Archive for the ‘Weight Watchers’ Category

Raising your standards (or lowering your threshold)

One of the good things about taking a long time to meet you desired goal weight is that gradually your threshold of acceptability changes.

Back when I weighed 232 pounds, it was enough to be the smallest person in my family.

For the longest time, after Weight Watchers, it was enough to have lost 50 or 60 pounds. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, my threshold was 179. It was not acceptable to get above this number; to do so, in my mind, would have triggered failure. Whenever I thought that I was getting fat again, I thought of the 180 me, not the 232 pound me. The 232 pound me was so far outside of my threshold of acceptability (my new standard for myself) that I no longer even considered it a possibility.

Two and a half years ago, I was creeping back up to 179. I adopted an alkaline diet/lifestyle, did P90x with a friend, and dropped close to 30 pounds. Unfortunately, my standard didn’t change and in a moment — try six months!– of stress, I ended right back where I started: 179 pounds.

Essentially, my standard hadn’t changed. And, consciously or not, I knew that.

The following summer, I tried it again. That time, I started with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, followed by P90x (twice). I got down to 141.8. But again, during the winter months, my resolve started to slip. But last March, when I crept past 150, I said: enough! My standard had changed. 150 — which used to be a goal — had become the standard — the threshold of what I was willing to accept for myself.

Now, you might be thinking that this is just yo-yo dieting, but if you look at the trend line, it’s been moving steadily down. Moreover, I really believe (in retrospect) that all of those starts and stops — not to mention the dreaded plateaus — were actually necessary in order for my standard to change.

When I think of myself as being heavy, I never think of the 232 pound me; I rarely think of the 179 pound me, because I can’t even imagine going back there! And if you can’t imagine it, it won’t happen. Think about it.

And whenever possible, in whatever domain of your life, raise your standards and, in the case of weight loss, lower your threshold!

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Dang it! I Want My Key!

After 20 years of trying — sometimes hard, sometimes not so hard — I finally hit my Weight Watchers goal! Yippee! I actually told this poor woman in the locker room all about it as I got on the scale, stared, got back off, got back on, stared, got back off, got back on, stared. Luckily she didn’t just look at me like I was a nut. In fact, she genuinely seemed excited by my childlike display of glee. In fact, she gave me a high-five! Actually, she gave me several. Unbeknown to her (or maybe not given how quickly she jumped into my celebration with me), Tony Robbins uses high-fives as a way to anchor celebration and positive emotion. It was a great reinforcing trigger!

So now I’m thinking, I want my gold key! I wonder if I wrote to Weight Watchers and told them the story if they’d give me one?

So, key or no key, does this mean I get to stop what I’m doing? Not at all. It just means shorter cycles of reduced calories (1200 a day) and longer cycles of increased calories (between 1500-2000 depending on my level of exercise).

Does it mean eating the peanut butter and chocolate croissants? Only when I feel like their power over me has been diminished–in other words, not yet!

Essentially it means that I keep eating what I’ve been eating but only more of it! Sound boring? Not to me. To me, it sounds amazing! Because as Anthony Robbins once said –and I believe it — nothing tastes as good as thin feels!

My influences on Issues of Diet

As I always tell my students, it’s best to be honest about your biases up front. The strategies and approaches that I have adopted regarding health and fitness come from a variety of sources. For instance, a lot of the more cognitive based strategies, as well as some of the dietary practices come from my experiences of attending Tony Robbins events and listening to his audio program, The Body You Deserve. Additionally, I have been influenced by the book, Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond; unknown to me at the time, Robbins used to work with the Diamonds, so it’s little wonder that both approaches seem to resonate for me! Similarly, I also was drawn to the book, Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Ironically, Freedman and Barnouin had also spent their fair share of time at Robbins seminars. In fact, the book is dedicated to him. Although I originally picked up because of the title, it’s quite informative and amusing, if shockingly obscene language does not offend you that is! And last, but certainly not least, I have been influenced by my 90-pound-weight-loss-year on Weight Watchers, my 20 years of pseudo-maintenance, and my decade of vegetarianism.

The things I share, here, are the things that work for me; feel free to take some and leave the rest. Also feel free to send me your own winning strategies. As I hope the above has illustrated, I’m not a purist. One of the keys to success is to keep trying until you find something that works; you can’t just give up because the first thing you tried isn’t, or stops, working! So send them on!

Speaking of Useful Acronyms….

When I posted the other day about C-A-N-I, it made me think of another anagram that I have used over the years. Back during my days at Weight Watchers, my group leader kept a big colorful poster on the wall. HALT, it said. Don’t ever let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Throughout all of my fitness efforts, I have tried to keep that in mind, because it’s when I’m really annoyed, hungry or tired that I tend to overeat. And not only overeat, but eat the types of things that do not support my body in a healthy and vital way. Unfortunately many of us have learned to manage our emotions with with food.

In coming posts, I will talk about the links between emotion management and hunger management.

Despite their seeming dissimilarity, they are surprisingly close. I’ll also share some strategies that I have learned/developed in order to combat both.

Mission Accomplished!

I stepped on the scale this morning after an hour of aerobic conditioning and bingo! Since that fateful date four weeks ago with the lovely weight loss coach, I have lost 10.8 pounds! I still have 1 more pound to go before hitting my old Weight Watchers goal (the one that I had at age 17), but I am certain that it will be no problem. I guess I’ll have to change the tag line of the blog: everything you wanted to know (and then some) about losing the last ten pounds and keeping it off!

I took another load of clothes to the local consignment store and bought a pair of jeans and then returned two pairs of 10s to Talbot’s. It was great!

A Little History

When I was fifteen years old, I joined Weight Watchers for the first and only time. I weighed in at 232.5. I was 5’7″ and my only form of regular exercise was trying to wiggle out of P.E. class. It was difficult to walk up stairs and I remember walking up a slight incline from the high school parking lot and being completely (and embarrassingly) out of breath.

Over the course of a year, I had lost 90 pounds. I went from a size 40 (purchased at Catherine’s Stout shop) to a size 7/8.

During my Weight Watcher’s career, I hit my first big plateau at 165. I hit another at 156. My goal weight was 140 and I left Weight Watchers when my weight was 142.5. The reasons that I left were complicated. Suffice it to say that I never hit goal and, somewhere along the line, developed the limiting beliefs that I would never hit goal and–more importantly–that I couldn’t. Last year, at age 37, I got to 141.5 and promptly gained six pounds. I was close, but not close enough. And though I looked and felt great, I ended up reinforcing the belief that I couldn’t do it.

In the 23 years since my decision to leave Weight Watchers, I have fluctuated between 155-165, with a few spikes to 175 and fewer dips into the 140s. I currently weigh 146.8 And most of that maintenance was achieved not by diet, but by exercise.

So I lost the weight originally by diet alone (this was before Weight Watchers promoted exercise as a supplement to weight loss) and I kept it off (more or less) with exercise.

Over the last two years (following the biggest weight gain I’d seen), I started losing weight the old way: by counting calories and combining diet and exercise. But before I could even start, I realized that I was missing some key information. First, I had no idea how many calories I really needed! I originally found this information in Jillian Michael’s book, Winning By Losing. But the short version is this: your BMR x 1.1 (if you have sedentary life style like most Americans). You can figure out your BMR here.

My BMR x 1.1 = 1561 (so I should eat 1561 calories to sustain my current body weight)

Essentially, I can eat 1561 calories and not gain weight.

My next problem was that I didn’t know how many calories I burn a day in exercise. My sister remedied that! I love my polar watch; not only does it make sure that I’m exercising within my range, it also keeps track of my daily, weekly, and monthly burns. It’s great. I refuse to exercise without it! Thanks Laura!

So, I knew how many calories I could consume in order to sustain my weight and I could figure out how many I need to burn if I wanted to lose weight.

A pound is 3500 calories, so when I wanted to lose two pounds a week, I burned 1,000 more a day than I consumed.

Now that want to lose a pound a week, I burn 500 a day more than I consume.

Because you NEVER want to eat less than 1,200 day (if you are a woman), this means that I typically try to burn 500 calories on the days that I exercise, in exercise.

There are obviously a number of ways to exercise (and to count calories); I’ll return to both of these topics in depth later.