The shame was immediate. Intense. An anchor around my neck pulling me under. FAST!
Shame has a way of doing that.
Where was I that was making me feel so worthless and ashamed? I was at the doctor’s office. I was being examined by a PA, instead of my primary care doctor. I was there for a specific issue that would need antibiotics.
The PA walked into the exam room with her laptop open to my medical record. She asked me how long I had been dealing with this sore throat and painful sinuses. Her response to my answer was a sucker punch to the gut that came straight out of left field!
“Before we get to that, let’s talk about your exercise and weight. Did you know there are new medications to help with weight loss?…..”
In that moment I held my breath so that I could stop the tears welling up inside me.
In my silence I was boiling inside- a cauldron of shame, disappointment, shock, fear, worthlessness all threatening to bubble over and erupt at any moment.
I sat in silent disbelief.
She continued. Trying to convince me that I needed medication, a little pill, that would curb my hunger and make me lose weight. A pill that would balance the metabolic hormones that were obviously (to her) out of whack in my body. A “miracle” pill.
I remained silent.
When she was done and finally ready to examine me, all I could manage was- “I went back to Weight Watchers.” And “I need to do my research before I agree to take a pill” (knowing full well I was NOT going to take the “magic” pill).
I was so ASHAMED in that moment.
She didn’t know me. She didn’t know my history. She didn’t know how Weight Watchers has worked for me. She didn’t want to hear me.
This was HER issue. HER value. HER kickback forefront in her mind.
But I was the one wearing the anchor of shame.
I KNOW I need to lose weight (thank God I have only gained back 35 of my original 85 lb loss).
I KNOW what I need to do.
I KNOW it can be done.
I DO NOT need a pill.
I DO NOT need to be shamed.
I DO NOT need to be judged by anyone. I judge myself quite harshly.
What I NEED is to feel less shame. To feel supported. To take care of myself.
I left the doctor’s office with a prescription for antibiotics and that anchor of shame, disappointment and self-loathing wrapped around my neck. And I did what I know to do, as a food addict, to make me feel better….to stuff the emotions that were threatening to erupt….. I ate.
I went home from the pharmacy and found the jar of peanut butter. I made 2 pieces of peanut butter toast and while the bread was in the toaster, I also made a half sandwich. I ate those. And then I ate, not 1, but 2 (TWO) Hershey candy bars. I went to what I know.
And I felt better for a little bit. Until I didn’t.
I am a food addict. Being hungry isn’t my issue, so a “magic” pill to curb my appetite is not going to fix me. Finding a new way to deal with the emotions, without food, is the only way to fix me.
I wish more people, especially medical professionals, understood food addicts. It isn’t a lack of will power. It isn’t being hungry all the time. It isn’t a moral failing.
Food addiction is real. Difficult. Shameful. Demeaning. Navigating food addiction is about finding MY worth when I am feeling worthless. And it is also about learning new ways to deal with emotions and life without food. Hard to do when we HAVE to eat to live. And food is EVERYWHERE!
I wish more understood. I wish there was less judgement.
Yes, I ate to stuff my emotions today. BUT I will NOT let this moment define me as it has in my past. I will NOT let the anchor of shame weigh me down any longer.
I WILL move on, grateful for ALL that I have learned on my long journey.
I will remind myself that I AM worth it.
I CAN and WILL do this- in my imperfect way. WITHOUT a little pill!
I have not stepped on that darn metal box in over 2 weeks.
I knew it wasn’t going to be good. My clothes are really tight and uncomfortable. But…. I was not prepared for the number I saw.
How the hell did THAT number happen?
I sat down and before I knew it, my cheeks were wet. Yes, the tears had come. I was shocked, angry with myself and frustrated!
The thing is, I knew this was happening. I just didn’t want to admit it.
It is very easy to lie to myself. All the things that work for me, that keep me healthy—eating fruits and veggies, tracking my food, cooking healthy meals, walking—I was doing those things.
You see, we can tell ourselves we are doing all the right things. We can track our food and it looks like we are doing really well- points and/or calories are where we need them to be. Step counts on our tracking devices show we are getting those steps in.
But what all of that doesn’t tell us is how honest we are not being.
Tracking food only works when I track EVERY bite, EVERY sip. If I eat the chips, cookies, candy, donuts, cake, and a myriad of other snacks, and I don’t track them… well…. They still count. NOT tracking food does NOT mean the food doesn’t count. My daily points may show I am doing well, but the untracked foods, well they tell a different story.
Eating those healthy meals are GREAT but when I eat them AFTER I am over-stuffed with salty and sweet snacks, those healthy foods really don’t do much to help me, instead they now become a part of a greater problem. They become an illusion of healthiness, behind which the truth is hidden.
Wearing my fitbit is awesome. It keeps me aware of those steps. Most days I hit my step goal. And hitting that goal or going over is just another illusion. How many of those steps were gained through walking and how many of those steps were gained by folding clothes or moving my arm back and forth during my normal day? How many of those steps were actually from intentional exercise that got my heart rate moving? Not many, I can tell you that.
It is very easy to hide behind the illusion of healthy eating and exercise. And then look for “reasons” for the weight not coming off- there must be something wrong with my thyroid or other health issues going on or maybe it is a medication that is making me gain weight rather than lose, afterall, my trackers show I am doing well…..
BUT the scale doesn’t lie. Clothes don’t lie. Looking in the mirror tells the truth. And blood work doesn’t lie.
This morning I finally faced the truth. As tears flowed down my cheeks, I realized that I am the reason my weight is where it is. No one forced me to eat those three donuts in one sitting, or the entire bag of chips. No one forces me to eat peanut butter toast with butter, not one piece but three. No one forces me to buy the chips, candy and cookies and no one forces me to eat them.
I am responsible for where I am. It is time I accept that! Time I do what I keep saying I am doing. It is time to be honest, completely honest. And time to make my trackers tell the WHOLE story.
If I want to live to be 100, if I want to be healthy, if I want the pain in my joints to lessen, if I want to be a participant in my granddaughter’s life rather than a spectator, then I NEED to step up to the challenge. I need to make me a priority. I need to be honest. I need to do the work necessary to get back to being the healthiest and best version of me I can be.
Stepping on the scale was the first step.
A healthy, fully tracked breakfast was the second step.
A 2 mile walk was the third step.
And writing this post was the fourth step.
Today I am being honest with myself. Finally! I am making changes. One day at a time! One meal at a time! One step at a time!
I can and I will do this! It just took getting back on that scale to get me going.
“If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you always got”
That mantra has been rolling around in my head for a couple of weeks now. I first heard it when I was in the middle of my 5th journey with Weight Watchers, the journey that finally resulted in my reaching my weight goal and achieving Lifetime status. That was a long time ago, now.
This quote is so accurate. And it is one of the keys to success. Doing something different….making changes, the kind of changes that become habit, is key to success. And necessary.
I have been on a rollercoaster journey the past few years… up… down…. topsy-turvey……. It has been a difficult journey at times.
A couple of months ago, a group of ladies and I started meeting virtually each week and in person once a month, to support each other on this journey and to discuss various topics. Our own support group and accountability group. Boy have I missed them and meeting as a group.
Through this group and our discussions I realized my why, and how to keep it close (more on that soon) and I revisited “the basics” that help on this journey. You know, ALL those things I used to do and the things I KNOW work for me.
But I was still stuck. Up and down and all around…… I just wasn’t getting anywhere.
And then my husband and I went on vacation. A 3 week roadtrip…. 4100 miles driven….. 6 states…… lots of family and long-time friends visited….. and GREAT food (especially in San Francisco!).
Yes, on vacation. I told myself that I was NOT going to gain. I had a plan. I packed healthy snacks. I prepped the cooler and loaded drinks and fruit. I was ready. But I had been on vacation before. And I knew what happens….
Well…. something was different this time. The long hours on the road led to long discussions with my husband. And my desire to reach my goals and my reminder of my why were strong…. Very strong. So….
I did not deprive myself because saying no and deprivation would only backfire. So, I had a few cookies over the days in San Francisco…. Amazing cookies my son made for us. I had sourdough bread, and pastries and pasta and croissants and so much more. I had dessert in WA. I had burgers, fish and chips, wine and beer.
And I maintained.
I go back to the quote at the beginning of this post— I did not do what I always did. I stopped telling myself that tomorrow was another day, so what I was eating today wouldn’t matter (because tomorrow NEVER comes and it DOES matter). I shared meals with my husband. I ate half of my meal. I listened to my body instead of my head and that made a HUGE difference. When I was full I turned down dessert. After dinner I stopped eating. I didn’t buy soda and chips and candy bars for nighttime snacking in the hotel rooms.
I DID something DIFFERENT.
In order to get a different outcome, we have to stop doing the same things we have always done. And that is HARD!! Very HARD!!
Doing what we have always done, doing the same thing is comfortable. It keeps us in our comfort zone and then we end up with the same result.
In order to get that different result we HAVE to do something different- just ONE thing will make a difference. Something outside that comfort zone.
That is what helped me maintain on my trip and what has helped me to lose 3.4 lbs in the week after returning home. I am just doing things different. Getting out of my comfort zone.
What are you doing that you have always done, but it is holding you back and keeping you stuck? What is one thing you could do different today? Just one thing!
Support is so important on this journey of losing weight and becoming the healthiest version we can be. But I am not just talking about the support from our family and close friends, which is very important.
I am talking about the support and the accountability that is found in a group. A group of individuals who are all on a similar journey. A group of individuals who “get it”. They have been there. They understand. And there is NO judgement.
Finding that kind of group is priceless. And if we are lucky enough to find a group where we can find support and understanding and accountability, where we can nod and think, “yes, I too have felt that way” or “yes, I have been there too”, then we really need to hold on to that group, cultivating relationships that will last. Relationships built on shared experiences, and a shared journey.
That group experience is what drew me to Weight Watchers in the first place.
And Weight Watchers is where I found a group like that in 2005 when I joined for the 5th time. The members in that meeting were my “tribe”. We celebrated together, lifted each other up when we were down, shared ideas, shared tips, shared our journeys. We laughed together and sometimes cried together. We were all on this weight loss journey, a similar journey, yet an individual journey, too.
That group helped me to reach so many aha’s…. those lightbulb moments. That group and the leader helped me to believe in me and helped me to reach my goals.
And then I had to leave.
I have found other groups here and there in the many places I have lived over the years. And as a coach for WW, I met many individuals who inspired me to continue to work on being the best version of me that I could be. I found people I connected with in those groups I lead. They were a part of my tribe, but leading was not the same as being a member, a part of the group where we all shared our struggles, challenges and successes. For 12 years I have struggled to find my “tribe”, that group where I could just be a member, contributing and connecting with others, who are on this shared journey.
2 months ago, a group of my friends and ladies I had met through WW workshops, and those who had become my walking partners and 5k partners, decided we all would like and needed more accountability and support.
So, we started meeting every Monday night via zoom. And we met in person, once a month. This has become MY tribe. The tribe I had been missing. The tribe that is helping me reach the goals I am setting for myself. When I am struggling, they “get it”. They just “get it”. NO judgement.
Oh, how I have needed this.
These ladies inspire me so much! We support each other throughout the week and check in to see how we are all doing with the commitments we make to each other. We discuss topics that are of interest to us, our challenges and our successes. We celebrate each others success and we understand each persons challenges. We ALL “get it”! We are friends. We are a tribe!
Yes, I have needed this.
Our group has grown a little and each new face is welcomed as if they are an old friend. THAT is what a tribe is like. THAT is what I have been looking for. And THAT is what I have found with these ladies, my friends.
Do you have a support group for your journey? A group outside your family? Maybe you found your tribe in a WW Workshop? Or through another friend who attends a group?
This journey is HARD! Really HARD! But doing this journey with a tribe of others who are also somewhere on that same journey, well, it makes it just a little bit easier.
My tribe has made this perfectly imperfect journey easier for me! And that makes it perfect for me!
You know that old adage about the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other?
Well, I have a Saboteur on one shoulder. And that Saboteur (my negative self) has been loud and in control more than I would like to admit and far more than the Supporter (my positive self) on my other shoulder has been.
How do I know?
I start every day with the same conversation with myself—“Okay, today it is time to get back on track. Today is the day! Time to get serious!” and sometimes that conversation has some not-so-nice things to say about me. I chastise myself for the choices I made the day before, but I KNOW that this is a new day and I CAN change that….. until I don’t….
And the Saboteur becomes the louder once again.
The conversations with myself continue all day. “Come on, you can have this _____ (insert anything sugary, salty and high in calories, including an entire bag of chips!)” “You have plenty of time to reach your goal. One day won’t hurt! You can start tomorrow!” “You had a healthy breakfast so these chips (or donuts or cookies) won’t hurt!” “You went for a long walk today, why not reward yourself? You deserve this!”
And the conversation then continues into the night, with me ending the day in the same way that it started—“Seriously?! You have got to get a hold on this! You have got to do something.” “Okay, in the morning I will! No more messing around!” and these things are followed by some not-so-kind things about me once again.
And then the next day is a repeat… the same conversations, the same behaviors….
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
The Saboteur is very good at her job…every day she entices me to make the choices that lead me away from becoming the very best and healthiest version of me and she makes me doubt myself along the way. She does this by disguising her words in positives to trick my mind- “Tomorrow is a new day, you can start over.” Or “You deserve this” or “You went for your walk and have eaten healthy, you deserve a treat.” These and many other tricks of the mind are what the Saboteur uses to get me off track.
The Saboteur on my shoulder has been louder than my Supporter, who just shrinks away, thinking it is a losing battle at this point. But is it? Really? Is there nothing I can do to quiet the Saboteur and increase the volume and power of the Supporter?
Actually, there is! And it is all up to me!
Awareness is the first step.
I have been reflecting on this for a few weeks now, really paying attention to the voices I hear and what is driving them. And this is empowering ME! I am more aware of what is happening and who is louder- The Saboteur or the Supporter. Awareness is necessary for change to occur. Awareness is THE key to quieting the Saboteur so that I can hear the Supporter!
You see, both the Saboteur and the Supporter are part of me. They come from me. They are born of my mind, my thoughts and my feelings. They both affect my mindset and are affected by my mindset. They both affect my emotions and are affected by my emotions. They both affect my thoughts and are affected by my thoughts.
These two are pretty powerful. They are me. I am the Saboteur and I am the Supporter!
I have learned that the Saboteur becomes more powerful when my emotions are at play—boredom, loneliness, worry, stress, and even joy….so many emotions at play. The less time I spend taking care of me allows the Saboteur to become louder. The more mindless I become in my daily living, the more the Saboteur takes over. And the Saboteur gains strength from my negative self-talk, my lack of belief in myself and from my stubborn self.
I have also discovered that there are some things that make the Saboteur quieter and allow the Supporter, who is naturally quieter, to become louder.
What quiets the Saboteur so I can hear the Supporter?— Forgiveness! Mindfulness—in my everyday living! Self Worth—believing I am worth it! Taking care of me! Calm! Positive self-talk! Patience (a REALLY hard one for me)! Time outdoors! Family time! Writing! Walks! And most importantly- Starting my day with these words “I am Worth It” BEFORE the Saboteur has a chance to say ANYTHING!
The power is within me. I get to choose which voice I listen to. I get to choose how I react. I get to choose to take care of me first, thus quieting the Saboteur. I empower myself when I CHOOSE!
I am in charge!!
THAT realization is so empowering!!
Though the Saboteur has been loud the past few months and been in control far more than I would like, I am a NOT a failure! I am still learning. I am still growing.
I am not perfect on this journey and I sometimes stumble. And then, awareness helps me find my way back! I may not silence the Saboteur forever, but I can make the Saboteur whisper (which is easier to ignore) and give power to the Supporter to be louder. I can use the tools and techniques I have learned through the years and pull them out when I need them.
This journey I am on, that we all are on, is not perfect! Far from it! Perfection is not important on this journey. Perseverance is. Progress is. Growth is.
I will keep on going, keep on learning, and keep on believing in me!
(FYI- as I post this, the Saboteur is whispering in my ear that I should make brownies tonight, that that would be a real treat for my husband…. And I am NOT letting that voice get any louder than a whisper!)
Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I am so thrilled to have 2020 behind me and am looking forward to 2021 and a return to some normalcy.
A new year offers an opportunity for change. An opportunity to recommit to our goals.
New Years day often finds us making resolutions…. Promises to lose the weight, get healthier, workout more, and so much more.
Did you make your resolution yet?
I stopped making resolutions years ago. Why? Because, frankly, I never keep them. I always had grand ideas of what I was going to accomplish, but often lost motivation a few weeks, sometimes a few days into the new year. So, I stopped making resolutions. Instead, I decide a theme for the year, something that helps me to grow into a better version of me, something that challenges me to step outside my comfort zone and to make real change. Something that encompasses ALL of me, not just my weight or health. 2021 is the year I continue to live mindfully, present in the moments of each day and it is the year I focus on kindness, toward others and myself as well as focusing on daily gratitude.
But not setting a New Years Resolution does NOT mean I don’t set weight/health goals when the new year arrives. I set them all year, but the new year allows me to refocus. and gives me an opportunity to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work the previous year. Then I can set my course toward the goals I have in mind—long term goals and short-term goals. I can learn from the past and use those lessons to help me achieve the goals I have for myself in the new year.
2020 was rough. REALLY rough. I struggled. I started 2020 by getting a virus in mid-January that turned into pneumonia, keeping me from participating in my favorite 5k race…. The race I look forward to ALL year. I was sick for over a month. And then, a couple of weeks after getting better, I injured my back, seriously. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do anything for a few weeks. Slowly I got better. Slowly my back began to heal….. but by then, we were in the midst of a stay-at-home order and I wasn’t going anywhere. Life just stopped. For everyone. Our routines were upended. Life as we knew it was at a complete halt. Being sick was stressful. Being in pain was stressful. BUT a pandemic, and all its effects, THAT was even more stressful.
Stress became the daily staple of my life. And my weight was showing it. I found myself 34 lbs above my goal weight and very close to a point I said I would NEVER go back to again. NEVER! I had to do something.
But we were in a pandemic. And what worked for me in the past, well, it wasn’t there now. I couldn’t meet with my friends for weekend walks. There were no in person 5ks to sign up for or train for. And Weight Watcher workshops were all online…..which just isn’t the same. I couldn’t talk to friends online before the workshop or visit after. It was NOT the same. The world was different, and I was going to have to figure out how to do this differently.
All of this added to the struggles of 2020. I am an emotional eater, so the stress, the worry, and the fear were taking a toll. I REALLY struggled. (Oh, how I long for the day I can meet with friends and hug people again!)
More health struggles popped up for me…. the end of May found me excessively tired and dealing with a bad cough. This lasted for months. I thought I was losing my mind….it had to be all in head, right? And then more symptoms, more pain, this time in every joint of my body….severe enough to prevent me from walking at times or prevent me from using my hands to pick up something…… making any thought of exercise out of the question! And bronchitis….. Finally, in early December, a diagnosis of Valley Fever and the beginning of treatment. THIS was and still is testing my patience, but that is for another post.
Yes, 2020 was a struggle.
Yet, I found, through the challenges that I have inside me, what I need to get to where I want to go. I have what I need to reach my goals, right there inside of me.
I just have to believe in myself.
I have to make me a priority.
I have to remember what is really important to me.
I have to remember to not give up what I want most for what I want in the moment.
And I have to remember just how far I have come!
I took the first steps to getting back on track the beginning of November. I stepped on the scale and told my husband right away what it said. He is my weight accountability now.
What other steps have I taken to get me back on the path that will lead me to my goal? This–
—A little movement is better than NO movement! I found that if I wait until later in the day, the pain is not quite so severe and I can go for a walk, sometimes just around the block and sometimes a mile or two. Just depends on how I am feeling. I also discovered that the more I sit, the more pain I am in, so moving helps me heal.
—Tracking and portions! I found that tracking is not so difficult on a phone app. I am not perfect in my tracking, but I am tracking. That awareness is so very important. How can I know what I need to adjust if I don’t know what and how much I am really eating? And that means, weighing and measuring my food too.
—Accountability and motivation—I still use my WW app and read the stories, but I don’t follow the points for now. I track calories and I pay attention to calorie-density of foods. I look for the foods that will keep me full longer and keep me satisfied. I have an accountability coach that checks in with me every week to see how I am doing and helps me to set a new weekly goal. And I find motivation online, reading stories of others and in my talks with and messages with my friends.
—I am taking time for me. Time for meditating, using the CALM app and time to just read or listen to music. With all the stress of these days, I need to take a step back and just breathe sometimes.
—And starting today, I am adding yoga to my days, to help with the pain and to give me those moments where I can just breathe. Another way to take care of me.
These are just the first steps in taking back the control of my health and my weight. And they are working. I am down 9 lbs now in 2 months. Would have been more, but Christmas goodies happened…….
I am jumping into 2021 full speed. I have my long-term goal to get to my goal weight and then below it. And I have my short-term goal—just 5 lbs. 5lbs at a time. I CAN do that!
Add to that my 2021 theme of being kinder to others and to myself, practicing daily gratitude and living mindfully and the year should be a much better one!
This journey, though, is far from perfect! But it is so worth it! I am worth it! And so are you!
What are your goals for 2021? What are you doing to get yourself on that road toward your goals?
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!!!
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!!
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.
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!
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!
The week before Thanksgiving. Traditionally, at least in the past, this week before Thanksgiving meant the annual WW Great PlateThanksgiving 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!)