By Lisa Spodak (
Provided by WorldNow

Week 15 Weigh In:

Change this week:  -3.5 lbs.
Change overall:  -39 lbs.

I'm very excited to report that my "back to basics" approach last week paid off - I lost 3.5 pounds and am within sight of my 40 pound milestone!

This week was about re-evaluating, re-focusing, and re-thinking.  

I've never been much of a self-help or diet book reader.  I'm not sure why... my mom is always recommending different books and I continue to resist reading them.  Maybe I feel like I should know all the answers myself?  In any case, this week I found myself in a Borders bookstore with a gift card and decided to keep an open mind and explore some new things by checking out a few diet books that looked interesting.

Surprisingly, I was really pleased with what each book had to offer!

"Hungry Girl" by Lisa Lillien

This book is sub-titled "Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World," but I really just bought it for the recipes.   I'm already a Hungry Girl follower on the web and the daily emails are full of great tips -- but there's something special about a cookbook.  I love paging through and looking at the pictures.  In fact, I read this one cover to cover the same night that I bought it!

Lots of times I'll see recipes in cookbooks that look great, but are just a bit too complicated to prepare for one person after a long day at work. The Hungry Girl recipes are definitely created for life in the real world and are very simple to follow.  And I love that many of them are designed for just one serving.  They are also easy to modify and tweak based on your own preferences and favorite flavors. 

The style of the book is casual and conversational and is a consistent extension of what you'll find on the website.  It also includes the calories, fat, sodium, carbs, fiber, sugar and protein information for each recipe.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of photos.  There is an insert with photos for about 25 of the recipes, but for the rest you have to go online. 

A bonus for me - you can also get the Weight Watchers Points for the recipes online as well.  I just have to remember to adjust the values when, for example, I use reduced fat cheese instead of fat-free cheese or skim milk instead of soy milk.

I already used the book as a reference when making a flatbread pizza - I knew all the ingredients I wanted to use (which were different from the book) but was unsure of how best to cook it.  I followed Hungry Girl's technique and it came out great! And I'll be retrying the following recipe from the book tonight (I found the texture a bit off-putting the first time, but am going to play with the amount of cheese called for in the recipe and try again!): 


1 Package House Foods Tofu Shirataki, Fettuccine Shape
1/2 wedge The Laughing Cow Cheese, Light Original Swiss
2 teaspoons reduced-fat Parmesan-style grated topping
1 teaspoon fat-free sour cream
Optional:  salt and black pepper

Rinse and drain shirataki noodles well.  Pat dry.  Place noodles in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute.

Drain excess liquid from noodles and pat them until thoroughly dry.  Slice noodles up a bit for fettuccine-length pieces.

Add cheese, grated topping, and sour cream.  Mix well.  Microwave for 1 minute and then stir.

If you like, add salt and black pepper to taste.

Makes 1 serving.

"Eat This, Not That!" by David Zinczenko

While the subtitle ("The No-Diet Weight Loss Solution!") put this book quarely into the type of the self-help book that I never read, it drew me in with its glossy photos.  I started paging through and it looked interesting enough for me to buy and take home.

The basic idea of "Eat This, Not That!" is not to give a day-by-day and meal-by-meal plan to follow, but to give information that helps the reader make realistic choices in everyday situations.  It also busts a lot of myths and misinformation... for example, pointing out that an Egg McMuffin is a surprisingly healthier breakfast choice than a bagel.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to choices at restaurants.  From Applebee's to Wendy's, there are tidbits on each restaurant and examples of what you should choose to eat and what you should skip.  There are also tricks, hidden dangers, and menu decoders.

Additional chapters focus on holidays and special occasions, grocery shopping and beverages.  There's even a section that helps you get your children off to a healthy start.

One of the reasons I really like this book is it works as a good complement to what I'm focusing on with Weight Watchers.  The Points system is really centered on calories, fat and fiber.  And I find that sometimes I'm not paying as much attention as perhaps I should to things like sodium and sugar. 

"Eat This, Not That!" changed my perspective a little.  For example, in the grocery section, it points out that reduced fat peanut butter is cutting out healthy fat from your diet - and adding sugar - and may not be the healthier choice overall.

Most of the information in the book is gleaned from corporate websites and, so it's not anything you couldn't figure out yourself.  But it's very helpful to have it all gathered together in one place and author David Zinczenko does a good job of pointing out some of the subtle differences between seemingly similar foods and providing easy ways to make healthier choices.

Zinczenko is the Editor-in-Chief of Men's Health magazine so I thought I might find much of the book irrelevant to me.  But it's actually really full of sound advice that can help all of us.  The list of "The 20 Worst Foods in America" is particularly eye-opening!