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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gadgetry Round-up

I love kitchen gadgetry! 
Here are my 3 top finds of 2013.

There's a store in Gatlinburg, TN called "All Sauced Up" that has the coolest little kitchen gadgets. I always find a little something there to take home with me, but the ones I found by Chef'n last year were the best.

The first one is a Chef'n Palm Peeler. You slide your middle finger into it and then peel away. Perfect for cucumbers, apples, etc. The blade never gets dull. I use mine almost daily (for the past year) and it is amazing!  

I can remember when I lived at dad would get so annoyed with my mom and with me for peeling potatoes with a knife and taking off half the potato with each pass! ("You're wasting half the potato for crying out loud!" lol So true!) Not so with this little beauty!  

I eat cucumbers almost every day. They are always so waxy and even washing them I can never get all the wax off. This just skims the peel off without wasting any of the cuke. I even successfully peeled a butternut squash! It took the first pass off effortlessly and then I just went back for another skim and voila!  Perfection!) 

I don't get any cut of any sales - but you NEED one! At $6.99 how can you go wrong? Chef'n Palm Peeler (order from All Sauced Up). (I am sure you can find it on Amazon also.)

Next up?  

Chef’n SleekStor Pinch Pour Collapsible Measuring Cups (silicone) with matching "bonus" measuring spoons.

They will fit in any drawer, you can measure hot or cold ingredients, and they don't stain - not even when measuring out spaghetti sauce (and we are tracking and measuring our food, right? Right????)  

They are a little pricey at $21.99 maybe, but not having to fight the $%^$! drawer to stuff them in and out is worth it to me!  Chef'n Pinch Pour Measuring Cup Set (order from All Sauced Up)

And the last "favorite" from this past year is the Chef'n Palm Vegetable Brush.

It works perfectly on all vegetables and doesn't slip out of your hand.  Brilliant!

I can no longer find it at All Sauced Up, but did find it on Amazon for $6.99: Chef'n Palm Brush (order from amazon)

I long for the day when I can have a fully functional, gourmet kitchen again. I had that once, but I divorced it many years ago. (I really miss that kitchen!)

But even in my tiny galley kitchen, I can enjoy the whole cooking process a lot more when I find these little gems that make life so much easier.

What are your favorite gadgets? What can't you live without?  Let us know!

If you like my blog, please remember to share it!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Weight Watchers vs. My Fitness Pal

I have been asked, "Which is better? Weight Watchers or Myfitnesspal?" and the answer is EASY!

Hands, down, without a doubt....whichever one you'll actually follow!!!!

I come from a very respectable line of professional Weight Watchers. My grandmother (who is 94 and amazing) is the matriarchal Weight Watcher in the family. She worked for many years as the manager of the original Publick House Bake Shoppe in historic Sturbridge, MA.

Postcard of My Grandmother at Publick House Bake Shoppe, Sturbridge, Mass.

Fig squares and Cookies and Pastries, Oh My!

I worked there during high school and my aunt was the assistant manager. My grandmother and both of my aunts are amazing bakers. The world's best chocolate chip cookies, greek butter cookies, apricot squares, sticky buns, eclairs, anadama bread, jams, jellies, Joe Froggers (look it up!) and turnovers were probably my main food supply when I worked there.  (No one asked, but I am pretty sure profits lagged badly during my time of employment LOL) When I visit now I am sent home with sleeves of oatmeal cranberry or chocolate chip cookies (or both!)

The ladies on that side of the family are life long Weight Watchers and have lifetime memberships. They have reached their goals and maintained now for a few years.  It gives me hope that I, too, can make it!

When I started this mega-transformation journey January 1, 2011, I began with Weight Watchers.  And in 8 months I lost nearly 90 pounds. I would call that a major success! I ate real food, I followed it to a "T", I was seldom hungry, and the system allowed for the "oopsie" days where I went over my daily or weekly points.

The best part of Weight Watchers, for me, is letting go of counting calories and getting bogged down in perfection.  It focuses on what you are eating, and portion sizes, rather than calories. Five to six veggies and fruits each day, two or three dairies, plenty of water, at least one healthy oil, and some activity are the main focus. What you do after that is up to you, so long as you stay within the points.

This works for me...VERY well. I have already lost close to 15 pounds this month!

Myfitnesspal also worked for me...for a very short time. If I didn't meet my 1280 calories each day, I was deflated and felt like a loser, or somehow shamed. The GOOD part, however, is that it lets you track all your macronutrients and you can see how much fat, protein, carbs, calcium, sugars, etc. you are eating. I wish WW did that. I miss that part a lot.

WW is not free.  It is $18.95 per month for the online version which comes with free eTools. (You can use your phone to scan product bar codes and it will pop up the per-serving points. Fantastic at the grocery store or even for adding food at home.)

Myfitnesspal is completely free. There are tons more people and forums and support because it is open and free. Their database of brand name foods is exponentially bigger, so there is little you have to enter manually. It also has free eTools and I would say it is easier to use, a faster interface, and better supported by the community.

I say, try one. TRACKING is CRITICAL to success. I'll say that again. TRACKING IS CRITICAL TO YOUR SUCCESS.  All the Biggest Losers will tell you that!  So pick an app, try it.  If it works, stick with it.  If it doesn't...switch!  If it stops working, switch back.

The bottom line?  Be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and if that means switching it up and trying something new? DO IT!

***If you like this blog, please share it with your friends!***

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Biggest Loser, Office Style

I signed up last week for the Biggest Loser Contest at work.

It starts every year in January and runs 12 weeks.

This 'lil competition is just one more level of accountability, and another reason to keep making good choices!   Here's what I am doing to maintain focus.

If I start the morning with even a quick blog it means I am thinking about my goals and how to get there.

Weight Watchers Online
I switched from to the weight watchers online tracker.  I will blog soon about why, but it is totally working for me already.  And tracking every morsel, lick, nibble and taste is key.

Weight Watchers meetings
They started Wednesday meetings at work, and while I honestly don't think I need it there are a few reasons to go:

  • I can meet other like-minded people. 
  • I have a weekly weigh-in that someone besides Carly is going to see. 
  • I will certainly learn something from the leader I didn't know.
  • I have a friend who told me about it and I love the idea of sharing tips, tricks, ideas and recipes, etc. with her. 
  • And I just thought of a new idea, too.  Make a totally WW dinner and invite her over.  I can even tell her in advance how many points to save.  Ha!

Google Calendar
I made a detailed calendar that outlines the plan, right down to which days and when to exercise, when to get groceries and prep for the week, etc.  Seeing this in black and white (with reminders!) helps.

Water, Water and More Water
I have started to make gourmet flavored waters (yup, another blog post for this week..stay tuned).  It helps me want to drink it! And I know drinking water helps tremendously with all aspects of my health.

Working out
I'm not killing myself with a trainer, a bunch of weight training, P90X etc. .... yet.  I am back on the treadmill, doing lunges, squats, some planking and getting my body used to being used again.  I'll step it up when I feel I need to step it up. Right now this is working.

Last year I lost 29 pounds during the competition.  I gained some back, and then lost it again by the end of 2013 for a net loss last year of 36 pounds (for all of 2013) At least it was a loss and not a gain!

I am setting a goal of losing 36 pounds just during this competition. I really believe I can do it.  I'll keep you posted!

.....Begin with the end in mind.  And as always, if you like my blog, please share it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Year, Renewed Focus

Consistency.  My focus for 2014

  • I will post this year.  

  • I will post regularly this year.

  • I will post something, no matter what.

  • I will post because it starts the day with the right focus.

  • I will post because it keeps me accountable.

  • I will post because even when I'm a disaster, a trainwreck, a mess.... it helps me lighten up and accept that I am human (and That's OKAY!)

  • And I will post because sharing the journey helps ME as much and likely way more than it helps anyone who reads.

I had a "get off your butt and do it" moment I blogged about: Walking the Talk, 1 year ago

That lasted a week.

I am 48.  I WILL be at goal, healthy, toned, and fabulous by 50. I am going to create a roadmap and share it in the next week.

How many times have I said failing to plan is planning to fail?  I need to plan to SUCCEED.

I am close to my all time low weight right now (down about 80 pounds; my all time blogged low was when I was down 90).  I am refocusing this year and throwing myself into it like I did when I started this blog:

January 1, 2011: First Day of The New Me

I may struggle with consistency, but this is the first time in my life I have maintained somewhat focus on fitness for THREE WHOLE YEARS without going back to (and exceeding) my start weight!!!!  I am going to call that a success!

I am going to blog this year about ALL the factors that affect my journey.  The weight loss, the fitness and exercise, the food, the organizational challenges (ADHD), the mental aspects (depression, the committee in my head that wants to sabotage me), the emotional challenges (loneliness, easily frustrated with myself, etc.), and anything else that pops up.

And I am going to do this with some degree of consistency.  THAT is my MAIN goal for 2014.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The L-Word

I avoid the L-word.  My closest friends know that this has been the bane of my existence. No matter how much I try, "L" always gets the best of me.

I'm talking about LAUNDRY, of course. Ugh.

So what does laundry have to do with weight loss, you ask? A lot! I am a total package made up of interlocking organization, procrastination, motivation, dread, habits, fears, successes, and a cluttered mind. And that last one is probably the biggest hurdle I have to continuously strategize to overcome.

When my mind is cluttered, my environment is cluttered. When my environment is cluttered, my mind is cluttered. There is no chicken or egg here. It works in both directions. And it doesn't matter what causes it...what matters is that in order to make plans, keep plans, move forward and have success in ANY area of my life (fitness, work, parenting, even hobbies), I have to continuously devise methods, tricks and tips to overcome the clutter that is Carly's World.Seeing things organized frees me to focus and do better at EVERYTHING else!

Henceforth, I shall focus on ....the dreaded.... laundry.

All my life, my laundry has existed in one of three states: (1) In the dirty pile, (2) in the clean pile (overflowing hampers or piled on the unused side of my king size bed), or (3) on my body. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE clean clothes, washing and drying (or hanging) laundry. I really do. It's the details that bog me down, like having to sort, then hang, fold, organize and put away. Ugh.

So here are some things that have helped me get MUCH better with laundry.

Shout Colorguard. With this product, you do not need to sort. You can just throw everything into one tub on cold, and call it a day. This morning I threw a brand new ORANGE t-shirt (that I knew was going to run) in with a pale yellow blouse, black shirt, white socks and a mint green shirt. I really did. And I also tossed in a few of the colorguard sheets. As you can see in the pic, nothing ran, but the sheets are completely orange! It's like magic.

Matching Hangers. At Bed, Bath and Beyond I got the "Real Simple" slimline hangers and threw out the hodgepodge of fat plastic store hangers I had. These are visually uniform which helps my brain. They are slim which helps with my tiny closet. They are cloth which makes even slippery camisoles stay put. And they have slacks racks, clips, skirt hangers,etc. for consistency. This isn't a luxury item. This is a sanity item.

Re-purposed dresser.  I have a lovely mission style pine dresser that, for years, has either sat empty or shoved full of unknown objects (because I didn't look in there for anything.) I am a visual person. I need to SEE something to know it exists. It's just how my brain works. So I now use my dresser for towels for my master bathroom, a nice cubby for all my hair products, brushes, etc. and the other drawers are for makeup, bras, underwear and workout clothes. There are no pants, shorts, shirts, sweaters, etc. at all. I wasn't keeping up with it anyway so why set myself up for failure?

Closetmaid Organizers.  
I bought a few 3-tier Closetmaid stackable organizers. The shelves are adjustable. I have a cloth bin for socks, one for nylons/tights/knee highs, one for my bathing suits.  I use one of these in my laundry room, too, to organize laundry supplies. A place for everything, everything in its place, and I can SEE what I have!

Since my son operates in much the same way as I do, I completely ditched his dresser and replaced it with stackable 6-cube and 9-cube organizers. Because he can SEE what t-shirts he has, he actually wears more of them (instead of just grabbing the top one in a drawer!) It also makes it easier for him to put things away. He has bins for socks, boxers, bathing suits, t-shirts, shorts, etc. and he uses the extra ones for video games, spare skateboard and scooter wheels, etc. Doing this one thing has made him feel MUCH better about his room and he keeps up with it much better (although he IS a 14 year old boy, so don't expect TOO much right?)

I am going to spend more blog posts talking about organization. It is critical to my success at everything I do - my job, being a mom, fitness and weight loss goals - all of it!

And in case this seems like a lot to do all at once, please believe me when I say this has been a process over time, one small incremental change at a time. But if we just start and do SOMETHING, we will all get there!


p.s. I have missed blogging. I struggle with consistency (if you have followed me, you know that's true!), and I am working on strategies for that, too!  Please don't give up on me or the blog.  :-)
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