A Weight Non-Watcher – Update

Almost exactly one month ago, I announced to the (blog) world that I was no longer going to be a slave to the scale. Today, I cancelled my Weight Watchers (WW) online subscription. Here’s an update to that post…

For those of you that don’t know, Weight Watchers has totally revamped their Points Plus program. If I kept on it, would I have had more luck and gotten off of my plateau? Maybe. Maybe not. While Weight Watchers has been good to me, I wasn’t in love with my leader in North Carolina and just felt non-committed.

I found something free that works better for me. It is a tool called My Fitness Pal (MFP), which I started using about a month ago, when I decided WW just wasn’t for me anymore.

The Transition:

In my process of weaning myself off of WeightWatchers.com tracking, I decided to dual track in both systems for about a week. According to My Fitness Pal, I should be eating around 1200 calories per day to lose weight + working out if I want to lose faster. WW had me eating around 1500 calories per day on the Points Plus program. Not surprising that I lost so easily in the beginning, but now that I am down to the last 10-ish lbs, it was almost impossible to lose.

My Fitness Pal counts calories… along with many other nutrition facts that you may want to track! Here is a screenshot of yesterday’s totals, which was a very typical day of eating for me – aside from the sodium, this number was not correct (my Brixx pizza did not have sodium accounted for in the database.)

After quickly realizing WW had me eating far too much food, I quickly made the switch over to 100% tracking in MFP. While counting calories may not work for everyone (if this is a ‘trigger’ for you, please don’t try it!), this plan is working for me.

Since joining the program, I have lost 2.6 lbs (this includes my Vegas trip + Thanksgiving, pizza + beer consumed on multiple occasions while hosting visitors, and dining out more often than I should). This proves to me that My Fitness Pal is a live-able plan. I would travel, gain weight, and not be able to lose it again on Weight Watchers. With My Fitness Pal, if I gain a pound or two, I need to stay on track for a week, drink lots of water, and it will have disappeared once again. With the holidays rolling around, I am just trying to maintain my weight. I don’t think it is realistic to expect to lose, but I am going to try as much as I can not to over-indulge.

The tool:

Not saying that weight loss is easy by any means. It will always be a struggle for me… however, MFP is making the process a lot easier. Their food database is HUGE because it is maintained by people like you and me – almost everything I have ever searched for has been in there -and remarkable accurate (except for my own, made-up recipes of course). They have a recipe builder. And with the smart phone, they have an app that includes a barcode scanner. While I don’t eat a lot of processed foods (I have realized…) the barcode scanner is really awesome. I got sushi at Trader Joe’s for lunch one day, scanned it, it was in the database, and I had it tracked for lunch before I even made it through the checkout line.

The scale:

The last topic I want to address is the scale. A month ago, I was weighing myself way too much. Multiple times per day. Not healthy. I had to cut back – I restricted myself to weighing only on Friday’s (my old WW weigh in day) and put the scale in the closet the rest of the week.

This is my scale. This is not my weight nor will it ever be.

I am telling you, that first week was so hard! I had constant urges to go and pull the scale out. In the morning after my usual ‘wake up routine,’ I was having severe urges to weigh myself! I have now broken myself of the habit, and feel like I have a healthy relationship with the scale again. My official weigh in day is on Friday’s… I sometimes have a post-weekend ‘reality check,’ and really only weigh myself a few times a week. I bumped my weigh in day to this morning for this week – our work Christmas party is tonight and I didn’t want to have weigh in on the back of my mind the whole time… and then I put my scale in the closet. Maybe I’ll bring it out again Monday or Tuesday.

The community:

I am glad to have My Fitness Pal… as… well, my fitness pal during the holidays and after! The website has a lot of great people on it and is very similar to Facebook from a feed standpoint. You can see what exercise your friends have done, if they have logged their food, their weight loss progress, and (my favorite) if they have or have not logged in for a few days! You have the ability to comment on these posts as well! It is a very supportive community, I have found. And I have gotten some friends and co-workers hooked and they have had great success so far!

If you would like to be friends on MFP, my name is kev114. It is always nice to have more accountability partners!!

A Weight Non-Watcher

I have been a devoted Weight Watcher since December 2010. And I have been successful – from December 2010 – April-ish 2011, I lost about 15 lbs. From March 2011 until now, I have gained and lost the same 5 lbs time and time again. I have been a slave to the scale, and watching my weight remain mostly the same no matter how much or how little I ate or how many miles I ran was very disheartening.The fact that I (unhealthily) weighed myself 2, 3…5+ times a day is not good for the mindset either.

This is my scale. This is not my weight nor will it ever be.

I am proud to say I am no longer a slave to the scale. Betsy and I made a commitment to put our scales in the closet and only take them out once a week. We are choosing to weigh in every Friday morning. No more, and no less.

I have also decided to take a break from Weight Watchers – I still plan to use e-tools to track my weight, activity, and food (this really helps with portioning out my leftovers, and if I need to put stuff in the freezer) but I am no longer going to obsess over points and ‘actively try to lose weight.’ It is difficult to even maintain your weight over the holidays, and I have a lot going on between now and December. I am going to focus on mindfully eating, and putting healthy things in to my body throughout this holiday season, but also not restricting myself and end up like this…


Story time: I found myself in the kitchen on Friday night eating all 4 of the leftover Pumpkin Softies that I made the night before. All 4. These are large cookies, people… I could not stop myself. I need to reign this in and get it under control. Part of the Weight Watchers mentality that I have is ‘well, if I have the points, I should eat them.’ And I tracked every last 17 points of those cookies… And I felt horrible about myself.

I wasn’t hungry. I could have easily stopped after one… but I didn’t. These are the unhealthy eating habits that I need to get under control. I will have earned over 40 activity points this week, and that is a fact that I am proud of. I ran 5 miles yesterday, which is a new record for me. That I am also proud of. These are the healthy habits that I need to embrace!

I also think I may eat too much of a low-fat diet. Fat free foods are great when you are trying to lose some quick pounds. I don’t think they are necessarily a sustainable way to live. Also, due to some digestive issues (I will leave it at that) that I have struggled with my whole life, I think I need to introduce more healthy fat in to my diet.

I eat an English Muffin with reduced fat peanut butter and jam on it every morning. One example, I just switched to sunflower butter – less sugar and chemicals, but healthy fats and oils! I also think I am going to switch from skim to 1% milk when I introduce dairy back in to my diet next week. I am trying an experiment with one week ‘off’ (not having my nightly glass of milk, not smearing sour cream on everything I eat, and avoiding cheese like the plague is really all this means to me).

A weight loss plateau is frustrating, but going in to the holiday season when food is everywhere, it is very important to embrace exercise and pay attention to every morsel that I eat (and hope I don’t end up in the kitchen at 9 PM on a Friday night shoveling Christmas cookies in to my mouth). I need to remind myself not to get lost in the points and the tracking, and to enjoy food again (but not over-enjoy it).

An update on my weight loss journey

My (in-process) weight loss journey

I have been on a weight loss journey since October 2009 – slow, but steady(ish). And I am using this post to come clean and hopefully get some advice. Consider this to be a confessional of sorts… one particular picture, I am not proud to share.

When I first started working, I was not used to living such a sedentary lifestyle. In college I walked probably 4 miles a day, and ate whatever I wanted (not healthy, but I was skinny). After going through a breakup, I got even skinner – and chopped off all of my hair. My active lifestyle in college kept the weight off without even me having to try – the nasty cafeteria food that I couldn’t really eat didn’t hurt either.

Flash forward 6(ish) months after graduation, and I had put a lot of weight on – and when I say a lot, I mean like 30+ lbs. I was not moving, at all.. sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day and then coming home and sitting on the couch (and eating whatever I wanted for dinner – specific example: I remember having cheezits and beer one Saturday night, for dinner – we aren’t in college anymore!) was a combination that was leading me down the wrong path. I got really heavy – I am only 5’3″, so even a few lbs will show on my small frame. I just didn’t realize how big I had gotten, and then BAM – these pictures were taken in October 2009. 6 months!

That week I was in Raleigh for recruiting at NCSU (side note: it’s Game Day – Go Wolfpack!! I will be watching at the Charlotte Alumni bar tonight!). That week was a wakeup call for me after seeing pictures.. I tried for well over a year to lose weight on my own. I successfully lost about 5 lbs, with eating “right” and “working out.” I put those in quotation marks because I did not take my healthy living plan seriously. I was writing down what I ate, but that didn’t stop me from overeating what I did write down. I had not invested in a food scale, nor was I remotely concerned about portion size. I was also not committed to a regular exercise routine; between juggling work and two graduate classes each semester, it was about all I could do to get my school work done at night, let alone get a workout in.

On December, 16th 2010, I joined Weight Watchers… all thanks to Betsy and her patience. I had been skeptical of WW – what sort of diet program lets you eat a 100 calorie pack of cookies OR a banana for 2 points? I know what I am going to choose. Betsy is a Lifetime WW member who is very passionate about the program. But I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it, until… I did. She always informed me about it and answered any questions I had, but never pressured me to join. But when I was ready, she stepped in and has been my backbone of support on my entire journey!

And so, I was ready. Weight Watchers revamped their program to the Points Plus program (ranked #1 best weight loss diet by US News and World Report), and this was a plan I could really get on board with. All fruit and most vegetables are ‘free’? Yes, please! The Points Plus system calculates points based on fat, carbs, protein, and fiber. The old Points system calculated points based on fat, calories, and fiber. While the Points Plus values for most foods went up, this was offset by the “free fruits and most veggies” as well as an increase in your daily Points Plus target.

From December 2010 until about April 2011, I had great success on Weight Watchers. I lost appx. 15 lbs with only 10 more to go. And then I hit the dreaded plateau. Until very recently was I not seeing ANY results on the scale from my weight loss efforts. Was I always consistent with my tracking? No. Was I eating horribly? No. Was I exercising? Yes (but not often enough, I think). I remain frustrated… but I know the only path I can keep going down is the healthy one, whether I am seeing results on the scale or not.

As far as workouts go, I had always relied on walking (which still to this day is awesome). Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home DVD’s helped with that initial 15 lb weight loss, and walking is an amazing form of exercise. I would go to an occasional Zumba class, or hop on the elliptical machine for 30 minutes, but mostly walking. I always envied runners for one reason and one reason only – that they could get places faster than I could walking. For those of you that know me, you know that I walk fast and with a purpose, even if my purpose is “meandering around” – I know no such thing.

So in August 2011, I decided to start jogging – #1 I wanted to get places faster and #2 I thought this might kick start my weight loss again. In fact, this picture was taken on the day of my first “jog.” This was after 2 weeks straight on the road for work (meaning 2 weeks of eating 3 meals daily out). I was not feeling so hot. As you can tell by the corn, I was in the midwest aka fried food capital of the US. I did not make good eating choices while I was there. But, my long hair is back!!!

I chose to start jogging up there because the roads were flat, I was able to jog for 30 seconds or so at a time, and have to walk again. On a 2 or 3 mile walk, I would do the jog intervals 4 or 5 times, and boy was this hard. When I got back to Charlotte, I realized the roads in Dilworth/South End were just as flat, and I could make my walk/jog intervals happen here too. It has been about a month and a half since I started jogging, and now I can jog up to 2 miles without having to take a walking break. Every day I just tried to push myself a little further, and a little further. My “go-to” run is 1.5 miles – perfect for a quick after-work workout. I am also incorporating more strength training in to my exercise routine (pushups, crunches, leg lifts, and this neck exercise to improve my posture). While the scale has not really budged (super frustrating), I can tell that I have lost inches. This picture was taken last weekend, and is the first picture that I have seen of myself where I feel like I have really lost weight – I know, it is all mental and I have just not seen it until now.

I never really understood people who have to work out every day, and granted I have my lazy days – but my body wants to get out there and jog almost every day. It’s crazy! I am not sure who this person is, but I like it. I have been sleeping better, my clothes fit better, I am losing inches, and the healthy activity that I have been practicing has been making me less inclined to put crap in to my body all the time. Am I saying I am a “health goddess” who only eats things that are good for me? Absolutely not! I would rather have a slow weight loss journey than not enjoy life through food. Case in point, my Target shopping basket yesterday consisted of: toilet paper, cheezits (reduced-fat, k?), 2 bottles of wine, Sprite Zero, and Cranberry Juice – am I going to make healthy living choices this weekend? Probably not.. but only every so often am I reunited with two of my best girlfriends! And so, we shall celebrate with champagne and other assorted alcoholic beverages.

I don’t believe that my weight loss journey will ever be over. It will be constantly evolving and in-process, and I am OK with that. I have finally made the commitment to living a (mostly) healthy lifestyle, and I know my body will follow suit and shape itself one of these days as long as I keep it up. I have decreased my Weight Watchers membership from the monthly pass (where you attend meetings and have online access) to just Weight Watchers online (where you can track food and exercise online, search recipes, participate in the message boards) in the efforts of saving money.

I have about 10 more lbs to go until I reach what Weight Watchers says is my goal weight, but I feel pretty darn good where I am right now. The last 10 lbs will come off with time, but I need to remind myself daily that the scale is not all that matters – eating a balanced diet, having a healthy body, keeping your heart healthy, and disease prevention is most important and the scale will fall where it may. This is and will always be a constant struggle for me… but putting it out there (and confessing to my original weight gain) may just give me the extra edge I need for my commitment to healthy living and weight loss. Consistency is key!

What types of struggles have you gone through on your weight loss journey? Please share any tips, tricks, success stories, or motivational speeches!