Low SmartPoint Chili’s Lunch and Making Restaurant Choices

Today, I went to my Saturday Weight Watchers meeting.  Since I have already weighed in for the month, I didn’t weigh in today.  I had a better week this past week than I did the 3 weeks before.  Frankly, I had gotten really out of whack on my SmartPoints.  The week before this one I averaged over 1600 calories a day and ended the week — after Daily and Weekly SmartPoints and FitPoitnts — 93 SmartPoints in the hole!  This past week I started get myself back to normal eating.  I ended up slightly in the hole.  I do, however, have me set on losing even though I am at goal.  If I set myself on maintenance, I would have been within my SmartPoints.  This week was good enough to maintain, but not enough to lose weight.  It was the weeks before this week that did the damage.  On my scale I am up about 2 1/2 pounds, so my goal this week is to really get back to eating within the losing mode.

Tomorrow is our anniversary and we will be going out to eat so I know that will be my high point day of the week.  Today, we went out to lunch but I wanted to be really careful what I ate given that I am eating out tomorrow.  The first thing I try to do in that situation is to eat at a restaurant where I know there are choices that  I like that will be lower points.  I emphasize “that I like” because it doesn’t help me at all to go somewhere that has lower calories options that I don’t like.  It has to be somewhere that I actual like those options.

I ended up with a 410 calories/10 SmartPoints lunch:

Chilis lunch

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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.

Back in the Groove…Gently

Since I posted on Monday, I’ve stayed in the groove, although with less intensity than the past several weeks.  I like to average about 1200 calories a day and I quickly realized that after the weekend I would exceed that this week, unless I really cut my calories significantly below 1200 calories for Monday through Friday.  I chose not to do that.  I basically instead am just eating as I normally eat on week days.  My mom is visiting for this week and my son is staying here this week before going back to college for the summer.  So, I’m not on my usual schedule.  We ate out Wednesday afternoon at the Counter.  I planned out what I would eat in advance and followed through with it and my calories for the day ended up totally fine, as if I hadn’t even gone out.

Exercise has been kind of interesting.  I did a difficult strength training session with the personal trainer on Monday.  Normally, I would do a second session on Wednesday, but that was the only time all of us could go out to eat this week while my mom is visiting.  So, I was going to go and do a strength training session on my own after we had lunch.  Unfortunately, the Y was actually closed due to nearby flooding.

I did, however, do the treadmill and exercise videos on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I noticed something interesting Wednesday, though. About 8 weeks ago, I upped my exercise time. Initially I doubled it to about 300 minutes a week and then increased it to over 400 minutes the next week.  I hasten to say that not all of this was intense exercise.  Some of it was using the exercise bike while reading a book, that kind of thing.  After awhile of this I noticed I was having some pain on the inside of my left knee (my bad knee).  I wasn’t having any pain under my kneecap (I don’t have much cartilage there).  The pain on the left knee inside was a new pain, I hadn’t had before. About a month ago, I took 2 days off from exercise at my birthday and that didn’t help.  I was about at the point of going back to the orthopedic surgeon to see if I could find out what was going on.

Well, last week, I took off 4 days from exercise.  This was from Thursday (when I got my hair done for the wedding) through Sunday when I came home.  I did exercise Monday through Wednesday.  Anyway, on Wednesday night, I realized my knee didn’t hurt.  Sometime, during the past week, the pain went away entirely.  So, I’m thinking now that when I upped my exercise several weeks ago, I simply increased it too much, too fast.  What I did Monday through Wednesday didn’t bother me, though.

I still don’t know what will happen when I weigh in Saturday.  I’m at a point right now where I could show anything from a small gain to a small loss.  Fitbit says I have about a half pound calorie deficit, but sometimes those show up in a delayed fashion.  Also, my weight fluctuates quite a bit depending upon carb intake.  That is such really water weight either way, though, so it doesn’t bother me.

And, I will be so glad to have May be over.  Starting with my birthday in April and going through Mother’s Day is always difficult since I have right in a row my own birthday, then my son’s and then Mother’s Day.  This May was even worse since we went out of town to the wedding and my mom is visiting (I like her visiting, but I do eat out more and my schedule is a little different). It is just that I’ll be glad to get back to a regular routine.

Friday morning edit:

I woke up this morning and, as usual, weighed first thing.  I’m down over a pound from yesterday (I know this is mostly water weight) and down almost 5 1/2 pounds since Monday.  I am now unofficially in the 140s for the first time in many years.  My scale was at 149.7 this morning.  I still don’t know how it will be tomorrow at weigh in.  It isn’t unusual to have to suddenly jump up a pound for now apparent reason so I could still end up with a small gain this week.  But, it was really nice to see a number in the 149’s for the first time in over 20 years.

The Wheels Fall Off…and Go Back On

I was away from Friday to Sunday (therefore, no weigh in Saturday) and the wheels fell off on my eating for that time. The good news is that the wheels are back on.

The good part of my eating for the weekend:  I tracked. That’s it.  I tracked.  Actually, I can see how it could have been much worse if I hadn’t tracked.

The rot set in on Friday and that was by far the worst day.  I had planned to eat a little more than usual.  It was the last day of my Weight Watchers week and I did have 8 Weekly Points left and 14 Activity Points.  So I could have eaten 45 points that day and still been within my points for the week.  Alas, I did not eat 45 points that day.


I actually ate 59 points, which I estimated at 2368 calories (I didn’t have solid nutritional info for some of it).  The big problem was that I ate out twice with large meals and I didn’t make the best choices.  We were on the road when lunch came around and we stopped at Subway.  I could have gotten a 6″ sandwich with chicken or turkey, whole grain bread, and no topping or just a little oil.  Given that I would be eating out in the evening, it would have been best to stop there.  Sometimes, I do order chips or a cookie at Subway (yes, this is where I sometimes have one of my few cookies during the year).  This time I did what I haven’t done in a long time — I ordered both.  I did stick to a 6″ sandwich (in the past, I sometimes ordered a 12″).  I rationalized the chips and the cookie with having a snack later during the drive.

All of that still might have been fine ….well, not fine, but not horrible if I had had the dinner I had envisioned.  I thought about having a grilled chicken salad at Chili’s or maybe a Power Hummus Bowl at Panera’s.  We tracked down both Chili’s and Panera’s within a few blocks of each other…and then decided to go to Macaroni Grill.  I rarely eat there because I find it hard to stay within a reasonable calorie range there.  Going there on the same day I had that meal at Subway was not a good decision. I did do some things there that weren’t terrible.  When the waiter tried to bring the second loaf of bread, we waved it away.  I ordered a Create Your Own Pasta dish which was fairly reasonable – pasta, grilled chicken, olive oil, roasted garlic, roasted red bell peppers and some pine nuts.  So, it could have been worse.

Still, the day as a whole was a lot of points and calories.

Saturday and Sunday ended up being a bit worse than I had estimated they would be, but weren’t awful.  Saturday, we had lunch at Genghis Grill which I eat at often and isn’t a problem for me.  That evening was the wedding and I had dinner at the reception.  I ate what I wanted which was what I had planned to do. It was mostly OK on calories, although a bit more than I had thought it might be.  Still, Saturday was 41 Points (about 1700 calories).  Then, Sunday was…OK, but not great.  We were coming back home that day so had to eat out.  Actually, I did fairly well on the way home, but I still ended up at about 1600 calories.

Monday morning, my scale said I was up about 4 pounds from Friday morning before I left.  I actually ended last week (Saturday started my new week) with a half pound calorie deficit for the week (per my Fitbit).  Of course, for Friday through Sunday as a whole I don’t have a calorie deficit.  I actually ate 1279 more calories over those 3 days than I burned.  That would be an actual gain of close to .4 pounds.  So, I know that the 4 pound “gain” I showed this morning isn’t real.  But, I’m not sure that it will all be gone by weigh in on Saturday.

The good thing is that I did put the wheels back on today.  I went to the Y for my personal training session and that really helped me to get my head back into activity and burning calories.  I also did the elliptical and treadmill, so I ended up OK on calorie burn.  And, I ate food typical to my normal eating so this day should send with a calorie deficit around 575 calories.

I’m not sure how things will work out for Saturday weigh in.  I do plan to be really careful on what I eat the rest of the week and will be exercising  every day.  However, my mom is visiting and we are going out to eat Wednesday afternoon.  We are going to The Counter and I will get a chicken burger in a bowl.  So, that shouldn’t be too bad, although I don’t usually like to eat out that close to weighing in on the weekend.  And, due to going out that afternoon (the only day that worked for everyone’s schedule) I will miss my personal training session for that day (I do plan to go there later in the afternoon and work out on my own).  Given eating out on Wednesday, I’m not sure where I’ll be on Saturday.

Regardless, what I am happy about is that I haven’t gotten derailed by the overeating and the several days with no exercise.  In the greater scheme of things, this weekend was something special.  And, while I regret what I ate on Friday, I don’t regret anything about eating what I wanted at the wedding.

I will end this with a photo of me with the lovely bride, my niece.


NWI and Busy Week (+ More Decluttering)

I did not weigh in Saturday due to the Texas Ironman Triathlon which starts very close to where I weigh in plus, during the morning, the bike ride was passing near my subdivision.  So, when this comes around every year, we stay at home until afternoon, and then don’t go near where the Triathlon finishes.

My week was overall…pretty good.  My big risk when I know in advance I’m not going to weigh in is that I’ll lose focus on eating later in the week.  With a Saturday weigh in, I’m usually super careful on what I eat the last 3 days of the week, but if I’m not weighing in I am sometimes not as careful.  I don’t mean eating beyond my points available, just eating more of the available points later in the week.

I did reasonably well overall, but the activity kind of fell part later in the week.  Sunday was Mother’s Day so I ate more than usual, but I had planned for that.  I went to my first personal training session on Monday.  I exercised Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday like usual.  Then, on Wednesday, I was supposed to have my first real full training session.  I arrived on time at the Y for the session to find the gates locked!  There was one of the workers there and he told me that the Y was closed to prepare for flooding.  We had had some heavy rain the days before that and more was expected (although there wasn’t any at the time).  This Y actually has horses and is in a low area, near a creek.  So they were anticipating there might be flooding (and they looked to have moved out the horses).  The building itself is up high, but the outside stuff isn’t.  Anyway, I went back home and I was a little tired from the exercising I had done earlier in the week so I decided to take the day off (I was already planning to make it a low cardio day, just basically doing the strength training).

Instead I worked some on decluttering and trying to find which possessions spark joy.  I’ve been working on this periodically and, by Wednesday, was mostly working on the things in my home office.  I had originally planned to exercise on Thursday, but I ended up taking everything out of the kitchen cabinets and drawers  This was a massive job to take out almost everything (some things were too high up and a few things I didn’t have room to take out) and put them out on tables and counters and the island.  As I did it, I threw away stuff that was in bad shape and I laid out similar things together.  This was tiring, but didn’t burn all that many calories, alas.  After getting finished I was exhausted and the kitchen was totally torn apart, so we decided to go out to eat at Panera.  I hadn’t really planned for it so I ended up eating a couple of hundred calories more than usual.  I still had plenty of weekly points left (and the activity points I had earned) so it was fine, but I probably wouldn’t have done it if I had been planning to weigh in on Saturday.

Then, Friday was exhausting as well.  We are going to a family wedding out of town next weekend.  I had bought my dress, but my daughter needed hers.  So we went to the mall and walked around finding her dress, then various things to go with it.  I actually earned an activity point from all the walking around I did and my calorie burn was respectable even though I did no formal exercise.

My Fitbit says my calorie deficit for the week would have supported a .8 pound loss.  I wouldn’t actually have gotten that since I ate out Thursday evening, but I was happy with the overall calorie deficit shown.  I was glad I didn’t get derailed by not weighing in Saturday.

On Saturday, once it was afternoon and we could leave the subdivision easily, we went out to lunch at Chipotle.  I had a salad with chicken, brown rice and beans.  I skipped the cheese and didn’t get any chips (I was tempted)!  Afterwards, we went to the Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt shop next door to it.  We’ve been meaning to check it out forever and today was the day to do it.  I had a lowfat cookies and cream frozen yogurt with about 1 ounce of mix ins.  I ended up getting more than I thought I was getting (I thought it was about 4 ounces before I weighed it and it was really about 7 ounces of frozen yogurt).  From a calorie standpoint, it was OK, but with the lunch it was more carbs at once than I usually want to have.

The combination raised my blood sugar to 157 an hour after having the frozen yogurt.  I’ve measured after Chipotle before and it doesn’t usually cause me any major problem, so I think it was the combination of the two.  I think I could have a smaller serving of the frozen yogurt sometime not close to other foods with carbs or I could Chipotle …but not both together.

When we got home, we finished going through the kitchen stuff and organized what was left in our cabinets.  That was a lot of fun.  Before, our cabinets and drawers were just jam packed full of stuff.  We had everything stacked and it was so hard sometimes to unearth the pan at the bottom of the stack.  Now, it is totally different.  First, I put the most used items in the drawer that is right next to the cooktop:


And, nothing is stacked!  When we were done, we had some cabinets with little in them:

Upper cabinet

My husband wondered why I didn’t stack the bowls, but I pointed out that I really didn’t need to, given the unused space.

We even ended up with a few cabinets that have absolutely nothing in them:

Lower Cabinet

I am sure they won’t stay empty for all that long.  With eating less processed foods, I am now cooking more, which means buying more cooking things.  I actually bought a lot of new kitchen items from Amazon after we finished going through stuff.  These haven’t arrived yet and I have some other things in mind that I haven’t bought yet.  But, I am going to be careful to only buy things that I have a present use for.

After not formally exercising for 3 days I really wanted to get back to it today.  With going out this afternoon and then working on the kitchen I didn’t get started until 10:00 PM.  I did almost 40 minutes on the treadmill.   I wanted to do another 20, but Charles was eager to go to bed (the treadmill is in the bedroom), so I stopped.  I was going to just do computer stuff until midnight, but around 11:30 I realized I was close to getting to 1800 calories burned for the day.  I couldn’t use the exercise equipment in the bedroom, so I pulled out my laptop and found a Leslie Sansone video on You Tube and did that for 20 minutes.  I had done a few of those early last year when I wanted to do something at night when I couldn’t use the treadmill.  I had stopped it after my leg injury, and had forgotten that they are kind of fun and quick to do to burn a few extra calories.  I ended up finishing the day with 1812 calories burned, 1257 calories eaten, and 55 minutes of exercise.  I was very happy with how my day ended up.