January 2, 2013 in Adventures in Re-Discovering Myself
About a year and a half ago, I lost just over 20 lbs through the Weight Watchers Online program. It’s pretty easy in terms of the process: every food and beverage has been assigned a certain number of points by the powers that be at Weight Watchers. For example, a single egg is 2 points, a light beer is typically 4 points. Based on your height and weight, you are allotted a certain number of points per day. You can spend them any way you want, but as long as you don’t go over your point allotment for the day, you will lose weight.
The difficulty comes with trying to achieve a feeling of satiation without going over the point total. I have learned a lot about portion size and the need for protein to sustain me from one meal to another. In other words, I’ve had to re-learn how to eat now that I have a post-40 lazy metabolism.
But with what I know now, the actual weight loss is the easy part of the program.
What’s hard are these:
1) Knowing When To Stop
I have stayed far away from scales my entire life, especially when I was pregnant. I’d close my eyes and make the poor nurse record my upward weight gain silently. So when it came time to enter my Ideal Weight in my Weight Watchers Online registration form, I had no idea what it was. I picked a number randomly, probably some number I absorbed from reading an US Weekly magazine article on an Australian supermodel.
With a lot of hard work, discipline, and yes, some tears, I started dropping some pounds. At first no one noticed, not even me. Only my shiny new scale was the witness to this new phenomenon. Then, gradually, I lost more weight. Some started to notice. I got cautious questions: “Have you lost weight?” I lost more weight and I got outright compliments: “You look fantastic!”
But I kept going because I honestly didn’t know where to stop, and it was no good trying to judge myself by looking in the mirror. After at least 12 years of pregnancy ups and downs, I had no reference point. I started getting comments like these (and I did not make these up):
“Have you lost weight? Um…don’t lose any more, ok?”
“You’ve lost weight. Are you sick?”
Word to the Wise: If you start getting remarks like these, you have overshot your weight loss mark.
2) Keeping the Weight Off
During the acute weight loss phase, counting points and writing down everything I ate was fine. But after a certain point, I wanted a break. I wanted a little freedom. Since I hit my weight loss goal, I could relax a little, right?
Yes and no. I don’t count every single point throughout the day, but since I have been on Weight Watchers, I’ve gotten to know the points and the portion sizes. I know if I’m planning on drinking several glasses of red wine at a party, then I had better cut back on the Christmas cookies. If I have a big slab of coffee cake on Christmas morning, I’d better not go over 4 points for my lunch…or dinner. If I have bad splurges where I eat cookies and drink red wine every day of the winter break, then I know I’m going to have to toe the line in January.
Word to the Wise: Maintenance is hard. For me, it’s a constant yo-yo between discipline and freedom that I haven’t quite figured out yet, but I’m working on it!
3) What Do You Do With All The Extra Skin?
You’d think I’d finally be happy with my body now that the extra weight is off, but not so much. All that extra skin that used to hold the added weight is still there! Here’s the hard honest truth about weight loss: even though I’ve achieved my weight loss goal, I’m not done! I have to work at strengthening and conditioning my body to tone up that flabby skin. (Boy, my body is high maintenance!)
In addition to my cardio workouts, my Fitness New Year’s Resolution is to do a strength training class 3 times a week to get my body (abs) into bikini-wearing shape by mid-winter break in February. I’m already off to a great start because I’ve been doing a weight lifting class twice a week since September, and I have just added a toning class that hurt so badly that frankly I’m surprised I can still lift my arms high enough to type.
If you’re thinking all this monitoring of food intake and exercise is a lot for me to take on, don’t. I love it! (Well, not the food monitoring part.) I enjoy exercise, and I am really enjoying the results I’ve been seeing. Biceps? Yes, they now exist on my body. Abs? Yes, they are in excruciating pain after today’s class, which means that if I keep this up, I just might see some results in about six weeks.
What are your Fitness Resolutions? And remember, for a Resolution to be effective, it must:
1) Be Specific.
2) Be Measurable.
3) Have a Time Frame.