How Oprah Goosed Weight Watchers Stock

December 22, 2016

By Karen

Here’s another perfect example of the media not doing its (math) homework. All Oprah Winfrey had to say was, “Hey, look, I lost some more weight!” and it became big news, no questions asked.

Oprah joined Weight Watchers® in August 2015, investing $43 million in the company in exchange for a seat on its board. By the end of January 2016, she filmed an ad claiming she had lost 26 lbs. eating bread every day.

I calculated she was losing 1-2 lbs. a week, which is reasonable, but hardly worthy of a media blitz, especially when you factored in how much Oprah needed to lose.

To provide some context, I followed the WW Points Plus® plan myself in 2012 and lost 50 pounds in 9 months.

So today we get this big announcement that Oprah has lost “more than” 40 pounds. Not “an additional” 40 pounds. Forty pounds total.

And if she actually lost “more than” 40, don’t you think she’d proudly give the exact number, like she did when it was 26?

So let’s do the math. She was down 26 in late January, and now 40 in late December. That’s 14 lbs. lost in 11 months.

Therefore, in 2016, her average loss has been 1.27 lbs. a MONTH. That’s 20.32 ounces. Averaging four weeks in a month, she’s been losing about 5 ounces a week.

And on that paltry progress, Oprah’s stake in the company grew to $77 million because the media didn’t do the math and put the story in proper perspective.

I’m really happy that Oprah feels she’s finally got the situation under control. I’ve been there. It’s a never-ending struggle.

What I have a problem with is Oprah growing even richer touting weight-loss results that would have most dieters in despair.

I once had a friend who’d say he could lose that much weight taking a good dump. Come to think of it, anybody could.


Could Oprah Eventually Doom Weight Watchers?

February 16, 2016

By Karen

In 2012, I followed Weight Watchers® PointsPlus® system and lost about 50 lbs. Four years later, my scale fluctuates 6-8 lb., but I remain slim enough to wear all my skinny-sized clothes. To this day, I still count points and weigh weekly. Maintaining isn’t easy.

Last year, at Weight Watchers’ invitation, Oprah Winfrey agreed to lose poundage — again — in a grand way. For a $43 million investment, she got a seat on the board and became WW’s spokeswoman.

Now WW stock jumps every time Oprah opens her mouth, whether to insert food or not, and she offsets her weight losses with bank account gains.

In her latest ad, Oprah claims to eat bread “every day.” She’s lost 26 lbs. since August 2015, or about  1-2 lb. a week, eating bread. What bothers me is that she’s shown only from the neck up.

Check out this photo of her on CNBC. Unfortunately, it’s undated, so we don’t know which diet deserves credit, but Oprah certainly looks like she’s lost more than 26 lbs.

Oprah is following a new WW plan called Beyond the Scale, which “focuses on you, not just a number on the scale.”

It’s all about SmartPoints™ and FitPoints™. PointsPlus folks are screwed because our overpriced WW calculators and P+ cookbooks are now obsolete.

WW’s website offers nothing but empty tag lines unless you join, but independent bloggers with access explain the difference in plans. Instead of counting fat, carbs, fiber, and protein on PointsPlus, it’s all about calories, saturated fat, sugars, and protein on SmartPoints.

Bottom line, PointsPlus are rough on fat and carbs. SmartPoints slam you on sugar and saturated fat.

P+ works for me so I won’t switch, and I wish Oprah well. But we all know her dieting history.

Weight Watchers is throwing some big dice and obviously hedging their bets by saying SmartPoints isn’t “all about the scale.”

After Oprah loses the weight, makes the talk show rounds to show off her svelteness and sends the stock on one last big spike, will she become another yo-yo case, like most former members?

I’ve been there myself, joining WW twice before, only to regain all the weight and more. They welcome yo-yos back to their meetings like old friends.

Oprah has never before made the lifelong commitment that’s required for WW. Can she do it now? Or in a year or so, will we see her rebloated on an Enquirer front page, trying to elude the paparazzi (you know, like Kirstie Alley)? If we do, that flushing sound you hear will be the Weight Watchers brand going down the toilet, no matter how they try to spin the points next time.


UnFoodie Slings Some Salmon Cakes

July 8, 2013

By Karen

After spending the past year losing 50+ pounds on Weight Watchers®, I’m not about to backslide and regain it all (especially after replacing my whole wardrobe), so healthier eating is here to stay. Salmon cakes are a surprisingly rich, yet PointsPlus-friendly dish I devised, and I wish I’d thought of them years ago because they’re so easy. They’re only 4 PP each, have good flavor, and have enough heft to make a decent meal.

For salmon, I used Costco’s Kirkland canned brand, but any salmon you like would work.

For me, for any recipe to be a keeper, it has to meet several requirements:

  • A few ingredients I would probably have on hand
  • Quick prep that doesn’t destroy the whole kitchen
  • Cooking that doesn’t need constant monitoring
  • Quantity such that you can cook once, but eat twice or more
  • Tasty and filling, but not fattening

Salmon cakes fill the bill on all counts, as opposed to my recent miserable foray into collard chips.

So here are my salmon cakes:

  • 6-oz. can of salmon
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tbsp. skim milk (more OK if the mixture seems too dry to stick together)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of diced onion (I like lots of onion)
  • Liberal sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning (optional)

Using your hands, mix all these ingredients in a bowl,

SalmonCake1

Split the mixture into 2 cakes. You can make 4 smaller cakes, but for me, 2 big cakes make 2 meals.

Spray a heated pan with nonstick cooking spray, then add the cakes and brown them well on both sides.

SalmonCake2

While my cakes cook, I make a topping for them by whipping together:

  • 2 tbsp. light sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • dill to taste
This makes enough topping for both cakes, so I refrigerate half for the second cake.

This makes enough topping for both cakes, so I refrigerate half for the second cake.

By WW standards, each cake is 4 PointsPlus, and the topping is 1 PP.

Voila! The yellow squash, zucchini, and onion side sautéed in cooking spray is 0 PP.

Voila! The yellow squash, zucchini, and onion side sautéed in cooking spray is 0 PP.


UnFoodie Stuffs Portobello Mushrooms

June 5, 2013

By Karen

I’ve reached my goal with Weight Watchers®, but I’m still experimenting with low-points meals so I can maintain my new svelte look. Mushrooms have zero PointsPlus®.

So I bought a couple of big portabellas and improvised using what I had on hand, after checking out some recipes online. These turned out good enough to share, but I’ll change some things next time.

Marinade (optional step)

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • tablespoon of olive oil

First, I marinated the mushrooms for an hour before cooking, but you don’t have to. If you use balsamic vinegar, line your cooking pan with foil, or the bitchin’ mess of burned vinegar you’ll be scraping later will destroy your manicure.

You cook all the components separately, then assemble near the end. This prep is all easy and doesn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°, then put in the mushrooms to pre-cook, gills side down, for about 10 minutes, or until you start smelling them. While that’s going on, you make the filling. Here is one of the mushrooms ready for the oven…

Mushrooms1

Recipes said to chop up the stems for the filling and throw away the gills, but I left the gills in because it seemed wasteful and I don’t mind eating them.

Dice and sauté in cooking spray any veggies for your filling, whatever you’d like. I used:

  • The mushroom stems
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Spinach
  • Pinch of garlic powder (because I didn’t have fresh garlic)

Mushrooms2

(I don’t know why my pics are still coming out blurry. They always look fine on the camera screen. Grrrr….)

I felt like I needed some herb to spice it up, but wasn’t sure what to use, so my filling was kind of bland.

Once the veggies are soft, remove from the heat and add bread crumbs and cheese. I used:

  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup 2% shredded sharp cheddar

Take the mushrooms out of the oven, turn them gills-side up, and fill.

Mushrooms3

Put back in the oven about 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

Voila!

Voila!

That’s the other change I’d make. I’d use full-fat cheese for a richer result. My cheese didn’t melt very well, and the crumbs didn’t brown. So I’d finish the shrooms under the broiler instead of baking longer.

But overall, was a tasty dish, and each mushroom was only 3 PointsPlus. I’ll definitely make it again.

If anybody’s got suggestions for seasonings or other improvements, I’m all ears.


Basking in the Weight-Loss “After” Glow

May 13, 2013

By Karen

Through the decade of my 50s I spent fat, I had squirreled away some favorite “skinny” clothes with the slim hope of “What if…” They included 2 pairs of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in 12 and 14 petite. But even after I had dropped 40 lbs., I still wasn’t even close to zipping those suckas, even though I was buying new slacks in size 10.

So we now know that Gloria Vanderbilt pulls sizes out of her ass.

I had blocked the jeans out as too depressing, until I was recently purging the closet of more “fat clothes” and found them again.

Today I’m sitting here, down 49 pounds (at 128 — I yo-yo between 128-130), and I’m pleased to announce I’m comfortably wearing the GV size 12.

It’s a freaking miracle.

Last weekend I was in Coldwater Creek buying blouses (yes, I can button blouses without them gapping) and the cashier took my driver’s license to get some info.

My DMV mug shot, taken in 2009, is downright scary. They don’t let you smile, and I look like some redneck matriarch of a family of bank-robbers…

DMV-pic

The cashier did a double-take and exclaimed, “There’s no way I would recognize you from this. This is truly your ‘before’ picture!”

Wasn’t that sweet? Because here’s me today, with my rediscovered jawline…

DSC00957

Losing pounds is one thing, but I’ve been taking measurement since I started with Weight Watchers® in May 2012. Let me lay out what it’s meant to my overall mass…

 

177 lbs.

128 lbs.

Arm

12

10

Bust

51

39

Waist

44

33

Hips

48

39

Thigh

22

18

TOTAL INCHES LOST

 

38

I’m not telling you this to rub your nose in my success, but to let you know that SUCCESS IS POSSIBLE, even after menopause. It’s not easy, but if you make up your mind and stick with it, you can make your driver’s license picture look like a bad memory.

And you CAN get back in to your skinny jeans.


Weight Watchers® Online: Reached the Dead End

March 26, 2013

By Karen

Part 8 — WW Offers Zip for Success

At Christmas, I was within 10 pounds of my Weight Watchers® goal when I hit a horrible plateau. Since then, I’ve averaged about 0.6 lb. a week, losing zilch MANY of those weeks — extremely frustrating.

But yesterday I FINALLY hit 130 lbs. In fact, I saw 129 on the scale for the first time in many years.

In case you’re just joining us, I’ve spent 10 months losing 48 pounds using only WW’s cumbersome, TMI-gathering website. I stuck it out with the site believing I would ultimately achieve “lifetime membership” and get breaks on future fees if I ever needed WW again.

Upon reaching my goal, the site showered me with stars, but the next step, this tiny token — lifetime membership — was conspicuously missing.

They buried it well, but I finally uncovered  this little nugget…

Lifetime membership is only for Meetings members.

WTF??!! ARE THEY KIDDING??!!

My theories on why WW deems online members unworthy…

1. Online membership is cheaper than meetings, so our obesity isn’t profitable enough.

2. WW doesn’t trust us. They need to personally weigh us to believe PointsPlus® actually worked.

3. WW knows their plan rarely works long-term (which is why they have “lifetime” members in the first place).

Well, I intend to beat the odds by staying slim. For the good years I have left, I don’t want to be fat. Besides, replacing my wardrobe has been expensive.

The bottom line: I invested $189.50 in WW online for 10 months and dropped 27% of my total body weight. It has transformed my life and my outlook in amazing and priceless ways.

In the same period, I could have spent this on food from…

Nutrisystem® – $4,125 (or $2,500 on sale)

Jenny Craig – $3,655 ($85/week)

Since those plans don’t teach you how to deal with “real” food, once off their controlled meals, you’re at great risk of regaining.

WW online has been relatively economical, but it would have been even cheaper if I’d realized sooner there’s absolutely no payoff for reaching goal.

WW is the biggest loser here. I’m a walking advertisement that even post-menopausal women can succeed on their plan. And now they’ve lost me forever with a penny-wise, pound-foolish policy.

If you’re considering Weight Watchers Online, go for it! But just stick around until you master tracking and gather all the points information you’ll need (most of it is available free on other sites, anyway).

Then cancel.

The WW site layout is a pain, the content redundant, with too much no-brainer info, you’ll find better recipes elsewhere, and the member message boards really suck.

WW products in the grocery store (ice cream snacks, Smart Ones® frozen meals) contain no magic. You get as much/more taste for the same/fewer points with The Laughing Cow® and Lean Cuisine®.

In case you’re curious, read the benefits for WW lifetime members.


Weight Watchers® “Almost-After” Pics

February 18, 2013

By Karen

In case you’re new here, I’ve been on the Weight Watchers PointsPlus plan since May 28, 2012 – 38 weeks. I’ve lost 45 lbs. and a few readers have asked for “after” pics, so here they are.

I’d still like to lose 5 more pounds and make it an even 50 (from 177 to 127), but that could take a while. I just came off an incredibly frustrating month-long plateau where pound 134 kept bouncing off and on and I couldn’t get past it, no matter how “good” I was.

But this week I finally broke through that wall and hit 132, so I’m feeling re-energized.

Without further ado, I’ll model for you some clothes I bought and wore just last summer. Seeing myself with them now, I can’t wrap my head around how big I’d let myself get…

As God is my witness, I'll NEVER be mistaken for a shower curtain again!

As God is my witness, I’ll NEVER be mistaken for a shower curtain again!

Before losing 11” in the bust (and still having plenty), I was beginning to worry about buttoning this shirt.

Before losing 11” in the bust (don’t worry, I still have plenty — I’m Italian!), I was beginning to worry about buttoning this shirt.

I thought these shorts looked like clown clothes when I bought them — but they FIT!

I thought these shorts looked like clown clothes when I bought them — but they FIT!

I’m mortified that I actually walked around a cruise ship last spring in those clothes.

I call this my “Jared from Subway” shot.

I call this my “Jared from Subway” shot.

Overall, I’ve lost about 34 inches. I’ve gone from size 18 and 2x to size 10-12 and medium/large (sizing is totally inconsistent).

As my sister says, "Valerie Bertinelli, eat your heart out."

As my sister says, “Valerie Bertinelli, eat your heart out.”

I don’t care what the foodies say. I’ve been on both sides of the fence now, and there’s no food delicious enough to EVER make being overweight (and the lack of attractive clothes and the way you ironically become invisible to people) worth it.


Why Chris Christie Should “Lose It”

February 11, 2013

By Cole

When Chris Christie ate a doughnut on Letterman last week, he claimed to be a really healthy fat person, and had everybody in stitches.

But the jollies disappeared when Christie told Bill Clinton’s former physician, Connie Mariano, to “just shut up” after she said she worries he’d die in office if elected president.

I agree Mariano was out of line speaking about someone who isn’t her patient. But let’s face it. The dangers of obesity are as proven as the dangers of smoking.

And they don’t call it “morbid” obesity because there’s anything funny about it.

Nationally, Christie has overcome the stigma of being a Republican by displaying common sense, directness, and a willingness to work with Democrats. He blew off campaigning for Mitt Romney to accompany Obama on a tour of storm-ravaged New Jersey, to cite just one example.

But if he blows this colossal opportunity to inspire the nearly 70% of American adults who are overweight or obese and do more to help the country get healthier than any garden Michelle Obama can ever plant, he probably doesn’t belong in the White House in 2016 after all.

All the guy has to do is stop making jokes and excuses and step away from the doughnuts.

Being fat has no valid defense. There are myriad excuses, some well-founded, but NONE of them make obesity healthy.

Christie should follow the lead of Mayor Kenneth Wright of Portsmouth, Va., who weighs 400 lbs. and took the opposite tack last week by announcing his intention to lose 100 pounds in a year so he can be a role model to Portsmouth’s 39% of overweight adults.

If Chris Christie could show us he can solve a problem as intractable as his girth, he’d have the Republican nomination — and probably the election — locked up.

Sure, the first few months will be embarrassing when the press catches him huffing and puffing as he gets moving. But men lose weight so much easier than women, he’d start improving quickly, and positive reactions would fuel his motivation.

And it would only get better.

I just don’t understand why he’s fighting it. Christie has nothing to lose by owning up to his weight problem, and everything to gain by losing it.

Besides, at Cats Working we say, if Karen can do it, anybody can…


Weighing in on New Weight Watchers 360 Program

January 4, 2013

By Karen

Weight Watchers® recently augmented their PointsPlus® system with yet another layer called 360°. President Dave Kirchhoff ecstatically proclaimed it the “most innovative change in Weight Watchers’ 50-year history.”

360’s explanatory tag line on the website is…

A program built for human nature so you can expect amazing.

I think they should have named it Weight Watchers for Dummies.

Two new components are called Managing Spaces and Routines.

Managing Spaces is a collection of tips on how to control your eating at home, at work, eating out, traveling, and on special occasions, and how to shop for groceries. The tips include such astounding insights as…

Shopping: Have a list, don’t shop hungry, and skip the bite-size samples.

At Work: Bring safe lunches and snacks from home.

Traveling: Bring bottled water and snacks.

Eating out: Study the menu in advance online, and then order whatever fits your points.

Online members can indicate if they find these gems of wisdom helpful, and thousands have.

Routines are things you should be doing every day, such as getting enough sleep, eating vegetables or fruit with every meal, drinking more water with meals, and eating breakfast every day. There are 16 in all.

You’re supposed to track your chosen routines by clicking “Yes” daily if you follow them, as if the never-ending chore of calculating and recording points on every blessed bite (which I do) and tracking the numbers of servings of liquids, milk products, fruits, veggies, vitamins, and healthy oils you consume (which I abandoned within the first month) aren’t enough.

Don’t get me wrong. Weight Watchers DOES work. I’m living proof of it, having just lost 41 pounds in 6 months — and still going. But I think 360 jumps the shark by selling it as “normal” behavior to spend every waking minute dwelling on your relationship with food.

If you need the obvious pounded incessantly in to your head to control your food intake, you either aren’t motivated enough to do it or you’ve got psychological eating issues so deep-rooted, you need more help than any mere eating plan can provide.

Meanwhile, in spite of the 360 makeover, the WW website continues to be a poorly functioning, maddeningly laid out, and inexplicably organized train-wreck — and I find the mobile app for iPad useless. They must figure we online-only members get what we pay for, since it’s far cheaper than attending meetings.

Thank God they figured out what works for losing weight!


Dropped a Pail of Tidy Cats on Weight Watchers

December 3, 2012

By Karen

Part 7 — Lose Inches, Regain Yourself

I buy 35-lb. pails of Tidy Cats® litter for the Cats Working crew, and it takes every bit of strength to get them from store shelf > shopping cart > car trunk > litterboxes.

After 27 weeks on Weight Watchers®, I have dropped 36 lbs.

And I’m wondering how on earth I, or anybody else, manages to tote around an extra load like that — or more — every day without dropping dead?

From 177 lbs., I’m down to 141 and, according to Weight Watchers, am no longer overweight.

(A recent Gallup survey found 62.8% adult Americans overweight or obese. It’s good to be in the minority.)

I can’t wait to see my doctor’s face (or even better, his skinny nurse who weighs me. She won’t be flinging that 150-lb. weight across the scale with mad abandon anymore.)

The sofa covers and circus tents comprising my wardrobe have begun migrating from my closet. In clothing stores, I beat a wide path around the “Women’s Dept.” (i.e., fat clothes) with the same aversion rabid ex-smokers have perfected toward anybody who lights up.

(Catherine’s Plus Sizes, delete me from your mailing list. You’ll never see me again!)

Before I get too carried away, 141 is still more than I ever weighed before I even began all previous diets, so I’ve still got a ways to go.

When I hit 100 lbs. at age 20, I felt fat even though I wore size 5. I’ll never be that thin again, but it just goes to show how all the sick messages we’re hammered with will distort our body image.

Now that I’ve seen myself truly fat, I’ve gained perspective, and don’t aspire to become a stringy old stick figure.

I’ve lost nearly 9 inches each from my bust and waist, and 6 inches from my hips. For the first time in my 50s, I look in the mirror with hope and pleasure (instead of dread and loathing) because my former non-fat self is peeking back.

The past 6 months counting points have been no picnic, but it worked. Wearing something attractive trumps the fleeting satisfaction of cramming decadent and fattening food into my face.

I have added one square of Lindt chocolate a day to the menu and I don’t count the points. I actually think it’s helping. In just the week since Thanksgiving (when I ate out twice and really went off the rails, although not at all with “bad” stuff), I’ve lost 2.8 lbs.

You just have to tackle it one day at a time and never give up.


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