Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Some of the Nuts and Bolts

I thought I would post a few of the practical matters that I am following as part of my Weight Watchers experience. The last 2 or 3 meetings I've been to where I've broken a 5 pound barrier, the leaders have asked me to share what's been working for me.

1. Accountability: this is a big one, perhaps THE biggest one. I feel like having this blog up makes me accountable to you all in a way. Oh, none of you is going to come over and flog me if I mess up a week or two, but it feels good to share a loss and to report back that I've had a good week and lost something. I also feel some accountability to family members who have been supportive. Every week my sister calls on Saturday and asks me to relay my weight loss in terms of bags of sugar and boxes of butter. My husband is up and waiting when I get home from meetings, giving me big hugs and words of encouragement before we sit down to breakfast together and enjoy a nice Saturday morning. Having people around "real time" and "on line" who are checking my progress and encouraging me is helpful.

Additionally, stepping on that scale is a big time taskmaster. Getting on it the first time was a curse. I knew I didn't want to see the numbers that were going to come up, and I was right. It was a shock to the system. But now I actually look forward to it. I don't weigh myself at home, but I do look forward to seeing the numbers at the meetings so I can gauge my progress.

2. Not Going It Alone: I know that this is not something I am trying to do myself. Russell, Amy, Lauren, Annette, Michael, Emily, and Nancy are all doing it too. Plus I have the group at my meetings going through similar experiences. The day I joined, I sat down and read Annette's Weighty Matters blog from beginning to end, following it up with Russell and Amy's blogs about their experiences. Knowing some of the stumbling blocks they encountered helped me to see that I don't need to give up if I have a bad day. And I can talk about it with you all, which is amazing. I emailed the Southern Crew the first time I had a question and I had answers in minutes. It was so nice to know everyone is only an email away!

I really like my Saturday morning group, and although people have encouraged me to find a different group than Saturdays at 7am, it's a nice time for me to go, meet with people, and start off my weekend in a postive light. The losses I've seen lately have been a boon to my spirits, I really like Vicki, our group leader, and I like the way they give a total for the room of how much our group has lost on any given week. I feel like I'm contributing to something greater. And when you're away for a while, people welcome you back like a long lost relative. It's real nice. Plus the little "way to go" and "come back soon" postcards are so nice to receive. You really feel like you haven't been forgotten.

3. Making Smarter Food Choices: This hasn't been too difficult, but there have been a few issues. My number one issue is that I work on the road. It is so hard to eat a sensible lunch in the car, driving between clients. McD's is so convenient, fast, and cheap. I can pack a lunch, sure, but for some reason, I just never feel like it. I'm not hot on deli meat for sandwiches, I work in a LOT of remote territory where it's not easy to find a "to go" salad bar (which would be a royal pain in the butt anyway), and on and on. But ultimately, those are excuses. I've found sandwiches I enjoy and have found a blog on creating bento box lunches, which I am seriously considering... I've tried to arrange my schedule such that I can eat at home for lunch as much as possible--scheduling morning appointments around Stafford or Spotsylvania Counties and spending my afternoons in Prince William, Culpeper, Orange, or Fauquier Counties.

Otherwise, where food is concerned, I'm doing pretty well. It's helpful that Michael is on board with this whole thing, and we are making similar changes. For instance, it didn't used to be a challenge for the two of us to put away a couple of 12 packs of soda in 10-12 days. Now, we buy 2 six packs of 8 oz sodas and they last us the better part of two weeks. My soda intake is way down (I keep hearing Melissa in my head saying "Don't drink calories!") and I only drink a soda if I need a boost on a particularly tiring day. And then it's an 8 oz can and that's that. On occasions I'm just dying for a soda, I'll drink a diet soda, which typically curbs my taste for it for a long time. Otherwise I'm drinking water. If I get tired of water, I throw a Crystal Light lemonade to go in a bottle of water and I'm ready to rock and roll. It's a challenge, for sure, since I didn't like Crystal Light all that much at first, but it's not so bad when you get used to it. And I like lemonade, so that's helpful.

Food substitutions we've made: I've gone with Lauren's whitewheat bread, which is very good, we eat turkey burgers instead of beef, whole wheat pasta instead of white (I still prefer white, but I'm acclimating), fat free ranch or Newman's Own Salad Spray Balsamic Vinaigrette instead of high test salad dressings, Dove and Reese's minis instead of full size big candy bars, flat bread pizza instead of deep dish or rising crust, and 97% fat free hot dogs. I've also started eating sensible snacks like 100 calorie pack carrot cakes from Hostess (only 1 point) or WW Giant Fudge Bars.

Food eliminations: there's not too much we've given up, but we have basically given up most potatos except for potato chips. Michael's eating regular chips and I'm eating baked. We haven't had fries or mashed potatoes in I-don't-know-when. I have given up my (at times daily) Starbucks fix. I went there yesterday and got a chai frappucino and decided to splurge on a scone. And I'll be honest, that scone was fan-freakin'-tastic, but together, they came in at a whopping 19 points, and so for dinner, I had to have next to nothing to make up for it. Even with the activity points, I was so careful not to overeat at supper, I only had 6 points left!

Other food news: I went right to salads when I first started WW, and ate so much salad I thought I'd puke. I was also having trouble using up points that way. So ultimately, I decided I would go to the Giant salad bar, make a great big salad and eat a bit with dinner each night. That seems to be working really well for me and I'm getting in some veggies without going overboard. I like that I don't have to give up things that I love. Michael asked me tonight what I wanted for dinner--we wanted to celebrate having lived here in the 'burg for exactly 3 years--and what I really wanted was pizza and wings. So that's what we had, and it was delicious. And the points added up, so who am I to complain?

Weighing/Measuring: As for weighing and measuring my food, i was really pretty religious about it at first. but now I only do it when I'm packaging up leftovers to make little meals that I can grab and go. I don't want to have to worry about whether or not what I take out of the fridge is a certain number of points, so I bag them appropriately and then write the number of points on the bag. That way, I can do it without thinking.

4. Exercise/Activity: I've always been pretty active--I love walking around and can walk circles around lots of people. All spring I walked the Tidal Basin, and on my doctor's advice, to get extra steps, I don't park right near the entrance to the store any more. But now, when I have a break at work between appointments, rather than go to the Culpeper Library, I take some time to take a walk. If it's hot, I walk around Target or Super Walmart. If it's nice out, I park downtown wherever I am and walk the streets. Every night, Michael and I exercise together in the basement. He hits the treadmill and I roll with Richard Simmons. In addition to Sweating to the Oldies, which I've been doing nightly, I've got 60's Blast Off and Disco Sweat. Unfortunately (?), they are both a lot harder, so I'm sticking with Sweating, which I could do with my eyes closed and I'm putting a bit more oomph into it now to make up for what seems like a fairly easy routine. I've decided that as long as I love it, I'm going to do it. I will put more energy and motion into Sweatin' and that will hopefully keep me going until I'm ready to move to something more challenging.

5. Seeing Tangible Results: All my clothing fits better. I'm more comfortable in tight spaces (for instance, in my bathroom, the sink, tub, and toilet are all right in a tight little row with little wiggle room; theater seats; narrow aisles in stores). My bra size went down. I don't have as intense PMS cravings. (TMI?) My dress for my sister's wedding had to be taken in. My husband and I are having a much easier time sleeping because it's not as hard for us to roll over without disturbing each other--there's more room in the bed. Friends saying, "I can see the difference!" even if I can't. Not getting out of breath as easily when exercising or doing physical labor (hauling tables and chairs out of the church basement wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't as hard as I'm sure it would have been had I been 20 pounds heavier!). My wedding rings are loose. And this is after only 2 months and 22 pounds.

6. Focusing on Myself: For far too long I've been taking care of many other people in my life. Now at age 32 11/12, I've realized I need and deserve to take care of myself so that I can be here for a long time to come. With the adoption getting underway, I can see a reason now to prolong my life--it will take long enough to have my child in my arms and I want to be with him/her for a long time afterwards. I feel like I can't do anything more for anyone else--I've given all I have to give. And now it's time to take some time for myself and do what I need to do to be happy and healthy.

7. Unintended benefits: Already, I've mentioned that Michael and I are now eating breakfast together on the weekends. This used to be unheard of. I am not a breakfast person. So usually, we would just sort of sleep till we felt like it, I'd get up and go downstairs and toodle around for a while before lunch and we'd meet up at lunch time for some food... Now we're spending our mornings touching base. We spend our evenings together exercising and discussing things after our routines. We are an even bigger source of support and encouragement to one another, and I never thought this would be an occasion to strengthen our marriage on a new level, but it has been!

8. Rewards: When all else fails, bribery is a good incentive. I no longer wish to see food as a reward, so as mentioned, I stole Annette's idea and decided to give myself a tangible reward for every 20 pounds gone. I had previously posted that I'd give myself a book from my wish list, but frankly, I am about drowning in books, and I feel like I need to have something a bit more "special". This weekend was my first time getting rewarded, and I decided to get a new game for the Wii. I picked a doozy--Emergency Mayhem--which when playing, I wound up laughing so hard I was weeping. Unfortunately, the city I was attempting to save didn't make out so well, and I hit a lot of people with my ambulance, but they had it coming. It felt nice to spend a little money on something that I wanted and that I had to work for to get. Michael and I have agreed that the only time I will stray from this formula is if I can get my hands on Wii Fit--I'm allowed to have that one any time I want it. Otherwise, new games will have to be earned.

So that's a lot of information, and it's probably not useful to anyone but me, but there it is. I'm heading to bed now. Hope you are all well and keep on losing! :-D


Talmadge Gleck said...

1. Accountability:

That scale each Monday night at 6:30 is quite the motivator. I don't fear it like I thought I would, although I didn't like seeing "295.2" written down when I had my first weigh-in. I just told myself "At least it wasn't 300+!"

I'm not accountable to anyone but myself and that scale. This is a challenge and I'm excited about it.

This is something I could NEVER have imagined myself doing just six months ago.

2. Not Going It Alone:

True enough. My wife is my partner in this journey, and you all are also in the car with us. We celebrate all the dwindling numbers of the mile markers we pass each week.

3. Making Smarter Food Choices:

Baby steps here. Sometimes I think I'm abiding the point system in letter, but not much in spirit. I'm making way better choices with fast food, but I haven't really made a whole lot of "healthy" inroads yet.

I still eat french fries, just twice a week - not 1-2x day.

I've found that I am very conservative during the day -- popcorn in the morning, Lean Cuisine or Tuna or baked fish for lunch, and save at least 20-25 points for supper. That way I can still 'indulge' and not feel the agony of 5:00 PM and only 10 points left.

I save the 35 extra points for the weekend, especially Saturday. That's the day I more or less "let loose." A reward for being good throughout the week ... yet still within "the format."

Originally I was going to cut sodas back to 1x/day instead of 1x/hour (or so it seemed). Indeed, it's Melissa's words -- "drinking calories" -- that burrowed into my brain and took root. I still like that 44-oz. Mountain Dew at the Gate station. I still consume. Just two a week (a limit I've since set), and not two per day - as sometimes was the case.

I've learned that Diet Mountain Dew in the bottle is very, very good. So now I have two diet drinks in my repertoire: Fresca and DMD.

Wish DMD were available in fountain locations besides Quizno's.

4. Exercise/Activity:

I'm doing A LOT more walking. And as soon as I sink below 250 (21 pounds to go), I'd like to find a bicycle.

I miss the days in junior high and early high school when I put lots of miles on my ten-speed. Effingham County is God's Country for bicyclists -- nice and rural in most places and flat as a board! I want to partake.

And when I get toward 210-220 (MAYBE by our next WV trip), I so want to get back into some hiking. I miss that. I think about climbing Pinnacle Mountain west of Little Rock back in 1987. 180 pounds, and the climb was less tiring than it's been just climbing stairs today.

5. Seeing Tangible Results

A couple of my pairs of shorts do seem to be less 'snug', but other than that, I haven't noticed anything "tangible" ... yet ...

6. Focusing on Myself: For far too long I've been taking care of many other people in my life. Now at age 32 11/12, I've realized I need and deserve to take care of myself

Yes, you do. That's an order. :-)

7. Unintended benefits

The other week, one of my co-workers (part-time) was doing trash duty - it was her week - and she remarked how well I seemed to be doing ..... "All I see in your trash can are water bottles and Fresca, and not overflowing with Coke and Squirt."

I took that as a compliment.

8. Rewards

My first big goal is reaching 10% (29.5#) by August 11. I might hit it by the 4th, who knows? If I can make it by then, I might treat myself to a couple of classic TV episodes from Shokus Video.

The next goal is "40 By The 'Ham" -- to drop 40 pounds by early October when I'll be going to Birmingham for a few days. I'm rewarding myself when I hit 40: $100 shopping spree at Charlemagne Record Exchange in B'ham. I haven't spent that much in a record store since, hell, early '90s????

So there you are.

Final thought: there's a great picture of us (you, The General, Annette, Amy, myself) around the big table at Carey Hilliard's back in March. Nettie was the lightest one at the table. Next time we're all together, we'll be able to celebrate our combined "removals" ... and we'll have another pic taken and be able to see the difference!!

'Till then, we all press onward and downward!!


nettiemac said...

Oh, I'm so proud of you!!!! :D

Lauren said...

I love this post. It really shows how committed you are. You've made some great strides. I'm so proud!