Archive of ‘Weight Watchers’ category

Weight Watchers Simple Start

In case you missed it, the Beth’s Journey DietBet starts today and it’s not too late to sign up!

Every January, Weight Watchers releases a new innovation on the program and for January 2014, it’s called, “Simple Start”. The way Simple Start works is it’s a two week program designed to get you eating the right foods without having to weigh or measure everything you eat. There are a list of allowable Power Foods that you can pick and choose from, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nonfat dairy, lean proteins, and some extras. If you stick to picking foods from that list and pay attention to your hunger signals, you don’t have to portion everything out. On top of those “safe” foods that you can eat from, you get 7 extra points per day for treats (aka 2 <tiny> glasses of wine if you’re me). I love that you don’t have to weight and measure everything because it’s a great way to get back into the swing of things and not feel too overwhelmed, especially if you’re new to the program.

You’ll notice this sounds veeeeery similar to the Simply Filling Technique, and it is. The main difference is, instead of using the 49 weekly points however you want (all at once, divided between a few events during a given week, or spread out however you like), they recommend spreading them out evenly during the two week Simple Start program and using 7 per day.

Since the Beth’s Journey DietBet starts today, I decided to give it a try this week (and maybe next) to see how it goes, though I’ve not been able to stick with the Simply Filling Technique before, so we’ll see what happens!

Here’s the menu plan I came up with for the week:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Snack
Monday Eggs sandwich with ham on a sandwich thin English muffin w/turkey + cheese, broiled with grapefruit on the side Turkey chili w/sour cream + radishes for crunch shredded wheat w/banana + skim milk
Tuesday Greek yogurt w/shredded wheat + blueberries turkey chili w/sour cream + radishes Grilled chicken thighs w/homemade tzatziki + roasted sweet potato cottage cheese + grapefruit
Wednesday English muffin w/ cottage cheese + grapefruit chicken thighs w/tzatziki over salad with cucumbers + tomatoes Roasted chickpeas + eggplant w/brown rice greek yogurt w/mashed banana
Thursday Veggie egg scramble w/toasted english muffin roasted chickpeas + eggplant over greens turkey chili w/radishes + cheese air popped popcorn + grapefruit
Friday Cottage Cheese w/blueberries + shredded wheat turkey sandwich on sandwich thin with sprouts, popcorn + blueberries TBD smoothie w/skim milk, banana, berries, and raw oatmeal

And, in looking back at last week’s goals:

  1. Workout 3x+ this week. I only went back to the gym twice, and my goal was to go for 20+ minutes because right now I’m focusing on getting back into the habit of working out. I went twice, and ran for 25 and 30 minutes each time. I also did a walk outside on Saturday for 2.5 miles, but I really wanted to get to the gym 3x, so I’m going to make this another goal.
  2. Eat out only once this week. Done! I ate out Thursday Night for restaurant week, and then managed to bring breakfast and lunch to work, and make dinner every other night. Woohoo!
  3. Limit to 2 glasses of wine. I had a few more than two one night of the weekend, but other than that I limited drinking to twice a week.
  4. Drink 3+ glasses of water during the day. Nope. I definitely drank more water than normal, but I need to keep working on it.
  5. Get in bed by 11pm every day. I was in bed by 11pm a few nights last week, but this is another thing I need to focus on.

So, with that said, here are my goals for this week:

  1. Workout 3x+ this week. I went on a 4.5 mile walk yesterday, so one down already!
  2. Drink 3+ glasses of water during the day.
  3. Get to bed by 11pm during the work week.
  4. Stick to Simply Filling Technique each day during the work week.

And that’s it!

What’s one thing you want to focus on this week?

US News and World Report: My Success Story Video

Helllllllo my long lost friends and happy 2014! Can you believe it!?

I owe you lots of updates (I’m starting a new DietBet on January 21 and also just passed the 5 month post-surgery mark), but before I can talk about anything else, I have something very exciting to share with you! I wrote a bit about getting asked to share my weight loss story and the whole making of the video for US News and World Report, and after almost 3 months of waiting, today the Best Diets 2014 list launched! Without further ado, here’s the video:

US News and World Report: Best Diets

I was pretty blown away with how it turned out, and as if that wasn’t enough, I’m also the first story on the list, which is crazy! Here’s a snap shot of the front page of the Best Diets page:

usn

Recognize anyone!?

Squeal!

Part Two: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

In case you missed part one, you can find it here.

Once I got to my goal weight with Weight Watchers, I had a little more flexibility with the system and how much of the “bad” foods I could eat. I was able to play the game a bit, but still cycled between that all or nothing mentality and was either being really, really good, or really, really bad when it came to eating. I learned to identify my trigger foods and make sure I never had them in my house – like peanut butter. I literally could not keep a jar in my kitchen because inevitably I would eat it by the spoonful until it was gone. And though peanut butter isn’t bad for you (like pizza would probably be considered by most), it was definitely one of those foods I did not allow myself to have when I was being “good” because it was too calorically dense, and I didn’t trust myself around it.

When you’re used to behaving one way or eating one way for most of your life, it’s a very, very hard cycle to break. I remember reading stories of people who had completely changed their lives and their bodies and preached the “everything in moderation” thing, and secretly hating them. How could there possibly be a way for someone who once struggled so much with their weight like I have all my life, come to a place where they trusted themselves around food? I didn’t buy it.

But after maintaining my weight loss give or take for about a year and a half, I realized that though I had gotten myself to a healthy weight, I still had an extremely unhealthy relationship with food. It still held a power over me and caused extreme preoccupation and anxiety, and it just came to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore.

One of the big first steps in breaking out of this cycle was changing my goal weight. I think I was putting so much pressure on myself to maintain a certain number on the scale, that it was getting in the way of me living my life and really giving food more control over me than was necessary, or healthy. When I upped my goal weight from 164 to 177, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure lifted. It gave me much more wiggle room to figure out where my body would land naturally and took away some of the power the scale held over me.

The other big thing that led to breaking out of this cycle was actually not something that I did directly – it was getting into a relationship with someone who had a lot less healthy eating habits than I did (which has since ended, but that’s a different conversation for a different day). I didn’t realize quite realize it while it was happening, but spending a lot of time around a lot of the food that used to cause me tremendous anxiety exposed me to these foods more than I’d ever been before. You know how they say if you are scared of heights, you need to gradually expose yourself to heights and let yourself feel the anxiety, and then once you realize nothing bad will happen to you, it helps relieve the anxiety and get you over your fear? (For a better explanation that actually makes sense, you can go here.)

I think for me, being around foods that used to have power over me and cause extreme anxiety over and over (and over) conditioned me to feel less anxious and preoccupied around them. It was a slow evolution and the first few weeks/months definitely still caused a physical reaction and made me ask myself a lot of questions. And, it was scary and uncomfortable being OK with being in that situation repeatedly. But, it also really helped me realize a few things.

First, I was not going to gain back all the weight by being near a pizza.

Second, I could have pizza every day if I wanted to, so there was no need to eat an entire pizza and make myself sick, because I could just have a few pieces and then if I wanted it again the next day, I could have it again (because it was probably going to be around).

Third, by letting myself have what I was actually craving and not eating what I thought I should be eating, I was able to eat less to feel satisfied.

Fourth, my preoccupation and anxiety around “bad foods” slowly lifted over time, and they stopped pulling my attention in every time I was exposed to them.

And finally, by letting myself have what I felt like eating, I actually started craving healthy foods and eating them because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

As I said, this was a sloooow process and took a lot of courage to learn to trust myself around the foods that I hadn’t trusted myself around… ever. And it’s been a pretty eye opening process that has taught me a lot about myself. I don’t think I’m ever going to be “cured” of my issues with food and will always keep Weight Watchers as my backup for when the scale does start moving in the wrong direction. I know it works, but I don’t want to have to count everything I eat everyday for the rest of my life. And I’m not willing to.

Part One: The Evolution of My Relationship with Food

All my life, I was heavy. And I hated it. I went through this perpetual cycle of hating my body, hating myself, and hating that I let food have this power over me. I’d start off every day with the best of intentions for being healthy and losing weight, and while I knew what foods were healthy, I really had no concept of how much I should be eating of what. I would go for things with good gimmicks on the labels like “low fat” and “fat free” and “good for your heart”, thinking I was making the right choices. And I would eat just a little bit of it. And then, I would be hungry. And I would try to convince myself that I wasn’t, and do everything in my power not to eat more so I could lose weight.

And then I would binge.

I’d eat everything and anything I could get my hands on that was off limits for me during the times I was being “good”. I’d use being sad, happy, drunk, busy, anxious or bored as an excuse, and I would eat myself sick. Never to the point where I threw up, but to the point where I would feel sick to my stomach, uncomfortably full and would likely have to lay down. This would usually get it out of my system temporarily, and then I’d wake up the next day and hate myself even more. And then I’d start the cycle again.

There were periods of my life where I cared less about weight than other times, like during the first few years of college where I had my first serious boyfriend. At those times, I was just eating a lot of what I knew were bad-for-me foods pretty much all the time. And it’s no surprise that I gained a lot of weight. And then at the end of college, I decided to give Atkins a go because I knew it was something I could try that would allow me to eat excessive amounts of food and still lose weight. I was used to the “allowed” and “not allowed” labels on things, so it really worked for me. I lost 40 pounds, felt pretty good, and kept it off for a year.

But you know what? I like bread. And pizza. And fruit. And milk. There was no way I was going to be able to stick with that forever, and when I went off Atkins and back into my unhealthy restrict/overdo cycle of eating, it’s no surprise that I gained back all the weight and then some.

And then I (re)discovered Weight Watchers in 2009. I loved having the system that I could track my food (I’m a numbers person) and that nothing was off limits technically. I also loved that I was losing weight and learning to eat right, and being in a room of people where I could tell them that I ate an entire batch of cookies and they would get it and not judge me. It was very liberating. I think Weight Watchers was a very essential part of my journey because it really was what helped me develop a lot of healthy habits and lose a large amount of weight. At the time, I really needed a way out of the cycle I was in and the accountability and easy-to-follow program were right for me at the time.

But in many ways, Weight Watchers encouraged that restrict and then overdo it cycle that I was accustomed to, though a little bit less severe than it was before. I would always eat my minimum points per day, but for anyone who has ever done WW, you know that it’s really not that much. It’s enough, but there’s no way I could eat just 26 pointsplus per day every day for the rest of my life. My approach was that I would eat the daily target Monday to Friday, and then use all the extra points on the weekends or for a special event, which is when I’d way overdo it. A lot of times I wouldn’t count the points on those days where I was going above and beyond, and that freedom helped me feel less trapped by the counting of the program. But I would still have those same guilty feelings after eating excessively, and then return to the minimum points per day until I felt ok about myself again. It worked in helping me get down to a healthy weight, but it didn’t help break that cycle of being good or bad, and seeing everything as black or white.

And though with WW nothing is technically off limits, for me, it was. I didn’t trust myself to have one piece of pizza – so I would either eat no pizza on those days where I was sticking to my daily target, or eat most of a large pizza on a day when I was not. I still kept that off limits mentality with “bad” foods when I was trying to stay on track, and though this wasn’t Weight Watchers fault per se, the program allowed me to embrace these old unhealthy habits as I found my way to a healthy weight. They said everything in moderation, but for someone with as messed up a relationship as I had with food, I didn’t trust myself with the whole moderation thing.

The other side of it, besides seeing foods as good or bad, was that the bad foods caused me extreme anxiety. If I would attend a social event or be at a work party where there was pizza, my heart would literally race as I fought with myself against whether I was going to have some or not. Sometimes my willpower and resolve would be high, and I’d place myself away from the food knowing that I was not going to touch it. Other times, though, I couldn’t even pay attention to what was going on around me because I was too focused on the food and was being consumed by it. (Ironic, eh?) This was particularly sad when I was spending time with friends and could barely pay attention to the conversation because I was so distracted by the food in front of me, until it was either taken away or completely eaten. I don’t think anyone around me could grasp how preoccupied by the food I was because I put on a good act, but it’s pretty disturbing how much control I let it have over me.

To be continued…

Distraction Free Meals

One of my favorite parts of Weight Watchers 360 is the routines that we focus on each month. The one for May is particularly relevant for me – “Eat all your meals distraction free.”

This is something I majorly struggle with. I tend to eat my breakfast and lunch at my desk at work, and I’m almost always doing a million things in addition to eating, mostly checking or reading email. It’s been known to happen where I’ll make something for breakfast and while I’m focusing on anything but actually eating, I’ll go to reach for another bite and look down and my breakfast is GONE. I have to do a self check to remember that I did actually eat it, but just wasn’t paying any attention so can barely recall.

This is problematic for a number of reasons, but I think the biggest thing for me is that it takes so much away from the satisfaction I should be getting. Besides just filling my stomach and keeping away low blood sugar (and the inevitable crankiness that follows…) I also really do enjoy eating and try to fill my menu with things I actually like. So, if I am so distracted while I’m eating that I can barely remember that I actually ate, obviously I’m not enjoying what I’m eating or getting the satisfaction that comes from that.

I am a lot better about eating dinner distraction free (most of the time) because I’m eating at home and usually put a little more time or thought into preparing the food, so I tend to force myself to enjoy it a little more. So for me, I really want to focus on meals that I’m eating at my desk at work.

Eating any meal distraction free can be a real challenge if you work a busy job (or have kids at home, or fill in the blank…) so I think it’s really important to set realistic expectations. There is no way I can sit down at the table to eat those meals with no TV, computer, or phone, but what I can do is make a diligent effort to pay more attention when I am eating. I think the solution for me is to implement little ways that I can slow down my eating since I am a speed eater by nature, so even if I am slightly distracted while I’m eating, I’m doing it slow enough that hopefully at some point I’ll actually be in tune with what I’m doing.

Some ideas that I’ve come up with are:

  • Cut food up into smaller bites
  • Use smaller utensils (like condiment spoons or cocktail forks)
  • Make a habit of sipping water between each bite
  • Pick something to do while I’m eating that is less distracting than looking at my computer (any ideas?)
  • Bring in a placemat from home to use during meals, so the visual cue brings me back

In addition to the new routines with WW 360, there’s also an activity each week to pick one small thing you can focus on to change. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the routine, but I love breaking big changes down into little ones because it feels so much more doable. So my little change for this week is that I am going to work on cutting my food up into smaller bites for breakfast. I’ve been having an english muffin with peanut butter and a banana most mornings lately (because it’s easy and quick!), so instead of just having the halves of the english muffin, I’m going to cut them each up into quarters and see how that helps me be more in tune with the meal. We’ll see how it goes!

How are you with eating your meals distraction free? Which ones do you struggle with the most? Do you have any tips for minimizing distractions or slowing down while eating?

A Look at Weight Watchers 360

Weight Watchers launched an innovation to the program in early December, and as I was leading my meeting yesterday morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t yet shared anything about it! So here we go with a look into Weight Watchers 360.

ww360

To start off, the PointsPlus 2012 part of the program hasn’t changed at all. You still are given a certain number of PointsPlus per day, extras to use as you wish each week, even more for activity (and through the ActiveLink) and each food has a PointsPlus value. To add to the tried and true method of tracking, Weight Watchers has introduced two new pillars to the program.

The main reason behind this innovation (in my completely unendorsed words), is that science shows that willpower is basically crap. Sure, willpower will carry you through a certain number of tough food decisions each day, but the fact is that we are forced to make so many choices about food all day, every day, that no one will be able to make the right ones all the time.

So here comes the two new additions to Weight Watchers 360 – Routines and Spaces.

Routines

Did you brush your teeth this morning? Get into the shower before work? Put on clothes before leaving the house?

I am guessing (hoping) that the answer to all these things is yes, and that you probably didn’t have to put too much thought into it because it’s become a habit over time. Weight Watchers decided to study the habits and routines of the most successful members who have lost weight and kept it off, and came up with a list of 16 routines that we should all be doing every day.

Some of the routines are basics – like eat breakfast everyday – but some of them are things that have been great for me to work on, like making sure to have a snack with me before I leave the house and making sure to include fruits or veggies with every meal and snack. The idea behind it is that we know that people are more successful when they work on changes in groups and have that built in support, so each month, we introduce and work on a new routine and reflect each week on what worked and what didn’t.

The first thing we worked on was making sure to have a snack every single time you leave the house. This was something I was not at all in the habit of, and something that I truly changed during that month by putting some thought into it. I’m not going to lie – I definitely still have to remember and make an effort to bring a snack with me – it’s not a routine yet, but I have made a lot of progress on it. Over time, I am guessing that this will become second nature to me and won’t be something I have to even think about, at least I’m hoping. Having something healthy at arms reach that I enjoy but isn’t tempting enough to consume my thoughts has been a game changer a few times over the past two months.

Spaces

The last piece of the puzzle with Weight Watchers 360 is taking control of your spaces – or of all the places that you eat and/or are around food. One meeting a month will be dedicated to taking control of a particular space, as it applies to the routine of the month, so it all feeds into itself.

For example, the routine of the month for January is Produce Power: Make sure to include a fruit or veggie with every meal and snack. Last week’s meeting was about reorganizing your fridge and making changes that can set you up to be more successful when you open that door to your fridge after a long day.

Some of the ideas we discussed in the meeting were:

    • Prep and wash all fruits and veggies when you get them home from the store, and place them front and center in your fridge in clear glass or plastic containers.
    • Put more tempting foods out of sight, in the freezer, and/or in opaque containers so they are harder to see.
    • Put leftovers in single serving containers so you can grab and go.
    • Get single serving treats to keep in the fridge rather than large multi-serving containers.

A lot of those are pretty self explanatory, but I honestly never thought to put treats/higher calorie things in containers that you can’t see through – I LOVE that idea because I really am so affected by what I see and it influences the decisions I make quite a bit.

Overall, I am really impressed with the Weight Watchers 360 program. I love that each month is guided by a routine, and it’s really been helping me to refocus and recommit to being healthy. Even for some of the routines that I have down pretty well – like eating fruits and veggies all the time – it’s forced me to look at it in a different way and realize I actually need to incorporate more veggies into my diet, and maybe a little less fruit. It’s so refreshing to look at a routine at face value, and then reflect how I apply (or don’t apply) it to my own life. I also love the emphasis on spaces, because I feel like making little changes – like sitting myself AWAY from the food at a party – make such a difference in how much I eat and how good I feel after the party is over.

Any questions about WW360? For those of you who are members of WW – what do you think of the program? Like it, love it, indifferent?

Wednesday Weekly Check In

I didn’t weigh in at my meeting yesterday but decided to do a video update anyways and give a little more insight into my tough week last week that I talked about a bit in yesterday’s post.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZukTaR8tBs8&hl=en&hd=1
Really hot still shot, I know.

A little ramble-y up in there, so maybe it’s better to just read the summary here.. haha.

Some of the comments and emails I got when I did my 2013 Intentions post were that you want me to be more… me. That often times I come on here and talk about how good I’m doing and how many times I’ve worked out, and not what went wrong. I didn’t even really realize that until someone else said it, but I do think for me, blogging and healthy living go hand in hand. When I am slipping and not doing well with weight loss/healthy living, I tend to steer very clear of the blog and have a really hard time coming up with topics to write about.

When I’m doing well, on the other hand, I normally have no trouble coming up with things to write about, but I am starting to realize that might give you all the wrong impression about me and my life. I am not perfect. I still struggle. Last weekend was really bad in terms of eating and drinking, and it was SO HARD to snap myself out of it on Monday.

It honestly surprises me that I’m four years into my journey, since 2009 was the year I decided to “get healthy”, and it is still so easy for one bad decision to lead to another in my life. I think it just goes to show that the journey really never is over, and for the rest of my life, I have to take it one day at a time, just like I did at the beginning.

Anyways, when I share random thoughts like this they come out so easy, and I realize maybe I’ve been putting a bit of a façade up on the blog by not coming here when I’m doing poorly or can’t think of something to say. I’m going to try to write more frequently about random things going on in my life and show you the real me, even if it isn’t all ponies and rainbows.

Turns out down here is a little ramble-y too, so I’ll stop now. Smile

Do you struggle with one bad choice spiraling into a day or a weekend or a full week? How do you snap out of it?

Wednesday Weight Update

At long last!

So clearly I am very out of practice with the whole making a video blog thing. It took me more than 7 tries of stumbling over my words and saying extremely weird and random things in order to get it as right as it’s going to be. Here we go.

So in case you can’t watch the video because you’re at work – in it I do make a pretty big announcement about my weight. In the end of 2012, I had a full physical exam with my doctor and was talking with her about my weight and the history there. She asked me lots of questions, took a lot of measurements, and recommended that I set a higher goal weight than what Weight Watchers told me was the highest healthy weight for my height of 5’8.

The doc wrote me a note that I passed along to my Weight Watchers boss recommending that I maintain 175-180 as my goal weight. Weight Watchers says you can’t have a BMI higher than 27 as your goal weight, so we reset my weight goal to 177 pounds. I weighed in yesterday at 178.4, which was .4 down from not quite a week before. That means, I am within 2 pounds of my goal weight for the first time in… I can’t even remember how long! Granted, it is a completely different (and much higher) goal, but still.

I am feeling really great about the fact that I no longer have pressure from anyone except me to lose the weight. As I mentioned in my 2013 Intentions post, I really want to use this year to focus on getting to, and staying at, my happy weight. I think 164, my original goal weight, is just too low for me to reasonably maintain. That said, I would definitely like to lose a few more pounds and get to a place where my body, mind, and life just feel… good.

The big difference is that now I am going to keep doing this for ME. I am the reason I started this in the first place, and doing it for me is the only way I can truly stay committed to the long term habits I need to stay healthy. I plan to continue to weigh in weekly as I go through this new phase of my journey with weight, and want to keep doing video weigh ins as I plug along and find my happy place.

Thanks for all your support and for bearing with me through the ups and downs – I really value each and every one of you! Yes, YOU!

2013 Intentions

New Years Resolutions are such a touchy topic. A lot of people hate them because there’s always so much hype surrounding January 1st, and most resolutions do die down after the first few weeks of the year. That said, I think that setting goals can definitely be a good thing, especially when you really put some thought into them and pick achievable goals based on where you are right now.  Time goes so fast as an adult, and I think it’s fun to look back over your year when a new one comes and set some intentions for what you hope to accomplish in the new year.

This year, I put a lot of thought into my goals and decided to divide them up into different areas. I have a lot I want to accomplish this year, and I know if I stay focused throughout the year, I can achieve them all.

First, health related goals.

1.) Keep an exercise log for the whole year.

Sometimes when I skip a run or go a couple days without exercising, I really beat myself up about it. When I keep a log of my workouts, it helps me keep the big picture in mind, and I LOVE being able to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. I just created this document yesterday, and plan to keep it up to date throughout the year.

2.) Cross train at least once a week.

I know I will keep up with running because I’m scheduled to run another half marathon as well as the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (for the fourth year in a row!), but I need to be more consistent with things other than running. I want to take classes, do yoga, strength train, ride my bike, or just do anything other than running at least once a week, and hopefully more.

3.) Find my happy weight.

I plan to do a thorough weight update later this week, but I really want to find my happy weight in 2013. I feel like I’ve been bouncing back and forth between 15 and 20 pounds since zoning in on my goal weight for the first time, and I want to use this year to really find a weight that is maintainable for me for the long term. I want to be able to have fun and not deprive myself, but also stay focused on my health and get to a place where my weight is not shifting from week to week or month to month.

Second, blog related goals.

1.) I want to be more consistent with posting.

My goal for the year is to post a minimum of once a week, every week. Ideally I’d like to post more than that, but I don’t want to commit to doing too much because I really only like to blog when I actually have something to say, rather than just blog to say I did. If you have any topics you’d like me to touch on, please send me an email (bethsjourneyblog at gmail dot com) or leave a note in the comments section with ideas/questions.

2.) Post one new recipe a month.

My recipes are still one of my most popular parts of this site, and I want to bring them back. Again, I’d ideally like to post more than one a month but we’ll start with 1 because I know that much I can do.

3.) Get back to setting monthly goals, starting in February.

This goes hand in hand with achieving my goals for this year, and I really love being able to see what I’ve accomplished for the last month and decide what to focus in on for the next month. I’ll start this one in February since it’s already the second week of January, and I’d love it if you guys wanted to go along with this and share your own goals with me, and then we can check in with each other at the start of the next month. I love the community that I get from this blog and feeling like I’m not alone in my goals, my struggles, and my accomplishments!

Third, personal and professional goals.

1.) Be more careful about spending.

2012 was a big year for me because I got out of debt and made a lot of progress on my emergency fund, but I continued to spend a little more frivolously than I would have liked. I’m still trying to figure out the best system for this, but I might go back to a cash only spending policy until I get this back in check. I know I should be saving more than I am, and I really want the freedom that comes with savings!

2.) Read at least 1 book per month.

One of my goals last year – to watch less TV and read more – was too vague. One book a month seems very doable, especially since I’m almost finished with Room, which will be my first for 2013. I have Gretchen’s book Terra in the queue next (which will be the first book I read on my new iPad)… any other suggestions?

3.) Have a plan in place to take some health/wellness training.

Health and wellness and weight loss are my true passions in life. I feel like I have the power to really help people in this area, and I want to take steps this year to make it more a part of my profession. I’m considering getting one step closer to this by becoming a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and/or taking classes to become a health coach. This, coupled with writing my blog consistently and continuing as a leader for weight watchers, will really make me feel like I’m on the right path.

Looking over this list makes me realize what big goals I have set for myself this year! I truly am confident I can achieve them all though, because I think they are doable based on where I am at the moment. I know I will be in a great place in my life if I make progress on all of these things this year, and that is what I plan to do.

Do you set New Years Resolutions/goals for the year? Why or why not? If so, what would you say your biggest one or two goals for the year are? If not, what do you do to hold yourself accountable for sticking with making sure you’re heading where you want to go?

ActiveLink Review

I have been meaning to write a post about the ActiveLink for AGES now, but it’s better late than never, right!? Full disclosure, as a Weight Watchers Leader, I did receive an ActiveLink for free to try out before they were out in meeting rooms, but that doesn’t influence how I feel about the thing.

activelink

So what is ActiveLink?

ActiveLink is an activity monitor that you wear all day long. It measures movement from side to side, front to back, and up and down, as well as acceleration, so it goes well beyond a pedometer. As you can see in the photo above, it’s a USB, so you plug it directly into your computer to import all the activity data. You can wear the monitor clipped to your chest, loose on a necklace (!?), clipped to your belt, or in your pocket. You wear it all day long except when you’re sleeping and it is waterproof so you can even wear it in the shower (which I have NOT done). I usually wear mine attached to my bra, or else clipped to my top if I’m working out.

workout

When you plug it into your computer to import the data, you get feedback on how many minutes of moderate activity and high intensity activity you’ve done that day (separately), as well as a bar graph showing how much you’ve moved each hour of the day.

So what do I think of it?

I absolutely LOVE, love, love the ActiveLink. One of the key ways that it works is that you have to hit your activity baseline before you earn any activity points, which the old system of tracking points doesn’t account for.  The idea is that the personalized daily target of points is based on doing a certain amount of activity we should be doing anyway without getting credit or extra ActivityPoints for. We’re supposed to be moving 5 minutes per hour while we’re awake WITHOUT earning any extra points, and then anything we do beyond that is where we earn extra points that we can then eat.

So basically, I have to hit this activity baseline before I earn any extra activitypoints to eat. As you probably know, I am pretty self motivated when it comes to working out, but it has really changed the way i go about the rest of my day and makes me move so much more.

A good example is that sometimes I’ll go on a run in the morning for 3 or 4 miles, and I won’t earn any points! At first, that was so annoying, but then I realized all those miles went towards hitting my baseline, and every single thing i did from then on out during the day would earn me points. It made me want to walk an extra loop around the block, take two trips from the car, get up often during the work day, and earn points just from walking to/from anywhere.

I’m lucky that I live in a city so I move a lot more just by virtue of walking everywhere, and now I feel like I get “credit” for everything, which I like. For example, sometimes I’ll opt to walk rather than drive/metro to somewhere that’s about 2 miles away, just to get in extra movement. Before, I wouldn’t have entered this as activity since I didn’t break a sweat, but now that I’m wearing the ActiveLink it accounts for that movement on top of everything else.

One other way it has changed the way I move throughout the day is that I am more aware of standing still. Like, if I’m microwaving my oatmeal at work, rather than standing there staring blankly at the microwave, I’ll walk around the kitchen or back to my desk. Same thing if I’m waiting for an elevator or doing something else where I am idle.

What are the downsides?

Honestly, not much. The device itself costs $39.95 which is a LOT cheaper than other similar things. You do have to agree to $5/month to keep it active and connected to your eTools, but that doesn’t seem like a lot to me considering how easily I can throw around $5. The one thing that is annoying but temporary is that when you first start wearing it, you have to do an 8 day assessment. During this time, you go about your regular activity and then at the end it gives you a summary of how active you are and sets a goal for you to work towards over the next 12 weeks in the form of an ActiveLink Challenge. During this 8 day assessment, you get no feedback on your movement and don’t “earn” any activity points! It was so annoying to not earn a single point that first week even though I was working out regularly, but that is only for the first 8 days so it’s not the end of the world.

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