Cuppa Dessert

I ran out of calories yesterday and went to the grocery store after dinner to find some veggies to snack on. I know veggies are not calorie free – but I think their benefit both health-wise and snacking-need-satisfaction-wise outweigh the calorie cost. So if I have to snack – I’ll snack on raw celery and green beans. (Another good one is cauliflower, sprayed with “butter flavored PAM” and then roasted in the oven for when I’m craving buttery popcorn.)

In any case, I started browsing the aisles – looking for anything low-calorie that would make a good snack or meal… I’d been craving chocolate – but it’s hard to get around the calories for that one. Then while in the tea aisle I found this:

Chocolate… Tea…?? Not really sure that sounds appetizing. I pictured something like hot cocoa – but really runny/watery. I put it down… I picked it back up. Really?? Chocolate tea? I put it down… I picked it back up… I bought it. Actually it’s really really good. It’s NOT hot cocoa – but that’s probably a good thing. (re: runny/watery hot cocoa = yuck) But it has enough of a chocolate taste to make it feel like a dessert. And under 5 calories for something that resembles chocolate… I’m happy. They also had other flavors too. Red Velvet. Strawberry Chocolate… I’ll be going back soon to try them all!

In other news, I’m down another pound this morning. (again, I’m sure this is going to slow soon – my guess is it’s just bloat weight I’m losing right now) I planned out the food for the day – with my Zumba class planned for tonight, my calorie count is REALLY low. I may be able to sneak in chocolate of the real-kind variety tonight!! So feeling pretty good about things at the moment. I can still see the fat on me – but I’m also feeling better – healthier – just a wee bit skinnier. Success is the biggest motivator.

Keeping with the program

I‘m going to do Zumba 3x a week (after the holidays, because one of the classes won’t start again until January) – I’ll do it this week though – I went Monday morning, last night, and I’m on the schedule to go again tomorrow night. Wednesday and Friday nights are the classes at 24 Hour Fitness. The Monday morning class is one that another mom in Rachel and Zach’s school goes to. I was telling her how frustrated I am to have to be starting over like this – she too lost a bunch of weight and put some of it back on – but I’m trying to take on her attitude. When I started complaining – she said “Well, the thing is I lost it once – so I know it’s possible. I know how to do it again – it’s not like I can say ‘I can’t ever lose the weight’. I did. I’ll do it again. So will you!(I love her attitude! She is very cool!)

I’ve been trying to keep those words in my head. I’ve been pre-logging my food in so I know precisely how many calories I have for the day – I’ll leave snacks open for what I feel like in the moment – but checking the calories first before I eat it.

I have lost a few pounds this week – probably mostly water bloat from eating more than I should previously… (although I won’t complain if I continue to lose 3 or more lbs a week from now on) LOL! I’d also like to take a before picture. That’s one thing I didn’t do the last time and that would have been nice to be able to compare to.

10 Cool Games and Tools for the iPhone

I haven’t done a big roundup of iPhone apps I’ve been playing with / using for a while – I’m still buying apps like its nobody’s business. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

A while ago, I reviewed a few apps that I got to help me tune my daughter’s Cello. They were pretty good – but not perfect. What I really needed was something that could show me when we were *close* to the right note, how far off we were, were we sharp or flat… because honestly, when it’s really close, it’s really hard to tell. I first started looking at devices that did this and they were really pricey – then I found this app. It’s currently priced at $3.99 and worth every penny!! Just play a note and it shows you where you on a dial how close you are – watch the dial as you tune the instrument. (Works when you sing too!) It’s just awesome. Very simple and does a great job!

Cleartune – Chromatic Tuner: $3.99*


Next up, Trivial Pursuit. I’ve never been really good with trivia, but the game is still fun. I can’t remember what inspired me to buy this, maybe it was on sale… either way, I downloaded it. The iPhone version of the board game is pretty fun. I like that you can change some of the settings if you want to play a variation on the game (ie. how many wedges are required, where you earn wedges – how hard your opponent is :) if there should be a time limit to answer). If you don’t like waiting to see how your computer opponent does, you can speed through his play. Now here’s the cool part – you can play with someone else. There’s two ways to do that: “pass n’ play” (obvious how that goes) – or “Wi Fi Multiplayer” – so if someone on your WiFi network has the game too, you can play against each other. That feature in games, I’ve gotten a little addicted to, I have to say.

You’ll see some reviews complain of it crashing, and I’ve seen the problem too. It does seem to come and go, though. I’m hoping they do make it more stable – but it’s something to be aware of.

Trivial Pursuit: $4.99*


When we were on vacation, I saw my nieces playing Monopoly on their iTouch and iPhones, so not to be out-done, I had to download it as well. The iPhone version of the game is more fun than the original board game, I think. While sometimes it doesn’t always work, you can speed through the computer’s turn by clicking a button on the game screen. You also have a few options to change the game to play a variation that suits you.

I won the first game I played on it, and have not won another game since. (And I’ve been playing a lot recently). Heh. I haven’t changed the difficulty but sometimes it sure does seem like it has the dice are stacked against me! LOL! It’s still fun to play. Since I’m on a multiplayer kick with these games, I was psyched to see it also can do multiplayer: either pass n’ play – or for wireless it has WiFi or Bluetooth. However, when I initially tried the wireless options, they didn’t seem to work. Bluetooth would only seem to work if you were hooking up with ONE player (maybe that’s something that’s unique to Bluetooth technology? – that it won’t connect with more than one device…? Not sure)

Monopoly: $2.99*


This is another one of those games I thoroughly suck at but it’s fun to play anyway. In fact, if you want to know how bad I am, since this game also has a WiFi multiplayer option, I played this game against my 13 year old niece when we were on vacation. She kicked my butt. LOL! Yeah, definitely gave her a little ego boost I think. After that, she kept asking to play me again. LOL!

Ok, a few things I really like with this game: if you’re really stuck you have the option to use a “Best Word” feature. You only get a limited number, so it’s best to save them for when you really need them – like at the end when all you have left in your hand is a “Q” tile. 😉 (Did you know “Qi” is supposedly a word – and it’s worth a fair amount of points for a two letter word) 😉 So that brings me to my wish for this game. I think it would be great if it had a dictionary feature with it. Some words I’d really like to look up and see “Hey, exactly WHAT is a ‘Qi’!!!” or I’d like to play a word, or rather, what I think is a word – but I don’t know if it’s just something I’ve made up. Yes, you can try to play it and it will simply tell you it’s not a word, but I’d like to know. Maybe there’s something close that I was thinking of. I mean, hey, if you get a “Best Word” feature that will figure out the best use of your tiles – why not give me a few shots with a dictionary…?

Scrabble: $2.99*


Ahhh.. Chuzzle. This is a really weird game. But I have a soft spot for games that have cute little creatures in them. Fuzzballs with eyeballs – what’s not to love. At one time, I actually bought this game for my PC (back when I had a PC) – that was a few years ago now. The game is pretty simple to play, but the strategy gets a little tricky as time goes on. It’s a bit like Bejeweled except with more fur. You slide a row or column of Chuzzles to line up 3 or more Chuzzles of the same color/pattern (doesn’t have to be in a row – as long as they are adjacent to each other). The tricky part comes when you get a “locked” Chuzzle (which will lock the row and column that Chuzzle is on) or a Super Chuzzle which is one chuzzle 4x the size of a normal one. Until you match up the color of those Chuzzles, they stay on your board making your game challenging. :)

If you get this game, and haven’t played it before – here’s a cute “easter eggs” – try tapping the same Chuzzle over and over and over again and see what happens. :)

So here’s my one complaint about the game: MAJOR battery eater. Like BIG TIME. If you ever feel like draining your battery, play this game. I’m not sure what they did with the game, but it must use up a ton of resources. (Maybe it’s all that groovy music it plays in the background) 😉

Chuzzle: $4.99*


This is another game I saw my nieces playing with and then quickly downloaded myself. Reminiscent of the TV game show – this one is a lot of fun (and much more fun than yelling at the TV trying to get them to hear your answers in tv-land) 😉 There’s a few different ways to play: “TV Show Game” style, Multiplayer (yay!), Toss-Up Game (They show you letters and you have to figure out the puzzle before it shows you all of them), and Speed-Up Game. (You spin the wheel once to determine the point value of each letter guessed, then you just take turns guessing a letter in the puzzle, until someone solves the whole puzzle)

Wheel of Fortune Platinum: $1.99*


I’m a sucker for time management games like this one: Turbo Subs. In this game you need to serve customers a variety of different food types, some that require preparation first, others that don’t.  As per is usual in games like this, customers have a limited time before they get angry and leave your store.

I love the graphics in this game – I think there’s something about cute little food icons – I’m not sure what it is. One problem I did experience with the game that I see in the reviews on iTures that others have reported as well, is that sometimes the game is not as responsive as I would like. You click on an item, but it doesn’t register that you did. Otherwise, this is a fun game.

Turbo Subs: $1.99*


(This one also has a free version in case you want to try before you buy)

Uno is a classic card game – and on the iPhone it’s just as much fun. Once again, the multiplayer options here a great feature. Now that the kids have their own iPhones (our old ones that no longer have phone access) we can all play together and no one has to clean up. There’s a couple of extra features in the card game – if you put down a “0” – everyone switches cards. If you put down a “7” – you pick someone to swap cards with. There’s a “jump-in” feature where if you have the same color and number as a card that was just put down you can jump in and put down your copy of it (only one person can do it – so you have to be quick) – then the rotation picks up with the person that would normally come after you. If you don’t like these extras, you can turn them on or off in the options panel.

UNO: $4.99*


(There is also a free version so you can try the game out – but as I recall, the free game is extremely limited)

In Fruit Ninja – the object of the game is to slash up some fruit. As you play the game you’re given different swords to play with – for example one we won makes various color streaks when you slash the fruit. There’s two different ways to play. “Zen” you play against the clock and just try to slash fruit and get as many points as possible. In the regular game you can’t miss any fruit. 3 misses and the game is over. Also – occasionally a bomb will pop up. Don’t slash the bomb – otherwise the game is instantly over. (I kinda wish they’d let you hit a few bombs before ending the game – but I guess that’s the way the kiwi crumbles.) 😉 This is a really cute game – once again, I think maybe it’s just the cute food icons that reeled me in. Either way – still fun to play.

Fruit Ninja: $0.99*


So, as I showed with a few pictures from vacation, I kind of let things go diet-wise. Well, ok, I REALLY let things go diet-wise. I gained way more weight than I had prepared to. This isn’t an option now – I’m not going back to the way things were before, so like before, we’re counting calories. This time I’m trying something new. I found this app online – you create a (free) account on their site: Daily Burn, and then you can use this app to help track your calories. There is a free version of the app where you can enter your calories in – but this one, called Food Scanner, takes it a step further: you can actually hold the barcode up to your phone and it will scan it and show you matching products – and enter all the details from the label for you. No need to search or do custom entries yourself. (Yes, I’m lazy – that’s how I gained this weight back, thankyouverymuch) You can still search for foods (in case it’s something that doesn’t have a label (ie fruit, vegetables, meat, etc.) or if it doesn’t find a match, you can enter the label in manually. Favorite the foods you use the most so you can add them easily later on. Everything you enter is synced back to your account online.

With these types of calories counters, the service is only as good as their database – so it’s nice that they seem to have just about all the foods I tend to eat.

FoodScanner: $0.99 (currently on sale!!)


Ok, I said 10, but you made it this far down in the post so here’s a bonus freebie app. It’s a good one too! I’m trying to do something a little different exercise wise this time too – with the nice weather, and now that my daughter is big enough – she and I have been biking around town. We’ll go biking for an hour or more – leisurely, but still it’s exercise! When I came home the other night, Sam asked me how many miles did we bike – I had no idea. I tracked a path on Google maps and discovered we biked almost 8 miles. Probably not as much as serious bikers, but I was still pretty impressed. I thought there must be an app that will help track you as you go – and of course – as they say: “There’s an app for that” – the one I’m going to start playing around with is: RunKeeper (Free). You sign up on their website, and when you’re ready to start running or biking or whatever, turn on the app and tell it start tracking you. When you’re done you can upload your path and time, with all sorts of stats to the website and share it on Twitter or Facebook.

There is a “Pro” version of RunKeeper that costs $9.99, but I don’t see a side by side comparison that would show features that would make purchasing it worth the money. And the fact of the matter is that the free version does everything I need.

Updated to add: You can check out my runkeeper page here and see my activities.

*Price at time of this writing.

Skiing Insanity Test

As you may or may not know, I live in Utah – supposedly home to some of the “best snow on earth.” I say supposedly because I really don’t know what that means. I mean, I live less than an hour away from Olympic-quality skiing, and yet I have never gone skiing in my life.

Well, that’s not entirely true… I did go snowboarding. Once. I actually went down the hill twice. The first time I’m not really sure how I made it down, but I know falling was frequently involved – and this was when we lived in Massachusetts – which is not home to the “best snow on earth” – unless snow is supposed to resemble ice. The second time we tried to go down the hill, the wind had picked up and was so strong, I couldn’t stand long enough to even fall down again. So I just sat on my board and slid down the hill because at that point I just wanted to go home.

With an experience like that, maybe it’s not a surprise that I haven’t exactly raced to the mountain to try my hand (feet?) at skiing. I’m told snowboarding is different and that skiing is easier, but as an outsider the fact that it’s one board vs two just seems like that just gives you more opportunity to break your legs or end up in a split.

Then there’s the whole concept of going down a hill without control and without breaks. I’m told there are ways to stop, but they don’t sound easy enough – at least without involving legs being twisted in ways they were never meant to be.

But since I am going insane, I signed up for skiing lessons. Well, that’s not the only reason I did it. My brother and his family are coming here for a ski vacation early next year and if I’d like to spend any time with them, I’m going to have to strap on some skis. We got a coupon in the mail that had a package deal for locals: a lift ticket, a group lesson, even equipment – all included in one ridiculously low price. There was simply no excuse. I even found a friend of mine who is also going insane and is willing to give it a try with me.

We will be falling down often – and thanks to my friend – laughing just as often too. But I’m not going to guarantee I won’t break a leg or that I will willingly go skiing again. LOL!

Running on empty

I‘m sure this post is going to come with a fair amount of “I told you so!!”s but here I go. I haven’t been able to run for about two months now. I kept putting it off, work was extremely hectic and my knees had started to bother me. At first I thought the knee pain was related to a new migraine-prevention medicine I had recently started taking, but as far as I can tell, it’s unrelated. I kept waiting for my knees to feel better, I took motrin, it didn’t help. After a few weeks I finally caved in and called the doctor.

So it would seem I have tendinitis in my knees. She gave me some kind of anti-inflamatory cream (?!), a print-out of hard to read, hard to understand (the point of) “exercises”, told me to put some heat on it and sent me on my way. The cream you’re supposed to put on 4x a day. Which is ridiculous. Who remembers to do something 4x a day?? And a cream?? How is a cream I put on my skin going to penetrate through the cartilage of my knee and make this better?? And the exercises? Aside from the fact that I can barely read the print-out, I really don’t see how they’re going to make my knees feel better. From what I can tell in the picture (which is easier to see than the writing) it has you do things like: Sit in a chair, kick your leg forward and then back. Repeat 3 sets of 75 reps. (I’m not exaggerating on the repetitions – and that’s just ONE of the exercises!! There’s 6 more on the page like it.). As far as heat goes… do you realize how difficult it is to keep a SQUARE flat heating pad on a bent knee? WHY don’t they make a heating pad specifically designed for your knee?? I know they have those Therma-care heating pads for knees, but I think they work out to be $4 each and I would need two of them for both of my knees, every day for who-knows-how long.

So the short story is that I’m thinking I’m going to be dealing with knee pain for awhile. We’re also suspicious that the running probably had something to do with this in the first place. So… yeah. No more running for me for a good long while. If ever. I’m happy that the pain is only when I bend it so I can keep doing my other exercise classes (like Hip Hop Hustle and was going to start Turbo Kick this week too). And the bonus is that since I can’t bend down so easily anymore, I’ve had to get Zach to learn how to put his shoes on by himself… which really isn’t such a bad thing!!

(Ironic how I was running to be healthy and instead it caused me to be injured. I think I’ve mentioned before my love-hate (well, more hate) relationship with exercise? This is a good example of why that is… Something that is good for you shouldn’t cause you PAIN! At least Hip Hop Hustle is still fun and hasn’t killed me yet! LOL!)