Saturday Weigh In

Somewhat to my surprise, I weighed in today at .4 pound down, to 161.8 pounds.  It was a bit of a surprise because on Friday morning I was up a bit, but overnight my weight went down a pound (to about where it should have been according to Fitbit).  What is especially nice about this weigh in is that I am now officially lower than my “low” weight in January, 2012 after I had gone back to Weight Watchers.  After that weigh in, I regained a lot of what I had lost but am now finally below where I was then.

I tried out a new Weight Watchers meeting today.  The leader is a new leader this year.  The meeting is a larger meeting than the one I’ve been going to.  It was fine so we’re going to try it again next week and see how it is over another week or two before we decide whether to stay with it or go back to the Friday meeting.  There is also a Sunday meeting we could try out as well.

This is the week that I am planning on getting back into going to the YMCA.  My husband has been recovering from shoulder surgery but is now well enough to go back to the Y and use the elliptical.  So, plans are to start going back this week at least on a couple of days.

The Illusion of Choice

In comments to my post on routine, Lori made a great point when she said:

“Routine really is important because it takes the choice out of things. When you constantly have to make choices to stay true to your plan, it becomes wearing and the slippery slope happens.”

I agree with that and I’ve been thinking about things like choice and freedom. There are basically two ways to lose weight through your eating plan. One type of plan basically restricts what you can eat. Examples of this would be low-fat diets (restrict fats) or low-carb diets (restrict carbs). The other type of plan basically restricts how much you eat, but allows you to theoretically eat anything. Weight Watchers Points Plus is an example of this type of diet. Another example would be classic calorie counting.

In reality, both types of plans end up with you eating fewer total calories. If you cut out or severely limit certain macronutrients or particular food groups, then you end up eating fewer calories overall. At the same time, while you can theoretically eat anything on Weight Watchers, to stay within your points you are limited in what you can eat. And, you soon find out that while you can eat cake or cookies or candy – you can’t really eat very much of it and still lose weight.

Some people like the plans where you don’t have to count and measure so much and just have clear rules of eat this and don’t eat that. Others like plans where you have freedom and there are no forbidden foods. I personally tend to prefer those types of plans. I do tend to eat more low end of moderate on carbs, but I don’t like to feel that there is any food that I can’t eat (I recognize that some people have allergies or reactions to certain foods and may indeed have foods that they can’t eat).

I have known many Weight Watchers members who have made the point that they like that Weight Watchers gives them to choice to eat any food. And, I like that well.

At the same time, I find that having to make too many choices, too often robs me of my freedom. Last summer, I started buying these store brand cookies at the grocery store. They were small and usually 5 of them were around 110 to 120 calories. So, I would have 5 and that was fine. I planned to do this 2 or 3 times a week. But, I soon found myself having a serving every day. Then, every time I walked by the pantry I would have to make a choice on whether to eat them or not.

Now, from a Weight Watchers standpoint, it was fine to eat them. I was recording my food and I could choose to eat them. So, I had that choice. But, really that choice was an illusion. It got to a point that every time I went by the pantry I would have to make that choice each time. Eventually I was having several servings in a day. And, over that summer I gained 10 pounds.

The point is that having those cookies right there forced me to make that choice every time I got near them. I could certainly choose not to eat them. And, maybe if I was a better me, I would have made that choice. But, in reality, this was for me a choice that didn’t give me freedom. I would “choose” to eat the cookies and then would feel awful that I ate them. I felt imprisoned by my choice.

I guess I could have then said I would never eat another cookie again. But, that also didn’t feel right to me. For me, knowing that I can have a cookie is important and I feel deprived if I have to say that I will never, ever eat a cookie.

What ended up working for me was to set up rules for my choices. First, I quit buying cookies for the house. Since then I haven’t bought cookies (that I would eat – sometimes I’ve bought oatmeal raisin for my son and that isn’t tempting since I don’t like them) except on a couple of special occasions. I don’t have to make a choice on eating cookies at home because I have no cookies at home. I do see them in the store, but when I see them I remind myself that the rule is not to buy cookies for the house except on rare, special occasions.

Outside of that, though, I do have some situations where I exercise choice to have a cookie. Sometimes, when we get Subway, I will have a cookie. Sometimes, if I am somewhere else and there are cookies offered, I will have a cookie or two (if they are small). The result is that over the last 9 months I’ve had cookies only a few times.

Paradoxically, by removing the situations where I think I have a choice on eating cookies, I’ve made it where I feel that I have much more freedom than when I had to make that choice several times a day. By setting rules for eating cookies, I’ve made it much easier for myself.

Friday Weigh In

Finally.  Finally, a good loss.  I was down 1.4 pounds to 162.2 pounds:

45 pounds

That gives me a 5 pound star (which I am ridiculously happy to get)!  I think this was a week where some of the weight loss I had been expecting the past few weeks finally showed up on the scale.  I ate very similarly to last week and was even less active.  After my post the other day about getting back to routine I was going to start exercising again more consistently.  But, then I’ve been sick the past few days (nothing serious, but a sore throat, feeling achy, that kind of thing).

It was a somewhat difficult week eating wise as I started out the week with a really high point day and then ate out fairly high point the next day.  As a result, I had to be really careful the rest of the week.

As soon as I feel better, I am going to get back into an exercise routine. My average weight loss over the last 10 weeks has been just under half a pound a week.  It had been closer to .8 pounds a week.  I want to to try to get back closer to the .8 pounds a week marker.  To do that, I need more activity.

I’m basically back now to where I was at my low point in January, 2012.  Well, I was at 162 pounds then so I’m still .2 pounds above.  But, close enough.  I like to set weight loss mini-goals.  My next mini-goal is 155.7 pounds.  Way back when my son was 3 years old and I was still losing the baby weight, I got down to 155 3/4 pounds.  That 3 year old is in college now, so I certainly want to get back to below that point.  Once I get to 155.7 pounds I will be at the lowest weight I’ve been since he was born.  At that point, my next goal would then be to reach my Weight Watchers goal weight of 146 pounds.

On another note — next Friday’s weigh in will be a Saturday weigh in.  I’m going to try a Saturday meeting.  I used to love Saturday meetings, but when we moved to this area I wasn’t wowed by the leader at the Saturday meeting.  Not a bad leader, but just didn’t really connect with me.  I like my current leader, but I don’t actually like the meeting itself that much.  I sort of feel bad saying this, but this meeting just doesn’t seem to have much energy from the members and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of success at the meeting.  Today, I was the only person to get an award.  Sometimes, no one gets an award or only an attendance award is given out.  I’ve been going to Weight Watchers meetings for over 20 years (off and on) and I’ve never had a meeting where so few awards are given out for weight loss.

I feel bad saying that as I know there are times that I’ve attended meetings and struggled to lose weight.  But, this meeting seems to not have a lot of people consistently attending who are consistently losing weight. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but it doesn’t help me with my motivation.  They recently consolidated a later meeting into the meeting I’ve been attending, but that hasn’t helped.

Anyway, I noticed online that the Saturday meeting has a different leader now, so I thought I would check it out.

The Importance of Routine

As I’ve been struggling through what I see now is a true plateau, I’ve been pondering the importance of routine.  When things are going well, whether with weight loss or other self-improvement, it is usually at a time when I have a routine that I follow.  I have a routine that becomes a habit that I see as just something that I do.  For example, tracking what I eat.  I just realized that I have tracked every meal and every snack for over a year now.  The last day that I missed was August 8, 2013.  From August 9th of 2013 to the present I have tracked everything.  It is, of course, possible that I may have forgotten a snack here or there and maybe it isn’t always totally accurate and sometimes I have to estimate something, but I really think any of those blips are minor.  To my knowledge, I’ve tracked each and every day.  I’ve tracked even those days and those snacks when I overate.  I have tracked even those foods that I wished I hadn’t eaten.  I’ve even tracked when it was really hard to figure out how to record something (a buffet, for example).  I don’t even consider the possibility of not tracking.  It is simply something that I do.

I went back to Weight Watchers last October.  And, since then I’ve missed precious few meetings.  Since I started this blog almost 8 months ago, I’ve missed weighing in only 4 times.  And, each time there has been a reason for it.  It wasn’t that I just decided not to go.  Going to Weight Watchers and weighing in is simply something that I do every Friday.

And — for the most part — eating the way that I started out the year wanting to eat has become a habit.  When I analyzed my food data from 2013 (I tracked most of the year beginning in March with only a few missed days in the summer), I realized that I was eating some snacks that had no nutritional benefit and that weren’t helping my weight loss.  So, I quit buying cookies from the grocery store.  I stopped going out for ice cream after lunch on Saturday.  (I do think I can occasionally do these things, but I really haven’t done them hardly at all during this year).

I just have a routine now in terms of what I buy at the grocery store and I don’t even have to think about it any more.

Having these routines make it very easy for me to stay on program and to consistently lose weight.  When things are going well, it actually seems almost effortless.  I find that while individual days may vary in terms of number of points eaten, I’m fairly consistent on a weekly or monthly basis.  And, it seems like I will never struggle again.  It seems so easy.  I won’t buy cookies, I won’t have ice cream desserts, I won’t eat at certain restaurants except once a year, etc.  And, I know that when I do these things I lose weight.

And, yet, look at this graph which covers the 4 years from August 13, 2010 to August 15, 2014:

WW 4 years

The notable thing is that my current weight is awfully close to my low weight in January 2012 (162 pounds then versus 163.6 pounds now).  Look at where I started in August, 2010 and how I steadily lost weight to get to 162 pounds in January, 2012.

I have to say that, in late 2011, I thought I had total control of weight problem.  I thought I had solved it all.  It seemed to be easy.  I did have a plateau in November and December, but then it seemed to resolve and I was losing again.  I had a routine and I couldn’t imagine it ever changing.

Of course, my confidence was misplaced as you can see from what happened from January, 2012 until about a year ago.  My weight went up and up and up.  I occasionally lost a few pounds but I didn’t stick with it.  In the last year, I’m back on the downward path again.  Just like in late 2011, it has seemed easy.  All I have to do is follow my routine.

But, now I have a plateau.  I know that plateaus are common.  I’ve weathered many of them in the past.  I’ve had two weeks where I have lost weight, so it might be thought the danger was behind me.

But, I’ve realized this week that this is actually a dangerous time for me.  The reason is that I see that I have gotten out of my routine in a number of ways.  The big one is activity.  To a certain extent I can justify getting out of that routine because it was due to my leg injury/knee problems.  I was on non-weight bearing status for weeks and had to make significant changes in my activity.  I had thought I had a good routine for activity earlier in the year — walking outside in my neighborhood (which has hills) in good weather and using a treadmill with incline when the weather doesn’t cooperate.  But, doing that at the intensity I wanted led to my trabecular bone injury and my knee MRI revealed my lack of cartilage under my left kneecap.  And, that led to my doctor recommending that I find other exercises with less impact.

But it has been 2 months since I’ve been able to theoretically get back to exercise and the truth is that I have lost my exercise routine.  I had been exercising 5 or 6 days a week.  But, now I am totally out of that routine.  I’ve been exercising….some.  Let me go look.

My last workout was using the exercise bike on August 5th.  I actually exercised 4 days between August 1 and August 5.  July?  I had workouts on only 2 days.  June had a few more, but really I haven’t done much in almost 2 months.

Yes, there are reasons.  My husband had shoulder surgery in July and I’ve been really busy since then, since I’ve been doing the driving.  And, my mother visited for awhile.  And, my son moved into an apartment near school so we were busy with that.  There has been a lot going on.

Still.  The reality is that let myself get out of the routine of exercising.  It has been something I’ve thought of during the last 2 months when the stars aligned and everything was going well.  Earlier in the year I simply exercised as a matter of routine.  It was like tracking my food.  It was just something that I did.  I didn’t really see it as optional.  Now, I’ve made it really super optional.

I can also see that — as so often happens — when one routine is breached so are others.  While I’m not walking in my neighborhood any more, I also am sitting way too much.  I’ve gotten out of the habit and getting up from the computer every hour.

And, I can see that I am starting to slack ever so slightly on the food end.  I’m eating fewer vegetables.  I’m been doing well overall on calories during the last month.  The problem has been more lack of activity.  I’ve eaten fine in terms of how much I’ve eaten.  But, I’ve started to make choices lately at restaurants that aren’t the best.  They are OK occasionally but I am doing it more than occasionally.

I find that once I break the routine in one way it becomes easier to break it in other ways.  That was the main reason I started gaining weight in early 2012.  We were eating out a lot while we were getting ready to move and so I changed that routine (eating out 2 or 3 times a week became eating out once or twice a days).  But, I didn’t stop with changing that routine.  I started changing all my routines.  Eating food that was too high in points.  Stopping activity.  Eventually, I quit going to Weight Watchers meetings and quit weighing and quit tracking.

I realize that it is so easy for me to get out of my routine.  It happens slowly enough that I almost don’t realize it at the time.  For example, I knew I had not been as active but I had no idea that I had been as inactive over the last 2 months as my workout records revealed.

So — I need to start patching up my routines.  I realize that on workouts I have to change my old routine to something new.  And, yes, that is more difficult.  But, having a workout routine is very important to me particularly since, without one, I tend to let all the other routines slide.

Friday Weigh In

Another Friday, another weigh in.  I posted the other day that I thought I might end up with a small gain for this week.  The good news is that my weight went down a bit so I ended up losing .2 pounds, to end up at 163.6 pounds.


WW 8-15

The good news is that I had a loss, albeit a small one.  However, that is way better than having a gain.  That said, I am exactly where I was 4 weeks ago on July 18, when I weighed in at 163.6 pounds.   I haven’t eaten badly over the last month, but the activity has been low.

As I posted the other day, this has been a difficult week with having to do a lot of driving this week, with something to do almost every day.  Tomorrow, my son is moving into his first apartment near school and I have places I need to take my daughter this weekend so I expect the weekend will be difficult.  Then, next week should be more normal.

I ended up this week eating almost exactly the amount I ate last week and had a few weekly points left.  I burned fewer calories since I spent so much time in the car this week.

Today has ended up being a high point day for food.  I’ve eaten 46 points!  That is sort of unusual, but I’ve done it bef0re and it works out OK just so long as I keep track for the rest of the week.  I looked at the week as a whole rather than paying too much attention to any individual day.  I probably will be eating out again tomorrow and Sunday since I’ll be away from home a lot, but those should be fairly low point meals.  It is possible to eat out and still be low points.

I ate out Thursday as part of my experiment to see how I do the best in terms of when I eat my points.  Even though I ate out (a You Pick2 with a salad and soup at Panera) I only ate 26 points for the day.  So, I know it is totally possible to eat out and still eat within my daily points or just eat a few weekly points (today, I wanted food that was more points but I know that I can’t do that every day or even every week).