Last week I finally met my weight loss goal to lose 10 pounds (actually 10.5). I joined Weight Watcher’s on May 22, 2017 and reached my goal on November 6, 2017.
It took 5 ½ months—that’s less than a ½ a pound week. Glacially slow. (Another author friend who’d joined Weight Watchers at the the same time that I did, lost 50 pounds in the same amount time that it took me to lose 10. However, she is 25 years younger than me.). When I started, I thought I could lose 10 pounds in 3 months, easy. But, I hit plateaus a couple of times when the weight just wouldn’t budge—and had a few weeks when the lying scale said I had gained a little (I know it was lying because the day before and after weigh-in, I was down).
People who know me in real life would probably say I didn’t need to lose weight. But I’ve “maintained my weight” throughout my life by eating healthy and not allowing my weight to get more than 5 pounds out of whack. When I’m five pounds over my target, I lose it. People always ask, “Why are you bothering to diet to lose 5 pounds?” Answer: So I don’t have to lose 30 or 50 or even more. (You’ve probably noticed I said I had to lose 10 pounds. More about that in a sec…)
Over the decades, I’ve developed a healthy eating lifestyle. In my 20s, I switched to a low-fat diet, which I’ve maintained for 30 years. In my 30s, I began making an effort to add more fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables and switching to high fiber cereals. In my 40s, I became conscious of the effects of sugar on the body, and although I was never a big sweets eater, I cut back on simple carbohydrates like pasta, rice, white bread. I switched to low sugar- high fiber cereals and whole grain bread and read labels, eliminating foods with a lot of added sugar. (Did you know that 6 ounces of Yoplait fruit flavored yogurt has the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar? I don’t eat Yoplait anymore. Think of it this way: would you add 4 teaspoons of sugar to ¾ cup of coffee?)
I exercise. Years before FitBit came into being, I started wearing a pedometer. I almost always get 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of 4.25 miles for me.
So if I’ve been eating healthy how did I gain the extra weight?
It was “lifestyle creep.” Little “exceptions” made too often. Instead of 3 ounces of meat at dinner, I’d decide I wanted 4, but that 4 weighed out to 4.5—so in reality I was eating 50% more than a serving. Creep. My typical lunch is a piece of fruit and half of a sandwich, which I eat dry—except if I toast the bread, then I add a little butter. Creep. I’d started to put a slice of cheese on my sandwiches, which I don’t usually do. Creep. I slipped into the habit of snacking right out of the pretzel bag instead of counting out a serving. Creep.
Over the course of a year—this time last year—I was five pounds overweight.
Then my mom got sick and spent three months in the hospital/nursing home. I was stress eating and grabbing whatever was convenient (hospital cafeteria food is notoriously unhealthy) and drinking more wine. There weren’t enough hours in the day to visit my mom, take care of her house, dogs & financial matters, write, take care of my own household, and exercise, so exercise bit the big one. By the end of winter, I’d put on another 5.5 pounds. I’m 5’1, and my target weight is 110. At 120.5 I was the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life.
My clothes didn’t fit anymore. I only had two pairs of pants I could get zipped, and they were uncomfortably tight.
In the spring of this year, I tried to lose the weight on my own by cutting calories as I’d done in the past, but couldn’t stay focused. I kept making “exceptions” and dieting felt like a slow torture, constantly denying myself, yet not making any headway. I decided I needed to try an actual diet program.
I looked into NutriSystems, but I didn’t like that it was carb-heavy (there’s a lost of pasta and rice on NutriSystems) expensive, and relatively “high calorie.” It’s based on 1500 calories per day. Well, I’m a small person. I happen to know 1500 calories per day is my maintenance level. I wasn’t going to lose weight on NutriSystems eating 1500 calories a day. (My mom had been on Jenny Craig in the past so I was familiar with their meals. Jenny Craig is also carb heavy and expensive).
Plus, I really do believe that if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you can’t just diet. You have to change your lifestyle. Eating special foods won’t train you how to eat when you go off those special foods.
So I turned to Weight Watchers. It was actually my first choice, but I was very hesitant to attend meetings where I would probably be the skinniest person in the room. People who are 50, 100 pounds overweight don’t want to listen to someone who weighs 120.5 pounds talk about how hard it is to lose 10 pounds. Plus, I didn’t want to go to meetings period.
Then I realized that I could just join the online program! No meetings!
So I joined. I have to say that Weight Watchers was the best possible diet I could have chosen for me, because it paralleled how I eat anyway: small amounts of lean protein, unlimited fruits and vegetables, limited amounts of fats and carbs. The only difference is it is a little more disciplined and provides accountability and tracking.
Weight Watchers assigned me 30 points a day and 22 weekly points. I almost never dipped into my weekly points, and almost always came in 2-4 points under my daily total.
I think my weight loss was slow for several reasons: 1. I don’t weigh much to begin with.
The less you weigh, the slower you lose, 2. My age – 57. The older you get, the harder it becomes to shake the weight. When I was in my late 20s, early 30s I could drop 5 pounds just by cutting back a tad, 3. I don’t have a large margin to work with. As I said, 1500 calories will maintain my weight. You have burn 3500 calories to lose a pound. I probably ate 1200 calories a day on Weight Watchers. So 3500 / 300 = 11 days to lose one pound.
I struggled with the last pound. I got stuck at 111+ for about a month. I hit 110.8 (yay!) and the next week I was back up to 111+. (Lying, cheating bastard scale!). I decided then to get tough, and I grounded myself: no wine until I lost the last pound. (Weight Watchers allows wine. 5 oz = 4 points). After two weeks of restriction, I hit my goal!
Now, I’m on “maintenance”, which is 36 points per day. I’m promising myself I’m not going to gain it back because it’s just too damn hard to lose. It’s getting to be a drag measuring out portions and inputting what I eat every single day, but I’m going to try to stick to it. It does no good to diet, then go back to eating the way you did that put the weight on in the first place. My plan is to “budget” for snacks (eating a little less at meals to save calories for a treat), maintain portion control, and rein in the exceptions. One exception is an exception. Three to five times a week is a habit.
In the interest of accountability, I’ll let you know this time next year how I did.