Friday, May 30, 2014

Swimsuit shopping

Last year, after trying on about 100 swimsuits, I bought a swim dress. It's in a navy and white Hawaiian print, which I thought was cute when I bought it, but now just looks old-ladyish to me. Whenever I wear it, I feel like it is not so much a swimsuit as an admission of defeat.

Note: I found so you can see what I'm talking about.

I can't let that stand. I have plenty of athletic swimsuits for swim practice, but for lounging by the pool, all my options have their own flaws. One is a bra-sized tankini that gives me way too much cleavage -- it might fit better if I could lose 10 pounds.  I went swimsuit shopping again on Thursdsay, and the only one that I felt great in was a , which costs way more than I can justify for a swimsuit.

Wednesday's  mentioned this episode of swimsuit shopping as one of my own anchors. I actually now have an ordinary, non-miraculous bathing suit photo as the lock screen on my iPhone.  I thought that was the end of the story -- put up with what I have until I can fit into something better than the dreaded swim dress.

Vickie helpfully reminded me of Land's End's great reputation for swimsuits, and they are currently having a 40% off sale on swim. Since I have a Sears near me, I took advantage of the ability to order with free shipping and do the returns at Sears for free to order two suits to try: A and one with a . Both of these suits together cost less than the Miraclesuit.  It will be nice to be able to try them on at home instead of under scary dressing-room lights.

I also noticed that Macy's has the same style suit I liked at Dillard's, but in , and their suits are on sale right now.  I am tempted to order one of those to try too, or just go to my Macy's and see if they have it in stock to try there. I love color, but maybe for camouflage black would be better?

I spend a lot of time in a swimsuit in the summer, so it does seem worth investing some money to feel good in what I'm wearing.  Does anyone else have any shopping tips to share?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wednesday weigh-in: Loving the new Weight Watchers

I'm being brave here and posting actual weight loss numbers this week. As you can see from the graph above, I had an exceptional first week, a pretty bad second one, a bad third one, and a decent week last week. I'm back to the weight I was after that first week.  I feel like this is a good time to refocus and make some changes, so I bought the Member's Kit (which is on sale for $34.95 this week), as well as a 20-minute meals cookbook.

What I love about most this program is all the data that is now available to members. I used to try to track my points used, activity points earned/swapped, and weight loss for that week on an Excel spreadsheet. The Weight Watcher's app tracks all that and more, with nice graphics. As you can see, I have not been very diligent about tracking my healthy checks, but I am going to work on that.

I also love the new meeting format, which is much more focused. You'd think that would keep people from sharing, but it actually focuses in the comments on things that are actually interesting and useful.  One of the members in my meeting made almost me cry this week talking about anchors (reminders that help you remember your motivation for losing).  There were several quite touching responses to this prompt, and I left the meeting feeling really energized.  I had been feeling demoralized when I walked in because I had tried on about a dozen bathing suits, and the only one I liked was a $162 MiracleSuit (which was surprisingly miraculous, but still, almost $200 for a bathing suit?).

With my down, up, up, down weight results, I'm still at an average of 0.8 lost per week, so imagine what I can do if I really get serious! Maybe I can get back to the point where I might look good in a non-miraculous bathing suit.

Monday, May 26, 2014

I'm back!

I was going to write one of those "What I did last week" posts, but it was boring even to me. So I'll just hit a few of the highlights.

After a strong start the first week, I had let my Weight Watchers plan lose a lot of steam, and I want to do better this week.  I have been experimenting with the Simply Filling plan here and there.  I made up a big batch of Spanish brown rice on Friday (Sorry, Margo, didn't try your recipe because I didn't think I could find the product you used).  Having the leftovers made doing SF very easy yesterday -- I made one of my Chipotle-style rice bowls with it and some rinsed canned black beans.  I'll give a longer review of Simply Filling once I have more time to play around with it, but I like it a lot so far.

 The hamstring is getting better. Yesterday I did a 10-mile bike ride with my husband in the morning, and swam with my Masters' group in the evenings.  It felt good to be training like a triathlete again. I really enjoyed the swim -- because of the light turnout, our coach had us do a time trial, and then gave us all different starting times so that we could race.  I was the fastest woman out of four by a few seconds in the time trial, but even though I sped up a little in the race, I didn't win.  It was fun to work out with intensity -- that's what I really miss when I'm limited by an injury.

The sports medicine doctors want me to try a return-to-run program, so I have done the first couple of days of the Ease into 5K program.  It's even more gentle than the program they recommended. Running is the only thing that seems to test the injury now, and even that is not too bad, so I think it's healing nicely. I'm still babying it -- not coming close to the three days per week that the doctors' recommended program would have me run.

My massage therapist has me doing some  to help build up my foot strength.  She thinks that imbalance there is the root cause of all these problems.  She also wants me to wear my Yoga Toes  each night to help with my bunions. She suggested that we do some kettlebell work together after she has a chance to evaluate me, and I think that would be fun. I find regular weight lifting so dull unless I have someone to do it with. Again, I need that intensity, or at least some social interaction.

Once I finish up this post I'm going out for Day 3 of Ease into 5K, and then spending the day with family by the pool.  I love this gorgeous weather -- it makes it easy for me to get my steps in!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back home

I just got back from a trip to Utah for an academic conference. We were about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City in the Utah Valley.  I loved the scenery. It was amazing to always be in view of these gorgeous mountains in the distance.

The conference organizers had set up some after-hours activities for one of the nights, and I opted to go zip lining. I was a little scared of the idea, but it was actually not scary, just exhilarating, and the crew running it seemed very safety-conscious and conscientious, so I was able to relax and enjoy the thrill instead of worrying that I was going to die. We had a group of ten women, and everyone had a great time.

My body didn't love the desert air -- I was guzzling water constantly.  I was happy that the campus we were on had water-bottle filling drinking fountains, so that I wasn't wasting money and plastic to stay hydrated. The conference food was fairly healthy -- not the usual food and coffee overload. In fact, maybe because we were in Utah, the conference coffee was mediocre and in short supply, so on the second day I went out and got a Venti coffee from Starbucks and an egg sandwich (since a Continental breakfast was planned, and I figured it would be all simple carbs).

I had rented a car for the trip, and since I had a little time between the end of the conference and the time I needed to drop the car off at the airport, a new friend and I went to see Temple Square on the way back to the airport. I loved the gardens.

I had a complicated trip back home.  I got to the airport with plenty of time to get through security, get a salad with grilled chicken (instead of the incredible-smelling fried chicken that was right at my gate) to eat while I waited, and get on the plane. My plane to Denver was delayed, and after landing, we sat on the runway for almost an hour because there was a backup at the gates. I was obsessively checking my Flight Tracker app to see if I was going to make it out to Detroit.  It looked like I would miss it for sure -- to the point where I didn't even rush to the gate, just walked there normally and stopped to use the restroom -- but it was delayed too and I managed to get in line just as it was boarding. The crew for that flight had been on my plane with me, apparently.  I landed in Detroit after 2 a.m. on Wednesday, and then I had to wait for bags that never arrived, make a baggage claim, and drive home. By the time I got in bed, it was 4:15 a.m.

I slept most of yesterday and then went to my Weight Watchers meeting. I knew it wouldn't be a good week. I always retain water when flying, and with the late-late arrival that morning, and the fact that my food hadn't been totally on-point while I was away, I was happy just to maintain.  I got my four-week keychain.  I'm going to really focus on the Good Health Guidelines this week and work harder to stay in my points range.

Friday, May 16, 2014

"I can't give you the numbers you want"

I like this post by Emily, because it perfectly expresses the way I have been feeling:

when people find me and see “weight loss,” they want to know results. The truth is: I can’t give you the numbers you want. . . There’s only so long you can talk about your weight before it becomes a complete obsession. Every emotion gets tied to it. And it really makes you dislike yourself.

I am trying to do more than lose weight, even though weight loss is part of what I want to do. I want to find more than just a smaller me, I want to find a happier and healthier me, and I want to know myself better.  

When I post a bad weigh-in and there is a challenge to figure out what I did wrong, I don't always feel like I did anything "wrong," it was just that other priorities took precedence over the weight loss that week.  

My last weigh-in took place after a week that had all day meetings followed by a wine-and-cheese reception, Mother's Day, and my husband's birthday in it.  I have an injury that prevents me from some of the exercise I would normally do to help give myself the wiggle room to enjoy some of the festivities without weight gain.  I made compromises -- at the work event, I decided I really wanted to have a glass of wine and some cheese but stayed away from the store-bought sheet cake and omnipresent cookies. I filled up the rest of my little plate with raw veggies and some of the fresh fruit.  I didn't completely abstain, because I didn't want to just stand on the sidelines with a glass of water and a fistful of celery. 

I'm a moderator, not an abstainer. I understand that my perspective on this is just as hard to understand for people who hold the opposite view as theirs would be for me. I understand that my approach means slower weight loss.  That's okay, because when I lost weight quickly before, I regained it just as quickly. 

It's more important to me to feel comfortable in my own skin than to have a certain number on the scale or to have a certain number on the tag in my clothes. I have been finding it easier to look in the mirror (or my iPhone camera) and smile lately. That's real progress. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday weigh-in: Back to reality

This week I am very glad that I'm a meeting member and not just doing Weight Watchers online.  In the meeting, the leader talked about overcoming setbacks: "We're all human. No one is 100% perfect all of the time," and I mentioned my relief at turning the page onto a brand-new week. When I got back from my meeting and went to log my dinner, the message above was waiting for me on my iPad screen.

I had my sports medicine check-in today -- the hamstring is almost back to 100%. Everything does seem to indicate a hamstring problem, not a joint one.  The doctor cleared me for a gentle "return-to-run" program, but I'm going to wait until there is no pain at all to try that -- I am traveling next week and I don't want to be hobbling around the airport.  I went for a swim this afternoon instead.  I was wondering if kicking off the wall would hurt -- it didn't until about a half-hour in.  I decided to call it a day because my feet were also starting to cramp up. 

I knew I wouldn't do well this week -- I was way over my points.  This morning on my home scale, it looked even worse.  In the past I have let a gain derail me, but I just made today a good, on-program day. I had a good breakfast, lunch, and snack.  I put chicken in the slow cooker for dinner so that would all be set for tonight. Having a good workout in helped me to feel more positive too.

Tonight's meeting topic was the Good Health Guidelines, so I got official Weight Watchers doctrine on the fruit and vegetable question: At least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables for everyone, more for nursing moms and those weighing over 350 pounds, that "Weight Watchers doesn't encourage you to stuff yourself with any food, even healthy ones," but there is no limit, even on fruit.  They hedge it with "let your own weight loss be your guide."  I know that fruit was not the problem for me this week.

There actually was a suggestion to limit meat to 6 oz. per day, which surprised me.  That's the first time I ever heard that at Weight Watchers, though I was told the same thing years ago by a nutritionist.  I rarely go over that myself, but it still surprised me.

I like the whole Good Health Guidelines emphasis -- it answers the problem of people thinking it's okay to use all their points on junk food. You can lose weight that way, but it's not exactly healthy, and isn't that the whole point?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Biggest fears

A weird scared face I make sometimes
I'm getting tired of blogging about the same old things, so I was inspired by a post by Comeback Momma  to blog about my own biggest fears:

1. Being unloved -- worse yet, having someone pretend to care about me when they really don't.

2. Overhearing people talking about me -- I don't like to sleep when other people are awake for fear that I'll overhear something bad about myself.

3. Getting old and sick -- I watched two grandmothers decline from very vibrant, healthy people to very fragile and demented states in a short time.  I especially would worry about other people having to take care of me in that state (see fears 1 and 2).

4. Having my loved ones painfully decline and die.

5. Being confined -- Literally, but also figuratively.

6. Big, creepy bugs -- Especially in hotel rooms, I worry about running into these.

Not exactly a lighthearted post -- even I can laugh at #6, but the rest are powerful stuff.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Injury update

When I first injured my hamstring, I was in so much pain that I didn't want to do much of anything. I only grudgingly did the gentle stretches given to me by my sports medicine doctor.  I just felt too bad. I'm talking "I guess I don't need the thing I left downstairs because it would hurt too much to go get it" bad. It was pretty demoralizing to feel so helpless.

This week I have been feeling better, so I have been gently doing more activity. Not a lot of official exercise, but doing more around the house and some easy walking around the neighborhood. Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I hit my 10,000 steps goal.  Today I went to my Pilates Circuit class, which is a full-body interval-based strength workout. There are only 6 of us in the class, so I knew I could get help modifying anything that didn't work for me with my injury.  It all felt fine. Just to be safe, I'm icing my knee right now.

I am going to be visiting with my family this weekend, so I'm going to have to be careful not to overdo it when playing with my nephews. But I'm glad that things seem to be progressing nicely. I am going to try a little easy biking today and may try to go to swimming practice tomorrow night.

For next week, I'm thinking of trying yoga, swimming, and maybe some strength training. I see the doctor again on May 14, and that should help me to decide where to go from here. I'm grateful that this was a muscle and not a joint injury, since the chance of a full recovery is so much better.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Goal for next week

Because I lost 4.2 yesterday, if I can even lose 1 pound, I will get a 5-pound star at my next meeting. That would be a great goal. But a stretch goal would be to lose 2, so that even in the evening with all my clothes on, my BMI would be under 30.

Obviously I can't directly control the number on the scale, but I can control what I do for the next week. I can follow the program. I can do my therapy exercises.  My hamstring is starting to feel a little better, so I can gently work on my step counts again.  I was able to get out and walk for half an hour last night.

Most of all, I need to keep my attitude positive. I can do this.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Week 2 weigh-in: Big loss!

Remember how I said that I didn't expect a crazy loss this week? In my mind the over/under number was 2 pounds, though I told myself that I would be happy with just one whole pound. On my home scale, I was down 2.8, but that was since last Thursday. And who knew what a day's food and water plus clothes might do?  

I was shocked when I saw the number on the scale.  I didn't expect anywhere near that much. It was a nice surprise. I was even over my weekly points this week and still lost big. 

I was thinking back on what is different from the last time I did Weight Watchers. There have definitely been some great updates to the program and the meeting format. I like that there is a focused, helpful topic each week instead of a random complain-a-thon or a weird topic that doesn't make any sense. Both weeks so far, the topics have been helpful ones with really useful strategies. The leader acknowledged that it isn't always easy. After all, if it were, we wouldn't need the program.

But I think that my attitude is a lot better, too. I am not expecting to just luck into a loss, I'm working for it.  I also feel pretty good about myself already, and just see this as a way to be even better.  There's definitely a difference when I'm not feeling desperate and making myself crazy. 


Weight Watchers Wednesday: How I think I did

Tonight is my first weigh-in since I rejoined, so I thought this morning I could reflect a little on my first week back. This should be the easy week -- I could tell that I was losing at least water weight -- with all the daily water, I felt like I was in the bathroom 20 times a day.  I thought I was good at drinking water without tracking, but apparently not. A consequence of eating more fruits and vegetables is that I'm also getting more water from my food.

I went over my points a little this week, mostly on two days -- yesterday I didn't plan well enough and was busy all day, so I grabbed a tube of almonds for a snack that turned out to be 7 points.  I should have checked first. Sunday I overindulged at my parents' house.  The other days were fairly easy for me -- I didn't feel too hungry, even though I was eating a lot less and choosing different foods than I do normally. I can definitely tell that the fruits and vegetables make a difference -- when I had a lot of them and spread them out through the day, I felt satisfied all day. On a day like yesterday when I only just barely got my minimums and most were at the end of the day, I felt hungry.

I'll check in later tonight with my actual weigh-in, but I expect to have a pretty good week. Not an insanely good first week -- some people lose 6-7 pounds their first week, but I never have -- but a solid loss. We'll see if I'm right.

One thing I really like about the new eTools -- they calculate some things I have been wanting to track, including average weekly weigh-ins and average daily PointsPlus usage.  That is going to make it a lot easier to see how things correlate. The geeky stats person in me really likes that.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Why am I doing Weight Watchers?

Given some of the comments on my last post about Weight Watchers, I thought I should at least outline the reasons I decided to do Weight Watchers.  I appreciate that the comments were made with good intentions, but they can feel a little frustrating.  They are being made by people who, I assume, have already lost weight and have been successfully maintaining for a long time. They can feel a little like Meb Keflezighi saying to a newbie runner, "just go a little faster!"

I understand that not everyone will agree with me. Everything related to weight loss and nutrition is passionately contested. Weight loss has become sort of a substitute for religion, with its own Holy Wars. There are plenty of competing plans out there with their own scientific rationales and their own theories. I'm not saying that this is what is right for anyone but me, but there was one reason and one reason only that I am doing Weight Watchers: 

I am using Weight Watchers as a tool to lose weight.

I'm following the program the way it was created and tested. I am paying fees for Weight Watchers to have access to that program. I have a free app for tracking my calories and am free to make up my own rules. I chose to do Weight Watchers because trying to make up my own plan didn't work for me. 

I wanted a certain amount of structure and some flexibility. The PointsPlus system simplifies food choices and provides a framework for making them.   I have had success with this framework in the past, and it fits with my dietary preferences. There is no way in this framework to "count" vegetables or fruits, even if I wanted to. I don't want to make one up.  It would be like trying to play tennis and golf at the same time.  

There was a time in WW when fruit had points. The points were figured differently then, and they found that people were using those points for things like 100-calorie packs. The program was changed to calculate PointsPlus in a different way and to include "the caloric impact of a reasonable number of servings of even the highest-calorie fruits" (Frequently Asked Questions, p. 4) in the new PointsPlus allowance. That change was tested and proven before it was rolled out to the public.

I suspect that the people who report having trouble controlling the amount of fruit they eat have other problems following the program, too.  I personally find that fruits and vegetables are very bulky and that I fill up faster when eating them than when eating other foods.  I also find it a challenge to stay within my points as the program is written, so I don't feel the need to make it more difficult. 

The program calls for tracking everything, so I will have a record. I'll also have weekly weigh-in records.  These records would allow me to tweak my program if needed.  I haven't even had one official weigh-in since starting, so right now is not the time for tweaks.

I'm not doing this as a way to have the most perfect diet ever, to be smarter than other people, or to be doing things "right." I joined Weight Watchers to have access to a powerful, proven tool to lose weight.  

I know there are other effective ways to lose weight. I have had plenty of doubts and disagreements with specific things in the program -- I'm not sure I agree that so much dairy is really necessary, for example. For now I'm putting those aside and trusting the people I'm paying to help me. 

I'm not worried about how other people might abuse this program and trying to formulate additional rules that would help them -- if I need to make additional rules for myself, I'll do that after I have a few weeks of tracking and weigh-ins under my belt. It has been a few years since I've done this program and I'm trying to approach it as a newbie would.  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

April showers bring May flowers

Dark floral Cherry Velvet dress from Gwynnie Bee
April was a very stressful month (I refuse to make another misguided T.S. Eliot reference) and ended with my injury, which has turned out to be a hamstring pull and not a joint injury. My husband, a track nut, says that this is an injury usually reserved for elite sprinters. Lucky me! But seriously, muscles heal better than joints, so I do feel lucky.

May has started out much better. My injury seems to be getting better, and I have backed off on the anti-inflammatory meds because they were really bothering my stomach.

One good thing is that the injury pushed me to rejoin Weight Watchers, something I have been dithering about for a while. I have been doing some unofficial weigh-ins at home, and it is astonishing how fast I have lost in the last few days -- almost one pound per day.  I don't want or expect that rate to continue, but it definitely helps me to feel like I'm doing the right thing, especially since I'm not finding it that difficult so far.  I know that it's probably the Weight Watchers version of the "pink cloud effect," but I'm enjoying it anyway.  Following the plan isn't easy, exactly, but it gives me a structure that I feel like I need right now.  I went out to dinner last night, and with the plan in mind I chose not my first- or second-choice entree, but something that would fit well within the plan, still taste good, and let me enjoy the evening without feeling guilty. I weigh in officially on Wednesdays, so we'll see what their scale says.

Last night's dinner was to celebrate my promotion -- not a new job, but an elevation in title and a salary bump. This is something I have been worrying about since I applied for it in October.

I wore this dark floral dress and we went to a downtown restaurant with a riverfront view.  It is always fun to get dressed up and go out on a date. We saw a few teenage couples there having dinner before prom, lots of Disney-princess style dresses and hairdos, which was cute. I was glad to see more pastels and young-looking fashion -- for a while, girls were wearing very glamorous but adult-looking dresses for formals. Those sophisticated dresses were gorgeous, but I think it's nicer to see high-school girls looking young and fresh.

I was glad that felt pretty in what I was wearing, too. I had considered buying this dress, but I think it's going to be one that I wear a few times and send back -- it's very pretty, but too memorable to wear often. Dark florals are very on-trend right now, which means that they might feel really dated by next spring.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Double-tracking: Weight Watchers and Lose It!


I probably won't keep this up for long, but out of curiosity, I have been double-tracking in Weight Watchers and Lose It! to see how many calories I'm getting in a given number of PointsPlus. It really depends on the food, of course. A 250-calorie bag of almonds has 5 points, exactly 50 per point.  A teaspoon of olive oil is 40 calories and one point.  The 3 ounces of steak I had on my salad yesterday was 236 calories and 3 points, for 79 calories per point.  For me, it works out to roughly 50 calories per point in the course of a day. 

It would be possible for someone to eat so many fruits and vegetables that they were getting thousands of extra calories, but I doubt that they would want to eat as much other food if they did. My husband and I were trying to imagine how someone could binge on fruit. I have never eaten more than one banana in a day, and bananas seem to be the most binge-worthy fruit -- sweet, relatively high calories for fruit, and easy to eat.  Seedless green grapes seemed like another possibility. I think I'd be sick if I ate more than a cup of grapes, though. Same for vegetables, though I remember hearing in a Weight Watchers meeting that some people would got a 1-pound bag of baby carrots and munch them all day.  Their bellies must be more iron-clad than mine, that doesn't even sound palatable.

I think it's interesting how Weight Watchers changed the way they talk about fruit from the last time I was doing the program. When they introduced the 0-point fruit, they talked about it as "free" fruit. That made a lot of people upset, because it obviously has calories. This time, the materials say that a "reasonable amount" of fruit has already been precounted into the PointsPlus allowance, to encourage members to eat it.  There isn't a definition of "reasonable," but I'm sure it doesn't mean eating a bunch of bananas at a time or a whole pound of grapes.

I'm trying to spread my points fairly evenly through my meals and snack, instead of doing what I remember a lot of Weight Watchers talking about -- eating as many low- or no-points food all morning so they could have a bigger dinner and dessert.  Whenever I tried that, I would be so hungry and grouchy all day that the evenings would be a disaster. I would rather have a bigger breakfast and lunch and a lighter dinner.  I'm also spreading my weekly points out through the week, rather than trying to hoard them.  However, I did find something I need to try to stretch out my points a little:

I accidentally bought three of them, so I hope they work well.  I think these will be great in the summer when zucchini are everywhere.
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07