Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You guys are my Weight Watchers meeting replacement.

Today is the three-month anniversary of the day I signed up for Weight Watchers, so I thought I'd do a little retrospective on how it's been going. First of all, I'm sick of running and I'm sick of our gym, especially since the trainer who rented it picked up and moved and brought all his stuff with him, so now the gym feels eerily empty. Also, I don't want to permanently kill my knees with the running stuff. So on the exercise side of things, I think I'm going to take a cue from Swistle (again) and order some different workout DVDs from Netflix until I find one that I can stand more than once.

In terms of the diet aspect (which is where Weight Watchers really comes into play), things are going reasonably well. I've definitely learned a lot about portion size and hidden calories from WW, and even though I don't need the system the way I did at first, I'm going to renew my subscription for the structure, for the ability to look up point values of everything, and for the recipes. I've lost 28 pounds so far, and it's definitely slowed down from how fast I lost weight at the beginning, but that's how diets work in general. So I just have to remind myself that it is still working, even if it's slower than it was before. And also, I've learned that the WW people cheat with the products they sell. The point values are ranges--for instance, one point can be 40 or 60 calories, depending on fat and fiber content. So sometimes, if something is right on the edge of a point value, having 2 of that thing will not mean that the point value exactly doubles. For example, one low-fat granola bar is 2 points--but two low-fat granola bars are 5 points. And Weight Watchers totally takes advantage of this with the products they sell--like the 2-point ice cream bars that add up to 5.5 points if you have two of them. How cheap is that? They market it as a 2-point product, but if it had one more calorie, it would be almost 3.

The problem with this little cheating system is that it's possible to cheat the software program yourself, as well. For example, if I have a granola bar with lunch and another one after dinner, I have two options for how to record it. Either I can put them both in the same meal section, in which case the software would combine them and list them as 5 points, which is the most accurate solution. Or I can list them in two different meal sections, and then the software considers them as 2 points each, which means they only add up to a total of 4 points, which means that I can cheat and save myself a point.

But what I have to remember is that this WW thing is not about number crunching to maximize the efficiency and benefits of my allotted daily points. It's about not cheating, because there's nobody to cheat besides myself. So I don't have 1 1/4 cups of cereal in the morning, even though that's the same points value as 1 cup of cereal. Because even if the points calculator doesn't know the difference, my body does. And that's the whole point here.

The other thing I've been struggling with recently is cooking. With the new job and the attempts to get to the gym and all the visitors we've been having and our social life, there have been a lot of nights out. And although I've gotten really good at finding the healthiest options on restaurant menus, it's still not as healthy as cooking WW meals at home. And unless we're at a restaurant that has its nutrition information online, I'm always estimating exactly what was in the dish I ate and therefore how many points it's worth. I deal with this by not using all of my allotted extra weekly points, so that if I inadvertently underestimate the point value of something I eat, the overflow is made up for. But it's still not good. I already vowed to make this a good cooking week, but then we went out last night and we're going away this weekend, so there will be a lot of eating out involved despite my best efforts.

But next week, it's back on track! No visitors, no plans, no trips, just me and the kitchen and a cabinet full of healthy ingredients. And in the meantime, the weight loss is still happening, slowly but steadily, and I'm still feeling healthier than I have in a long time. And I'm three gallons of milk and 12 sticks of butter lighter than I was on June 19. So it's been a good three months.


  1. Oooo, I love reading about other people's health kicks.

    I always wondered about how all that POINT jazz worked. Sounds shady.

  2. Congrats on the weight loss - it's been a lifelong battle for me, so I totally feel your pain. And might I suggest? Mountains does this too - spend a Saturday or Sunday making tons of healthy meals and freezing them. It helps SO much when you're crunched for time during the weeknights. I also always have hard boiled eggs and hummus for quick protein (not sure what the points would be - I've never done weight watchers) and I cook a giant pot of brown rice to tide me over for the week. I also cut up fresh fruits and veggies so there's always something good to munch on.

  3. Hi! I just found your blog and I love your recent entries. I am also on WW and I was really good about it in the beginning but now...not so much. Anyway, I was wondering if you've checked out the website It's a message board where other WW members post feedback, tips, recipes, etc. There is even a section just for twenty-somethings, which I find helpful. Anyway, keep up the great work and yay for 28 lbs gone!

  4. 28 pounds! That's awesome! Congratulations! Do you feel lots better?

  5. wow. congratulations to you on the weight loss. basically since I was 17 i've fought a weight battle, and have gone back and forth to being healthy to not so healthy and skinny (read: existing solely on celery and coffee.)

    your progress is truly an inspiration to remind me of the benefits of cooking and eating healthy...i've never done WW, but I'm tempted to try. best of luck to you- i look ofrward to reading your progress!!! oh, p.s., thanks for the sweet comment about the heart puzzlepiece :) it meant a lot!

    xo, bb

  6. i've heard a lot of good things about WW. when i accidentally put on 30 lbs by living in france, i faked the WW program (found a list of 0 point foods and went from there) and it worked surprisingly well for me. consdering i have the willpower of a jellyfish and HIGHLY SUCK at dieting. i went on south beach once, and lasted 3 days. and i cheated for 2 of them. turns out i'm an "exercise to lose weight" and not a "diet to lose weight" kind of gal :-)

  7. Awesome on the weight loss. I'm with Laurel on the cooking on the weekends. It makes it so much easier to eat healthy during the week.

  8. I think that's great. 28 pounds! That's like...more than both of my cats combined! (I don't understand my brain, sometimes.) It's so hard to stick to things and lose weight. And I know that even though it's annoying, losing weight slowly but steadily is healthier and more likely to stick than losing it super fast. I'm so excited for you, you should feel super rad for this accomplishment.

  9. Jess - 28 pounds! Other than knowing you've lost the weight, how do you feel different? You sound like you have such a healthy attitude; that is great!

    Changes in my daily routine are the most difficult thing for me to deal with. Finding flexible solutions (like always having a granola bar and an apple to take with you, etc.) seems to be my biggest help.

    You are such an inspiration!

  10. Well, I'm doing the running thing, and have never done any organized diet. But I keep hearing about WW, so now it's on my radar. Maybe...

  11. Wow, you guys are all so amazing and supportive. Here's a super long comment to respond to all of you:

    Tessie--The points thing works very well, for the most part. It does a great job helping you keep track of calories while simultaneously encouraging you not to eat too much fat and to have plenty of fiber. It's just that because it's more of an approximation, it can be fudged sometimes.

    Laurel and These Little Moments--I actually asked Mountains about that in the comments of one of her posts, and am considering trying it. Baby steps, though--right now we grocery shop every day for that day's meals, so now we're going to start planning our meals in advance and shopping once a week with a Zipcar. That should be a good step in the right direction.

    Yasmin--Thanks for the encouragement. I actually had found one article on that site through a Google search before, but I hadn't looked at the rest of the site. I'll check it out.

    Flibberty and Artemisia--I feel better in lots of different ways. In part because I fit into clothes I didn't fit into before, and that's always good. Also because I've been exercising and that's a good energy boost and makes me feel good about myself. And also because I'm eating in such a healthy way now, and paying attention to when I eat and what types of food, so I'm being much more consistent and rarely feeling hungry or overly full. Plus all the weight lifting has made me feel much stronger.

    Blogging Barbie--Thanks so much for your comment... it made me smile a lot! WW has a feature for people who are looking to just maintain their weight and not necessarily lose weight, so that could be good for you too. They have taught me a lot about developing healthy food habits that will last forever.

    Alice--I'm not at all an "exercise to lose weight" type of person since exercise never seems to make me lose weight. Which sucks because it becomes that much harder to motivate myself to go to the gym, even though I KNOW it's so good for me.

    Black Sheeped--My mind works the same way... that's why I said the thing about having lost weight in terms of milk and butter. It's really helpful to visualize the weight that you've lost. I think about three heavy, heavy gallons of milk and I imagine carrying that around all the time and how bad all that extra stress is for your body, and it inspires me to keep going.

  12. Marie Green--Sorry I missed you... we commented simultaneously! If you're just looking for the exercise part, I would say there's no need for WW. But if you want to add a healthy eating component, WW is the best there is. I've always heard that, and it is the only thing that has ever worked for me in years and years of trying.

  13. Wow, congrats on losing 28 pounds! I would be celebrating with hoards of chocolate had I lost that much weight.

    I can't comment on weight watchers as I have never been a member, but I give you much sympathy on the difficulties of maintaining a diet and exercise routine while traveling and being super busy in general. Nearly impossible.

  14. One thing I like about Weight Watchers is it seems to me to be a "teaching" diet: it nudges me toward doing the things I should be doing anyway, using food as motivation. If I exercise, I get more food. If I eat lower-calorie food, I can have more of it. Both of those lessons are good to learn, because they're not just "while dieting" lessons, they're basic good eating. (I know WW says it's "not a diet, it's a lifestyle change," but I say WHATEVER, it's a diet).

  15. Ahhh that's amazing, congratulations.

    You are seriously inspiring me to kick this extra weight before the wedding.

  16. Jess - A suggestion about balancing eating healthfully and managing a busy work/social/everything else life. I find I do a much better job when I cook a couple of meals on Sunday and then stick them in portion controlled tupperware and stick them in the freezer to bring for lunches or to eat for dinner. I just don't have the energy to cook every day so doing it this way keeps me from just eating crackers and hummus for dinner or for going for a microwave meal.

  17. Wait, you lost 28 lbs in 3 months??

    That's really outstanding. Good for you. That's usually enough inspiration to keep someone going, but it does totally suck while you're doing it.
    As you read on my blog, i'm just starting to work myself up into wanting to sign back up. (Not even up to that stage yet..)
    If i can lose 28 pounds in 3 months, i should just shut up and do it.
    Thanks for the inspiration!!