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I think I speak for all females when I say that shopping for clothing can fall into two categories:  a fabulous, stress-relieving experience or a raging beat down of your body.  We’ve all heard other women talk about themselves in the dressing room, and we’ve probably engaged in that kind of talk ourselves.  From “Wow, I need to lay off the pasta” to “I’m never eating again”, shopping for clothes can sometimes turn us into a mess of self-depricating emotions.

When I started the Weight Watchers program, I can’t really say I was hung up on getting to a particular size-I was much more hung up on getting to a particular number on the scale.  Honestly, I’m not sure why, but it never really occurred to me that my clothes would soon be too big.  Now that I’ve reached the number I had in mind, I’ve had my work cut out for me in the closet.  After weeding through my clothes a few weeks ago, and creating piles and piles of clothes that might never fit again, I have to say, I started to feel some anxiety around the size issue.

There is a lot of conversation around whether or not sizes for American clothing have changed.  As we all know, sizes vary depending on the store, brand, cut, etc.  For instance, when I bought new pants this weekend, I ranged from a size in the single digits to a size in the double digits.  Everything fit just fine, it just fit differently.  But that’s not where the anxiety I’m talking about comes from.

I’ve found on recent shopping trips that my brain simply can’t get used to the fact that I need to take smaller sizes into the dressing room.  I’m still grabbing the same old sizes I wore when I was 17 pounds heavier. My mom and sister look at me like I’m crazy, lol.  In the dressing room, these clothes look ridiculous, but there is still a voice in the back of my mind whispering, “You might need these when you gain it all back.  Don’t waste your money on the ones that fit.”  I’ve found that I often have to be forced to go back to get the smaller sizes, or someone literally has to get it for me and make me try them on.

I know this is all a side effect of  disordered eating.  I simply cannot come to terms with the fact that I’m wearing sizes I never even dreamed I’d fit into.  My brain doesn’t seem to want to let me think that it’s real-even though I can see the results, there is still something telling me that I’ll never fit into clothing of a certain size.  Whether it’s the fear that this weight loss thing is just a phase or the pre-conceived notion that only “skinny people” wear these sizes, shopping for clothes has proven to be a totally different experience for me.  While I’m pleased with how things look, and I’m definitely pleased to see single digit sizes, the whole thing just causes so much anxiety for me that it’s hard to enjoy the results I’ve worked so hard for.

How have other people gotten used to losing weight and needing clothes?  Does the anxiety end, or is it something we just need to work that much harder to overcome?

I remember standing in a Crumbs bakery a few months ago, staring down the delicious rows of icing and cake.  Along with the cheerful decorations and fluffy icing mounds also came the “sticker shock”-and I’m not talking about price.  That’s right, friends.  Right there, next to my mounds of joy, was listed the calorie count for each cupcake.

My immediate reaction was “I don’t want to know.”  And I’ll be honest-there are still times when I don’t want to know.  Sometimes, when you’re celebrating something special or just want to treat yourself, I don’t really think it’s bad to eat something with abandon and not care about its fat or calorie content.  In fact, I’d go as far as to say that denying yourself all the time has negative effects on your weight loss.  But that’s another story!

However, living with the Weight Watchers plan has taught me to be a lot more aware of what I choose to eat when we eat out.  When I first started this blog, we were eating out up to 2-3 nights a week, sometimes more depending on where we went over the weekend.  We started cutting back on that as I started counting calories again, and since I started Weight Watchers, we’ve cut down to only eating out once a week.

Some restaurant chains have nutrition information available on their Web sites.  Sometimes, you have to dig for it, and with places like  Rita’s that give ranges, it can be hard to figure out what fits into my plan.  That’s why I was excited to see that the FDA recently announced its latest proposal regarding menu nutrition labeling.

To summarize:  “The proposed rules would apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments with 20 or more locations, and vending machine operators with 20 or more machines. Consumers would see calories listed in restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to these proposed regulations.”
I’m psyched about this, and think that more places, particularly local establishments, should be required to provide this information on their Web sites or elsewhere.  Since we don’t frequent any chain restaurants, this won’t really help me too much, but I do hope it’s a step in the right direction for food establishments as a whole.  In fact, knowing I could find out nutritional information about menu items before I eat somewhere would encourage me to choose one restaurant over another one with no information.
What do you think about menu nutrition labeling requirements?  Do you just not want to know, or do you think it would help you make better choices?  While I can’t say that I’ll always pay strict attention to it while eating out, it’s certainly helpful for vacations and other times when eating out is the only option!

Yes, I know.  Fashion is not a usual topic for me.  I prefer hiding my body under layers of denim, or thick dress pants.  However, when you have a twin sister that starts dressing cooler than you do, you find yourself in need of stepping it up.  Oh, and losing 17 pounds and having no clothes that fit doesn’t help either when it comes to hiding behind my usuals.  But that’s for another post altogether.

After trying on a pair of my sisters LC Lauren Conrad leggings from Kohl’s, I knew I had to have them.  I’ll admit, the fabric is a bit thin, and I’m still getting used to wearing something so form fitting, so I’m struggling a bit with being self-conscious about it.  However, with a long tunic-style top covering all the areas I want covered (butt, thighs) I could see these leggings become a staple in my weekend/going out wardrobe.  Oh, and it got the mom stamp of approval, instead of a “hmmm, I don’t know about those.”  🙂

On Saturday, I got 2 pairs for only $9.99 each.  Online they are about $2 more, however, they are still a great deal.  While I have definitely been known to say that leggings should not be worn by people of “my size”,  the size of this particular pair is comfortable for those of us with larger lower bodies; most form-fitting items like this only serve to remind me of my big hips and thighs, but these do a pretty good job covering without making you feel like you’re totally exposed.  I’ve paired mine with a mock layer top very similar to this one.  The length of the top really seems to help balance it out.

While I’m certainly no shopping expert, these seemed like a pretty great deal, and are super comfortable to wear.  Anyone else find a great pair of leggings recently?  What do you pair yours with?

Between Jared’s birthday last Thursday and my mom’s birthday on Sunday, temptation has been all around me this past week.  From cake, to pizza, to a buffet brunch, it was practically unbearable.  Considering how often I get food cravings on normal days, I’ll admit this past weekend was a true test of will!

I recently found this great article from Fitness Magazine about controlling cravings.  I did know a lot of this stuff, but here are some things that were new to me:

Women are more vulnerable to cravings than men. Finally, proof for what I see played out in our house every night!  I used to tell myself that I craved sweets and bad food more than Jared because I was overweight, but science has an answer for me.  It seems that women in general have a harder time ignoring cravings based on the biological response to “eat for two.”  Interesting stuff!

Giving in to cravings can change our brains. Blame this one on processed foods.  Sugar, fat, and salt don’t come packaged naturally in things like fruit or even meat.  Processed foods help us get that hit all at once, making it harder to avoid them and choose the right bite.

We all have a food bliss point. This is the point where the level of sugar, fat and salt give us maximum pleasure, making them addictive almost in the same way drugs and alcohol are.

Read the full article on the Fitness Magazine Web site for some tips on how to control these natural cravings!  What strategies do you have for avoiding your trigger foods?

How many times can a girl possibly talk about Jackie Warner?  A lot, I tell you, because I just keep discovering quick, great workouts that really push me to my limits.

My boss was yet again kind enough to lend me Jackie’s Xtreme Timesaver Training DVD.  You may recall my recent lust over Fitness Magazine’s round-up of the best workout DVDs of 2011?  This one made the list in the “Ultimate Quickie Makeover” category.  While this is only a 30 minute workout, since it involves full body weight training moves, you won’t really be wishing for more when that 30 minutes is up!

After I first did this workout, my legs were shaking when I was done.  Like, shaking so bad I could hardly stand up.  Since Jackie works your upper and lower body simultaneously, there is a LOT of static holding for the lower body.  Some examples include holding a runner’s lunge while doing rear delt flys and holding a sumo squat while curling.  Each move is done for one minute per side (where applicable) and I do have to admit that some of those holds are extremely painful to hold.

Thankfully, as with most Jackie workouts, there are beginner modifications.  Even though I’m not a beginner, I sometimes still modify part of the movement.  The full beginner modification does not use weights at all, and usually drops to a knee, or doesn’t hold as deep.  For the runners lunge hold, I do end up dropping to a knee about halfway through, although for some reason I can hold almost for the full minute on my right side.

From a weight perspective, I will be the first to admit that I have a weak upper body and I feel the burn there before I feel it anywhere else.  Since you’re doing this moves rather quickly for a minute, I’m still only rocking 3 pound weights. On a similar note, Jackie is a huge fan of working the shoulders, and my shoulders are usually in a good kind of pain for a day or so after this workout.  I also feel it in my glutes pretty quickly as well.

My favorite move is the last one, where you’re leaning over and doing a shoulder raise, working both your obliques as well as your shoulders.  Feels fabulous, and I have to say I’m starting to notice some awesome oblique definition as well.  Some other great ones are the curtsy squat + punch combination and the bicep curls while lifting the leg up and down off the ground.

Although this is a strength training DVD, there are a lot of face paced moves in here that do get your heart rate up and leave you a bit breathless.  The whole point of the DVD is to maximize your workout in only 30 minutes, and the combination of strength moves and just overall movement makes that easy to do.

Check out a short preview below, and good luck!

Money is tight for everyone these days.  While some are fortunate enough to have a gym in their apartment building or work building, for those of us without those resources, it can be hard to justify a gym membership.  I’ve been doing home workouts for about 3 years now.  While it can be hard to find a video that makes you work hard enough to feel it, Fitness Magazine just made it easier for all of us with our own home gyms!

The Top 10 Workout Videos for 2011 breaks down the best of the best as far as home workouts are concerned, providing variety as well as a great workout.  From Bob Harper to Jackie Warner to Jillian Michaels to Denise Austin, this list really includes something for everyone.  Fitness Magazine even broke down the amount of calories you would burn, as well as what you need, and included a snippet from each video.

This is really one of the best resources I’ve seen in awhile.  After reading this list, I was super tempted to go out and buy all the ones I haven’t tried (I’ve tried Jillian’s 6 week 6 pack as well as Jackie’s XTreme Timesaver Workout).  While it can certainly add up, as some of these videos cost up to $20 not counting some of the equipment you might need, if working out at home is your main source of exercise, it’s certainly worth the investment.  For now, I’ll hope  that I win the pack of 10, although I’m sure that’s a long shot. 🙂

I haven’t checked to see if any of these are available on Netflix, but that’s another great option if you’re looking to try before you buy as well as find something that motivates you to work hard at home.  Thanks to Fitness Magazine for such a great resource list and for remembering those of us without access to gym equipment that still like to work hard!

As a social media “specialist”, I hated this question.  “How do you measure success?”.  This is a question that all of us have faced on the job or in other areas of our lives.  I’m going to talk about it as it relates to Weight Watchers and the journey I’ve been on for the past 7 weeks.

One obvious way that success is measured on Weight Watchers is through weekly weigh-ins.  Goals are set, and once those goals are met, I would say it is safe to say you have been successful on the program.  Whether you just met your 5% weight loss or 10% weight loss goal, these are all certainly major successes to be celebrated along the way.

But what about the weeks when the scale doesn’t “move mountains” so to speak?  What successes can we look at as a reminder that we’re on the right path?  Below are some small milestones I’ve been keeping track of that help me reward myself when the numbers stay put.

1.)  Monthly Measurements.  Just because the scale isn’t moving doesn’t mean you’re not losing inches.  At the beginning of the Weight Watchers program, I took my measurements as part of the weigh in, and decided to track each month.  I’ll only do this once a month, because I don’t believe that inches fall off as quickly as pounds.  This helped me around week 4 when I did my first check in.  The scale hadn’t moved in weeks, but I had lost an inch all over.  It was this success that helped me get my mind off the scale, and move on to meet my 5% weight loss goal.

2.)  How do your clothes fit? This was an exciting revelation for me this weekend.  I knew my pants were starting to look a bit sloppy, when I noticed that the crotch of my jeans one day was practically hanging down to my knees.  When I went shopping, it felt SO GOOD to put on clothes in sizes I normally wear and have them be too big.  Moving forward with the knowledge that losing weight is going to put me into a whole new wardrobe is certainly annoying from a cost perspective, but boy does it feel good!

3.)  Confidence. Someone remarked to me yesterday that it seemed like over the weekend I had morphed into a different, funnier version of myself.  I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but I’ve noticed I’ve stopped the self-hate and carry myself differently than before.  I know that, no matter how long it takes to get to the weight I’ve set as my final goal, I am doing good by my body.  I can no longer claim that weight loss is out of my control, and I can celebrate along the way the accomplishments I’ve made.  Even though I know there are people saying, “I can’t tell she’s lost weight, what is she talking about???” I know that I have, and right now, that’s all that matters.  It’s taken me years to get to a place where weight loss could be a healthy personal decision, and that alone has given me the confidence to stop berating my thighs, hips, and butt and start embracing the fact that I’m doing the right thing.

4.)  Willpower. As I mentioned when I first started the program, willpower has consistently been a stumbling block for me.  Being on the Weight Watchers program has taught me how to take control where I formally felt out of control.  It hasn’t been easy turning down that second glass of wine at dinner, but the rewards are paying off.  Even though I can’t really measure how my willpower has changed, knowing that I’m able to walk away at a certain point proves to me that I’ve made some big changes in the past 7 weeks that will hopefully carry me through to my final goal.

How do you measure your own success in areas of your life that aren’t numbers driven?

Surprisingly enough, Weight Watchers is actually living up to its claims as far as weight loss is concerned.  So far, I’ve lost about 7 pounds, which is more than I’ve been able to lose before simply by working out more and tracking calories.  While I didn’t lose any weight this week and still have not met the original goal I set, I’m confident that if I’m a bit more careful over the weekends, I’ll be able to meet my goal soon.

Two weeks ago, I talked about how the Points system worked.  I’m still working on striking a balance between daily points and weekly points, meaning that I’m still working up to convincing myself that it’s ok to use those weekly points when I need to.  So, let’s talk about some of the food and recipe sources available through the plan.

My biggest problem with most weight loss plans in the past has been finding food that I can eat, and that Jared will still enjoy.  While we certainly aren’t gluttons, we do appreciate fine foods, and have so many cookbooks at our disposal,  it should be illegal.  I very cautiously and carefully started adding some Weight Watchers recipes into our weekly menu, and to my delight, they have been a hit.

The Food & Recipes section of Weight Watchers is so full of content it’s almost overwhelming.  While recipes are broken down into several categories, I do sometimes struggle with organizing the information in a way I can handle.  They feature one or two recipes on the side bar of the home page, which usually offers simple solutions for dinner or dessert ideas.  Since the database is so big, I’ve been going through from time to time and saving recipes I want to try to my favorites, so I remember to come back to them when I’m not sure what I want.

We’ve had the Barley Risotto with Sausage and a pulled pork type sandwich, both of which were very good, and husband approved.  I feel as if all of the recipes keep in mind that some people might be feeding a family, or others who may not be on Weight Watchers, so the food is filling without making you feel like you ate a diet food.  They are also easy to modify.  the risotto called for mushrooms, which I can’t stand, but it was easy to eliminate them without making the meal unhealthy.  As a note, I would link to these recipes, but I do not think you can access them unless you are a subscriber.  If anyone wants one, let me know 🙂

Another great aspect of the food section are the cheat sheets.  The site features interactive guides for eating everything from pizza to pasta to salad to Chinese food.  Super helpful for eating out, and learning a bit more about how to manage parties and other non-database foods.

Unlike other healthy recipes I’ve seen in the past, I really feel as if Weight Watchers provides a nice balance between healthy and delicious.  I don’t feel deprived at all, and it’s kind of an exciting adventure to plan meals and other plan-friendly activities.  As I try more recipes, I’ll be sure to share!

We all know how this goes.  Things are running smoothly with your diet and exercise plan-you’re losing weight, working out more than ever before, and just feeling fantastic.

Then Friday sneaks up on you.  One look at the weekend’s calendar, and you know trouble is looming.  After all, Happy Hour, followed by a dinner party followed by Sunday brunch with your in-laws can’t possibly be doing you any good.

If you’re anything like Jared and I, you typically spend an average of 3 waking hours at home over the course of any given weekend, making it hard to control what you’re eating.  After all, all of our social activities with friends simply can’t revolve around my dietary needs.  So, how do you strike a balance between losing weight and keeping up with an active social life?

Fitness Magazine recently ran an article called “Weekend-Proof Your Diet“.  Here are some of the main takeaways I took from reading this:

1.)  The more you drink, the more you munch. I’ve always known this to be true.  I mean, who doesn’t remember carrying pretzels in our bags in college to fend off the munchies?  The same holds true for an evening out with the girls, or simply drinks with my husband at a nice lounge.  My main goal on the weekends is to work toward enjoying a single glass of red or white wine without eating everything in sight or having a second round.

2.)  Stick to my guns. I’ve found that I’m embarassed to tell people that I’m on Weight Watchers.  Why?  Well, having suffered from some disordered eating, any time someone I’m dining with mentions they are on a diet, I instantly feel guilty for eating whatever it is I’m about to order.  The article recommended finding a partner in crime, who was following the same plan as you, or simply ordering first so that you’re not swayed by the decisions of others.  Self control plays a big role in this, and that’s something I need to focus on heavily over these next 6 weeks of weekend trips.

3.)  Plan Accordingly.  My survival strategy when I know we’re going to be heading off to a calorie fest, whether it’s a restaurant or a friend’s party, is to eat like a rabbit alll day, to allow myself the extra calories later.  I can’t say this ever works out well, though, because then I just end up over indulging because I’m hungry.  By sticking to my regular schedule, the article suggests that I’ll avoid arriving ravenous and over indulging on things that may not fit into my plan.

4.)  Share and indulge. When discussing Sunday brunch, the article mentions that it’s ok to order something that you really want, like chocolate chip pancakes, that the table can share.  By having a few bites, you satisfy your craving without giving in to a poor food choice.  That cupcake I may want to have?  As long as I don’t eat hte whole thing, it should satisfy my need for sweets.

How do you fend off temptation and stay healthy when you’re out of your routine?

My boss and I have become pretty obsessed with working out and eating better.  In fact, I think the men in our office are sick of hearing about Jackie Warner, and Smart Ones, and snack time.

One of them mentioned to us a few weeks back that he had heard on the radio that essentially, unless you moved around frequently during the day, working out wouldn’t really be that effective.  Impossible, I thought.  I mean, I know sitting for long periods at a time is not good for you, but seriously, how are people with office jobs ever supposed to be healthy?  This can’t be true.

Then Jared sent me this article from USA Today that confirms the entire story.  The study confirmed what we already know:  that people who sit for long periods of time are at a higher risk of heart disease than those who take frequent breaks.  The study then goes on to say that “the negative effects of lengthy bouts of inactivity seem to apply even to those who go to the gym.”

In summary, in order to stem off negative side effects like bigger waistlines, high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol, we need to accumulate activity throughout the day.  The good news is that the study saw positive results for those that took frequent breaks, even if they did spend a lot of time sitting (i.e., all of us office workers).

So how do we incorporate more activity into our daily work routines?  Most suggestions include parking a bit further from the building, taking the stairs, getting up to talk to a colleague instead of emailing them.  Some studies even suggest taking a short walk during “lunch” or standing while on the phone.  While it can be difficult to add things like a walk to some routines, just remember that no matter what you chose to do, every little bit helps.  So, get up and go!

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