“FED UP” Opens My Eyes to What’s Been Sabotaging My Diet & and My Health

Over the past year, I’ve put on a few extra pounds and have been a bit depressed. After trying every diet on the planet — from Jenny Craig, to Weight Watchers, to a juice cleanse, I really never understood why I couldn’t just exercise and eat sensible meals and stay at a weight where I feel comfortable about my arms, my legs and everything in between. But alas, no matter what I do, I typically lose weight, keep it off for a few months and then I return right back where I started from with a few extra pounds added to my 5 foot 1 frame.
After my latest diet and exercise debacle, I watched the documentary “FED UP.” The film, by Stephanie Soechtig, is narrated by television news and talk veteran Katie Couric who serves as one of the executive producers. Opening nationwide May 9, “FED UP” shares the stories of several children and their families who are grossly overweight. The reason? They’ve been eating processed foods at home gorging on calorie laden meals at school and snacking on items that are just plain bad for them. “FED UP” also shares how the low-fat craze that started in the early 1980’s has pretty much sabotaged our eating habits. Personally, I have fallen victim to low-fat eating, purchasing low fat or no fat items for more than three decades and it has not helped in my quest to remain at a normal weight. In fact, after a certain point, I’ve struggled to lose weight because I had been clogging up my system with foods that are just not real. When you are young, you don’t think these foods will do anything to you, but lately, I’m concerned. I’ve been having lots of leg and knee issues and even see a build up of fluid in my calves. I’m seeking medical attention to make sure it’s nothing serious, but for now, I’ve decided to take my life back by finally eating right.
In “FED UP,” you will learn a great deal about what foods are doing us in and the #1 culprit is sugar. Something I never realized is that as a woman, I’m only supposed to have 4 teaspoons of sugar per day. There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon — which means that if you have low fat salad dressing or coffee with sugar, you can easily hit your allotment of sugar instantly. And if you start your morning cereal – like Honey Nut Cheerios, you will instantly sabotage your sugar goal for the day. If you decide to throw in a sweetener, well, that’s not good for you either. That will only make you want to crave sweets even more.
While attending a press session and for the film, I listened in as Katie Couric shared her personal experience with the food industry and admitted that she too fell for the low fat craze and remembers being excited that she could finally eat Snack Wells since they promised to be lower in fat. Unfortunately, it was high in sugar. Today, Katie says she still has trouble ditching her sweetener for good but she has switched to Shredded Wheat (which has no sugar) and tries to eat all natural foods but still uses sweetener from time to time.
Laurie David, who is also an executive producer of the film also shared her family’s transition to natural foods and cooking and said she wishes she could take back every chicken nugget and french fry she fed her kids as they were growing up. She also talked about how the subjects in the film have found it so hard to lose weight because they live in a “Fast Food Desert,” the food in their homes is processed and the food in their school cafeteria is high in calories and doesn’t offer nutritious alternatives.
“Fed Up” recently opened in theaters and I highly recommend you go see it with your family. Meanwhile check out my “Fed Up” confession below…

Make sure you follow @FedUpMovie on Twitter and to find a theater near you playing the film, visit their official website.

It’s 4 O’Clock Somewhere: Time for a Chocolate Break

I live for chocolate. There, I said it…and it feels good. Especially since they say it’s perfectly fine to have one piece every day, I’m always on the lookout for a sweet treat in the late afternoon that will tide me over until dinner time.
So imagine my delight when I recently got the chance to try out a new chocolate baked treat from the folks at Weight Watchers. As a lifetime member since I was 12, I’ve been a fan of the brand’s sweet treats for a while now but the true test came when I tricked my kids into thinking they were sampling a brand new decadent chocolate dessert.
Take a look…

My son loved sampling both treats but the more discerning opinion came from my daughter, with a cameo by my husband:

Wonder where you can get your hands on these newest low calorie chocolate creations? Consumers can find these new products at national (Walmart, Kroger and Publix) and local grocery retailers.
The delicious additions to the Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Goods lineup offer a one-of-a-kind indulgence with creamy fillings, rich flavors and decadent textures:
Triple Chocolate Brownie Bliss™
A decadent brownie layered with creamy, real chocolate ganache and a chocolaty coating. Each individually-wrapped brownie is 80 calories and has a PointsPlus® value of 2.
Peanut Butter Brownie Bliss™
An indulgent brownie layered with creamy, real peanut butter and a chocolaty coating. Each individually-wrapped brownie is 90 calories and has a PointsPlus® value of 2.
Both varieties of Brownie Bliss contain zero grams of trans fat. They join other Weight Watchers Sweet Baked Good products including Chocolate, Lemon, Carrot and Red Velvet Creme Cakes, Chocolate Brownie, Coffee Cake, Cookies and Muffins. Consumers can find the new products at select national and local grocery retailers for a suggested retail price beginning at $3.29.
Okay, after reading these descriptions, I’m totally craving more sweets. Gotta go…time for a chocolate fix. Two points never tasted so good!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer’s Network. All opinions are my own.

The Girdle Chronicles: D-Day

shadow-unhappy-woman-on-scale-plus-size-nc.jpgIt’s been a while since I poured my heart out and I guess it’s because I’ve been so busy working, I haven’t had a chance to rant. Well, this weekend finally gave me the drive to get back to storytelling – especially since I pretty much lost it in a car ride home from Manhattan.
You see, my hubby and I were attending a surprise party in the city and I was all excited about it. In fact, I had even gone shopping earlier in the day and used a gift card my mother in law had given me for my birthday at White House Black Market to buy something special for the evening. Even though I’ve been pretty depressed lately about my weight and haven’t bought much at my fave stores (WHBM and Ann Taylor), I still managed to find a gorgeous fuschia satiny top with ruffles that I thought really looked amazing.
The moment I arrived home, I raced into my closet and began the excruciating task of attempting to find a pair of pants or a skirt that went with the top. Sadly, practically everything in my closet was too tight and I was stuck wearing my go to black pants that have become a staple in my wardrobe since they have a bit of stretch in them and I’m sure have expanded every time I’ve gained yet another pound.
When my husband came upstairs to get dressed, I asked him what he thought of my new ruffly top and like any guy who doesn’t realize when his wife is pre-menstrual, he replied, “To be honest, I don’t really like the ruffles.” Well, if you think I went into a tailspin from that comment, you would be correct. I spent the next hour trying on every other top in my wardrobe and couldn’t find a thing. And so, I told him I didn’t care that he didn’t like what I was wearing and stuck to my guns, paired it with my comfy black pants and away we went.
About an hour into the party I walked past a mirror and that’s when it happened. I took a look at myself with my ruffly top and stretched out black pants and did not like what I saw at all. My hips and thighs looked huge and while the top did distract you from the size of my lower half, it appeared a little too festive since everyone else in the room was wearing the dress code of a typical NYC party – basic black from head to toe.
Once we left, I pretty much sulked in the car on the way home and my husband kept asking why I was so upset and then I exploded like a madwoman in need of a strait jacket. I poured my heart out – said how upset I was that now that I’m in my 40s and the weight seems to be piling on, I fear I’m going to wind up with the body of my grandmothers (both came from hearty European families and were built like tanks). The tears were streaming down my face and I had to check the glove compartment for a tissue – luckily there were napkins from a recent rest stop run to Burger King (hence the larger posterior).
When we arrived home, I made a decision that it was time to take my body back. And so, it is now Monday, December 6 and I am going to do just that. Despite the fact that the holiday season is in full swing, I am joining Weight Watchers again this Saturday and will be trying out their new Points Plus program that I just read about in the New York Times. If it’s good enough for Jennifer Hudson then baby, it’s good enough for chubby old me.
I’ll keep you posted about my progress and hopefully, by next month, I’ll be back in my semi skinny jeans. Either way, I’m making a commitment to lose weight – let’s hope it works for good this time around!

Slimmed Down Jennifer Hudson Reveals Secret

jenniferhudsonweightwatchers.jpgToday, I got the chance to see up close and in person the miraculous transformation of Grammy and Academy award-winner Jennifer Hudson! The former American Idol alum, new mom, singer, actress and bride-to-be was in Manhattan to unveil her incredibly gorgeous new body. The secret to her success…why Weight Watchers of course!
After the birth of her son, Hudson was inspired to adopt a healthier lifestyle so she could be a better role model to her child. After trying many diets that left her feeling deprived, she finally discovered Weight Watchers. At today’s press conference,Weight Watchers President David Kirchhoff announced Hudson would be the focus of a brand new marketing campaign which launches April 4 and features her sharing her weight loss story as she showcases her talent and beauty (yes, there is singing!). Below is our podcast from the event – listen in and find out how Jennifer Hudson is looking more gorgeous than ever! And if you visit Jennifer at WeightWatchers.com, you can get some great advice from her as she shares her favorite foods, exercise tips and more!If you’d like to catch a sneak peak from Jennifer Hudson’s Weight Watcher campaign, check out the video below!

40 Pounds Ago

images.jpegSince my daughter is now 10 and I can’t blog about the specifics of what goes on in her daily life, what I can share is an earth shattering observation about her weight…and mine. You see, my daughter is now in 5th grade – the same year my weight started spiraling out of control and my parents contemplated signing me up for Weight Watchers.
My daughter, who is now 4 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 65 pounds. When I was her height and was 11, I weighed 106 pounds. Yes, you heard me the first time. Four feet, seven inches tall and one hundred and six pounds. I was forty one pounds heavier than my daughter is today.
When I turned 12 and the teasing at school became incessant, I did finally step inside that Weight Watchers Center and while I initially had to lose at least 30 pounds, I grew four inches and reduced the weight loss goal by 10 pounds. And so, while I managed to lose 20 pounds, I have to say that in hindsight, I was very fortunate that my parents decided to take the bull by the horns and guide me along my weight loss journey.
Today, when I think about kids who are struggling with obesity issues, it often takes me back to the days when I was standing in their shoes. And trust me, it was not fun. It was not fun to be teased, to be out of breath when I walked up a flight of stairs, and to feel completely self conscious since I was one of the few kids who couldn’t fit into a pair of Jordache jeans or Sergio Valentes – and back in the early eighties, if you didn’t own a pair, you were deemed uncool for school. With the help of supportive parents, I managed to reach my goal and while I’ve always struggled with weight as an adult, I’ve never let the scales tip too far over the line.
If you’re a mom with a child struggling to lose weight, let me offer this word of advice. Take them by the hand and join a program where you can shed the pounds together. Start exercising with them – go bike riding, ice skating, play the Wii or just take a long walk. If you help your own child achieve their weight loss goals, they will never forget you for it. Just ask me. I’m forever indebted to my parents who realized I had a problem and helped me confront it head on!
So while those 40 pounds may be a thing of the past, they are a constant reminder that staying fit and healthy is truly a family affair.

Fighting Obesity One Family at a Time

Weight+Watchers+Presents+Fun+Fit+City+TSFzq4EAPjfl.jpg This past weekend, Weight Watchers sponsored an incredible gathering for familes called “Fun and Fit in the City.” Held at the Harlem Children’s Zone, the event kicked off the NY Food and Wine Festival and featured a moving speech by former president Bill Clinton and an engaging panel discussion with Rachael Ray, Dr. Mehmet Oz and former NBA star Allan Houston.
When I arrived, the place was jam packed. Hundreds of people were filing into the gymnasium at the Harlem’s Children’s Zone and as I walked around the perimeter of the room, I met the founders of organizations that were making a difference to help feed families in need. From CookShop, to Share Our Strength, to the Food Network, to Hip Hop Stroke and Weight Watchers, which was the title sponsor of the event, the focus of the afternoon centered on healthy eating for families.
The first woman who took the stage was Deborah Sullivan, a mom of two whose daughter had been morbidly obese. Rather than allow her child continue on a destructive path that could eventually lead to diabetes, Deborah managed to find ways to cook healthier meals for her kids. Before long, not only did her girls lose weight, but other members of the community started eating at her house and now, she feeds nearly one dozen children every day of the week. “Love means I have to give our kids what they need. Not what they want,” she says.
The Food Network’s Sarah Copeland then shared the news that the Harlem Children’s Zone, had just unveiled a community garden within the building so that children could harvest their own vegetables and learn how to cook them too.
Next, representatives from Hip Hop Stroke walked up to the podium and rapped for the crowd. Hip Hop Stroke is comprised of a group of passionate young adults (one was a former rap star) who visit public schools on a regular basis, counseling kids about healthy eating. When they asked a question of the audience, I nearly fell off my chair when I saw the results. “How many of you know a person who has had a stroke?” Out of 400 people in the room, I’d venture to guess that at least 300 waved their hands high in the air.
Also in attendance was the founder of Share Our Strength which provides food for hungry families nationwide, the CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone and the President of Weight Watchers, which is committed to providing adults with the resources they need to not only incorporate healthy eating habits into their own lives, but to encourage them to pass along that behavior to their children. We also heard from two Weight Watchers leaders who collectively lost an entire person between them! Together they offered heartfelt advice on how to make small changes in your life that could lead to a healthier way of life.
We then met Angelica, a young woman who had lost more than 80 pounds and was now a member of the youth advisory board for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation – an organization founded by former president Bill Clinton to combat childhood obesity. And then, within minutes, everyone in the room erupted in thunderous applause. Bill Clinton had officially arrived.
Clinton, whose very presence can electrify a room, made a special appearance at the event to talk about an issue that has now become his personal crusade – the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, an organization determined to fight the war against childhood obesity. Through his moving and eye-opening speech, I learned that a young girl in Harlem had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at age nine – even though Type 2 is typically an adult disease. Moreover, if left unchecked, the effects of diabetes on kids could have tragic results – from blindness, to amputation, stroke and even death.
Clinton explained that his organization is committed to educating kids about healthy eating and removing snacks and drinks with high caloric content from schools nationwide. But what really hit home with me was when Clinton talked about health care. He explained that if we all took better care of ourselves and our families by imparting healthy eating habits into our households, we could prevent all of the serious maladies that are affecting children and families in economically disadvantaged communities. He even reasoned that if we took better care of our health, employers would be more inclined to give their employees raises rather than shelling out more money for insurance company fees that are continually on the rise.
But at the core of Clinton’s message was that parents need to play an active role in their kids’ lives. From teaching them about the right way to eat, encouraging them to step away from the TV, computer and video games so they can get some much needed exercise and ridding schools of vending machines offering junk food, we could all be on our way to raising healthier and resilient children.
Once Clinton left the stage, we heard from New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who announced the city is working hard to get green markets to accept food stamps and encouraged audience members to get out and shop the green markets rather than indulge in fast food options.
The second half of the event featured a panel discussion with Rachael Ray, Dr. Mehmet Oz., former NBA superstar Allan Houson and NY Times well columnist Tara Parker Pope. I really enjoyed this part of the program because each brought their own personality to the discussion. Ray shared how she once lived in a one room apartment in Queens and didn’t have a dollar to her name. But since she knew how to cook, she could go into the supermarket, purchase beans, rice and spices and whip up a delicious meal. Rachael’s message was simple – if we teach our kids how to cook for themselves, then we are arming them with the tools they need to eat and remain healthy for the rest of their lives.
Dr. Oz shared a story of the time he was shocked to find himself performing bypass surgery on a 25 year old woman. That experience made him aware of the dangerous effects that unhealthy eating is having on our nation’s youth. Parents cannot continue to feed their kids a diet of chicken nuggets, french fries and burgers without realizing these actions could have deleterious effects on their quality of life. In fact, if we continue down the path of feeding our kids foods that are high in trans fats and sugars, the life expectancy of our children could wind up shorter than our own. If that isn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is.
I also really liked an analogy that Allan Houston used about the importance of fueling our bodies with healthy food. He recalled working at a gas station when he was young and marveling at a Mercedes that had distinct instructions near the gas gauge: Premium Fuel Only. And suddenly it hit him. If we give expensive cars only the best fuel, shouldn’t that concept ring true for our own bodies? If we fuel our bodies with junk, we’ll feel awful. But on the flip side, if we eat right, we are providing our bodies with the optimum fuel it needs to perform at its peak.
I also loved hearing that Allan’s grandmother was about to celebrate her 101st birthday. Her secret to a long and healthy life? Home cooking and no fast food!
The audience was then asked if they had questions for the panelists and nearly half of them stood up to share their stories. And one by one we heard from people who are suffering from serious ailments – from heart and gastric issues, to the loss of limbs due to diabetes. At that very moment, I realized what a serious crisis we truly have in our nation. We can all agree that health care costs are out of control but as politicians decide whether everyone in our nation is eligible to receive it, they should also be agreeing to spend money on preventative care. It is imperative that we educate communities about the importance of healthy eating. Heck – send Bill Clinton, Rachael Ray, Dr. Oz and Allan Houston on a road tour to more communities in need of their expertise. The obesity epidemic is something that can actually be stopped. So why don’t we all make an effort to wipe it out once and for all?

Lose for Good…Here I Come

images-3.jpegWell, it’s September and that can only mean one thing. I finally made the decision to head back to Weight Watchers. My reason was simple. None of my clothes are fitting properly, I can see the reflection of my very round posterior in store windows and when I’ve posed for photos with my family, my double chin is rearing it’s ugly head (or should I say chin).
And so, at 12 noon today, I took my trusty membership booklet over to a Weight Watchers center in Chelsea and soon learned that I had gained four pounds since the last time I joined. But this time dear readers, I intend to lose weight for good…and not just “for now.” And lucky for me, I’ll be shedding pounds for a great cause!
Weight Watchers (WTW) recently announced the start of the second annual Lose For Good campaign, created to raise awareness about two global epidemics – obesity and hunger. Between August 30th and October 17th, as Weight Watchers Members and Online subscribers lose weight, the company will donate up to $1 million to two hunger fighting organizations – Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger. Last year, the campaign impacted more than 250,000 children and families domestically and actually represented the difference between life and death for more than 6,000 malnourished children abroad.
This year, Jenny McCarthy, a passionate activist and actress, has joined the campaign to generate awareness about this important cause. As a campaign ambassador, McCarthy will participate in media appearances and star in a public service announcement encouraging Americans to get healthier while also helping to end hunger. In addition, McCarthy helped Weight Watchers kick off Lose For Good by participating in a ceremony where the company donated a “Good Food Garden” to the Arroyo Head Start center in Altadena, CA, run by the Center for Community and Family Services, Inc. The Arroyo Head Start center serves underprivileged children in the community and until now did not have funding to build a sustainable garden for the kids to use for educational and nutritional purposes.
Even though it’s my first night, I’m more determined than ever to reach my goal – especially since my mom took off more than 30 pounds on the plan and is thinner than ever! As my first Weight Watcher lecturer told us more than 28 years ago (yes, I was that young when I first joined) “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” I hear ya sister, so hopefully I’ll have some good news to report in the coming weeks!

Weight Watchers I Hear You Calling…

images-8.jpegIt’s funny. Every time the weekend rolls around and I indulge in one too many things that wind up adding a few more lbs. on my digital scale, I find myself back to square one. The only thing that’s ever going to really get my butt in gear is my old faithful – Weight Watchers. Lucky for me, they’re actually one of the sponsors of this Thursday’s Swiffer SocialLuxe Lounge so maybe I’ll get the inside scoop on their latest program and hopefully, they’ll have a few of those smart ones desserts on hand so I don’t partake in the delicacies Jenn at Hostess with Mostess has ordered for the blogger partay of the year!
Incidentally, I recently tried one of the latest Weight Watcher Smart Ones creations – the peanut butter sundae. Let’s just say it has now become one of my top three Smart Ones desserts, followed closely by the brownie sundae and cookie dough sundae. And lets not forget about those ice creams – love the ice cream cones, chocolate sandwiches, mint chocolate chip and turtle fudge sundae packs too!
Okay – maybe I’ve discovered the root of my problem. I have a bit of a sweet tooth…ya think?

The Girdle Chronicles

images.jpegSo it’s day four of my quest to lose weight and I of course blew it yesterday by inhaling all the things you’re not supposed to eat while embarking on a healthy weight loss plan. For those of you trying to sincerely slim down in time for summer (rather than those of us who say we want to get thin and then dive spoon first into a gallon of Chunky Monkey), I’ve compiled that list below so that we are all clear on the foods we should not eat at all costs.
Food that I ate yesterday that you shouldn’t eat if you’re dieting:
Two small biscotti – dunked them in my coffee at a bakery in Astoria with my parents. Operative word…why?
Pizza (from the movie theater – what a waste of calories – doesn’t taste great, lots of cheese, oil and a gazillion calories)
One cup of fruit juice – to wash down the greasy pizza. Ugh.
My son’s french fries and one chicken tender. Because I was hungry. Bad move.
The sweet potato fries on my own plate. I reasoned they were healthy. Healthy if I cooked them but they were from a restaurant. Can anyone say “fry cooker?”
Two glasses of white wine – that’s another two hundred calories that caused me to eat the next item on my list.
Marshmallow smores – two graham crackers are healthy. But the Hershey Bar and fat free marshmallow that’s crisped to perfection? Not so much.
One small oatmeal cookie – I ate it because it was there. Another senseless waste of calories.
I don’t want to tally up the calorie count on all these items because it doesn’t even include the meals I had to go with it. Let’s just chalk it up to I had taken temporary leave of my senses and I swear that today is a new day and I will live to eat healthy again. In fact, my new favorite website is Healthy Eats which offers a great way to cook burgers this summer without packing on another 10 lbs.
Oh – on the bright side – I did complete day two of my EA Sports Active and it was grueling. Lots of lunges, leg lifts, running, kicking and stretching. Plus a fun tennis game thrown in too (not real tennis, Wii Tennis). I burned 133 calories during that 33 minute routine. So in essence, I think I burned off my biscotti.
So now that I’ve confessed my serious binge, what foods have you eaten lately that you know you’d be better off just pasting to your thighs and calling it a day?

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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse?

That is the question…
The past few weeks I have been desperately trying to shed some weight and for the life of me, it’s just not in the cards. I’ve cut out diet coke, have been trying to eat every few hours, have gone to the gym, took an incredibly difficult body toning class, and yet, when I attempted to put on my favorite jeans or a skirt that was swimming on me last year after my successful run with Jenny Craig, everything is tight.
Actually, everything is really tight. And I’m not happy about it. I don’t know why I always manage to sabotage myself right when the weather starts getting nice and now I’m trying to figure out the best way to shrink the belly, thigh and knee fat that have taken up permanent residence in body. I’ve got friends doing Nutropia, but I ditched that after a week. My mom is a Weight Watchers success story. I just found out that Freshology, the diet that Ricki Lake lost tons of weight on is now in my area. And another mom told me about the Master Cleanse– which guarantees that you’ll lose at least six pounds and rid your body of all the toxic crap you’ve been ingesting over the last few months.
While I’m usually not a magic potion drinker, there is something interesting about that Master Cleanse thing. I mean, maybe that is what my body needs. An inside out car wash if you will. Let’s clean out the splenda, mono sodium glutamate, white wine, chocolate cake and all the other junk I’ve been eating while trying to lose the same 10 pounds I battle every single year.
Of course, I’m sure that after I lose the six pounds, I’ll probably gain it right back but if I can at least get a kick start and fit back into my formerly comfy jeans (notice how I don’t say skinny jeans), I’ll at least be back on the road to sveltesville.
What diet is working for you? Comment now or forever hold that piece of cake.