So here I was, I’d reached my first anniversary of deciding to change my life and joined Weight Watchers. Looking back on my first year, I’d lost a whooping 52lbs, several body inches and improved my activity levels. I’d face the challenges of dealing with temptations, special occasions, plateaus, etc and muddled my way through and got backed on track. I still had a long road ahead of me but I felt good about my progress and was hopeful.
The new year is always a good time to revitalise and boast weightloss efforts. The focus in the media shifts from Christmas indulgence to fitness and health. There is always a range of new grocery products launched to promote getting healthy. New cookbooks, workout DVDs, equipment and gym wear all add to the ‘New Year, New Me’ feeling. I particularly enjoy watching some of the many TV shows that explore diets and how to lose weight. It can be fascinating to see some of the far fetched ideas and extremes that have been used to lose weight. One of the main benefits of being a Weight Watchers member is the extensive research behind the plan and guidance given. I know I can trust it. These TV shows always tend to come back to the same conclusion, that in order to have sustainable weightloss and lead a healthy lifestyle, you have to eat less and move more.
While I try not to be too influenced by these TV shows because I know that a quick fix diet won’t work for me, I have been able to pick up some helpful tips on the shows that feature healthy cooking segments. For example, after seeing how easy it is to make a healthy homemade tomato based pasta sauce, I haven’t bought a jar of ready made pasta sauce since.
After my first anniversary I went through that year with modest losses, 0.5 – 1.5lbs off, then slight gains. It was pretty slow going through the spring and summer. These times did get me down a bit but I persevered by reminding myself of how well I had already done. When I reached the autumn, there was an unexpected but happy event. I discovered that I was expecting my second child so Weight Watchers and weightloss would have to be put on hold. I was about to gain one of my greatest reasons for wanting to be healthy. I needed to be able to keep up with the energy and vitality of a young child!
With the holiday season well underway and the big day just around the corner, you may be wondering how you’re going to make it to the New Year without piling on the pounds. As a Weight Watchers member for 13 years, I’ve had a range of experiences during the festive season. My post Christmas results have always reflected the approach I’ve taken and my actions during the holidays.
Like many people, my Weight Watchers journey began in the month of January, I seized the New Year spirit and resolved to lose weight. By the time I encountered my first Christmas as a member I had reached 54 pounds weight loss and felt pretty good about myself. At this point, my view of Christmas was a no holds barred 2 weeks break from thinking, pointing or tracking anything I ate and drank. To me this meant I was free to indulge or should I say over-indulge.
My festive treats actually began in October when the supermarkets began running the promotion on tubs of chocolates. What a bargain, a whole tub of my favourite chocolates for £4, I bought two tubs. But despite being placed safely in a cupboard to be saved for December, those chocolates didn’t see the end of November as the “I’ll just have a couple” phrase became one of my daily sayings.
After getting caught in that trap for 3 years in a row, I finally learned that if I don’t want to eat a tub of chocolate then I don’t need to buy promotional tubs of chocolate in October. Now I just don’t buy them at all. My children get an individual chocolate selection box, which is more than enough for them. As for myself, I buy a chocolate advent calendar, which gives me manageable individual pieces to enjoy one a day.
In reality Christmas is a season rather than a day. Like all events and occasions, it requires some thought and planning. All the tools and strategies learnt during the year become very useful at Christmas time. I know what my danger zones are so I mentally prepare myself if I don’t want to indulge at that time or simply have a little less than I would if I wasn’t thinking about it. I also make sure that I stock up on my favourite healthier snacks so that I’ve got an alternative to reaching for whatever goodies are on the dining room table.
One strategy I particularly like is to make a personal decision about what type of season you want to have…..to maintain the loss you’ve already made, to register a loss at the scales after Christmas or to be comfortable with a weight gain.
After my first Christmas as a Weight Watcher, I gained a whopping 9 pounds in the 2 weeks between weigh-ins. It took me a full 6 weeks to lose those pounds and get back to my pre-Christmas weight. The following Christmas my weight gain was 5 pounds, which took 2 weeks to get off and my third Christmas registered a 2.5 pounds weight gain. As I believe, ‘when you know better, you can do better’.
The difference over the years has been the experience and knowledge I gained not just about making better choices but more importantly about myself, what I wanted and what works for me. I’ve always tried not to beat myself up about not sticking to my best intentions and plans, I try to use so called ‘failures’ as learning experiences and move forward.
For many years I’d heard about people who can lose weight over the Christmas period. I thought it was a myth and wondered what kind of people they could be, until it happened to me! Two years ago, I made a firm decision that I wanted to maintain my weight. I continued to plan and track my meals in the run up to Christmas Day. I decided not to track my food & drink on Christmas Day itself and Boxing Day and to resume planning/tracking on the 27th December. I also planned in some exercise for the days that I would be at home, all in an effort to balance Christmas indulgence and healthy lifestyle. The result was a surprising 0.5 pound weight loss! This may not sound like anything to shout about but I was absolutely delighted. It opened my mind to what is possible and what I am truly capable of achieving.
Now this Christmas, I find myself in a good place – at my goal weight. The introduction of the Weight Watchers Flex/Freestyle programme with the emphasis on including more high protein/fibre foods with meals, suits my tastes and lifestyle. I will again be keeping my meals healthy during Christmas week, making sensible choices when attending functions and indulging on my favourite festive eats & treats on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I’ll be twirling my hula hoop to some Christmas tunes and probably racking up some Fitbit steps in the January sales.
So how will you approach your festive season? Whatever you decide, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. After all ‘tis the season to be jolly! Have a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
So it’s summer and a lot of people are thinking about heading off on summer holidays to places near and far, or enjoying an increasingly popular ‘staycation’. Holidays are one of the occasions that people use as a target deadline for getting into shape and weight loss, especially if the holiday involves peeling off the layers of baggy clothes worn throughout most of the year and showing a bit more of our skin and body.
As I prepare to go off on my summer holidays, things are a little different this year. I’ve been away for the summer before, which usually meant over indulging on local delicacies, fast food, ice cream, alcoholic drinks and lots of lazing around. My way of thinking was that I’m on holiday so I could let loose and slip back into my old unhealthy habits, forget about weight loss, it didn’t matter if I put on weight. In previous years I’ve returned home to find that I had gained 13lbs, on another occasion it was 9lbs. This additional weight would come off once I’d got back to normal, eating sensibly and exercising, but the weight would take twice as long to come off as it did to go on. During my last long abroad I found that quickly got tired of the high fat and sugar food I was eating. I longed for the home cooked dishes I’ve become accustomed to eating, so much so that I wrote a list and meal plan of what I was going to eat when I got home.
This year I have a different mindset. Something has finally clicked in my head and even though I’m going to be in a different country, I know that I’m still the one who is in control of what I eat and what I do. What I love and prefer to eat most has finally become the healthy option. Fortunately for me, this is a self catering holiday. I’m doing my own food shopping and cooking. The knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years will help me to make healthier choices. Things might be a bit different if I was staying at an all-inclusive resort for a couple of weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, life doesn’t revolve around weight loss. I’m certainly not saying that I’m going to deny myself the pleasure of enjoying my absolute favourites of what the local culture has to offer, but the portion sizes will be controlled. And once I’ve had it, that will be enough to satisfy me. Quite often it is the memory of a particular food or drink that makes it so appealing.
Now that I’ve incorporated activity and exercise into my lifestyle, my attitude to just leaving that behind when I step on the plane has also changed. My Fitbit will be accompanying me on this trip and I’ll be getting out and about to make sure I get those flashing lights and wrist vibrations by hitting my daily Fitbit target. I’m a tourist at heart, which goes well with subconsciously racking up steps while seeing the sights.
There’s a lovely beach where I’m staying with a long stretch of sandy shoreline. An idyllic setting to make footprints in the sand and walk to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Followed by a cool refreshing swim in the sea. I’ve found my paradise where I can relax, refresh and revitalise, mind, body and spirit.
To be honest, this all sounds really quite amazing to me, I never imagined that my way of thinking would change this much. It has taken several years for me to reach this place in my life, but now that I am here, it feels right. Going into a situation with a plan, gives me a sense of control. Even if things don’t always go according to plan all the time, I can be flexible enough to make adjustments when I need to. Going on holiday has always been a major challenge to my lifestyle change, this year it is one that I fully intend to conquer.