This is the time of the year where we all wish just one work out would whip us into shape! One meal would make us thin! There are some other “one” wishes I would love to have come true, one pill would cure-all cancers, one meal would feed all the hungry, one house would be a home to all the homeless and one prayer that would unite people of all races, cultures and languages to live in peace and harmony.
Once we reached a certain age, we learned that just wishing doesn’t make anything happen. We must put some action behind our wishes and dreams to make them come true.
“A dream is a wish your heart makes”
We all know that popular Disney song but we know as with anything in life, we have to work for it, and weight loss is no different. If you are trying to set your mind on losing excess weight and becoming healthier for the approaching next year, it does begin in the head. Wishing you could do it is a start, a small start. I suggest approaching your weight loss and greater health just as you would any major purchase. Get on-line, read the consumer reviews, read all you can about nutrition, exercise and weight loss. Ask friends and acquaintances what they would recommend or what has worked for them.
I might not be a friend or an acquaintance but I will share with you what has worked for me. I have lost over 120 pounds living the Weight Watchers Lifestyle. I will not kid you, it is not easy but it is simple. The basics of eating right and moving are the foundations of Weight Watchers to which you add: proper portions of foods, more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, more water, and some fun type of movement (exercise).
You aren’t leaving behind doughnuts, pizza, candy, pastries and bread but you will learn that by eating those in proper portions and in moderation you can enjoy all the things you love and learn to love how great you are feeling. I like the phrase from one commercial, what will you gain when you lose? Greater health is priceless. You can’t buy good health and this is a treasure worth pursuing!
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
The first thing you need to get into your head is that diets do not work! They are a temporary solution for a permanent problem. A lifestyle change is the path to success and permanent weight loss and greater health.
Another good thing to get into your head from the beginning is that losing weight will not: make you happy, make you beautiful, make your marriage work, make you have more friends, make you popular, make you a fashion/swimsuit model nor will it cure depression or emotional issues.
Healthy weight loss will: help your total health, change how you look, change how your clothes fit, open you to new experiences and opportunities, make every day things easier to do and enable you to make some internal changes.
At some point, you will have to face what is eating you–tempting you to eat poor food choices or improper portions. This is not easy and takes: time, patience, brutal self-honesty, and lots of brain-sweat equity. How can you go about this aspect? This might involve; journal-ling your feelings before you eat, or after you have binged, or some time with a professional counselor.
Many years ago, I went to see a counselor and he said something to me that puzzled me a lot for a long time. He said that based on my personality I had to work very hard to stay overweight. Through the years, I have started understanding what he meant. I had used being overweight as a wall/protection between me and other people. I had created my own self-fulfilling prophecy, I felt that I was going to be rejected by people (men in particular) and I did whatever I could to make sure I would be rejected (on my appearance alone) and I could say “see I knew (he) didn’t really like me, I was right.” Being right has been very important to me through the years. This has been a tough one, to accept and learn that I did not need to be right about everything! It was ironic really, I was so “right” but yet so “wrong” about myself!
The last few years, I have spent a lot of time journaling about things going on in my life, my thoughts, feelings and anything else I wanted to write about. I started noticing some common threads and started learning some new coping mechanisms. The journaling has helped me to see that “if hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the answer” and to hour by hour test myself (hungry or something else) to keep on the healthy track.
I would encourage anyone who wishes to be healthier to spend time inside their own head, perhaps with the guidance of a professional to learn new strategies for dealing with emotions, food and people.
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!