things I already like and find satisfying. Just a few weeks ago, I made a tasty 1 points plus value/serving ranch dip for veggies, low-fat blueberry muffins and the other night I made low-fat, sugar-free cinnamon rolls. Now granted, some things I’ve tried were far too different from the real thing but other things were stand alone tasty recipes that were better alternatives. Now if i go into my kitchen for a snack chances are I will reach for something way less calorie dense but satisfying to me.

3. This is the best game of monopoly ever! Ever played a really great game of monopoly? One where you strategically save your money here and there to buy certain properties, shell out a bunch of cash at the right time because you feel good and confident and then go back to saving and patiently waiting to place a hotel on park place? To me that’s what its like to be on Weight Watchers. It was a slow start at first, keeping track of everything I ate, looking up foods and calculating points, “overspending” points in the beginning and then finally balancing out my “budget” once I got the hang of it. Now it’s the best game I get to play all day. Being on both WW and the Fresh 20 plan means I can plan my day out accordingly, often times, entering my points for dinner just by looking at that night’s menu (which also provides nutrition information and serving sizes). Once I plan out my meals, I spend the day getting creative with my remaining points. Sometimes, I pack enough 0-4 point snacks to stave off hunger throughout the day and sometimes I save points for a treat or an extra serving at dinner. Either way, I’m like a kid earning gold stars in school. I loved it back then so it only makes sense that I love this points/rewards system now. Going back to my point about control, this for me is my way of having control over one very important area in my life.

4. Family habits are being established: it’s true what they say, your kids will adapt their palates to whatever you put in front of them every day. Both at home and at the babysitter’s house, my kid eats wholesome meals and tons of fruits and veggies. At 18 months she begs for apples, bananas and oranges in between meals. She eats whole wheat pasta and brown rice at home and lean meats with veggies at almost every lunch and dinner. Treats are saved for weekends and special times (like the $.50 bag of Cheetos at the grocery store to keep her calm and busy) and we’ve noticed a much more adventurous palate from her just in the last few weeks. There’s nothing more rewarding than a toddler who loves to eat healthy, fresh food. Especially when my husband and I grew up on Latino diets that consisted mostly of white rice, canned beans and meats, lots of pork and lots of fried things. Now granted, our parents have also changed some of their cuisine over the years but green vegetables are certainly a new and now regular addition to our diet at home.

To close, I will leave you with this delicious formula I have used for over a year to make granola at home. It is easy to make, makes your home smell wonderful while it bakes and um hi, it’s a solid gallon bag full of granola for a just a few bucks. Seriously, a box of granola is easily $5-7 and you only get half as much as this recipe will give you. And what’s great is that it’s a formula so you can make any variation you want at anytime. Typically half a cup is 7 points + and keeps you full for hours!

Recipe courtesy of


Basic Granola Formula

Start with about 8 cups dry to 1 cup wet for a mildly sweet, crunchy granola, but feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste from there.

Dry (choose a few or all):
Rolled oats (5 to 6 parts)
Scottish or steel-cut oats
Wheat germ
Flax seed
Almonds, walnuts, pecans
Sunflower seeds
Shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Canola, vegetable, or olive oil (1 part) ? (Don’t be scared to use olive oil; even extra virgin imparts little flavor on the final product.)
Honey or maple syrup (3 parts)
Also add (per one cup wet): 2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 250° F.

Combine dry ingredients and pour onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Combine wet and pour over dry, then gently mix. Bake for about 2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.

After baking, add 1-2 parts dried fruit such as raisins, blueberries, or cranberries.

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