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Activate your Activity

This week marked the official launch in Southern California (and Boston and Chicago) of ActiveLink – our new activity monitor. It paired up nicely with the topic of the week, which was managing your environment to make the activity easier. I thought I’d share my experience so far with the device. I know that buying a new gadget for $39.95 with a $5 per month fee isn’t something that everyone will be in a hurry to do. Some of you will want more feedback, know how it really works, what the benefits are. And so I will attempt to do that here. You should know up-front that as an employee of Weight Watchers, I received the device at no cost to me, and do not have to pay the $5 monthly fee. Set-Up ActiveLink is super easy to set up. You’ll plug it into a USB port on your computer, and you will download some software. My device was essentially fully charged when I pulled it out of the box, so by the time I’d downloaded the software and given it my information, it was charged and ready to wear. An eTools account is required to get your ActiveLink set-up, because the device needs to know your age, height, weight & gender so that it can ultimately perform the calculation of how many Activity PointsPlus values you earn every day. It also will drop those values you’ve earned right into your eTools tracker so they are available for swapping. Assessment Period The first 8 days you wear this device is the Assessment Period. Your goal during this time is to go about your daily business while remembering to wear the device. Do not attempt to increase or decrease the amount of activity you do. You want the ActiveLink to get a good feel for what your typical life is like. You should wear the device as much as possible, whether you’re exercising, running errands, or just sitting on the couch. You can wear the device when you sleep, but since you aren’t moving, there’s nothing for it to pick up. You could also wear it in the shower (it’s waterproof!) but really? Are you that obsessed? (Don’t answer that question!)

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Build a Smarter Salad

I have eaten a lot of salads in my day. Some of them were the boring bowl of the iceberg with a pale, mealy wedge of tomato, and some of them were big fat calorie explosions (Taco Bell taco salad in the fried tortilla shell anyone?). Then three years ago, Mark Bittman entered my life with¬†this¬†article. “101 Simple Salads for the Season” became my salad reference book that summer. The list made its way around the members of my cooking club, and we even planned a gathering based on the list – everyone picked a number and brought it. My recommendations from the list: Salad #2 – yes, tomatoes and peaches DO go together quite nicely! Salad #13 – I took this “red” salad to a party, and went home with an empty bowl. Turns out tomatoes and STRAWBERRIES go together well, too. Hmm, I sense a theme here. Salad #19 – I haven’t tried this one, but you white bean aficionados out there know who you are. Report back if you try it! Salad #38 – watermelon and feta are a dynamite combination. Man, I love summer produce. Salad #95 – this is in the grain salad section, so we’re getting outside the box a little. This was breakfast one week! These salads are great for improvisation. Swap out one fruit or vegetable for another. Season it a little differently. If you’re using good ingredients, you can’t go wrong!

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Turn slip-ups into success

It’s a cruel fact of life: none of us is perfect. And the fact that I just typed that out means there is now real live proof that I admitted that, much to my chagrin. At any rate, accepting that we slip up, I think it’s important to figure out how to get back on track, right? I joined Weight Watchers 3 times. The first two times, obviously something happened that caused me to drift away. What if I could have gone back in time and prevented that? Short of finding myself a DeLorean and 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, that seems highly unlikely, so about all I can do is lead YOU by example. I didn’t get to almost fifteen years of Lifetime membership by giving up, or saying “oh to heck with it.” I figured out some strategies to get me back on track before any weight gain became too much. Here are some of my ideas: 1. When I’ve overindulged in something that is sugary and sweet, one of the things that help is to get the taste out of my mouth. So if I’m able, I brush my teeth. I’m not sure why, but this strategy seems to help more when it’s a sweet indulgence, rather than a salty or savory one. Keeping that sweet taste in my mouth seems to be a recipe for disaster. 2. Do something small to get right back on track. This is mostly a symbolic measure: filling up my water bottle, looking through some Weight Watchers material (cookbooks, the magazine, website, whatever), even chewing on a stick of gum to keep my mouth busy. It doesn’t have to be a fresh start from a new day…why waste the hours left in THIS day, right? 3. Focus on how I’m feeling after the indulgence. Am I feeling good? Am I feeling healthy? Usually not! If I feel so poorly, why would I subject myself to this again? (note: this one doesn’t always work – I have amnesia that I can only imagine is similar to whatever mothers go through in which they forget about the pain of childbirth – thankfully a big meal isn’t THAT painful!)

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