Lean Gourmet vs Smart Ones

lean gourmet smart ones

I have been eating Weight Watchers Smart Ones frozen dinners for lunch and dinner everyday since January 3rd or 4th 2013 and have lost a lot of weight.  The reason we started eating the Smart Ones is because we saw them at Food Maxx for only $1.88 and one of the packages had a coupon for $3 off 10, so we couldn’t resist considering they are around $5 at Albertson’s.

Diet food to me is a state of mind.  If you are eating food that you know isn’t good for you like say fried chicken, then you know you are eating crap and you end up making other bad choices because you don’t really care what you eat.  If you are buying a product that you know is a diet product, like Weight Watchers or Lean Cuisine, then you know you are eating healthy so you end up making better choices with other foods you eat.  I mean, that is just how I feel, you may not think the same way that I do.

It was that first batch of Weight Watchers Smart Ones that lead me to downloading Noom on my android phone which has helped me to lose more than 66lbs since January.  I have wanted to buy the Smart Ones, but I never could afford Albertson’s prices.  The decision to start using Noom also lead me to start eating fruits and vegetables, so it was literally a domino effect for me.  And like I said in the previous paragraph, it’s a state of mind.  I knew I was eating healthier, which lead me to eating more healthy foods and here we are.

So now it is mid June 2013 and I have to start making some choices.  The Smart Ones are going up in price.  Most of them went up to $1.98 and the rest have shot up even higher in price.  There are literally only 3 or 4 flavors that I actually like that are still $1.98, so my choices are now very limited.  When you only have 3 or 4 different choices, you become bored with your diet and end up branching out to eating well, crap.  So before I get to that point, I need to make a new plan of action.

We went to buy more Smart Ones the other day, but my partner found that right next to the Smart Ones were the Michelina’s Lean Gourmet for only .97 cents.  Holy crap!  That is cheap!  So, rather than buy 20 of the Smart Ones, we only bought 10 and 10 Lean Gourmet.

smart ones nutritional facts The Weight Watchers Smart Ones nutrition label shows you exactly how many calories you are eating.  I didn’t buy the same flavor in the Lean Gourmet that I also bought in the Smart Ones because I wanted all new flavors, so I couldn’t exactly compare the same meal.

This Smart Ones is the Lasagna Bake with Meat Sauce, which by the way is very good.  There are many things you want to look for when you read the nutritional facts when you are buying food.  The 3 most important things are calories, fat and sodium.  Although the sodium is pretty high in this particular meal, it does show up as green in the Noom app.  The fat content is fairly low and it doesn’t have any trans fats.  I didn’t take a picture of the ingredients, but the Smart Ones use wheat pasta.

lean gourmet nutritional facts

This particular Lean Gourmet is Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli and Chicken.  I have had the Smart Ones version plenty of times over the months, and I have to say that this one from Lean Gourmet is way too salty.  I don’t know how much sodium is in the Smart Ones version, but this one is really high at 680.  It’s only 270 calories and the fat is pretty low, but the salt is (I’m assuming) what makes it yellow in Noom instead of Green.  I would assume that the regular Michelina’s meals are probably red.

The chicken in the Lean Gourmet has a different taste than the Smart Ones, they are also smaller than Smart Ones.  The Lean Gourmet chicken tastes like the chicken in Chicken Soup, very salty, the Smart Ones chicken tastes like actual chicken and isn’t too salty.

I have been eating the Lean Gourmet for lunch every day and the Smart Ones for dinner.  My partner doesn’t want to buy the Smart Ones anymore if these are a dollar cheaper, but I would personally rather have the Smart Ones because they just taste better.  The Lean Gourmet ones are an excellent price and around the same calories as the Smart Ones, but they are way too salty.  I would rather keep buying Smart Ones and pay that extra dollar even if it means I only have 3 or 4 choices.  But honestly, they only went up maybe .10 or .20 cents or more, so it’s not that much more expensive.  I have lots of choices, it just raises my grocery bill.

In my personal opinion, the Weight Watchers Smart Ones are the better deal because your sodium is lower and the taste is 10 times better and you are actually getting 1oz more food.  Quality wins over quantity.

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My book is almost ready to publish, only one tiny issue left…

My book files came back to me a couple of days ago (two beta readers as I like to call them) with highlights of things for me to fix.  I have read my book at least 30 times and I was just getting so sick of reading it and they wanted to read it so I figured they could read it early, but I’d love to have bug reports.

So I went through the highlights which weren’t all that major.  I missed a few capitalizations and punctuation issues.  There were also a few words where I forgot to add a letter, like instead of writing the word “from” I wrote “for”, don’t ask why lol.

As I was getting the paper book put together with all of my corrections made, I noticed a little issue which turned out to be a major issue.  There were grey boxes where spaces were supposed to go.  It wasn’t everywhere, but it was annoying that there were so many.  I was able to delete them as I went, but that didn’t help because it was still messed up.

The paper book got put together and turned in to check for errors, which I’m happy to report weren’t any.  I converted the .odt file to epub and was going to publish to Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook.  It looked great on the Nook, but the Kindle wasn’t doing so good.  Here is what I was seeing…

You see the top paragraph?  It’s not exactly a paragraph is it?  That was what happened because of the square boxes.  Also look at the other paragraphs, they weren’t indented, except for the last one.  I went into Sigil to look at the html code of the chapters and this is what I saw.

That is supposed to be a little paragraph.  Those <.span.> things were out of control.  That is what was causing the text to move down.  So the only way for this to work is to cut all that crap out.  I tried to do find and replace, but unfortunately each one of those lines has its own number so it’s not like I can replace all of them throughout the entire document, they have to be deleted one at a time.  ANNOYING!

I worked for 8 hours to get rid of them and then discovered that if I converted the file to .html, it got rid of all that.  So that was a waste of time, but it was a learning experience.

I fixed all of the capitalization and punctuation issues, but I have a feeling I am still missing something so I’m going to have to read the whole thing again.  It sucks but I don’t want to publish a book that isn’t right.

I said I would get it published by January 1st and here we are nearing February and it still isn’t ready to publish.  I don’t know how long it will take but I will get it out there eventually.

My Leg 3 Days Later

Not that anyone requested an update or anything but I’d just like to update that things are going good.

I haven’t had to use both crutches though because I have pretty much learned to walk without them as long as I walk on my toes on my left foot.  If I walk on my toes on both feet then I can walk normal but both legs bent at the knee.  It looks funny but what else can I do eh?

It still hurts like hell though.  I can straighten my left leg when I lay down but not when I walk, especially when I walk because the pain comes.  If I’m laying down and I make my foot move with toes towards me then there is pain.

I really don’t need any pain meds because there is only pain when I do what I said in the previous paragraph.  I don’t have general pain THANK GOODNESS!  I have taken the muscle relaxers at night when it says to.  I don’t know how long that will take to fix the problem if at all but I have 20 pills.

I’m still on ice and I switch to heat tomorrow.  The doctor said ice for 15-20 minutes several times per day for 3-4 days then switch to heat.  The ice isn’t so bad.  I have a thing that you put an ice pack in then wrap it around you leg that I’ve had for a couple of years.  You can freeze the ice pack for cold or heat it up for hot but I’d rather use an electric heating pad instead because it gives constant heat.  The heating pad I have is the same type that you wrap around the leg.

I walked the dog today with one crutch instead of being on my tip toes in public lol.  Walking around that way takes a lot longer but I only walked her in the front of the house.  But, for regular dog walking duties, I’d rather Darrin handle that and give me a break since I’ve done it every day since we got her.

I can do dishes as long as I keep my leg bent which I do anyway when I stand there doing dishes.  Although I usually switch bent legs but this time I can’t.  I have to keep all the stress on my right leg.  But as long as I do one sink load (we have a 1 sided sink, it doesn’t have 2 sides so I have to use a big bowl) then I can fill it up with more dishes and let them soak while I rest my right leg so I can do more.

So I guess that’s my update for now.  No pain unless I purposely cause it by moving my foot or walk directly on the leg.  And I can still do light chores lol.  yay…

Can’t you see how enthusiastic I was by not making yay in caps?  LOL

Writing My Book Isn’t Easy

I’ve mentioned in here before that I’m writing a book based on my childhood. It’s about the abuse that I took from being beaten with a fire log to being punched in the face at age 13. Also being homeless at 15 and 17.

Edit: It’s not just a few abuse stories but the abuse I took throughout my childhood.

Thinking about these 6 kids who committed suicide has really gotten me to think differently about my book because I too tried to commit suicide, not just because of the school bullies but also because of my parents who bullied me more than the kids at school.

I don’t want to compare what happened to me to what happened to them because I really don’t know what happened to them. Everyone’s story is like a finger print or a snow flake, no two are alike.

The problem that I’m facing though is, I’m not a writer. Yes I write blog posts from time to time but this is different.

I sent my life partner a chapter to read and after only reading 1 paragraph he told me that my sentence structure needs work. I reminded him that I am not a writer and I don’t know what the hell I’m doing lol. Then he said it was too long, I need to shorten some of the stories. It’s a book! I can’t shorten the stories because the only way to understand what happened is to read the long ass stories.

A friend of mine offered to edit it because she loves to read. She didn’t say anything about what was wrong with the chapter, in fact she just said it was good. She doesn’t edit books for a living but I trust her judgement because she loves to read.

I can’t afford to pay someone to edit my book, I can’t even pay a ghost writer to write it for me, all I can do is write and edit it the way I have been and hope that it is readable.

I’m not writing it to make big bucks, I’m writing it to get it all off my chest. I have family members who were cut out of my life until I was 27 years old when I finally met them who would like to know what happened during my childhood that they were not allowed to witness.

It will take some time for me to write because I really have to be in the mood and I haven’t been feeling much in the mood lately. Thinking about those kids who killed themselves has really put things in perspective for me and I start to think, do I really need to write this book? Was my life that bad? I mean, there are people who got it worse than I did, some so bad they actually killed themselves.

My abuse stories weren’t even that bad, I mean being punched in the face is nothing compared to one guy who said that he was cinderella, forced to do all the housework, beaten and left to starve in a dungeon like basement. I was treated like a prince compared to that guy.

Well, as I said, I’m not writing it to make money, more to give my friends and family to read. It will probably be offered for $1 on Barnes and Noble once I finish it. I have to set a price and as far as I know Pubit doesn’t let you give your book away.

Ok, I’m done venting lol.

eBook Conversion and Creation Made Simple

I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to fix the James Potter fan books for my Nook. The James Potter Series of fan books by Norman Lippert based on the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter series are only downloadable in PDF format from the website.

So what needs fixed? If I try to read a PDF file on my Nook, it turns whatever page that has an image into an image itself making it unreadable.

How can I fix this that will be less work for me? That has been the question on my mind for days and I finally figured it out tonight.

First I used Calibre to convert the PDF file to ePub file for Nook. Then I went into Sigil, I opened the ePub file that Calibre created.

Here is the tricky part that I didn’t understand at first. What I had to do was find the Prologue page, highlight the word Prologue then made it Header 2 and same with all the chapters. That will help the e-book reader find where the chapters are to create a table of contents.

The first letter of the first paragraph of the Prologue page and every chapter thereafter is missing. Why? Because in the PDF file that letter is bigger than all the rest so when Calibre converted the PDF file to ePub it lost those letters.  I had to figure out what the letter was then type it in.

Page numbers are all over the entire document which means I had to click Edit then Find and type in the first number (1) and find it then I could either replace it with nothing or when it found the number I could click it and delete it manually. Then 2, then 3, etc. Sometimes the number would be mixed in a paragraph and the rest of the paragraph was down on the next line so I had to bring it up.

Yes, it’s a huge pain in my rear but I really want to read these books.

There are a lot of .xhtml files so what I’ve done is when there is a new chapter I click the Sigil logo which is the create chapter button which basically creates a new .xhtml page. The previous page that I had just edited all the numbers out of is now its own chapter in its own file so I renamed that file to Prologue.xhtml. This makes it easier for me to go back to each chapter if I need to edit them further.

This is a painstaking process and it has taken me a couple of hours just to do 10 chapters and I have several more chapters to do tomorrow but I am willing to put in the work to get this done because I really want to read these books. It’s just too bad that the author of these great fan based novels didn’t think to create a file for every persons needs for e-book readers. .ePub is the most common e-book file there is, much easier than a PDF file. I mean seriously, who wants to stare into their LCD screen for hours reading an e-book?

I seriously hope that these books are worth the effort I’m putting into them.

Another thing about editing an e-book is that I didn’t know how to create a chapter that didn’t start with the word “Chapter”, I thought it HAD to have the word Chapter but apparently it doesn’t because these chapters don’t. Also the Prologue page isn’t called Chapter and now it shows up in the table of contents in the Nook for PC program.

So, I have a ton of work ahead of me tomorrow to get the rest of the first James Potter novel converted to .ePub so that I can read it.

This also helps me with my own e-book that I am writing. I wasn’t sure how to create the chapters and now that I have this new information I can do it without any issue and actually I think I might just write the darn thing in Sigil instead of using MS Word. I think it will make it so much easier to write.

I can also now write my Cookbook with diabetic recipes from the SparkPeople website that I can store in my Nook so when I need to find a recipe I can find it easily. What will make it easier is being able to make a chapter named “Entrée’s”, “Sandwiches”, “Salads” etc. instead of Chapter 1…

Thanks Sigil for making my life so much easier.

My First Nook Book Completed – Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Well I finally did it. I finished reading my very first Nook book which was Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. It’s the first Sookie Stackhouse novel that True Blood is based upon.

The first e-book I ever read was on my computer last month but this is the first e-book that I’ve read on my new Nook. It was certainly an interesting experience.

It took me 4 days which is the usual for me if I read 2 or more chapters per day. The first day I read 2 chapters, the 2nd day 2 chapters, yesterday 2 chapters then today, the 4th day I read the final 5 chapters.

I did get many chances to look up the definitions of many words which thrilled me to no end because I just can’t stand reading a book and not knowing what the meaning of a certain word is. I start feeling stupid because I don’t understand. I dismiss it without even trying to find out then I’m lost.

What’s even funnier is that while I was reading this entire book, I was reading it with a southern accent in my head with the characters voices/accents. And each character had a different accent so I had to keep switching voices and accents. Sometimes I had to cheat and look at who was talking before reading the paragraph so I could make sure that I wasn’t using Sookies voice for Arlene or Eric’s voice for Bill etc. But it didn’t end there because when I would talk to people either on the phone or even talking to Darrin or the dog I would still have a little trace of that southern accent.

What was cool about this book was that while I was reading it I already knew what was going to happen before it happened because I’ve seen the show and I remembered it. Unfortunately, some of the things changed.

SPOILER ALERT!!!

Like for example, Tara Thornton and her mother were not in the book, Miss Jeanette wasn’t in there and she didn’t die at the end in Andy’s car and Bill never turned Jessica and he never went on trial, instead he got some kind of vampire promotion in the vampire world that he lives in. Also, there was another vampire named Bubba who was never in the show and he was there when Sookie was getting beat up by Rene who didn’t even die at the end of the book.

My friend Alyce told me that this book was not like the shows and I thought that she was saying that it wasn’t like the shows meaning it had nothing to do with Bon Temps and Bill and Sookie etc. But what she meant was that it read for Sookies point of view the entire time and so you never read anything that happened to anyone in this book that was not around Sookie.

In other words, you are reading from her viewpoint and no one else. Since she can’t see what’s happening to other people, neither can we (as the reader).

I definitely enjoyed it even though it was very different from the show in that respect. I feel like I got a taste of an alternate True Blood. Which by the way, they never mentioned the words “True Blood”. They always said “synthetic blood” and Bill apparently hated it, he preferred to drink Sookie instead.

I loved this book and can’t wait for the next one. I plan on buying each book once every month until June and by then I will be on the 10th book. I don’t want to read all of the books at once, I have many other books that I want to read of different stories so I have to give those books a chance too.

Los Angeles Times for Nook

One of the reasons I wanted to buy the Nook is so that I could get Darrin a subscription to the Los Angeles times. A monthly subscription is only $10 but he buys it every day despite him having a subscription to the Bakersfield Californian. He reads BOTH! If he got the Nook subscription he would save $20 per month because they cost $1 per day and $2 on Sundays.

I was looking at the customer reviews on the Barnes and Noble website for the Los Angeles Times for Nook and because customers had given them such a bad review I decided that I wouldn’t get it.

Although, now that I have my Nook I still wanted to see what it would look like so I bought todays paper for .75¢.

You know it’s not that bad. The customer reviews said that they don’t have chapters but they do. The chapters are the different sections of the newspaper like Calendar, Sports etc.

The front page shows what I assume to be the main article that you see on the front of the actual newspaper, the headliner. It’s not the entire article, it’s a picture then a title and the first paragraph from the article. If you want to read it you can push the little button on the touchscreen for opening a book, although in this case it’s opening an article or you just push the buttons on the side to turn the page for more articles which have the same deal. You aren’t forced to read any article you don’t want, just turn the page until you find the one you want to read then click it to read.

I read a few articles already and it actually reads very well. I’m glad that I was persistent enough to actually buy an article before giving up on the whole idea.

Although, Darrin still doesn’t want it. He much prefers to read the actual paper. But that’s good for the Los Angeles times because they are still making money off him with the $8 a week he spends on the paper.

And they say print is dead, HA it’s alive and kicking in this household.