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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fluffy Girl's Grocery List

I've had lots of fluffy followers tell me that they don’t know what to buy at the grocery store or what to cook at home to help them stay on track. I’m often asked for suggestions of good snack foods or staples to keep on hand to help them stay on track.
Believe it or not, I do not live on lettuce and water. I love to eat, enjoy cooking, and live on a very tight budget. So when I shop for groceries, I make sure that I’m intentional with what I place in my basket. I try not to put things in my basket unless:
  1. I know that it is a needed ingredient for a specific meal or recipe. I try to think of at least two meals that I want to make over the next two weeks. That way, I’m purposeful with my time in the store and with my budget.
  2. The likelihood of it going bad, spoiling, or being wasted is low.
  3. I find a new product that looks beneficial to my health and tasty. Some of the best products in my pantry were items I found by accident in the store. (NOTE: I read the labels carefully!)
So here is a list of staples that I make sure to always have in my pantry and fridge. I made this as complete as possible and included as many categories as I could. Maybe this will help you save some money, lose some weight, and gain some healthy go-to foods for you and your family. (Note: My references to “store brand” refer to Kroger Stores.)

  • Decaffeinated tea bags – I’m not very good at drinking a lot of plain water. I’m a Southern girl in need of some sweet tea on a daily basis. With the WW plan, tea is zero points and counts as part of your daily fluid intake. I use zero calorie sweetener, which has helped me get my sweet fix and give up sodas. The decaffeinated bags let me drink all evening at home without keeping me up all night. Score!
  • Crystal Light Hawaiian Punch – Great for a kick to water and a sweet fix on a hot afternoon.
  • Frozen chicken breasts – Since I live alone, I usually one need to cook one piece of chicken at a time. Buying frozen chicken, or fresh chicken on sale then freezing it, helps me keep healthy protein on hand without wasting food. Sometimes I buy the pre-cooked frozen chicken strips, too. They’re great to thaw out quickly and top a salad or add to a warp.
  • Luncheon Meat – I usually choose a roasted turkey or lower fat ham. Be careful not to get the “honey baked” hams. Lots of extra sugar in those. Lunch meat is a great addition to salads, omelets, or wraps… not just for sandwiches anymore.
  • Light Ranch Dressing – Great for salad or dipping veggies, but I also dip my frozen pizzas or Lean Pockets in it to add a little more flavor.
  • Salsa – I cannot stress this enough… BUY SALSA. Make sure you buy the kind that looks fresh and chunky, not paste based. Those have a lot of added sugars. If you get the kind that looks to be mostly veggies, it’s zero points on WW. I use it to top salads, add to wraps, dip my sandwiches, you name it. Adds flavor without a lot of sodium, sugar, or fat.
  • Sugar-free flavored coffee creamer – My store brand French vanilla is wonderful. It has enough flavor and sweetness that I don’t have to add extra sweetener to my coffee. Plus, I use mostly creamer and a little coffee, and this creamer is still only 1 point.
  • ½-1% milk – If you’re a whole milk drink like I was, don’t freak out. Wean yourself down to the lower percentage milk. I still can’t stand to drink skim milk. I’d rather pour water on my cereal than use that stuff!
  • Country Crock Light Margarine
  • 2% shredded cheese
  • Lower Sugar Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal – My store brand is awesome and tastes better than the Quaker brand.
  • Tostitos Baked Scoops Tortilla Chips – Great way to get a crunchy fix. Plus, a serving is 15 chips. Regular tortilla chips are only 12 for a serving. I’m all about the extra chips!
  • Ole Brand High Fiber/Low Carb Wheat Tortillas – My brother turned me onto these. They taste great, are only 1 point each, and FILL YOU UP! Be careful if you buy regular wheat tortillas. My store was out of the Ole brand, so I quickly grab a low-fat wheat version. When I got home and did the WW math, they were 3 points each! Not cool.
  • Sara Lee Soft & Smooth® 100% Whole Wheat Bread – Tastes great and is a low point value.
  • Garlic – A great way to add flavor to recipes without adding sodium from seasonings.
  • Lettuce or Bagged Salad
  • Frozen mixed fruit – I’ve found large bags of chopped mixed fruit in my store brand or in the Great Value brand. I get a bigger variety of fruit, and it lasts longer. Great for smoothies, but I typically just top a bowl of it with fat-free cool whip.
  • Frozen chopped onions and bell peppers – A quick and easy add to recipes when I’m in a rush and don’t have time for all the chopping. Okay, so the truth is, I’m a lazy cook.
  • Frozen carrots and other veggies – Ziplock makes steamer bags, so having a quick side dish of veggies is easy. It’s also nice to add veggies to a pasta dish or other recipes to bulk up the veggie side of life.
Other Frozen
  • Fat-Free Whipped Topping – Sweet fix that is zero points (unless you eat a lot… which I have… I’m not ashamed to say that… really… you try to eat just a little… you can’t do it… don’t judge me.) It’s really helped my ice cream and dessert cravings. I throw it on top of fruit or add it to a smoothie.
  • Birds Eye Viola! Three Cheese Chicken Pasta Skillet – This is a frozen pasta dish that is yummy! It has pasta, chicken, and veggies in it, so it’s really healthy. I add even more frozen veggies to it so that I can eat more without losing points. Just 5 points for a cup cooked. Nice! This also comes in a family size at some stores. Some of the other flavors are more points, so be sure to check before you buy.
  • Lean Pockets
  • Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, or Healthy Choice dinners – I make sure to keep some at the office so I technically have no excuse for eating out at lunch! Great when I run low on points for the day and still have a meal to eat.

This fluffy girl stays well fed! I also have plenty of variety in my menu with mix and match ingredients. However, if you find a yummy option that I should add to my grocery list, please share!

Hope this helps!

Faithfully, fluffully His,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Big Girls Don't Cry

Several years ago, the pop artist Fergie released a music single called "Big Girls Don't Cry." It was pretty catchy and popular at the time. As I was thinking about my next blog post, that song popped into my head. Here are a few of the lyrics (and no, this is not an endorsement for Fergie or any of her music, etc.):

I hope you know, I hope you know
That this has nothing to do with you
It's personal, myself and I
We've got some straightenin' out to do

And I'm gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket
But I've got to get a move on with my life
It's time to be a big girl now
And big girls don't cry
Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry

The path that I'm walkin', I must go alone
I must take the baby steps 'til I'm full grown, full grown
Fairy tales don't always have a happy ending, do they?
And I foresee the dark ahead if I stay

I started thinking about all the times I've cried since I started this new life journey, and wondered if they were significant at all. I thought about the difference between the tears I cried before this journey and the tears I cry now. I realized that my tears have changed.

Before I decided to make a change, I put a lot of effort into NOT crying. In case you didn't know, not crying can be a form of denial. If I cried, that meant I was acknowledging that something was wrong. If something was wrong, I would have to address it. And if I had to address it, that meant change and pain. So, the fewer the tears the better, no matter how far in despair I was. Better to not deal with it than to cry about it. The times when I did cry were brutal. I made sure to stop before I did too much damage to the "balance" in my life. I was teetering and didn't want to go too far.

The day I decided to do something different with my life and to do it God's way, I cried again. These tears were different. I got an empty journal and wrote down all of the things I hated about myself, my life, the activities I couldn't do, my limitations. As I wrote those things down, I realized I was finally acknowledging a lot of junk in my life. It turned into a confession to God about how far down I had let my sin drag me. And it was all because of choices I made. No one else did this to me. I did it. And I had hurt myself and my relationship with God in the process. So I cried. They were tears of shame and confession, but by the end, they were tears of relief. I knew that God had forgiven me and would help me to truly repent and stop living that old life. He alone could help me change, and He would.

I didn't cry again for a long time after that. In fact, I can't remember another real good cry until I hit the 25-lb loss mark. Those were the first tears of joy I cried on this journey. I wasn't expecting them. In fact, I cried right there in the WW place next to the lady who had weighed me in that day. Can't remember her name, but I remember her smiling like she had seen that sort of thing before. I left there dry eyed, but cried again on the way to work. All good tears. Thankful tears. Hopeful tears. Laughing tears.

Those tears have come up several times since then. When I reach a new milestone, or put on a pair of jeans I've been hiding in the dark crevices of my closet, or when I think about how far God has brought me in such a short amount of time, or when I get an email from someone who has read my blog and related... Those are good tears.

Don't get me wrong: I AM NOT A CRYBABY. (I am, however, a "sympathetic crier" and will cry if I see someone else cry. That condition is strange and cruel sometimes but has no cure. It is just one reason I no longer watch the Halmark channel or anything with "Extreme Makeover" in the title.)

These specific lyrics of Fergie's song stand out to me though because, as a "big girl," I spent a lot of time NOT crying. So please listen carefully as I type the next words...


It may hurt at first, but the tears don't cause the pain. The pain is already there and has been for a long time. You might as well acknowledge it. Not acknowledging it gives it power over you, and you were not created by the Almighty God to be a powerless person. In fact, He wants to give you His divine, supernatural power to overcome and be victorious!

So stop holding back. Grab an empty journal and start scribbling the words you've been afraid to say out loud. Or go for a long walk in a quiet place and verbalize your fears and disappointments. Confess!

And let go.

Only then can the good tears come. Clean tears. Freed tears. God-given tears.

Faithfully, fluffully His,