Here is to 2020!

It is the end of the year, the end of another decade and a time for reflection. 

2019 was a good year.  But I did not accomplish all the goals I had set for myself.  Sometimes life steps in and we have to adjust our sails and get back on course.  It happens.  Life happens. 

I am looking forward to 2020!  I have already set some goals for myself when it comes to my health, my fitness, my weight and my mindset.  All things I have control over.  And all areas I struggled with in 2019.

September saw the beginning of a few months of health issues for me.  And lots of visits to doctors.  Ugh!  Let me tell you, health issues can be quite the wake-up call.  Thankfully, all is well.  But all the testing and doctor orders kept me from exercising the last few months of 2019, completely throwing off my game-plan for my 5ks. 

Life happens.

Sometimes we need to adjust those goals so that they are more reasonable and achievable.  Adjusting goals is far better and much more motivating than giving up.  So, I adjusted.

My goal for my upcoming January 5k will be to finish, instead of pushing myself beyond what my body can do, because I want to reach my original goal of finishing my fastest 5k.  If I did not adjust my goal, I would be setting myself up for disappointment and failure, both of which would sabotage any efforts I may attempt at getting healthy and would make me give-up.  It is better to adjust goals than to give up!

My goal for getting back to my lifetime WW goal did not materialize.  So, I am giving myself more time.  The goal to lose that much weight in such a short period of time was not reasonable.  Adjusting my goal to losing more slowly is far more achievable and takes the pressure off me, removing the guilt that ends up sabotaging me and making me quit.  Adjusting goals is better than giving up!

So, thinking about what I want to achieve in 2020—better health, better mindset, healthy weight loss and better fitness, has me thinking about the steps I can take now to help me move toward those long-term goals.  The steps I can take today, this week and the coming month.

Breaking the long-term goals into smaller steps makes the end not so far away, makes it seem as if those goals are within reach and it motivates me.  Each small step taken and achieved gives me confidence that I CAN do this and I WILL do this.  Each step is another step on the path to success.  And those missteps, the detours, well they are another steppingstone helping me to build my path to success. 

I have got this!

The past two days I have taken a couple of steps toward those long-term goals of better health, fitness and mindset. 

First I signed up to do the Run the Year 2,020 miles in 2020.  Yes, 2,020 miles in one year.  I was not going to do the Run the Year.  Friends of mine had done the 2019 Run the Year and were registered to do the 2020 Run the Year, but I was going to skip it.  But my health issues gave me quite the wake-up call and yesterday, I decided that the Run the Year race was exactly what I needed to motivate me to move more, to get out and walk more.  So, I registered.  And the race bling is added incentive for me! 

The second step was to purchase a new Fitbit.  My old one died.  And I have not worn a fitness tracker in over a month now.  My birthday is coming up soon, and I told my husband that I wanted the gift of health this year and that meant a new Fitbit.  I am wearing it right now.  An early birthday present.  One that will motivate me to move more.  To walk more.  Another step on my journey to my goals.

I am planning for 2020.  I am looking forward to 2020.  I am certain I will achieve the goals I set for myself this coming year.  I know it will be a great year.  With the support of my family and my “tribe”, I CAN and I WILL move forward….

One step at a time!  One small goal at a time!  One day at a time!

Here is to the new year!  I hope that all your goals are achieved this year—one small goal at a time! 

Surviving the “Eating Season”– The Holidays pt 3– PIE!

Only two more days!

I am amazed at how fast the year has flown and how quickly Thanksgiving has arrived.  2 more days!

I love Thanksgiving!  It is a lot of food prep and work for me to cook the holiday meal for my family, though the past couple of years have been a bit easier….less food and less prep.  Tomorrow morning, I begin making pie.  And I love pie!

Pie is a staple of Thanksgiving!  Apple pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie….. oh, there are so many pies to choose from! 

For years I made three types of pie every Thanksgiving—Pumpkin Pie (either one deep dish or 2 regular pies), Chocolate Cream Pie (with an Oreo crust) and Pecan Pie (for my husband, as I do not like Pecan pie).  I would have a slice of Pumpkin pie and Chocolate cream pie on Thanksgiving after dinner (from which I was over-stuffed and really had no room for pie).  And then as I watched a movie later at night I would have another slice of Pumpkin pie.  Breakfast the day after Thanksgiving was always easy for me—Chocolate Cream pie and Pumpkin pie. 

Pie all day long until it was gone.  And the size of the slice varied, depending on what meal and how many pies I was eating at that time. 

I really did not pay attention to portion sizes or what a true portion of pie looked like.  Why should I?  It was Thanksgiving Day….. weekend….. week…. And I was surprised when I would gain 10 or more pounds over the “eating season”?!  Maybe the excess pie had something to do with it (and the cookies in December, too!).

Then I joined Weight Watchers in March of 2006 for the 5th time.  That first Thanksgiving I went to the workshop and made a plan…kinda…. But not really.  But I did pay attention.  It was that workshop where my then leader showed us the plate and how we could use that plate to really see a true serving size of pie.  WOW!  THAT was a HUGE eye-opener!  Because, what she showed us was the same size as the small piece of pie I would cut when I was having both Pumpkin and Chocolate Cream pies…. I thought my 2 small pieces were less than or equal to one piece of pie.  Boy was I wrong!

It was not until Thanksgiving 2007 that I took that lesson to heart and really paid attention to my portions for Thanksgiving and for Pie.  My leader again showed us the plate demo for a pie slice and I again was amazed.  But this time I was serious and determined to reach my goal….I was so close and so I stuck to that serving size of pie—one slice. 

And I was satisfied with one slice…one true portion of pie!  Who knew?!  I did not need the excessive amount of pie.  I did not feel deprived eating a portion and sometimes even smaller.  And I could enjoy my pie.

Over the years I have adapted recipes and found ways to enjoy pie without the guilt…. Always paying attention to the serving size.  Last year I made a slow cooker Crustless Apple Pie from skinnytaste and it was delicious!  It is now a staple for my Thanksgiving and for other times of the year.  I still make the Chocolate Cream pie for my son and have a slice and that satisfies me.  I don’t make Pumpkin Pie because I am the only one who eats it and I don’t need the whole pie…instead I make a Pumpkin Spice truffle with Pumpkin Pie yogurt, crushed graham cracker and whipped topping.  Oh…it is good!  And this year I will be using Pizzelle cookies to make pie shells for the slow cooker apple pie filling and for the pumpkin yogurt…..very low in calories and smartpoints and delicious!  I can enjoy a treat or two or three and still feel in control. 

And when I have that one slice of Chocolate Cream Pie, I will have that true serving size based on this plate demo—this is what my leader showed us all those years ago and what I shared with those who attended the Weight Watcher workshops I led every year –

Take an 8-inch paper plate—This represents an 8 inch pie.

And fold that plat in half— No that is not a serving size of pie….. we may want it to be…but…..

Fold the plate in half again— okay, this looks like my kind of pie slice….but this is NOT a true serving size of pie, Not the size slice of pie that those smartpoints are based on…. So…..

Fold the plate in half again— Now THIS, THIS is a true portion of pie.  1/8 of an 8-inch pie is what the smartpoints are based on.  This right here is a true portion of pie…doesn’t look too small….until you place it in your hand or on a dessert plate…with the fork next to it.  And those Costco pies?  Well this is a pretty small slice of that pie!

This Thanksgiving enjoy your pie.  Eat it.   Savor it.  Before enjoying it, practice this plate demo…..Being aware of what a serving size of pie looks like, helps us with portions and helps us to not feel guilty! 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!

Surviving the “Eating Season”– the Holidays part 2

The week before Thanksgiving.   Traditionally, at least in the past, this week before Thanksgiving meant the annual WW Great Plate Thanksgiving prep workshop.  I loved that week in Weight Watchers meeting rooms.  I looked forward to it every year.  That workshop gave me an opportunity to plan for the holiday meal, to learn tips and tricks for navigating a food laden holiday and one that could be stressful. 

I learned a lot in that one annual workshop.  The first time I attended and really absorbed the ideas of the Great Plate workshop was 2006, on my 5th journey with WW.  My then leader, gave us all paper plates and then we planned. 

This year and last year we did not do the Great Plate workshop and I miss it!  I miss the planning, the discussion of the point values of all our favorites, the ideas shared, the tips on how to navigate the day and the weeks that followed. I miss the recipes shared, and the tips on making a favorite recipe a little lighter, and lower in point values.  I miss the connection with others and sharing of challenges that the holidays presented and how we could get through those challenges. 

Workshops were then and still are where the magic happens!  And I have learned a lot over the past 13 years in those workshops from other members sitting in the chairs.  With Thanksgiving next week, I have been thinking a lot about what I learned for many years in the Thanksgiving Great Plate workshops and how I could use those lessons this year. 

How do I navigate the holiday?  What has helped me and will help me as I go through this years “eating season”?

Here are just a few of the things I have learned these past few years—

-Know your budget—And build it!  Whether your budget is calories or points, know what it is and how to increase it.  With WW we all have a daily and weekly budget to spend on food.  Know what that is for yourself.  Save those extra weekly points for the day of your holiday meal.  Add in some fitpoints, earned through exercise and activity for the week leading up to the holiday.  Save some of those daily points and roll them over into the weekly to use for the holiday meal.  All of this builds a great budget for us to use and not feel guilty when we indulge in our favorite foods! 

–Plan your meal—This is what the Great Plate workshop did…. It helped us to plan our meal.  What are you going to have?  What are the special family foods that will be at the meal?  Write your meal on a paper plate so you can see what you will be eating on Thanksgiving.  Planning and visualizing the meal will help when the day finally arrives. 

-Know the smartpoint values of the food—Once you plan your meal, check the point values of the foods you would like to eat, the ones you wrote on your plate.  Knowledge is power and knowing what the food will cost you, will help you to plan and to build your budget so you have plenty to spend on your holiday meal. Look up the smartpoints of your foods on the WW app and run your recipes through the recipe builder to get the smartpoint values.  And if you don’t have the app or recipe then estimate—look for similar foods.  Know before you go… Know before you eat!

–Lighten up Recipes—There are tons of recipes online (Skinnytaste, Emily Bites, Pound Dropper, WW) that are lighter versions of favorite Thanksgiving foods.  Try one or two.  Or find ways to substitute ingredients in recipes that will bring down the calories and ultimately lower the point values…try light butter, use phyllo dough for pie crust, use unsweetened applesauce in place of oil, use egg whites, etc.  Over the years I have made many changes in recipes, some were successful, and we still use them (Cauliflower Stuffing from Delish) and some didn’t work so well…. There are just some foods that we love as is, and that don’t work when we lighten them up.  The most important thing is to find a way to lighten up a recipe without losing the flavor—that is how we will feel satisfied and we won’t feel deprived!

–Choose Wisely—focus on the foods that are special for this holiday and skip the food you eat regularly.  Walk around the buffet table BEFORE dishing up your plate and pick what is really worth it to you.  What is worth it to you??  I only make my roll recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas and attempts to lighten the recipe just didn’t work….it wasn’t the same, so those rolls are absolutely worth it to me and I will spend a chunk of my budget on those rolls.  Knowing and building your budget and planning how to spend that budget BEFORE Thanksgiving will help you to make decisions that work for you and that are worth it to you! 

–Skip the Stretch– wear tighter Clothing—Don’t wear loose fitting, stretchy clothes to Thanksgiving.  Why?  Well, have you ever eaten a big Thanksgiving meal and had to unbutton your pants or loosen your belt?  That is why we don’t wear loose fitting clothes.  Tighter pants will help us to stop eating sooner, keeping us from eating to the point of being over-stuffed and about to burst.  Skip the stretch this holiday season!

–Get in some activity—before, during and after Thanksgiving.  Go for a walk after the meal…..  Play some football…. Participate in a Turkey Trot…. Go for a hike…. Just move a little and maybe start a new family tradition.  My husband and I go for a long walk or a hike on Thanksgiving morning.  It helps me to feel like I have earned a little treat but more importantly that activity puts me in the right frame of mind to stay on track and not over-indulge too much.

–Pay attention to Portions—some serving utensils are also measuring utensils in disguise and you can use them to dish up your food without anyone knowing you are portioning out your serving.  You can also use your hand to estimate portions.  If measuring isn’t an option and you can’t remember the hand portion estimates you can always use the Island method—a method I shared with my members every year that I coached the Great Plate Workshop—Make Islands NOT continents or volcanoes on your plate with your food.  Making islands helps to control portion size and keeps us aware!

–Have an anchor—An anchor is the thing, thought, or visual that reminds you of your goal, your why.  You have set a holiday goal of where you would like to be on January 1st, now find an anchor that reminds you of your goal.  It can be something you can touch or a mantra you say or a photo or a picture in your mind.  Whatever your anchor is, use it to help you get through the Thanksgiving holiday. 

–Enjoy the day—focus on loved ones.  Focus on conversations and traditions.  Yes, Thanksgiving is a food holiday, but it is also a day to enjoy family and friends and to be thankful.  Have your plan but don’t stress about it…. control what you can and let go of the rest.  And Enjoy the day!

–Have a “Day after” plan—yes, pre-plan the day after.  Get rid of the leftovers so they aren’t tempting you.  Plan the healthy meals you will enjoy the day after Thanksgiving.  And plan the kind words you will say to yourself if you over-indulge and go off plan.  Plans are great, but sometimes we just take a detour.  If you have the “day after” plan ready it will make forgiving yourself easier and will help you to get right back on track. 

What is your plan for Thanksgiving?  How are you going to handle the day?  How will you build your budget?  What foods are worth it to you? 

Knowledge is power!  And planning is a powerful tool.  Use it to help you navigate the day so that you feel successful! 

And remember—Don’t Gobble ‘Til you Wobble!

It is a HoliDAY, NOT a HoliWEEK! 

(One more surviving the eating season blog post is coming—the next one will be on pies and pie servings with a visual on how to estimate what a true serving size is!)

Surviving the “Eating Season”– the Holidays (part 1)

We are smack-dab-in-the-middle of the “eating season”.   The season that kicks off on Halloween and ends with the New Year.  The Holiday Season.  The challenging season. 

I refer to this as the “eating season” because of all of the food that abounds during these two months… the parties, the celebrations, the gatherings and the holiday….. ALL centered around food!  And THAT is a challenge for me…. for anyone who struggles to lose weight and/or maintain their weight.

So how do we navigate the holidays?  How do we get through them without feeling like a failure? 

More importantly, how do we survive this “eating season” and feel successful?

First, we must define what success means to us through the holiday season.  What will make you feel successful when January 1, 2020 arrives?  For me success has looked different through the years.

Back in 2006, success through the holidays for me was to not gain more than 10 pounds.  In 2007, success meant I would lose weight, any amount would count, even .2 lbs.  In 2008, my first holiday season at goal and as a Lifetime member of Weight Watchers, success meant maintaining. 

Some years I didn’t think about it, didn’t think about setting a goal.  Some years I set goals based on what success looked like to me.  By defining what success meant on January 1st of the coming New Year, I took away the power that guilt held over me and gave myself the power to control my choices.  I was in control.  And defining what success meant to me, it gave me a focus, something to work toward and gave me flexibility.  My choices followed whatever my definition of success was. 

This year, success through the holidays looks like a loss at the scale.  It doesn’t matter to me the amount, just that it is an overall loss on January 1st

But how am I going to do that when there are so many temptations?  When there are so many challenges? 

That is where the second step comes in.  Once you decide on what success looks like to you, you can then set your goal based on that.  The holiday goal is what success looks like to you.  My holiday goal this year is to lose, at least a little.  To step on the scale that first week in January 2020 and see a loss from where I am today.  That is my goal.

Then once you set your holiday goal, ask what steps you need to take to get there.  What will help you to get to that goal?  What will help you to achieve success? 

For me, having a loss over the holidays does not mean that I HAVE to deprive myself.  It does not mean that I won’t get to enjoy the holidays…all the events….all the gatherings….all the celebrations.  And it does not mean that I won’t be able to enjoy my favorite foods and treats.  Because, if I deprive myself….if I don’t enjoy the holidays…..if I stress about the celebrations and parties and holiday gatherings because I tell myself I CAN’T have this or that…..if I deny myself my favorites….. I am doomed!  I am setting myself up for failure.  I am setting myself up for a big slip down that slippery slope.

So, how do I enjoy the holidays without over-indulging?  How do I enjoy the holidays and all that they bring and STILL reach success as I have defined it for myself? 

I do it by setting my holiday goal, and by figuring out what will help me to achieve that success! 

I know that eating mindfully is important for me, especially during challenging times.  And mindful eating means that I am tracking.  Tracking gives me awareness of how much I am eating, and what I am eating.  And mindful eating and tracking also means I am paying attention to portions.  So, tracking and portion control will help me to reach success.  But I need more to help me as well.  Moving will help.  Exercise will help.  And movement and exercise are two different things.  Exercise for me is intentional.  It gets my heart rate up.  It works my muscles to exhaustion.  So, exercise in the form of my bike, strength-training, and walking (fast) will help me to get closer to that holiday goal.  But I need to do more than a workout.  I need to move during the day.  I need to not sit so much.  Moving in the form of parking farther away, cleaning house, getting out in my garden, going for a leisurely walk after dinner, dancing around the house to my favorite holiday music, and making sure I get up out of my chair every hour will help me move closer to my holiday goal and help me to reach success.  And going to workshops will help me.  I need to step on the scale.  I need the accountability and I need the inspiration and support of others traveling this road we are on. 

Once we are aware of what we need to do, of the tools that will help us to achieve our success, then we can set small, weekly goals to help us get to that bigger holiday goal…. One-step-at-a-time!  Each week, ask yourself, what can I do this week that will move me a little closer to my holiday goal?  What one thing can I do this week that will help me reach my success?  And set that smaller weekly goal.  Just one thing. 

For me, this week, tracking will be key.  Tracking every day.  Tracking every food I eat.  Tracking the portions.  Tracking my exercise.   Tracking will give me the awareness I need about my food and exercise habits.  And tracking will give me the information I need to make adjustments next week… adjustments that will help me reach success!

How do we navigate and survive this “eating season”?  By defining success as it pertains to each of us.  Then setting our holiday goal based on what success means to us.  Once the goal is set, coming up with the actions that will help us to reach that goal will give us a focus.  And then we ask what we CAN do this week that will move us closer to our holiday goal.  Once we answer that question, we set a smaller weekly goal to get us moving in the direction of success.  This is how we survive the holidays.  This is how we reach success; whatever success means to each of us.

And then one final question—after asking what you can do, and setting the smaller goal ask yourself–WILL you do it?  Because we all CAN do it, but the real question is Will we do it!  And that is where the commitment and power lie!

What does success this “eating season” of holidays look like to you?  What will make you feel successful when January 1, 2020 arrives?

This Change Gives Me Control

I love that WW (formerly Weight Watchers) is now giving us a choice….making this the most personalized program I have seen in my many years as a member of WW. 

This week, WW is launching the new program—My WW.  And I am excited.  Why?  Because there is choice!  Weight loss, weight maintenance and healthy living have never been a one-size-fits-all way of life.  Every person is different.  And what works for one may not work for another.  So, we find what works for us.  Any food/exercise/health plan needs to fit into our lives so that it is livable.  If the food plan is not livable will we be successful….maybe in the short run but not for the long run.  And the long run is what makes us healthier for life! 

WW realized this and implemented the new program this week, offering a choice of three food plans so that members can choose the one that will work for them in their life.  Every couple of years WW changes the program, and the changes are always backed up by science.  And as you probably know, science changes, we learn new things and adjust.  In the past, the program changes meant getting rid of the old, even if it worked for members and moving everyone to the new plan.  There was never an option to stay with the previous plan, the tools all supported the new plan.  There was no choice.

Not this year!  Not this change!  With the introduction of My WW and the offer of 3 food plans to choose from, WW is also providing the tools for each plan.  We get to choose what works for us, which makes much more sense to me, because the only person who really knows what works for me is me!  And now I have the support of WW and the tools to go along with my choice. 

Before I get into the changes and the choices I want to talk about what is staying the same— the things I loved about Freestyle—freedom and flexibility.  That comes from the weekly extra points budget and roll overs.  Those are NOT changing.  I love that the rollovers are staying.  Those rollovers give me a lot of flexibility.  The option to save some of my daily budget for holidays, weekends, my birthday or anytime I need a little extra.  And that provides me with less guilt.  I can enjoy an indulgence without the guilt because I have planned and saved for those indulgences.  Those weekly extra budget points also allow me to enjoy going out to eat with family and friends and they will give me the freedom to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. 

There is also no change in how food points are calculated.  The points are still smartpoints and take into consideration calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein in assigning point values to food.  No change there!  And, no change in how we figure our daily smartpoint budget—it is still based on age, height, weight and gender. 

Fitpoints earned for activity and exercise is not changing either.  And the ability to choose whether or not you swap those Fitpoints for smartpoints is not changing—we still get to decide whether or not to swap and that helps us to personalize our plan.  I love to earn Fitpoints, but I don’t like to swap them.  My choice.  And one that works for me! 

So, then what is changing?

We now have the choice of 3 food plans—Green, Blue, and Purple!

Green is equivalent to the old smartpoints, Beyond the Scale plan…the plan before Freestyle.  On green you get a higher daily smartpoint budget (the minimum is 30 daily points) and there are fewer 0 smartpoint foods.  Fruit that is fresh, frozen or canned in its own juice is 0 smartpoints and most vegetables are 0 smartpoints (starchy veggies are NOT 0 sp—think potatoes, corn, peas, legumes, etc).  If you need more parameters—tracking, portions, points—then Green is for you. 

Blue is equivalent to the current Freestyle plan.  On blue you get less daily smartpoints for your budget (23 daily points is the minimum) and there are 200+ foods that have 0 smartpoints.  Blue means less tracking for those who don’t want to track everything.  If Freestyle worked for you and you loved it, then Blue is for you!  You do not have to change anything!

Purple is, in my opinion, very close to the old Simply Filling or Core programs.  On Purple you have the least amount of daily smartpoints for your budget (16 is the minimum daily points) and there are 300+ foods that are 0 smartpoints.  There is less tracking to do which gives some that sense of freedom.  If you like that freedom and can eat to satisfaction and stop, then Purple is for you!

All three plans still allow rollovers and give you your weekly extra smartpoint budget.  With all three food plans you only “have to” track the foods with points but can track everything if you want to.  These plans all give us freedom and flexibility so that we can live our lives, our way and still lose weight, maintain and get healthy.  Which one you choose is completely up to you!

I am sure you can guess after my last blog post which plan I am going with— Green.  Why?  Because the parameters of points and portions gives me control.  I don’t have the ability within me to cut-off food, to know when I am satisfied vs stuffed.  Less tracking and less foods with points means I could eat as much as I wanted of those because they were 0 points and then eat my daily points too and most weeks my weeklies.  That didn’t work for me.  I need guidance.  I need the safety net of portions and points.  I need to know that ALL foods count!  So, for me it is Green.  That is not to say that one day I may be in a place with my relationship with food that I could try blue or purple….. and let me tell you purple appeals to me because Potatoes are 0 smartpoints!  I almost chose purple for those “free” potatoes.  But that would be dangerous for me!  Right now, where I am at currently in my relationship with food, “free” foods are like kryptonite!  So, I am going Green!  Because 0 smartpoint foods ARE NOT “free”!!  And until I change that mindset I need to count points for most foods! 

Mindset plays a huge part in my choice.  I know me.  I know where I trip up.  I know what tempts me and sends me down the hole…… I am choosing Green today because the parameters of points and the accountability of tracking along with portioning all foods takes the control from the food and gives it back to me!  I am back in control!

I am really excited for this new plan.  My WW is the most personalized plan I have ever seen.  I am excited for where this is going to take me, and I am excited to see where others go with this new choice in food plans!  Whether you choose Green, Blue or Purple, make sure you choose the one that is right for you, not the one that is right for someone else!  Only you know what is right for you!

Let’s take this perfectly imperfect journey together—-after all, whether we are Green, Blue or Purple, we are in this together and we are better together!

How Cookies led to Self Forgiveness

Just one of those days…..

Last night I met with a group of ladies for our weekly book club (I will be sharing about the book and our group in a future blog post) and our discussion was about stress—how it affects our bodies, our weight and how to begin to change the response habit to stress and create stress relief habits.  It was a great discussion.  And I was ready to work on how I deal with stress…..

We had met at Panera Bread and I had bought a bagel, my favorite, to take home to have for breakfast this morning.  I planned my day ahead so that I could make that 10 SmartPoint bagel work.  And it was good! 

But…..

I got up way too early this morning, ate my breakfast way to early this morning and then started my day.

I was exhausted before the day started and well, exhaustion does NOT bode well for healthy choices!

And the stress hit…. appointments to take my son too (2 before 10 am) and waiting time in a waiting room.  Lots of to-do list items that I needed to take care of, and I was getting pretty stressed about them, while waiting in the waiting room

Rushing to appointments so that we are not late STRESSES me! 

Having no control over my schedule and life STRESSES me!

A million things on my to-do list (that may be an exaggeration) STRESSES me!

Starting my day without my quite reading time STRESSES me!

Ugh!  Let’s be real….  EVERYTHING STRESSES me when I am EXHAUSTED!

So, that plan I had for my day to stay on track and make me a priority while enjoying a favorite bagel…. well….. it got lost somewhere between the soda and the cookie isle in the grocery store…..

And the Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Cookies found their way into my cart, at the register and then in the car heading home.  Once home, the cookies found their way to the end table next to my favorite chair and there I sat, exhausted and stressed.   And I ate a cookie.  Then another…. And another….. and another and before I knew it 2/3 of that bag of cookies was gone.  And I hadn’t even tasted them.  What the heck?

At that moment I stopped.  And I threw the rest in the garbage.  And I remembered what was said in workshops this week about our character strengths and using one of those strengths to help us to reach a goal this week….. I hadn’t chosen which I would use yet.  But today I choose mine while I was sitting there thinking about what I had just done and how it undermined my progress… And before I could beat myself up, I decided that my strength would be forgiveness.  

I am great at forgiving others, but me, not so much.  It is hard to overlook my mistakes, and even harder to let them go without some pretty harsh words directed at me.  So, forgiveness was my character strength this week, one I could use to help me forgive myself.

And I did!  I forgave myself!

I realized that forgiving myself for letting old habits pop up to deal with exhaustion and stress was another way I made me a priority!  I am never going to be perfect.  I know that there will be times that stress leads me into old habits. There will be times that exhaustion leads me into old habits.  I know that there will be times that life throws me curveballs and best laid plans, well they fall apart.  By forgiving myself, I end the cycle— stress, eat, guilt, eat, guilt, stress, eat…. I can then move on and get back on track.

The cookies are counted.  A light dinner had.  And I don’t feel guilty! 

THIS is how I make me a priority!  THIS is how I change old, unhelpful habits.  THIS is how I reach my goals! 

Today forgiveness gave me back some control on my perfectly imperfect journey.

Happy Dance!!

Happy Dance!!  Happy Dance!!  Happy Dance!!

Can you tell I am happy? 

This morning I went to a workshop and I stepped on the scale to weigh in.  I weigh myself every morning (see my previous post here about weighing or not weighing) and I knew it would be down!  Down! 

After all of my struggles the past couple of years and especially this year, I am thrilled to see the number down.  But I have seen this before.  Shoot, the past year I have been up and down a million times.  So, what makes this week any different?  Why am I so happy?  What makes me so sure this is the beginning of continued downs on the scale?

Because things are different….. food choices, behaviors, thoughts, words I say to myself and my mindset….all different.  Finally!

I committed these past couple of weeks to making me a priority.  And that means, I do the things that help me move forward.  It means I am tracking.  It means I am mindful of my food choices, the signals my body is sending me and the thoughts in my mind.  It means I go to a weekly workshop and step on the scale.  It means I meal plan.  It means I remind myself every morning that I am worth it.  It means I am taking care of me—mind, body and soul.  I am making me a priority.  (Seriously, why did it take me so long?) 

This past week I made some changes.  In my mindset, by making me a priority and in my food choices and awareness, which meant I tracked.  Every. Single. Day. 

Food choices were not always the best this past week, but they were made with me keeping in mind that I am the priority.  Each temptation, each meal plan, each food choice was predicated with the question to myself—“Does this make me a priority?”  If yes, then go with it but if not then what will?  The best example of this is on Halloween, yes, that challenging day filled with all sorts of candy temptations.  My husband and I went to a movie, and we got a bag of Twix bites to share.  Before this past couple of weeks, I would have just sat down and ate, without thinking, out of the bag.  And I would have eaten quickly to make sure I got my “share” before my husband could.  But this time, with this new mentality, I actually looked at the back of the bag at the label.  5 pieces were a serving and there were 4 ½ servings in the bag.  I calculated the points (7!) and decided that I could have 2 servings—10 pieces.  I told my husband that I wanted 10 and he could have the rest.  And I ate them slowly.  When I finished the 5th piece, I stopped.  I STOPPED!!  At that moment I knew I was good.  That the treat made me feel like a priority, but I didn’t need anymore.  So, I did not eat another piece.  I made me a priority—enjoying a treat without the guilt or overindulgence. 

The other part of my food changes came in the form of a lightbulb moment!  I realized that when Freestyle launched 2 years ago, that it just didn’t work for me, because I changed, drastically the way I ate.  When it first launched, I was teetering dangerously close to the edge of the cliff and needed to be talked off that edge by a friend and one of my managers.  I knew myself.  I knew that all of those 0 point foods, that used to be points, would be dangerous.  Because now I could eat all of those foods AND STILL eat all of my points!?!  I knew I would overeat.  I knew it would be dangerous for me.  But my manager and friend convinced me to look at it differently…..that those foods would fill me up and keep me from eating the other higher point things….. but for me, personally, that wasn’t how it would work.  But I tried it and convinced my members to follow it and to trust the program. 

Freestyle works for a lot of people.  But not everyone.  Weight loss is NOT a one-size-fits-all journey.  And each of us needs to find what works for us.  Because, we are the only ones who truly know us.  No one else knows what works for me, only I do.  And I often told members in workshops that they needed to find what worked for them, to trust the science and then make the WW plan fit their life.  Make it their own.  We are all on a similar journey, but an individual one.  And I needed to remind myself of what worked for me, so I pulled out my old trackers.  That is when I realized that I had changed the way I was eating.  When I brought out my old program materials and my old handwritten food journals, there it was, one of the missing puzzle pieces to my journey….. I had changed what I was eating and how much.  And I was still eating ALL those points too.  I was eating 4-6 eggs per day and counting 0 points, when in the past they would have cost me 8-12 points.  But they were 0 points now and I could eat them, as much as I wanted…….

Every time I heard a member say they could eat as much as they wanted I would stop them, and we would discuss that it was meant to be as much as they needed to fill satisfied.  And here I was with that same thought process, only I hadn’t realized it ‘til just last week.  No wonder I was struggling!  So, I told myself what I had heard my voice say when talking to struggling members, “just because they are 0 points does not mean they are free!  And it does not mean we need to change the way we eat, just because the food is now 0 points”. 

AHA!  BAM!!  The truth for me was that I needed to eat the way I had been eating for years, the way that worked for me.  And this past week I did just that.  I went back to my egg white omelets in the morning.  I went back to my normal lunch, instead of looking for the 0 point foods and gorging on them.  I went back to healthy snacks that were not just 0 point foods, instead of the sweets and chips that I was eating to use up all those points I had left because the other foods were 0 points.  And you know what, I felt great!  I tracked it all and I stayed on track.  Why didn’t I just do this sooner?  Had I continued eating the way I had been, then Freestyle would have worked fantastically for me!  Instead, my mindset around food changed and my choices did too.  How I wish I had realized this when WW first launched Freestyle, I would not be where I am today (maybe).  But this journey is about learning and growing and finding what works for me so that I can be the healthiest and best version of me. 

Like I said earlier, we each need to find what works for us.  And while I struggled, many others found great success, including a friend and former member of my workshops who reached lifetime today with a 105 lb loss! 

Find what works for you!  There are many things I love about Freestyle—it keeps me from feeling guilty or stressed.  It gives me flexibility.  I love the rollover points, so I can plan for those parties and special occasions and not worry about going off the rails.  But for me, the unstructured 0-point foods were dangerous….. Now that I know that, well I can get back to eating my normal way.  Instead of 2-3 cups of chili AND cornbread (usually 2 pieces, with butter and honey), I am having 1 cup of chili and a piece of cornbread.  Instead of 6 eggs in my day, I am having 1.  Instead of 6 oz of Chicken breast, I am eating 3-4 oz.  It works for me.

Those food realizations and changes, combined with my “make myself a priority” mindset, proved to be quite successful for me this week!

When I stepped on that scale this morning, I was thrilled!  I lost 4.6 lbs this week!!  (yes, I know a lot of it was water, but I LOST!)  And next week that scale will be down again.  Why?  Because I am now making myself a priority!! 

I may not be perfect each day.  But I am perfectly imperfect on this journey to a healthier and happier me!