What Success Looks Like to Me

A couple of weeks ago WW asked a question in the weekly given to members each week (currently online versions only) as part of that weeks topic.  The same question I asked of members in my workshops when we would discuss goals—seasonal, holiday, long-term, short-term— and it had me thinking.

What does success look like to you??

We are in the midst of uncertain times.  Days are filled with stress, worry, interrupted routines….. life does not look the way it did a few months ago. Change is hard.  Emotions can make the journey of weight loss and being healthy difficult. Old habits can creep back in, unnoticed at first and then…. Well, before we know it old habits are the go-to, taking the control from our newer, healthier habits.  And we wonder what the heck happened!

I have been asking myself every day for the past couple of weeks—What does success look like to me?  What will make me feel good and successful when this pandemic is over, the stay-at-home order is lifted, and life gets back to “normal” for me?  Where do I want to be on my journey when I get to be back in my comfort zone?  Ahhh…….THAT comfort zone.  Where I feel safest, where things are easy, where change doesn’t happen…. But, as I have said before, stepping outside my comfort zone is where the greatest growth happens.  Maybe, just maybe, defining success for me and what it looks like, will help me to navigate this uncomfortable area, give me a goal and a focus for taking care of me and help me continue down the path of being the healthiest and best version of me that I can be… 

What does success look like to me, now?  An important question.  Asking it makes me look at my journey, and what I want, what is important. Without asking and defining success for me, I cannot set goals or identify the steps I need to take that will help me move toward that success.  Without asking and defining success, I am essentially choosing to let emotions and old habits take over…. I would be traveling down a road with no plan, no map, no eventual destination, eventually ending up in a place I do not want to be.

So, I have been asking the question every day.  And the answer hasn’t been easy to find.  I know that long-term I want to be at or below my goal weight.  I want to be healthy.  Don’t we all?  So WHY is it SO HARD to define and picture what success looks like for me—success at the end of April? The end of May? The end of this pandemic? 

Worry, sadness, loneliness, stress, anger, anxiousness…… those darned emotions!  Uncertainty.  Not knowing what is going to happen.  Not being able to CONTROL what is going to happen.  Being outside my comfort zone where I have little control over events.  Yes, these are the things that make it difficult to focus on my goals, on me. 

Yet, I have NOT lost all control.  I control my choices, though the choices are limited and different right now, I still have a choice.  I control my attitude and how I react to the things that are outside my control.  I GET to choose what success looks like for me, despite the current circumstances I find myself in.  So, I have not really lost ALL control. 

Once again, I go back to that question asked a couple weeks ago—What does success look like to you?  For each of us, it will look different—losing weight, maintaining weight, not gaining more than a few pounds… or not weight related at all, instead success is a behavior—continuing to move every day even if it is in a different way, or controlling portions or any other behavior that moves us toward health and weight loss.  Defining what success looks like will help us to set a goal and then the plan for how to get there can be formed.

Taking everything into consideration, I have finally come up with what that looks like for me.  Success for me is NOT going to be focused on weight, though weight loss will be a benefit of achieving my success.  And frankly, focusing on the weight right now is just too darn stressful. So I am taking a break from the scale and removing some stress at a time when stress is so high. INSTEAD I am going to FOCUS on something a little less stressful for me. Success for me, when this is all over, will be that I tracked most days.  Success means I paid attention to my portion sizes, sticking to small portions, weighing and measuring them. 

I CANNOT control much right now, but I CAN make a CHOICE to be mindful when I eat, even if the food is higher in points.  Portions and tracking are key to success for me.  When this is over, and I look back on these months of uncertainty, I will be proud of myself for tracking and for controlling my portions. I know I won’t necessarily be perfect, which isn’t what this is about. As long as I track and pay attention to portions MOST days, FORGIVING myself for the times I slip a little, then that is TRUE SUCCESS! And I will feel successful, no matter what the scale says. 

Because, sometimes success IS NOT about the scale.  Sometimes success is about a BEHAVIOR. Especially when that behavior gives me some control at a time when life is feeling so out of control.  And right now, controlling what I can and letting go of the rest is most important.

My goal through this is to track, weigh and measure my portions and make the best choices I can, for me right now.  Now I can set my course, map my route and create a plan. 

FIRST STEP is just to track ONE meal and the portions.  Focus on ONE meal.  My food scale and measuring tools are on my counter to remind me to pay attention to portions.  First step.  One step. 

Going to just take this one-step-at-a-time.  One-day-at-a-time.  One-meal-at-a-time.  One-choice-at-a-time.

The benefit is that I will be more mindful, more present, more focused.  And we all know that the scale follows along, eventually.   

What does success look like to you?  What will make you feel successful when this lockdown is over, and life starts to get back to normal?  Where do you want to be the end of April?  The end of May? 

Once you decide what success looks like for you and what your goal is, then ask yourself, “What is ONE thing I can do right now, TODAY, THIS WEEK that will get me on the path toward success?” 

CAN you do that one thing?  WILL you do that one thing?

One step at a time.  One day at a time. One choice at a time.

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The Gift and a Little Creativity

The anticipation was growing.

I was waiting…..  excited…. Ready to burst! 

And then I heard the garage door open and in walked my husband and my son with bags.  Bags of food!

I was sooo excited!!!

And Anxious!!

Did they find any?  Were they successful??  Oh… just let me see!! 

You see, times are challenging right now.  Our country, the world, is experiencing a pandemic and it is causing panic across the country.  Add to that, neither my husband nor I can drive right now, and we both are moving a little slower than normal, he because of recent total Knee Replacement surgery and me because of a severe back injury.  So, we rely on our son to take us places.    

During this challenging time, stores have been out of my “go to” foods, at least later in the day when my husband could get to the store.  What??? 

It feels as if my world has turned upside down overnight.  (not just because of the lack of food choices currently available.)  And I am lost.  How am I going to stay on plan?  How am I going to make healthy eating a priority when all that is left in the stores are the foods I have avoided for years, foods that are way too high in fat or sugar, and the foods that were my go-to foods for dealing with emotions?? 

I just want my low point/low calorie bread, my extra lean ground turkey and ground beef, fresh fruits, fresh veggies and so much more…. But those are very hard to find.  Instead, on my husband’s previous trip to the store, there were a few cans of high calorie soup, some Velveeta mac & cheese, a loaf of high calorie (and therefore high point) bread, and not much in the way of fresh veggies….

I am not used to shopping this way.  I am not used to having to figure out my meals based on what I have available.  I am a planner.  I plan 2-weeks’ worth of dinners and then go shopping based on my planned dinners.  Oh, I don’t always stick to the plan, not strictly anyway.  But planning the meals helps me create my grocery list which in turn keeps me on track.  But now I am not able to do that.  The chances that those items I would need to make those meals, would actually be on the shelves in the stores was quite low.  And that had me feeling even more discombobulated….. more lost….. Ugh!

So here I was, a couple of weeks into the craziness in the stores and a month since my last trip to get groceries (our pantry and fridge were quite low since I only shop for 2 weeks at a time.) and I was waiting, anticipating what he would find this time….. 2 previous trips to the store had not garnered those much-desired items…. But maybe, just maybe, this time would!

Let me tell you, when he walked in with bags in hand, I was ready to explode!  And finally I was able to go through the bags, finding some high calorie things I would not normally eat, including brownie mixes, frostings, cookie and cake mixes… and THEN I found the gifts (insert childlike scream and huge grin!)

They FELT like GIFTS.  Those precious, precious gems!  I felt like a kid in a candy store or a kid opening a much desired gift on Christmas morning— my butter!!  Zucchini!!  Strawberries!!  Cucumbers!!  Tomatoes!! Yogurt!!  Flour!!  Yeast!!  Onions and Potatoes!!  An Avocado!! Apples!! Low fat buttermilk!!  Canned Chicken breast!!  Oh my!!  Yes!!  Score!!  We struck gold!!

NEVER in my wildest imagination would I have imagined that I would EVER be this excited about vegetables!  Or fruit!  Or Yogurt!  I was ecstatic.  I was that kid on Christmas morning who just opened that one present that was the only one I had wanted!  

For years I have enjoyed fresh fruits and veggies.  And I miss them when I don’t have them.  Now with the stores being so very crazy and running low on my favorites, I was really missing my foods, the foods I have relied on to keep me healthy, to keep me on plan and to fill me up.   

My husband just smiled and then laughed while he watched me. 

Now to figure a way to use these low point gifts, along with the higher calorie/higher point foods (that I hadn’t eaten in a really long time) to make meals that would help me eat healthy, stay in my points and keep me satisfied.  And I needed to get creative to make the meals that would keep me from gaining weight during this stressful and challenging time, when staying home is necessary and exercise wasn’t possible. 

Yes, this would be a challenge. 

But, I was ready to RISE UP to the challenge, get creative and put my health at the top of my priority list. 

All those years sitting in WW workshops and all the years I had worked for WW and stood in front of members, facilitating the workshop had prepared me for this challenge.  I had tools to help me.  The tips I had heard over and over in those workshops were the tools I needed now.

Those tips came rushing back to me—

               –Wash and prep fresh produce BEFORE putting them in the fridge (I have not always been great at this, and many a fruit and vegetable have died a slow death in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator).  Done!  This fresh produce needed to be treated like diamonds, rubies, and other precious gems.

               –TRACK!  Track everything!  Even if I don’t know the points value, at least write it down.  Take a picture of the food if I can’t write it down.  Tracking, with or without the points keeps me aware of what I am eating.  And how often I am eating.  And whether or not I am really, truly physically hungry.  TRACK!

               –Portion Control!  Weigh and measure EVERYTHING!  Now, more than ever, this is important for me to do!  Paying attention to my portions keeps me mindful.  And mindful eating is important for me, an emotional eater.  The emotions I am feeling and trying to sort through threaten to sabotage my efforts to be healthy.  Portions help me to control the amount of points I consume while using he higher point value foods, taking the control from the food and putting it back in my hands.   

               –Have a Plan!  So important.  Just like a plan helps when we go to a party, potluck or out to eat, planning meals will keep me on track.  And planning how many points I want to use for a certain meal will help me navigate the higher point foods and meals I have in my kitchen right now.

I have discovered this past week that by watching the portion sizes and tracking everything, I CAN stay on plan and within my points, even with higher calorie/higher point foods.  I just eat a smaller portion. I decide ahead of time how many points I want to use and then portion it out to meet my planned points.  And I am satisfied. Planning Works!

–Try new recipes.  Mix it up.  Keep food from becoming boring– Instead of planning my meals and then getting the ingredients, I am now having to look in my pantry and my fridge/freezer and plan meals based on what I have on hand.  Some meal ideas come easier than others.  Grilled Chicken and frozen veggies.  Easy.  But those are limited items right now in my kitchen so I can’t do it every day.  I have to plan so that I can stretch those ingredients into more meals.  And that, along with the current choices in my kitchen (many things I would not and have not used in a long time) is making me get creative with my meals.  I look through my recipes and cookbooks as well as online for meal ideas and recipes that help me make a delicious, flavorful, and filling dinners.  And sometimes I just wing it, using what I have on hand to create a flavorful meal. 

I am using my leftovers more than I ever have.  NOTHING goes to waste! 

I am having fun creating.  I am excited about meals again.  It isn’t boring!  I am having a blast channeling my inner Chef.  I am loving pretending I am a participant on WW MasterChef! 

I am making homemade bread!  Buttermilk biscuits.  Brownies.  Hamburger Buns.  Donuts.  I am using high point meatballs in my spaghetti (just one.  It is all about the portions!) and using pasta because I haven’t had zucchini to spiralize.  I am grilling, sauteeing, and air-frying.  I am repurposing leftovers from dinner for breakfast and lunch the next day.  And I will be using canned pumpkin (I LOVE pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!) because that is what I have in the pantry.  Tonight, I am making my grilled Greek turkey burgers, with some substitutions, of course, and homemade hamburger buns.  And we are having a big salad too, thanks to the greens, tomato and cucumber my husband brought home.  The salad will save points so that I can enjoy the homemade hamburger bun and higher point ground turkey. 

So. Many. Ways. To. Be. Creative.

I am finding success during this challenging time.  I am playing with my food again, in a good way.  I am trying old favorites.  I am experimenting.  I am eating things that previously scared me because they were so high in points.  I am eating foods I avoided. 

And you know what?  I am in control.  I am enjoying my meals.  I am not feeling deprived! 

All the things I have learned, all the things I have heard, and all the tips shared in WW workshops, are helping me to find balance, to find my creativity and to stay calm during this time of uncertainty.  And I am finding success!

What are you doing to stay on track?  How are you getting creative in the kitchen?  How are you channeling your inner chef?  How are you staying mindful when it comes to your food choices?  What is your plan? 

Sharing our challenges, successes and tips will help us all to get through this challenging time.  Together.  Because we ARE better TOGETHER!!