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.

Falling Off… and Getting Back On

We’ve talked before about the hiatus that lasted longer than it should have, but I don’t think I’d ever shared the numbers on how devastating that setback really had been for our weightloss. Part of moving forward is acknowledging the mistakes of the past and learning from them.

It all started with taking a holiday hiatus at the end of 2011. We had been so good and on track the previous holiday season, we just wanted to have fun and enjoy all the things we love about the holiday, especially my in-laws baking. It didn’t help that the plan had just changed on us (Points Plus) and we were uncomfortable with the larger number of daily points and new way of calculating that we couldn’t just do in our heads. Frankly, we were overwhelmed by the new system and taking a “holiday hiatus” was an easy out.

After the holidays, we tried to get back on track a few times. But then there was my birthday… an anniversary… a vacation… and a mouse invasion that left us without a functional kitchen for the rest of 2012. Behind all of this, there was the underlying lack of confidence in the new system. We hadn’t learned how to adapt it for what works best for us, and every time we tried to go back, it just didn’t click and we would get angry or frustrated and fall right back off.

2013 didn’t start much better. We didn’t really commit to getting back on plan. We kept trying for a week or two, get frustrated or distracted or busy and let it go. At the end of May, without really discussing it, I told Jason we were getting back on plan whether we were ready or not. I needed to get control of my life physically, mentally and spiritually and that meant deciding to bite the bullet and start doing all of the things I knew I needed to do anyway.

You see, I had a hard time coping with the shame and depression that resulted from the weight I had gained back in the course of that year and a half full of debacles and excuses. I was angry. I hated my body and didn’t want to put forth the effort if it was going to continually sabotage me. One of the effects of having PCOS is that it is incredibly easy to gain weight. When Jason and I first went on our hiatus in 2011, I had already lost 64.8 pounds and Jason had lost 51. We had been doing incredibly well and thought we would be fine taking a small break. After all, we had lost over 115 pounds together in our first year. Here’s the rub though. Because my body processes and stores extra food differently than most other people, I gained back three pounds for every one that Jason did, even though I ate better than he did during that same time. In a year and a half, he gained back 16.4pounds and I gained back a whopping 46.4. Yes, in a year and half, I had gained back 2/3 of what I had worked so hard to lose.

You’d be angry too, right?

It took me a while to stop being angry and to turn that emotional energy into determination. And that’s when I got serious. You see, I had to realize on my own, not by reading about it elsewhere, that my PCOS means I have to be in complete control over how much and what my body gets all the time. This isn’t something I can do casually, because even the littlest break will undermine everything I’ve done.

I’ve been in that place and I don’t want to be there again.

While I share this because I truly believe that being honest with yourself and others is the key to success, the main reason I share it is because I am so incredibly proud of Jason and what he has done over the last six weeks. While I am still re-losing the weight I had gained, he isn’t. In fact, he’s already eight pounds lighter than his lowest weight in 2011. We had previously been sharing only the totals since we got back on track six weeks ago, in large part because I was ashamed about what I had regained. Now we’re getting back to sharing our grand totals. You know why? Because they are actually pretty grand.

  • Jason: -2 (16.4 in last 6 weeks; 59 total)
  • Jenny: -3 (13.4 in last 6 weeks; 33.8 total)
  • Combined 92.8 lost

Like I said, I’m incredibly proud. Well done, love.

Summertime… and the Losing is Easy

Summertime can be tough. What with holidays, cookouts, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries and a plethora of other social activities there are a lot of potential excuses to not stick to your plan even if you’ve already made one. And if you haven’t made a plan? Oh, let’s not even go there.

I can definitely tell that our pre-planning and pre-tracking is helping us stay focused on our goals.  There have been plenty of temptations during the last week to go off plan for a day or two. We normally have our weigh-in on Thursdays, so with the recent holiday, our meeting was of course cancelled. That weekly check-in really helps us stay on track and motivated. I always do better when I know that I’m going the right direction and especially if I know it shows on the scale.

Several days ahead of the holiday, I started making our plan. We had a flag raising ceremony and breakfast at the church on the morning of the 4th that we needed to decide if we were going to. We checked with Jason’s family, to see if they had anything planned. They didn’t at the time (but do have a history of last-minute plans) and my family was away on vacation, so we let them know we were going to do our own thing. We figured we could afford one social meal that day, but not two, and opted for the breakfast since we knew for sure it was happening and could have a general idea what would be served so that we could plan.

The rest of the day, we had our own version of a cookout. When we grill, we eat pretty light on points because we love grilled veggies and fruit. This was a very good thing since I spent about 1/3 of my points on breakfast, which is a higher than normal percentage. For lunch, we had BBQ pork chops, grilled pineapple and grilled broccoli. For dinner, we had grilled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing), grilled corn on the cob and I squeezed in enough points for a serving of potato salad. I think we did pretty well staying with the feel of the holiday without all the overindulgence it usually leads to.

There was one thing that was missing from my holiday and when I was back at work the next day and saw a recipe online, my summer s’more craving hit HARD. I don’t know what it is about the summer, but even though we don’t go camping, I crave s’mores. A lot. For one thing, I adore chocolate and I feel like you can never go wrong with marshmallows. So, I went digging for a s’more recipe I could fit into my plan. A lot of them were higher points than I wanted to spend or didn’t sound especially appealing. A normal s’more, with one marshmallow, one graham cracker broken in two and three small sections of the chocolate bar is 6pp. Yummy, yes. Worth it? Maybe not.

Finally we found one we wanted to try: S’more Cups (originally a Pampered Chef recipe, but shared on the Weight Watchers community recipe board) for 3pp each.

2013-07-08 08.47.01

Ingredients

7 oz graham cracker(s), finely crushed
1/4 cup(s) powdered sugar
6 Tbsp regular butter, melted
12 item(s) marshmallow(s)
4 bar Hersheys Milk Chocolate, divided into bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs with rolling pin or other utensil.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in Small Bowl.
  4. Using a Small Scoop, place scant scoop of crumb mixture in each cup of Mini-Muffin Pan. Press crumbs to form shallow cups.
  5. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.
  6. Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove mini-muffin pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.
  7. Cut marshmallows in half crosswise. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each graham cracker cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just slightly softened.
  8. Remove from oven to Cooling Rack; cool 15 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.
  10. Break remaining candy bars and place in microwave safe bowl.
  11. Microwave on HIGH 1-1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate.
  12. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 minutes-1 hour or until set. Yield: 24 servings

The only thing we might do differently next time is to use the pre-broken crumbs you can get in the bakery aisle. Since the recipe calls for ounces instead of a number of crackers it should be easy to swap.

Oh, and next time, we’re also making a half batch. These are too good to keep 24 sitting around the house, so we had to bring them into work to share with co-workers today.

So far, my summer looks slim-tastic. How is yours?

It Still Works

Funny thing about Weight Watchers, when you only kind of do it, it only kind of works.

But when you really do the whole shebang? It works! We’ve been incredibly dedicated over the last three weeks. I haven’t even had queso once during this whole time. And anyone who knows me, knows this is a big deal. Can I have queso? You bet. As long as I plan for it and really watch my portions. It just hasn’t been a priority. I’m all about cooking at home for most meals, working in all the power foods and healthy guidelines so that I’m satisfied longer. There are a lot more dishes, but we’re spending a lot less money and I don’t have to worry about the temptation of the queso bowl.

This leads me to another topic that was discussed last week and touched on this week: Simply Filling. When Jason and I were eating out all the time, this wasn’t really something we felt like we could follow very well, mainly because we didn’t have the details of how everything was prepared/cooked. In our own home and kitchen I think it would be more doable. Simply Filling is an alternate method that WW supports. As long as you only eat Power Foods (indicated by a green pyramid in their literature) you don’t have to track points values, in fact you don’t even have a daily point target. You eat any portion of power food until you’re satisfied (most people sigh and lean back in their chair when they reach this point, even if their brain hasn’t caught up – learn your own indicator) so the only thing you track are any non-power food items you might eat. These points then come out of your weekly 49. This is a lot like the old Core program. The nice thing about it, is that they’ve made it more flexible. You used to have to do Core for at least a whole week at a time. With the new program, you can switch methods day to day.

With how much we’ve been working power foods into our menus, I don’t think it will be long before we can try a few days of Simply Filling. I think it would be great to do Simply Filling during the week and then switch to Tracking over the weekend or when we know we’re going to have an event that isn’t power food friendly. (No, queso is not a power food, in case you were wondering. le sigh) We’ll let you all know how it goes when we give it a try.

In the meantime, we’re tracking like all-stars! I’m pre-planning/tracking everything 3-4 days at a time, sending the meal plan to Jason so he can plug it in too, and any time something changes, it gets updated on my tracker before it even goes in my mouth. In other words, we’re working the plan and it’s working for us.

Last week, we were expecting the minimal loss/possible gain shoe to drop since we’d had such big losses the first week back. We did lose a little less this week, but were both pleased that everything is still going in the right direction.

  • Jason: -0.8 (-8.4 in three weeks!)
  • Jenny: -1.6 (-8.4 in three weeks!)

In fact, as you can see we’re now tied for our three-week weightloss! Eight and a half pounds down for each of us in three weeks in none too shabby.

The Best Laid Plans…

… don’t always have to fail.

Jason and I have been really good about making and sticking to our meal plans, even when it came to figuring out what we would eat over this last busy weekend. I had my annual mother-daughter shopping day for my mom’s birthday and Jason had a funeral he needed to attend (and subsequent luncheon). And we totally rocked Saturday.

Then Jason called me while I was enjoying my chocolate covered strawberries that I had already tracked.

He and his brothers decided to plan a barbeque at their parent’s house for Father’s Day during lunchtime. Ribs. Brisket. Potato salad. None of this was in the plan. None of this even could be in the plan for me. There was just no way I could eat ribs and brisket and be able to eat anything else the rest of the day without going over my daily points and blowing past my weeklies. At first I was pretty upset. How could Jason agree to this kind of menu when he knew we had to stay on plan? Then I remembered that he has quite a few more daily points than I do (being younger & a man) so ribs and brisket weren’t out of the question for him.

I realized that it was up to me to find a way to make it work for me.

That’s when I tackled making my plan work with the new wrench that had been thrown in it. I moved my lower point meal to be for dinner (super low because it’s only lean protein, fruit & veggies), told Jason that we needed to bring the chicken we had planned for pasta to throw on the grill instead. We also took stock of the fruit we had in the house and decided to throw together a fruit salad (plain fruit, no sauce or cream) so that I could have a 0 point side.

I had a plan again and the panic was gone.

It ended up being perfect. I was able to enjoy the meal with family and keep control of my meal and food. I had one large boneless skinless chicken breast, just enough BBQ sauce to marinade & baste while cooking, 1/2 cup of potato salad, 2 cups of mixed fruit (watermelon, hami melon, strawberries as well as both green & black grapes) and half a slice of lemon meringue pie.

Would it have been easier to just blow the day and eat what everyone else was having? Yeah.

But you know what? A little extra planning and prep made it work and I didn’t have to allow an unexpected event the chance to break my progress.

Bonus: Other people got to enjoy the chicken and fruit that we added to the menu. In fact, out of that big bowl full of fruit, there was nothing left to bring back home.

No, the best laid plans sometimes need to change, but they certainly don’t have to fail.

Thinking Ahead

Yes, I’m going to talk about that dreaded phrase: “Meal Planning”

I had always been told that to be and stay healthy, I needed to plan out what I was going to eat for the entire week. First off, this was hugely daunting. A whole week? Secondly, when I would actually come up with three meals a day for a whole week in advance, by the end of it, I was nowhere near what I had planned. So not only was I daunted, but I was discouraged too.

That’s when I decided that meal planning was not for me. It just didn’t work.

As many of you long time readers know, Jason and I had a rough year last year. Rough enough that we gained back quite a bit of the over 115 lbs we had lost during our first year on Weight Watchers. Every time we got up the gusto to get back on plan, we’d fall away within a week or two because of discouraging results. The main reason it didn’t work? We’d track for a day or two, but we often found ourselves not even knowing where we were going for lunch until we were in our car, driving back into town. We had a rough estimate of the number of points we had available, but we didn’t even think ahead to dinner to make sure it was all going to work out. So we would fall off the plan because we were doing “well enough”, step on the scale, get angry, then walk out the door and not go back for a few more months.

During which time, we would gain back most of the little bit we had lost.

This time, I was determined to do it right. I was not going to let a casual attitude come between me and my health. I called Jason a few hours before our normal Weight Watchers meeting and told him that we were going and then I got to work. Before we left to go to the meeting that day, I had the next four days planned out and a grocery list emailed for our back-to-normal shopping trip post weigh in. Neither of us had been happy about the numbers we saw on the scale that day, but we went ahead with our plan. We bought the things we needed from the list, we ate everything that we had planned, then on Monday (the last day of my plan) I made another one to get us through the next Thursday weigh in.

I found my meal planning mojo.

I didn’t need a week of meals planned in one go. To keep fresh produce and meats in our house, I need to shop twice a week anyway. So I shortened my plan to be between shopping trips. It was amazing the difference 3-4 days of planning was compared to 7 days. I wasn’t daunted or discouraged. I was empowered. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have control. We’re spending a lot less money, eating more “power foods”, and I’m in charge of how well I do with my weight loss. And better yet? We don’t have that “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” conversation anymore! We aren’t directionless in our attempts of being healthy. We’re making plans and sticking to them.

For two whole weeks we’ve done it.

And it shows.

Normally, after big losses like we had last week (10 lbs total!), we experience either a much smaller loss or even a slight gain as our bodies adjust. We expected this. I even told Jason several times that it would be a disappointing week on the scale and I was ok with it because I knew how well we were really doing. I saw it every time I verified that what I ate matched what I had planned and pre-tracked.

Much to our surprise, we both lost, and not just fractions of a pound.

  • Jason: -1.6 (-7.6 since back on plan)
  • Jenny: -2.8 (-6.8 since back on plan)

Yes, you read that right. We’ve lost a combined 14.4 lbs over the last two weeks.

I think it’s working.

Progress is Progress

…no matter how small.

This is just a quick post to let all of you know how we did this week and to tell you how much I love being able to cook at home again. Jason finished the plumbing in the kitchen, so while the finish work (backsplash/trim) isn’t complete, we have a fully functional kitchen. Among the things I’ve made this week: Fyn’s Chili, fettucine alfredo, Shepturk Pie & sugared strawberries for strawberry shortcake.

On the scale, we’ve made progress as well.

  • Jenny – 1.4 (25 activity points earned; none spent)
  • Jason – 0.8 (30 earned, none spent)

After such a big loss last week, I was very pleased to still have a decent loss this week, since big losses usually mean small losses or even gains the following week. I could tell that Jason was a little disappointed with his loss, but it’s worth noting that he had spent the entire week focusing on strength training and building muscle instead of balancing in some cardio. We’re both still doing fantastic.

And the best part is we’re still making progress.

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