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.

Weightloss Super Heroes

I’ve never thought of myself as a Weightloss Super Hero.

A recent experience has me thinking a lot about what it takes to be a super hero. Whenever I think of Weightloss Super Heroes I know, I think of my sister, who is rocking it over in the Fitocracy community, my twitter friend Chelsea who is a crossfit superstar (the girl is a beast, seriously) and my friend B.J. over at Geek Fitness. Each one of them would tell you that they’re still a work in progress (with fitness, isn’t everybody?) but they are leaps and bounds ahead of where I am and they are constant sources of awe and inspiration.

Ok, so this is where I bust out my nerd card. I really started thinking about super heroes as I tried to get to sleep last night. Most of the comic book super heroes (with the notable exceptions of the Tony Starks and Bruce Waynes, who start as billionaires with unlimited resources) start as average, everyday Joes (and Janes) who discover that they have a super power, mutation or fantastic alien genetics. They learn what they can do, try to harness it through trial and error and eventually find a way to help other people with their newfound power.

Like I said, I’ve never thought of myself as a Weightloss Super Hero. I aspire to it. I think maybe I’ll be one in a couple more years, when I have a better handle on this whole health thing. But then a couple of weeks ago, Weight Watchers contacted me via twitter. They had been watching my tweets (blog shares, food photos, meal planning, cheerleading stuff I do all the time) and loved what they saw. They asked for my address to send me a gift. I didn’t expect something as fun as this:

Maybe I had the beginnings of a super hero in me after all. I’ve thought a lot about this over the last couple of days. What did Weight Watchers see in me that I hadn’t seen in myself?

Three years ago, we started this blog as a way to chronicle our journey. We made it public, but I didn’t really think anyone would read it, much less find inspiration here. It was created as a place to be honest about every aspect of our journey, even if we weren’t proud of the results. It was a way to be publicly accountable in a way that just attending meetings and sharing with co-workers wouldn’t give us. Jason and I met online. So much of our identities and connections were here in the ether of the inter-webs. This is where we knew our friends were, where we knew some support could be found.

I never expected as much support as we’ve received. Even through our 18 months of false starts and kitchen remodels. Even through the back-sliding and weight gaining that resulted from it. Even more than the support, the feedback we’ve had on the blog has been incredible and uplifting. It happened again yesterday. Someone told me how much our blog inspired them.

It made me feel like a super hero.

Maybe that’s my Weightloss Super Power. This is an incredibly personal topic and journey. It is often embarrassing to share just how much work there is to do. It’s hard to share disappointment and regret. But I love to inspire. When I was a teenager, I loved being a cheerleader. There was a Freshman squad that didn’t do the tumbling that was required of the JV and Varsity squads. That suited me just fine, because I’ve never really loved athletics. What I did love was getting the crowd riled up and leading the spectators in cheers. I loved the contagious enthusiasm.

The funny thing is that even though the successes we have shared on this blog have been inspiring, I also learned that the honesty we’ve committed to here has also been inspiring. It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Everyone struggles. If we only shared our successes, this blog would be pretty flat and one-sided. We’re real here. You know I’m Jenny and Jason is my husband and our journey has been far from perfect.

You know you’re not alone.

We don’t present perfection. No weightloss journey is perfect in it’s course. One slip-up or a million, doesn’t mean failure. It means you’re human. Maybe our Weightloss Super Power is Truth, even when it is embarrassing or makes us angry. We share it, and when we share it we find a way to be motivated or inspired by our shortcomings and share that inspiration with you.

Jason wasn’t happy about his weigh in results last night. While I lost 1.6 (making my current total 48.0) he stayed the same with a total of 73.2. He hadn’t tracked consistently this week and he’s so close to a significant milestone, he was really disappointed in the lack of progress.

But you know what he did? This morning, when the alarm was going off and his wife was mumbling about not wanting to get up, that we’d get going really well at the gym the next week, he got up. He is determined to have a loss next week and he knows that he needs to step up his activity to get there. Disappointed, he still got up, put on his gym clothes, tied on his shoes, and harnessed the dogs. He had time for a walk/run with the dogs and still made it back in time to fix our breakfast:

2013-09-28 09.54.35

He was my Super Hero this morning, and not just for the breakfast.

He inspires me.

Life Lessons: Weight Loss Budget

Today I’m going to talk about weight loss in a little bit different light, relating it to another thing that we all have to deal with in our lives, which is money. As I’ve talked to more and more people in different places, both online and in person, this is one of the themes that I keep coming back to in order to help explain how Weight Watchers works and how people can relate that experience to something that’s not quite so foreign if they’ve never looked at Weight Watchers before or if they’re constantly referring to it as a diet.

We’ll take a look at various aspects of gaining weight, losing weight, and maintaining. The purpose here is to help explain the concepts of losing weight with Weight Watchers.

Getting Started: What is a Budget
To start us off here, I’m going to pull a few lines from some websites I found that deal with establishing a monetary budget. We’ll start with this bit from practicalmoneyskills.com, “A budget is a plan for your future income and expenditures that you can use as a guideline for spending and saving. Although many Americans already use a budget to plan their spending, the majority of Americans also routinely spend more than they can afford. The key to spending within your means is to know your expenses and to spend less than you make. A good monthly budget can help ensure you pay your bills on time, have funds to cover unexpected emergencies, and reach your financial goals.”

Weight loss with Weight Watchers is no different. Let me convert that quote into weight loss terms; instead of dollars, you’re dealing with PointsPlus. “You plan for future income (weekly points, activity points, or new daily points) and expenditures (eating). Although many Americans like to think that they watch what they eat, the majority of Americans (and people of other nations) also routinely eat more than they can healthily afford. The key to spending your Points within your means is to know how much you can eat, and do so without over-eating. A good PointsPlus budget can help ensure you lose weight, have the points to cover unexpected food opportunities/surprises, and reach your weight loss goals”

When you get started with Weight Watchers the first thing they’re going to do is have you weigh in. This is what determines your budget. You have a daily budget, which is your Daily PointsPlus Target that is based on your personal metrics and any points left over at the end of the day disappear. You have a weekly budget, which is your Weekly PointsPlus Allowance which is always set to 49 on your weigh-in day for everyone. You also have another weekly budget, your Activity Points, which defaults to 0 and you have to exercise in order to build up those points. Both of the weekly budgets remain open with their points balances for the entire week, but once your weigh-in day rolls around any extra points go away and they reset to their default values of 49 and 0.

The biggest difference between a financial budget and a weight loss budget is that bills are typically handled on a monthly basis where weight loss is handled weekly. Instead of everything being due on the 15th day of every month (or whatever), you have a weigh-in day every week on the same day. Your daily budget is like paying your bills, those are points that you need to spend in order to give your body the fuel that it needs to function. Your weekly budgets are more like your wants instead of your needs.

Living Within Your Means: PointsPlus Values
The key to having a successful budget is making sure that you never spend more than you have available. The key to losing weight is making sure that you don’t eat more food than your body can handle while maintaining a healthy weight. Your body needs food, it just doesn’t need as much as we tend to give it. Just like you need to purchase “things” in order to live, yet we don’t always live within our means as we buy things we want instead.

I’m going to reference that same website above, but I’m going to take little bits and pieces from the article instead of doing a direct quote. If you want to read the whole thing, you can follow this link to Live Within Your Means.

[Begin paraphrase]
If you are like many Americans, you may find that you are spending more than you’re saving and steadily going deeper into debt as a result. This is an easy and common pattern to fall into, and one that requires some planning and discipline to reverse. Once you’ve got a clear understanding of your current budget, your challenge is to find places where you can spend less (or earn more) in order to achieve your financial goals.

Here are some steps you can take toward that end:

1. Question Your Needs And Wants – What do you want? What do you really need? Take a look at the big picture.

2. Set Guidelines – We all have different budgets based on our needs and wants.

3. Track, Trim And Target – Once you start tracking, you may be surprised what you find. Cutting back is usually a better place to start than completely cutting out. Be realistic. It will help you to be better prepared for the unexpected.
[End Paraphrasing]

It also talks about trimming expenses, but to keep it more focused on the weight loss side, I’m going to rewrite it with that in mind. Trimming expenses for weight loss is cutting back on those things that you really enjoy that are just too high in points to be eating them all the time. It could be anything from candy to bread, ice cream to ribeye steaks, sweet tea to alcohol. Different people have different weaknesses when it comes to food, and those are what we’re really focusing on here.

If there’s a food that you really love and it’s high in points then you need to make a decision. Can you live without ever eating that thing again, or can handle eating smaller portions of it? Do you have some self control in relation to that food, or do you have none at all? If you can handle it in moderation, then all you need is a plan and the determination to stick to that plan and you’ll do just fine.

For this example, we’re going to use one of the highest-points desserts in the Weight Watchers database, which is an Ultimate Fudge Brownie from Kona Grill which has a 50 PointsPlus value for a single serving. You love that brownie, it’s your favorite thing in the whole world. For some people, knowing that it’s 50 PointsPlus is enough for them to say, “You know what? That’s a dang good brownie, but it’s just not worth 50 PointsPlus to me, so I’m going to walk away and never eat that thing again.” Some people can do that, and they can stick to it. Other people, just can’t. They need to find a way to work that in.

If you can’t cut an “expense”, or a food that you absolutely have to have, then you need to try to trim it. You can do that by either eating smaller portions of it if that’s an option; this would be things like either ordering only a partial serving, sharing it with friends/family, or if you make it yourself then cutting the portions that you make or that you dish out to begin with. Or, you can go ahead and eat the full portion but cut back on how often you eat it.

Once you’ve identified these foods you need to make a plan and set a goal. Goals should be specific or else you’ll never achieve it. “Eat less brownie” isn’t a goal because you could leave a little spec of the brownie on your plate and say that you ate less of it. Be specific. “Only eat the ultimate fudge brownie once per month,” is an achievable goal. “Only eat half of the ultimate fudge brownie,” is an achievable goal. Both of those are acceptable as long as they fit within your budget. If you’ve got the points, then it’s alright to eat the whole thing. You’re not cheating or failing if you eat something that’s high in points as long as you’re staying within your budget.

Once you have the specific goal you need to make it measurable. If eating half the brownie or eating it once per month is enough measurement for you to stay within your budget then you can stop there. However, what if you had a birthday party and ate cake and ice cream and already used up some of your weekly points, and now the only way you will be able to have that special expensive food is to earn activity points? In that case, you need to update your goal to this, “I want that 50 Point dessert, and I currently have 40 Weekly points but 0 Activity points saved for it.” Now you know that you have 40 of the 50 points that you need. You know how far you have to go (50) and you know how close you already are (40+0=40) so you know how far you have left to go (50-40=10). Now you know exactly what you need to do in order to fit that dessert into your budget and you can plan accordingly. If you have 5 days left until you eat that dessert, then you know you need to get an average of 2 Activity Points per day (10/5=2) and if you know that one of those days you’ll be out of town and unable to exercise, so you need to get an extra 2 points in on the other 4 days that you have left.

Your goals also have to be attainable, it has to be something that you can actually achieve. If you haven’t been doing any exercise at all in forever, and you’ve only got 10 Weekly Points left for that 50 Point brownie on Friday, do you think you’re honestly going to be able to make up 40 Activity points in the next 3-4 days? If your goal isn’t to eat a specific thing, but rather to lose a specific amount of weight, is losing 15 lbs in a week attainable? Not for most people. If a goal isn’t realistic, then there’s no point in setting it in the first place.

Measurable in time. You don’t want to set a goal that has no end date. “My goal is to weigh 110 lbs,” sounds like a good goal, right? How soon do you want to get down to that 110 lbs? By the end of the summer? The end of next year? Before the age of 85? If there’s no time limit set on your goal, then you’ve deflated your motivation. Remember, even your timeline has to be something that’s realistically attainable, but there needs to be a timeline set for achieving the goal. A lot of people trying to lose weight are doing it because they kept putting off eating healthy or getting back into shape. They put it off, then put it off again, and just kept on putting it off because there was no timeline. “Man, I really need to get around to losing some of this weight…” How many times have I said that in my lifetime? I’m not sure I can count that high. I can tell you that about 90% of the times that I said it I did so right before or right after eating something that had a huge Points value, though.

Debt: Gaining Weight
Now that we’ve talked about how the plan overall relates to a budget, let’s take a look at why budgeting is actually important. When you’re dealing with finances, you’re basically looking at how much income you have minus your expenses to see how much you can tuck away into savings or how much you can put towards paying off debts.

With Weight Watchers it’s almost exactly the same thing; you’re looking at how many PointsPlus you have available each day, minus the points values of your foods, to see how much debt you can pay off. You can’t tuck anything away into savings, because your body doesn’t allow savings accounts.

All the weight that you need to lose right now is debt that you’ve built up throughout your life. It’s a debt that you owe to your body, and one that can weigh just as heavily on your mind as it does physically on your body. What happens when you go into too much financial debt and can’t pay your bills? A not-so-little thing we call bankruptcy. When you become too indebted to your body you run into things like gallstones, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, coronary artery disease (CAD), a stroke, or sleep apnea. Debt can be a very serious thing no matter how you slice it.

Debt, in terms of weight loss, is the extra weight that you’ve put on over the years that you’re trying now to get off. In weight loss there is no savings for you to build towards, instead you’re either relieving debt (weight gained) or you’re staying out of debt (maintaining your weight). Because weight loss isn’t a single event, you don’t simply lose it and then suddenly you get to live out the rest of your life being skinny. Your body just doesn’t work that way. It’s the same reason why diets never work in the long term. Weight Watchers isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. They give you the rules to live by to be successful and the tools to do it with. That’s why it succeeds.

Going on a diet is like getting a credit card. It has it’s perks, but if you don’t watch it you’re just going to end up even deeper in debt than you were before you started. Have you ever tried a diet, had success, and then stopped the diet and not too long after you gained back even more weight than you started with? That’s why Weight Watchers will consistently beat out every diet out there. Because it’s not a diet that tells you what you can and cannot eat, it’s a tool that you can use to live a healthy life. It’s the difference between a credit card that you abuse, and one that you actually use wisely and with control. If you use it correctly and establish a goals-based or rules-focused life style around it you can actually get ahead.

Executing the Budget: Meal Planning
I know that last section was a downer, so let’s pick it back up here and talk about how we get out of this debt and build a better life. We’re going to talk about meal planning, and a few different ways that you can handle planning head.

Weekly Planning (Hard, but effective if you can pull it off)
We’ll start off with the method that you tend to hear most often in meetings from your leader, which is to plan ahead for the entire week. Some people don’t have any problem at all planning out a week’s worth of meals in advance. In our experience, every time we tried to plan a week’s worth of meals we failed. We’d either go off plan half-way through the week and then throw the plan out the window for the rest of the week, or we wouldn’t even be able to come up with a whole week’s worth of meals that actually sounded good and then we’d just give up all together. If you can handle planning a week at a time, that’s great. If you can’t handle that much planning, then try one of these other methods instead.

Weekly planning gives you total control of what’s going to happen the entire week, which makes it easier for you to plan how you’re going to spend your weekly points and activity points (assuming that you’re going to spend any of them at all). If you know everything you’re going to eat all week long, you can more easily plan in special treats for events where you know you might not be able to accurately track the foods that you eat. If you know there’s a party on Friday but have no idea what food is going to be served there, then you know in advance that you need to keep all of your other days within your daily points so that you have your weekly points available for that unknown party.

The drawback is that by planning the entire week in advance, you need to be very conscious of your weekly points and activity points or else you will not be able to handle surprises as easily. For example, if you have already planned out your entire week and today at work your best friend invited you to a BBQ at his place tonight, then you might not have the points available to do that. That doesn’t mean that you can’t go, it just means that you’re going to have to go back and re-plan the rest of your week to allow for that surprise.

Semi-Weekly Planning (Easy-Medium, but very effective and easier to stick to it)
This is the method that we’ve adopted over the last couple of months and has been a huge success for us so far. Instead of planning out a full week worth of meals, we now break it up into one plan for Monday-Thursday, and another for Friday-Sunday. Our weigh-in day is Thursday, so right after the meeting we head to the grocery store and eat at the deli there and then do our grocery shopping with our minds still focused on the meeting and making the right choices. We shop to get us through the weekend and then on Monday we do the same thing, minus the Weight Watchers meeting. Since our meetings are on Thursday, we consider that the start of our weight-week so even though we plan on Monday and Thursday, Monday is actually the second plan of each weight-week with Thursday being the first.

Doing this, we know that if a surprise does come up, we still haven’t planned the second half of the week, so we can set aside weekly points if we need to and we still have time to earn activity points if it’s something that serious or if we’ve already spent some of that budget on a planned event earlier in the week. Since our first planning of the weight-week is on Thursday, and most “surprises” often happen on the weekend, surprises are usually much easier for us to handle.

So far we haven’t run into any drawbacks for semi-weekly planning. It has worked out incredibly well for us so far, and we plan to keep it that way.

Daily Planning (Easy, can be effective as long as you’re tracking diligently)
If you just don’t have the time to plan out your meals for any portion of the week in advance, then you can plan for a single day instead. You need to be careful with weekly and activity points this way, as it’s easier to give into impulses and temptations when you haven’t bothered planning for the days ahead. We have had success doing this in the past, but if you look at the chart of our weight loss during these time periods you’d think it was a 4 year old’s drawing of a mountain range from all the up and down that we went through because of poor planning and not thinking ahead. Overall it more or less worked in the end, but it wasn’t very effective and certainly wasn’t efficient.

Single Meal Planning (IT’S A TRAP!)
What you want to avoid if at all possible, is not planning ahead at all and always focusing just on the meal you’re about to have. If you don’t plan ahead at all, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to both surprises and temptations. If you already know in advance what you’re going to eat for the entire day, then you know whether or not you have room for temptations. If you just wing it and give in to a temptation because “I’ve got weeklies for this” and then there’s another temptation and “I’ve got weeklies for this” those little temptations are going to catch up with you. That’s why tracking is so important as well. If you’re tracking everything then you will know for sure whether or not you have the weekly points for things.

With this method it’s easy to find yourself in situations where you had little or no breakfast, a big lunch, and then come dinner time you have a fairly low amount of points but plenty of hunger. In the final section below I’ll talk about this a little bit more, but basically if you find yourself in this situation then you are significantly more likely to give up on the plan either for the day or the whole Weight Watchers thing all together, and you’re more likely to give into temptations. You’ll be more likely to spend your weekly points and less likely to track spending them which could lead to thinking that you have more points that you actually do later in the week and end up spending points that you don’t actually have.

A Little Psychology
Alright, this part doesn’t really fit within the scope of the rest of the article here, but it’s something that can help you understand impulses that I talked about in the section above. The following information comes from an article called Your App Makes Me Fat from seriouspony.com. The article itself is actually about how developing complex user interfaces can be a really bad thing for your users, so it doesn’t completely apply to our topic, but it’s the study that’s mentioned there that’s important to us here.

I’m not going to post the whole article here, but let me summarize the important parts for you.

Back in 1999 a study was done on some grad students where they asked half of them to memorize a two digit number and the other half was asked to memorize a seven digit number. After the memorization task was complete, they were told that the experiment was over and each of the students was offered a choice of snacks: either a bowl of fruit or a slice of chocolate cake. Their findings were that the students who had to memorize the seven digit number were 50% more likely to choose cake over fruit. (We’ll talk more about this in a minute.)

Another experiment was done in 2010, this time using dogs instead of people. They had half of the dogs sit inside their kennels for 10 minutes before letting them out to play with a puzzle toy that was rigged so that they couldn’t actually get to the treat inside. The other half of the dogs were commanded to sit and stay for 10 minutes before being allowed to play with the same, rigged puzzle-toy. The findings this time were very similar, the dogs that were left in the kennels and had nothing else to do gave up on the toy after about 2 minutes of not being able to get the treat out, while the ones who had to sit there and focus on remaining obedient gave up in less than 1 minute.

What these tests concluded was that our brains use the same resource for self control and problem solving. If you focus all day long on solving problems at work, then you don’t have as much self control at the end of the day because you’ve used up all of your resources on solving problems at work. Similarly, if you’ve spent all day resisting temptations sitting in your kitchen, then you won’t be able to think as clearly at night because once again you’ve already burned up those resources.

That’s why planning ahead plays such a key role in overall success. If you already have the day’s meals planned out in advance, then you don’t have to worry about giving into temptation for the meals themselves. The more you do throughout the day, the less control you have over yourself in the evenings. That’s just how our brains work. If something makes you think, then it’s draining the same resource that allows you to say “no” to foods that don’t fit within your budget. It doesn’t matter whether the problems you face during the day are work, taking care of your kids or pets, or if you just watch TV and play games on your cell phone, you’re always burning those resources.

Planning ahead is how you avoid those dangerous situations and find lasting success.

Results & Sweet Kickin’ Trail Mix

I’ve got a feeling this post is going to turn out sort of rambly, so here’s your warning in advance.

Friday has finally rolled back around after a crazy work-week, and that means it’s time to share some weigh-in results. This week, I was fairly confident that I was going to end up with another loss as I’ve stayed within my points, followed the plan and generally just been good all around. Jenny wasn’t quite as confident in her’s because she knew she had the big loss last week and she just wasn’t feeling as sure about things. Thinking back, there was one day last week that we veered away from our pre-planned meals because we were both just too tired after a day of cleaning the house to bother with putting together enchilladas, so we ordered a pizza instead. A pizza that still fit within our points for the day, mind you, but still we did break out of our plans for the first time since getting back on track.

Even if the pizza had pushed us over our points for the day, neither one of us are even touching our weekly points, and we both could have eaten the whole pizza by ourselves and not gone over our weekly points. I’ll cut the story off right there for now, let’s look at the results.

Jenny: +0.4 lbs (0.18 kg)
Jason: -2.8 lbs (1.27 kg)

Since we stayed within our points targets and otherwise did everything that we should have done, neither of us felt that Jenny’s slight gain was something that she “deserved”. A lot of times you’ll find that after you have a fairly good sized loss, like she did last week, the following week the scale will show a gain as your body adjusts and rebalances itself. She was upset at seeing the gain because she totally didn’t deserve to gain on a week that she had been so good, but she realizes that those things happen.

It happens more often to women than it does to men, which always makes me feel bad in these situations because it’s almost like it emphasizes that difference when it happens and makes it seem very unfair. Men…we’re a bunch of (weight loss) cheaters, I tell you.

As I’m back to losing weight that I haven’t lost before, last night I also gained another “5 Point Star” as it brought my total weight loss up to 65.2 lbs (29.57 kg). In ten more pounds I’ll get my 75 lbs medallion to go with my 25 & 50 lbs medallions I already have for my Weight Watchers keychain.

Sweet Kickin’ Trail Mix
This isn’t one of the recipes I mentioned last week, so I hope you didn’t get your hopes up too much when you read that. Those recipes didn’t turn out to be particularly good, so I won’t be sharing them with you right now. We’ve got some thoughts for modifying one of them ourselves and then trying it again, so if it turns out better next time we’ll share it with you then.

Anyway, the Sweet Kickin’ Trail Mix is a new Weight Watchers snack. They have several different types of snacks that you can buy at the meetings or from the closest Center is for your WW groups (ours happens to be in Amarillo, about 60 miles away). This one is sort of a granola bar, and I probably should have taken a screenshot before I ate it so that I could show it to you, but I didn’t think about adding it to the blog until after I started writing so I guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.

It’s a new bar, so we got a free sample last night at the meeting. It has almonds in it, and I happen to be slightly allergic to almonds, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it all the much to begin with. After trying it, it turns out I was right; I didn’t really care for it. I didn’t get much sweet, and I didn’t get much kick, I just got a bar’s worth of…odd. Not odd in a bad way, just odd in an odd way. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t really dislike it either. One of the women who ate it at the meeting last night seemed to enjoy it.

I didn’t mention it here just to give you that nearly worthless review of the taste though, I also wanted to talk about how long it satisfied me. I ate it around 8:15, and here it is about to be 9:15 and I’ve just reached for something else to eat. So while the taste of this particular snack didn’t thrill me, it did at least keep me satisfied for almost a full hour. They have other flavors that we do enjoy, including a strawberry one that reminds me of eating Fruit Roll-ups when I was a kid. It’s a granola bar like this one, but it has a strawberry spread on the top that has a similar flavor to the roll-ups if you want to give those a try.

We’re always looking for good breakfast foods and snacks that can keep us hungry for a decent length of time as so many snacks keep you satisfied up to about 5 minutes after you stop eating them. If we’re going to invest daily points into something, we want to make sure it was worth spending points on and satisfaction is one of our key measurements for that.

Welcome Back, Lisa!
We also had one of our friends, Lisa, come back to Weight Watchers last night. We’re friendly with all of the folks that come to the meetings, but having actual friends there always gives Jenny extra motivation to stay on track and makes going to the meetings a more enjoyable experience overall. Lisa and her family are also one of the first friends that we made in town after we moved here; they invited us over for dinner one night and she make a freaky-good berry…biscuit…dessert thing of awesomeness. That’s totally not what it was called, but this was like seven years ago so you can’t expect me to remember details. They had the points values of the food ready for us before we went, because they’re amazing like that. Great food and good times with great people, I tell you.

Results After 2 Months Back

We got back on plan at the beginning of June, so now that June and July are both past us we figured it was time to look at the whole two months to see how we’ve done in addition to our results from the weigh-in last night. First, I’m going to touch on the topic of last night’s meeting – Slip-Ups.

Crossing the Path
I had a nice little motivational speech in here for you, but both Jenny and I felt that it was more depressing than motivational and no matter how I tried to rewrite it the thing always seemed to focus more on the negative so I deleted it. So screw the speech, here’s the message.

Don’t forget that losing weight and being healthy isn’t an event, it’s a life-long journey. If you slip up and make a bad choice or give into temptation and eat something that’s not healthy – big deal. It doesn’t matter. Forget it.

Journey

We had a huge slip-up last year with the kitchen debacle. When we didn’t have a kitchen for 9 months we basically gave up on the plan. We still followed the principles for the most part, but we weren’t tracking our food and being without a kitchen meant we were eating out for every single meal. When we tried to get back on track things were so screwed up that we fell right back off. We had regained weight that we had previously lost and the road was bumpy getting back on, so we just gave up again. We went back on plan, then back off, then back on, back off again, and now we’re finally back in the right mindset to stay on this path and the past two months have shown that.

Here are our results from last night:

Jenny: -3.4 lbs, for a two-month loss of 17.0 lbs
Jason: -4.4 lbs, for a two-month loss of 19.2 lbs

Combined, that gives us a total of 36.2 pounds that we have lost in the last two months from just following the Weight Watchers plan. We did a little bit of exercise (walking) for about a week or two, but otherwise those results are from nothing but eating good food. That brings our combined total back up to just under 100 lbs since we first got back on weight watchers a few years ago.

When we got back on weight watchers, it was the last quarter of 2010 when I weighted 343.6 pounds. If you look at my weight from then compared to my weight right now, I’ve lost 62.4 pounds. But, if you look at it as the entire journey, at all the times that I lost weight, gained some back, and then had to lose it all over again (adding all of my losses together, leaving out my gains) then I’ve lost 132.2 lbs. That means during that same amount of time I’ve had almost 60 pounds worth of slip-ups on my journey. Big deal, I’ve still managed to lose 132 pounds. I’m not 132 pounds lighter than I was when I started, but that’s the accomplishment that I’m going to focus on.

I’m losing new weight that I haven’t lost before, I’m down enough that I’ve overcome all of my slip-ups, even my big ones. Jenny is still re-losing her’s, but she’s choosing to celebrate every loss that she has. She’s happier and she feels better every single week. She’s making meal plans in advance, we’re sticking to them, and our success is a direct result of her positive attitude and continued efforts.

New Recipes
Psych!

Alright, so I don’t actually have a new recipe to share with you this week. But, we do have a couple of new recipes planned for this week, and if they turn out to be good ones then you can look forward to us sharing them with you next week. I think we’re looking at a fried rice recipe and a…err…something else that apparently I’ve completely forgotten.

Anyway, expect some new recipes next week if they’re good. If they aren’t really that good, then just pretend that I never said anything…

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?

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