Weight Watchers

In His Words: Matthew’s Story

“If you don’t change your life, you will die early Matthew.”  Could there be a more powerful statement in your life at age 27?  My name is Matt Frates and I once heard that from my doctor after a medical scare shortly after my 27th birthday.  Being forced to process my own mortality at a time when I was supposed to be in my prime was, and still is to this day, the largest pill I have ever had to swallow.  I had to deal with the fact that I was not invincible, and the destructive lifestyle I unconsciously chose to live would have dire consequences on my future.

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The next day I received a work email about a session of Weight Watchers starting the following week.  That, my friends, was “the sign.”  It was time to get my life together.

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For all of you readers out there, whether you have lost weight or have yet to take that plunge, we all will have that moment where we are ready, and boy do you have to be.  I marched into that WW meeting ready to take on the world, thinking about how I needed to lose this weight to be in the place I should be.  I signed up, I paid, and I stepped on the scale.  BAM!  I was slapped in the face with the true reality.  I weighed 312 pounds.  Come again?  I will spell it out; three hundred and twelve pounds!  I was embarrassed and I was scared, but I was motivated.  I wasn’t there for anyone but myself.  I was ready to do whatever it took to change my life and my lifestyle, NOT to go on a diet.

That day, February 25, 2010, was the start of the rest of my new life.

Making life changes is never easy and I started by going home and throwing away all the food I had in my apartment.  It was time to start fresh.  I bought all new food, made menus, and stuck to the plan.  The first week I lost 6.2lbs and the following week 2.9lbs.  I was on a roll.  I began exercising five days a week, tracking all of my food, yet still enjoying life.  Throughout 2010 I lost close to 50 pounds by sticking to my points and exercising vigorously.  My exercise involved massive amounts of cardio, which included the elliptical, the stationary bike, and rowing machine.  I loved seeing the amount of calories burned at the end of a gym session. The day when I hit 1000 calories burned I thought was the best accomplishment of my life.  I was set for life right?  Or so I thought.

In mid-June of 2010 I received a phone call from a good friend asking me if I had heard of an event called the Warrior Dash.  I had not, but upon checking it out, I saw that it was a 5k (3.1 miles) with obstacles.  I knew I hated running but the concept sounded like so much fun.  Starting in July I began to get my butt on the treadmill and attempt to run.  It was ugly for sure, but I made it to the point where I could run about 2 miles of the 5K distance.  The event was in Amish country Pennsylvania and it was a blast!

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What is significant about this story is the fact that I finished in 49 minutes when I had expected to finish in well over an hour.  I felt so good about myself and what I had done that I began to think I could do it again.  You know what I found out?  I actually enjoyed running!  I did my first 5K on Thanksgiving of that year and then my first 10K two weeks later and it became official, I was hooked.

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Since then, my journey through weight loss has taken on a completely different meaning.  No longer was it just about the weight or even about the food.  It became about something so much deeper.    Running, not food, became my new passion, my new addiction.  It filled my body, my mind, and my heart with something food never could.  All the mindless eating I had done to satiate the repressed and misunderstood emotions I was carrying around could never have given me what the sport of running has over the last two years.

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Over that time I have competed in 19 races, including five half marathons and a Tough Mudder. On October 7, 2012 I will run my 20th and most challenging race to date, the Chicago Marathon.  The marathon and its 26.2 miles will be a microcosm of my journey through weight loss.  It will be long, it will be difficult, but ultimately it will end with a feeling of satisfaction that nothing else can give.  It will not be the end of this journey, just steps into another phase of it.

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As I sit here writing the conclusion to my story I thought of three powerful thoughts that have kept me so successful over the years.  The first tip I can give is never look at losing weight as a diet.  The word diet implies deprivation and carries a negative connotation with it.  Think of it as the start of the rest of your life because this is about changing your lifestyle. The second tip I can give is to always remember that satisfying your mental appetite is just as important, if not more, than satisfying your physical appetite. Weight loss is not a sprint it is a marathon.  That may sound cliché but it’s true.  Many of us know emotional eating all too well and it does not go away once we are ready to change our lives.  Just be aware of the mental aspect of weight loss because it will be there through the bad times AND the good times.  Lastly, and most importantly, never doubt yourself.  If my story can teach one thing it is that ANYTHING is possible.  When I started I never thought I would have become the person I am.  That desire, that sense of purpose is in all of you.  Some of you may have found it and for some it may be dormant, but it is there.  Always believe … always.  Good luck to you all on your journeys and thank you for taking the time to hear about mine.

Yours in health,
Matt

Slow Cooker South Indian Lentil Stew

I have been REALLY digging lentils lately. I literally made a lentil and feta salad with parsley, red onion, and red pepper FOUR times over the course of two weeks. Four times! So when I saw this Slow Cooker South Indian Lentil Stew pop up on WeightWatchers.com as the recipe of the day, I couldn’t look the other way.

Now you may be thinking – slow cooker (the one I have) in the summer? Is that really a good idea? And the truth is, it really is! I set this baby up to cook before heading out to hike this past Sunday, and when I got back to my apartment, not only was it not burnt to the ground (which is still a concern of mine every time I use the slow cooker), it wasn’t even hot like if I had cooked something over the stove or in the oven.

I made this recipe exactly as prescribed, so I can’t call it my own – but I can offer one suggestion. Use less salt. The recipe called for 1 tablespoon, and it was just way too much. I  would recommend going with half that, or even less honestly. There are so many spices going on in this recipe that I’m not sure you really even need the salt. I have step by step instructions below, along with a trick for peeling ginger that works like a charm. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker South Indian Lentil Stew

    • Prep Time: 20 mins
    • Cook Time: 6 hours on low (or 8.5 if you hit traffic on the way home from hiking)
    • Servings: 6
    • PointsPlus: 6 per serving
    • Source: WeightWatchers.com

So first up, the ingredients:

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A lot of them! For simplicity’s sake, here’s what I put together the night before in the slow cooker:

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  • 2 cup(s) dry red lentils
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar

The recipe says if you’re missing a spice or two, it’s no big deal, but I happened to have them all on hand except the mustard seed, so I picked some up at Whole Foods in anticipation of making this.

With all the spices and lentils premixed, this left just the following to deal with in the morning:

    • 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
    • 10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
    • 4 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or vegetable broth
    • 1 small uncooked onion, minced
    • 1 Tbsp ginger root, fresh, minced
    • 1 Tbsp minced garlic

Since nothing had to be done with the tomatoes, spinach, or broth, it meant the only prep I had to do in the morning was deal with the onion, garlic, and ginger.

First up, the onion and garlic – no problem.

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Want to know a cool trick about peeling ginger? The secret lies in the following tool that you probably already have you in your kitchen:

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A spoon! The spoon peels only the skin off the garlic if you use it like so:

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Sort of scraping the skin off. It works so much better than a pairing knife or anything else. Thanks to my sister Heather for teaching me this trick because you don’t waste any of the ginger itself!

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After everything is prepped, toss it into the crockpot with the lentils, spices, tomatoes, and spinach.

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Mix it all together.

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Then pour in your broth.

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And you are ready to go. When you come back to it 6 (or 8.5) hours later, the liquid will have absorbed and you’ll be left with a thick lentil stew.

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Mix it up and then add your two final ingredients:

  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, minced

And you are ready to eat!

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This stew was absolutely DELICIOUS. It’s full of flavors, textures and is so, so satisfying. Since it was 6 servings, I ate one on the spot and then put the other 5 in containers for lunch during the week.

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I ended up freezing two of them for later, but let me tell you – it’s even better the next day as leftovers since the flavors have even more time to mesh together.

If you want to print the recipe, click over to the WeightWatchers.com version, but don’t forget to cut the salt at least in half!

Do you ever use your slow cooker in warmer weather? Share a favorite crockpot recipe in the comments if you have one!

Ode to a Perfect Weekend

I looooove the weekends. That makes me unique, right?

This past one, I had the PERFECT weekend in my book.

Friday night started out with a healthy date with my friend Kelly. I stopped by my old office to say hello at the end of the day (where she still works) and we headed over to the gym for a quick workout. I ended up doing 20 minutes of intervals on the stairmill and then a quick strength training circuit and felt great. Afterwards, we grabbed some salads at Chop’t (the new seasonal Tabago Jerk Cobb has only 6 pts+ by the way and is DELICIOUS) and then headed to E Street Cinema to see Celeste and Jesse Forever.

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Though the movie doesn’t have the best ratings for some reason, I LOVED it. It was hysterical laugh-out-loud at some points, and touching to the point of tears in my eyes at others. A little depressing overall but really, really well done in my opinion.

Saturday I woke up bright and early and headed to Whole Foods to do a little shopping. I wanted to make this South Indian Lentil Stew I found on WeightWatchers.com and knew I would be out all day Sunday, so wanted to pick up what I needed first thing. After coming back from WF, I met my friend Jess at the gym and did 45 minutes of intervals on the stairmaster and led her through a strength training routine, which was fun! Afterwards, we did a little shopping, and then headed to meet up for our friend’s birthday in the late afternoon.

It brought me right back to college, party bus and all. We were supposed to go to Annapolis for a crab feast, but when we got there 32 people deep, they couldn’t make room for us. Next thing we knew, we got asked to leave for being too rowdy and ended up at Red, Hot and Blue, a barbeque place. It’s funny because there’s actually one in Arlington, which is just a quick trip on the metro from where we started, but we ended up traveling via bus to eat there. Whatever the case, we had a great time and it seriously brought me back to feeling like I was 21.

Sunday morning I had some exciting plans – my very first hike! Lauren had emailed me to see if I wanted to come up to Frederick for a hike and said that Ashley would join us. I jumped at the chance! My friend Tegan came with me for the hour drive up to Frederick, and before I knew it, we were at the start of the trail.

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We ended up doing a 5.5 mile loop which took about 2 hours, and I LOVED it. The views from the top were breathtaking!

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It was seriously the most perfect day. Since the ground was so rocky and uneven, I had to pay attention just enough to really be in the moment, but I felt SO relaxed. Plus, we were talking the ENTIRE time, so it went by so quickly and did not feel like even close to 2 hours.

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I can’t believe I waited so long to go for a hike!

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Perfection.

Is there anything you waited a long time to do for no good reason?

Outside the Box

This week at Weight Watchers was a recipe swap. Since only me (the leader) and one member brought in recipes (I gave the rest of them a pass since the meeting was at 7:30am after all), I decided to shift the topic towards rethinking kitchen staples. The whole idea behind the meeting was to think about why changing things up in your diet is important, and here is what we came up with as a group:

    • It keeps us from getting bored.
    • It adds variety.
    • It refocuses us, because when we eat the same things all the time we feel safe with them.
    • It allows us to eat seasonally and buy what is fresh at the market.

And something else I wanted to add but didn’t – it keeps our bodies guessing. I think sometimes our bodies get really accustomed to what we eat if we tend to eat the same things over and over, so you sort of surprise it when you introduce it to new foods and can push yourself out of a rut.

After covering the basics of why it’s important to change up the diet, we talked about some staples that we all have in our kitchen and ways to rethink them.

First up, hummus.

    • Discoveries: Trader Joe’s makes a tahini-free hummus that has just 1 pt. as does Cedar’s brand
    • Uses: On sandwiches, in tuna salad with a little greek yogurt, in egg salad, with hot dogs in a tortilla.

Next up, beans.

    • Sprinkle on salads.
    • Mash up with salsa and cumin and melt cheddar over the mixture on an English muffin or pita.
    • Make your own bean dips/spreads.
    • Add to stirfries.
    • Mix with corn, canned tomatoes with jalapenos, and red bell peppers, cover with sliced polenta, top with cheese and bake for a casserole. Yum.

Last one discussed, frozen veggies.

    • Stirfries with chicken or tofu
    • Egg scrambles
    • Fried Rice or another grain
    • Soups
    • Frozen spinach for smoothies

Some other random things that came out:

    • Roast eggplant rounds and store in the fridge to use for the “bread” on sandwiches.
    • This recipe yields pesto that is 2 pts+ for 1/4 of a cup. You could freeze it into 2 tbsp portions in an ice cube tray for just 1 pt+ a pop.’
    • Health Salad is one of my favorite recipes and the one I brought for the swap.
    • Cooking Light, Real Simple, WeightWatchers.com, and SkinnyTaste.com are some favorite sources for WW-friendly recipes.
    • When you don’t tell people you are making a healthy or Weight Watcher friendly recipe, they won’t know – they’ll just think it’s delicious!

Tell me – what’s one staple you always keep on hand in your kitchen and what is your go-to use for it?

Year 27 Highlights and Year 28 Hopes

27 was a great year for me. I went through a lot of big life changes, but despite all the ups and downs, I truly think I am in a better place now on so many levels. Last year on my birthday I posted some hopes for my 27th year, and here’s how I did with them.

Run a FULL marathon – Scheduled for October 30, 2011!

This one did NOT happen. I announced my decision to drop out of the marathon pretty far into training (I already had 16 miles under my belt), but I am very confident that I made the right decision, even now. Though it wasn’t a goal, I did go on to run two more half marathons while I was 27, and PRed in one of them, with a time of 2:08:52.

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Select a triathlon for 2012.

This also did not happen… I am sensing a trend here with fitness goals! Maybe this year.

Become a Leader for WW.

This is one I am proud to say I accomplished with flying colors! I went to Basic Leader Skills training in Chicago this past October, and started leading meetings in early 2012. Though I was really bad at it at the beginning, I’ve truly hit my stride and am loving it. When I first took over my Tuesday morning meeting, it had 15 members. As of this past Tuesday, I had 41 members, almost TRIPLING the number I started with. Yay!

Maintain my weight (or lose a few lbs!) throughout my 27th year.

This one is something I’ve really been struggling with lately. I came clean about it a few times on the blog, but have sort of backburned weight loss with all the big life changes going on. That said, I really want to move it front and center for year 28.

Get fully out of debt and have a hefty emergency fund of 6 months of living expenses saved before turning 28!

I am proud to say that I am completely debt free and have even made significant progress on saving money, too. Right now, I have about 2 months of an emergency fund saved up, and my hope is to have the full six months saved by the end of this year. This one was a HUGE accomplishment for me because I had been swimming in debt since college!

Plan an international trip for 2012 – I haven’t been out of the country since I was a kid!

I did go to St. Maarten in April with my sister and her family, and technically that is half French, half Dutch, and I am going again in less than two weeks for a friends wedding.

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That said, I really want to have something on the books abroad abroad (aka not the Caribbean) by the end of the year.

Redesign Beth’s Journey and move to a self hosted domain.

Check! I have been self hosted/redesigned for almost a year now, and it’s so much better than it was before!

So though I only accomplished about half of those that I hoped to, I did a lot of great things this past year and am feeling good about where I am.

Year 28 Hopes

Now that I am officially 28, I feel like I’m actually an adult. Even though technically I may have been one for a while and I still sometimes don’t act like it, I really want to focus on my career this year and achieving balance and moderation as best I can. Outside of my career, I also want to focus on getting back to my goal weight in a healthy way, and trying my best to live in the moment and not let life get away from me too quickly.

Here’s what I want to do this year:

    1. Get back to my goal weight and maintain it. Duh.
    2. Workout 3-4 times a week, including strength training, through this year.
    3. Run at least one half marathon (I’m signed up for the DC Rock ‘n Roll Half again in 2013) and a few other races.
    4. Limit drinking to 2ish times a week, which means doing things with friends more that don’t revolve around alcohol.
    5. Try my best to be present and enjoy where I am, not constantly looking forward to the next thing, which is my tendency.
    6. Really focus on my new job, because I feel like position is truly the start of my career. They are very into work/life balance, so I have plenty of time outside of work to focus on other things.

28 is going to be a great year. I can feel it!

Wednesday Weigh In Results

I finally had a breakthrough on the scale this week and it feels sooooo good! I think a big part of it was that this past weekend was the one I didn’t travel for during the whole month of May, and being at home really helps me be better about staying on track. Even though I was home, I did go out for dinner/drinks on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday night, one of which included pizza and bruschetta! This is why I love Weight Watchers – I can still eat things that I love like pizza (and vodka and wine) and lose weight!

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Since I knew I had a few plans that would involve dinner and drinks, I wanted to make sure I didn’t go too too crazy any of those nights eating-wise and really focus on having healthy, balanced meals at home/at work when I was preparing my own. On top of that, I resisted a bunch of office treats and sweets that always seem to present themselves, because I was thinking about the three outings I had planned and those were more important to me.

Outside of food, I remained pretty active and got in three solid workouts. Here’s what my activity schedule looked like:

    • Sunday: Rest
    • Monday: New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1, Workout B, plus 3 mile treadmill run
    • Tuesday: Rest
    • Wednesday: 3 mile outdoor run – 9:14 pace
    • Thursday: Rest
    • Friday: Rest
    • Saturday: 7.2 mile walk/run

It should be noted that on days that I consider rest days, I usually try to walk both ways to work, which is 2.6 miles total, or about 45 minutes. I think I had to say that mostly to make myself feel better because there’s more rest on there than workouts, but its true!

Anyways, I had a feeling I’d have a good result when I got on the scale, but I was thrilled when it said I was down 2.2 pounds! I can’t even tell you the last time that I lost that much in one week, and it feels especially good because I kept on living and enjoying myself while being mindful of what I was getting into.

This means, since recommitting on April 24, I’m down 4.2 pounds total. This has included plenty of travel, a staff retreat for work, lots of meals/nights out, and some more exciting life changes that I’ll reveal soon – so I’ll definitely take 4.2 pounds in not quite a month! This means I have “just” 12.6 pounds to go until I’m back where I need to be! I can do this!!

Scale Surprise

These past couple weeks have been super super busy, which has made it really hard to stay on track. The weekend before last, I was in Philly from Saturday to Sunday to run the Broad Street Run with my sister, and then I went directly from her house to a staff retreat for my day job on Sunday night. I was at the staff retreat through Tuesday, and then back in the office Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, I took a vacation day from work and drove up to Woodstock, NY to see my family for Mother’s Day Weekend, and didn’t get back until after 10pm on Sunday night. Whew!

The staff retreat proved the hardest part of the past couple weeks for eating. We had it in an old farm house, and it was fully stocked with sour watermelons, M&Ms galore, chips, dorritos, skittles, party mix, cheesy poofs, sunchips, chocolate, pretzels… you name it. And that was just for snacks!

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In addition, we had the meals catered and since we were in a pretty remote area, they were made by two sisters who cooked comfort food out of their home. Most of the food was heavy – think mac and cheese, spinach lasagna, cheesy pasta, pulled chicken, coleslaw, etc. I don’t do well having all that tempting food around me constantly, so I overdid it pretty badly with the snacks and the meals alike. I also won a crab eating contest and picked and ate 17 crabs on Monday night, so that didn’t help much either. Winking smile

The weekend at my sister’s house in Woodstock was a lot better health wise, because now all five members of my immediate family are following Weight Watchers, even my dad! This is HUGE and something I never thought I would see. He is the one who initially inspired me to try Atkins because he had such success on the program without having to use moderation, so for him to adopt a program based around moderation has been so awesome. He and my mom have lost over 8lbs each in just a few weeks on the program!! I am so happy for them.

Anyway, since everyone was trying to be on track, the meals were pretty healthy throughout the weekend, though the wine and booze were flowing from dinner on both nights. Each of my sisters took on two meals, while I was in charge of Mother’s Day brunch since I’m the only female non-mother.  Though, my 4 (and a half!!) year old niece Claire did ask me, “Auntie Beth, Do you hope to one day be a mother?” Oh, kids.

The biggest saving grace during the past two weeks of busyness has been that I have been REALLY consistent with working out, and for that, I’m proud! I got in four solid workouts both weeks despite traveling quite a bit, and you can see what I’ve been up to workout wise here, but I’ve basically been running a couple times a week, doing strength training, and using the stairmill for cross training. I even got an 8 mile run in with my sister on Saturday in Woodstock!

I already tried to take control of the meals that I could. When I was home/not traveling, I stuck fully to my PointsPlus for the day and prepared healthy meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even while gone, I tried my best to start the day with a healthy breakfast, and then made sure to get in a lots of fruit and veggies throughout the day. I also tried to keep hydrated and drank a good amount of water throughout those two weeks. In short, I did the best I could.

So, I honestly wasn’t sure WHAT to expect when I stepped up on the scale yesterday. When I did, and found out I was down 1 pound from two weeks ago, I was actually really pleased!

The last time I weighed in and lost a pound in one week, I was a little disappointed because I had tracked EVERYTHING I’d eaten and didn’t have that many obstacles that week to get in the way of losing weight. This time, I had a lot of things going on and didn’t track completely the whole time, so I am really proud of that pound.

That means, two pounds down in 3 weeks back on the program and I am feeling good!

Wednesday Weigh In

Last week for the first time in I can’t even tell you how long, I tracked EVERY SINGLE BITE that passed through my lips. Even when I first started Weight Watchers in March 2009 (for the second to last time), I would allow myself one “cheat day” where I wouldn’t track and would just consider all my extra points gone but wouldn’t actually track it to see how bad the damage was.

So how much did I have? I ended up eating all of my daily points each day, plus 56 extra points, which included all 49 Weekly Points and then some of the Activity Points I earned. Tracking can be so eye opening because there were times when I felt like I really wasn’t eating that bad, but I was using way over my daily points. They go so quick! But, that’s what the weeklies are there for – to make the plan livable.

Activity wise, I got in 4 solid workouts, earning a total of 34 Activity Points:

    • Wednesday: 45 minute walk
    • Thursday: 30 min intervals on the stairmill + free weights
    • Saturday: Run for Shelter 10k
    • Sunday: Biking outside, 20 mins intervals on stairmill, NRLFW Stage 1, Workout A

Though I’ve been doing more strength training lately than I have in the past, it’s been incredibly random moves and routines. It’s been moves that I’ve learned through Jillian Michaels, things I know that are good for me like pushups and lunges, and also random ab work. I have really been wanting a bit more structure so that I know I am getting a solid, full body strength training routine in, so I decided to purchase the New Rules of Lifting for Women, which I’ve heard awesome things about. I just did the first workout on Sunday and am planning to do the second one tonight and will do a dedicated post soon. I did actually take measurements on Saturday for the first time ever, so I am excited to hopefully see and share some results with you, too!

So how’d I do on the scale?

Down 1.0 pounds!

While I am happy that the scale is down, I was hoping for a bit more since I made an effort to be really good and tracked all week for the first time ever. I know 1 lb is a solid weight loss and would tell a member he/she was silly for not being proud of that result, but when the tables are turned it’s hard not to wish for more. That said, I really am happy to be moving in the right direction and it feels awesome to be back in control!

One More Thing

I am excited to report that yesterday’s morning meeting was probably the best one yet. I feel like I am finally really starting to hit my stride as a Leader and am LOVING leading the meetings. I feel so comfortable in front of the group and really look to the members to teach me! I learn and hear new things at every single meeting, and as of yesterday, my meeting officially doubled in size from when I took it over!! I am so excited!

Time to Face the… Weight Gain

Since sometime towards September/October of 2011, I’ve been struggling with my weight, which I’ve mentioned on here quite a few times. As a Weight Watcher employee, you are required to submit your weight once a month, and I somehow managed to sneak by a couple months without doing so, and then it was the holidays, and then I got in unofficial trouble from Weight Watchers for not adhering to their guidelines. It was much less that I gained weight that was getting me in trouble, and much more that I was pretending I didn’t and not doing anything to fix the situation.

Well, since then, 5 pounds turned into 6 pounds turned into 10 pounds turned into…

16.8 pounds that I have to lose to get back to goal.

16.8 pounds. I’ll let you soak that in for a minute.

Now this is scary for quite a few reasons:

1.) It proves just how easy it is to justify weight (re)gain for me. I remember back when it was just a few pounds convincing myself that I could take care of it so easily that it wasn’t even worth focusing on. Well those few pounds have doubled and quadrupled, and now I find myself in place I never wanted to be again.

2.) I haven’t been THAT bad. Seriously. I’ve definitely been more lenient in the last several months than I was when I was losing weight, but I still packed my lunch and brought it to work almost every single day, ate a ton of fruits and veggies, drank my water, etc. I’d have a few splurge nights during the course of the week, but it wasn’t like I was eating out of control every day. That’s scary because I can’t even imagine where I’d be if I was paying no attention at all.

3.) I’ve been exercising quite a bit! Last week I worked out 5 times, this week I’m set to work out 4, and I just ran my third half marathon last month and PRed! This goes to show me what I already know about myself… the focus of weight loss for me has to be mainly on the food. I can’t make excuses for what I eat constantly because I am working out.

4.) I’m back to where I was when I restarted Weight Watchers in Dec 2010. Perhaps the most troubling part of it all.

I was supposed to be submitting my weight weekly since I got into unofficial trouble, but as I posted on my Attune Foods Blog, the pressure from wanting to lose the weight, combined with the pressure of having to do so for my job as a Leader was backfiring. Instead of facing the music, I tried to ignore it and pretend it wasn’t as bad as it was.

That was, until yesterday.

I had an official “Weight Conference” with my boss at Weight Watchers. Now let me emphasize… Weight Watchers has been EXTREMELY supportive in my efforts to get back to goal. My boss has asked me again and again what she can do to help and support me. It has been my own fault for not taking advantage of the resources at my fingertips and ignoring the problem.

After dreading this meeting with my boss, I walked out of it feeling refreshed, renewed, and refocused.

I am ready to do this. Again.

My new plan of attack:

1.) Weigh in on Tuesday morning EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I run a Tuesday morning meeting at the WW center, so this means I will have no excuse not to weigh in. Before, I was weighing in on Thursday or Friday (when I did), and I would artificially lower my weight by running beforehand, so I was always working to get back to my post-run weight and it just was not working. I’m hoping that weighing in earlier in the week will help me be a bit more focused during the weekend.

2.) Post my weigh in results on here, as well as weekly/monthly goals, as needed. I need the accountability,

3.) Track everything, even if it isn’t pretty. I started this on Tuesday, which included a night out for dinner/drinks and a 15 PointPlus cupcake. It was worth it, though, and I still have 32 extra PointsPlus (beyond my dailies) and whatever else I earn for activity this week.

4.) Step down from Leading meetings (temporarily) if I haven’t made any progress one month from now. If I haven’t lost a little weight, I know I need to take some time to focus on myself. This is a personal decision, not a WW decision. My WW boss is heavily discouraging me from doing this, but I know myself and my needs best.

5.) Forgive myself. Perhaps the biggest part of it all. Rather than being hard on myself, I need to just accept that I am where I am right now. It doesn’t define me or make me a bad person, it’s just what it is. A number on the scale. It happens.

Weight Watchers for Athletes

Contrary to the rumors I stirred up when I first mentioned writing about this topic, there is not an official Weight Watchers for Athletes plan (that I”m aware of, at least). My intention was more to discuss how I approach Weight Watchers when training for an endurance event, and this seemed like the perfect Weight Watchers topic to discuss this week with my quickly approaching half marathon (on Saturday!!).

Before I get too deep into it, I will say this:

It is hard.

It is hard to balance the goal of weight loss or maintenance in conjunction with the goal of running an endurance event.

It is hard to control the inevitable rise in hunger levels that result from long runs.

It is hard to not feel like you can justify eating everything in sight after running double digits.

Now that we have that out of the way, I want to dive into how I tackle WW coupled with training.

My Approach

I think the big difference for me when I am training is that I really have to tune into my hunger signals, which is something that I still struggle with a lot. Pre-run, I always have a variation of the same thing – an english muffin or bagel thin or sandwich thin, with peanut butter and a banana. Depending on how much PB I have, this can be anywhere from 5-8 Pts+.

During my run, I always fuel with my GU of choice – Vanilla Bean. It is 3 pts+ per packet, and I earn 3 pts+ for 15 minutes of running. I usually only take a GU every 30-45 minutes, so I am almost always earning more Activity Points than I am taking in during my long runs.

Post-run is when I struggle the most.

As mentioned above, I have a hard time not justifying wanting to eat everything I can get my hands on, so my normal approach is to plan some good high protein options for after a run and to space them out a little bit so I can try to pay attention to my hunger signals. Some of the best ones I have found are:

    • Smoothies – Skim Milk, Banana, Strawberries, Spinach, Vanilla Extract, and peanut flour or protein powder for an extra protein kick. This can be anywhere from 2-4 pts+. One of my favorite things to do is to make a smoothie pre-run, and put it in the freezer while I’m out. This way, when I come back, it’s basically like a delicious slushie that I can eat with a spoon.
    • Eggs – I love eggs (one of the main reasons I could never go Vegan). A lot of times I’ll have an egg + cheese on an english muffin with some fruit post run. This is usually 5-6 pts+.
    • Deli Meat – I also like to have a super quick option, so I always have turkey, ham, and/or roast beef deli meat on hand. A quick sandwich with turkey, cheese, and veggies is a great option, usually in the 5-6 pt+ range.

Since these are all relatively low-point options, I can have one, two, or all three of them and not go over my points. I usually try to have something almost immediately when getting back inside after a run, and then try to wait an hour before having something else. This gives me time to make sure I am really hungry and not just eating to eat or because I feel like I “earned it”.

I do feel like it’s important to note that I cannot stick with just my daily points – I have to dip into my weeklies, activities, or both when I’m training to truly feel satisfied. My approach is to always have at least the number of activity points that I earn, but usually I go into my weeklies as well after runs depending on how I feel (and how far I went).

One technique that could work really well for athletes following Weight Watchers is the Simply Filling Technique. I don’t quite trust myself enough to follow it completely and not track, but the basic premise behind it is that you eat healthy foods until you feel satisfied, so for someone who is good at listening to their bodies and their hunger signals, this could be the perfect solution.

The last thing I will say is this… while training for an endurance even does NOT justify eating everything in sight, it clearly DOES justify eating more.

You earn a lot of Activity Points (burn a lot of calories) through running, and almost always burn more than you’re taking in while running. I think it’s important to realize that training does give you extra flexibility, and I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t part of why I do it! If there’s something that I really want (like french fries and/or nachos!!), I’m going to have it! Otherwise, I will inevitably eat everything else, and THEN what I originally wanted, and basically undo the good I did for my body.

So my question to you is this… how do you balance trying to stay healthy with the inevitable rise in hunger levels that comes from training for an endurance event or just working out in general? Do you back burner weight loss/weight maintenance while training? Whether or not you are a Weight Watcher, I’m very curious about your approach and your thought process!

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