My husband has a legendary sweet tooth. Though I don’t keep desserts in the house, he gets his daily fix at work. Donuts, cupcakes, or candy bars from the vending machine if he’s really desperate. He and a few of his male coworkers regularly take afternoon field trips to the local bakery and stock up on all kinds of confections, none of which are the low fat, good for you variety. At home, his favorite snack is half a jar of Nutella on a slice of white bread. Or a tortilla slathered with honey and dusted with cinnamon. A gigantic spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar if he’s in a rush.
Now let me describe his basic physique. 5’11, 190 pounds – all muscle, with the exception of a little pooch around his midsection because I’m married to an actual human being, not a Michelangelo statue.
I say all this to ask – can you really blame me for having gained 7 pounds since we’ve been married?
Maybe you can understand my struggle, but my skinny jeans sure don’t. They, along with a significant portion of my clothes, were being quite unforgiving.
Enter – the battle to lose weight.
I have a few girlfriends who have had success with the latest Beachbody (same people behind P90x, Insanity, etc.) craze, the 21 Day Fix. I was lucky enough to borrow her one of my friend’s set of containers for a week, and I’m glad I tried before I spent the money. The idea is that you don’t have to measure anything – except, you do, because that’s essentially what the very expensive colored containers are – and that you get to eat some of everything in moderation. You eat 1 orange, 2 blue, and 3 purple (I’m totally making these up because I can’t remember what the colors mean) containers every day, with each different color representing fruits, vegetables, protein, carbs, and fats. Sounds easy enough, but I found it exceptionally difficult to know whether I was eating too much or not enough of certain food groups, especially when cooking for myself and my husband. Plus, as a (mostly) vegetarian, a significant source of my protein (beans and lentils) was classified as a carb, which left me with only eggs, tofu, ricotta, or Greek yogurt as options. Additionally, the resources are incredibly limited. You’re given a short list of which foods count for which color, a few recipes, and that’s it – no advice on how to handle eating out or traveling. My girlfriend lost 20 pounds in 2 “cycles” of the program and loved it, but it was not the weight-loss option for me.
Then I decided to try Weight Watchers. My husband was a little dismayed that I, a fairly knowledgeable and health-aware foodie, would need to pay money in order to drop weight. But in my mind, although there are free programs that imitate Weight Watchers services, paying for it makes me commit. If I’m shelling out $20 a month to track my food, then dammit – I’m going to track my food!
Keeping some sort of food diary tops the list of pretty much every “how to lose weight” article I’ve ever read, and for good reason. Once you start realizing you’re using a tablespoon of olive oil every time you cook, or that those four “tiny” slices of cheese you snack on add up to a full ounce, or that you’re eating pasta for 2 meals a day, suddenly you see how the calories add up. The first step towards change is awareness, as the quote goes.
With Weight Watchers, food is assigned a certain number of “points”. For example, a 3 oz portion of salmon is 3 points, 2 oz of dry pasta is 5 points, a serving of egg drop soup is 2 points, etc. Fruits and vegetables (with the exception of potatoes and corn) are “freebies” and have a points value of 0 (this is my favorite part about WW). Then you’re given a certain number of points to consume daily, plus a weekly “reserve” amount, based on your height, body weight, daily activity level, and how much weight you want to lose. You can earn extra points through exercise and redeem them for more food or alcohol. As a 5’4 woman weighing 145 pounds who wanted to lose 10, I’m given 26 points a day, plus 49 extra discretionary points a week. In general, it’s plenty as long as I stay away from gorging on cheese, alcohol, and
everything delicious pasta.
It’s been 5 weeks and I’m thrilled to report that I’m down 5.2 pounds! The best part, is that although I’m eating healthier overall, I don’t feel deprived (until I start looking at mac and cheese recipes) and I’m allowed to prioritize my calories however I want. So on nights when I’m feeling exceptionally lazy and want to have popcorn for dinner, I do. When I’m really craving a bowl of pasta, I fix it. I’ve gone every week without using up all of my reserve points (although I came close a few weeks ago when we went to a local beer festival), and sometimes (but not often) I even have leftover points at the end of the day.
The biggest dietary changes I’ve made have been replacing pasta and other starchy bases with vegetables, cutting way back on cheese, and breaking myself of the glass of wine (or two
or three orrrrrr….) a night habit. Cauliflower “rice” is my new jam and I live for spiralized zoodles. Rather than throwing cheese on everything, I have it only when it will make a big impact. And wine. Oh, how I love wine, but sadly, it goes straight to my thighs. So now I use it as motivation to exercise. If I earn the extra points exercising, I pour myself 5 ounces (measured on my food scale). It makes killing myself at Crossfit slightly more bearable!
I’m half-way to my goal weight of 135 pounds, although I may decide to keep going until I hit 130, which would be just 5 pounds off my high school weight. We’ll see how much longer I can put up with rationed wine consumption!