I’m trucking along. I’m out of town visiting my mother. And I usually lose a little weight even if I don’t try when I’m at her house. That’s probably a good lesson in not keeping things I shouldn’t eat at my house. There are no chips, candy, and other temptations here!
Only ten weeks and two days till Christmas (October 14 – December25). What positive action can you commit to for ten weeks?
Another week, and thanks to being in fairly significant pain for four of those days, I lost more weight than has been typical so far. Almost to ten pounds total.
I’m looking forward to the next week – feeling good, doing more walking, getting into my anti-gout routine, and I will also be getting into more art classes.
September has come and gone, and a new month has begun. Here are my goals for October:
- Make a list of meals that work for me. I want to plan ahead so I don’t waste so much food. Those plans will be food that I like. I started on this last night – writing out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with snacks and desserts. I plan to convert them to pdf and post them on this website.
- Build on the exercise routine I started in September. That means doing circuit work in my exercise room, along with having the goal of at least 5K steps each day.
- Continue with self-care routines – skin care, bedtime herbal tea, prayer and meditation time each day.
I will stop there. My tendency is to go overboard on plans, but the reality is that they need to be kept small and do-able.
With the month being such a challenge, I’m thrilled that I ended up with a loss at all. I had some NSVs this month (non-scale victories), as well.
- I worked more on self-care. I started a skin care routine. Since the first of September, I’ve had a nightly ritual of washing my face with a good quality cleanser, using a toner and night cream on my face. I spent my 71 years taking my good skin for granted. I have always worn makeup every day, but I rarely took it off before going to bed. I’d take off the old makeup immediately before putting on fresh makeup each morning. No more.
- Part of my self-care has been another nightly routine of sipping a large cup of herbal tea prior to going to bed. That’s actually rather funny because I had a box of herbal teas that sat on my kitchen counter for a couple years, and I never drank any of it. So I gave it away a few months ago. Now I’m drinking it every night. That’s okay, though. A new box should be delivered today, and I already have the teas the fill it.
- I have been exercising more. Not a lot, but I’ve made a start, and that’s good. We have a great exercise room with all the equipment I could ever want. So I have no excuse for not exercising.
- I’ve gotten back into reading the Bible and having a morning devotional. That’s something I’ve done off and on for a long time. I’ve been consistent with it the past month.
So, even with the challenges, I am pleased with how September ended. The total weight I’ve lost since I began on July 19th is 8.4 lbs. Slow and steady . . . .
The dictionary defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.” After two weeks of gaining weight while completely sticking to my WW plan, I realized my enthusiasm for sticking with my commitment was compromised – and I yielded to that lack of enthusiasm over the weekend. It’s almost humorous to think of the things that I eat when I’m feeling defeated. It varies. This time it was Rice Krispies Treats. I actually lost count of how many I ate. I logged it as 8, and I think that’s accurate . . . but I’m not 100% sure.
I was starting down a familiar path – that of thinking about what a loser I am – except for weight – can’t seem to lose that. How I start things and don’t finish them. How I have never successfully lost weight and kept it off long term. Those voices in my head were gaining strength.
I stopped, though. Did I want those voices to gain momentum like they have in the past, or did I want to change direction and gain momentum in a positive direction?
You know what stopped me? Last week in one of the Facebook WW groups that I’m in, someone wrote something about how we should stand naked in front of mirror and name ten positive things about our bodies. I did that a few days ago – and I couldn’t come up with ten. I could only see the negatives – the extra weight, the scars, the blemishes. I wondered if maybe in my heart I feel I don’t “deserve” to be at a healthy weight. I also wondered what made me become so hard on myself – so critical and unforgiving. Why is self-judgment my go-to response?
This morning when I woke up, I knew I had to stop, change course, and build some momentum away from Rice Krispies Treats and towards success. One success builds momentum towards another success. It all goes back to the Atomic Habits I’ve written about several times before.
So I logged my breakfast, and then left to run a bunch of errands – first I had a dentist appointment, then to the post office and UPS office to mail packages. I picked up some papers at my husband’s office and made a quick grocery store stop for fish and some herbal teas. Except for the dentist office, those were errands I’d been putting off since last week. I got it all done. I felt good about handling so many little nagging errands. I stopped by Chick Fil A and had their grilled chicken nuggets for lunch. I got only the nuggets. No, I assured them, I didn’t want to “make it a meal” with fries and a coke.
I came home and felt good. I did some work around the house, took a 20-minute nap and, with my husband, planned our dinner.
Today was my STOP-REASSESS-CHANGE COURSE day. I started with a small act (handing errands I had been procrastinating on since last week). I continued to build momentum by sticking to only grilled chicken for lunch. And then I had fish and vegetables for dinner. Snacks were all low point and moderate-sized servings. I’m ending the day having used only 19 of my 23 daily points. The extra points will roll over into my weekly points, which is good since I used so many weekly points yesterday.
Momentum. I learned I can get it back or shift its direction simply by stopping and deliberately doing something in the direction I want to go. That success moves me to another success, and so it goes.
And one day soon, I intend to do the naked-in-front-of-the-mirror thing again. This time I will come up with ten positive things. After all, this body has seen me through 71+ years of life, it grew two amazing babies, rocked children and later grandchildren to sleep. I like my green eyes and the fact that my hair has just a little natural curl to it. That’s a good start.
Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. I have to choose my hard, and I choose losing weight.
Sigh. So here’s today’s weigh-in numbers. Notice the +. I have tracked every single bite I’ve put into my mouth since July 19th. I have not gone over my points a single week.
I’m probably eating too much fruit – lots of watermelon and grapes the past week. Seriously, though, would watermelon and grapes cause two weeks of weight gain?
Ten weeks – that makes an average of .68 lbs. per week. STILL over 1/2 pound a week. But . . . that’s so slow . . . . Sigh.
So I will repeat the usual self-reassurances: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Look at the big picture. Back in July, you would have been thrilled to weigh what you weigh now. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
What can I do differently so that next Friday I will be happy with the number on the scale? Three things:
- I still haven’t been exercising, and that is something I want to make a life-long thing. This week – starting TODAY – I will exercise – aerobics and strength training. Atomic exercise habits.
- I will better manage my zero-point foods. They still have calories, and so limiting them to a few servings a day would be good. My goal is to get my body accustomed to less food. So I want to work on reducing the amount I eat – not just substituting healthier snacks.
- Drink more water.
Sometimes we come across a book that actually changes our lives. That happened to me a couple years ago when I read a book titled Atomic Habits by James Clear. The basic premise is that if we set big goals, we often set ourselves up for defeat since big and perfect goals take so much time and effort. However, if we work on small habits – 3 minutes of exercise each morning, cutting out one teaspoon of sugar in our coffee, writing one thank you note each week, making two business calls before lunch – then it becomes like compound interest. The benefits snowball over time.
Back in March when this pandemic isolation began, I decided that one atomic habit I wanted to develop was getting outside for just a few minutes each day. Here is a video I made on today’s walk. Excuse the breathlessness! I had just walked up a hill. I could’ve waited till I caught my breath to start the video, but this is calling “Living Real with Carol!” and the reality was that I was a little breathless at the moment.
I am a member of many Weight Watchers groups on Facebook. One frequent comment that is posted numerous times a day by many different people is something along these lines:
I lost my motivation. What can I do to get it back?
I do really well all day, but then at night I lose all my willpower!
I keep forgetting to log my food, and by the time I remember I’m already over my points for the day, and I just give up! What can I do to get the motivation to get back on track?
Recently I read that the difference between succeeding or failing is in whether we rely on motivation/willpower or we rely on commitment. Motivation and willpower are hard to pinpoint. They’re often intangible and vague, whereas a commitment is a concrete thing,
Back in July when I MADE THE COMMITMENT to start WW again, I knew that this time was different. I wasn’t going on a diet. I wasn’t going to “try” this and see if it would work. I was committed to a different way of living for the rest of my life.
As I write this, it is 10:30 in the evening. Awhile ago, I heard the Baked Cheetos in my pantry calling my name. I’ve used all my daily points, I have only 7 weekly points left, and I still have two more full days before my points re-set for a new week. I craved those salty, cheesy, and crispy Cheetos. However, I reminded myself of my commitment to REAL change. And real change is learning to say no to those cravings. The more I give in, the more I give in. The more I resist, the more I resist. I know I’m not hungry. I had a healthy dinner and I had some grapes for an after-dinner snack. I’ve had more than enough food today. So I bypassed the pantry and wrote this post instead.
Then I thought of the quote above: Commitment strengthens over time but begins with a single decision. Next time those Cheetos call my name, it will be easier to decide to forego them. The only way to stop eating late in the evening is to stop eating late in the evening. Each single decision I make that supports my commitment makes me a stronger and better person.
Tracking is the act of writing down what you eat, and it is a key component of successful weight loss for me. Unless I track, I tend to minimize how much I eat. I did not do Weight Watchers for a long time because I couldn’t bear the idea of tracking for the rest of my life. I had to reach the place where I am okay with tracking – to the place where I even like the idea of tracking – before I was ready to commit to it again. I have accepted that I will track what I eat for the remainder of my life. It’s a good thing.
Tracking in WW doesn’t actually involve writing it down; instead, I log it in the WW app on my phone – or on the computer – and the app keeps track of my point totals. I can click back to see my points for any other day that I’ve tracked – even years ago.
The tracking app is a convenient service. However, you can inadvertently lie to yourself in tracking, too. I have two lies that I have been telling myself since I started back on WW, and they both have to do with logging my breakfast each morning.
Almost every morning, my husband cooks bacon in the oven for his breakfast. He always includes 2-3 slices for me. My breakfast is usually those bacon slices and my coffee. That’s it. I looked up points for bacon, chose the one with the least points, and that’s what I’ve been counting each morning: 2 points. I knew that the bacon we usually buy is thick-sliced and that it would probably be more points, but I didn’t think much about it. I was logging it and figured that was the important thing.
This morning, I decided to scan the bar code on the specific package of bacon we had in the refrigerator and see how closely the actual points matched the points I’d been counting for it. It was 6 points for today since Ron made me 3 slices. I had been counting 2 points – whether he made 1, 2, or 3 slices for me.
I had been counting my coffee as 3 points each morning. I’ve tried lots of different creamers and sweeteners, and I finally decided that I like my coffee the way I like it. Whatever the points are, I will just log the points. So, at some point, I figured I used 3 points per cup of coffee. I named it “Carol’s Coffee” on the app, and each morning I’ve clicked on it to add to my log. However, this morning when I scanned the actual creamer and sugar I use, it came to 4 points instead of 3.
Instead of 5 points for my daily coffee and bacon, it could possibly be 10 points instead. With 5 extra un-counted points each day, I can understand why my weight loss would be slow. That would add up to 35 extra points a week – and that is my entire “weekly points” total. So, as the graphic above shows, honesty is key.
A few days ago I woke up around 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom. My dog, Cabbie, woke up and I ended up having to let her go outside for awhile. I was feeling annoyed because I was wide awake by then. So, while I waited for Cabbie to handle her business and bark at everything she saw outside, I raided the pantry and ate some chips. Then I ate a couple of Rice Krispie Treats – 12 points altogether between 2:00 and 3:00. I just decided I wasn’t going to log those points because I hardly ever eat in the middle of the night. The next night, it was late and I ended up enjoying two See’s butterscotch lollypops – 4 points each for another 8 points. I decided not to log those points either. So I had 20 points that I knew I had eaten – and yet I hadn’t logged them.
I’ve always dealt with a certain amount of OCD behavior. Those 20 uncounted points bothered me. So last night, I logged them – which took away most of my weekly points. However, they are now logged.
Under-valuing my morning coffee/bacon points provides an example similar to compound interest. One time – no big deal. However, under-valuing every single day has a long term effect on reaching my goals. The lack of honesty would eventually lead to failure because those extra points each day would keep me from reaching my goals.
So, here’s to honesty being the best policy – and honesty being MY policy for tracking!
Edited to add: I finished this post and headed to get my morning vitamins and realized that I take apple cider vinegar gummies and elderberry gummies every single day. The ACV helps with digestion, and I feel the elderberry helps keep my immune system up to par – which is important with Covid-19 nowadays. I haven’t counted the gummy points because they’re part of my vitamin regimen. However, gummies have calories and food value. So I scanned and found that the two ACV gummies plus the two elderberry gummies equal 2 extra points each day. That makes an additional two points I haven’t been counting. Hmmmm. No wonder I’m losing slowly. I’m fine with losing slowly (“It’s a lifestyle – not a diet!”) Still, to be honest with myself, I will start logging them.
I will re-think the daily bacon for breakfast. There are other options for fewer points than the 6 points for 3 slices of bacon. I will start working to lower points on my coffee. Many people have said that by slowly decreasing amounts of creamer and sugar, you can get to the point of preferring your coffee black or with very little of both add-ins.