Five to Try for Feb #4 and #5

Okay, I know it’s March. So I’m a little behind this month… it’s been that kind of couple of weeks. But I didn’t want too much time to pass before updating anyone out there who might be trying this little creative experiment with me that I call Five to Try…yes, I was able to wrap up the month with two more NEW things for the month – a new restaurant I hadn’t tried before and a new program I joined.

#4 – Toojays

I’ve walked by this restaurant many times at International Plaza but was usually on my way to meeting up for a networking function at The Grape or joining a friend for lunch or dinner at my absolute favorite bistro in town, Gallery Bistro. So when an opportunity came up to finally swing by and check out this “new to me” restaurant of Toojays Gourmet Deli when I just happened to have my laptop in tow, a blog to write up and an hour or more to kill, I thought perfect… then when I checked out the menu and discovered a grilled portabello sandwich, I knew it was written in the stars. A gloroius stack of portabello mushroom with roasted red pepper, grilled onion, melted provolone…and a side of fresh fruit – not fries – woohoo! It was time for a Five to Try moment!

I wish I had pictures to share but due to technical difficulties, I can’t show you my beautiful plate but only tell you how succulent the portabello was – I love a properly marinated ‘shroom! I really do…

And the setting was cozy and comfy and when the server could tell that I really just wanted to be left alone to work while I ate, she was very respectful and allowed me to do just that, unlike some other places that seem anxious to oust you out of the seat to free up for another customer. That afternoon, the place was fairly empty, so I don’t think they really cared if I pitched up a tent and called it my office for 90 minutes or so.  I will say though that the wi-fi wasn’t exactly fast… so I did struggle to upload some of the items I needed to complete my blog, but the food and service was excellent.

So the meal was tasty and reasonable and I highly recommend it… but probably the most fascinating thing about my restaurant experience were my neighbors. I watched three groups of people come and go at the table before me and as much as I tried to ignore them and focus on my assignment I was working on, I couldn’t help it. I was eavesdropping a little and peering over my laptop to spy. You couldn’t make up three more different tables than each other.

When I was first seated, a young father and his little son were sitting together on the side facing me, and as the two ate their food, the father would alternate phrases between English and Spanish and I could hear the little boy do the same. I was simply fascinated how smart this little boy was already and how I marveled at how much more prepared he will be for the world than  most of us who only learn another language when it’s forced upon us as a high school transcript must for college. Good for that dad for getting the little fella started so young, I would guess barely even four. I was so impressed.

The next set to take their spot was a young woman – maybe late teens, possibly low 20’s, hard to tell, but definitely young, and an older man who arrived after her. He kissed her on the cheek, and I wondered, hmmm – dad or boyfriend? You can’t assume anything. I’m the first person to understand that firsthand. They ordered similar meals – corn beef on rye with a soup of some kind that sounded extremely bland. And I soon realized, yep, this was dad and daughter. She seemed to want something – was it money, was it a chance to do something or go somewhere? I couldn’t quite pinpoint what but clearly she was intent on getting something – I could see it in her eyes – they were glued to her father as if she were searching for some answer or some glimmer of hope, and her dad (though I could only see the back of his head and not his facial expressions) seemed to let her imploring wash right off his back. She appeared to get more and more frustrated the more disinterested he seemed. Aah yes, the typical Daddy’s Girl dynamic. Fascinating.

Finally, the last pair was a real hoot. (How I got any work done at all while they were there baffles me completely…) The man was quite friendly to the server. Ordered his sandwich and I think a cream soda or something that sounded quite tasty and youthful – I figured the guy was in the mood to feel like a kid today, who knows why.

And then SHE arrived.

His wife was decked out in designer everything from head to toe – and for every inch of his calmness and jovialty she carried with her frenetic intensity and just general MEANNESS. She criticized him for not arriving on time at the Plaza and for not telling her where to meet him. She made fun of something he was wearing. She scolded him for what he told her he ordered. And this was my favorite part – she ordered him to get his meal to go because after all it was her birthday and they just had to get back down to Bradenton if they were going to get there in time for the party, so he’d better get that to-go and did he have any idea how long she waited for him and blah-blah-blah…nag-nag-nag…as I listened to it I thought, ohmigod, do I sound like that with my husband sometimes? I never wanted to be that way again!

The poor guy had to get a box to pack up his food which the server did as he apologetically asked her to change the order and she looked at him as if to say, “sorry, buddy that you’re stuck with her.”  He left following far behind the lady, slouched over, like a bad Woody Allen movie, and I so desperately wanted to tell the guy, “let her go…who needs that…go check out Anybody’s got to be more compatible with you than whatever that was that just stormed into that restaurant…”

So the meal at Toojay’s in International Plaza was certainly tasty. But the tantalizing soap operat fare in front of me was even tastier…

#5 – Weight Watchers PointPlus Program

And finally, I tried something else brand new this month… I officially joined Weight Watchers for its Points Plus program. I will admit point blank: Jennifer Hudson made me do it. That ad campaign has got to be the most convincing argument I needed that it really can work.

She looks unbelievable and I’ve never seen her happier and more confident. I was sold. Where do I sign up?

Years ago, I had been a member and had some luck but I always found that extremes in life like a huge celebration – a wedding or new job – or a terrible crisis – such as a car accident or layoff – would always throw off my success completely and I’d find myself falling off the program and gaining more back than I had lost. I had no idea what to do in those instances. I know now that these are key scenarios that I need to be on alert for, and hopefully by embarking on what is definitely a more realistic and livable way of eating unlike traditional dieting or even the old program, that I’ll be able to find ways to deal with these personal danger zones of mine.

But yes, it’s true: I’m officially counting points but I still plan to enjoy special things I’ve enjoyed in the past, just in a much different way, watching portions, timing and of course where it comes into play with other not-as-healthful choices… for example, that glorious piece of berry cheesecake I indulged in on Valentine’s Day evening was worth every point but I passed on the other snacks or desserts the day or two afterward.

And I’ve never said ‘no’ to a glass of wine yet in a busy month of networking but I have been very careful to watch the fried foods, cheese and salty foods that often beckon to me. If I’m allocating the points for a sweet, sexy glass of Moscato, then the cheddar blocks will have to move along to the next person. Choices, choices, people. (And in that instance, I choose the Moscato,  yes.)

I won’t spend a lot of time telling you about this new program except to say if you’d like to ask me more about the program, what I think about it or how it’s going for me personally, feel free to email me privately at and I’ll be happy to share more. I don’t like to preach, I don’t endorse any programs, so I don’t want this to become a Weight Watchers commercial, but I will say that it’s got a lot of potential and feels like a real common sense way of dealing with a real problem…and I know I’m not alone out there. So if you’ve been thinking about it, too, I”m happy to share more with you privately about how this new program seems to be working so far and answer questions about it from a member’s perspective only – though to really get at the heart of the new program, you should probably visit their website,  Good luck if you do!

Off to March we go… after all, we have five more NEW things to learn, do or try!

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