Things Discovered: 34° Crisps


I love cheese and crackers and one of the major things that I’ve missed over the last (almost) two years is – you guessed it… cheese and crackers. Not that cheese is bad for you, most of the time it’s not, but it is calorie dense and so if you eat too much of it, you’ve blown a whole day’s worth of calories before you know it. Crackers are the same, though of course some are better than others – but it’s the carbs and salt that get you here and the fact that you can pop crackers into your mouth one after the other and before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole pack. So, what to do (until now), but avoid – if you want to keep on track?

So, the other day I was at my local Harris Teeter and came across 34° Crisps. It’s all the taste and crunch of a crack, but WAY less calories. Seriously… only 50 calories for 9 crackers!! I’m rather fond of the Rosemary ones, but as you can see they come in a variety of flavors, so there’s bound to be one you’ll like.

I do suggest pairing it with something – cheese, or some sort of dip, etc… (my go-to is low fat mozzarella cheese) because they are very dry on their own, but other than that it’s a great way to satisfy your cracker cravings without breaking the calorie bank.

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Things Discovered: Chilly Cow


My love for Halo Top is well known, and anyone who follows me on MFP knows I eat that stuff, if not everyday, pretty darn close too it. But I’ve been a bit frustrated with the lack of lower calorie options–I like to stick to under 300 calories per pint. I know it’s hard, because you definitely want it to taste good, but still… my choices are pretty limited at this point. Generally speaking I almost always eat the Caramel Macchiato, and when I really need a change, Birthday Cake. I like the Oatmeal Cookie flavor, but not the actual oatmeal chunks, so I don’t eat it much at all. I did try the Lemon Cake one, and it’s good, but it’s hard to find in my area.

Which brings me to Chilly Cow. Technically, it has more calories in it, BUT since it’s sold in packs that have two 1/2 pint tubs instead of a whole pint, I have the option to eat more flavors, but still have it be less of an impact on my daily calorie goals. I know, I could just eat half a Halo Top, but honestly, I don’t have that kind of self-control. It’s why buying Oreos is always a bad idea, I can never eat just a couple.

So far, I’ve only eaten the Sweat Cream Peanut Butter one, but it was really good (and it was only 190 calories). I need to see if I can find some of the other flavors in my area, because they also have a Brown Butter Salted Caramel which sounds freaking amazing (that and the Chocolate Brownie Batter).

In any case, it’s definitely nice to have something else to add to my ice cream arsenal that is diet friendly and tastes super yummy!

Things Discovered: Noom


Last week, in a desperate bid to gain some control over my out of control eating habits, I decided to try the Noom app. I’d gotten some sort of email for a 14 day free trial and a massive discount off a yearly subscription, so I figured why not?

TL;DR: This app could be useful for those who really need a lot of hand-holding and benefit from daily tips and tricks and other psychological motivation. However, for those who already have a good grasp on the basics, it’s kind of annoying and useless, especially if you are already using something like MyFitnessPal.

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One of the benefits of Noom is it offers a personal coach. The problem that I had with this (and in looking around, I see I’m not the only one), I honestly couldn’t tell if my coach was a real person or simply a bot. To be fair, I didn’t interact much, and she didn’t contact me all that much in the week or so that I tried the app, but when she did it was very scripted.

One of the other benefits is that you are supposed to get group support as well. The coach is, after your trial, supposed to be a weekly check-in, but your group is supposed to be your all-the-time support. Too bad they don’t give you access to it during your trial, so there is no way to tell, beforehand, how it works in practice (or if it too, resembles bot support). This right here was the number 1 reason why I ended my trial, by the way. If you want me to check out something, you have to actually give me access, otherwise… bye-bye! I might have stayed if I’d gotten a good group, but I wasn’t willing to pay for the app only to find out my group sucked (there are no refunds once you’ve paid).

The app also offers food logging, which is something that I think everyone who is trying to lose weight should do. The problem with Noom, however, is that their food database is pretty abysmal. I was constantly having to add things, which was a pain in the ass. Honestly, it would work in their favor if they could just find a way to sync the app with MFP, since MFP already has a much larger food database and makes it much easier to log foods (and create recipes and meals, etc…)

Ultimately, I had an issue with the price as well. First, it’s not clear on their website exactly what the price is. I mean, there are prices listed if you dig through the FAQ, but those are completely different from what I was given and, after I quit my trial, I was given another offer with a way different and much lower price as well. Which leads me to think that there are many different people paying vastly different prices for the same app, some of whom are being seriously taken advantage of. The price I was given wasn’t horrible, but I’m not sure the app was worth that price either, especially since a lot of the features weren’t really all that useful to me. It certainly wasn’t worth paying simply for access to the group support, since there are plenty of places one can go online for free to talk with others who are on their own weight loss journey.

It also tracks steps (which I had synced to my Misfit tracker), though I think you could also use your phone as a tracker as well. I didn’t try that, so I don’t know how that works exactly.

Along with all that you also get daily healthy lifestyle/dieting tips, and other motivational info, that can definitely be of use to many people. This was one of the good things about the app, but also one of the things that I didn’t really need, because a lot of it was stuff that I was already aware of , so again, not worth paying to get access to it. So, similar to my Hungryroot experience, it’s not that Noom doesn’t have potential usefulness, it just wasn’t something that worked out for me. But if you are curious, it may still be worth trying if you think it will help you on your journey.

If you want, you can also check out the 14-day plan that they sent me, to give you a better idea of what you’ll get, since the website is not very forthcoming with the info.

Things Discovered: Hungryroot


I was really hoping that I’d be able to write a rave review about this “great” new thing I found (Hungryroot), but alas… it was not to be. Or, at the very least, it’s sort of hit or miss.

TL;DR: Mixed bag. Some of the food is good, but there are shipping issues that could mean what you get isn’t fresh (or even edible). It’s a little pricy as well.

 

I was excited because, though I’ve looked at other meal shipment offerings, with this one most of the recipes were well within my calorie range, and they were relatively healthy (vegan and gluten-free even… which doesn’t necessarily matter to me, but might to some). I ordered and waited – it took 2 weeks for my first shipment to be delivered. Which that part is fine, it was the delivery itself that was the problem.

So… it’s summer time and it’s been a bit hot this week. Plenty of 90+ degree days. I started to get a bit antsy as the day wore on and by 6p actually was calling FedEx to see if they could give me some sort of assurances as to my box actually getting to me. It will be there soon, we promise. Yeah, but what condition will it be in? Inquiring minds want to know!

About 6:40p, my doorbell rings. YAY FedEx!!!

When I picked the box up off the porch (driver was already hauling ass down the driveway) it was pretty warm to the touch. Bad sign. When I opened it – the box was lined with some sort of insulation material (not like actual styrofoam or anything that might have actually done a better job of retaining the cold, but sort of loose wrap material) and there was a fully melted ice pack on the top.

hungryroot

It was slightly cool to the touch, but only marginally so. There was a piece of cardboard under that, and then the food packs. The very top ones, that were directly under the ice pack, were well… not cold, but not quite warm – possibly edible, but who’d want to risk it? As I dug deeper into the box, the food packs got warmer and warmer, and even though there was another ice pack at the bottom of the pile (also fully melted), that was was actually warm and all the food packs on that level were also warm to the touch. Not sure what the box was sitting on the in the truck, but you’d almost think it had been sitting on a heater. In any case, I certainly didn’t feel comfortable enough to attempt to eat any of it. Which is really sad, because I was totally looking forward to it.

I guess I’m just frustrated about the whole thing though. Their FAQ stated that there was enough ice to keep the boxes fresh for 2 days, but like, it was shipped out Monday night at about 11p and then not delivered to me until Wednesday after 6:30p. And while, technically, that’s not a full 48 hours, in the summer heat, the way it was packed just doesn’t hold up that long. Also, the box said “keep refrigerated” but FedEx trucks don’t have that ability. So if they were counting on FedEx to keep it cool in transit as well, that’s definitely not going to happen.

Anyhoo… totally disappointed. 😦

UPDATE:

So, they credited me the cost of the original box and I agreed to try one more shipment. Still not super-impressed with their shipping. This one, again. left Monday (around 10:40a) and was not delivered until Wednesday evening (it says around 4:45p, but it was later than that – not that the delivery guy bothered to even ring the doorbell this time). Either way, still way longer than the 2 days that everything is supposed to stay fresh for.  At least this time everything was still mostly cold (or at least not warm), probably because the weather’s been a bit cooler, so I’m going to eat it and see how it goes.

I started with the broccoli rice and added the Thai peanut sauce, and a container of Italian Herb Chickpea Medley. I had to add extra curry powder to the peanut sauce – it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really taste like any peanut sauce I’ve ever had before. The chickpea stuff was pretty darn tasty though. So there is that. XD Also the Black Bean Brownie Batter is YUM!!

I debating whether or not to cancel. I mean, I like the idea of getting more veggies in my diet, especially since I’m really bad at eating them most days. But, if I’m going to have to worry about shipping issues every week, that’s a major deterrent. The other is that I already struggle with getting enough protein, and given that all of this is vegan, it’s definitely not going to help.

Decisions… decisions…

 

Things Discovered: Healthy Wage


So apparently there is an app/website, HealthyWage, that you can use to essentially bet on your weight loss goals. You pay a fee (either monthly installments or all at once, whichever works for you), which is basically your bet. If you meet your goal (minimum time frame is 6 months) you not only get the amount you bet back, but an additional percentage as well (exact amount depends on your goals and the amount of time you are aiming for).

I came across the site via my local news, so there’s at least some hope that it’s on the up and up. But I need all the motivation I can get, so figured I’d try it out. My goal is to lose at least 30 pounds within the next 6 months. That’s slightly over a pound a week, but given how things tracking over the last few months, that should be doable without risking total failure.

hw

Anyone that wants to join me is welcome to do so (referral linky nets you and your friends an extra bonus $$ amount). You can also create/join team challenges which can boost your potential winnings as well.

Things Discovered: Chick-fil-a Market Salad


I like salad, generally smothered in blue cheese dressing of some sort (though not lately, of course), but salad is totally my thing. My go-to for most of last summer was the Caesar Salad Kit with Greek Yogurt Dressing from Fresh Express which, if you ate the whole bag and tossed some grilled chicken on top, was only about 350 calories (21g carbs, 16g fat, 35g protein, and 6g fiber). But after eating it fairly regularly for months on end, as good as it is, I’m pretty burned out on it (at least for a bit). Which is good that Chick-fil-a just introduced some new salad choices.

 

Normally, I don’t eat fast food salads. Despite being promoted as “healthy” they often have a lot of extra junk on them and are pretty high calorie, but the new Market Salad doesn’t seem too bad, and really is just like having a mini fruit and salad buffet. It has some blue cheese on it (great selling point!!), and grilled chicken, but then also has strawberries, blue berries and apples. Which honestly, at first, I was like eww… but once I realized that I could pick out the fruit and eat it first, then eat the rest of the salad, it was apparent that this was really a wonderful meal choice. It also comes with small packs of a raisin/nut blend and granola for additional toppings (each pack was about 60/70 calories), but if that doesn’t appeal to you in salad form (#it me), then these make a lovely “dessert.”

Before choosing a dressing (which their Light Italian only has about 25 calories), the salad comes in at about 330 calories (27g carbs, 27g fat, and 27g protein), and that’s including the nuts and granola toppings so if you doesn’t add those, it has even less calories. So all in all, a tasty meal for right around 350 calories. Better yet, it hit all the crunchy, sweet and savory notes that keep me satisfied.

Things Discovered: Lean Bar


I signed up for the GNC Pro rewards program last year, which is a paid version of their regular rewards program that gives you a few extra perks, including a box of samples 3 times a year. Honestly, I’m probably not going to renew the subscription when it comes due in a couple months, as most of it ended up not being useful to me personally. I originally thought I’d be needing it more when I was going to have the bariatric surgery, but with that off the table, I don’t shop there that often (other than like every couple for some stuff that the kiddo needs), which generally doesn’t make paying for a couple extra coupons all that worth it. The sample boxes were interesting, but again, the first two only had a couple things that were even remotely relevant to me – like that yummy protein cookie I mentioned a while back (even though I filled out the profile thingy which was supposed to help customize it better), so not really worth it.

leanbar

Credit: GNC

 

The last box though, did actually have some good stuff in it, and I thought I’d share about one of them – the Blueberry Yogurt Lean Bar. It has 180 calories, 15g protein, and 10g fiber, along with other assorted vitamins/minerals (22 carbs, but with all that fiber it’s not so bad). Usually, I’m not a big fan of anything “blueberry” flavored, but this was actually pretty tasty, so thought it was worth mentioning. I’ll definitely have to check out some of their other flavors to see if they are as good. Would make a great after workout snack or even a quick breakfast for those of us that don’t like to eat a lot in the morning.

Things Discovered: Fitness Blender


So, even though I have a gym membership (and even spent several months earlier this year going 3-4 times a week), the fact is I’m fairly apathetic when it comes to exercise. I mean, I’m fat and very out of shape, so working out in front of others is not a pleasant experience (for any of us). I was swimming mostly (when I was going to my gym), but me and chlorinated water don’t mix well – my hair looked awful and my skin broke out so bad you’d have thought I was going through puberty again. My face still hasn’t forgiven me. Other exercises are sort of hit or miss, I mean, I actually like doing the treadmill thing – it’s mindless and you can watch videos or read to pass the time… what’s not to love. However, I have chronic insertional achilles tendinitis and bursitis in both feet/ankles, which makes anything that involves standing or walking for long periods of time mildly uncomfortable on the best of days and down-right excruciating on the worst. So as much as I’d like to do something to increase my fitness level, I’m a bit limited (which is why the swimming was great – until it wasn’t).

This week, since I’ve been struggling with staying under my calorie goals, I really wanted to try to pick up something that would at least burn a couple extra calories (that way it wouldn’t be so bad if I ate an extra bite or two). So I loaded up YouTube to look at low-impact, super easy, beginner cardio videos, which led me to the Fitness Blender channel. In particular, the “Calorie Burning Low Impact Cardio Workout for Beginners” and “Fat Burning Low Impact Cardio Workout at Home” vids, which are still a bit above my current fitness level (I. AM. SO. OUT. OF. SHAPE.), but both contain really simple exercises and I know given everyday use, these are ones that I can do easily here at home in less than 30 minutes. Neither burn a ton of calories (maybe 100-200 depending on one’s workout intensity), but the potential is there to do these more than once a day, especially once I get to a point where I don’t feel like I’m dying just doing the first round (ok… it’s not quite that bad, but not so much that I’m ready to go again just yet). They also have a website, which I haven’t had a chance to look at much, but others might find useful.

Anyways, the point of all my ramblings is that if I can workout, so you can you. Even if we look utterly ridiculous in the beginning (I know I do) or can barely lift your legs (this is also me) or some of the exercises we just can’t do yet – the goal is to keep working at it. Do what we can and just move in place for the parts that we aren’t quite ready for. The point is to just keep moving. One day we’ll wake up and realize that we aren’t struggling as much as we used to, and with a little perseverance we can reach our fitness and weight loss goals.

Things Discovered: Mrs. Thinster’s Cookie Thins – Pumpkin Spice


And now… another thing that I may have to add to my “don’t keep in the house” list, even though they are oh so yummy!!

At 140 calories per 5 cookie serving (19 carbs, 1 fiber, 1 protein), these fit comfortably into most diet menus, however, they taste utterly amazing, which makes it really hard to stop eating them. Again, if you plan accordingly, it won’t break the diet bank to have more than one serving, but still, probably not a good idea to do so on a regular basis.

Taste-wise, they have sort of a ginger snap feel and flavor, but I can also get that pumpkin hints as well. And even though, they distinctly avoided using the words “pumpkin spice” on the Cookie Butter shake description, I feel like this is totally that flavor – in cookie form (which is probably why I’m having such a hard time resisting them).  But it’s fall… so ’tis the flavor of the season. Oddly, I’ve never been all that into it, but apparently it was just a matter of finding the right food combo. Definitely not complaining. YUM!!! XD

Cheat Days: Arby’s Cookie Butter Shake


Because there are just some days that you have to give in and go for what you are craving. And holy cow… this is pretty freaking yummy!!! Soooo totally worth the extra work I’ll have to do to compensate for going over calories today. And to be fair, I’ve been resisting this beautiful concoction for several weeks, so I think I did good to hold out as long as I did.

According to the Arby’s website it’s: Indulgently sweet with cinnamon spice. Topped with whipped cream and cookie pieces. I got the hint of cinnamon, but the rest of the flavors are hard to describe – if only because I’m too busy sucking it down to form a coherent thought. Totally delicious!!

I would add it to a “Things Discovered” post, but it’s very much not a diet food. Either way though, if you can squeeze the calories in (or are ready for a well deserved cheat day), it’s definitely worth getting one before they’re gone.