Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Weight Loss

I've always been a petite person. When I was growing up, I held steady at the 25th percentile mark on the growth charts. Always growing appropriately, but always in the bottom quarter of "normal". In high school, I wore a size 0. I stopped growing (in terms of height) in about 8th grade, at 5'0".

Then I went to college. And while I didn't drink, I did consume too many double doozies (two cookies with icing in the middle), too much pizza, and too much Mountain Dew. I put on a decent amount of weight, but wasn't unhappy with how I looked. I knew I was growing into my "woman's" body, so naturally my hips filled out and my bust got bigger.

I was happy with my body when I got married in 2009.

And, then, as it often does, Life Happened. Somehow, in mere 19 months, this happened:

I didn't recognize myself in pictures. In fact, I really hated the way I looked. I don't have a ton of pictures of myself from 2010. I just wasn't happy. And I knew I wasn't healthy. My annual check-ups told me my cholesterol was too high. I was getting winded if there were too many stairs. And I was just too young to be feeling this way.

So, in January of this year, I started Weight Watchers Online. I joined at a time when they waived the sign-up fee (usually $30) if you paid for 3 months at once. I decided that if I was able to stick to the plan and make it work, I'd keep paying the $17.95 a month until I reached my goal weight.

In 7 months, this happened:

I lost about 20 pounds (give or take, depending on the day, time of day, time of the month--you know what I mean). It may not sound like much, but on my small frame, it's made a big difference. I've dropped 2-3 sizes in jeans. That's huge for me!

I discovered that most of my clothes looked really terrible on me--they were just too big. But my old dresses? They fit better than they'd ever fit before. I wore the green dress above to my rehearsal dinner in 2009, and a corset was a MUST, and it was a little rough to try and sit down in it. I rocked the same dress 2 years later, fully confident, and it was even maybe a little too big.

The thing was, though....I hadn't reached my "goal weight." I still had about 3 pounds to go before I reached the "magic number" of what I thought I should weigh. But I'd stalled out on my weight loss. Holding steady, but not seeing a decrease for several weeks. I was frustrated. Discouraged.

Even though I hadn't seen the scale tip that "ideal" number though, I came to a realization: I had reached a healthy weight. My BMI is in the healthy range. If I step on a Wii fit, it won't tell me I'm overweight anymore (that was a blow to my self-esteem two years ago, for sure). I haven't yet had my annual check-up, but I'd venture a guess that my cholesterol is back within the healthy range. I'm happy with the size of my clothes (well, the ones that fit!), and I'm happy with the way that I look. So why am I obsessed with that number?

Earlier this week, I took the plunge and switched from "weight loss" to "maintenance" on Weight Watchers Online. I'm still paying the $17.95/month to keep track of my points and take advantage of all the great tools on the website. But if I continue to maintain, I'll probably stop my monthly membership by October.

Weight Watchers has taught me that while I CAN have a cupcake, I can't have three. That while I can have chips and salsa at dinner, I can't put away an entire basket by myself. That grilled fish is one of the cheapest, tastiest, most satisfying & points-preserving options for dinner. That I don't have to avoid eating out with my friends occasionally if I'm smart about what I have when I eat in. It's changed my outlook on food, on portion sizes, what it means to be full and satisfied, and that eating just because I'm bored is a bad idea for a million reasons.

I know that I'll put weight on again in the future. I know that if I allow myself too much leeway, it will come back to bite my in the (overlarge) rear end. I know that one day, I hope to become pregnant, and well, that means weight gain. But I now know that I found a program that works. And I know that if and when I need to, I'll go back to Weight Watchers for the support I need to lose the weight, and to keep it off.

So, in a nutshell, here's what I did:
Excercised. I didn't mention it above, and there have been times when I've been more diligent about it than I am now. But, I used the Couch to 5K program to run (some, I don't really enjoy running). I also did the Cardio X workout from P90X with a friend once a week for several weeks. I walked. I just did SOMETHING. Because it was more than I was doing before.

Tracked Points. According to the WW program, my starting height & weight, and my goal weight, I was allotted 29 Points Plus per day, with a "bonus" 49 Points Plus per week. I earned points back when I exercised. For the most part, staying within my 29 points a day was no problem. When my friends and I went out for Mexican, I dipped into my bonus points. I have not once used all of my bonus points for a week. Now that I'm in "maintenance" mode rather than "weight loss" mode, I get 35 Points Plus per day, and still 49 bonus Points Plus per week.

Ate WW Frozen Meals for Lunch. I know a lot of people will tell you this is a terrible idea. The frozen meals are often high in sodium, they aren't organic, they're not the healthiest thing I could be eating. But here's the deal. Before I started eating these frozen meals every day for lunch, I was eating Taco Bell. And Chick Fil A. And leftovers that were high in fat and calories. I'm saving money and losing weight by eating these meals. And, they're GOOD. (My favorite is the Santa Fe Rice & Beans.) So, is this the healthiest option I could have chosen? No. But has it worked for me? Yes. (and, occasionally, I still have Taco Bell or Chick Fil A for lunch. Just for the record.)

So, that's how I got to where I am today. I didn't become a vegetarian or cut out carbs entirely or make any majorly drastic changes. Those options work for a lot of people, but they were just too overwhelming for me to consider. Instead, I found a program that teaches portion control and responsible eating. I never felt hungry, or deprived, or that I was missing out on anything that I wanted.

I went shopping this weekend and actually genuinely enjoyed it for the first time in a long time. An oft-repeated phrase is "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I'd reword it to say "nothing tastes as good as confident feels." I know some would say I'm not "skinny." I know the size of my jeans would mean that I'd be a "plus-sized" model (and I'd have to be about 10" taller, at minimum...). But I'm confident. I'm happy. I'm healthy. And I'm committed to staying that way. Isn't that what weight loss should be about?

{Weight Watchers only knows that I exist because I'm a member of WW Online. They don't know I blog, and they don't know I posted this. I have not received anything in exchange for this post. It's all my honest opinion, based on my experience with the program.}

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Emmy said...

Good for you! My good friend CA Girl does Weight Watchers and loves it- she lost 30 lbs.

LindsayCrownover said...

Get it, girl!!!

It's all about how you FEEL! Not any scale or other number... if ya like how you look and you feel confident, you're winning :)

Now, if I could just get a disciplined as you, I'd be in business...

Congrats on the 20 lbs! You look fannnnnnnntastic!