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27 Jan
2015

Weight Watchers: Friday Night Fever Edition (sponsored + sweepstakes!)

Minus the withering look from Blossom’s stepmother at the beginning, this is an accurate dramatization of my first week using the Weight Watchers app:

I was measuring, I was tracking, I was meeting all my goals, I was king of the disco floor. I was so confident of my inevitable success that I spent some time reimagining my wardrobe made entirely of spandex.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.04.01 PM

At the end of that first week, I was strutting into the weekend with 15 extra points to spare and feelin’ pret-ty groovy. Aaaaand, then I woke up on Friday morning and realized my counter had reset for the week (surprise, my Weight Watchers week is Friday to Friday, not Sunday to Sunday), meaning I wasn’t doing as well as I’d thought, given that those 49 “extra” points in my weekly allowance had yet to encounter their arch nemesis: the Weekend.

So. Yeah. About Friday night. I went to a party and exceeded my daily points goal by almost double (DUH-BULL) to the tune of a taco bar, other people’s wine, and homemade blueberry streusel muffins made of MAGIC. It was awesome and I regret nothing, but it was also a major reality check, and I basically spent the next six days like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.01.45 PM

The thing is, even if you’re aware you’re overeating when you’re mid-bite, it’s incredibly hard to bridge the mental gap between that one moment of immediate gratification and its long-term consequences, especially when you keep thinking of that one moment of indulgence as an isolated incident, instead of taking a step back and acknowledging that aaalllll those isolated moments have joined up to form a giant conga line that stretches down the block.

What Weight Watchers does is shine a spotlight on the conga line so you can’t keep pretending it’s not there, snaking off into the distance, maracas a-shake. Weight Watchers turns the conga music up to 11 so you can’t pretend you don’t hear it.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.00.41 PM Simmer down, Tony.

In just this short time using the PointsPlus system, the most important thing I’ve learned is how life-changing it is to be able to quantify my interaction with food. I don’t know about you, but saying, “I ate kinda bad on Friday night so I need to eat kinda better on Saturday morning” does not pave a smooth path toward success but instead a creates a dead-end street cobbled with cop-outs.

In contrast, I’ve found I can actually change my eating habits when I can say, “I have this many points per day/week, and this thing I’m considering eating right now will cost me X number of those points, so I need to make a choice.” And it’s in that moment–that balanced-on-the-roof-ridge-of-decision moment–that Weight Watchers is empowering and has the potential to inspire real change. Because the program isn’t about following rules, it’s about making choices. Yes, there are guidelines in place to help you make good choices instead of bad ones, and yes, there are personal coaches and a 24/7 chat line to point you in the right direction, but in the end, in the program as in life, the choice is up to you. That’s the good news and the bad news, but mostly the good news.

When my personal coach, Betsy, asked me during our first session what I thought would be my biggest obstacle, I told her it was likely to be my stubbornness; I’m used to talking my way into and out of things, I’m used to no one being the boss of me, and I’m used to having my cake and eating it too, so trying to follow a program while being ultimately beholden to no one but myself, well…that would be interesting. I predicted my Weight Watchers experience would be more of a mental game than a physical game, and so far that’s turned out to be true. I’m never hungry on the program (huge sigh of relief), but I do find myself grumping over the points values of this versus that, and whimpering while everyone else is having another cocktail. But it’s not because the system feels unfair or cruelly restrictive but because I’m simply not used to it. But I’m getting used to it. And I think it’s working.

This is my last post for the campaign (unless enough of you follow Kathleen’s lead and clamor for more?), but I’ll be staying on the program through at least the end of March, and I’m feeling really good about it. When I first mentioned I was doing this on Twitter, a handful of people said the program absolutely works for those who take it seriously and make a consistent effort to follow the plan, and I really took that to heart. I’ve been religiously tracking points (nary a single nibble of pb&j while I’m making kindergarten lunch goes unrecorded), and I’m paying close attention to all the physical and emotional ups and downs of the experience too. This week, Personal Coach Betsy (I’m down with PCB, yeah, you know me) helped me set a goal to get regular exercise back into my life (props to Whitney for recommending a 7-minute workout app), and I’m looking forward to having her support (and yours) through that process.

Although this blog series is ending, I feel like my journey (dammit!) is just beginning. Thanks for letting me share, and I wish you all luck in your lose-weight/eat-better/exercise-more/feel-awesome endeavors.

saturday-night-fever-dance_511385_GIFSoup.com

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Have you used Weight Watchers? How do you deal with challenges when it comes to eating better? Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a one month Weight Watchers membership and a Weight Watchers prize pack!

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including a disclosure that your Tweet is a sweepstakes entry and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

No purchase necessary to enter or win.  A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. Void where prohibited by law. Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and D.C. (“Territory”) who are 18 years of age or older.  Void outside the Territory.  Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Twitter makes no endorsement of this promotion nor is involved with the promotion in any way.  Sponsor:  BlogHer, Inc., 1301 Shoreway Road, Suite 340, Belmont, CA 94002.  Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

For complete information, the Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/27/15 to 1/31/15.

Be sure to visit the Weight Watchers brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

This post was created as part of a relationship in which I was sponsored by Weight Watchers and given a free three month subscription to try their new Personal Coaching product and write about my experience. Though I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.  

20 Jan
2015

The Skinny on Weight Watchers (sponsored + sweepstakes!)

Now that I’m well into my Weight Watchers journey experience adventure lifestyle-changeapalooza, I thought I’d write about the actual mechanics of making the transition from following a free-for-all “see-food” diet to being more mindful about what I’m eating (and when and why). To be blunt, it’s… not easy. But it’s also not terrible, provided I regularly remind myself that I’m playing a long game rather than following the Brat Diet, which, I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it does not actually stand for “bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.” It means adhering to the Veruca Salt Code of Behavior, i.e., I want what I want when I want it.

veruca-i-want-it-now

During my first coaching session, Betsy helped me come up with one specific, measurable goal to work on for the first week, and the thing that came immediately to mind was my beloved bowl of late-night cereal, may she rest in peace on alternate days. The thing with the cereal is that I know it’s not ideal to eat right before bed, and I know if I’m actually hungry there are better choices to make than something sugary, and I know it’s more about comfort of habit than hunger anyway, but mmmmmmmm, it’s so good and I so look forward to it and I so have amassed an impressive variety of justifications for why it’s not that bad, so yes, what I’m saying is giving up a bowl of Raisin Bran is My Struggle.

This… well, it’s not the sort of thing I imagine comes up too often in a traditional Weight Watchers meeting. And that is exactly why personal coaching is brilliant, especially for those of us with special-snowflake needs that include aspiring to triumph in the daily mano a mano with a breakfast food. Having dedicated one-on-one support through a personal coach means the Weight Watchers program is about ME rather than about general issues common to a larger group, and this makes the whole thing feel like a worthy use of my time and effort.

Thus my goal for Week 1 was to replace one bad habit (cereaaaaalll) with one good habit (a big glass of carbonated citrus water) for four nights out of seven, and when I first wrote it out I was like, “Please. This is nothing,” but then it turned out to be more than nothing, (a) because it meant getting real with myself and being held accountable to someone else for once, and (b) because delicious habits are hard to break. (Wouldn’t that make a great copy line? “Weight Watchers: Because delicious habits are hard to break.” Call me, Weight Watchers! Oh, wait.)

That’s another thing: I really appreciate that Weight Watchers not only acknowledges that changing food habits is hard work but it puts that message front and center. (I wasn’t asked to share this video, I just really like it.)

The good news is that the hard stuff is mostly mental, at least for me, at least right now. The system itself is easy to understand (NB: counting points is not the same as counting calories; revelation!), and my coach helps by bringing a positive, encouraging voice to the table. Yes, it adds a bit of fussiness to measure and calculate everything when you’re first getting started (did you see my wine in a measuring cup?), but for someone like me who eats a pretty narrow selection of food (I would make an excellent house pet), I had much less of that to do after just the first week, especially as I became familiar with where my points went during the day and with what constitutes a reasonable portion, e.g., maybe not a third serving of rice. (Me: “Brown rice is healthy! I shall eat three heaping cups of healthiness!” Weight Watchers Me: “NO.”)

So far the PointsPlus system has given me a new perspective on how to balance my nutrition throughout the day and is constantly, rewardingly, making me ask myself, “Is this where I want to spend my points, or would I rather have an actual treat later on?” I mean, when a microwave lasagna is as many points as a glass of wine and a handful of chocolate chips, I find it much easier to have a salad for lunch instead.

salads

Now, I love salads, but sometimes I need something warm and comfort-foody, especially when it’s 64 degrees inside the house, and I’ve found Weight Watchers helpful with that too. My first WW recipe (I found it online but was able to cook from it using the awesome app) was a hit; we ate it for dinner one night and lunch the next day, and then Simon said he’d make a special trip to the store so I could whip up another batch immediately. I’d never even heard of wheat berries (pro tip: they’re not berries), and now they’re one of my favorite things. I have another pot of Weight Watchers Wheat Berry Minestrone in the crockpot right now and am saving my points so I can have more than one serving.

For those who are interested, whether you’re officially on Weight Watchers or not (yet), I’m pinning other Weight Watchers recipes as well, and I’d love to know if you’ve tried or plan to try any of them. Share your delicious, delicious wisdom! Don’t be a brat.

only-child-problems-sharing

Do you have a favorite Weight Watchers recipe? Or any tips for staying on track when it comes to being mindful about what you eat? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a one-month Weight Watchers membership and a Weight Watchers prize pack.

***

You can find Weight Watchers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

This post was created as part of a relationship in which I was sponsored by Weight Watchers and given a free three-month subscription to try their new Personal Coaching product and write about my experience. Although I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including a disclosure that your Tweet is a sweepstakes entry and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

No purchase necessary to enter or win.  A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. Void where prohibited by law. Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and D.C. (“Territory”) who are 18 years of age or older.  Void outside the Territory.  Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Twitter makes no endorsement of this promotion nor is involved with the promotion in any way.  Sponsor:  BlogHer, Inc., 1301 Shoreway Road, Suite 340, Belmont, CA 94002.  Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

For complete information, the Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/20/15 to 1/31/15.

Be sure to visit the Weight Watchers brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

14 Jan
2015

Week 1 on Weight Watchers

“If you kinda do it, it kinda works. If you really do it, it really works.”

That’s the quote I see when I log in to my Weight Watchers Personal Coaching dashboard. I got to pick it from about ten others — from cheesy to take-no-prisoners-warrior-woman — as I was filling out my baseline assessment (age, height, current weight, weight-loss goal, special challenges, favorite Beatle (no), etc.) so my coach would know what she was getting herself into. I chose the quote that spoke to me in the moment, but now I see I also chose the one that was the most logical and mathematical while still being casual. It was the most me. I’ll say that’s a pretty good start for a program that aims to create a customized plan specific to my exact needs and personality.

As far as the mechanics went, getting set up in the system, completing the online assessment, choosing a coach, and scheduling my first phone session was ridiculously easy and took about ten minutes. You can do it faster if you have better recall of all your most delicious vices.

IMG_1376 I think I eventually added cheese, tortillas, white rice, and black tea with milk and sugar because danger is my middle name.

When the assessment was complete, I picked a day and time for my first call, and that pulled up about a dozen different coaches to choose from. I could see their faces, mini-bios, and a few other details, which made it possible to screen them for things like pounds lost on Weight Watchers, location, and perkiness/non-perkiness, all of which could influence how well I feel I’m able to connect to them on a personal level. My coach (hi, Betsy!) works in branding, seemed down to earth, and has not only lost weight and kept it off using Weight Watchers but has also been a WW leader at local meetings, which put my mind at ease since I was a little afraid my coach was going to be more of a cheerleader than an actual resource, if that makes sense.

So far she’s been a little bit of both, and in good proportion. She was able to walk me through the PointsPlus system (very helpful, since the website is packed with information and can be overwhelming/intimidating (intimiwhelming?) if you’re just starting out), and it was nice to hear she’d taken the time to read over my assessment beforehand so we could hit the ground running. Over the course of our thirty-minute conversation there were several points at which she was able to tell me how my situation and hers overlapped, which was helpful and nice to hear.

The most pleasant surprise for me was learning that although my coach is available to answer questions about the system in general, her role isn’t necessarily to tell me exactly what will work for me but rather to ask the right questions so I can find my own answers that will lay out the path ahead. It would obviously be a lot easier if I could just follow a vague plan designed for a group, or if I could simply ask Betsy what to eat and she could give me a list of dos and don’ts. But what I’ve found is that, as uncomfortable as it can be, this method of guidance over instruction makes way more sense. I mean, if the goal of personal coaching is to create a personalized action plan, the best answers will come from the actual person herself, right? I imagine this technique also helps participants get more educated about nutrition, take more control of their individual weight-loss process, and feel more invested in the outcome than if they simply followed a prescribed diet plan, which you could get from a thousand other sources if that’s all it took.

I’m a few days into my new action plan, and although there’s been some longing looks at second helpings and a fair amount of arguing with my phone when the Weight Watchers app shows me a high point value for something I’d always considered healthy (I shall miss you, heaping plate of roasted sweet potatoes!), I really feel like I’m off to a good start. Next week I’ll talk a bit more about my experience actually putting the plan into action, including what I’m finding easy and fun and what I’m finding harrrrrd.

Anyone out there have experience losing weight either with or without a support system (even if that means a single person encouraging you from the sidelines)? I have high hopes that being held accountable for my choices is going to make a huge difference for me. 

For a chance to win a one-month membership to Weight Watchers and a prize pack to go with it, leave a comment below (you only have two weeks, so do it today!) in response to this question: What healthier commitments are you willing to tackle this year?

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This post was created as part of a relationship in which I was sponsored by Weight Watchers and given a free three-month subscription to try their new Personal Coaching product and write about my experience. Although I was compensated for my time and commitment, all views, positive and negative, are my own.

You can also find Weight Watchers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you’re interested in the Personal Coaching program and want to learn more about finding your very own Betsy, check out an upcoming #HealthyMatchUp event in a city near you (NYC, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and LA) to speed-chat with coaches one on one. More information can be found here.

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including a disclosure that your Tweet is a sweepstakes entry and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

No purchase necessary to enter or win.  A purchase will not improve your chances of winning. Void where prohibited by law. Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and D.C. (“Territory”) who are 18 years of age or older.  Void outside the Territory.  Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Twitter makes no endorsement of this promotion nor is involved with the promotion in any way.  Sponsor:  BlogHer, Inc., 1301 Shoreway Road, Suite 340, Belmont, CA 94002.  Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

For complete information, the Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/14/15 – 1/31/15.

Be sure to visit the Weight Watchers brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!