Could Weight Watchers help April?

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with losing weight for a very long time.

I know what I need to do.  I need to “eat right and exercise” and I DO.

Most of the time…

But then I get in these moods that make whatever willpower and determination I thought I had just disappear.

The week before Thanksgiving, as I was being quiet and not blogging, I was participating in a five-day online challenge.  It was suggested by a friend from high school and I willingly accepted knowing it would be good for me.  I’ve been desperately needing a boost to get me going in the right direction and the challenge definitely helped.  I was supplied with meal suggestions and a shopping list – which I went out and got all my groceries… but then as an example of loss of determination, I got lazy and made up my own meals instead.

But the best part of the experience was the online Facebook group.  Every day we had to check in with how much water we drank, what we did for our exercise, what we ate, and how we were feeling.  Having the obligation to check-in daily really made me want to do well and I found it much easier to reject my poor habits.  Seeing directly all the experiences all the other people were having made me have more faith in myself and my ability to stick with it.

And that’s why I’m thinking about joining Weight Watchers.

I’ve written off companies like Weight Watchers because I’ve always believed I could do it on my own.  However, when I lost 50 pounds before, I was not alone in any way.  Working at an all-women gym, I had the support of multiple women all striving to do the same thing as me.  It was awesome, it was a group of friends who all had the same goal.

I have that now but in a different way.  I have a lot of people in my life who are on this weight-loss train with me but I still struggle with keeping my determination because I have no real pressure to drop the pounds.  I have no bridesmaid dress to fit into, no magic number I need to get under by a certain date…  I need that pressure because, unfortunately, being under pressure is how I work best.

So I have this theory that going to the Weight Watchers meetings would give me the type of pressure I need.  If I knew that every week I would be having to talk about my progress, in person, and step on that scale and share that joy or pain with a group of others – maybe I could finally take that weight off.  I’ve already got such a great support system here on the internet but now I feel I need more of it in-person as well.

I think I might sign up for my first meeting next week.

Have any of you done Weight Watchers before?  What did you think of it?

Enjoy your Wednesday!

AprilSignatur

Crunchy, Chewy, Crispy Carbs: How many should I eat with PCOS?

Carbs. Salty, chewy carbs. Tortilla chips, sourdough bread, crackers, potatoes, rice. MMMM. CARBS. Oh, how I love carbs. I’d take the warm, chewy sourdough bread with a tab of melting butter over the freshly-baked chocolate cake any day. Who needs sugar when you can have BREAD?!

When all the Atkins and Southbeach and Zone diets started coming out, I remember having this reaction, summed up so exquisitely by Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World: (And yes, Scotty, I could eat garlic bread for every meal, too.)

Now that I know what’s up with my body (PCOS and subclinical hypothyroid), it makes sense that in my dieting life, the only diet that’s ever worked has been low-carb. When you have PCOS, you are typically insulin resistant, which means that sugars and carbs spike your blood sugar, causing you to hold on to those calories and sugar grams much more than fat. Here’s a nifty diagram that explains it:

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I’ve had the sad realization lately that a low-calorie diet with exercise ain’t gonna do it. Oh no. My body needs less, and in a way, it needs more. More fat, less carbs. My doctor is sadly moving on to another practice, so next week I’ll meet with her replacement, hopefully somebody who can work with me and be like “THIS IS WHY YOU’RE FAT” (and, ahem, not point out the meal I had last week that *was* just a giant piece of garlic bread. Naaaaah. Couldn’t be that.) Today I started a super low dose of Synthroid to help get my sluggish thyroid moving a little bit, and I was also put back on Metformin, the diabetes drug that helps with PCOS insulin resistance. When I was on it last time for a few weeks, I remember lovvvving the energy boost I felt. I wasn’t dragging through the day. I’m looking forward to feeling normal again, even though a nice, nasty summer cold showed up today and I sound all froggy.

I’ve decided to start counting carbs again. While I’m not necessarily doing an Atkins style diet, I’m going to try to eat around 100-150 grams of carbs per day. I came to this number by doing some extensive Googling. The first two weeks of Atkins, induction, has you eating 40 grams of carbs or less. I figure 100 is a nice number that allows me to still have a piece of bread here and there, but for the most part, my meals need to be vegetable and protein. It’s not too bad, I suppose. I’d honestly rather eat low-carb than 1,000 calories, because at least on low carb you can enjoy olive oil, butter and cheese, sparingly. And who doesn’t love bacon?! I’ve been using My Fitness Pal and a new app called Daily Carb.

Given that low-carb has always been the key to success with me and weight loss, I’m hoping this new approach towards eating plus regular exercise and my new medicines will help get things moving the right way. Thankfully I’ve maintained a couple pounds down in the past month, which I’m hopeful about as the scale has FINALLY stopped moving up. I suppose it could be different when I weigh in at the doctor’s next week, but for now, I’m trying not to focus on the number so much as getting into a routine. Because consistency is key, right?

Have you noticed anything about how carbs affect your weight loss? Does it not matter? Are you one of those lucky people who could LOSE weight by eating only carbs?

What does 1,100 calories look like?

Hi Double Chinners! I have so much I want to tell you about (including exciting revelations in the land of medical tests), but I need to get all my ducks in a row with my treatment plan and such before I fill y’all in. The good news is, I’m not dying and it’s nothing too serious and there MAY be hope in sight. Yay!

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do since starting my doctor’s reduced calorie diet is share what I’m eating. I’m actually supposed to eat 1,000 calories but after after trying 1,000 for two days and feeling stabby, I decided to up it to 1,100. Here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast was a 30g protein drink and 1/4 cup raspberries, 190 calories. Since I’m not a meat lover, I reaaaaally need to keep up on protein to prevent me from eating the stuffing out of my couch. The protein helps keep the hunger at bay and the low-sugar drink is actually pretty tasty.

Breakfast - 190 calories.

Breakfast – 190 calories.

Lunch time is where I try to get a little bit creative. If I don’t have my salty and sweet element, something feels off. So today I had one cup of Trader Joe’s Egg White Salad (50 calories per serving), Mini Pita (70 calories for two), Celery Sticks (15 Calories), a plum (46 calories), and 1/2 of a kiwi (17 calories). That’s a 198- calorie, super-filling lunch. (Oh. And. I was at the grocery store and for some reason, a diet coke with lime sounded amazing. I had 1/2. I’m trying to stay off soda but I figure with such a tight calorie budget, having a 0-calorie ‘splurge’ is no big deal.)

200 calorie lunch

200 calorie lunch

Next up is not a common treat, but a treat nonetheless! My bestie Jason came up for the day and we decided to get some Yogurtland frozen yogurt. I got cheesecake and dutch chocolate frozen yogurt with a dollop of whipped cream, chocolate chunks and cookie dough bits. This treat came in at a whopping 360 calories — whoops! Next time I know to keep it lighter on the toppings, as the yogurt is about 25 calories per ounce.

Splurge - 360 calories

Splurge – 360 calories

Dinner was super delicious and also very low calorie. I put four boneless skinless chicken breasts in the crock pot, let it cook on low for 7 hours, and then I shredded the chicken with a fork. I sauteed bell peppers and onions on a reaaaaally hot cast iron pan with some lime juice to get a nice sear, and then I added a few chunks of avocado and fresh tomato and voila! A delicious, low calorie dinner. The tortillas were 110 per two, 140 for the 4 ounces of chicken, 120 for the avocado and 50 for the bell peppers – a 420 calorie dinner.

420 calories per two.

420 calories per two.

This whole day of eating actually comes in at 1,170 calories, more than my goal, but doing a run today helped me burn 235 calories, making me about at what I should be eating. I haven’t figured out yet if I need to be super precise and only eat 1,100 calories exactly and not factor in exercise, but this amount of food felt “right” to leave me satisfied yet not overstuffed. I feel like this is a good representation of my average eating, but the frozen yogurt is definitely a treat. While it was delicious, it doesn’t fit with my whole goal of eating clean, which eliminates sugar and corn syrup and all that jazz.

So what do you think — if you had to eat this, how would you feel? Happy? Sad? Stuffed? Starved? Let me know and then tell me what you ate today!

Weekly Weigh In #2

I weighed in on Monday morning, expecting things to not go well. Even though I had stayed within my daily 1,600 calories, I couldn’t exercise as much because of homework and work, and my scale at home showed that I was up. When I weighed in on Monday I…

Gained/Lost 0 pounds

So basically, I maintained. I was disappointed, but after a good talk with the nutritionist, we pinpointed some reasons. First of all, I’m not really mindful of salt before weigh ins. I always thought it was just hocus pocus that eating a bit of salt would puff you up, but after chowing down on homemade stir fry this weekend (hello, soy sauce!) and a couple frozen meals, apparently  I was puffy (and sure enough, I’m down a pound this morning. Oh well.) Secondly, my nutritionist thinks I shouldn’t eat the extra calories I get from exercise through the My Fitness Pal app. She broke down the math for me and reminded me that I have a slow functioning metabolism – one that theoretically isn’t “broken”, but needs lots of stoking. We also decided I need to amp up my cardio to 4-5 times per week.

These changes are all pretty significant for me, because they point out the thing I’ve been kind of hoping wouldn’t be true for a long time… and that’s that for me to lose weight, I need to be damn near 100% in my efforts. The last time I lost 30 pounds was my last semester in college – when I was working two jobs, serving as an editor on the college paper, attending classes and constantly riding my bike to and from campus. Weight loss seemed easy back then – because even though I was involved in so many things, I was active. I didn’t sit on my butt all day. Now I sit 40+ hours a week, and then I sit some more, after work, when I do my thesis project or go to class.

The increase in cardio is good – while I’ll struggle at first, I know it will help decrease my stress, get me in shape, and most importantly, it will help rev up my metabolism. I like to imagine my metabolism as a squishy little cartoon character wearing a fuzzy robe and bunny slippers, with a perpetual yawn, curling up inside me next to my thyroid like the ultimate couch potato. I want that little metabolism to sweat and start being more productive, and the only way I’m gonna do that is to stop being my own form of couch potato, and move it to lose it, ya know?

 

One last thing I forgot to mention is I’m moving to bi-weekly weigh ins, because the wise nutritionist thinks it will be better for me to focus on my weight less and my energy and fitness level more. She reminded me that in cases like mine, sometimes you can be doing everything right and your body just takes some time to “prove it”. So yup – next time I weigh in on May 16… 3 days after my birthday!

I’m so glad I have a “weight whisperer” like the nutritionist to help me put some perspective into this challenge of mine that feels like something I’ll never overcome. But I will overcome it eventually – I just have to accept that weight loss is not going to be as simple as driving to the store and picking out a new, size 6 metabolism with a button nose and a love of volleyball. Weight loss is hard – which is precisely why the first three letters of diet are die. Heh. How are you doing this week? How are you feeling? Any revelations about anything?

The Last Hurrah

Last night, I celebrated the “last hurrah”. The last hurrah for what, you ask? For my impending membership in…. Weight Watchers! After Alycia’s inspiring guest post and the fact that my work finally got the monthly-pass option, and that they’ve reworked the points plus system, I wanted to give it another try. Not to mention my flex spend account will cover Weight Watchers for 2012 – so I really had no reason not to give it a go. (And if I run into similar issues like I did last time with the meeting/leader, I can now attend meetings other than at work.) Our first meeting is on Thursday.

Sangria Sampler, yum!

Anyways, we had a groupon for Muvico – an awesome movie theatre in Thousand Oaks that has age 21+ movies where you can bring wine and beer into the theatre, and feast on free popcorn! We met up with our friends Shelley and Daniel for a double date! Before the movie, we had a light dinner at the Lazy Dog Coffee. I started my evening with a delicious Sangria sampler consisting of Red Pomegranate, White Peach and Black Currant Rose. The white peach was definitely my favorite – and Shelley’s too! I also had some super tasty lettuce wraps.

Lettuce Wraps

After dinner, we headed in to the movie theatre to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This movie theatre had very plush, reclining seats that also gently rocked back and forth. With my hot, salty popcorn (Fresh from the popper!) I was a happy girl.

POPCORRRRRN!

The movie was really good – very suspenseful and with a strong (albeit a little nutty) female lead. I was enjoying a healthy buzz from my sangria sampler, which regretfully lead to the inhalation of one bag of sourpatch watermelon slices and about a bag and a half of popcorn. I pigged out, and am not proud of it as the bloat from crazy salt manifested itself as an 8 pound gain on the scale this morning 😐

However, I know it’s 8 pounds full of salt and water and little pieces of candy floating around, so I’m not that worried. I’m back on track after my last hurrah, and even spent 35 minutes sweating my butt off on an incline 6 on the treadmill at the gym today. I’m ready to get started… and have even started tracking again! Here’s to hoping this time around I can make Weight Watchers work for me, by consistently tracking, being honest and keeping up the exercise. In this case, my last hurrah was exactly what I needed to get mentally prepared for some of the changes I need to make in the coming months.

When you’re getting ready for a diet or “lifestyle change” (I hate both of those terms), do you ever give yourself a “last hurrah”?

 

 

Midwestern State of Mind

Little me creeping up stairs

I came screaming into this world in Naperville, Illinois, which was at the time, a small suburb of Chicago for new families and new shopping malls. (Fun fact: It’s now so yuppy people call it “Diaperville”) My mom was a native Michigander and my dad was a native Minnesotan, and together, they made a Midwestern hybrid baby that would be raised with good Midwestern values and three square meals of meat and potatoes. In the Midwest, “vegetables” are potatoes, iceberg lettuce, carrots and canned olives. When my cousins come to visit us in California, their noses turn up at the “grass” that is served as a salad – leafy arugula, green spinach, declicate baby greens. In the Midwest, gravy is a beverage. Oil is a condiment. Butter is a must.

I’m sure parts of the Midwest are different, but where I was raised, cheese in a can was a perfectly acceptable counterpart to crackers. “Salads” were rarely made of vegetables. Like what, you say? Potato Salad. Pasta Salad. Jello Salad. Taco Salad. Egg Salad. Chicken Salad.  Things like London Broil or Tri-Tip or Alfalfa Sprouts were unheard of. In fact, I never tried an artichoke, avocado, or soy milk until I moved to California.

Awkard chunky pre-teen phase. But I always was an LA girl!

It’s no laughing matter, but in both sides of my family, more of us fit into the lumpy category than we do lean. Would it be different if we had been raised in mountainous Colorado, or sunny Florida? (Florida: Probably not. Pretty sure funnel cakes, pulled pork and Cuban sandwiches do not a skinny person make.) Does the region you live in affect your tendency towards a certain body mass? I know I can’t blame my obesity on all the times I ate ice cream instead of fruit, but I have to wonder if my corn and grain-fed habits translated to a paunchier person.

One of the few years of my life where I had a normal BMI... I was 2.

I get grumpy sometimes when I compare my present eating habits to some slender folk around me. I cook rustic, wholesome meals with things grown from my garden. I mostly eat meals based on a lean protein, green and one starch every night. I try my best to stay away from processed foods and I exercise. I’ve made bad choices in the past and let’s be honest, will probably continue to do so, but the slightest bit of me loves blaming it all on genetics. In all fairness, I identify that I can’t blame the region – but I can blame the habits.

Did the region you grew up in contribute to your eating and food habits? How? If it was negative, how are you working to change them?