Waking Up After Hibernation

Interestingly, the blog has been inactive for longer than I had thought (Sept 2014? Really!?). So, I guess we have all kinds of catching up to do!

At the end of 2014, we accepted a transfer to be relocated from the Texas panhandle toward the middle of the state, ending up in Waxahachie (pronounced like “woks” not “wax”) which is about 30’ish miles south of Dallas. We continued our Weight Watchers membership here for that first year, while we were living in an apartment, and we had some mixed results with the changes that they had made to the new plan. Some things we liked, and some we didn’t, and overall we ended the year mostly disappointed.

We moved here primarily so that Jenny could take over for another person in her department that was getting ready to retire, and also to take on a new set of responsibilities so that she could put more of her talents and experience to use so that she wasn’t continuing to be underutilized. When we got here, we found out that the position they had in mind for her wasn’t at all what we were expecting, the situation was really a big mess, and the new challenges that she was looking forward to she never had any time to do, and they wanted her focused on the same old things. Add to that the fact that the oilfield really sucked at the time so they were cutting back on expenses, and this job that was being handled by two people previously they wanted her to take on by herself. To make a long story short, life sucked after this job change. With the oilfield being one of the primary industries in Pampa, it also took us eight months to sell the house, so paying mortgage on that along with the rent in the apartment for a year certainly contributed to the stress levels. After a few months of the new job we decided that my paycheck would suffice and the added stress that she was dealing with at work certainly wasn’t worth the money, so we had her quit.

There’s more to that story, but I’ll let her tell it at a later date if she feels up to it. You can read about her personal feelings about that situation on her other blog, in Cracked, and her subsequent post about how she felt a year later, A Year in Review.

Relocating to Waxahachie itself was a great move for us. It got Jenny back into a larger city, which is where she really thrives, and I’m happy in pretty much any surrounding, so seeing her happy made me happy, and I personally enjoy Waxahachie quite a bit myself so it was good all around. We moved here in January 2015 and stayed in the apartment until December 2015, at which point we bought a house. Moving into the house made things in Waxahachie even better. We both love the house, and its location. But of course, new house meant new monthly payments, and for a couple of months it meant paying for the apartment as well as the house itself. We had put up with doubled living expenses for 8 months with the housing market being so bad in Pampa, so we knew what that part was going to be like, but thankfully we knew before hand that it would only be two months’ worth this time around which was far less stressful. (Jenny reminded me we didn’t have to double-pay during this time, it worked out perfectly).

However, those increased expenses combined with the reduced income of Jenny no longer having a job, meant that we needed to cut back on some expenses, and the first thing to go was Weight Watchers. Since the last couple of years worth of changes to how WW works hadn’t done us a whole lot of good in the weight loss department compared to how things were previously, we didn’t mind getting rid of it. We had learned how to change our lifestyle and our habits, and how to control our eating enough that we were comfortable going it alone at least for a few months until things calmed back down on the monetary front. We closed on the house on December 28, 2015 and moved in two days later.

Then along came 2016. Or as we like to call it, the Year of Thousand Stresses.

There were a lot of great things from 2016, and as a whole I can’t honestly complain about it too much. However, it was a year in which we had constant health scares and/or deaths come up on both sides of the family or friends. The oilfield still sucked, and I was still working for the same company only I was doing so from home rather than in the office. There were a lot of projects for me at work last year with important deadlines, we had gone through several layoffs as well as closing some facilities down completely, and every time things started to calm down at work someone got sick, someone died, someone got injured, or someone got sick/injured and death was a real possibility. As soon as the health scare cleared up, here came a brand new deadline for work. And since we were in a brand new place, that of course meant that we had to make new friends which carries some stress of its own. But as if everything else wasn’t bad enough, every time we started to develop a close relationship with another couple, they moved. We just couldn’t get ahead for nothing. We were loving the house and loving the move, but pretty much everything else sucked.

The result of that, as far as the Chubby Couple is concerned, as that we gained weight. We knew it was happening, but so much energy was going into other things that we just didn’t have the energy to do anything about it, or to really care all that much to begin with. I mean, sure we cared, but we had too many other things to worry about. Things finally started to calm down for us a bit around November 2016. Not everything, but enough that we were finally started to feel like we were back in control again. But, we decided that with the year being as bad as it was so far, we’d put the weight loss goals on hold until the new year. We didn’t want to voluntarily introduce another stress to the mix, we were going to enjoy our holidays and the weeks surrounding them.

So here we are in 2017, ready to get back on track. Things are looking up for the oilfield, we’re still loving our house and being able to have people come over and enjoy it with us, and (insert every positive superstitious thing you can think of) almost everyone’s health has stabilized for the time being. I don’t know for sure how active the blog is going to get this year in regards to our weight loss. We’re going to give it a go this year with MyFitnessPal.com (MFP: Psynister). Weight Watchers is essentially a simplified version of counting your calories with the use a points system rather than the raw numbers, so it’s basically doing the same thing except that our support group is online and each other rather than a room full of people.

No promises on when the next post will be, but there’s a little summary of what’s happened since that last post a long time ago, in a city far, far away.

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Quick Update

It’s an incredibly busy day here in the Texas panhandle, so I’ll keep this one short.

Jenny wasn’t feeling good yesterday, so I went in to the weigh-in alone. This whole week has been ridiculously busy and we’ve ended up eating out for almost every meal as a result. High stress plus eating out generally means terrible results, so I went in expecting the worst. But, I came out with a loss of -1.0 lbs. That’s just fine with me!

Before I left the meeting, our leader gave us a copy of her recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce. I don’t know for sure when we’re going to try it, but if we like it I’ll go ahead and share it here for you. If you’d like to get the recipe regardless, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a copy early.

Roles Reversed

Lately, I’ve felt like nothing was going to stop me gaining more weight. When we go off plan, it’s not uncommon for me to gain three times as much weight as Jason does. I don’t eat three times as much and he doesn’t exercise three times as much. My body is just three times more stupid. I have gained back most of what I lost last year during the recent seven months. I’m not happy about it, especially since I had been so close to getting back to where I had gotten down to during our first big effort four years ago.

I don’t handle stress well.

It’s not that stress makes me want to eat. It’s that stress overloads me. My work has been insanely busy this year. We keep hoping to relocate and our house needs a lot of work before we could possibly hope to sell it. Jason injured his back (bulging disc) halfway through a bathroom remodel in April. By the time I’m done with work, I am so mentally drained that planning is the last thing I am able to focus on. Stress doesn’t make me want to eat. It makes me sloppy.

If you make decisions off the cuff, more often than not, you choose easy, quick, less bother/clean up. We started eating out for most meals again. It was almost like the kitchen remodel that took over our lives two years ago was back to haunt us. Our lives were out of control and so was our weight.

As Jason said last week, we were finishing up the last of our mini-vacations for the summer. We had a fantastic time with family and friends. We also spent a lot of time on the road. This meant snacking, quick lunches at fast food/gas stations and sitting for hours on end. Not generally conducive to weight loss.

But it was weird. I did lose. Jason didn’t.

  • Jenny -2.8 (-30.6)
  • Jason +5 (-64.2)

This isn’t the way this usually happens.

I don’t know if I pulled myself out of vacation mode a little more than he did. Although I didn’t track, I did try to choose relatively healthy options and stopped when I felt satisfied. I tried not to leave too many meals feeling full or overstuffed. (Breakfast with friends – shout out to Alas and At! – being the notable exception.)

We’ll be going out tonight (shopping in Amarillo for a wedding gift) and a wedding reception to attend tomorrow, but we are otherwise back on plan. We did some grocery shopping last night and I’m hoping for some time today to arrange the meals so they’ll work well with our points. I don’t know what the numbers are going to show next week. Maybe they’ll regulate and we’ll get back to our usual results of Jason with a big loss and me with a baby one. Maybe I’ll even have a gain if some of my vacation simply hasn’t caught up to me yet. At this point, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we will be cooking and eating healthy food at home.

I got a new cookbook at our meeting last night with healthy versions of comfort foods. Since we’re starting to be in the time of year that I crave comfort foods, we’re going to be trying quite a few of them. If we find any we love, we’ll be sure to share them here.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted as we get back on our journey.

♫ I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again ♫

So, despite our best intentions, we fell off the weight loss wagon this year, and we fell pretty hard. Not hard as in we gained tons of weight, but in that it’s taken us seven months to get back on track. I haven’t had time to go back to January and see what our weight was to know for sure how much we’ve both gained back during that time, but it’s somewhere in the 15-20 lbs neighborhood for both of us, I believe.

That lack of time has been one of the major factors in our inactivity this year. Work just keeps on getting busier for us both, and by the end of the day all of our energy and cognitive resources are used up, and it’s easy to throw planned meals and smart choices out the window and just eat whatever’s quick and easy. It’s not an excuse, it’s just how it is. We could have been strong, pushed through it, and stuck to the plan. But we didn’t.

But, we’re reaching that point again where we’re not just going back to meetings because we “feel like we need to”, we’re going back because we want to. We’re going back because we want to lose the weight, we want to be inspired by the other people going to the meetings, and we want to inspire them in return. We’re ready for it.

A couple of weeks ago we got back from a business trip to Las Vegas (all of the Cirque du Soliel shows we wanted to see were on vacation or otherwise not showing while we were there *fistshake*), and tomorrow (today, when this post gets published) we’ll be on the road to Denver for about 8 hours. We’ll spend the night with Jenny’s best friend from high school, then we’re back on the road for another 9 hours to Salt Lake City to see her family before one of her brothers heads off for two years to serve a mission. Then we turn around and do it all in reverse on Monday morning.

With that trip, we’ll miss weigh-in tomorrow so we won’t have any results to share with you until the following week, and vacations being vacations who knows what kind of numbers we’ll pull. We’re not stressing about that though, we’ve got plenty of other things filling up the stress category for the time being. This trip is for enjoying time with family.

Overload Mode

Sometimes life happens.

This last week was one of those weeks. Things got out of whack early and there was so much going on that it just stayed that way all week long. We did some grocery shopping with only half a meal plan, Jenny got sick, being short on time and energy meant we went out to eat instead of cooking things at home, and everything just snowballed from there.

In short, we weren’t on plan at all during this last week. We didn’t do Simple Start, Simply Filling, or PointsPlus, we just threw it all out the window and did whatever came to mind when meal times came around.

We were both positive that we were going to have a gain last night, and since the temperature had just dropped yesterday and the snow started and everything we were primed with a great little excuse to not bother showing up to the meeting at all. People were talking about the roads being slick on their way back from lunch, so we had a great little fake reason for not going and we were planning to use it, too.

But as we left work and headed towards the house with every intention of climbing onto the couch with blankets, hot chocolate and puppy snuggles for a night of television, we saw that the roads weren’t slick at all. It was 15 degrees outside so it was definitely cold, but not something we couldn’t deal with. I started getting the urge to go and face it all, and Jenny was mostly with me (puppy snuggles and hot chocolate are her weakness after all). So we made a bit of a compromise and decided that we would go ahead and weigh in, but then skip the meeting itself and head home early.

Jenny: +0.4 lbs
Jason: -0.6 lbs

Once we stepped on the scale, we were both surprised to see that Jenny had only gained 0.4 lbs, and even more shocked that I managed a loss. Happy with the results not being as disastrous as we had imagined they would be, we went ahead and stayed for the whole meeting after all.

Even though we didn’t stick to any kind of plan at all during this week, you can’t help but recognize the influence that Weight Watchers has when you treat it as the lifestyle change that it’s meant to be. Even when we’re not following all the rules, the things we’ve learned still stick with us. When we went out to eat all those times, we weren’t counting points at all. But, we were making decisions of what to eat based on knowledge that we gained from going to those meetings and being familiar with the plan. The foods we ate while we were out certainly weren’t the best for us, but we still made educated choices that helped us out in the long run.

We’ve developed habits from being on Weight Watchers that help us make good(ish) choices, even when we’re being bad. There were only two meals during the week where I would say that we really ate things that we shouldn’t have. I started to share them with you, but I’d rather not toss a temptation out there for anyone that might be struggling while they read this, so we’ll just leave it at that. Overall, I’m more concerned about the amount of money we threw away by eating out for all those meals than I am with what I actually ate.

We’re going to do our best to get everything back on track this week. We don’t have a meal plan put together yet, so we’re going to have to go out to eat again for lunch today, but hopefully I’ll have the time and opportunity today to put a plan together and keep us on track. Jenny’s been doing a fantastic job with the meal planning for the last several months, but she’s getting a little burned out from doing it all so I need to step up and take over for a while. I’ve failed at the meal planning before, but I’m going to do my best to stay on top of it this time.

As always, we’ll be back next week to let you know how it turned out.

I’d Say It Works…

Three weeks ago, the day right after Christmas, Jason and I got right back to work losing weight. As you know, because he’s been writing the last few blog posts, Jason’s been kicking my butt on weekly loss since then. This isn’t to say I haven’t been losing a decent amount of weight. He’s just been losing so much more!

  • Jason -0.8; -86.6 total; -8.2 since Christmas
  • Jenny -2.6; -62 total; -7.8 since Christmas

As you can see, Jason didn’t lose as much this week, but he’s still kicking my butt! In fact, when you average out the last three weeks, Jason has a -2.7 average to my -2.6. And I’m not complaining. Before the holidays, my weekly average had settled in around -1.4. It wasn’t bad. It was consistent and I was working hard to get back to where I had been two years ago.

What’s significant this time around? Simple Start. The first week getting back to healthy eating, a decent loss is kind of expected. For the last two out of three weeks, though, we’ve been doing the new Simple Start introduction to Weight Watchers that Jason has already talked about.

So, I’m going to talk about what happens after your two week Simple Start.

After the two weeks, you basically have a choice to make. You can:

  • Continue with a similar program by doing Simply Filling, which includes more food choices than Simple Start (basically anything that is a Power Food, designated in their literature and apps with a green triangle)
  • You can switch to tracking, which doesn’t limit what kinds of food you eat, but you have to weigh/measure and track everything (which Weight Watchers can teach you about)
  • Get the best of both worlds by doing a combination! This is what we’re going to do, so it’s what I’m going to talk about most.

Back in the day when Jason and I first joined Weight Watchers, they had the Points program (tracking) and something called Core (eat specific foods until satisfied). The trick was, while you could change from one to the other, they wanted you to do so one full week at a time. Not the case anymore. The current versions of these programs are Points Plus and Simply Filling. The awesome part is that you can switch between these day to day during the same week!

Something that Jason and I noticed is that while we did really well five days out of seven, two days each week, we were just so done with the limited food list. I needed real cheese & sugar and we went off plan. Not terrible, but enough that I wonder if we might have done even better than the over 5 lbs we each lost during the two weeks of Simple Start. I need to get back in control. I need to get back to solid meal planning that we can stick with.

So this week? My meal plan is going to include mostly Simply Filling meals, because it really has helped us get off to a great start this year! Instead of getting tired of my meal plan, though, we’re also going to plan at least two days where we’ll switch to tracking, so that we can work in some meals that, while not unhealthy, don’t work as well for Simply Filling, to keep things fresh and interesting. This way, I still get to enjoy the things that Simply Filling doesn’t like, but I get to be in control, instead of feeling like I “broke my diet” by eating forbidden foods.

This is why Weight Watchers works. It gives you the flexibility you need to find a way that is sustainable so that it can become a lifestyle NOT a diet. It’s about finding what works for you over the long haul, not just to get to goal. In my life, I need to eat mainly healthy foods. But life happens and I need to know how to handle it by tracking when needed in order to make the plan work around my life, so I don’t get frustrated and go completely off-plan.

So what do I think about Simple Start? It works! We lost weight! But I am so glad that Weight Watchers isn’t only Simple Start. I’m glad they have a plan I can adjust to fit my life.

Simple Start Results: Week 1

We started the new year off by trying Weight Watchers’ new addition to the plan, called Simple Start. I’ve already talked about it a couple of times before, so I won’t get too much into the plan today, but basically it’s a simplified version of their Simply Filling technique that already exists within the plan and they tried to take as much of the “work” out of it as possible to give you about 40 different quick and easy meals that you can just throw together and eat as much as you need to and go on. They’ve really tried to make a simplified version of Weight Watchers so that even the people who don’t like doing the math required to use Points.

This was our first week of doing Simple Start, but I do need to throw a disclaimer out there that there were two days that we did not follow Simple Start, so basically we were doing Simply Filling instead since Simple Start is a two week program without any interruptions in the plan. But, we did Simply Filling using the tools of Simple Start.

Jenny: -3.0 lbs
Jason: -4.2 lbs

So, I would say that so far Simple Start has been a great success for us!

The only problem we’ve had with it so far is that it completely changed how we pre-plan our meals, which threw us off a bit. The first day that we went back to PointsPlus was because we had to go out of town to get our car repaired and we were there for the whole day and didn’t want to bother with trying to find restaurants that would work, so instead of stressing about that on top of the $2,500 we were spending on the car, we just went back to PointsPlus and rolled with it. The second day that we went off plan though was when we realized that we handled the meal planning wrong when we switched to Simple Start.

We had decided that instead of planning meals we would just buy all the things we needed to make Simple Start recipes and then just make things for each meal that we felt like eating. That was totally the wrong move for us. We cut out the planning mostly because Jenny’s planning method requires her to set portions and weights and all that, which Simple Start doesn’t use because you eat as much of the food as you need to in order to feel satisfied. You’re not counting points, so there’s no reason to weigh and measure your food to know the points values, and if you’re not doing that then tracking is nothing more than saying “I at chicken.”

Our problem wasn’t with the plan at all, it was all in how our process had been set up before, and how we choose to (not) address it when we first made the switch. To solve the problem, this week we’ve changed it up so that we are planning our meals, we’re just leaving out all of the weighing and measuring from the tracking as well. We got the meal plan together, and we did the shopping we needed for it last night, so we’re ready to put it all into motion now. We missed our scheduled breakfast this morning because we slept in and didn’t have time to cook anything, so we fell back to just having fruit at work instead. I’m going to do my best to keep us on track for the rest of the meals, though.

The first week turned out pretty well, so now to see what the second week has in store for us!

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