Archive for August 12th, 2009

Is It Time To Break Up With Weight Watchers?

Lately, I’m feeling obsessed with food and the scale. My weight loss, while moving again, is still very slow and frustrating. And as I get closer to my weigh-in each week (on Thursdays), I step on the scale every day and get frustrated when it goes up instead of down when I’m eating right. On days like yesterday, sometimes the weight fluctuations (even though rationally I know they are from water weight, hormones or whatever else) throw me into a funk, which can ultimately lead to poor eating behaviors, as in “Oh hell, nothing is working anyway so why not eat that row of Oreo cookies?”

I’m on Weight Watchers and for the past year, it has worked for me. I’ve stayed accountable because I have to get on that scale every week. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. And lately the scale doesn’t want to tell any story at all while my body adjusts to its new smaller, fitter size. I would still like to lose 20 pounds but I’ve lost 60 in the past year and that’s a pretty big adjustment.

On Weight Watchers, too, my mindset about food hasn’t so much changed as shifted. Don’t get me wrong, it’s shifted in a good way, but I still spend way too much time thinking about food. When I was fat, I’d think about my next snack, meal, binge… all day long. I’d have peace while eating, and then afterward, I’d spend time feeling guilty for overdoing it at the meal, snack, binge.

Now that I’ve lost weight, guess what I think about? Right. My next meal, snack….not so much binge anymore since I have to get on the scale on Thursdays at weigh in. But I do obsess about my food still. If I have a snack in my drawer set for 11:00, I’m thinking about it by 10:00 and by 11:00, I’m ripping into whatever it is, whether I’m hungry or not. If I choose not to eat something because I have to weigh in on Thursday, I spend time wanting it and feeling deprived, often only to be disappointed at the Thursday weigh-in when the scale doesn’t  move much anyway.

And guess what I do after my Thursday weigh-in each week? C’mon you know the answer to this if you ever read this blog. Or if you’ve ever been a weight watcher. I eat. Usually, the wrong things in too-high quantities. And trust me, free-for-all food Thursday is worse when that scale doesn’t budge.

When I decided to lose weight  a year ago, what I really wanted was to be healthy and to have a healthy relationship with food. I definitely have a better relationship with food in that I’ve re-introduced fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains and limit the bad stuff, but I still think about food all the time. I’d like to be more like my naturally thin friends who eat when they are hungry. What a concept. No schedule, no obsessing. Just I’m hungry. Time to eat. I’m full. Time to stop.

Weight Watchers has incorporated the hunger assessment idea into the program, but for me it’s been about the food schedule and “when can I eat next?” What can I have today?” What can’t  I have today?” “It’s Thursday! Free-for-all Food day!”

I’m so happy with the changes I’ve made and I really do have Weight Watchers to thank for a lot of it. But I’m wondering, if I ever want to get to the next level, of simply eating for sustenance, is it time to shift my focus away from the number on the scale and more to the way I feel each day?

Do I break up with my scale and with Weight Watchers for a while and focus on other things like triathlon training? Obviously I would still need to plan and journal so I don’t slide back into bad behaviors. Or do I stick to what I’m currently doing and just try to reset my mind around the number frustration I’m feeling? It’s scary to think of walking away from Weight Watchers as it has become such an integral part of my routine this past year. At the same time, it’s not working as well anymore, so maybe it’s time to make a change. Thoughts?

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Exercise Won’t Help You Lose Weight…Or Will It?

There was an article this week on the Time magazine site that was titled Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin. The article got my, and everyone else’s, attention.

It also left me scratching my head? HUH?  Remind me again why I’m working so hard then? Running, biking, swimming, abs, and all the other stuff I’ve been doing? Now granted, the article does talk about the health benefits of exercise. It just proposes that exercise increases hunger and therefore, may not be the best path to losing weight.

Now I don’t know about the guy in the article, but exercise for me has been essential to losing weight. I don’t eat more on the days that I exercise because I’ve worked so hard to sweat some of the calories off. It’s days like today where I didn’t exercise that I don’t resist the Oreo cookies. Exercise backlash, perhaps?

I don’t know. This article makes the cardio vs. strength training argument sound almost reasonable. Why would you give anyone one more reason not to exercise?

I also read today: potatoes are not the evil white carbs we were once told they were. Water only really helps to curb your appetite if it’s in your foods (think soup).

Now I never thought potatoes were evil food. I like potatoes; technically they are vegetables and good for you. French fried? Maybe not so much, but don’t blame that on the potato.

And water? Drinking lots of it, all by itself,  has done wonders for my weight loss (I’m not a big fan of soup), not to mention how great my skin looks.

Carbs are bad. Well, not all carbs. Sugar…stay away from it! Fats, those are bad for you, carbs are good. Carbs are essential to healthy weight. Eat protein. No wait, don’t. Only eat melons, hot dogs and rice on every other Tuesday and Thursday….

There are so many conflicting diet rules, exercise agendas and secrets to this getting healthy thing, it’s no wonder we’re all overweight. Jeez, I mean, you start a diet, it’s working for you and then someone comes along and tells you that in the long run, you’ll still be fat. Why bother?

The bottom line is it comes down to common sense. There was an article a while back that said weight loss is about calories in vs. calories out. If you expend more calories than you take in, Voila! you lose weight. Now that’s something I can wrap my head around.

The key is finding the way that does this best for you. If limiting carbs keeps you away from your trigger foods, try that. Clean eating? If you can stay on that eating plan, good for you…healthy and lean. Me? Couldn’t do it. If I had to give up sugar, carbs or fat altogether, I might just die.

However, I’ve learned portion control (most of the time); I follow guidelines finally for getting enough fruits, whole grains, veggies and protein; I try to gauge whether I’m hungry or just stressed (for example, today’s Oreo binge was not because I was hungry). I treat myself now and again so I don’t feel deprived, but for the most part, I try to stick with healthier foods.

I eat well 90% of the time. The other 10%? I’m still learning. Some things work for me. Some don’t. This weight loss thing is not an exact science and I figure I’ll be experimenting forever.

As for exercise, do it. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. You’ll feel stronger, more confident, clearer and happier. I’ve lost weight before without exercise. That didn’t alter my life nearly as much as the weight loss has this time. I attribute that to the exercise, not the weight loss.

However you decide to get healthy, be realistic. Small changes, slow progress, those are the things that stick. Remember, these are changes for a lifetime.

So how are you making the healthy changes in your life?