Saturday Update

Usually I post a weigh in on Saturday, but not today since I weighed in on Tuesday when I got to 148 pounds and could weigh in and be free lifetime again at Weight Watchers.  But, I thought I would post about the week overall.  From a food standpoint it was a really good week.  I stay on track the whole week and ended up a little below the 1200 calories a day average that I shoot for.

Activity was down a little since I took two days off from exercise.  Most weeks I take off one day, but sometimes I take off two and this was one of the weeks I took off two days.  On the days I did exercise, things went well.  I did two sessions with the personal trainer and those went great.  Today, I went to the Y and did another session on my own as well as doing the elliptical.

I did find that knowing I won’t weigh in most likely until July 11th takes away one tool in my arsenal that I use to stay on track with how much I eat. Since I’m no more than 2 pounds over my goal weight, I don’t weigh in again during June and must weigh in at the first meeting I attend in July.  Normally, that would be next Saturday.  But, next Saturday is July 4th.  So, I’ll probably attend either the meeting tomorrow and it will still be June so I won’t weigh in.  Normally, when I know I will weigh in the next Saturday that does keep me focused on staying within my points/calories since I like to have a loss when I weigh in.  And, knowing I won’t weigh in until July 1th I haven’t had that motivation to keep on track.

I did stay on track.  I just couldn’t rely on that motivation.  My self talk was different.  Instead of focusing on the short term loss over the course of the week, I talked to myself more about eating well overall over the next two weeks. It was perhaps a subtle difference, but was definitely a little different than before.

What else?  Oh, I am a little annoyed I seem to be between sizes right now.  Currently I have two pairs of pants that I wear a lot of the time.  One pair is size 14 petite jeans.  These jeans are way too loose.  In fact, I can take them off without unbuttoning them, let alone unzipping them. I also have a pair of size 12 black pants. I noticed the other day that I can now pull them off without unbuttoning or zipping them.  I am an apple shape so if these had a higher waist I don’t think I could do that.  But, they fall fairly low on the hips.

So, I was at the mall the other evening and decided to check in at Old Navy.  The size 12 jeans (a little higher waist than the black pants) were … OK, but a little loose.  It wouldn’t take much and they would be too big.  I didn’t want to buy jeans that I might wear for less than a month.  I then tried the size 10 jeans.  And, they gave me a muffin top.  So, I didn’t buy either one. I need to go check some other stores.

A Treat and Not a Cheat

In a recent post, I talked about how I changed what I ate over the last few years.  Basically, I eat healthier foods, less junk food, limit fast food severely, and eat less highly processed foods.  I sometimes see writers who say that they love “real food” so much now, that they no longer like junk food or fast food, etc.  Chips, candy, cookies, cake, fries, pizza, etc. no longer tempt them.  Well, that isn’t me.  All that food I used to eat all the time, I still love.  I didn’t decide I don’t like it.  It is just that, now, it isn’t all that I like.

I used to hear people saying they liked fruits or vegetables and I just assumed they were, well, lying (or kidding themselves).  I couldn’t imagine anyone genuinely enjoying a salad (unless it had some huge amount of really high fat, high calorie dressing).  Over time, though, my tastes changed and now I genuinely like lots of things that I used to not like.

And, by and large this crowds out the other stuff.  I realized the other day that it has been a full year since I’ve had pizza from a restaurant or pizza place.  I think that maybe once in that time I bought a single serving frozen pizza, maybe.  Now, I haven’t decided I don’t like pizza.  It is just that it is rarely worth it for me.  I do take to heart Dr. Freedhoff’s questions in The Diet Fix to ask (1) if a food is worth it and (2) how much do I need to be happy.  Lots of times the answer is that the food isn’t worth it and I can be happy not having any of it.

But, sometimes I do think it is worth it.  And, then I have to think about how much I need to eat to be happy.  One of the things that helps me is to think of certain foods as being better to eat as treats, and not as a regular part of my diet.

What I never do, though, is think of any food as being a “cheat” and I never eat a “cheat meal” or, even worse, have a cheat day.  You can eat the exact same thing and call it a treat or call it a cheat meal.  But, I think it is way more dangerous to call it a cheat meal.

First, using the term cheat implies you are doing something wrong.  Cheating is a very negative term, and usually means you are doing something that you, or society, thinks of as morally wrong.  When someone plans to have a cheat meal, it can imply that person is doing something wrong.  Sometimes at Weight Watchers meetings I’ve heard members say things that indicate they think that they have gone off the Weight Watchers plan by eating some candy or cookies or whatever, even if they have the points to eat them.  I’ve heard members who felt they had done something wrong by doing this.  And, it can lead to them being derailed entirely.  Dr. Freedhoff addresses this issue in the Diet Fix:

Every time you decide to “cheat,” what you’re doing is making it easier to do so again and again. What might start out as a weekly cheat meal may expand to a full-fledged cheat day, to weeklong cheat vacations, to stressful-time cheat months, and finally to an all-you-can-cheat lifestyle. Of course, if you are feeling compelled to cheat, there are certainly other things wrong. Feeling the need to cheat means that you’re living with an overly restrictive lifestyle. The belief that using food for reasons other than fuel is cheating can derail even the most sincere dieter. We don’t eat purely for sustenance. Food isn’t simply fuel.

Freedhoff, Yoni Md (2014-03-04). The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work (p. 48). Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony. Kindle Edition.

Saying that eating a certain food or meal is a “cheat” sets up a diet mentality, where if you are “good” then you aren’t eating certain foods.  And, if you do eat those foods, then you are “bad” and cheating.  Once you set that up in your mind, I think it becomes way too easy to abandon the “diet” altogether since you’re already a cheater.

And, in addition to the psychological aspects, there is the fact that a cheat can expand from a food to a meal to a day to a weekend and beyond, as Dr. Freedhoff points out.  And, the reality is that while certain foods may be perfectly compatible with weight loss if eaten occasionally, they can derail weight loss entirely if indulged in too much.  About a month ago, I had a day that I was traveling and ate almost 2400 calories.  That is about double what I usually eat.  All of the damage was done at lunch and dinner.  That one day undid about one-third of the calorie deficit I had for the entire other six days of the week.  I’ve seen some who have a cheat meal or cheat day (or even a cheat weekend) every week.  This alone can be enough to undo a huge amount of the calorie deficit that may have been created during the rest of the week.

Another point is that if you have a cheat meal/day every week then it is harder to develop the new tastes for healthier, real foods.  If I had been having pizza or fast food every week during this past year, it would have been harder for me to genuinely develop real pleasure in eating a salad or a frittata.  Fast food and restaurant foods are often hyper palatable.  They often have more fat, more sugar, more salt.  Many of the real foods that are great are more subtle in their flavor.  If they have to compete with a pizza or a chocolate cake, they may be drowned out by the immediate sensations from the pizza or cake.  I still love pizza and cake, but the memory and sensation of them fade a bit when they aren’t regularly consumed.

Now, I am not saying that I abstain entirely from eating those kinds of foods (whether to do so or not, I’ll talk about in a future post).  But, eating pizza once or twice a year is worlds different from eating pizza once a week or even once a month.

So, what I do is focus more on having occasional treats, rather than having regular cheats.  Pizza or cake is, for me, fine as a treat. (I know that others won’t want to eat those foods at all).  But, how is a treat different from a cheat?  First, a treat is special.  Something you have all the time isn’t special.  It isn’t a treat.  If you have a cheat meal every Friday, then that is a matter of routine.  It isn’t a treat.  On the other hand, if you have a meal that is a bit more indulgent every few months then it really is special.  When I was growing up, we ate out seldom.  Maybe a few times a year.  Eating out was a special treat.  Nowadays?  Eating out is usually common, not special at all.

A treat is also something that is special because you love it.  This is why I don’t just automatically eat a piece of cake or a cookie or an appetizer at dinner.  There are plenty of things like that which are just not that great.  You get all the downsides of them and very little upside.When I have a treat, I make sure it is special and tastes great.  And, because it is not all that common to do, I enjoy it all the more.

Wednesday night, I had a treat.  I went out to dinner at Panera and ate something typical that I eat there.  I was well within my calories for the day and still had some left.  We were at a mall and my husband wanted to get coffee from Starbucks.  I’m not a coffee drinker.  He asked if I want a Double Chocolatey Chip Frappuccino.  Now, I have one of those usually 3 or 4 times a year.  I get a tall, with no whip, and nonfat milk.   So, calorie wise it was fine.  I would have gone a little over 1200 calories for the day, but I would still would have been averaging under that for the week. But, I had one earlier in the week.  And, I really didn’t want to have that many more carbs today.  So, I decided that it really just wasn’t worth it. I could have had it and still been on program.  It was within my points and within my average calorie range for the week.  But, I just felt that it wasn’t worth it right then.

What did I have for my treat?  I had a Coke Zero.  A few months ago I gave up Coke Zero (and other drinks with artificial sweetener).  I used to drink Coke Zero or Cherry Coke Zero all the time.  It was almost mindless. I didn’t really pay that much attention to it. Since I stopped drinking them, I’ve had one Diet Coke (at a fast food restaurant while we were traveling) and two Cherry Coke Zero mixes made using a Coke Freestyle machine.  So, I’ve basically had about one drink a month.  Wednesday night, I had a 20 ounce Coke Zero as my treat.  I enjoyed it immensely.  It was special.  I have no desire to go buy any more.  I was entirely satisfied with it.  And, maybe in a month or so I’ll have another.  Maybe not.  It was a treat and I liked it.  But, if I had one every week I think it would make things more difficult.  If I had a Double Chocolately Chip Frappuccino every week, it would cease to be special and wouldn’t really be a treat any more.  And, if I had it as part of a weekly cheat meal, it would be all to easy for the cheat meals to engulf all my healthy eating.

That’s why I occasionally have treats, and never have cheats.

Free Lifetime Weigh In

For the first time in over 20 years — actually almost 24 years — I’ve weighed in at Weight Watchers no more than 2 pounds over my goal weight:

6-23 Weigh In

I weighed in at 148 pounds which is exactly 2 pounds above my goal weight.  I am down .6 pounds from my weigh in last Saturday.

The significance of this weigh in is that since I am not more than 2 pounds above my goal weight, I am considered to be lifetime at goal at Weight Watchers.  This means that as long as don’t gain any weight above this, I can attend meetings for free.  I also get a free voucher that gives me free eTools for 8 weeks.  To get a new voucher, I need to weigh in at the first meeting I attend in July and not be at a higher weight than 148 pounds.  If I go over, I have to pay for that meeting.  In the meantime, though, I’ve cancelled my Monthly Pass with Weight Watchers have free eTools for 8 weeks.  Of course, the idea is that I weigh in during July still no more than 2 pounds above goal and get a new voucher and do this every month.

As most of my readers know, I had really been trying to get to 148 and it has been slow getting to that point.  Yesterday morning, at home, I weighed 148.5 (in the morning, no clothes) which was .1 above where I weighed on Saturday (148.4 at home, 148.6 at the meeting).  But, I had a feeling I would have a loss between yesterday and this morning.  I had exercised yesterday and had a good calorie burn.  I had gotten up late and eaten later than usual and wasn’t real hungry.  So, I ate less than I usually eat.

This morning I woke up and initially the scale said 147.7 pounds.  I waited a few minutes and tried again and it said 147.6 pounds.  I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks that if I got to 147.6 pounds I would go and weigh in, regardless of whether it was my usual weigh in date or not.  Most of the time, I weigh in at a meeting (with clothes) about .2 pounds heavier than I weigh at home (no clothes).  My home scale weighs a little “heavy” since my weight at home without clothes is usually only .2 pound less than my weight at Weight Watchers with clothes.

Occasionally, my weight at Weight Watchers will be .3 pound higher at home (the scale at the WW I go to only measures in .2 pound increments).  One time in April there was a .5 pound difference, but that was unusual.  I felt fairly safe that with a weight at home of 147.6 at home that I would weigh in at no more than 148 pounds.  But, there was a tiny chance it could settle at 148.2 pounds in which case I couldn’t weigh in again until the next WW week which starts on Sunday.

I decided to chance it and go over and weigh in.  I explained to the receptionist and she was nice and told me I could step on the scale and see what it would weigh before she captured the weight.  If it was going to be higher than 148, I would have left and just not weighed in.  Thankfully, though, it was exactly 148 pounds!

I am a little concerned that it is exactly 148 pounds so close to the end of the month.  As you can tell from looking at my weigh in page it is not unusual for me to weigh in one week, have a great week, then be up .2 pounds the next week even though I’ve had a calorie deficit.  Things like fluid retention, or heavy exercise or even not going to the bathroom, can cause that kind of small fluctuation.  So, I could have a great week and then still be up .2 pounds next week.  The problem with that is that next week is the start of July so since I am considered lifetime at goal I must weigh in if I attend a meeting.  Since I have no wiggle room if I jumped up .2 pounds then I would have to pay the meeting fee to attend the meeting.  I would still have free etools for 8 weeks, but would have to pay the meeting fee.

Now, technically I don’t have to weigh in during the first week in July.  I can weigh in any time during the month if I want to.  But, I want the smiley face charm for the summer and to get it I have to go to 10 out of 12 meetings.  I can miss 2 of them and still get the charm.  So, I really don’t have to weigh in next week.  Actually, I normally go on Saturday and that would be July 4th and the center is closed that day so I may end up skipping next week anyway.  If I do, then I won’t weigh in until July 11th and by then I should be solidly below 148 pounds and it won’t be an issue.  And, once I do weigh in during July and I’m not above 148 pounds, then I don’t have to weigh in again until August.

Still, I’m happy to have gotten to 148 and to finally be considered a lifetime member on maintenance.  Of course, I still want to get to my goal weight of 146 pounds and then to continue working on improving my body composition.

How Changing What I Eat Has Helped My Weight Loss

I was starting to work on my post about moderation when I realized I need to talk a little bit about how changing what I eat has helped my weight loss.  This is related to moderation, but I thought it deserved its own post.

For most of us who have struggled with weight, I think that real success with weight loss and maintenance only comes with a genuine, permanent change in eating habits.  I have no doubt that there are some people who have excess weight solely because they eat too much healthy, real food.  That is, what they eat is fine.  They just need to eat less of it.  Someone like that could simply eat less of what they already are eating and could lose weight and maintain weight loss.

I am not one of those people.  Lasting weight loss for me has involved changing what I eat.  I think back to August, 2010 when I went back to Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time.  In some ways my eating was already healthier than it had been years before.  I already didn’t drink sugary drinks.  I bought whole wheat bread when I bought bread.  I no longer bought a candy bar from the vending machine every afternoon.  In fact, when I went back to Weight Watcher that August (just 2 pounds below my all time measured high of 207.4 pounds), I would have said that I ate healthy.  In reality, it was more that I aspired to eating healthy than that I actually ate healthy.

Looking back on where I was then, I eat very differently now than I did then.  Back then, I ate out at restaurants several times a week.  I did do some things.  I didn’t eat beef and would usually order chicken or fish and avoided breaded stuff.  I didn’t order drinks with calories with them (I rarely drink alcohol).  I would have said that I didn’t order things that were deep fried.  Well, I didn’t think about the fact that I sometimes would order an appetizer that had deep fried stuff in it.  Or, I would order fries or onion rings.  And, sometimes I would add in a dessert.  Let’s just say that most of my restaurant meals were well over the total number of calories that I now eat in a day.

In addition to eating out several days a week, I often ate fast food.  Sometimes, I would eat fast food for lunch when I was at work.  Other times, I would be tired in the evening and would suggest to my husband that we pick up Subway or Jack in the Box or Whataburger or Taco Bell, etc.  I probably ate fast food 3 or 4 times a week (maybe 5).

As for the rest of my diet, I don’t think I ever found much processed food I didn’t like.  I mostly ate Lean Cuisines or other “diet” frozen dinners.  That gave me a veneer of virtue.  But, so many of the dinners I ate were full of refined carbs, lots of sodium and just lots of artificial, highly processed ingredients.  Sure, I bought whole wheat bread and brown rice, but I didn’t really eat all that much of it.  Most of what I ate was highly processed.

When I first went back to Weight Watchers, I didn’t really have any plans to change what I was eating.  I basically thought that I could lose weight simply by eating less of what I was already eating.  I didn’t suddenly start eating more fresh vegetables or fruit.  I still ate out a lot.  Yes, as part of eating less, we did cut down on the amount of times we ate out or ordered fast food.  But, when I did eat out or get fast food, I ate the same kind of foods, just less of them. And, starting out at Weight Watchers, I did fairly well.

Over the course of a year and a half, I lost about 45 pounds.  But, I didn’t really much change the type of foods I was eating.  I made a few short-lived attempts, but always went back to the foods that I loved.  At that time, I really bought into the idea that I had to eat the foods that I enjoyed and that it really wasn’t possible to change what I enjoyed. I thought I could still eat the same meals when I ate out, but I just couldn’t eat out as often.

By the end of 2011, my weight loss was slowing and I was on a plateau.  Looking back, I realize it was because I could no longer eat the same foods in less quantities and still lose weight. Then, when we moved in early 2012, we started eating out a lot more.  We were looking for a new house, getting prepared to move, busy while moving, eating out while remodeling, etc.  Suddenly, I was eating out as often as I had been eating out before I went back to Weight Watchers.  And, since I was eating the same types of foods as before, the pounds rapidly piled back on and I gained back about 35 pounds. The thing is that by continuing to eat in the same way, but eating out more often, I was guaranteed to gain weight.

For awhile I had been able to lose weight eating less of the same crappy diet, but it became more difficult as I lost more weight.  Right before we moved, I had been on a plateau where I wasn’t losing hardly at all.  I was still eating the same types of food, though. Then once I started eating out all the time, I started gaining. I didn’t really wake up until I gained back 35 pounds.

What I eventually realized is that I had to change what I ate, not just how much I ate.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried various approaches.  The one thing they all had in common was that I recognized I had to eat differently in order to sustainably lose weight.  I realized it wasn’t enough to just lessen the number of times that I ate out each week.  It wasn’t enough to eat fast food only once a week. I had to change what I ate. I began to totally look at menus in a different way.  I didn’t order appetizers or desserts (well, rarely, on major special occasions).  I paid a lot of attention to nutritional information.  I’ve gotten to the point now where I can eat out on a day and end up not eating more calories than if I had cooked at home.

One day I was at a Weight Watchers meeting and someone mentioned how impossible it was to eat at Panera’s.  I was startled because I was usually eating there at least once a week with no problem.  But, then, I realized it all depended on what you ate.  I would usually eat a half salad and half cup of soup.  It was as if the pastries didn’t exist for me. For the lady in the meeting, she couldn’t imagine going to Panera’s without buying a pastry.

Over time, my food choices have genuinely changed.  The other day I made a salad with greens, various veggies, grilled chicken and homemade vinaigrette dressing.  As I was eating it, I was thinking how good it was and that I would make one for dinner the next day.  I realized how much I had changed in terms of what I liked.  I loved that meal.  So much of what I used to eat, I would still enjoy it if I ate it, but I honestly just don’t see it as worth it.  It is too high in calories, or is unhealthy, or has no nutritional benefit, etc.

Today for Father’s Day we went to The Counter for lunch.  I planned out my chicken in a bowl meal in advance (485 calories, 10 grams of carbs), plus turkey chili (120 calories, 18 grams of carbs).  It was a great meal.  I could have easily eaten a meal there that was twice the number of calories.  I could have had a milkshake and made the meal three times the calories.  But, it isn’t worth it to me. It isn’t that I don’t still like Butterfingers, ice cream, pizza, chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon crunch bagels, onion rings, etc. I do.  And, I might occasionally have all of them.

But, the thing is that I’ve learned to love lots of other foods that are far healthier for me and that have a lot less calories.  To be honest, sticking to my points in Weight Watchers over the last year and half hasn’t been that difficult.  I usually have about half my weekly points left at the end of the week (and still have all my activity points).  Sometimes I have more left and sometimes I have none left.  I hardly ever eat fast food any more. I just don’t even think about it.

I don’t feel deprived. I’m not suffering.  I’m not miserable.  I’m happy with what I eat and I enjoy it. Sure, I will probably eat a few more points a day once I’m at goal (I mean literally a 2 or 3 more points plus a day).  The reason I am satisfied with it is that I just don’t eat a lot of high calorie, non-satiating junk food any more. I used to be able to eat 300 or 400 calories of junk food and still be hungry.  I used to order a 1000 calorie (or more) entree that wasn’t very filling…but did taste yummy.  Now, that just isn’t worth it to me.  There are so many better choices, that are also yummy to me. When I make a meal at home, a 400 calorie meal is one that has a lot of volume and is very filling.  I will enjoy it.  And, I won’t be hungry again for hours.

Yes, I still eat dark chocolate and occasionally I have ice cream or a cookie.  But, the vast bulk of the food that I eat — and enjoy — now is very different from what it used to be. I do think that one of the strengths of Weight Watchers is that no food is forbidden and that you can customize what you eat and still be on plan.  It is perfectly possible to eat a low carb diet and be totally on plan.  It is perfectly possible to eat a low fat diet and be totally on plan.  I love that about Weight Watchers.  You can eat a cookie without feeling that you have blown it.  You can enjoy a piece of pizza and still feel in control and on plan.

Despite this, however, I know that while I can eat any food, I’ve only found success by often choosing to not eat certain foods, even if I had the points (or calories) to eat them.  When I became a lifetime member 25 years ago, I don’t think I ever genuinely changed my food tastes.  I ate less of what I had been eating and looked forward to being able to eat more once I got to lifetime.  I recognized that I would need to eat less calories to maintain my weight loss (I wasn’t stupid), but I thought I could just eat less of the same.  That was a fundamental error.

One thing that was been really important this last couple of years is really buying into the idea that I can actually change what I like.  I used to not like black bean soup, blueberries, salads, or salmon.  Now, I do.  And, that has made all the difference.

Weigh In and New Snack

I weighed in today at 148.6 pounds, down 1 pound.

WW 6-20-2015

That puts me .6 pounds away from not having to pay at Weight Watchers meetings and 2.6 pounds from my goal weight.  It also means that I’ve now lost 10.2 pounds this year.  It has been slow. but progress has been made.

I think several things helped to finally lose some weight this week.  I kept my calories more even during the week so that I didn’t have to eat lower calorie at the end of the week than at the start of the week.  Also, I kept my carbs at 70 or below of the last 4 days of the week.I ate out last weekend, but was careful the rest of the day so those days were like the other days.  Friday, I did eat lower calorie than I had really planned.  I had decided that eating late at night sometimes did have a bearing on early morning weighing.  So, I had dinner Friday about 7:15 and then didn’t eat anything else the rest of the evening.

I am going to stay with eating more evenly throughout the week for now.  Basically I’ll keep on doing what worked this week, at least until I get to 148.

At the meeting they gave us a sample of a new snack.

WW Caramel Apple Crisps

These are called Caramel Apple Crisps, but really I think it should say Cinnamon instead of Caramel.  I tried a couple of them that my husband tried and they were actually really good.

I don’t usually like most of the Weight Watchers snacks.  Most are overly processed and it irritates me that they usually use refined grains. This one surprised me because you used whole grains – oats and whole wheat flour.

A package is 2 pounds, 90 calories.  There are 15g of carbs, 2g of fiber, and 6g of sugar.  For me, that would be OK numbers for an occasional snack on days when I’m not having a lot of other carbs and nothing else with much sugar.

These are very processed, of course.  On the other hand, the ingredients weren’t terrible.

WW ingredients

It has a longer ingredient list than I like.  On the plus side, I knew what everything on the list was and felt OK for me with the ingredients. And, I am especially glad to see a Weight Watchers snack that is using whole grains.  For me, I see this as processed, but all right as an occasional snack when I want something low point and feel like I can afford the carbs.