10-Point Lunch Challenge: Panera Bread

1 Mar

When I first joined Weight Watchers, a co-worker and I would challenge ourselves to find places (and menu items) that could give us a lunch for 10 points or lower. For various reasons, this has gone by the wayside.

Now that I’m struggling in my weight loss efforts, now seems the perfect time to reinstate this challenge. I didn’t really feel like eating the frozen meal I brought with me today, so I took myself and a book to one of my favorite haunts, Panera Bread. (This is not a paid endorsement — unfortunately!)

I like Panera for two reasons: the food is good, and they are very fast. And really, shouldn’t that be the goal of any sit-down fast-food restaurant. I particularly like their “You Pick Two” menu, which offers smaller portions of their salads, soups and sandwiches, so you can get a taste of a couple things without the calories (and cost!) you’d incur buying a full serving of each item. Their Web site is also great, as they have a separate microsite offering full nutritional information on each of their menu items, so it’s easy to plan what you want to have before you get there.

So here’s my submission for the 10-point challenge, from the “You Pick Two” menu:

  • Broccoli cheddar soup – 4 WW points
  • Baguette (comes with the soup, or you can choose chips or an apple I think — I just have a love affair with bread) – 3 WW points
  • Classic salad, no onion – 0 WW points
  • Balsamic vinaigrette dressing, on the side – 1 WW point
    • I probably didn’t even eat one point’s worth of dressing just by dipping my fork in it, but I’d rather overestimate than underestimate
  • Total: 8 WW points

Unfortunately I’m not always this “good” when I go to Panera. Those cherry danishes behind the display glass just kill me, and those are 10 points. But today — and at this point I’m taking it one day at a time, if not one meal at a time — I was strong and didn’t indulge.

Do you have any yummy, healthy ideas for eating out at lunch? If so, share!


Failure, Thy Name is Fat

25 Feb

I need to accept that I’m failing in my weight loss efforts because I’m concentrating on the scale, not on changing the way I eat.

Lifestyle change is where it’s at.

I need to get into that mentality.

Let the Great Fridge Cleanout of 2010 begin.

50 Book Challenge, 5/50: The Nanny Diaries

6 Feb

The Nanny Diaries Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Amazon.com Description
The Nanny Diaries is an absolutely addictive peek into the utterly weird world of child rearing in the upper reaches of Manhattan’s social strata. Cowritten by two former nannies, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, the novel follows the adventures of the aptly named Nan as she negotiates the Byzantine byways of working for Mrs. X, a Park Avenue mommy. Nan’s four-year-old charge, the hilariously named Grayer (his pals include Josephina, Christabelle, Brandford and Darwin) is a genuinely good sort. He can’t help it if his Mom has scheduled him for every activity known to the Upper East Side, including ice skating, French lessons, and a Mommy and Me group largely attended by nannies. What makes the book so impossible to put down is the suspense of finding out what  the unbelievably inconsiderate Mrs. X will demand of Nan next. One pictures the two authors having the last laugh on their former employers.

My Review
This was a quick re-read for me. I started to read the sequel to this book, Nanny Returns, and quickly realized I had completely forgotten what had happened in The Nanny Diaries.

I know the X’s are supposedly not based on real people — the first time I read this, it shocked me that the X’s were even a composite of many of the families the authors had nannied for over the years. However, through my friendship with someone who nannies (not for the ultra rich like Nan in the book, but the people she’s worked for over the years definitely aren’t hurting financially), nothing in this book shocked me on the second read. It made me angry, the way the X’s treated Grayer and Nanny, but not surprised. Unfortunately there are very rich people in the world who have children and don’t spend a lick of time alone with them (my ex-friend’s most current position is this way — they have three people who combine for a 24-hour shift — yes, even when the children are sleeping, someone is there). It’s very sad.

Anyway, this isn’t my comment on society, it’s supposed to be a review of the book. I enjoyed it the second time around as much as I did the first. I can tell I liked it because of how much the characters infuriated me — to me that says they were well-written.

I’ve read mixed reviews about Nanny Returns, however. I’m starting that tonight, so I’ll let you know.

5 / 50 books. 10% done!



1446 / 15000 pages. 10% done!


Back in the Saddle Again

4 Feb

My weigh-in made me very happy today, I was down 2.2 pounds. I have a long way to go, but I’m celebrating small victories this time around.

I had a very nutritious dinner tonight and a not-so-nutritious dessert. However, as opposed to the past where I would pretend I never ate those points, they will be counted.

As soon as I get my WW book — left carelessly at the office — when I go to work tomorrow morning.

I also worked out for 30 minutes with My Fitness Coach on my Wii. I did the flexibility exercises tonight.

Man, those yoga poses are hard!

50 Book Challenge, 4/50: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

4 Feb

Tonight I finished book No. 4 in my quest to read 50 this year: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. First is Amazon.com’s take on it, followed by mine.

Amazon.com Description (NOTE: Small Spoiler Alert)

It’s difficult to tell if critics’ reactions to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies should be characterized as praise or astonishment. Some reviewers treated the book as a delightful gimmick. Others found that, beneath the surface, the book actually constituted an interesting way of looking at Austen’s novel. Zombies answer certain puzzling questions: Why were those troops stationed at Hertfordshire? Why did Charlotte Lucas actually marry Mr. Collins? (She had recently been bit by zombies and wanted a husband who could be counted on to behead her — of course!) But critics also pointed out that this parody shows that Austen’s novel has remained so powerful over time that even the undead can’t spoil it.

My Review

As a preface to my thoughts on this book, you should know that I have a Bachelor’s degree in English. As such, the stereotype is that I eat, sleep and breathe classic literature such as Jane Austen’s novels. And I have to admit that, while I do not despise writing from this particular time period, I’m not a huge fan of it. The language of it has always been a challenge to follow, though I’ve developed more of an appreciation for it since I left school (where we were forced to read literature instead of choosing it).

The fact that so many wonderful period movies have been made from some of Austen’s novels don’t hurt, either. :p

So I will side with critics who think the book is delightful, because I certainly did. The author chosen to incorporate the “ultraviolent zombie mayhem” (and copious vomiting, for some reason) wrote very much in the spirit of Jane Austen, so the added storylines were seamlessly woven into the rest of the novel. If nothing else, I now want to re-read Pride and Prejudice to see what specifics — if any — the new version parodied.

I also hear they are making this into a movie. I think I’d prefer it stay in print form, thankyouverymuch.

Commissioner Goodell, Are You Reading This?

1 Feb

I was hoping to begin this post with the news of continued low ratings for the NFL “all-star game” (since I would probably get in trouble for saying the “P” word), played last night in Miami. This statistic was going to further the argument that no one pays attention to the “all-star game,” the players don’t necessarily want to play in it, and that the whole thing is essentially a big joke that no one cares about.

Looks like I won’t be able to do that.

There go my supporting arguments.

Nevertheless, I have an idea for making the “all-star game” more relevant, if not more watchable. Ratings rise of 40% over last year or no, I’m going to share it with all of you.

The NFL should raise the stakes of its “all-star game”, similar to what Major League Baseball did with its “game of best players” (since I can’t say the “A” word). Add a league-wide bye week to the NFL schedule at about mid-season, during which time the “all-star game” will be played. The victorious conference will then automatically win the coin toss at the “big game” (since I can’t say the “S” word).

Simple, right?

NFL, are you listening?

Weight Loss: Game (Back) On!

28 Jan

I’ve not blogged about my weight loss efforts lately because there isn’t much good news to share. I’ve gained back more than half of what I lost, and am in a bad place mentally.

Until now.

(I hope.)

I got on the scale expecting to gain (see, this is how far I’ve fallen). What I did not expect was to gain 3.4 pounds.

Well, enough of this shit.

I’ve decided to (once again) commit to getting my act together as far as weight loss is concerned, and make myself a priority.

I know I won’t lose every week, but I will lose more often than I gain.

It’s on.

Trusting the Universe

27 Jan

I’m not normally a Michael Buble fan; my radio has a feature that tells me who is singing the song, and if I see his name scroll across the display, I switch stations.

Not tonight.

I’m hoping this was the Universe speaking to me. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Haven’t Met You Yet

I’m not surprised
Not everything lasts
I’ve broken my heart so many times
I stop keeping track
Talk myself in
I talk myself out
I get all worked up
Then I let myself down

I tried so very hard not to lose it
I came up with a million excuses
I thought I thought of every possibility

And I know someday it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And I promise you kid that I give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

I might have to wait
I’ll never give up
I guess it’s half timing, and the other half’s luck
Wherever you are
Whenever it’s right
You’ll come outta nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing
And baby your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility

Somehow I know that it’ll all turn out
And you’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
And promise you kid to give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet

50 Book Challenge, Book 3/50: Shh, it’s a secret!

26 Jan

My third book in my quest to read 50 in 2010 was one that I read more out of curiosity than anything else.

The Secret — Rhonda Byrne
Amazon.com review: Supporters will hail this New Age self-help book on the law of attraction as groundbreaking and life-changing work, finding validation in its thesis that one’s positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, happiness … did we mention wealth? Detractors will be appalled by this as well as when the book argues that fleeting negative thoughts are powerful enough to create terminal illness, poverty and even widespread disasters.

My review: I’ve been hearing about this book on and off for years, and when I joined one of those “buy five books for $.99 each and get the sixth book for $5.99”-type clubs, I added to the list completely — as I mentioned above — out of curiosity. I’m not a big fan of self-help books, mainly because I have bad short-term memory and would have to keep re-reading them every week to get any kind of benefit from them. Like Amazon.com, I struggle to believe “The Secret” will bring me enough money to pay off my debts, could have cured my mother’s terminal gall bladder cancer, or prevented the recent tragedy in Haiti. That being said, I think the book’s main message of “like brings like,” and having a positive attitude about your own life and everything around you, are words to live by. I definitely plan to enlist some of the suggestions the book offers for bringing good things — well, one thing in particular that will go unmentioned here  — into my life.

Has anyone else read this book? If so, what are your thoughts? I was talking with a friend tonight who is convinced the book is responsible for getting her the job she currently has. I guess I won’t know it’s truth until I try it for myself. You’ll be (almost) the first to know when it does work!

FYI, if you want to see any of the other books I’ve read/reviewed, just click on the “50 Book Challenge” category and it will take you to all related entries!

3 / 50 books. 6% done!

1126 / 15000 pages. 8% done!

50 Book Challenge — Books 1 and 2

17 Jan

For the past several years I’ve participated in an online challenge to read 50 books in a calendar year. So far I’ve not been able to do it, but I’m giving it another try in 2010.

So, to help meet my goal of posting in this blog more often, I’ve decided to post Amazon.com descriptions followed by my review of the books I read this year. My list right now of ones I want to read is pretty short, so if you have any to recommend to me, please comment!

Okay, here we go with books No. 1 and No. 2, Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (one of my favorite authors) and The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.

Shades of Grey, Jasper Fforde

Amazon.com Description:
Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color — but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

My review:
It took me awhile, but I grew to love this world and the characters. If you’re a fan of the Thursday Next and Nursery Crime series of books, the last sentence of the Amazon.com description rings true. You won’t find talking bears here, but you will find a darker, more biting version of the alternate realities Fforde has become known for, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series.

The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown

Amazon.com Description:
Let’s start with the question every Dan Brown fan wants answered: Is The Lost Symbol as good as The Davinci Code? Simply put, yes. Brown has mastered the art of blending nail-biting suspense with random arcana (from pop science to religion), and The Lost Symbol is an enthralling mix. And what a dazzling accomplishment that is, considering that rabid fans and skeptics alike are scrutinizing every word.

The Lost Symbol begins with an ancient ritual, a shadowy enclave, and of course, a secret. Readers know they are in Dan Brown territory when, by the end of the first chapter, a secret within a secret is revealed. To tell too much would ruin the fun of reading this delicious thriller, so you will find no spoilers here. Suffice to say that as with many series featuring a recurring character, there is a bit of formula at work (one that fans will love). Again, brilliant Harvard professor Robert Langdon finds himself in a predicament that requires his vast knowledge of symbology and superior problem-solving skills to save the day. This setting, unlike other Robert Langdon novels, is stateside, and in Brown’s hands Washington, D.C. is as fascinating as Paris or Vatican City (note to the D.C. Tourism Board: get your “Lost Symbol” tour in order). And, as with other Dan Brown books, the pace is relentless, the revelations many, and there is an endless parade of intriguing factoids that will make you feel like you are spending the afternoon with Robert Langdon and the guys from Mythbusters.

Nothing is as it seems in a Robert Langdon novel, and The Lost Symbol itself is no exception — a page-turner to be sure, but Brown also challenges his fans to open their minds to new information. Skeptical? Imagine how many other thrillers would spawn millions of Google searches for noetic science, superstring theory, and Apotheosis of Washington.The Lost Symbol is brain candy of the best sort — just make sure to set aside time to enjoy your meal.

My review:
Is The Lost Symbol as good as The DaVinci Code? In a word, NO.

Maybe I’m tiring of the “Dan Brown Formula,” or maybe the secrets of Catholicism are more interesting to me than the masons, but I was underwhelmed with this book. Parts of it were good (one twist in particular I didn’t see coming, though maybe I was mentally through with the book by then), but the majority just seemed like Dan Brown’s formula with different locales and characters thrown in. One “twist” in particular didn’t even shock me, because I knew there was no way it was true. I was really looking forward to this book, especially since it took him so long to write it, but it turned out to be more of the same from Dan Brown, and I guess I was looking for more of something else.

2 / 50 books. 4% done!

928 / 15000 words. 6% done!