Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Can't Believe I Made My Own Catsup!

When you ask anyone who did WW in the late 60's through early 70's about the early days of the program, they will always tell you two things:

1. You had to eat liver, and
2. You had to make your own ketchup (or "catsup" as they said in those days).

So when I was deciding what to make for my first official Retro WW recipe, I knew what it had to be. It had to be Catsup.

I began at 2:00pm. To get me in the right frame of mind, I turned on my satellite radio and tuned into the "70's on 7" channel. I was hoping for some inspiration from a great 70's band like the Bee Gees or Three Dog Night. Instead I got Looking Glass - Brandy (You're a Fine Girl). Ugh. That would have to do.

In the 1972 WW Revised Program Cookbook, Jean Nidetch published a recipe for make-your-own-catsup that sounded easy enough to make, and I actually had most of the ingredients on hand. See the cast of characters below. (absent from photo: garlic & mace)

So, after boiling the heck out of this mixture of tomato juice, celery and various spices comes the FUN part... You have to strain it and squeeze out the juice from the celery. Then put it back in the skillet to boil 10 minutes more with vinegar. Then, after adding your sweetener...voila! You have catsup. Or something like it.

The final product is a bit watery. Remember those old commercials with the people anxiously waiting for the delicious catsup to come out of the bottle while the song "Anticipation" plays in the background? Yea, well this is nothing like that. Surprisingly, it does not taste half bad though. I am planning to put some on my scrambled eggs in the morning. My husband says he will try some too, but I can tell he is just trying to be nice.

Jean says it will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks, or you can bring it to your next WW meeting and share with your friends. Hmmmm. Another fun idea might be to put it into little decorative jars, and give it out as gifts to your neighbors. On second thought, I think I'll just keep this delectable little concoction to myself.

I have accomplished the task of making of my own catsup. My initiation is complete.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Blog Previously Known As...

What has changed: The Jean Nidetch/Skinny Jeans Project has been re-named. It will henceforth be called The Retro WW Experiment. Easy Peasy.

Now I will no longer have to answer the question, "Jean who?". Ugh.

What hasn't changed: This blog is still dedicated to Jean, my mom, and every woman who has ever: made her own catsup, discovered 50 ways to prepare liver, choked down tuna fish by the caseload, guzzled gallons of water, journaled, tracked, cried in the car after a weigh-in, reached goal, gained it back, got back on track and has become stronger, happier and healthier through the WW program.


Now if you'll excuse me, it is Friday, and I am going out for a Jean Nidetch-approved Horse's Neck Highball --- That's Club Soda with Bitter's and a dash of Lemon Juice on the Rocks with a twist! Cheers!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." -Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs, 1991)

I spent most of last evening studying The
1972 Weight Watchers Revised Program Cookbook (WWRPC) and trying very hard to understand this program. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, and yet I am still finding it extremely difficult to grasp all of the "rules". I will provide an example for you:

FISH: Must be used at least 5 times a week, counting only lunches and dinners. (Although fish is allowed at breakfast, you don't use enough to consider it a fish meal.) Just once a week, you may select from the special shellfish group and count it, if you wish, as one of your 5 fish meals.

Did the average 1972 woman really follo
w this freaking plan? And how often did she say "F this!" --and go eat an entire pizza? I will make a note to ask my mom about this. In the meantime, I have decided that I will put together an excel spreadsheet this week which may help me get organized. Will post that later if possible.

Now--it seems I have hit a tiny snag: LIVER.

The WWRPC states: "You must eat liver exactly once a week." Sorry Jean--ain't gonna happen. I don't eat red meat, and I just don't see how a weekly serving of this disgusting organ meat is going to m
ake a difference in my weight loss progress. Besides, eating liver makes me think of Hannibal Lecter.

On the bright side--I made it through an entire day without eating a SINGLE ILLEGAL FOOD! (well - I ate some air-popped popcorn, but I really think Jean would be OK with that). I am feeling so strong!

I am finding myself asking the question "What would Jean Do?" several times a day, and I feel like I have a little bit of her spirit and will-power with me on this journey.

My goals for this weekend?
  1. Hit the grocery store and stock up on some "legal" foods.
  2. Prepare some fun recipes to share with you in my next post!

The adventure continues...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gonna Go Back in Time...

"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." -Marty McFly (Back to the Future, 1985)

I am easing into this project, because it is a bit overwhelming to time travel almost 40 years into the past. As I read through the "rules" of the original WW program, I am beginning to realize that this is a bit wackier than I had originally expected.

Allow me to share a few "rules" with you:

First, the good news: Artificial sweeteners, carbonated beverages, imitation butter, condiments, seasonings and most vegetables are permitted in unlimited amounts. Hooray! Fruit, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and cheese are encouraged in moderation. Even bread and cereal are allowed under strict supervision. There is a complicated equation for incorporating fats. I haven't quite figured it out yet.

Now the BAD news: There is a list of "illegal" foods. It's a long list. It includes (just to name a few):
  • Alcoholic beverages (WHAT!?!?)
  • Bacon (NOOOOO!)
  • Cake, Cookies, Crackers, Pie (Are you f-ing kidding?)
  • Corn or Popcorn (Why?)
  • Ice Cream (Now this is getting cruel)
  • Catsup (This is how they spelled it back then...)
  • Peanut Butter (Understandable, actually)
  • Pizza (Kill me!)
  • Potato Chips, Pretzels (OK, really now kill me.)
  • Soups (WTF?)
  • Pudding, Custard (Go figure?)
  • Peanuts, Other Nuts (Damn.)

I am going to stop here, because I am sure you get the point now. It's basically torture, and you must give up everything you enjoy in life. But I am determined. If my mom did this-- Certainly I can do this too.

But wait. There are more rules. And they involve meat.

I think I need to rest now. I am going to eat some bacon with catsup on it while I still can...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why am I doing this????

"It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny."
- Jean Nidetch, Founder of Weight Watchers (WW)

OK. So this year, two things WILL happen in my life. I will turn 40 and I will get back into my "skinny jeans".

I have no choice about turning 40. I can fight it, but unfortunately, it will happen no matter how much I deny it. The skinny jeans are another story. I have been a WW lifetime member for 10 years. I lost 40 pounds following the program, and I know it works. The problem is: sometimes I choose not to follow the program very closely, and I struggle with maintaining my weight loss. In fact--I feel like I have gained and lost my last 10 pounds about a million times. Unfortunately---right now I am once again struggling to lose that last 10 pounds.

So-- I have decided to do something a little bit zany. I have chosen to go "Back in Time" and incorporate some of the original WW program guidelines & recipes into the current plan and write about it... All in an effort to get back in my skinny jeans! Please note: this is NOT about deprivation. This is about having fun and shaking things up!

What on Earth prompted this insane idea you ask? Well...

Recently, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the "Weight Watchers Revised Program Cookbook" (WWRPC) published in 1972. That, coincidentally, was also the year my mom joined WW and lost a great deal of weight. I am fascinated by this book. I love to talk to my mom about her experiences in the early days of WW--the liver, the tuna, the cottage cheese! She still eats some of those crazy concoctions! I have often wondered what it would be like to follow the same plan that Jean Nidetch and my mom followed almost 40 years ago.

I also recently read "The Jean Nidetch Story". I was incredibly inspired by her story. Jean lost over 70 pounds on the original plan and continues to maintain her weight loss 45 years later. Did you know Jean was 40 years old when she founded the company. Coincidence? Hmmmmmmm.

I hope to accomplish two things with this "experiment":
1.) Get back into my skinny jeans;
2.) Pay tribute to the history of the WW program and how far it has come--while having a little fun in the process.

In order to maintain some sort of structure, I have set up some rules for myself to follow:
RULE #1: I must try at least one new recipe from the WWRPC every week.
RULE #2: I must incorporate the original program "rules" to the extent that it is possible and to my best effort. (more on the "rules" later.)
RULE #3: I must attend a WW meeting once per week.

So here goes nothing! Jean Nidetch founded one of the most important international corporations in the history of mankind when she turned 40. All I have to do is get back into my skinny jeans. Piece of cake.