Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My weight-loss Journey Part 3

I know this is getting long and it is SUCH an emotional outpouring!! But gaining and losing weight for me was rooted in all my feelings of failure, inadequacy and in not learning to use food properly! So...to start up where I left off, I had decided I needed to change my habits, bought a scale and worked my tushie off on that stupid stair stepper!

I lost 14lbs!!

I felt I was well on my way, but that 14 pounds is where my weight-loss halted. I had started running a bit, but didn't really take any more weight off. Running just made me want to eat more and that, I was soon to learn, was my problem.

I was discouraged and ready to give up after two months with no more loss. That is when a girlfriend of mine who had been doing Weight Watchers, told me exactly how much she had lost. I was astounded. Wasn't Weight Watchers an antiquated system that our mom's and grandmothers worked in the 70's? Little ladies with blue hair, drinking G&T's and talking points & weighing food? I was on my way to find out that NO-- it was not!

WOW...old school WW recipe card...

Two other girlfriends joined WW with me at that time and together we went to meetings in downtown together every Wednesday. I was mortified the first time I saw that I really did step on the scale at the meeting in front of everyone! But it wasn't long till I saw that no one was looking and no one cared. As a matter of fact, it was one of the most non-judgmental and encouraging environments I have ever been in!

Weight Watchers doesn't just have you blindly count points and focus only on food. They also have you do a lot of personal work and create tools to help you succeed on your weight loss journey: they have you describe your accomplishments, write down truths about your journey, come up with situations you may face and solutions for them. They teach you how to visualize and change your thinking about your abilities and how you use food! Below is an example of my original "Winning Outcome" worksheet. I had created my winning outcomes on my own, so I just pasted them there!
I JUST noticed I wanted to go meat free-wow!!

Of course, I learned some of the most valuable information about food and healthy eating in Weight Watchers. A few things that really stuck with me:

1) You can eat what you want.

YOU CAN!! You just have to pay for it. With Weight Watcher points, you bascially get a set amount of points, between 20 and say 35 depending on your starting weight, age, needs, sex and condition (nursing mother etc) and this is a representation of the calories, fat and fiber that you take in daily. That point number also accounts for reducing calories so that you lose.

I spent my first week eating breakfast the way I had FOREVER! Have you heard the statement: if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got? Yeah? Well I was eating my favorite breakfasts like I had always done (Carmel Macchiato and muffin). They were almost HALF my daily points and that first week I spent most of my days hungry or overeating.

It didn't take me long to figure out that I needed to change WHAT I was eating, so I could eat more and still lose. Oatmeal, hardboiled eggs, cottage cheese with fruit or tomatoes, these became my breakfasts and I found that the healthier I ate, the fewer points it would cost and the bigger the result I would see come weigh in day.

2) Portion control is KEY.

This was one of my other big problems: I was eating lean meat and veggies but my portions were out of control!! I would go to the store and buy an 8 ounce salmon steak and eat the whole thing (3 oz for meat yo--remember that!). I had huge portions of everything and it was no wonder I plateaued and wasn't losing anymore! Here are some portion guides:


3) Woman can not live by coffee alone!

Some of you who know me (personally or well or have been reading for a while) will probably laugh, cuz, don't I live on coffee NOW? I drink coffee now, but I also drink water!! You need to drink water to be well, healthy and to lose weight!! Just do it. Aim small at first if you need to and build up, but ideally you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. More if you are working out.

Also, like I said in point one, I had to trash the fru-fru coffees and high sugar, double whip, chocolate caramel concoctions. I learned to like regular coffee with cream (no sugar!!). Whew. What a girl will do to hit that goal weight. I still have the fancy coffee sometimes but now as a treat, and I try to go skim!

Once I learned these few keys for my journey, things really took off. My first few weigh-in took off 4.2 pounds and from there the weight came off steady until I was at my goal weight and eventually achieved lifetime status. I was actively losing weight in the program from September 2004 to June 2005.

In total I lost 35 pounds, on my own and through Weight Watchers!!

I got to the point where I could tell if I was overeating or eating outside of my points because they help you really understand what "full" feels like. You get so used to eating what you should every day that when you eat more--you can tell! Weight Watchers helped me understand WHY I was eating or what I was really feeling. Is it hunger or was it another emotion? Was I using food to forget my feelings or shut them up? These were very powerful things to see in my life.

The girlfriend who inspired me is now a Weight Watchers leader and runs TWO successful meetings in my area!! It really became a lifestyle change for those of us who went through it together and because of her.

This was around my 10% body weight lost goal and in my fave PJ's

I learned how to portion control, how to eat healthy, how to hydrate. I learned how to use food for fuel as my working out became more and more successful and intense. I was running more and started adding classes at the YMCA and toning work at home into my routines.

This added as much change as the weight-loss itself. My body began to change shape with the strength training! My arms, legs and hips were getting smaller. And I was increasing speed in my runs due to the muscle. This is how strength training WON my heart!! I was so thrilled, that I bought hand weights and would stand in front of my full length mirror and repeat:

I am whole
I am healthy
My bones are strong
My skin is healthy, young and hydrated
My arms are toned
My core is centered
My body and my life are shedding their excess!!

This is where my love for affirmations really took off! I still have the original sheet that lists the affirmations above. It hung right next to my mirror so I could speak the words and look in the mirror at the same time!


But at that point, the only true excess I had shed was my weight, there was a lot MORE excess to be shed. Just about the time I achieved my goal weight, I broke off my relationship with the boy...it was necessary, it was excess!! The relationship didn't end very well but the important thing was that I was out of it. I actually had prayed a number of times for an "out" if you will, but didn't take the dozen or so that came up. It took an outburst in front of friends for me to have the courage to really say I deserved more. Besides, I don't think that my friends would have let it fly had I stayed with him-- thank goodness for good friends!!

Just about here is where my recovery story would come in! You see, in the middle of my weight-loss journey as I struggled with all these emotions, (seeming) failures and set backs, this relationship is where I traded one addiction for another. My drinking soared to new heights as the numbers on my scale went down. It was too bad actually because all the drinking was using up points --what a bad deal trading healthy calories for empty ones-boo!

The reason WHY I think it took off so, was to really shut out the voice of reason that was telling me to get out of the relationship. I was talking to my Mom about this, not two days ago and recalled a specific instance where me and the boy were in a car, on the way to a vineyard on a beautiful day. My brain was screaming--literally repeating:

I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this.

I should have turned to him and said it, told him to turn the car around and undo what we had done. Instead, I found something that would quiet the voice, or at least "drown" it out for a while. I had shed the weight, but my journey of shedding the excess was just getting started. I am SO thankful that for the past 5 years I have kept the weight off!!

I have had a few ups and downs, everyone does. I have even had to bust out the point book, the scale and start "over" again after a bad week or a tough month, but I am grateful, I have never been more than 5-8 lbs over goal and that has come off in the end. Don't be discouraged if you feel like you are constantly starting over, resetting or reassessing your progress, that's how this thing called life is done.

Getting rid of excess in your life is not always weight or food and sometimes when you think you got one monkey off your back, it shows up in a different area. But if we are honest about looking at our lives and examining our habits, intentions and motives, we can overcome these things that weigh us down and limit us! I did it and so can you! Looking back, in my life, the things that I was freed from and the person that I became through it all was by the grace of God!

Knowing your goals, moving with purpose, self reflection, hard work, good friends, a support system of people to keep you accountable and grace that is new every morning will carry us through the finish line of this journey we are on.

Good luck!!





I would love to hear your own stories so leave a comment or send me an email at mary@fitthisgirl.com

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