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Peggy, Week 18: Road Trip! Taking Our Kids To College

The Avagliano Family

Tomorrow we leave to drive three of our kids back to college. Amanda can’t come with us, because she must attend band camp this week. The marching band runs band camp from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., Monday through Friday. A family friend will stay with Amanda, Minnie, our cat and the dogs.

We plan to do a family road trip, and the first stop is University of North Carolina School of Arts in Winston-Salem. The kids were assigned move-in times based on their last name. Michael’s move-in time is at 8 a.m. on Tuesday. We have time to shop until 2 p.m., when we have to head to a parent orientation. A welcome BBQ is planned for the evening, so we plan to stay over in North Carolina until Wednesday.

Once Michael is settled into his college, we will head to Tallahassee, Florida. Katie is arriving on campus early to audition for the Florida State University Marching Chiefs. Katie played the mellophone for Absegami High School’s Marching Braves, and hopes to become Chief following auditions. Although she must arrive by Friday at 8 a.m., she can’t move into the dorms until 8 p.m. Friday evening. Although Christina is scheduled to move in on Saturday, we can’t head to Sarasota until Katie is settled.

Christina has been living on campus for the past year, but this year she has an apartment with some of her friends. Each girl is to bring a few items for the kitchen, and we’ll try to make sure it’s stocked before we leave for home.

Normally, a road trip would mean Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies, M& M’s and fast food. With this challenge, I bought fresh fruit, celery, Diet Snapple and—I’ll admit—small bags of M&M’s. I chose hotels with free parking, a fitness center and free wi-fi.

Hopefully, we can stay on track while away. Michael will have to do his final weigh-in on campus.

How do you make your road trips healthier? Post a comment and tell me.


Peggy, Week 18: 8 Smart, Satisfying Food Swaps

We’ve all been there. Minding our own business when chocolate starts calling our name. Or desperately trying to be good while those frozen French fries start pounding on the freezer door to be let out. To save major calories, I came up with more smart swaps to stay on track. They’ve helped me and hopefully will do the same for you.

When you want: Chocolate covered pretzels…
Try: Slices of apple drizzled with two tablespoons of chocolate. Or fresh fruit salad with yogurt covered raisins.

When you want: You want an ice cream sundae…
Try: Strawberry sorbet or frozen yogurt with fresh fruit.

When you want: Potato chip…
Try: Celery or baby carrots with ranch dressing or air-popped popcorn.

When you want: Chocolate chip cookies and milk…
Try: Making your favorite recipe using Splenda instead of sugar and skim milk instead of whole. Also, only bake 2 per person in the house. (You can always freeze the remaining cookie dough.) Or try one of the 100-calorie cookie packs.

When you want: A cheeseburger and French fries…
Try: A turkey burger and home made oven fries or grilled chicken with fruit salad and baked chips.

When you want: Sweet tea…
Try: Brewing it yourself and add fresh fruit, such as lemons, to taste.

When you want: Baked macaroni and cheese…
Try: Adding grilled veggies and a little less pasta and cheese.

When you want: Crème brulee…
Try: Sugar free pudding.

Tell us what you want, and what you’re willing to try instead below.


Peggy, Week 17: My Biggest Roadblocks to Weight Loss Success

peggy avagliano

I’ll tell you a secret: As hardworking as I am, I’m a little lazy. I like to sit on the couch eating ice cream, even if I do not like the end result of my lack of activity. Old bad habits, such as feeding my feelings rather than feeling them, and flopping on the couch after dinner, are easy. It’s effortless to pick up KFC on the way home. Cooking dinner after working takes planning.

But I know I can do better. Throughout this challenge, I have tried to remind myself that anyone can achieve their goals if they are willing to work at it. I had four children in less than five years, and I managed to graduate medical school, complete an internship and finish my residency on time. I know I can do something if I really want to.

I have friends who have achieved, or are about to achieve, greatness. A screenwriter named Dan Studney and I went to high school together. He remains someone I have a deep connection with during those infrequent times when we actually see each other. (If you have not heard of him yet, you will know his name soon. He co-wrote the upcoming movie Jack the Giant Killer which will be released on March 22, 2013.) I rarely see Dan, but he is a constant reminder to me that anyone can achieve any goal, if they work hard enough.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you believe you are the person everyone else sees? Or do you know that you are more than that reflection? Post a comment and tell me what you want to push yourself harder to do.


Peggy, Week 15: How Our Sunday Mornings Have Changed

Fruit Salad with Pomegranate Syrup

Sunday mornings are usually the one morning when we can all relax.

Before the challenge, they looked like this:

I rarely sleep more than an extra hour from my daily schedule, so I am typically up before the rest of the family; I tend to be out of bed by 6:30 am. A typical Sunday morning begins with a cup of Earl Grey tea. I run out to the local Wawa for the Sunday paper, and a 16 o.z. vanilla low fat latte with half and half and Sweet and Low, for Peter. By the time I would get home from the store, everybody would be looking for breakfast. Breakfast was homemade chocolate chip waffles with fresh strawberries, bananas and whipped cream–and a side of bacon. Or cheese omelets with toasted bagels and Taylor Ham. We’d read the paper, and do the crossword puzzle.

Since the challenge has started, they look like this:

Lately, we go to Tilton gym, as a family, and work on the gym challenge. Everybody works on their cardio challenge, before moving on to the weights upstairs. Peter and I tend to end with core exercises.

(Teenagers are terrific at putting any accomplishment at the gym into perspective. I do two push-ups, having previously not been able to do any, and a few sit-ups, with nobody holding my feet, and Amanda tells me that she had to do that in third grade.)

We still go to Wawa for the Sunday paper, but Peter has traded in his low fat vanilla latte for a 16-ounce plain coffee with Sweet and Low and 2% milk. We go home for breakfast, stopping by the fresh fruit market on the way home. Scrambled eggs or egg white omelets with a lite multi-grain Thomas’ English muffin and fruit salad have replaced our high carb breakfast. Although we still have to have bagels, they have become an occasional food, not a weekly choice.

Nutritional difference in our Sunday choices:

Before the challenge:

  • Bagel (1 whole): 280 cal, 1 fat, 59 carbs
  • 2 eggs: 140 cal, 0 carb, 5 fat
  • 2 slices Taylor ham: 260 cal, 2 carb, 22 fat
  • Cheddar cheese 2 %: 80 cal, 0 carb, 6 fat

After the challenge:

  • Thomas’ Light multigrain English muffin: 100 cal, 1 fat, 26 carbs
  • 2 eggs: 140 cal, 0 carb, 5 fat
  • Fruit salad: (approximate) 120 cal, 20 carb, 0 fat

Before: 760 cal, 61 carbs, 34 fat
After: 360 cal, 26 carbs, 6 fat

Savings: 400 calories 35 carbs 28 fat! Plus we worked out at the gym!

What healthy diet changes have you made? Share your accomplishments in the comments below.


Peggy, Week 15: Resisting Temptation At Family Gatherings

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Although we often get together with our brothers, sisters, and parents, the extended family typically only gets together for special events; weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Family get-togethers usually revolve around food.

My father-in-law is an awesome chef! He runs a Saturday “soup kitchen” for an organization called SHIP, Summit Helping Its People, in Summit, NJ. He makes everything from hot wings to peanut butter pie, rack of lamb to Oreo cookie cheesecake. Not only does it look as if it came off the cover of a cooking magazine, but it tastes like he was a Top Chef! Dad A. typically makes the menu for any family get-together; I simply lend a hand–even when hosting the event at our house!

Peter’s cousin, Mark, was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, a stage IV brain tumor. Glioblastomas are not known for being tumors that you can live with for many years.  He had surgery and his first round of chemotherapy and radiation, and he decided to scratch off a few items from his bucket list. On Tuesday, he married his girlfriend, Carla and they embarked on a whirlwind tour of NY-NJ. His honeymoon trip was shared with his son, Nick and his brother, Ricky, and sister-in-law, Jo-Ann. They used my in-law’s house as their home base, and took a trip to NYC. Mark has always been a Mets fan, so they planned a trip to the game. Ricky’s wife called ahead, and the Mets gave them the VIP treatment. They got pressroom seats, and an opportunity to go on the field and meet the players. The Mets even won the game!

We live near Atlantic City, and Mark wanted to go to the casino, so we hosted a party at our house. My father-in-law brought four desserts: rice pudding, peanut butter pie, cheesecake and a chocolate cake. The desserts followed: sausage, steak, baked beans, green salad, potato salad, pasta salad and watermelon!

NOTE: Everyone knows what I should have eaten: watermelon, green salad and a little steak. I would have felt satisfied, and still stayed on my new life plan. That is what Peter did; well, that plus one little slice of cheesecake. He made good choices. I did not.

After everyone left, I should not have stood with the refrigerator door ajar and a knife in my hand, taking just a small slice of peanut butter pie. Peanut butter is a good source of protein, right?

What did I learn? I cannot resist temptation! I took the leftover cake to work; something I have not done before this challenge began, so maybe I am changing–just a little slower than I would like.

How do you avoid giving into decadent foods when your family gets together? Post a comment and tell me.

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