On Saturday, August 16th, I achieved something I wasn’t certain I would ever achieve; Lifetime Status at Weight Watchers! While it is a time for celebrating; it is a time for reflecting. I will admit, I was more excited to reach Lifetime than achieving my weight loss goal. But this is not only a time to celebrate but a time to reflect.
Facing the Scale aka Reality Check
When my brand new digital scale arrived, it was my time to confront and face the consequences of a few years of poor eating and not much body movement. My facing the scale happened on January 23, 2013. To say I was horrified would be an understatement. My thinking had been, avoid the scale and the problem doesn’t really exist. I had guessed at my weight to create an online account on the Weight Watchers Website. I found out what a poor guesser I really was! (This is why weighing and measuring food portions was crucial for me.) I had under-guessed my weight by twenty-five pounds. Talk about a shocker! Seeing that incredibly huge number on the scale was a disheartening but unlike my past behavior I did not let those negative feelings of self-loathing, anger and disappointment drive me to the refrigerator and pantry for comfort! Instead, I chose to use those negative feelings to ignite a fire of determination to propel me forward! I let that awful feeling come back when I felt I was losing my laser-like focus or being tempted to eat/drink something that would not help me to achieve my goal of feeling better (getting healthy).
After 17 months and 12 days, I achieved my Weight Watcher Goal Weight. In a way, it was anti-climatic. Sure I was happy and thrilled but then it hit me. The realization that I wasn’t needing to be driven to lose more. Now what? Panic started to set in. I seemed to only know how to lose weight or gain weight. I didn’t know the “middle” ground of maintaining. My weight had fluctuated all my life. I was either up or down. Now I was terrified of the “middle” the “average” the “same.” Maintaining my weight is new territory for me.
In Weight Watchers Maintenance,after reaching your goal weight, you are required to stay within 2 pounds of your goal weight for six weeks. You have to weigh in within two pounds of your goal twice during the six weeks. The very week after I reached goal, I weighed in and lost 3.2 lbs.! This loss put me under my goal weight by 4 pounds! This caused another panic to set in. it. To get back within my two pounds of my goal weight, my mind had to change gears from not just maintaining weight but now gaining weight to make my maintenance weigh ins! Talk about a switch up!
Another part of maintenance is to start increasing the amount of food you eat to reach a “balance.” They suggest adding 2-6 points back to your allowance. I had forgotten to add back points the first week. The second week, I added 4 points plus per day back to my total which helped level things out. The third week I added 2 more points plus to my day. I am now eating six points additional a day and it seems to be working fairly well, I might have to “tweak” that number a bit. Other Weight Watcher Life-timers have told me they flux between 30-36 points a day, depending on activity levels. I will admit I love having the flexibility!
The head being set right is 99% of weight loss from what I can see now I have had to switch my head from weight loss, to weight maintaining to weight gaining all in the space of two weeks! At some points, I felt I didn’t know which way to turn! I started allowing myself to have a good breakfast before the Weight Watchers meeting, and allowed myself start adding points back to my daily points allowance. It was so right, but in some ways felt so wrong! It worked and out of the six weigh ins I was within my goal weight range three of the six weeks!
Welcome to More of the Same
Something was said at that meeting where I reached goal which has proven to be so true! “Welcome to more of the same!” Reaching goal and Lifetime isn’t the end of the Weight Watchers Road; it is a milestone in a journey which continues. A “logic” says but you reached your goal, you shouldn’t have to “count/track” anything anymore. Really? I have reflected, when in my life I did not count/track and what was the result? I became extremely overweight and unhealthy! The “real” logic says if I do not want to become morbidly obese and unhealthy again, I must continue to each properly, count/track everything, and keep my body moving! Reaching your goal isn’t the end of the story. Now it is the time for due diligence to “protect the loss.”
The Next Chapter, Protecting the Loss
One of my next personal goals, is to create my own list of ways I can keep on protecting the loss. How much differently will that list look from the weight loss mantras I have kept in my head for the past 17 months and counting?
I feel I had a major wake-up call in late December 2012/early January of 2013, I was feeling bad, really bad. I wanted to sleep all the time. I would come home from work and crash on the sofa after eating dinner and not want to move a muscle until bedtime. When it was time to go to bed, I would slowly walk up my stairs, become totally out of breath and have to stop before reaching the top of the stairs! I hated how I was feeling. No energy, no desire to do much of anything. Then I decided to share how I was feeling with a cardiologist friend, which was a major step for me! He suggested that I get in for a stress test. His words struck me with total fear! In my heart of hearts I suspected I was a half of a step from a heart attack with how I had been feeling and his response confirmed my fears. I knew I had to change or I was going to die and I did not want to go and get a stress test to prove that point! Fear was a huge motivation for me to change. Not really the fear of dying but the fear of not being able to live a healthy life and the fear of feeling old beyond my years.
I joined Weight Watchers online January 2, 2013. I didn’t own a scale and so I “guessed” my weight. My first step in trying to get on program was to log everything I ate. I faithfully started the online tracking but not really trying to restrict my eating in any way. My first purchase was the Weight Watchers Digital Food Scale. I was determined to give myself the tools I needed to succeed! For the next couple of weeks, I tracked everything I ate online and started trying to drink more water.
My online purchases started arriving. I could now accurately measure my portions of food. The light bulbs started coming on. I had been eating too much food! My portions were way out of control! No wonder, I felt so bad. I was eating myself to death. I had no energy and couldn’t climb one flight of stairs without being winded! My next change I made was making myself eat one piece of fresh fruit a day at work instead of candy bars, chips and other unhealthy snacks. It was a major push to eat just ONE piece of fruit but I did it!
My new scale arrived January 23rd so that was the day I learned how truly unhealthy I had become. I had under-estimated my weight by 25 lbs. It was worse than I had realized. I decided this was the time to get really serious! While not the highest weight I have ever been, it was dangerously close. My next change was to try to get in those good health guidelines every day! I decided early on to keep focus only on the five pounds I was trying to lose at the time. I didn’t look at the “big picture” just at those immediate five pounds in front of me. I firmly believe that this strategy kept me moving forward and not getting too discouraged!
By the end of February, my first month knowing my real weight and having the right tools to weigh and measure my food, I managed to lose 11 pounds! I was thrilled! I was on my weight to better health. During the next year, I had a trip to the beach, a cruise to the Caribbean and managed to lose during each vacation time.
I really didn’t think about a goal weight the first few months. I had my annual check up on October 1, 2013 and consulted with my doctor on what I should weigh. She gave me a ten pound range which I felt was too low for me but took her note and kept it so I could show it to Weight Watchers when I was going to switch from online to meetings. I felt I didn’t need the note as the range she gave me was the upper end of the range weight watchers suggested. I still felt it was too low but she had agreed to renegotiate with me when I got closer to my goal weight. I have scheduled a follow-up appointment with my doctor in August; it will be fun to see her face when she reads my chart! 🙂
When January 23, 2014 came around I had managed to lose 86.6 lbs in my first year! That was thrilling!!! And since January 23rd I have managed to lose an additional 29 lbs. and reach my weight watchers goal weight! I started the year very focused on continuing my journey to greater health. My next milestone came when I hit the one-hundred pounds lost mark in mid-March. I knew at that point the biggest part of my weight loss was now behind me and the push toward the goal range had fully began.
I switched from following the Weight Watchers Program online to attending Weight Watcher Meetings the last Saturday in March. I didn’t know how I would handle the transition from being fully on my own to now attending weekly meetings. I found the Saturday morning group very friendly, lively and fun! I found the leader Kathy to be energetic, upbeat and very approachable. It did help that as a member of a Facebook Weight Watchers Group, I had virtually “met” one of the members of the Saturday morning meetings online before meeting her face to face. I do enjoy the meetings! At first, I wouldn’t say much but now I regularly participate. Our Saturday meetings keep growing in numbers which I think is wonderful! It is so uplifting to see so many people willing to come to an eight am meeting on a Saturday morning!
To help me even more, I was the organizer for at Weight Watchers at Work group which began meeting in May where I work. I am now attending two meetings a week. Marie is our leader for our at work meetings and is very personable and a true superwoman handling all the weigh-ins and conducting the meetings on her own! Our group is about 25 people who are focusing on getting healthier.
I have been in the healthy weight range which Weight Watchers and my doctor suggested since May 24th but I have been pushing to lose more. I have been losing/gaining the same 1.4 pounds for five weeks and it hit me. My body was talking to me and I was not listening! For seven weeks, my weight has stayed within a one pound range. I have been on program and doing nothing extraordinary that should cause a “stall” and looked over my charts and felt I have been maintaining and not losing much in seven weeks. Then, a light bulb went on. I AM at a healthy weight, have a healthy BMI AND within the goal range given to me by both Weight Watchers and my Doctor. My body has been trying to tell me; you are at GOAL, you have accomplished your mission of feeling better, being healthier and reached the weight range you thought was far too low for you! When I was in my mid-twenties and weighed this, yes I could count my ribs front and back. Now being somewhere over “40” I cannot count any ribs front or back. I am sure I have ribs, just not sure exactly where they are yet! I know I can lose a few more “vanity” pounds and not be unhealthy and that will be my goal over the last of the year to shed those “vanity” pounds but with no big rush to do it!
This Friday (at work) and Saturday (at the Weight Watchers Center) I will be “officially” celebrating reaching goal. This is very exciting for me as I never thought I would reach the suggested weight range! Now I am working on six weeks of maintenance to achieve my Lifetime Status with Weight Watchers. If I have calculated correctly, I should achieve lifetime on August 16th.
Below are the pictures from my Saturday morning celebration with my leader Kathy, the “bling” I received Saturday: the clapping hands are for 16 weeks attending meetings, the copper key ring for 10% weight loss at meetings and the silver star for reaching my weight loss goal! As of Saturday, I am down 119.2 lbs. This was said at one of our meetings recently, “Welcome to Goal! Welcome to more of the same!” I will be attending meetings still on a regular basis, weighing and measuring my portions and trying to eat more healthy foods and yes, that is exactly more of the same that I have been doing already! But doing those things, got me to a healthy weight and I do want to stay there! Just like the shampoo bottle says. “Rinse, Lather, Repeat!”
I feel very bless that God allowed me to live so I could get healthy again. Thanks to: my mom, for always being supportive, my best friend for being honest and suggesting a stress test, my family, friends and co-workers for always being encouraging and supportive, the wonderful members of the Facebook Online Group (Weight Watchers and Us) who were my meetings when I didn’t attend meetings for the first 101 lbs and taught me I am awesome no matter what my weight!, the USF Fit Program, and a very special thanks to Richard Simmons who has always personified a genuine love, a fountain of joy, a source of endless energy and exuberant encouragement for all!
This is a continuation of the April 30th, 2014 Weights and Balances article on overcoming weight loss obstacles.
- Sedentary Lifestyle: Wearing a step counter can help keep you aware of movement or the lack of movement in your day. Stand up and take that conference call, walk to a co-workers desk instead of emailing them, take the stairs, park farther away, move five minutes of every hour; everything counts!
- Stress: Stress will always be present in your life and learning good coping skills will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Take a walk instead of eating those cookies in the break room, drink an extra glass of water, chew a piece of sugar-less gum, keep nutritious snacks on your desk, enroll in a fun fitness class each week that you like, and take lots of deep breaths before making that uncomfortable phone call!
- Shame: It happens, you made some poor choices and now you don’t want to own up to them and feel guilt and shame. Don’t let shame/guilt own you. Accept it and move on!
- Skipping skip meals! Don’t skip your meals, try to space your meals out so you are not famished so you will not eating everything but the kitchen sink!
- Using “always” and “never” Do not remove any foods from your list of possibilities. Being absolute will make you crave what you said you cannot have. Have the “forbidden” foods in moderation and be patient with yourself.
- “Diet Mentality” This mentality will sabotage any long- term success. What is the “diet” mentality? It is thinking you only have to make changes for a short time. Changing how you eat for a couple of months will not change your life in the long run; focus on sustainable changes for the long haul! Small changes make for huge success! Change your life/health not just your pant size!
- Be patient This is tough to do! Do not give up when your body hits a plateau! Keep going, add some extra exercise, and drink a little more water. Be patient, your body will respond! This is a big obstacle to weight loss for many of us.
- Portion Control: Don’t estimate your portions! Weigh and measure your food for proper portion sizes!
- Not gauging success: Don’t use the scale as your only measure of success. Think: How do you feel? How do your clothes fit? How do you look? How many inches have you lost? Take pictures of your journey, even if you do not want to! Take measurements and see how the inches come off!
- Tired/Fatigue: Get your rest/sleep! Being tired can easily interfere with your judgment and not making wise choices for meals/snacks. Also a lack of sleep will activate your appetite hormones and this will stimulate overeating!
- Un-Healthy Snacking: Eating healthy snacks every few hours is a good thing. Try to have a protein with every meal or snack. The helps keep the cravings at bay.
- Dehydration: Be sure to drink six to eight cups or more of water each day. Often we are thirsty and not hungry and we confuse the two!
There are many obstacles to weight loss, but they can be overcome and you can be successful!
After 14 1/2 months, I am now a little less than 16 lbs. from my weight goal and attending Weight Watcher Meetings first thing on Saturday mornings. It has been an adjustment to go from being an online member to now a meetings member! At home, you can weigh in first thing in the morning wearing only your birthday suit. At meetings, you are dressed and yes your clothes do add weight, almost a full pound in my case! My focus seems to be starting to change moving away from solely losing weight to starting to consider how to maintain the lifestyle. In some ways, that is uncomfortable. I have spent the last year being strongly focused on losing weight and now I have to start considering, what comes after the weight loss phase.
At the meeting this past Saturday I had a loss of 3.8 lbs which placed me at a total 105.2 lbs lost so far! I feel driven to not only wanting to hit my next five-pound loss and I am starting to focusing on what I have left to lose. Focusing on five pounds at a time has kept me from feeling overwhelmed in my weight loss phase. If I would have started with the “big” number of needing to lose over 120 lbs. in my head from the start, I would have gotten overwhelmed, discouraged and maybe even quit and not gotten this far. When I began on January 23rd of 2013, my only goal had been to feel better and get my energy back. I knew weight loss was the gateway to accomplishing these health goals I have only in the last month set a target goal number. My target goal number is a little less than 16 lbs away. If fact, 15.2 lbs. and yes I am counting!
My Best Advice
The best advice I would offer to anyone who is wanting to lose any amount of weight is to start small. Set one or two goals/changes a week that are easy and manageable. Build on each and every small success and don’t forget to reward yourself! What kinds of small changes? For example, one of my first goals was to eat ONE whole piece of fruit a day. That might not sound like much, but I wasn’t eating much fruit or vegetables at all before Weight Watchers. I knew I needed to eat more fruit and vegetables but I knew I had to “ease” into it! I love both fruits and vegetables but I had not been eating them unless they were accompanied by high-fat sauces, cheeses, or a part of some pasta laden dish or as a side ingredient in some decadent dessert. I didn’t normally eat fruits or vegetables by themselves. Now I have on my desk at any given time at least two pieces of fruit and some vegetables to eat/snack on for my work day. Another example of staring small is to decide to walk 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be all at one time, you could choose to walk five minutes at lunch time and five minutes in the evening. Slowly increase your number until you are walking 30 minutes a day.
I have managed to keep focus so far. It is amazing to me that I have lost 105 lbs in a little over a year! Yay me! I have maintained my focus by concentrating on losing five pounds at a time. I have not been considering an end goal. Just in the last month, I have chosen a target goal. I have found myself trying to envision what I will look like at goal and starting to question if my goal should be less than what I have set it. I am starting to second guess myself because I see what I call my “doughy” mid-section not being where I would like it to be. Will sixteen more pounds perfect it, I doubt it. I want to think that second guessing myself is a good thing at this point, but there is the real possibility that it isn’t good that maybe I am so comfortable losing weight that considering stopping the weight loss mindset is a bit scary.
Looking back over my life, I have lost weight before and then in time re-gained it. I think that is what scares me the most I do not want that to happen again! I want my body to remain healthy now. There isn’t any reason for me to be overweight ever again. What could ever be a reason for someone to be overweight? I think many times we become very comfortable being at a certain weight and we do not want to be uncomfortable so we stay or gain even more! I have tools to maintain my weight loss, I need to stay focused even after reaching my goal. I think it is starting to sink in, the real journey is just beginning!
I am enjoying the meetings; it makes a great start to my Saturday morning! The group is lively and lots participate which instantly makes the meetings more fun! The leader, Kathy keeps the meetings moving along and gives lots of positive reinforcements. I earned my first “Bravo” star this past week. What is a Bravo Star? It is something small but does make you feel very good when you get one! I ‘earned’ mine by telling how I have been getting in extra activity the last week! Little changes do add up! I am living proof of that. It is still mind-boggling for me to think I have less than 20 lbs to lose. Many might not think the Bravo Stars, key rings, charms, etc. are not big deals but they indeed are. Each one you earn, is a reward of a goal accomplished. Many who are attempting to lose weight, fail to reward themselves. I love all the little rewards along the Weight Watcher’s Journey!
The fun part about your body slowly changing shape is that you start wanting to make more and more changes. Shopping for clothes is fun again and I have always loved playing with my hair! I got my hair ready for summer by getting some highlights added to it! I love how it turned out too! I thought I would share the new “summer” hair with those that read my blog so yesterday I took a few snapshots and here is one for an update. Yes it was a self-ie, so that is why I am looking not at the camera but at the phone trying to find the button and push it! Later, I found out how to make the phone’s camera face front and took a few snaps from that perspective too. Technology, got to love it! My next full body photo will be at goal and that is just 16 lbs away!
The Danger Zone
First, I am less than 20 lbs to my goal. Second, I am feeling great. Third, my energy levels have returned! Fourth, I like how I am looking in my clothes. I agree all those things I listed are wonderful! The main reasons why I started Weight Watchers, to feel better and have more energy. I can check those off as having been accomplished BUT I am not to the goal number yet. Yes, I accomplished those two goals but along the way, I have added new additional goals. New goals are: to reach a number goal (and maybe a few pounds extra), look even better in my clothes, work on my physical fitness/core strength, to help others with their weight loss goals! The real ‘danger zone’ would be not having any goals to carry me past my final weight goal. We all need to have goals at any place we are in life. It keeps us growing and moving forward!
Thank you for reading, for your comments and for your support!
Dear Blog Readers,
I thought it was time I gave you a personal progress update.
When I set out in January 2013 to become healthier by joining Weight Watchers Online, I knew what to do but didn’t know how long it would take me to reach those goals. Last week, I reached a major milestone in my weight loss journey. I have now lost over 100 lbs!!! Yay me! For the first time since I began, I can now look at the end goal any not only the five pounds at a time mini-goals. I know as of last Wednesday, I have 20 lbs to reach my goal BUT my focus is still on the next five pounds mini-goal to reach 105 lbs lost. My focus since last Wednesday has been to lose the next 3.8 lbs. That will probably take 2-3 weeks depending on my body’s reaction to several things over the next few weeks.
I will be starting to attend Weight Watcher’s meetings locally this week. That will be different for me and I am sure their scale will give me a different reading than my scale at home. So I am sure I will be “up” when I officially weigh in, but I know I am still headed in the right direction! Thank you for reading and sending your comments and words of encouragement!
Here is an updated progress photo. I am getting closer to my end goal!
Many people look at me and do not believe I have twenty more pounds more to lose, but if they could see my “doughy” middle they would agree, that from the “middle” alone, easy 20 lbs! I am trying to pamper my skin. I am hoping that time will heal some of the “self inflected” scars of being overweight will start to heal. I know I am not in my 20’s and I am seeing things I never saw happen to my body back then. If I would pass along any words of advice it would be to those in their 20’s and 30’s get rid of the weight now because your body loses its ability to “bounce back” that it might now have! Be smart get fit now! Don’t put it off! Bat wings, doughy middles and prune like skin are no fun to deal with!! It isn’t pretty to look at either but I would rather be a healthy weight and have those lumps, bumps, sags and wrinkles than to be overweight and unhealthy!
I get really happy when I see that we are getting ready to have a new month begin these days. Why? I take my measurements every first day of the new month. I wish I had begun this a year ago, but thrilled I started on June 1st of 2013. Before I know it, I will have a years’ worth of data to see how much I have reduced in space volume!
If you are trying to reduce the amount of excess weight on your body, I highly recommend that you start off taking measurements at the very beginning of your process. I take measurements for: my upper arm, my thigh, my waist, my bust and my hips. You might want to add a neck calf measurement to the list as well.
When the scale doesn’t seem to be moving, these measurements will keep you from getting too down. Often when the scale isn’t moving, the inches are coming off! You can measure success with the scale, measuring tape and how your clothes fit/feel.
Even if the scale and the measuring tape are being stubborn and do not show a loss, know that you have given your best and you are doing/eating this new way because you love YOU!