Back2Basics Challenge

Following the Aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings in April, I felt that I turned a little too much to food for emotional help. It was then just hard to get back in a groove for May, June and especially July. I know the super is toughest, but after four summers you think I would have some sort of handle on it. Well, apparently I don't. That's okay. It's feedback not failure. So near the end of July I started seriously tracking again. I went so far as to actually turn to paper tracking (not just using the WW website/app). I know right? Crazy. But it worked. I tracked for 22 consecutive days on paper and got back to my lowest weight as an adult - 153.4 - that I had only seen once previously (December 2012).

I was feeling AWESOME.

During many of my Weight Watchers meetings last week, I was noticing that people were having the "ugh" feelings I had over the summer. Well, getting Back 2 Basics works for me when I need a kick in the pants that I thought it may work for my groups too. For a few groups, I let them design their own Back 2 Basics challenges since they know their group needs best. But for others I went with my favorite Back 2 Basics tactics.

So here goes...

If you are someone looking for to refocus your weight loss/healthy eating efforts and need a supportive group of folks to help, this challenge is for you. Please know you DO NOT need to be a WW member to participate in this challenge. These work for anyone that is looking for help.

In addition to the challenges that will be listed below, we also have a private FB group where you can post questions or share any thoughts you want. Additionally, there will be a google excel spreadsheet where you can add your name and keep track of how often you complete that week's task.


So what are the 6 topics you may ask, here they are:


Week 1: Track - 9/9

Define for yourself what that entails. You can use Weight Watchers, MyFitnessPal, a journal, a post-it note - anything that will help you pause before you eat something and ask: "Is it really worth it?"

If you are someone who is already tracking/writing down your food, feel free to try a different way to track or give pre-tracking a try (writing down what you will have before you eat it - day before, hours before, etc).

Some people may also want to set reminders on your phone or computer. Let's say you eat breakfast at 8. Have the reminder pop up at 8:30 saying "Have you tracked your breakfast yet?" Then you won't forget later in the day.

GOAL WITH TRACKING is progress not perfection so aim to track at least 5 out of the 7 days this week!

Week 2: Weigh & Measure - 9/16

Oh boy does this bring me back to reality when I start to stray. ;) Measuring cups and food scales don't lie. A serving size is a serving size. :P

If you have measuring spoons and cups or a food scale, take them on out. Keep them in a more visible location than say the back of the "junk" drawer of your kitchen.

I like to keep my food scale right next to my blender and toaster so I see it whenever I am in the kitchen.

Many of us weight and measure right at the beginning of our journeys but it is one of the first things to fall by the way side when it gets "annoying." So make it a game. See if you can guess the weight/serving size before you use your tools. That sounds fun right? Okay work with me - it will get you to get back into the routine of doing it.

Plus the more we weigh and measure at home the better we will be out at restaurants, etc. :)

Week 3: Good Health Guidelines - 9/23

Now this is a Weight Watchers concept, but they can be translated to anyone. The GHGs help create a more well-balanced diet as one focuses on making sure to get enough liquid (water, non-booze), healthy oils, fruits/veggies, dairy/dairy substitutes, lean meats and whole grains.

Are you focusing too much on fruits/veggies and not getting enough lean meats? Then make that your priority for the week.

But how will we know what we are missing? Tracking. Take this time to look back at the first two weeks of tracking and see where you need to make some slight adjustments. Take a look and make a game plan for Week Three.

Maybe lunch you can add some whole grains or replace the afternoon snack of popcorn with some veggies.

Week 4: Try A New Food Or Recipe - 9/30

Humans tend to eat the same 15-20 items all the time. Hellooooo boring. ;)

Sometimes when we take a "relaxed adherence to our plan" it is the lack of variety has finally taken its toll.

We can only have oatmeal for breakfast so many times before we declare we NEVER want to see oatmeal again in our life. :P

So this week, try as many new food or recipes as you want.

Have you been thinking about trying a purple pepper, but just don't know what to do with it? Have you toyed around with the idea of sampling a garden burger? Find a friend and give 'em a try! Or just hit up google to find a fun new recipe that uses that purple pepper.

Week 5: Drink Water - 10/7

I personally LOVE water, but I just forget to drink it. I bought the Plant Nanny app on my iPhone for I think 99 cents and it has changed my life. It gives me a goal amount of water every day, I enter it into the app each time I drink water and my little animated plant grows. Ahhh! Cute! If I don't hit my goal or don't log my water the plant becomes sick and dies. Pressure! It seems so simple, but it works for me.

What do you need to do drink more water? Keep a water bottle with you at all times, make yourself drink a bottle of water before each meal or snack, add flavor to your water to make it less bland, etc.

Week 6: Move More Or Try A New Exercise - 10/14

Not only can we get into a rut with our eating it can happen with our exercise routines as well. So maybe this week you will finally try that Zumba class you wanted to or you buy that workout DVD you've had your eye on.

Variety is the spice of life.

If you are not a gym rat, that's fine. ALL movement counts!!! So this week you could challenge yourself to only take the stairs for the entire week.

We are heading towards winter so maybe start experimenting with new activities that will work for you once the snow/cold weather come. Do you have indoor activities prepared for the bad weather? Let's find some together!!


So there are the six weeks of tasks. We work on one small change each week so that we can head into the Holiday Season remotivated, refocused and rejuvenated.

Does this sound like a plan to you?

If so, please free to send me an email - - with your full name and we will get you the info to be added to our FB group.

If you are already in the FB group from the last challenge, just hang out and add your name to the Google Doc when it is posted.

Let's Do This Folks!! :)

Dani Dishes 7-16-13

On this episode of Dani Dishes, I celebrate a week of "Progress Not Perfection" when it comes to my getting #Back2Basics challenge and I'm happy about it! :) I also mention one of my favorite local brews - Slumbrew - check 'em out. Product Of The Week Fiber One 90 Calorie Cinnamon Coffee Cake -

I "Get" To Eat Healthy...

Every have that one sentence or moment that changes your life? You hear it/witness it and a light switches on in your head?

Yeah that happened to me at Fitbloggin during the "Stop Keeping Up With the Joneses" session on Saturday, June 29.

My friend Kenlie from snuck into the room late from another session.

But, her brief time in the room got my wheels turning.

She simply reiterated how someone mentioned about feeling unhappy about "having" to eat healthy to either lose weight or for health benefits.

And she then said: "But instead we can simply say: I get to eat healthy!"

*Mind Blown*

Oh no she didn't.

Why yes she did.

She simply taught me how to reframe my thoughts though a simple sentence.

For the past few weeks with countless travel and unhappiness with some aspects of my life, I have been SLACKING - I mean seriously slacking - in the healthy eating department.

(Note: this is not about needing to drop x amount of lbs - since I haven't stepped on a scale in 3 weeks - but this is about feeling good and feeling healthy! The reasons why I lost weight!)

Too many old habits have been sneaking back into my life to mask or try to bury the unhappiness I am feeling.

So what is happening today?

Today the reframe is taking place.

Today I stop the pity party.

Today I end "Vacation Mode." (Excuse Alert!)

Today I don't HAVE to eat healthy ... I GET to eat healthy.


Because I need to remember how much better my training goes when I am eating healthy.

Because I owe it to my racing self.

Because the athlete I've become (can I say that?) deserves to be fueled the best way possible.

Because I have the ability to do it.

So how does it start?

It starts by getting #back2basics. It is a hashtag I use when I need to hit the reset button.

Yup, I have hit the reset button more times than I can count. But the important thing is I keep hitting it.

What does #back2basics mean to me?

1) Take the food scale off the top of the microwave and put it back on the counter. 2) Move the measuring cups from the back of the drawer to the front. 3) Put into effect #DrinkEnd ... which means alcoholic beverages are only allowed Friday-Sunday. (Unless there is an extenuating circumstances of course. If my friends win mega millions on a Tuesday, I'm not passing on champagne! ;)) 4) TRACKING everything that enters my body. 5) Stick to my training plans, planned workouts and gym dates that I have set with friends. 6) Continue to hit my #100ozchallenge each day, which means drinking at least 108oz of water each day! 7) Do my #plankaday each day. My core will thank me too. ;)

It seems like a lot, but really there are the basic routines that I have created since joining Weight Watchers and when I hit them I have success. So easy decision is to list them out for myself.

PLUS, I always do better with a challenge! Don't you?

So if you are looking for a little support or looking to buckle down, feel free to join me in using the #back2basics hashtag!!

Can you pass me an apple?


Dani Dishes 7-8-13

On this episode of Dani Dishes, I apologize for not having a video last week (Darn Fitbloggin! ;)), complete my final travel, talk about emotional eating and hitting the reset button! Product Of The Week Mizuno Wave Sayonara -

Dynamic December

I am jumping on board with many of my fellow bloggers and coming up with some goals for December (just a week late ;)). But, now I am looking forward to a #DynamicDecember (I like alliteration so sue me :P).


So here are the three challenges/hashtags you will see me using in the upcoming month:

1) #hlgDec2Rem - This challenge was designed by Jan (@HealthyLoserGal) and one of my favorite people in the world. :) For this challenge, I am really working on getting #back2basics, sticking with tracking (#trackstar) and getting in my Good Health Guidelines. I'm not going to beat myself up if I miss a day (since I did miss 3 of the 8 days in December), but I'll just try to do my best!

Jan is one of the best motivators, and people, around!!

2) #plankaday - This has been life changing for me. I am not one for crunches, especially with that back injury back in early 2011, so this is a great way to get some core work in without sitting and doing a bunch of crunches - I don't want to do - on the floor.

This program was started by Dr. Sherry Pagoto (@drsherrypagoto) and is open to interpretation. For me, I work on doing at least two planks a day and keeping the variety up! Front forearm plank, front straightarm plank, reverse plank, side forearm plank or side straightarm plank.

I started with a 30 second front forearm plank back in August 2011 and hit my PR of 5 minutes & 15 seconds in November 2012. Anything is possible... :)

I am going to continue to do my #plankaday every day. I am enjoying the versatility and loving the #plankaday community.

3) #100ozchallenge - This is actually the first challenge that I started on my own! I have had at times upwards of 50 people participating. Woo! I feel wicked cool. Okay, that wasn’t cool. Dammit!

Anyway, this is a pretty simple challenge: drink at least 100oz water a day. That’s it. Keep yourself hydrated during the winter months. I just saw on twitter today that “Dehydration can cause ageing & can slow down metabolism as much as 3%” – I am here to not let that happen! Stay hydrated!!


I set these goals for myself because this is the person I want to be. The person I want to strive to be. The person I will work to be ... one day at a time.

And because of you - my family, friends, Facebook crew and twitterverse - that will hold me accountable, will support me and will keep me going.

The hashtags help to build a community. It opens the doors to new relationships, tips and most importantly more support.

So for me, this is what I will be striving for in December.

What will you be doing for you?

Dear Social Media...

Dear Social Media, I don't know how to say this so I thought I would write you a quick note. I've been trying to gather my feelings for you, but didn't quite know how to really approach you on the subject. So I figured I might as well just put myself out there.

So here goes nothing.

Social Media ... I Love You.

Okay, there I said it!

I 100% with my whole heart love you and all that you offer:

I love

I love Wordpress.

I love Twitter.

I love Facebook.

I love Tumblr.

I love Pinterest.

I love Instagram.

I like Google+.

I even have a small place in my heart that still likes MySpace. (not sure why, but it does)

So this isn't getting awkward is it?


I want to simply Thank You for all you have done for me through all of these avenues.

You want examples? Sure, I have plenty.

** gave me my wife for who I would be lost without!

**, you have bestowed on me a tiny piece of the internet here at Weight Off My Shoulders where I can share my inner thoughts with anyone that wants to read them. Even if no one wants to read them, you allow me the chance to bare my soul and release the negative in a new and more therapeutic way!

**Oh Twitter, where do I begin. I thank you for the endless 24/7 support I have found...

-For opening my world to such awesome groups as #runchat (@therunchat), #Fitfluential (@FitFluential), #SweatPink (@fitapproach), #GirlsGoneSporty (@GirlsGoneSporty), #wwchat/#weightwatchers (@WeightWatchers) and #Fitbloggin (@Fitbloggin).

-For helping me share my life, my ups, my downs, my accomplishments and my faults with people who accept me no matter what and are always there to offer advice, a shoulder to cry on or a new perspective for the situation.

-For connecting me to other Weight Watchers members and Leaders all over the state, the country and the world overall. It is great to share recipes, success stories, scale and non-scale victories and struggles with people reaching for the same goal you are.

-For numerous motivating challenges, especially Brad Gansberg's #7daychip and Dr. Sherry Pagoto's #PlankADay, and allowing me to even start my own: #100ozChallenge.

-And finally, for motivating me to get out of my comfort zone by sharing wicked personal stories, for reminding me that I am worthy of what my life is giving me and that I can put myself out there and survive.

**Dear Facebook, you have taken hours of my day away and I thank you for that. Love, Dani ;) But really, Facebook allows me to share my blog to another group of people who I might not be on Twitter. Also, I know now that if I don't post my workout on the blog's Facebook page, it didn't happen ... right?

**While I still don't know how to totally use you Tumblr, you provide me endless laughs with such things as Dog Shaming and Texts From Dog.

**Pinterest - oh Pinterest - you make me want to eat everything in sight, work out 24/7 and snuggle a bunch of adorable animals all at once. No one has done that to be before. ;)

**Instagram - you allow me to know EXACTLY what my friends are eating at any point in the day. Now I know whose house to go to because I can preview what they would cook me ;) Also, you inspire me to try new workouts, but new work out clothes and attempt all different types of planks! Additionally, you have helped ME perfect the art of the self-portrait either using my phone or the bathroom mirror. I will never look at the bathroom mirror the same way again. Oh and thanks for offering so many glorious filters to choose from - I shall never look pale again! :)

**I got nothin', but love for ya MySpace... you still exist right?

So there it is Social Media, you truly reach every aspect of my life like no one else has before so in one word: Thanks!



PS What site will you come up with next for me to get addicted to?


So I started the #100ozchallenge on Twitter early in 2012, but I never formally introduced it so I thought I would now. Better late than never, right?

So I gave up Diet Coke on December 7, 2010 ... and have remained soda friend to date! WOO!

But, I needed something else to drink to replace the many many cans of Diet Coke I was consuming a day ...

Enter WATER!

I know. I am ahead of the curve on joining the "drinking water" and "staying hydrated" craze. :)

Well, I noticed that I am better at creating a new habit when I have a challenge or community to turn to.

Then #100ozchallenge was born.

So the goal is quite simple: to drink at least 100oz of water a day.

Seems pretty basic.

The #100ozchallenge hashtag is a great way to find motivation from others and a sense of community.

But, if you feel that 100oz is too much water for you in a day - that is fine. Shoot for your own goal, but still use the hashtag to keep us up to speed on how you are doing.

So I ask, are you in for the #100ozchallenge?



I think we all figured out that my April was NOT up to par. I would be on plan for like 3 or 4 days then go off the wagon - so to speak - for three or four days. There was no rhyme or reason to what I was doing. I let my will power take a vacation to some warm tropical location, while I ran around like someone who has their issues with food under control. THANKFULLY you all kept me more on track than I would've been. I thank you for being there while I fought to get back on track ... and failed.

Overall in April, I had a BLAST. Lots of time with good friends, good beers and good food ... but, I ended up gaining just under 2 lbs.

NOT what I had planned.

But, this is the time to buckle down and figure out how to be on plan, while being social.

I am using the month of May as a time to get "BACK TO ME" - time to focus on my needs, my health and for now, the number on the scale.

I seem to work better when having a goal or challenge in mind - I think back to how I kicked BUTT in December because of my Dynamic December challenge.


So here is what I am looking to accomplish during #MarvelousMay:

1) #plankaday - This has been life changing for me. I am not one for crunches, especially with my back injury, so this is a great way to get some core work in without sitting and doing a bunch of crunches - I don't want to do - on the floor.

This program was started by Dr. Sherry Pagoto (@drsherrypagoto) and is open to interpretation. For me, I started with doing a 60 second forearm plank every day for a week. The next week I upped it by 5 seconds and did 65 second forearms planks every day for a week. I did 5 second increments until I could hold a forearm plank for 4 minutes - yes! I can hold a plank for 4 minutes. Ahhh, I never thought that was possible.

Once, I hit that goal I switched up my planks. Last week, I did one 2 minute forearm plank and a 1 minute side plank on both sides every day. I like to keep my core guessing each day what I will do. :)

I am going to continue to do my #plankaday every day. I am enjoying the versatility and loving the #plankaday community.

2) #back2basics - I think this is a great challenge and timely for me as I am trying to get back into the swing after flip flopping back and forth in April. I also like this challenge (started by Colleen - @tryn2bfit) because it again leaves the choice of what you focus on up to the individual. I think that is a great way to keep people's attention and driven when they are working on something extremely personal.

For me, I will be focusing on hitting all 6 of the Weight Watchers Healthy Guidelines. Every day of the month I will be sure to have my required amounts of liquids (water), fruits/veggies, vitamins, dairy, healthy oils & exercise. I am pumped.

3) #30daychip - I owe a lot of success to the man that created the #7daychip/#30daychip program: Brad Gansberg (@bradgansberg). He has been a great motivator and has gotten me back on track more times than I can count.

This is yet another great challenge that you set for yourself. I have done a few different #7daychip topics, which you can see here.

The basic premise is to do something healthy for seven consecutive days ... or if you are feeling like you want a real challenge you can go for 30 or 100 days.

For this, #30daychip (which would be my second) I am looking to track my food every day. That means: log it into Weight Watchers eTools, write it up as a food log post on my blog and Facebook/Tweet it out.

4) #100ozchallenge – This is actually the first challenge that I started on my own! I have had at times upwards of 50 people participating. Woo! I feel wicked cool. Okay, that wasn’t cool. Dammit!

Anyway, this is a pretty simple challenge: drink at least 100oz water a day. That’s it. Keep yourself hydrated during the winter months. I just saw on twitter today that “Dehydration can cause ageing & can slow down metabolism as much as 3%” – I am here to not let that happen! Stay hydrated!!


So today is Day One, I am refocusing and getting back to my Number One Priority: ME!

What will you be doing to make May the best month of 2012 thus far and rock your own #MarvelousMe challenge?

Truth Tuesday - 0.4 lb Loss

Hello All! Well after a two week hiatus from the scale I am back and going to remain coming back each week. I have realized I am not the type of person that can handle once a month weigh-ins. Have we figured out I am slightly OCD and very "right brained"? ;) Anywho... I got back to business this week after slacking the week before after hitting Lifetime. I had a bit of a good old food meltdown on Thursday, which kicked my smaller booty into gear! So Thursday through Monday I was ON, I mean each day I: hit all 6 of my Weight Watchers Healthy Guidelines, worked out min 30 min, hit my DPT of 26, hit 100oz of water, did my #plankaday and tracked/blogged/Tweeted/Facebook my Food Log. And can I tell you all something? I felt amazing! I felt like I had just started WW all over again. That fun feeling in the beginning where you are all bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager. I felt satisfied, accomplished and just overall in control. Now I know I am not keeping this up forever since we know I love those 49 weekly points, I mean 49 wine points, too much not to use them. But it was a little check I needed to do.

(Note: The best part of this week was that I didn't beat myself up over what happened on Thursday. I woke up the next morning and instead of beating myself up, I came up with a game plan of how to get myself back on track and stuck to it. The old me would've called myself every name under the sun and said if I messed up this day why not just say "To Hell" with the rest of the week. New me? NOPE! I said it is a NEW DAY and I moved on. I give myself a *Bravo* for that!)

And boy did it help! I lost 0.4 lbs (which doesn't seem like a lot to some people), but I am in the maintenance time of my life so that little loss was what I needed to be back to my goal weight exactly. When I hit Lifetime I was 0.4 lbs above it. I mean that is nothing, plus for WW standards I just need to remain within 153-157 lbs.

For my psyche, it just ended a streak of three-consecutive gains, which I don't think I had ever experienced before.


Today: Loss 0.4

Starting Weight: 217.4

Today’s Weight: 155.0

Total Lost: 62.4


The implosion on Thursday was exactly what I needed to snap my slacker self back to reality. I was slowly slipping back to old habits that had brought me to Weight Watchers in the first place and I didn't like it.

So now I am happy to be back on the upswing, each week, each day, each meal will not be perfect, but I will work to be the best I can be. :)

I have found a WW meeting of my own to attend (Tuesday 10am in Malden) and could not be happier. It is so nice to take your WW receptionist hat off for an hour and get back to why you joined in the first place - to be a member and to feel involved in the meeting.

I cannot put in to words how much happier I am now that I have my own meeting to attend and I am falling back into a nice pattern. My Tuesday has now become my favorite day of the week ... and also my "Super WW" day. How you may ask? Well, here is the rundown:

6am Spinning with my girl Jess - aka Last Chance Workout

7am Weigh-in on Home Scale

8am Weigh-in officially at WW Boston Store with Alverson

8:15am Grab my much needed Dunkin Iced Coffee ;)

10am Attend my now weekly WW meeting with Heather

Noon-3:45 Me time - blog/run errands/chill with the pups/unwind

4pm Head to work

5-8pm Work the 6pm WW meeting and open hours

How about that for a powerful/motivating/positive day?


After chatting/emailing with my Territory Manager (Elaine) today and sitting with my WW coach (who will help me with the training to be a Leader), I just know I made the right decision this year. I feel so happy to call Weight Watchers my home. Helping, teaching, listening, cheering, consoling and motivating people in such an important and personal journey is an honor to me!

I thank you all for helping me see that! You have all given me the strength to make the Leap with your support and encouragement...

#7daychip - Number Nine

I like that I am now collecting #7daychips the way I collect race medals ;) For this chip, I made the following commitment:

1) To hit the 5 Weight Watchers Food Healthy Guidelines each day

2) To complete at least one plank per day (#plankaday)

3) To drink at least 100oz of water per day (#100ozchallenge)

4) To write down/track everything I ate each day - even if I didn't figure out the PP value, I at least had to fess up to what I ate my writing it down, blogging it & Facebook/Tweeting it.