Biggest Loser

One of the dorkiest things I do (these days) is participate in the Weight Watchers message boards. I’ve found a board that I check in with most days, and there are lots of funny people on it who help motivate me to stay on track. There are always challenges running that you can be a part of, whether it is to help you earn your activity points for the month or to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain upcoming holiday, etc. I’ve never really participated in any of these but I decided to join in a Biggest Loser challenge that started back in December. The way it worked, every Tuesday when the show would air we would update with that week’s current weight. Every week we had a ‘biggest loser’ of the week, all working up to a final tally of who lost the highest percentage of weight over the course of the challenge.

Yesterday, the season finale aired and so our biggest loser was also announced…and it was me! I had no idea I was even at the head of the pack in terms of weight loss. But, my starting weight was 216 and I ended at my current 185.8, so I lost almost 14% of my weight throughout the challenge. There is even a prize–I will be receiving a gift card to Sports Authority in the mail someday soon. I was very surprised and proud of myself. Also, watching the TV show the Biggest Loser is totally a secret guilty pleasure of mine. It is so interesting to watch people make dramatic physical transformations!

I am still on my own personal Binge Free Challenge. The last couple of days have been rough. I haven’t planned out my day and I end up getting the munchies in the middle of the day and wasting a bunch of points. I haven’t let it veer into binge territory, so I think that is a pretty big victory. I do need to do a better job of planning things out, because I know how much that helps me to stay on track and to eat more healthfully. Another component is boredom–I get bored at work and there are always lots of yummy snacks around. I’ve got to save those points for the events I have coming up, though–this weekend is a beach trip with some friends, and then next Friday I leave for Ireland!

Weigh In

Once a week, I head over to the Weight Watchers meeting center to weigh in. I used to do this on Wednesdays, but my schedule varies a lot and I haven’t found a leader who I love, so I kind of bounce around and lately it has been mainly on Friday mornings. This meeting is by far the highest attended of the ones I’ve seen, mainly consisting of middle-aged ladies in yoga pants with a smattering of older women and one or two men. The leader is a beautiful woman in her late 60’s who is pretty entertaining, if not especially informative, and the crowd is participatory and enthusiastic.

I really…don’t get a lot out of these meetings. It kind of reminds me of Sunday Schools that I attended growing up. Simplistic lessons spreading information that I, as a person interested in health and nutrition as well as a repeat dieter, have heard a million times. When I have time, I force myself to sit there and stay as long as I can but it’s hard to avoid checking my email and drifting off somewhere else.

The thing is, I know that something about going to the center and getting weighed in is KEY for me. It helps me to have an “official” number. I hop on the scale once or twice or three times a day (yeah, maybe should cut back on that), enough so that the I see the number fluctuate throughout the week/day and I don’t get too hung up on where I’m at at the moment. But getting my official weight helps me to track my success in a concrete way. It’s printed out on a sticker! If I’m lucky, the receptionist will remember to give me a little five pound star when I’m due for one and they always tell me I’m doing great. The ritual of going and getting weighed in helps me to stay focused and on track. I would like to find a meeting with a great leader that I love attending, but that just hasn’t happened. Sometimes I feel silly paying $15/week basically just to have someone weigh me…but it seems to be working, so I’ll stick with it.

One of my favorite parts of going to the center is people watching. People do the CRAZIEST things when they are obsessed with their weight and it’s about to be recorded. Many people have an outfit that they wear every week…as I mentioned previously, for a lot of them this seems to include yoga pants. Other people strip down to the barest minimum amount of clothing required by law; today I saw an old woman wearing hot pants and a sports bra while standing at the scale. I try not to get too out of control with my weigh in outfit…in the winter, I switched to jeans and took a bit of a hit on the scale. In the summer, I tend to wear a lightweight skirt or dress. It all works out in the end, right?

Anyway, today I had a great weigh in of 185.8! That’s 2 pounds lighter than last Friday. I had really good control this week and I’m happy with the results of tracking the whole weekend and being honest with myself.

Binge Free Challenge

I didn’t get to weigh 238 pounds by eating like a normal person. One of my major struggles with food is binge eating. When I get around something sugary, it is easy for me to start with a little bit…and then something internal snaps. Before I know it, I’m stopping in the corner store to buy more junk food and stuffing my face like I will never see food again.

I hide this behavior, for the most part. Sometimes the ravenous beast comes out at a bar, but lots of people eat a plate of nachos when they’re drinking, so it doesn’t seem like bizarre behavior to anyone. But when I’m thinking about Swedish fish while mixing up a homemade milkshake to follow my slices of pizza, I’m definitely doing it in secret. I eat until I feel sick, and then I eat some more. The next day, I feel dull, congested, and headache-y…and ashamed. It typically takes at least a day to feel normal again, but one of the worst parts about these binges is that sometimes they don’t stop. Once I’ve screwed up one day, I throw in the towel and eat like a crazy person for the next few days, weeks, or months. This is how I went from 170-ish in 2009 to 240 in 2011.

I’m not alone in this. Many people struggle with binge eating and I know that this problem isn’t going anywhere. I can choose to stay away from food that triggers cravings, to stop drinking more than one or two drinks at a time, and to white knuckle my way out of the land of french fries and nachos.

Throughout the last six months, I have caved a few times to these binges. I will go through the week pretty well, and then go on a trip where one trip out to dinner with a few poor choices turns into a weekend full of overeating. I don’t even know how to track it, so I don’t try. When I get back “on the wagon”, it is more difficult than it was before to get through a day within my allotted points and I feel like an addict jonesing for a fix. It has become more a problem recently, where it seemed like every weekend I would have a “cheat day” (or two) where I didn’t track.

This has definitely gotten in the way of my weight loss, and my feelings of control. To help myself work on kicking this habit, I created a 30 days Binge Free challenge. I’m allowed to have a high point day! To eat a yummy dessert! To go out for a few drinks. But I need to track it all and to follow whatever plan I have created for myself. And I’ve discovered, planning is key. Without a plan it is so easy for me to make a bad choice, and one bad choice often snowballs.

So far, I’m on day 9 of 30! It has been really good. I have stared down temptation and done well. I know that success breeds success, so I’m hoping that the accomplishment of 30 days binge free will just be a starting point. As an added incentive, my sister’s wedding is coming up in Ireland on May 20th so I have that as motivation to stay on track and look great in all those wedding pictures.

50 Pounds Down

Last Friday at my weigh in I hit a huge milestone–50 pounds lost. It felt great to see that my hard work has been adding up and to take note of my progress. I’m so glad that I have stuck with it over the last six months, and I really do feel a lot better than I did back in November.

In November:

  • Wearing a size 18 and bursting out of a lot of my clothes. I had a hard time finding things that I felt cute/sexy in.
  • Size XL top
  • Could no longer do shoulder stand or wheel pose in my yoga classes because I was just too heavy.
  • I was trying to accept myself at that size, but I really didn’t feel good about myself.
  • Stuffing myself with unhealthy food. I didn’t feel well because I wasn’t eating well. I ate Chinese food (fried tofu in a sweet sauce) for dinner once or twice a week, lots of ice cream, lots of crap.

Now:

  • Wearing a size 12 on bottom and M/L tops
  • I’m excited to run into people I haven’t seen in a while, and not embarrassed!
  • My yoga practice has progressed really well, I’ve even been able to do some new poses like crow, headstand and forearm balance. My yoga goal for 2012 is to do a handstand!
  • I feel a lot more physically fit in general.
  • I still struggle with occasional binges, but for the most part I am eating healthily and this gives me more energy.
  • My confidence is higher, and I have a feeling of success that has carried over into other areas of my life.

I still have quite a ways to go, but I’m over halfway to my goal. 

Introduction

Hey, I’m A. Back in November of 2011 I joined Weight Watchers for the umpteenth time, this time at my highest recorded weight of 238.4. In the last (almost) six months I have lost over 50 pounds, with my current weight at 187.8. I’m working my way down to my goal of 150.

I’ve never had a blog before but I wanted somewhere to record my thoughts along the way.

I’m a rejoiner. My first time walking in a Weight Watchers meeting was my freshman year of college, back in the fall of 2001. I spent the year losing weight with my roommate, and we did great. Back then, I had never touched alcohol and it really wasn’t hard for me to follow the program. But I went home for the summer and after attending a meeting or two I gradually slipped off the wagon and maintained my weight (around 170) for a year or two before starting to gain it all back. I eventually crawled back to weight watchers sometime in 2005, losing down to 170 again. I’m really not sure why I stopped attending the meetings but I think I just got tired of tracking. I entered the Peace Corps and maintained that weight for a couple of years but about six months after returning to the U.S., I started to gain and gain and gain. A lot of the reason for this was my job–I became a bored nanny with way too much access to junk food. I tried to lose weight, even joining Weight Watchers, but didn’t stick with it for long. I felt overwhelmed, bored, and unhappy. It was a real wake-up call to see how big I had gotten at a visit to the doctor’s office, and to also have her tell me my blood pressure was borderline high. I was terrified that my being overweight would finally start to affect my health. I walked in the door at Weight Watchers the next day.

This time around, I know that I need to follow a concrete plan like Weight Watchers to have long term success with my weight loss. I’ve read some really sad articles about the science of the regain. This is going to be a life long struggle…a sad fact, but one I have to accept. I don’t have to live in a state of deprivation but I will have to keep a food diary for the foreseeable future and continue to have myself weighed at Weight Watcher meetings. I think it’s worth it to be at a healthy weight.

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