How I used Weight Watchers to eat healthier, move more, feel better and lose weight
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One Sunday about a month ago, Graham and I sat down with a drink and a snack to watch a few episodes of Parts Unknown. That first glass of wine went down great. So did the second, and the third and the fourth. The next day, I felt ashamed. I knew that I wasn’t setting a good example for our son and I knew what a lazy habit it was becoming to enjoy not just a glass of wine, but several.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not regularly drink four glasses of wine for no reason whatsoever, even if Anthony Bourdain is on tv. But I’ve gotten lazy about what I’ve been eating. I can make a lot of excuses…the last year and a half has been emotionally difficult, and just like every family, we have stress in our lives. However, weekly visits to the chip truck and eating a bag of chips a few nights a week were beginning to catch up with me. I couldn’t fit into some of the summer clothes I was wearing just two summers ago, and I was tired of justifying eating and drinking all that crap.
What Led Me to Try Weight Watchers
My BMI has almost always been within the healthy range, but it got to the very top end of the healthy range for someone my height. Weight Watchers tells me that a healthy weight for someone my age and weight is in the range of 117-146 pounds and when I woke up the Monday morning after “The Anthony Bourdain Incident,” I weighted 139 pounds. The last time I weighed around 140 was during university, when I was eating pepperoni pizza with extra cheese on a regular basis and sitting on my ass to write essays and watch Survivor. Not good.
I’ve used MyFitnessPal in the past to track my food and exercise, but something about it just didn’t fit right with me anymore. I could track calories consumed, but MFP didn’t guide me as to what I should or shouldn’t eat. I needed a system to follow. I needed someone to tell me what I should eat and when I should exercise and feel fairly confident that if I followed those instructions, I’d get rid of the extra fifteen pounds I’d been trucking along with me since the fall of 2015 (my FitBit weight records don’t lie). When I was a waitress, walking upwards of 20,000 steps a day, plus learning to run 5K, I didn’t have to think a whole lot about what I was eating. But I’m not a waitress anymore, and until this past week, I hadn’t seriously returned to running, either. I’m also forty years old, and I don’t want to carry unhealthy habits into the next decade.
I told myself I was going to act like the person I knew I could be, the person I wanted to be, for myself, my husband and my son. So I went to the Weight Watchers website to check it out. I was thrilled to see that there was an online-only program, which meant I wouldn’t have to attend meetings in person, but I’d have all the same access to the Smart Points system, Weight Watchers recipes and a community of other people like me who were working on being their best selves. When I saw there was a promotion for a free month’s membership, I used some of the money I’d earned with my CinchShare affiliate program, and jumped on board.
What Made Me Nervous to Share I’m Trying Weight Watchers
I’m sensitive to the fact other people struggle with their weight and health their entire lives. I’ve been pretty fortunate in that I’ve got fairly decent eating habits, and most of the year I’m pretty active. A couple of years ago I lost about 15 pounds through lifestyle changes and taking up running, and that’s the best I’ve felt in my whole life. But as people around me began to notice my body changing, they’d typically say something like, “You look great! But be careful, don’t lose anymore weight.” If I made any mention of trying to eat healthy or exercise more, my comments would be met with a scoff, laugh or tisk. “You’re fine, Amy, you don’t need to lose weight.” My mother once found some snacks I’d portioned out for myself in the cupboard and told me I didn’t need to do that. Why is it we feel it’s okay to caution our friends when they’re making healthy choices, but we stay silent when they’re sabotaging their health? I resented these comments, which seemed to dismiss the efforts I was making to be healthier and take care of myself. I guess my friends, family and co-workers meant well, but it was still confusing.
I also strongly believe that every person can make improvements to their health. It’s important to me to set a good example for my son, who sees that mom goes for a long walk or run. I also work very hard to combat depression and anxiety, and being active is a huge part of that for me. Feeling good about myself is something I struggle with, too, and knowing that I am eating right and getting enough exercise, and that I’ll be able to wear that pair of jean shorts I love this summer feels good.
I’m not comparing myself to others in my efforts to be emotionally and physically healthy. I know what feels good for me and my body, and that’s what this effort is about. This is one the reasons I was drawn to the “Beyond the Scale” program that Weight Watchers has launched. It’s about more than just the number on the scale. It’s also about feeling good about yourself and enjoying life. After a recent hard blow to my self-esteem, I needed something like this. The Weight Watchers website introductory video states, “Our holistic plan will help you eat healthier, move more, feel better and lose weight.” This sounded good to me, and if these health benefits rub off on my family, that’s also a good thing.
My First Week With Weight Watchers
Wednesday–This was the day I officially signed up. I familiarized myself with the Weight Watchers app, and in the setup process, I was allotted 30 daily points to eat and a goal of 23 FitPoints for the week. For exercise I completed Couch to 5K, Week 6, Day 2 on my treadmill.
Thursday–It was supposed to rain today, so as soon as I took our son to school, I hit the pavement. I ended up walking 6 km, over 9,000 steps before 10 am.
Friday–Cinco de Mayo. Gulp. I decided for dinner I would make us a salad, with some chicken for Graham to eat (I don’t eat meat). Then the plan changed when our son was invited to a friend’s for a sleepover, and Graham said he wanted to take me out to our favourite Mexican restaurant for dinner. Because I knew I had some flexibility within my points (weekly points that cushion the daily points, as well as extra FitPoints from the running and walking I’d been doing), we went ahead for dinner out and I tracked everything I ate and drank. I ate a whopping 67 points that day, the most since I started. I didn’t feel bad about it, though, because I knew the next day would be a fresh start and because I knew I had that cushion in place. For exercise I did Couch to 5K Week 6, Day 3 on my treadmill.
Saturday–I started the day out with my usual coffee (with 2 tablespoons of Hazelnut Coffeemate, it’s 4 SP), then made Graham a breakfast burrito. I decided to get on the treadmill while our son was still with his friend, then had my own breakfast after that. I completed Couch to 5K Week 7, Day 1.
Breakfast was 1 egg, scrambled with a chopped green onion and about a quarter of a red pepper, cooked using a little bit of Pam in the pan so the egg wouldn’t stick (2 SP for this). I also added 1/6 of a cup of shredded Tex-Mex cheese (2 SP) and a squirt of sriracha (0 SP). On the side, instead of potatoes or toast, which I would have normally chosen, I had a handful of strawberries and a small banana, cut up (0SP). I was completely full when I finished breakfast. Instead of another coffee, I had a cup of black chai tea for 0 SP. It was all delicious! Thank goodness hot sauce is a freebie.
I wasn’t ready to give up my morning coffee altogether, but I felt ready to wean myself off of the Coffeemate, or at least cut it back. Around dinnertime, instead of a glass of wine, I opted for a vodka and club soda.
Sunday–This was another seasonally cool day so instead of moping around the house, I decided to take Nate to the Royal Ontario Museum, knowing I could get in lots of steps walking around the city. We parked in Yorkville and walked over to the museum. After our museum visit, we took the Bloor-Danforth subway line down to Chester Station and to the Big Carrot, where I had a delicious lentil soup for lunch and Nate had a big organic chocolate chip cookie. I got my 10,000 steps in before we got back to the car to drive home. Also at the Big Carrot, I found these vegan sausages that my sister-in-law and brother recommended to me, as well as a lighter, more healthy option for my coffee, So Nice French Vanilla coffee creamer, which is only 1 SP per tablespoon. It was officially time to kick the Coffeemate habit.
Monday–This morning was chilly but I put on my running clothes when I took Nate to school, and did Couch to 5K, Week 7, Day 2 outside. I went to Costco and stocked up on more fruits and vegetables, as well as egg whites, tzatziki, English muffins, light Swiss cheese slices and a couple of new sports bras for myself. I made my favourite lunch yet when I got home from shopping, which was egg whites, spinach & Swiss on a toasted whole wheat English muffin with Dijon mustard and salt & pepper. It was really good, and only 6 SP.
Tuesday–I woke up with a headache today and wondered if reducing intake of processed sugar is the culprit. I had an appointment in town, so instead of driving, I walked there and back to get in my activity for the day.
Wednesday–A week in, this was my first weigh-in day. I was thrilled to find that I had lost four pounds in the first week! I credit the additional exercise, mindful eating, drinking lots of water and eating mindfully. I never felt deprived or hungry…in fact some days I felt like I ate a lot of food. It’ s just that the food I ate was much better for me than the food I had been eating previously.
Overall, Weight Watchers is a lifestyle that is achievable and realistic for the long haul. I like it because I can eat food I enjoy, and I found myself eating way less processed food, less sugar, more fruit and vegetables. I was still able to enjoy the occasional drink with my husband and a dinner out, but the overall picture of my emotional and physical health began to improve.
I can’t wait to see where this will take me!
Week 1: Down 4 pounds
Week 2: Down 4 pounds
Week 3: Down 1 pound