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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!

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?

Given the title of this blog and my previous posts, I think all of you know that Jared and I appreciate a nice, quality craft beer.  As I’ve mentioned, one of the hardest things about Weight Watchers for me initially was cutting out having a nice pint once or twice a week.  For the beers that Jared and I enjoy, Weight Watchers assigns 5 points to a 12 oz. glass, whereas wine is only 4 points for 5 ounces.  If I choose to drink during the week, I almost always choose the lower points value and go with wine, which eliminates beer almost entirely from my rotation.

Weight Watchers does assign only 3 points to light beer.  However, I have never really found a light beer that is worth drinking.  The Bud Lights and Miller Lights of the world are not worth the points to me, so I thought I was doomed to cutting out beer altogether, unless we were celebrating a special occassion.

Fitness Magazine had a list recently listing the best light beers, which obviously caught my attention.  However, when I saw that the “winner” was Bud Light, I seriously had to question if the people that made this list even LIKED or understood real beer at all.  I almost chose not to look through the list at all, given their top choice, but I browsed through and found that Sam Adams Light was their First Runner Up.  Now, Sam Adams is a real beer.  Could this be possible?  I was intrigued to try the light version, and I’m happy to say that it is a fine substitute to my usual Stella, Yuengling or Magic Hat.

Sam Adams Light could certainly never replace the insanely hoppy, flavorful taste of a real craft brew, but for people that enjoy the taste of beer, it is most definitely a great alternative, providing enough complex flavor to make you feel like you’re indulging without the guilt and points.

Anyone else have any suggestions for a decent light beer?  Miller, Coors, and Bud need not apply……

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!

As I mentioned yesterday, in order to kick start my weight loss goals for the umpteenth time, I decided to follow my sister’s lead and join Weight Watchers.  Since I’ve been tracking my calories for months now, I have to admit, I was a huge skeptic as to how Weight Watchers would change things, besides the fact that now I’m paying to keep track of what I eat.  So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with what they have to offer.

I joined about a week and a half ago, and was able to take advantage of their “Sign Up For Free” promotion.  I get access to the site and the mobile application for 3 months for $53.85.  The sign-up fee of $29.95 is waived.  After 3 months, each month costs around $18.  My main goal for these first few months was to see if that $18 was worth it to continue.

I’m not much for meetings after work, so the online plan was the best option for me.  When you sign up, it asks you to put in your stats and set goals.  My favorite thing about the goal-setting part was that they encouraged you to lose 10% of your weight to start out, not to focus on what they deem your “healthy range.”  I’m encouraged by their attention to the fact that realistic goals are not only healthy, but also much more motivating.  For me, I had to lose about 9 pounds to lose 10% of my weight.  Since I’ve been struggling the past few years with not being able to break out of a certain 3 pound range, the number seemed impossible.  But, we press on.

To be honest, I had always thought of Weight Watchers as the type of program where they made it easy to track food they endorsed, but not anything else.  I was glad to see I was wrong about that.  While the Points Plus tracker doesn’t have every food I’ve ever eaten, it has a sizeable database, with the option to calculate the points for food it does not have.  That feature, both on the site and on the iPhone application has been extremely helpful for me in balancing following the plan with Jared’s wants and needs.

As everyone knows, Weight Watchers assigns you points for the day in order to help you meet your goals.  I receive 29 points for the day.  It seems like a lot, and it actually has worked out pretty well so far.  Knowing how many points I have for the day has helped me map out my meals first thing in the morning, and then fit in snacks around them so that I never feel so hungry that I overindulge.  The difference between Weight Watchers and just tracking calories is that fruit and vegetables have NO points.  This has really encouraged me to use them a lot more generously throughout the day as snacks and with meals, something I certainly wasn’t doing when tracking with Livestrong.  After all, if I was going to waste 80 calories, I’d rather waste it on something good rather than an apple or a red pepper.  To date, that has been the biggest change I was able to make.

Another change that the points system has helped me to be more aware of is alcohol.  For those that know us, you know that Jared and I appreciate a quality beer and a wonderful wine, and it’s not unusual for us to have a glass with dinner a few times a week.  However, for 6 points for a beer and 4 for wine, I’ve really learned that liquid calories are a great place for me to cut back.  It hasn’t been easy, given how much we really enjoy trying new things, but it’s a necessity that I’m sure will contribute to my success.

In addition to your points, Weight Watchers assigns  a Weekly Allowance that allows you to indulge a bit from time to time in a very structured way.  I have 49 Weekly Points Plus Allowance points.  To me, that seems like too many, so I’m still getting used to how to use them and when to use them.  On a week like today, when I know I’ll be going out all weekend, it helps to have so many, because I can plan around using them.  As I get more used to the plan, I’ll write about how to effectively use these without overindulging.

There’s so much more that I can say about the Weight Watchers plan, but that will have to wait for another week.  For now, after one week, I’m 4 pounds down and about halfway to my first goal.  Something must be working, so I’ll be pushing through to see how far I can make this go!

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions when it comes to my health.  After all, that’s a year round thing.  However, I am constantly on the look-out for new ways to lose weight.  I’ve been ignoring the Weight Watchers hype for so long, that I thought it was finally time to give it a try.

To combat all the protests I’ve been hearing such as “Why do you need to do that??” or “You shouldn’t pay for something like that!” let me just say that when you’ve been at this weight loss and working out thing as long as I have, sometimes you just need something else to move the needle.  I’ve had to promise myself not to get frustrated by the stories of people who lose like 20 pounds in the first few months.  For me, that’s just not going to happen.  In my mind, the people that lose so much weight right out the gate probably haven’t been monitoring their calories on LiveStrong or working out with Jackie and Jillian.

Tomorrow, I’ll be going a bit more in depth about the Weight Watchers tools that are available to subscribers.  I’ve been on it a bit over a week, and have lost 4 pounds, so I’m hoping all is not lost.  As I track my progress, here are some challenges I know I’ll face.

1.)  Weekends. My weekend currently looks like this:  Friday, drinks and dinner with one of Jared’s high school friends.  Saturday, The Melting Pot with some girlfriends, and possibly a piano bar later that night.  Considering that Jared and I won’t have a weekend at home until March 19th, I know it’s going to be hard for me to control where and when I eat on weekends.  This has by far been my biggest hurdle so far to weight loss, so I’m anxious to see how I may be able to conquer it this time around.

2.)  Jared. It’s a proven fact that when you embark on a weight loss plan, it’s much easier to do it with someone else.  However, Jared isn’t into the whole not being able to enjoy a beer or a treat when he wants to, so I’m doing this alone.  While he’s been very good about allowing me to plan our menu around my “Points”, it’s extremely hard for me to say no to him when he wants to go grab a quick drink with friends or eat out.  So far, we’re doing well, but guilt is definitely setting in.  Especially since one meal I made he hated due to the amount of vegetables it had.  Oops….

3.)  Myself. I’m only supposed to weigh in every Wednesday.  Do you think that keeps me away from the scale?  Nope.  If I see numbers I don’t like, I tend to get discouraged.  So discouraged, that I almost throw in the towel.  I know I need to keep going, since this is a process, but I’ll have to conquer a lot of my body image demons to make this work.

Game on, Weight Watchers.  See you at the finish line.  If there really is one….

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