Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Best Nutrisystem Foods

NutriSystem, Inc.While I haven't been providing a day-by-day meal report as I've done in the past, I did want to report that so far the new batch of Nutrisystem is going well. I've been enjoying my favorite foods such as the Cheese Tortellini and the Cheese and Spinach with Ravioli. I'd say my diet currently consists of 60% Nutrisystem, and 40% "eating out". On the one hand my progress is perhaps not as dramatic as someone who completely quits "regular food", but on the other hand, I'm glad I'm finding a way to incorporate the diet into my "regular life".

I did order some new foods in my last batch of Nutrisystem, so I'll report on those in an upcoming post. But I did want to tell you about an interesting article I read on Nutrisystem's site today. It talked about the most popular foods that its members choose.

According to Nutrisystem, these are the most-purchased foods from among their members, both male and female:

Blueberry Muffin
Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
NutriFrosted Crunch Cereal
Lowfat Granola Cereal
Apple Strudel Scone

Pasta with Beef
Cheese Tortellini
Chicken and Pasta in Cacciatore Sauce
Fudge Graham Bar
Vegetable Beef Soup
Cheese Homestyle Potatoes
Fettucini Alfredo
Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

Lasagna with Meat Sauce
Cheese and Spinach Ravioli with Meat Sauce
Mashed Potatoes with Meatloaf & Tomato Sauce
Rotini with Meatballs & Tomato Sauce
Beef Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy
Flatbread Pizza

Dessert and Snacks
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar
Chocolate Crunch Bar
Chocolate Caramel Dessert Bar
Peanut Butter Cookie
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Fudge Brownie

For the most part, I agree with this list. You might recognize that I've rated most of these meals an 8 to 10 out of 10. This is a great list to reference the next time you're ordering a Nutrisystem package and want some safe choices that are sure to have good taste.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review of EA Sports Tennis with MotionPlus extension for Wii controller

Review of EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis

Overall rating: * * * *

  • Exercise Intensity: 3/5

  • Fun: 5/5

The most true-to-life tennis video game available today, thanks to the MotionPlus,

June 15, 2009

Reviewer: Nutwisystem

A few days ago, Nintendo released the next big improvement for the Wii controller, continuing a long line of improvements starting from the Wii-mote, to the Nunchuk, to the Wii Balance Board. It's the Wii MotionPlus, an attachment to your Wii-mote which allows for much more detailed and accurate motion sensing of your arm and wrist movements as you play games. With games like Wii Sports, you controlled players by moving your arms up, down, left, and right. With this attachment, your movements are captured in much finder detail.

There is a growing list of games that use the Wii MotionPlus, but the first one I was excited in getting was EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis. Here's my review.

I ordered both the MotionPlus and the tennis game from Amazon. Grand Slam Tennis did not come bundled with the MotionPlus, so I bought it separately; I figure when Wii Sports Resort (which will be the "killer application" for the MotionPlus) comes out, it'll be bundled with the MotionPlus, so I'll buy one now, and get a second one when I get that game. (It also comes bundled with Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 which is also available today, but I personally didn't feel like spending money on a golf game just yet, although I regret it because the reviews are phenomenal).

As usual, the game came from Amazon packaged snugly.

The contents looked in great shape.

I opened the Wii MotionPlus first. It had an instruction manual, and an extra Wii-mote sleeve, embedded in which was the MotionPlus unit, a small, solid plastic part.

Installation could not have been easier. Just slip your current Wii-mote out of its current sleeve, and slip it into the new sleeve. Connect the connectors and snap it into place.

Make sure you moved the wrist strap through the hole designed for it. Then, switch the "lock" button to "locked".

Voila! You now have a much improved Wii-mote with better and more accurate motion detection.

Next step was trying the tennis game. I opened the box and put the disc into the Wii, and proceeded to set up an exhibition game between Roger Federer and Pat Cash.

The first impressive thing I noticed is that EA got the licensing agreements for all of the Grand Slam events. The graphics are amazingly precise, from the clay courts of France, to the grass courts of Wimbledon, and the hard courts of Queens and Australia.
Federer got swept in straight sets. So obviously something was very wrong. It happens that Pat Cash is the on-screen commentator, so he seemed very happy with the turn of events.
The Wii-mote with MotionPlus takes some getting used to. With Wii Sports Tennis, you become used to just flicking your wrists and hitting balls perfectly within the lines. If you bring that same expectation to Grand Slam Tennis, you're in for disappointment. However, the more practice you get using MotionPlus, the more you realize how amazingly more advanced it is than Wii Sports. Using your arms and your wrists, you can finesse where balls go, add spin, and do other things that simulate the real game. I can't say it's exactly the same as real tennis, but it's closer than any game before it.
Learning to use MotionPlus is really a matter of trial and error. The most important tip I can share is to visualize the left side of your Wii-mote as the front of your racquet. When you hit the ball, there's a temptation to wind up and jerk the ball, but I've found that sometimes the Wii sensor doesn't pick that up. But if you start your swing early and use clean, fluid motions (making sure your hand is always in line of sight to the sensor), you'll do well. Make use of the A and B buttons to do lobs and drop shots.

For maximum control, you can also attach the Nunchuk to control the player's running. Without the Nunchuk, the system will run for you, which doesn't work all the time.

I suppose the main drawback which might bother some people (although it doesn't really bother me) is the cartoonish appearance of the characters. But aside from that, everything from the sound effects of the ball on different surfaces to the play-by-play announcing to the tournament play is right on target.

The video you see here was the third game I attempted on Grand Slam Tennis. I decided to be Roger Federer, and played against John McEnroe (this is the first video game where he agreed to be a part of it, and you'll be happy to know it's classic 1980's Mac, complete with tantrums and racquet throwing). You can see in the first game, I still had some challenges figuring the MotionPlus out, but after a while it became quite competitive. I actually enjoyed watching the video just as much as playing the game. Sit back and enjoy!

You'll also notice that there's a chart you can pull up after the game that shows the amount of calories you burned. So while it won't replace any of the other exercise games here, it's a nice diversion when you feel like having a ton of fun and burning off a few calories.

In short, If you get past the cartoony characters, this provides the most true-to-life tennis video game available today, thanks to the Wii MotionPlus controller.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Update - Finishing off the first Nutrisystem package and ordering a new one

You may notice I haven't posted here for a while. It's been a busy couple weeks with a lot going on. I've also been running out of the Nutrisystem food, meaning that I've been mixing in my own food with the Nutrisystem.

Rather than a day-by-day recounting of the last few weeks, here's a week-by-week account with highlights:

Week of 5/17 (day 38 to 44)
  • Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (breakfast, shelf-stable) - 7/10. Standard flavored oatmeal fare.

  • Turkey and Egg Breakfast Sandwich (breakfast, frozen) - 10/10. Amazingly delicious sandwich with whole wheat break, turkey which looked and tested fresh and not processed, fried egg, and pineapple.

  • Steak and Cheese (lunch, frozen) - 10/10. Tender, chewy meat and dripping cheese.

  • Chocolate Fudge Bar (dessert, frozen) - 10/10. Tastes exactly like a good old fashioned fudgesicle.

  • Glazed Chicken Tenders (dinner, frozen) - 9/10. Tender chicken in a subtle Asian-style ginger sauce with fresh green beans and almonds and brown and wild rice.

Week of 5/24 (day 45 to 51)

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (lunch, shelf-stable) - 6/10.

  • Vegetarian Chili (dinner, shelf-stable) - 6/10.

  • Blueberry Parfait (dessert, frozen) - 9/10. Haven't hit a frozen dessert I haven't loved yet. This is no exception. I normally don't like blueberry snacks, but this was a great combination of fresh blueberries, fluffy angel food cake, and frozen yogurt. Yum.

  • French Toast (breakfast, frozen) - 6/10. I expected a bit more from this. The texture was fine, but the taste was a bit lacking, surprising for a frozen entree. It was very cinnamony, but had a slightly odd aftertaste.

  • Chocolate Chip Scones (breakfast, shelf-stable) - 6/10.

  • Fettucine Alfredo (lunch, shelf-stable) - 6/10.

  • Black Beans and Rice (lunch, shelf-stable) - 7/10.

  • Split Pea Soup (lunch, shelf-stable) - 8/10. This was a bit of a shocker. The concept of pureed peas normally doesn't sit well with me, but somehow they made this taste great. It had a great rich taste, helped out by a hint of bacon. Probably helped out a bit by low expectations too, but I enjoyed it.

  • Sourdough Pizza (dinner, shelf-stable) - 7/10.

  • Chocolate Raspberry Bar (dessert, shelf-stable) - 8/10.

  • Milk Chocolate Delight Bar (dessert, shelf-stable) - 7/10. All the Nutrisystem chocolate bars seem a little "off", but in this one, the texture makes up for it. It's got the consistency of a giant Tootsie Roll.

  • Blueberry Lemon Bar (dessert, shelf-stable) - 7/10.

Week of 5/31 and 6/6 (day 52 to 61)

For these weeks, I went on a little vacation to the Pacific Northwest. As all my vacations tend to be, I did partake of the culinary delights of the area, including some very delightful mini donuts, crumpets, fresh cheese and grilled salmon in Pike's Place Market.

Add to that good conference food, and huge room service portions, and one might have thought I would have put on 10 pounds, but one nice thing about Nutrisystem is that it's taught me portion control and to balance exercise with food. I ate in moderation, and I also made a point to get out there and do some physical activity (in my case, I decided to hike up Mount Si just outside of Seattle). Over the whole two weeks, I ended up putting on only 1.1 pounds.

Like I said, by now my original Nutrisystem order was close to finished, so I placed a new order. For the next month, I'll be sticking with 100% shelf-stable products, and for the following month, I'll be going with 100% frozen.

While I was on vacation, I placed an order for this coming month. The easiest thing to do would have been to order the pre-selected "Favorites" package, but since I like some foods better than others I opted for the "A La Carte" menu, which is the same price but lets you choose a completely custom menu.

The ordering process on their Web site was not bad at all. You choose the "Men's Custom" (or Women's Custom) option, and then you're presented with a long list of all the foods they have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snack. For each, you just enter the quantity of each food that you want, up to 28 servings. As you select, your choices appear on the right side of the screen.

I gotta say it's a lot of fun planning out your meals like this. And you can skip around to each meal type any time. If you get stuck, someone is available to help via live chat.

I finally finished my order and submitted it. The day after I returned home from vacation, the big box was at my door. I appreciated how it was discreet, no big logos emblazoned all over the box.

Opening the box revealed a treasure trove of food, along with a free kit which includes the meal planner book, a pocket-sized "on the go meal planner" (perfect for bringing to the grocery store to select supplemental fruits and vegetables), a resource guide which talks about exercise and weight loss, and a 30-minute exercise DVD.

The first thing I had to do, of course, was pop open a bag of nacho crisps. Boy, did I miss those.

Follow along as I continue the next month!