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3-Point buzzer-beaters: Nighttime snack ideas

It's often hard to completely avoid the kitchen after dinner. I've tried closing the kitchen doors but I'm not the only one in this house, and the dog hasn't yet learned how to open doors.

Also, sometimes I'm just plain hungry at 9 p.m. Not ravenous or anything but (let's go British here) ... peckish.

So instead of gritting my teeth and pouring a big delicious glass of water, the Weight Shrink and I devised a plan to have 3 or 4 Weight Watchers Points (100-ish calories) left for an evening snack. Knowing that I'm going to have a "thing" has been quelling the nocturnal cottage cheese spoonfuls, plus the "thing" is more interesting than that. So I enjoy my 3-Pointer, the buzzer goes off and it's game over.

Yogurt honey walnutsOne fave is a half-cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and a couple teaspoons of honey. (Ever have that combo at a Greek restaurant? Heavenly -- but I'm guessing their yogurt isn't fat free or even lowfat.)

Other favorite 3-Pointers:

  • A few tablespoons of hummus with carrots and celery
  • A fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt
  • A packet of apple-cinnamon oatmeal
  • A serving of Honey Kix (that's 1 1/4 cups -- pretty substantial)
  • A rice cake (one of those "good ones" from Lundberg) with a slice of lowfat Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese mixed with 1/2 cup of natural applesauce and sprinkled with cinnamon (nevermind how gross it looks, it tastes yummy)

Of course this involves planning on the back end, so I try and plan my day during breakfast. I've mentioned before that this had been hard for me because I tend to eat by whim.

But I whimmed myself into a size 22, so eating on a whim doesn't work for weight loss. I have planned myself into a 16-and-falling.

That old Weight Watchers chestnut still applies: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

SafSlim update

Back in September, I started using SafSlim, a supplement made from high-linoleic safflower oil that is supposed to target belly fat. I'm about halfway through the 12-week plan and while I haven't lost a lot of weight (5 pounds), I am definitely down a jeans size and my abdominal area does seem flatter. I don't know whether it's the supplement or the 5 pounds but there's definitely an improvement and no muffin tops to be seen. I'll check back at the end of the 12-week period and let you know how it all turns out. The next half of the trial will be a barrel of fun, what with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, parties, New Year's and general merriment. Best time ever to lose weight, though -- seriously! NOT throwing caution to the wind is the best prescription to avoiding holiday pounds.

How 'bout a HealthBuzz?

This week's video discusses American Diabetes Month and features Sam Talbot of Top Chef.

Motivation Monday: Guinea Pig Gail tries something new

The folks at my local Vitamin Shoppe call it the "Dr. Oz syndrome." Every time the TV doc discusses some new herb, supplement or food that can help with weight loss, people come streaming into the store asking for it.

Hey, I'm just as guilty as the rest of them, but I stay away from products that can overstimulate since I don't want to risk the jitters or increased blood pressure.

Safslim So when asked if anyone was interested in trying an all-natural supplement that targets belly fat, I raised my hand. Naturally Savvy is a website devoted to natural, organic and green living, so I felt like they wouldn't send me anything shady.

What did they send me? It's a product called SafSlim -- high-linoleic safflower oil, flavored and whipped into a smoothie-like consistency. You use it twice a day before a meal. Either you take it straight off the tablespoon or you can stir it into yogurt. It comes in two flavors -- berry and tangerine -- and is sweetened with xylitol. Each tablespoon is 60 calories. I just figure it into my daily calories.

So why high-linoleic safflower oil? In an Ohio State University study, 55 overweight, diabetic, post-menopausal women taking high-linoleic safflower oil lost up to 9.4 percent of belly fat in 16 weeks without modifying diet or exercise. They also had an average of a 20.3 percent increase in adiponectin, a hormone that helps with insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Daily use of high linoleic acid from safflower oil is supposed to activate and increase adiponectin, regulate fasting blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, reduce CRP, and increase HDL.

So, yeah, that dreaded belly fat. Something I didn't really have until I turned 40 (that's what happens, kiddies). I'm still very much a pear shape, but there's more belly than there used to be and that's the dangerous kind of fat -- a topic that Dr. Oz likes to illustrate by dragging out slabs of pickled omentum. That's the metabolically active fat that gathers around your belly region and hangs out around your internal organs.

I'm as skeptical as they come, but I thoroughly checked out SafSlim's website and there's plenty of information and studies that makes me feel good about giving it a go.

I've been using SafSlim for the past three days, and I swear my midsection feels and looks flatter.

I'll be checking in midway through and at the end of 12 weeks to let y'all know how it's going and how I'm using the SafSlim (it's great in a smoothie, by the way).

SafSlim is sold at most GNC and Vitamin Shoppe stores and is also available at the SafSlim website and on QVC.

Note: I received the bottles of SafSlim for free to use during the 12-week program.