Tonight I went to Weight Watchers after my first week back on the program. And (drum roll, please): I gained .6 of a pound. It’s probably my fifteenth time joining WW in my life, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I ever managed to gain the very first week. A disappointing result, yes, but hardly shocking. I ate far less than I’d been eating in the weeks prior to my re-upping, but I certainly didn’t follow the plan to the letter. And my post about going to the gym? Well, that was the only day I actually went. I’ve been achy ever since, and you’re not supposed to work out hurt, so… OK goddammit, I was just lazy.
These days WW is offering two different, though complementary, plans: Flex and Core. Both use a point system (each xx number calories—75, I think—of food is roughly equal to one point) but in different ways. Flex is an all-points-all-the-time program: based on your current weight, you’re allotted a certain number of points each day, plus a stash of extra points to use (or not) at will during each week. As long as you stay within your points range and follow their guidelines for protein/carbs/fruit/fat/etc., you can eat virtually anything. This is all well and good, but the idea of calculating points for everything I put in my mouth just seems too obsessive for me.
I opted for the Core plan. It, too, has a points element, but the “core” group of foods—lean meats, vegetables, fruits, whole grains—are unlimited. Points only come into play for things that aren’t part of the core foods list. When I lost all my weight the plan was called Fat & Fiber, where limiting one and filling up on the other were the only two things I really had to worry about. I thought Core would be similarly easy-to-live-with, but last week I found it too restrictive. No bread at all, even whole grain, unless it comes out of the 35 weekly points? No nuts, either? No baked goods of any kind? No fat-free frozen yogurt, even? 35 points a week doesn’t go very far. I love the healthy foods that are on the unlimited list, but I’m a snacker—I like to eat several times a day—and fruit/vegetable snacks leave me hungry a half-hour after I’ve finished.
After all these years, I know an awful lot about food, and what my body can and can’t handle. A couple years into Fat & Fiber, I definitely wasn’t following it precisely–I’d just learned enough about myself to make it work. I figured, if I bent the Core rules a little, I’d still be ok. Ooops. Guess not. Those raisinets in the movie theater, that never got recorded? The handful of blue corn tortilla chips (hey, the bag was open on the counter)? Oh, and what about the night S and I went out for Ethiopian food? Duh.
By the time I got home from tonight’s meeting, my enthusiasm was refreshed. At least fifteen WW virgins signed up tonight, which happens the first week of January every year; there’s something invigorating about a room full of heavy people (most far heavier than I, I was obnoxiously pleased to see) all wanting to get healthy & lose weight. I wanted to cook something filling, something Core, and yet something wonderful, for dinner. Chicken cutlets were already defrosted; and from the back of the fridge beckoned the Barefoot Contessa’s barbecue sauce. This sauce is The Shit. It’s the best barbecue sauce I’ve ever had (outside that time S and I had barbecued fried chicken in a tiny town in North Carolina, that is…). We’re talking lip-smacking, oooooo-oo-that’s-good-stuff good. The recipe yields a huge amount, but like Ina says, it lasts for months in the fridge. Trust me on this one: MAKE IT. There is no better thing for a quick and impressive dinner.
I put the cutlets into a bowl, added a good ½ cup of sauce, and let them bathe in the thick, russet concoction for twenty minutes. Mashed some potatoes (with chicken broth, not butter, thank you very much), steamed some broccoli, and tossed a salad. Forty-five minutes later, a Weight Watchers-approved feast was on the table. Just for safety’s sake, I’ll count the BBQ sauce as a point or two.
Ina Garten’s Barbecue Sauce
From The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Makes 1 ½ quarts
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion (1 large onion)
1 T. minced garlic (3 cloves)
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup tomato paste (10 ounces)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup honey
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
½ cup soy sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
½ T. crushed red pepper flakes
In a large saucepan on low heat, sauté the onions and garlic with the vegetable oil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer uncovered on low heat for 30 minutes. Use immediately or store in the fridge.