Weight Watchers

Two Weeks on SmartPoints: Takeaways & A Gain

I may have been stretching the truth when I said I was just looking to maintain this week after having such a big loss my first week following Weight Watchers’ SmartPoints. Truth be told, I was obviously hoping to lose again, so when I went in yesterday to step on the scale, I was pretty disappointed to see that I’d gained .8 pounds. I started to pout, but forced myself to stop when I looked down and saw that I’ve still lost 6 pounds total from the start, which averages to 3 pounds a week, aka more than I should get used to losing. And, before stepping on the scale, I’d walked in feeling pretty good about the week. So, rather than mope, I thought I’d share some takeaways from my first two weeks back on SmartPoints.

  1. Losing weight is hard! Even though I’m more familiar with this concept than I’d like to be, switching back into weight loss mode these past few weeks has reminded me just how hard it is. Every single day I’ve found myself having to make unexpected food-related decisions, like whether to take the free sample of fried chicken at the food truck (I did, and it was delicious for 1 SP which maybe should have been 2) or a treat from the tray that was passed around at a work meeting (I didn’t, and kept picturing everyone’s dirty hands all over them any time I considered going back on that). It’s just in your face all the time, and makes it much harder to stick with your plan than if there weren’t temptations at every turn.
  2. It really is a good idea to look up the SmartPoints value before I eat something, just so I know. Especially as I’m adjusting to the new system, seeing the high SP value of certain foods (ahem, anything with sugar) really makes me consider if it’s worth it when I do it on the front end.
  3. If I know I’m going to have something pretty point-y (see #2), adding it to the day before so it comes out of my weeklies instead of out of my dailies helps me stay on track. There’s something disheartening about seeing your daily SmartPoints dwindle, especially if you have a treat earlier in the day. I’ve found that even though it doesn’t make a difference except in my head, I’m able to stay on track after the “treat” better when it hasn’t blown my whole day of SmartPoints.
  4. Social gatherings and weekends are still my biggest challenges. I am really good and on track during the week, but having less structure on the weekends and alcohol during social gatherings, definitely makes it harder for me to stay on track. One thing I used to do that I’ve considered reintroducing, is dedicating my weeklies to the weekend in chunks. So, since I get 42 weeklies, I’d give myself 20 extra for Friday night (or Thursday night, or whichever other night I had something coming up) and 20 extra for Saturday, which made it feel like I still had some flexibility to indulge but gave me a good framework to limit myself. Again, just a mind trick, but whatever works, right?
  5. I don’t mind having the same few things for breakfast every day. I’ve found myself having the same two things for breakfast almost every day — either eggs or oatmeal — and I don’t get tired of it. I usually have hard boiled or fried eggs with veggies and toast, or steel cut oatmeal with cottage cheese and fruit, or with spinach, cheese, and egg for something savory. I look forward to those same things each morning and don’t mind having the same exact variation day after day.
  6. I do mind when it comes to lunch (and dinner). I’ve gone two days in a row having leftovers for lunch and can barely make it through the second day (third serving). I’m trying to overcome this without having to go crazy cooking by rotating what I’m having for lunch so I don’t have the same leftovers more than two days in a row. It seems to be working!
  7. “Free” fruits and veggies definitely makes me eat more of them than I would otherwise. Shifting into the SmartPoints budget mindset makes fruits and veggies being 0 SPs that much more appealing. I’ve found myself eating 2-3 servings of fruit and 4-6 servings of veggies most days, which is much more than I’d been having pre-recommitting to WW. I’ve been eating lots of frozen berries and bananas from the grocery store, plus honeycrisp apples, baby spinach, onions, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli from the farmer’s market.
  8. There’s something refreshing about seeing my renewed daily SmartPoints budget at the top of the WW app each morning. You always hear “everyday is a new day!” but those refreshed dailies really drive home that point, especially if I’ve gone a little overboard the day before.
  9. Even just weeks committed to a new regimen can make a big difference in how you feel. I’m sure there’s a bunch of factors contributing to this (see you Saturday, Antigua!), but I definitely feel GOOD and like I’ve had extra pep in my step these last couple weeks.

Since I leave for vacation on Saturday, I won’t weigh in again until I’m back from the trip. My plan is to enjoy my vacation and not be obsessive about WW or let it prevent me from enjoying myself, but I do want to try to be mindful about what I’m eating and make an effort to be active. In an ideal world, I’d see a loss on the scale, but I realize it’s pretty ambitious since I’ll be traveling, so I won’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. Onto the next!

The Real Reasons Why

For a good part of the last year or so, I’ve been wanting to focus on getting healthier and losing weight, but with so many changes and health issues along the way, I just haven’t made progress in the ways I was hoping to by now. And somehow, it’s already November and 2017 is almost behind us (thank GOD for that though), which is really hard to believe. Since I feel like I’ve stepped out of the fog hanging over the last several months, rather than letting a few more slip away with no progress, this week, I decided to rejoin Weight Watchers. And while I’ve joined a few times over the last couple years here and there, this time it feels different. I think I’m just ready to commit to making my health a priority again, and have the bandwidth to focus on it for the first time in a while.

One of the things I love about the Beyond the Scale Weight Watchers program is the whole “beyond the scale” part. At the beginning when you sign up and weigh in for the first time, they have you to take a few minutes to write why you want to lose weight. The receptionist actually had me write something down right then, which I think is good because it forces you to think about it. They say the more specific and detailed you can be the better because then you can start to visualize it, which can be pretty powerful, especially in moments of weakness.

After leaving the meeting, I’ve been thinking more about all the whys – why do I want to lose weight in general, why Weight Watchers again, why right now – and thought I’d share what I came up with. It’s really easy to list off surface level reasons, so I forced myself to dig a bit deeper with each.

  1. I don’t want to be back to the “before” and I’m terrified that’s the direction I’m heading if I don’t make some changes.
  2. Weight loss is mostly related to what I put into my body, which is something that’s totally within my control. Lately, so many things have felt outside my control, especially related to my back issues, so I’m looking forward to focusing on something where the outcome is completely up to me.
  3. I want to get excited when I see someone has tagged a picture of me on social media, rather than be filled with dread for how bad I might look in the picture.
  4. I’m currently a size 12, which is towards the top end of the range of sizes regular clothing stores carry. I want to be able to shop at regular stores, not have to go to the back of the rack to pick the biggest size they carry, and to feel good when I try on the clothes.
  5. I want to feel proud of my body again. I worked so hard to lose all the weight last time, and I’m ashamed I’ve gained some of it back, especially after undergoing plastic surgery to memorialize my hard work.
  6. I want to wear a bikini with confidence again. I vividly remember the first time I ever wore a bikini in my entire life by myself at a public pool in DC, and how liberating it felt. I truly believe that people should wear whatever they’re comfortable in, and I’m at the point where I don’t feel comfortable bearing my stomach.
  7. I want to be comfortable changing in a locker room or in front of friends again, instead of turning towards a wall and doing it quickly in a panic or going into a private bathroom stall.
  8. My parents have a long list of health issues related to being overweight, and I’m at the age where those things aren’t too far off if I don’t get it under control. My dad had a heart attack at age 40 (!) and both my parents have struggled with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being prediabetic/Type II diabetes. I don’t want the same fate.
  9. Holidays are a really tough time to lose or maintain weight, so rather than let myself spiral out of control these next few months, I want to focus on taking care of myself and get a head start. Time goes by so fast, especially as we get older (it’s science!) so rather than let a few more weeks turn into a few more months, I’m starting now.

Week One on SmartPoints

So you guys, I have to say, I’m really proud of myself. Something I’ve seriously struggled with in the past is how to balance losing weight with keeping up with my life. If I’m being “good” and recommitting to weight loss, I tend to shut myself away, avoid social situations, and honestly, get scared and overthink any hurdle that might come my way. I avoid going to happy hour or going out to dinner, and try to suggest doing something healthy like a workout for my social time, rather than making time for a workout earlier in the day, and letting my social time be, well, social.

This time around, I’m trying to be more reasonable and think long-term. Am I going to avoid going out to happy hour with friends forever? No. Am I only going to see my friends if I can convince them to join me for a workout? No. (Especially because my best girlfriends have fallen in love with SoulCycle and while I tried it once and liked it fine, I cannot bring myself to pay $33 per class without feeling sick at the thought.) Am I going to eat a small, well-portioned meal at home before meeting friends out for dinner and just order seltzer at the restaurant and seat myself as far away from the bread basket as possible? Nope.

IMG_3344

So, this last week, I took a looser approach to following SmartPoints and did the best I could, while still having a wonderful time with my friends, going out to eat much more than normal, and even taking a work trip to Boston. Last Thursday, one of my best friends from college who lives in NYC, Leah, came down to DC to visit for the weekend. Thursday night she came over and we ordered Mexican food. I ordered a healthy meal – chicken fajitas – for my main course, and even got queso and guac to share for starters. And I had chips and queso and guac, but I tried to be mindful while I was eating it. I made myself slow down a bit and stop before I overdid it, and even saved part of my fajitas for another day. In my past life, I would have fixated on avoiding the queso so bad that I am sure the stress alone would have added on several pounds.

Leah was around for the rest of the weekend, which included girls night Friday with wine at a friend’s place and dinner out at the Homestead (omg so good if you are local to DC) and brunch at The Republic on Saturday followed by some day drinking and snacking.

Cheers

We called it an early night Saturday and then I got back on track on Sunday. I went grocery shopping, planned out a few meals for the week (including Skinnytaste’s Banh Mi Rice Bowls which I hiiiiiiiighly recommend) and took my dog for a long walk.

Then, Monday I took a trip to Boston for the night for work and got back late Tuesday night, and again, normally this work trip would stress the hell out of me when I was first getting back on track. In my past weight loss attempts, I would have figured out how to fit in a workout, located a grocery store that I could get to easily once I got there, called my hotel ahead of time to ask for a refrigerator, overthought the meal options, and overly stressed myself out for a work trip I would have to take regardless of how it affected my weight loss efforts. Instead, I just took it for what it was and tried to be as healthy as I could with the options I had, drank plenty of water, and stayed on my feet a lot. I even met another best friend from college, Lindsay, for dinner on Monday night at Lincoln (SO GOOD!) and had a lobster roll for lunch during the work event on Tuesday.

Lobstah Roll

I hadn’t weighed myself at home once during the week since last week’s weight in, and with all the friend time, meals out, and travel, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to weigh in this morning. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I stepped back on the scale today and was down 3.4 pounds from last week! I honestly got giddy on the scale even though I still have a ways to go, and it made me feel confident that I can do this. Again.

Thrilled with The Gain

Going back to Weight Watchers to weigh in for the first time in a while can be pretty daunting for anyone, but I have been putting an extra layer of pressure on myself because I used to be a Leader, and was so afraid that someone might recognize me and wonder what the hell happened and where I went wrong.

When I feel the negative self-talk rise up and I know I am being hard on myself, sometimes I try to imagine that a close friend is sharing those same emotions with me, and I try to think through how I would respond to them. And usually, it’s quite different from what I say to myself (in my head mostly, luckily) and it helps me to change my tune.

I would say, “Don’t be ridiculous. Going back is a huge step in and of itself and it’s something you should be proud of, not scared of! Trust me, I know it sucks to have to face gaining weight back, but no one will be nearly as critical of you as you are. And honestly, even if someone does recognize you, what’s the worst that could happen? It would probably be refreshing more than anything because as anyone who has to lose/has lost a lot of weight genuinely understands, it’s not easy. Stop being so hard on yourself. I’ll be happy to go with you, if you like.”

I won’t share the self-directed commentary I had floating around before forcing myself to snap into gentle-mode, but suffice it to say that the version for my close friend was much kinder than the insults swirling around in my head.


As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I’ve been in a join, quit, rejoin, quit, rejoin cycle with Weight Watchers for the last year and a half plus. I went a few times throughout the year in 2015 where I saw the biggest gain from when I was Lifetime (about 35 pounds up from my goal weight), and then I went on April 26 and May 3 of this year (two weeks in a row!) and actually lost 3.8 pounds in that week, but that was followed by crickets… until yesterday.

When walking in, I honestly didn’t know what to expect with regards to what the scale would say. I haven’t been weighing myself regularly, and am not sure that I’ve been on a scale since May 3 to be honest. So, with baited breath I stood in line and soaked in the new-to-me SmartPoints merchandise while I waited for my turn at the scale. I saw a journal with a quote from the founder of Weight Watchers, and it helped reiterate that I was indeed making the right choice.

Choice Not Chance

My turn came, and as I walked over to step on the scale, I exhaled a bit when I realized that I had never laid eyes on the woman about to weigh me in my life, so she couldn’t possibly know who I was. She pulled up my profile and directed me to step on the scale, and then she goes, “Aww bummer. You’ve gained this time.”

Luckily, I had prepared myself for that, so I didn’t collapse on the spot. I did sheepishly remind her that I hadn’t weighed in since May 3 and had just recommitted the day before, and then I took back my booklet and sulked away from the scale.

But then, I opened up my booklet not sure what number would be there, and I had in fact gained weight, but it was only 1 pound since May 3! It could have been a LOT worse. I am pretty sure that’s the happiest I’ve been in my whole life from gaining a pound, so I’ll take it.

How To Start Again?

At first, maintenance seemed so easy. It was really hard for me to change my mentality from wanting the scale to go down each time I got on it, to hoping it stayed the same. And I think because that switch was so hard mentally, I was much more careful with what I was eating while I got my head around the concept, which is why maintenance was so “easy” at first.

When I think back to that time in my life where I hit my goal weight and then became a Lifetime member, I’m honestly not really sure I ever accepted that I was AT my goal weight. I thought I could stand to lose a few more pounds and while I didn’t want the scale to go up, I didn’t necessarily want it to stop going down either. I was still in weight loss mentality. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin despite being at a healthy weight, and I knew I couldn’t ever be happy with my body unless I did something drastic. So then I did.

Since then, I’ve gone through many phases in my relationship with food. I’ve been in great places. I’ve been in bad places. And since I’ve gone back and forth for my entire life, I guess it’s no surprise this cycle has continued, even though it surprised me. Before the surgery, I thought the complete opposite would be true. I thought that life after surgery would be the final chapter in my weight story. I was SURE that there was no way in hell I’d ever let myself gain back any weight after going through something like that to help my physical appearance. But it turned out to be just the opposite. I think in a way, after I had the surgery, I was so much happier in my body than I was at any of my previous weights that it almost gave me a free pass to eat and live how I wanted, regardless of the impact it would have on my health and weight.

And the healthy habits always slip away oh-so-slowly. An extra glass of wine here. An extra piece of pizza there. A missed workout one morning… and it’s a very slippery slope, especially for someone like me who has the tendency to be very all-or-nothing about so many things in my life.

I’m glad to say that I’ve snapped out of it before I got back to my before weight. I have truly recommitted to doing Weight Watchers and actually went in yesterday, weighed in, and purchased a monthly pass. (More on that in a different post.) While I know there will be ups and downs this time around and always, I feel in a really good place mentally and ready to do this.

A question that comes up again and again, sometimes just in my own thoughts, sometimes when talking with family and friends, and sometimes in emails and comments I get from readers, is how to start again? How to get out from under that blanket of guilt and shame that accompanies regaining weight and stand tall to face reality? How to stop sliding down that slippery slope before you get back to the bottom? And you know, I’m still not sure of the answers, but I do have a few ideas.

1.) Start with accepting the truth and forgiving yourself.

Anyone who has struggled with their weight knows how easy it is to come up with excuses and deny, deny, deny. That picture was just taken from a bad angle. These jeans must have shrunk in the wash. Stretchy pants are just so comfortable, of course I wear them all the time! I think getting to the place where I could admit that I was truly off track was the hardest part of it all. It felt like I was admitting I failed. But I didn’t. I just need to re-start. The time is now. Wishing and hoping that things were a different way doesn’t change a thing. Untagging yourself in pictures on Facebook doesn’t mean it wasn’t you. Not pulling out your summer clothes because you’re not sure if they will fit doesn’t solve any problems. Pretending that you’re not blogging just because you’re too busy doesn’t mean you’re using that extra time towards your health goals.

And the second major part of this step is to forgive yourself. It’s so easy to say mean things to yourself when you look in the mirror, to feel hate, shame and anger for letting it happen. To feel guilty and embarrassed to see people now that you’ve put back on some weight, especially those who complemented your transformation initially. But you know what? What’s done is done, and harping on it is not going to help. Accepting that we’re all human, we make mistakes, and we’re finally getting to a place where we are ready to commit to changing our lives once again is an essential piece of the puzzle.

2.) Set small goals based on where you are NOW.

After accepting that I actually gained some weight back and it doesn’t make me a terrible person, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty – the actual eating healthier and moving more portion of the program. While Weight Watchers is what I’ve found works for me, that’s certainly not the case for everyone. Some people are bogged down by tracking or do OK with restricting certain things from their diet (ie. Atkins, paleo, gluten-free, etc). Whatever works for you is what to do. But the important part is to set goals based on the RIGHT NOW. It doesn’t matter if I’ve run almost 30 races, including 5 half marathons, in my past life. If I haven’t been exercising regularly in almost a year minus a few brief stints, I have to start much smaller than running a half, or maybe even running in general. If I’ve been eating crap for every meal every day for a while, starting with adding good things (fruits and veggies, water, exercise, etc.) to make less room for the bad is key. Set myself up to succeed by making goals that are attainable right now is essential.

3.) Accept that it’s a lifelong journey.

This is the part I always get caught up on, which leads me back to #1 and #2 here. I have to admit that I can never stop trying. I can convince myself the opposite is true as much as I want, but that’s not the truth. I can never be one of those people that just eats intuitively and slowly devours a single piece of pizza, smelling and tasting each bit of it, and then feels satisfied. No matter how much I wish that was the case, or how much I convince myself I am getting there, I’m always going to be the kind of person that has to do a self check and realize I really don’t want to eat the entire pizza, so maybe it’s better that I don’t start. Or, maybe I do want a piece or two of pizza, but I need to move the box out of the room or throw it away to stop myself from going too far. I’m always going to be learning what works and doesn’t work for me, especially as I move into my 30s (in a few weeks – eeeeek!) and go through changes that impact my lifestyle and health.

And for me, I think step 1.5 was to realize that even though I have a blog, I don’t have all the answers, and that’s ok! I’m still very much figuring this journey out and the whole reason I created this blog in the first place was to have a place to document it. So turning away from my blog because I was struggling with my weight was the exact opposite thing I should have been doing. I convinced myself that not blogging regularly was not directly correlated with struggling to be healthy. And that, my friends, was a lie.

But you know what? I’m back. And maybe that denial phase was yet another part of this journey. And that’s ok. After all, I am only human.

Here We Go [Again]

Soooo that whole thing didn’t last long. I stayed off the carbs for about two weeks, but then I decided to have a cheat day, which turned into a cheat two days… into a week… into, ever since that cheat “day”. I went away to New York to visit my sister this past week, and then car camping over the weekend, and while it was SO fun, I left there feeling pretty gross. Bloated, overfed, over boozed, under exercised, and just… blah. So, on the drive home, I strategized and you’ll never believe what I ended up deciding.

Back to Weight Watchers.

I know it works. I know I can do it. I know it’s sustainable. And I know I can’t do something that restricts entire food groups for long, so here I am. I’m considering actually returning to meetings as a member for extra motivation, and will keep you guys posted with what I decide. But for now, I wanted to share my menu plan for the week. Since I got back yesterday evening, I headed right to the grocery store to stock up on fruit, veggies, lean protein, skim milk, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc… aka everything I haven’t been eating for the last little while. I didn’t feel like cooking when I got back, so things are pretty simple for the week. The main things I’m cooking are salsa chicken and baked potatoes, and neither of those are too labor intensive. Without further ado, I’m feeling ready to do this!

Dinner

Breakfast Lunch Snacks
Tuesday Greek yogurt w/banana + shredded wheat Turkey sandwich w/sliced apple, cheese + mixed lettuce, carrots w/salsa, air popped popcorn cottage cheese w/berries Salsa chicken over salad w/corn, black beans, + peppers
Wednesday Overnight oats with greek yogurt, skim milk, cinnamon, chopped apple Leftover salsa chicken salad English muffin toasted with tomato and cottage cheese Loaded baked potato w/broccoli, cheese + black beans
Thursday Veggie omelet with cheese + veggies, english muffin Leftover loaded baked potato w/side salad greek yogurt w/berries + raw oats Poached eggs over brown rice + spinach
Friday Green smoothie w/skim milk, banana, spinach, berries, greek yogurt, frozen berries Leftovers turned into fried brown rice w/egg + veggies cottage cheese w/apple Out!

Outside of sticking to my meal plan and detoxing, some of the goals I want to focus on this week are:

  1. Exercising 3x before Monday.
  2. Drinking 6 cups of water during the work day.
  3. Eating all my meals at home or prepared from my kitchen (to save $$ too!) for the rest of the work week.
  4. Getting enough rest and shooting to be in bed by 11 most nights.

Here we go!

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…

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