Category Archives: Tools

Plate Juggling

Those of you who read my blog regularly are already aware that I am a self-proclaimed handbag ho – even to the point where I turned the biggest pair of jeans I’ve ever owned into a Big Ass Tote Bag.  Handbags aren’t the only pretty things that catch my eye, however.  I also love pretty dishes.  In fact, it’s just not safe for me to be anywhere near a Pier 1 Imports on payday.

I blame 20 years of magazine articles about dieting.  I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read about tricking yourself into eating less…and they almost always suggest choosing a smaller plate.  You know the articles I’m talking about, right? Why do they tell us these things?  Honestly, back in my heyday of overeating and yo-yo dieting a smaller plate wouldn’t have made any difference.  Back in those days, when I called Domino’s I didn’t get the standard “thank you for calling” greeting…no, no, no…they picked up the phone and said “Hi Dianne!”  A large pizza was my average lunch back then.  My priorities were completely screwed up.  Using smaller plates would only have meant more trips to the kitchen…and who wants that, right?  Shame, shame, shame on me.

Using smaller plates doesn’t make any difference to me in terms of whether I feel satisfied with my meal.  Using pretty plates does.  Our normal dishes are those Corelle things that are made up of titanium and whatever the hell fuses a corn flake to the side of a bowl (that shit’s indestructible).  That’s what we have to have in the Hot Mess household, as hubby’s nickname is Captain Chaos.  Luckily, I found a basic white indestructible plate that I can live with…but I still love the pretty ones.

With over 200 pounds to lose, I’m trying to make the process of changing to a healthy lifestyle as fun as possible.  That’s why I made my Motivation Marbles.  That’s why I have a jar above my treadmill where I deposit $2 for every pound I lose so that I can buy myself something shiny when I hit my goal weight.  There has to be some level of fun in this for me or I’ll drive myself crazy.

My search for fun in the face of such monumental change also provides me with an excuse to add to my ever growing collection of plates.  It involves shopping, first of all.  And I get to reap the benefits every time I make myself a meal at home.  I like things to be pretty…even if it’s just lunch.

Now I would never go through this much trouble for the Hot Mess Hubby – not because he’s not worth it, but because he’s a very low maintenance guy (at least as far as table settings are concerned) and he just doesn’t care about this stuff.  He’s more of a cave man, really.  It’s nothing for me to look up from the laptop and see him scuffling through the living room with no shirt on, a big hunk of cheese in his hand, happy as can be.  (I know what you’re thinking, but you can’t have him…he’s all mine!)

I don’t add to my plate collection every payday and, sadly, I can’t be trusted to walk into a Pier 1 Imports or World Market store alone.  I usually have to talk a girlfriend into going along – and even then, I surrender my debit card and all but $40 in cash.  I also provide her with a tranquilizer blow dart in case I need to be taken down and dragged to the car.  In fact, I have a trip to California coming up and I’m going plate shopping with my mom.  She’s getting up there in years, but she’s got a pinch on her that’d stop a grizzly bear on crack dead in its tracks.

The plates in my collection are all salad sized plates, which is supposed to fool my subconscious into thinking I’m eating more than I really am.  I don’t buy it.  My overeating never had anything to do with appetite and everything to do with emotional crap.  Until my Imaginary Lap Band experiment, I regarded eating healthy as a real drag – a chore that I had to do in order to lose weight.  I think I’ve been successful in losing 34 pounds in 4 months because I’ve fought to change that rather negative outlook.  Eating healthy should be a very positive experience if you’re going to make a change that sticks…and my pretty plate collection does a lot to make that happen.  It has become fun to make meals now.  I have always enjoyed cooking, but it’s also fun to go through my stack of beautiful plates and choose which one I want to use.

Sometimes I catch the Hot Mess Hubby smiling at me out of the corner of his eye.  I’m sure he thinks this is ridiculous, but if he does he keeps it to himself  – because he’s proud of me and he knows that it’s all about what works for me.  I try not to over-analyze these things myself because it really is about what works for me…so if it makes me happy to spend a few bucks here and there for a plate, what’s the big deal?  I may need to have a yard sale by the time I’m done – but I’ll have worked my way down to one ass instead of four.  I think I can cut myself a little slack on the dish hoarding, right?

Are there any little tricks that work for you?  Is there anything you really enjoy about the healthy changes you’re making in your own life?  I would love to hear what you’re doing…you just might give me a new addiction, but I’m willing to take that chance.  Tell me!

Southern Lady: Gracious Tables: The Perfect Setting for Any Occasion

The Most Valuable Weight Loss Tool in the World

One of my readers, Jacquie, commented on one of my posts a few days back and I was reminded of this article.  I shared it with her and wanted to share it with all of you as well.  It’s great information – and there’s no such thing as too much great information.

No matter what anyone tells you, information is the most valuable weight loss tool you’ll ever have.  No miracle pill, no clever device, no special diet can ever come close to the value of real, truthful information.

It seems like a million years ago, but I still remember being a young adult and spending hours in the bookstore with my freshly cashed paycheck burning a hole in my pocket.  The first time I ever spent time in the self-help section I found a book called “Compulsive Overeating”.  I didn’t want that to be about me, but I knew deep down it was.

Needless to say, it wasn’t a “how to” manual. That book and dozens of others finally opened my eyes and helped me crawl out of denial, find a therapist (or two or three), and start to piece my life together.  Bookstores were my new drug.  I remember the thrill I got every time I stepped inside a bookstore, looking at all those books and thinking “What else do I not know about?  What else can I learn…change…or just understand better?”  A fire was lit back in those days – and it has never stopped burning.  Books, magazines, Google…I know I’ll find the answers if I look hard enough.











Not too long ago, I stumbled on an article about the different stages of change – specifically healthy changes.  The article specifically addresses exercise, but can be applied to starting any healthy habit.  I had decided that I was going to “start eating healthy” again.  I was going through my usual stages of “tough love” that I always went through: throwing out the junk food, dusting off the exercise videos, stocking up on healthy food that I didn’t really like but told myself I had to eat.  I was very pissy about it.  And I realized something: I didn’t want to make these changes.  I wanted to want to make the changes…but I wasn’t ready.

As you’ll see by Linda Melone’s wonderfully informative article “Prepare Your Mind to Change Your Body”, I was in Stage 3. I had made some changes, but I was definitely not ready for Stage 4: the GO! stage – yet my perfectionistic, all or nothing, black and white mindset was pushing me to it…even against the will of my subconscious.  I was buying the veggies, trashing the pizza rolls, and already coming up with excuses for not exercising.  My heart wasn’t in it.

This article made me look the truth squarely in the eye and say “Okay, I’m really not ready.”   I felt like the weakest person alive because I wasn’t ready.  The broccoli went bad before I had the chance to choke it down.  I did buy pizza rolls again, but I stopped eating fast food every day.  Soon it was only once a week.  I still bought ice cream way too much, but not candy bars and other crap.  Admitting that I wasn’t ready gave me a very subtle underlying sense of freedom from the guilt and the “coulda-shoulda-woulda” monster that was always at my heels.














For years, I was caught in a tail spin.  I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror at work on Friday…and say “That’s it! I’ve had it!! I’m starting a diet Monday!”  Then I went out for 700 calorie meals with the girlfriends.  Saturday I was curled up on the couch with a good book and a pint of mint chip.  Sunday I was at the movies with a 10,000 calorie tub of popcorn and a diet coke.  And then there I was on Sunday night throwing out all the junk food, stocking up on healthy food, and resolving that this time I’m going to do it.   I’d starve myself with diet food on Monday.  By Tuesday, I was in the drive thru screaming for a Shamrock shake.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I was finally ready on December 15th, 2011.  As I stood in my living room, eating one chocolate covered butter toffee after another without even really tasting them…the light finally when on.  I cried.  I realized…this is absolutely nuts.  I walked to the kitchen and tossed the entire tin of butter toffee in the trash can.  Then I brushed my teeth for about 15 minutes.  It was a Thursday night.

I didn’t need to wait for Monday.  There was no grandiose tossing of the junk food in the house.  There was no trip to the grocery store to buy food I knew I wasn’t going to eat.  There was no dusting off of the exercise videos – I knew I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Revving up for GO stage in 3…2….1….

I gave up sugar and fast food that day.  Ten days later, I gave up diet soda.  Three months later, I’ve lost 27 pounds…and I honestly can’t tell you anything I’ve done that’s significantly different than any other of my million-and-one tries…except that I didn’t force myself to change.

Ready doesn’t happen overnight like we wish it would.  Ready happens in stages.  Be still and quiet for a bit…you’ll know in your gut when it’s GO time.

So…what stage are you in?



Oh, and that bookstore I used to spend hours in? I carry one in my purse now: the Kindle Fire. 🙂

Kindle Fire, Full Color 7″ Multi-touch Display, Wi-Fi

Portion Control Tool…?

Okay, this seemed really cool one night when I stayed up too long after taking Ambien.  🙂  I’ve made some interesting, medicated purchases before – including the time I bid on 52 different eBay auctions at 2 am.  I finally got the chance to use it this weekend and, once I had it in my hand and was actually using it…I felt a little embarrassed that I spent money on it.

This “portion control tool” popped up on Amazon on that little “Customers who bought this also bought THIS” box:

Meal Measure 1 Portion Control Tool

Hot Mess Hubby says I’m part raccoon…anything shiny will get my attention…and he’s right.  Just don’t tell him I said so.

The Meal Measure portion control tool is dinner plate sized and pre-measured – so you’re supposed to slap this bad boy on your empty plate, then fill the open spots with the corresponding food.  You can’t see it in the photo, but the bottom pocket is for protein and the others are labeled “fruit”, “veggie”, and “starch”.

Wow, what a neat idea, right?  Instead of messing around with kitchen scales and measuring cups, here’s one piece that does it all for you right on your plate!  Well, that’s what I thought – but there are many ways in which this device fails miserably.

What I didn’t think about during my Ambien stupor…before I hit that wonderful “Buy With 1-Click!” button on was…my grilled chipotle chicken tacos…or my spicy blackened turkey burger…or my beloved, almighty kickasserole.  I mean, I don’t see a taco shaped hole on this thing…do you?  Where does the tortilla go?  Starch, I suppose?  What about my kickasserole?  It contains proteins and starches…now what?  Do I pick out all the potatoes out and put them in the starch hole, the chicken in the protein hole…etc?

In my opinion, this gadget works best if you’re eating a stand alone protein, some kind of rice, a separate veggie, and fruit – but not for much more.  I know the serving size and calorie content of all my recipes…so an extra piece of plastic isn’t going to help me.

Just for shits & giggles, here’s a picture of how it stacks up against the blackened turkey burger & baked french fries I had for lunch today.


I know, right!  That whole grain bun looks ridiculous shoved into the starch hole.  And the bun is really a grain, not a starch – but there is no hole for grain.  Are we not supposed to eat grains in this scenario?  I didn’t have an apple to stick in the fruit hole either.  For my purposes, it just seems silly to me.  I prefer the old fashioned way:  my trusty kitchen scale and my measuring cups.

There were other portion control devices on including this one:

The Healthy Portion Plate

This plate seems like a much better investment for those who are trying to keep an eye on their portions.  I’m not going to buy this one either, don’t worry.  My Ambien shopping days are over.  For a while.  LOL

I’ll feel much better about my lame-o impulse purchase if any of you feel like you want to try it.  Really.  Let’s have a raffle.  I’m hoping at least one of y’all think it’s cool or useful in some way.  If you’re interested in winning this, please comment and say so.  The winner will be chosen by random drawing on and posted on Monday night by 8 pm.

If there are no takers, I guess I’ll toss it or donate it.  So…who wants it?


BodyMedia is here to help you lose weight!

How Do You Shake Your Moneymaker?

Hey, y’all –

First:  holy CRAP!  Got on the scale this morning, another 2 pounds gone.  GONE!!!  I’m already at 354 and sliding down the back side of this set of 10’s.  I won’t be able to get the smile off my face today.  Yay!!!!

Now…I am an absolute sucker for a good song.  And by “good” I don’t necessarily mean technically or musically brilliant…I mean something that makes me feel GOOD!  At the risk of showing you how monumentally UNcool I am, I can tell you that my list of feel-good songs includes Hanson’s “Mmm-Bop”.  Yes.  Yes, it does – and I just said that shit out loud.  Don’t judge!

I’m sure it’s a hangover from my days as a dancer, but nothing lifts my spirits like music does – and so I’m sure that’s why, after a day of waddling around in a fat body and sore Flintstone feet, I can come home and prance like a Pussycat Doll on my treadmill (sans trashy lingerie, of course, because chafing is a real bitch when your inner thighs are close personal friends).

I keep saying I’m working on a second, newer playlist for my iPod but here it is…7:30 pm on Sunday night and I have yet to do it.  I’ve laid out my current playlist for y’all below, but I doubt any of it is new to you – and some of it may give you a good giggle.  Yes, I really do have part of the Rocky IV soundtrack on my playlist.  I told you: monumentally uncool.

I would love to hear what you listen to when you’re working out.  I know I asked this on my Facebook fan page a while ago, but the problem with Facebook is that threads fade away over time.  At least here I can paste a link on the “Linky Links” page and we’ll always have a source for musical inspiration.  If you don’t like commenting on the posts themselves, feel free to shoot me an email and let me know what you listen to (that’s for all you lurkers out there! LOL).

** Safety reminder:  If you listen to music on an outdoor trail or roadway, PLEASE only use one ear bud – and remember to keep the volume down low enough so that you can hear what’s going on around you.  As much fun as it is to walk/run/bike/skate with music, it’s a serious safety hazard…and not worth injuring yourself or others.  Be safe!

Now…here is my ridiculous playlist:

Hey, Soul Sister
– Train  (my favorite band in the whole universe)

Right Round
– Flo Rida

How You Like Me Now
– The Heavy

Bad Romance (Glee Cast Version)
– Glee cast

Like A Prayer (Glee Cast Version Featuring Jonathan Groff)
– Glee cast

Ice Ice Baby (Glee Cast Version)
– Glee cast  (stop judging!)

Snake Eyes
– David Holmes (from the soundtrack of Ocean’s Thirteen)

Higher Ground
– Stevie Wonder

Barbie Girl
– Aqua

I’m Outta Love
– Anastasia

Rock N Roll Jesus (Explicit)
– Kid Rock

It’s My Life
– Bon Jovi (boy, does this one get me going!)

Training Montage
– Vin DiCola (from the Rocky IV soundtrack)

War/Fanfare From Rocky
– Vin DiCola (from the Rocky IV soundtrack)

Somewhere Only We Know
– Keane


What gets you motivated and moving?  Tell us!


Useful Things

Hey, y’all!

Mr. Scale and I are still not on speaking terms.  I was planning on another meeting with him this weekend, but I think it’s better to let him stew about it for another couple of days.  In fact, since it’s my goal to hit 359 by Valentine’s Day, I think I’ll just leave him alone until then.  God help him if he hasn’t changed his tune.  🙂

I’ve received quite a few comments and direct emails asking about what tools I use to motivate myself and track my progress – not to mention the tools that have been suggested to me that I find ab-fab, so let’s talk about those today.  Making meaningful changes is hard work and I love tools that help make the transition easier.

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal is an online food, exercise, and weight loss tracker.  Gone are the days of looking up the nutritional content of any food.  Just type the food in the search window and click…I’ve never found anything that wasn’t already listed.  In fact, thanks to a widget from My Fitness Pal, you can see how much weight I’ve lost right there on the upper right side of my web site.  Soon, that number will be anything 22 or higher…and we will all do the happy dance when I’m in the 350’s.

There’s even a mobile app you can use when you’re out and about so that you don’t forget to log.  And if you’re at a restaurant and you need to know the nutritional value of something, just type the restaurant’s name in the search window and click. Chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for.

What I love most about it is it’s simplicity.  When I first started logging my food & exercise online, I used the tracker at – however, it soon proved to be too cumbersome and glitchy for me.  The ads bog down the page too much and loading time can be annoying.  There were times when I would log in to add my dinner selections only to find that my entire day’s worth of calories was missing…and I would have to re-log the entire day.  Many times my daily caloric intake goal would magically re-set to something higher.

I also tried but I find their site to be way too busy.  This is the hardest change I’ve ever had to make in my life and I naturally gravitate towards simplicity.  I don’t want to log into a site and get bogged down with too many buttons, tabs, and links.  There are thousands of groups to join and points to earn for this and that…and badges to be awarded and…good Lord.  No, thanks.  I want simple.

By the way, if you decide My Fitness Pal is for you, look me up.  I keep my food log private, as everyone & their brother tends to think they’re a nutritionist when eating healthy, and nothing annoys me like a friend asking me if I really needed to eat that dinner roll.  I share my exercise and weight loss info.  I’m listed as HotMessPrincess (of course).  I happily accept all friend requests and will gladly cheer you on as you cheer me on.  Let’s do this!


Donna shared this with me and I think it’s just about the most awesome app I’ve come across.  For those of you with smart phones, go download the free app called “Fooducate” and arm yourself with a very powerful weapon the next time you’re in a grocery store.  Check their website out here:  Fooducate.

Last year, I was such a huge fan of Nature’s Own brand bread products.  I had no idea how they made such tasty breads without the calories and fat of other brands, but I was sold.  That is, until I read an article about a chemical they use in their breads that causes asthma or allergic reactions.  It’s a dough conditioner and, although their bread products still get a better report card than many brands, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I decided to test Fooducate with Nature’s Own products, then, on my first trip to the grocery store.  I wheeled my cart dangerously close to the Little Debbies in order to get my hands on some Nature’s Own hamburger buns.  One scan of the bar code with my smart phone and Fooducate showed me the food facts on these babies.  Their overall grade was an A-…however, I was interested to see whether the app told me about that chemical…and it did.  I tapped on the warning and got tons of information about the chemical and what it does.  I was even able to read comments by other Fooducate users.

I decided to scan all the other whole grain hamburger buns and ended up choosing another brand that had a solid A grade and no warnings on it.  The calories were a tad higher, but I’d rather eat 20 more calories and no chemicals.

I used the app several times during my shopping trip and it really helped me to make better decisions.  There were quite a few items I exchanged for other items once I read the info on Fooducate.  Check out their website for more info:

Also, I just posted this tip on my Facebook Fan Page:  the Fooducate blog has a pretty ingenious portion control tip for us mega eaters.  I still feel like I need to keep the leash pretty tight on myself right now, but I will try this in the future:  portion control tip.

Pampered Chef Chip Maker

When I started eating healthier, I made a list of my vices:  all the yummy foods I love that have helped me pack on 219 extra pounds.  From that list, I made two more lists:  foods I could give up and foods I could not give up.

I simply quit eating the foods I could give up.  I had to ween myself off some of them (like Diet Dr Pepper).  I stopped eating ice cream completely.  I still can’t believe it.  I deserve some kind of medal for that one.

As for the foods I can’t give up (or don’t want to), there were a few – and one of them was potato chips.  I tried to find healthier options for all my favorites and I was successful with chips.  In fact, I rocked it.  I love my salty, crunchy chips.  The “healthy” chip varieties out there just aren’t the same.  I like the crispy, salty, potato-y goodness of the classic potato chip and I don’t want to have to live without it.  I’m putting my chubby foot down on this one, damn it.

You can find my recipe for crispy potato chips (no oil necessary) in the recipes section here on my website.  No special chip maker is needed if you have parchment paper.  Frankly, I don’t use parchment paper for anything else and I’d rather not have to keep buying it.  So now I use the Pampered Chef Chip Maker.  I make chips, throw the chip maker in the dishwasher, and throw it back in the drawer.

S2H STEP Pedometer by S2H

This is a damn awesome idea.  The people at S2H have come up with a way to get us moving again:  by wearing the S2H Step or the S2H Replay wrist band, you earn points when you get your body moving.  Points can be redeemed for various prizes (including gift cards from major retailers) – and they’ve just announced a spring contest where you can win a Kindle, Wii, or iPod.

The Replay is a wristband, but my skin doesn’t like the latex band so much.  It gets annoying after a couple days – so I was super happy when the Step was released.


The Step gives a reward code for every 10,000 steps you take.  If you have a fairly sedentary job like me, that can be a challenge – but it’s fun.  I can’t explain why, but knowing I’m racking up points makes me park a little farther from the front doors at Target.  It makes me want to get on the treadmill a little more at the end of a rough day.  It’s a little more motivation – and I’ll take all the motivation I can get.

Lastly, there a new tab in the house!

I’ve added a tab to the site called “Linky Links”.  Sorry, but “Useful Links” seemed too boring for me!  I’ve put all these links there and hope to put up many more as we all go through this together.

If you’d like to suggest a cool tool to me, please feel free to use the “Contact Me” tab to get in touch with me and give me the scoop.  I can’t promise that I’ll pass the info along here on my site, but I can promise that I’ll look at it!  If it works for me or if I’m sure it’s imaginative & awesome, I will post it.

I’m looking for tools with real value – things that are creative & unique.  I won’t be putting up links to special diets, supplements, or specific work out programs because I truly believe that we all need to do what works for us as individuals…and we all know how to get our Google on if we’re looking for that kind of stuff.

In other news, I’m still working on my next motivational craft project.  🙂  It’s not nearly as fabulous as the marbles, but it means a hell of a lot to me.  You’ll see what I mean...tomorrow!

In the meantime, tell me what y’all have been up to.  Whether it’s weight loss or bitch’in about the car pool lane or some awesome new tool…lemme have it, peeps – I’m all ears.  🙂


Hope you’re all doing well.  🙂