Last Thursday, the 17th, I celebrated my anniversary.
It wasn’t my wedding anniversary. It was my 5 year Weight Watchers Lifetime Anniversary. On October 17, 2008, I made Lifetime Membership with Weight Watchers. I lost 22 pounds over that summer and maintained the loss for 4 weeks following the Points Plus program and also by attending meetings.
I have struggled with my weight my whole life. I was that girl in middle school who was the first to “grow;” going from the little girls size 10 to a juniors size 9 within a few months. When I was in high school, I was in the best shape of my life, but I thought I was “fat.” Once I was in college, I gained the “freshman 15” and stilled claimed I was “fat.” Oh, if I only I knew then what I know now. (cliche, right?) How many of you all look at pictures of yourself in your high school and college years and think and wonder why you were so hard on yourself? I know I wonder this all the time!
Starting the Journey
In May 2008, I wasn’t feeling my best. I was feeling sluggish, tired, and I KNEW my weight was not a healthy one. A few months before, I had gotten a physical done and my blood work had shown that my overall cholesterol was decent, but the good cholesterol was low. My doctor recommended I exercise more and lose a few pounds. I didn’t like the way I looked in some of my clothes, I felt dumpy and unattractive, and I wanted to feel better.
One day, while I ate and watched Food Network on my lunch hour, I saw a commercial on tv mentioning that I could join Weight Watchers for free. After I ate my shrimp fried rice (um, hello, terrible eating habit!!!), I headed over to the meeting that was scheduled for 12:30, not even planning it, just going on a whim. I weighed in at 186.6 pounds. On my 5’9″ stature, that wasn’t healthy and so my journey began. Upon beginning, I wanted to set my goal as low at 155, but my leader convinced me to try something a little less drastic. We set my goal to the higher end of my weight range – 168. If I made that goal, I would be at a healthy weight, and I would feel a lot better.
I followed the main principles of the program, counting points, and adapting my food intake accordingly. I stopped eating fast food pretty much altogether. I started subbing in healthier options for some of my weaknesses (whole wheat pasta, low fat dairy), and I started filling my plate with 1/2 veggies or fruit and the remainder with whole grains and protein, since fruits and veggies were zero points, while tracking EVERY bite. Instead of using a full size plate for meals, I started using a salad plate so that visually, I was eating more. I adapted my favorite recipes to be lower fat and healthier by using less butter, oil, and fat, but I also indulged in some of my favorite things, but in MODERATION. If I knew I had a dinner or event where higher fat foods would be present, I would plan accordingly and eat a meal high in veggies or lower in points so I COULD indulge in those delicious meals at places like Commander’s Palace and Dickie Brennan’s. By early September, I made my goal and then stayed at or below it until mid-October, when I became a Lifetime member.
As time went on, I maintained my Lifetime status, keeping my weight within 2 pounds of my goal weight, which was 168. Sometimes I went over a little, sometimes I was under. When I was over, I’d pay my weigh in fee, but I only had to weigh in once a month. But what was important was that I MAINTAINED my weight by using the fundamentals of Weight Watchers for 2.5 years before I became pregnant.
A Pregnancy Break
When I got pregnant, I was taken by surprise. I wasn’t sure how to handle being pregnant while maintaining my weight loss goals. For the first trimester of pregnancy, I only had to weigh in once, and thanks to feeling gross for the first 13 weeks, I didn’t have to worry about weight gain. When I finally went to the meeting center and talked to my leader about my pregnancy, she told me not to worry about counting points and that they would put my account on hold and to just follow the plan to eat 4-5 servings of veggies daily, to continue eating lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats.
Originally, that was my intention. However, my body had other plans. Healthy foods that I used to crave, like rotisserie chicken, for instance, were my biggest food aversions. I couldn’t stand the smell of grilled chicken, or roasted chicken without turning green. At the beginning of my pregnancy, I could only stomach mashed potatoes, crackers, bread, and macaroni & cheese. Eventually, salads and fruit became a cornerstone of my diet, BUT for the remainder of my pregnancy, I ate whatever I had cravings for, and there were a LOT of cravings. Sonic limeaids, Cheez-its, pasta salad, McDonald’s breakfast, Raising Cane’s, pineapple, and watermelon were just a few of the weird, random cravings I had. I took the attitude that if I was craving it, then my body needed it. Because of several pregnancy complications, like pre-term labor and placenta previa, I spent a bit of time on bed rest and was advised to NOT engage in strenuous activity. A week before I went into labor, I weighed in at 230 pounds, 62 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight. My original plan to stick to healthy eating had backfired on me.
Once I had Andrew, I knew that I was going to have to fall back on what I had learned through Weight Watchers to get back down to a healthy weight. Obviously, within 2 weeks of Andrew’s birth, I had lost 25 pounds, and that was a blessing. However, I had this new, unusual body to deal with. My pre-pregnancy clothes didn’t fit and because I had a c-section, I had a weird layer of stretched out flabby skin to contend with. Many days I was in tears because I wasn’t sure what to think of this new, soft, wobbly midsection that I didn’t have before and my weight was at numbers I had never seen prior to being pregnant. Although I did nurse for 2.5 weeks after birth and that helped my metabolism, I counted on the foundation of the plan to get by, and once I got the approval from my doctor, I went to pilates and yoga classes to strengthen my core. I began to lose more weight, albeit, some was a result of my struggle with Postpartum Anxiety, but once I had that under control, I was eating well, feeling MUCH better, and on a path to getting my old body back.
In May 2012, when Andrew was nine months old, I made it back to my original Lifetime goal and I was thrilled to have done so. Although I had pitched 75% of my old wardrobe out one Saturday when nothing fit months earlier, I was able to start wearing my old size again comfortably and I felt more like myself. My post baby body was different, but I was adapting and I was re-inspired to attempt to meet that original goal I had wanted to set for myself. I set my sights on the magical number of 155. I knew it was a shot in the dark, but I figured I could give it a try, if at least to stay on a healthy eating track. My take was that if I didn’t get to that number, it was ok, because I was HEALTHY and that is what mattered most.
The Turning Point: Self- Acceptance
It was when I started to fully believe in myself and accept my body for the miraculous thing that it was, that the weight loss came to me much easier. The jist is this: I looked at my c-section scar, the stretch marks and my little tummy flab, and I found strength in myself and in my body and what it had done. For me, it had completed a miraculous task. A body that wasn’t supposed to get pregnant and give birth to a baby, did in fact, do so. Every time I looked at Andrew, it was a great reminder to me to honor my body for its accomplishments, and I planned to do this by filling it with good fuel but also treating it well. By November, I had met my goal and was so proud and surprised to have done so. Of course, I relished all of the compliments I received from others about my weight loss and welcomed them with open arms. Certainly that benefit helped me along my journey, but I also found a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I was healthier and setting a good example for Andrew.
In February of this year, somehow, I lost a little bit more, and I hit a second goal. Let’s just say, that for the first time in probably 15 years, my actual weight matched the one on my driver’s license. I knew that wouldn’t last for long, though, as that number is something I thought I would never see, and I knew that maintaining it would be difficult given my love of good food. I am a Cajun after all! As a native to south Louisiana, I know all too well how much good food plays a part in our daily lives, and I didn’t want to give that up. I set my new “goal weight” at 155, and I’m proud to say that I stick pretty close to it.
Sometimes, I fall off the wagon. Currently, I’m 3 pounds over my target weight, thanks to my bad habit during the month of August to eat Raising Cane’s once a week, as well as an obsession with the fresh baked chocolate cookies from the wholesale club. Once I saw the number go up on the scale (I only weigh in once a month, because I don’t want to be obsessed with the scale), I started tracking my points again and scaling back on some of the things that I KNOW are my weaknesses. I have traded out the chocolate chip cookies for honey crisp apples(with a little Nutella) and my weekly Cane’s trips are replaced with Mason jar salads chocked full of fresh veggies. When I go out to lunch or dinner, I often will select items from the appetizer menu so that I don’t overindulge. Yes, I still indulge in some treats, but I focus the majority of my meals with healthy ones. Now that the weather is finally cooling off, I can take Andrew for walks around the neighborhood, and I have lots of healthy, low calorie soup options that are about to become part of my daily meal plans.
My journey with Weight Watchers has been a long one, touched by several changes and new celebrity representatives. However, I’m no celebrity; I’m just your average mom who is proud to say that I have met my goal and maintained it, proudly for five years with the help of the program, support from its leaders and members at meetings, and most importantly, support from within. It was when I accepted my body and set a goal to be healthy instead of just wanting to lose weight to look better, that I made my goals and stuck to them.
Tips & Tricks
- Drink lots of water. I don’t drink anything but water and an occasional diet soda.
- Believe in yourself and praise your body. Positive self image is the first step to reaching a weight goal. Aiming with a goal to be healthy is what will help you keep your eye on the prize!
- Use a salad plate or small bowl instead of a typical plate. For me, this is a BIG one. If I am visually satiated, then I will not think I need more to eat after I clean my rather small plate.
- If you loathe traditional exercise, like me, find ways other ways to meet physical activity goals. For me, that’s chasing my son around the backyard playing tag, playing ball with him and the dog, walking around the mall for an hour in high heels or wedges, or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood or park. I also intentionally park far from store entrances, take stairs when possible, and frequently lifting a 30 pound toddler has proven to be great for working out my biceps and triceps. Also, I use him as resistance for leg lifts, much to his delight. Seriously, try it. He thinks he’s playing “horsey” while I am working out my legs. Baby Boot Camp is another great option, and it has just started here in the NOLA area.
- Reward yourself, but not with food. Make a goal? Treat yourself to a manicure, a pedicure, a new book or a new pair of shoes. Every 5 pounds, I would treat myself to a manicure or pedicure, and when I made lifetime, I went and treated myself to a wild hair color and highlight treatment. These goals will give you an incentive to keep on with your weight loss efforts.
- Find healthier alternatives to some of your non-healthy favorites. Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges, Brownie Brittle, frozen Greek yogurt with fruit, quinoa and Bagel Thins are all some of my favorite substitutions for the less healthy items I used to eat before.
- Get support, whether at a meeting, with friends, through online communities, and especially at home. My husband has been a great support to me all the time, and he embraces when I provide us with new healthful foods. I have even converted him into a quinoa lover!
- If you have a day where you overindulge, DO NOT mull over it and be KIND to yourself. Just start over fresh the next day. We all have those days and the best way to get back on track is to move on. Tomorrow is another day!
- Use the internet to get good recipes and support from others. If you haven’t noticed, there are OODLES of blogs out there that provide healthy, low calorie recipes that are divine. Most of these are often times better than the original full fat ones. Some of my favorites include Skinnytaste and Eat Yourself Skinny. You can also check out our series that went up at the beginning of the month featuring healthier versions of some of our favorite recipes!
Are you on Weight Watchers? Are you another success story? Do you have questions about my weight loss journey? Need encouragement on your own weight loss journey? Have any tips or tricks of your own to share?
*This post is not intended to be medical advice and is not an advertisement or sponsored post for Weight Watchers. I am just sharing MY story of how I have met my weight loss goals with the help of the program.