Monthly Archives: February 2014

Weekly Weigh-In #8

Well, in a strange and miraculous twist, I did lose weight this week!

Last night, we ate a bunch of berries. This morning, I woke up, ate my prunes and my nuts, and went for my run. Then, I had to hurry and shower to get to my hair appointment at 9:45 AM.

After my hair appointment, I had to run to Wegmans to pick up something. Namely, the snap peas I forgot to ask Chelsea to pick up earlier this week.

Then, quickly, before I got ready to go meet my friends for lunch, I weighed in. Imagine my delight when the scale read 174.9!!!!!!

This is an exact tie for my all-time lowest WW weight, achieved summer of 2011.

This is a really big deal to me! I’m so excited!

All that hard work, finally paying off. From here on out, we are past the major hurdle of losing what I had gained back! Now, we are on the right path.

Last week: 175.7
Today: 174.9
Loss: 0.8
Since January: 8.4
Since highest weight: 17.1

I am really, really happy.

I Am Breaking Up With The Internet.

Sort of.

Not completely.

Here’s what I’m thinking. It is absolutely my personality — that of the traditionally rabid grad student — to research to death anything of interest. So now that I’ve been working hard on my health, my eating, my fitness — what do you think preoccupies a huge amount of my time? Yes, researching ways to do it harder, better, faster, stronger. (Thanks, Daft Punk, for the phraseology.)

I have the personality of a terrier in this way. And, at the risk of sounding snotty, you don’t get the job I have or get this far this young in academia without an inordinate amount of energy devoted to making yourself better. So it is intrinsic to who I am — can’t turn my brain off, and can’t settle for half-assed work.

So here we are, with me and my fierce Googling addiction.

I think it needs to stop.

Chelsea has been saying — and my friend Ben said, too — that I’m changing a lot of things all at once and that it’s hard to see specific results over short spans of time. I believe they are correct. My friend Arielle says to be careful about obsessing — that it hurts more than helps. I believe she is correct. And I said to MYSELF, “Gosh, golly, gee — when I peruse the internet there are as many results saying running causes weight gain as saying running is the best way to lose weight, as many sites saying one thing as saying its polar opposite.” NO WONDER I AM SO GOSHDANG CONFUSED. It’s impossible to get real, factual, nonbiased answers on the internet because, there, everyone is both an expert and a critic.

I realize I could go see a nutritionist, but I reckon at this point there’s little they could tell me that I don’t already know, plus it’s expensive, plus I don’t need a standing appointment of any kind. I’m not in bad shape. I don’t need THAT type of extensive help.

But I do need, I think, to distance myself from the raucous frenzy of the internet and all its fitness gurus, self-help gurus, experts of all varieties. I must remove myself from it or I’ll go crazy.

Chelsea, Ben and Arielle are right: If I continue to do what’s healthy and right, and I give it time, and I am consistent, I will absolutely achieve the results I want.

So I suppose that’s the plan.

From here on out, for a whole month (AAH!) I will not use the internet to look up things about weight loss. I will, instead, only use it for recipes and other various types of fun/food purposes. I will still obviously do WW and count points. But I will not scour the internet looking for new ways to make myself feel like crap when I am doing EVERYTHING right.

Hmph.

I — and my longterm health — do not need more rain on Parade Day. It’s hard enough to feel good without other folks seeking to make you feel bad. Or nervous.

Knowing your sanity is worth it?

Definitely part of the Points of It All.

Recipe: No-Fat Veggie Dip

This recipe isn’t an exact science, but I wanted to post it so that you guys could see it, experiment with it, and try your own variations.

I love eating raw veggies, but sometimes i just want a little something on them, you know? But I also don’t wanna sacrifice major points to the cause.

I found an Oikos dill dip at Wegman’s, and tried it, and liked it a lot — and so I endeavored to create my own.

Here’s what I did!

Ingredients:
2.5 cups of fat-free Greek yogurt
Salt
Pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Dill
Chives
Lemon pepper

Instructions:
… Mix it.

Really, this is one you can season to taste. It comes out much better than its simplicity would betray! Give it a whirl, and find yourself impressed. I’ve heard of folks adding buffalo sauce to make a low-call buffalo dip, too. Different strokes for different folks. Just thought I’d mention that I’d tried it, and let you know what I did. 

Confusion.

Lately, I’m a little confused.

I’ve been eating within my points. I’ve been running regularly. And at my midweek check-in weigh-in (I don’t really obsess over numbers but I do like to see if/how/when they fluctuate throughout the week), I gained about 1.5 lbs.

Realistically, I know this could be from anything. I’ve looked into it all on the internet, and what do I think now? I THINK I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE THE INTERNET, because all sides of every argument have wildly compelling statements to make, and I don’t know who’s right. I mention this because I looked up “Running, weight gain,” and found a ton of sources saying running can make you gain wait. These sources spouted everything from ideas about water retention to soothe muscles to a slowed metabolism and beyond. This seems fishy to me – running is exercise: the burning of calories. And if I’m not eating extra calories, shouldn’t it only help – not hurt? Of course, to Google “Running, weight loss” gets another vast set of answers, all declaring that running is the single best way to lose weight.

Who is right? I don’t know.

I do know that these pounds I’ve lost have come at the cost of such effort and hard work. To gain some of them back isn’t acceptable. I don’t know what to do.

I looked into, also, if there are any dietary factors contributing to my weight gain so far this week (though, like I said, numbers aren’t everything and plus I have two or three more days until weigh-in). Some things I discovered:

  1. After not eating grains for awhile, it’s possible that my eating bulgur and quinoa and oatmeal last week resulted in my body’s hanging onto those things longer than it should. Think of the way folks on Atkins gain ALL THE WEIGHT BACK when they eat like, a single bagel. This might be a minor version of that hustle. I’ll try a grainless week again and see what happens. (For the record, I am absolutely still eating carbs and getting enough of them. I just am not using grains to do it.)
  2. It is possible that I’m not getting enough fats – which can, apparently, slow weight loss. I’ve been trying to look up how much fat a person my height and size should eat, but am struggling to find a number. I do know that my breakfast has about 2 grams of fat, my lunch has 2.5, my dinner has somewhere between 5-10, and my nightly yogurt has 4.5, putting me at an estimated total of 19. That number, friends, is low no matter how you slice it. When I add in my healthy oils, I get 9 extra grams. So 28. Still sounds a bit low. I’ll investigate.
  3. I’m willing to make any dietary changes necessary to stay healthy and stay losing. If eating nuts will benefit me more than that nightly yogurt, so be it. If I need extra olive oil, so be it. I want to lose weight AND be healthy. There’s GOT TO BE A WAY to do both. But whenever I take to the internet to explore what’s happening with me, I find so many conflicting opinions and ideations of what’s wrong or right or what to do next that I just… I don’t know. It’s discouraging.

So here’s hoping that Friday sings a different tune when I hop on the scale. Midweek, I’m feeling really confused and discouraged – I’ve been working out and eating right, and for the first time in a few months, it somehow has backfired.

*Shakes fist to the sky, wrathfully.*

 

Guest Post: Jill “Weighs In”

Today, I give you a guest post from a wise, hilarious and wonderful woman who has been at the WW hustle far longer than I.

Take it away, Jill!

She writes:
The Lesser of Two Evils

Here’s the thing: You want the truth? Can you handle it? I’m not sure you can.

The truth is: I hate Weight Watchers. I know I’m supposed to say that it’s not really a diet. That it’s a “lifestyle change” and that it’s the most undiet-y diet ever to exist in this carb-loathing, sugar-free world. But I’m going to give it to you straight – Weight Watchers, no matter how much it fully weaves into your otherwise diet-free life, is at its core, a diet. Is it the best of the diets? Well, yes. It is the best of the diets in the same way that Chad Kroeger is the best member of Nickelback.

I would like to preface the rest of this post by stating that I’ve successfully lost just over 80 pounds on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program over the course of two years. For those of you who have never been on Weight Watchers, I hate you forever. Just kidding. Kind of. For those of you who have, or are continuing along with me on the journey of points calculation and a “fail-to-plan, plan-to-fail” food mentality, you know that maintaining an 80 lb. weight loss whilst still trying to lose an additional 40 lbs. is a gargantuan task.

When I asked Karen if I could contribute to her blog, it came with the disclaimer that I am quite possibly the worst spokesperson for Weight Watchers there could ever be. My experience should in no way be taken as representation of how a person should approach the program. I have seen myriad firsthand success stories and clapped along at meetings with men and women who have triumphed doing Weight Watchers the right way.

So how bad am I? Suffice it to say that on more than one occasion I have forsaken an occasional breakfast, mid-day snack, and lunch worth of points for a dinner that consisted of a jar of Trader Joe’s Speculoos cookie butter eaten with a spoon, sometimes a fork if the spoons were all dirty. If I know I am going to be enjoying a “tasteful night out with the girls”, I will eat a banana for dinner so I can enjoy an RBV or four at the bar (RBV= Red Bull Vodka. An essential Weight Watchers Power Food). Sometimes I follow the program to the letter all week, weigh in and lose a remarkable 3-4 pounds, then go to Chipotle and eat a burrito bowl the size of a small child, followed by a Crumbs milkshake cupcake. It’s never pretty, and the local 48th Street flagship store will probably not be calling me to lead a team meeting any time soon.

I will be the first to admit that the problem with people who have disordered eating habits is that their lives revolve around food. I once had a conversation with a friend in college that went something like this:

Me: They had me working an 8-hour shift yesterday. I almost got fired because I ate a chicken nugget while still in uniform.
Skinny Bitch Friend: Oh. Yeah. I was studying, like, all day yesterday and last night. I forgot to eat dinner.
Me: You what?
SBF: Forgot to ea-
Me: I HEARD YOU.

See, the thing is, it was truly incomprehensible to me that someone could just “forget” to eat a meal. Breakfast was the entire point of the AM hours. Lunch was the zenith of an otherwise boring school day. Dinner was something delicious to look forward to after class. How could you FORGET dinner? To me, that was like forgetting how to pee.

Skinny people will tell you that you should “eat to live, not live to eat.” The inherent problem with this is that even on Weight Watchers, your ENTIRE life still revolves around food, just in a different way. While your SBFs might be able to inhale a Shackburger and fries without giving it a second thought, while on Weight Watchers, you are undoubtedly doing one of three things: 1) Eating the burger and fries and hating yourself for it, 2) Abstaining from the delicious burger and fries and hating yourself for it, or 3) Mentally counting points like some sort of foodie Rain Man trying to figure out if you’ll have enough left over for a reasonable dinner that isn’t a 100-calorie pack or Chobani yogurt after eating said burger and fries. But what can you do? You eat it or you don’t. That’s your choice.

PS – just in case you couldn’t tell from the rest of this post, I also hate exercise! Any time I read an article in a magazine where a starlet claims she doesn’t need to exercise, she just “runs around after her kids” or “loves taking her dog to the dog park” I want to literally shove a pencil in my eye. Regardless of whether you like to work out, on Weight Watchers, it’s a necessary evil. So just get your ass on the elliptical and do it. It sucks. I know it does. Just do it, and be done with it, and then humblebrag about it on Facebook. For every time you publicly check in at your local gym, one of your leg muscles gets exponentially less sore.

For all the complaining I’ve done about the program, you may ask me: What’s the alternative? The alternative is that you can eat whatever you want, and you don’t exercise, and you stay fat or get fatter. I have always been envious of girls who are content with their current body size and shape. I have never had that luxury – and until I got thinner, I was going to be unhappy. So I did what I had to do. After college, I followed Weight Watchers. I did it my way. And while my life still revolves around food, I chose the lesser of two evils. 80 pounds “lesser”, to be exact.

Couch to 5K: Week 3

Can you believe it’s been three weeks already?!

Madness.

Now, the workouts become a little tougher.

Really though, it’s all in my head.

If you asked me, out of context, “Can you run for three minutes?” I would probably look at you as if you were crazy and I would tell you “Yes, definitely.” That’s not a long time at all.

However, last week’s run included 1.5 minutes of running alternating with walking. That’s a piece of cake. Three minutes, also, is a piece of cake. And I know this. I really do. But there’s a part of my brain that’s all, “BUT THAT’S TWICE AS MUCH AS LAST TIME WHAT IF WE DIE.”

I say to that portion of my brain, “Alas. Then we shall die trying.”

There’s a huge part of my subconscious that can’t let go of the fact that I’ve never been much good at running. I keep waiting for the other foot to drop — keep waiting for the moment when the workout is, indeed, too much. When I need to stop.

That moment hasn’t come yet and hopefully it never will! But I think that’s where my hesitation stems from — a subconscious conviction that I can’t really do it.

My cerebellum’s task, then, is to make sure that at least some part of my consciousness knows that I CAN.

In the words of my love, Regina Spektor: “The piano is not firewood yet.”

Indeed, it is not.

Gripes About Grains

Guys, here’s the thing.

Like, the real thing.

The thing is: I just don’t believe I MUST have grains to have a balanced diet. I am open to being told I’m wrong, but I have done not a small amount of sleuthing on the subject and here’s what I’ve learned:

1. All the “YES EAT GRAINS” people indicate that grain is a necessary thing, because of its fiber content. On the flip side of the equation, many others wrote that I can get all the fiber I need day to day from my fruit and vegetable intake, which is significant. I don’t mess around with my veggies.

2. Yes, some grains are very filling and pack much more protein than, say, white rice. Meanwhile, they still don’t pack as much protein as, say, my protein shake in the morning or my greek yogurt at lunch.

3. YES, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, I AM AWARE THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROCESSED CARBS AND WHOLE GRAINS. YES I KNOW. YOU DON’T NEED TO TELL ME. YOU DO NOT NEED TO MANSPLAIN. YOU DO NOT NEED TO CONDESCEND. I GET IT. That being said, I know there’s some grains that are far better than others — but they’re still quite a bit of points for not all that much punch, compared to my other alternatives. So why would I eat them? Isn’t that counter-intuitive if my fiber content is already high?

This is a serious quandry for me. I don’t believe in diets that are so restrictive that entire food groups are missing. I also don’t believe in weight loss that isn’t sustainable. I also want to make sure my body has every single thing it needs to be healthy, happy and strong. So I’m not trying to be ignorant, here, or obstinate.

But my thinking is this: If a cup of bulgur, cooked with some alfalfa sprouts and spinach, is 4 to 6 PP and leaves me feeling semi-hungry, was it worth all that hassle? Especially when a greek yogurt gives me more protein, and once I add flax seed, some Omega-3’s to boot?

Further — I’ve really taken a shine to that crock pot oatmeal I posted about. However, that gives me WAY less protein and nutrients than my breakfast shake, which contains protein powder, spinach, kale stems, flax, banana, and almond milk. So sure, I got some godforsaken grains in. But I didn’t get all that other stuff. And isn’t that other stuff more important than grains?

ANOTHER key point — I’m aware that not all grains are wheat-based; I know it’s possible to eat “gluten free” without eating “grain free,” and I am not confusing the points. Certain types of whole grain do not have gluten. And I cannot stress enough that NONE of my dietary concerns are about what gluten-free or grain-free means — but I want to add, also, that people survive JUST FINE without grains on many grain-free diets. If I’m very conscious about my veggies, fiber and nutrients otherwise, why must I have grains?

I’m saying this as someone who LIKES grains — who enjoys quinoa, who made bulgur for the first time today (that’s a post for another day though), who misses her breads and pastas. I have nothing taste-wise against them; quite the contrary.

But as someone on WW who gets a specific amount of cash to throw around, so to speak, is it really worth it to cash in entirely on stuff like oatmeal and forego my spinach smoothie?

NOTE: I can’t fit everything into a day and still lose weight. I can’t have the smoothie AND the oatmeal AND the yogurt, etc. I can’t. I am ALWAYS looking for smart ways to use my points so I’m not lying and flailing like Kim Kardashian when confronted by her failing career. I’m not making an excuse. I can’t have 6 points of oatmeal, 5 points of smoothie, and four points of yogurt and still have enough flexibility left to have dinner. Cannot. So don’t come at me all D0 b0tH GrrRRrLllL itZ fiNeeeee! Because I can’t — and it isn’t — or maybe it is.

I’m trying hard to figure out the best way to eat and the best way to keep losing weight. I’m working out regularly – 4 to 5 times a week. I’m eating right. And this past week, I only lost 0.5 lbs — which isn’t acceptable, to me. I had eaten more grains last week, and now I’m concerned they’ve had something to do with it.

Do I really need grains to be well? Or can I carry on with my whey protein shake, my yogurt, my bread-free soups/dinners and my healthy oil intake and still be just fine?

Recipe: Banana Chocolate Oat Cookies

YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS YOU GUYS

YOU GUYS

YOU

GUYS

THERE’S SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

I made these cookies this weekend, and they taste like mini-banana-split-chocolate-miracles. They are seriously really delicious. And they are 1PP EACH. Yeah, you read that right. ONE POINTS PLUS VALUE EACH. YOU HEARD ME.

Here’s what to do to make about 20 cookies.

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas
1 cup quick oats
1 “heaping spoonful”* of organic peanut butter**
1/2 cup chocolate chips

* = WTF is a heaping spoonful? I used four neatly measured tablespoons, so two portions. 
** = I used Better’n Peanut Butter Low Sodium

Instructions:
– Preheat oven to 350
– Mash bananas (I pureed mine in the food processor, and then had to add some extra oats because my base was too thin)
– Pour in oats
– Pour in chocolate
– Stir in PB
– I, personally, had to leave the house before finishing making these and so I put the batter in the fridge while I was out. It thickened up a bit due to the cold — if your batter is thin, maybe try this?
– Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and plop the batter on in ugly, misshapen blobs (or something nicer, if you’re classy)
– Bake for 15-18 minutes

AND THEN IMMEDIATELY ENJOY.

PP each: 1

AAAAAAH!!!!!!

Weekly Weigh-In #7

Hey guys!

Sorry for the delay — I did weigh myself on Friday, but haven’t had time to post. Don’t think I’ve forgotten you, though. :- Here I am, with the latest digits.

Last Week: 176.3

This Week: 175.7

Loss: 0.6

Loss since January 10: 7.6

This weigh-in was my last on my semi-broken scale, so I’m a little skeptical. I’ve eaten within my points AND worked out nearly every day this week. However, a loss is a loss. I’ll take it. 

Guest Post: Chelsea “Weighs In”

Why I Love NOT doing Weight Watchers!

Karen had asked me to “guest-post” for a while now, and I keep putting it off. Mostly, because she is exponentially more articulate than I am. But, here goes – I hope I do good (hehe that one was on purpose)!

I’m not doing weight watchers, and I love every second of it. I don’t count points, but I eat (for the most part) all of the same foods as Karen. Initially, this was because I knew it would be much harder for her to stick with it if she was going through this journey alone. We don’t do anything alone. I’ve made a promise to stick by her and support her, just as she has done for me. When she decided to commit to these changes, so did I. And I’ve done everything I can to be the sidekick she needs me to be (and I hope I have delivered so far).

But what have I learned since giving myself the title Lady Sidekick?

First, I had to figure out where I fit into the overall picture, and more importantly, where I do NOT fit. I want to be the best support for her as possible – obviously. But what if she craves cookies? Do I spoil her with extra as I’ve always done? If she suggests wings and pizza for dinner, do I suggest something healthier? It’s been a difficult balance. Trying to help her stay on track vs. potentially being incredibly offensive. Girls all around the country develop negative associations with food because too often they hear, “you shouldn’t be eating that.” The insinuation, if not directly said: that will make you fat(ter). I refuse to ever say anything to Karen that could even resemble an iota of that damaging idea. Because it is simply not true. So how do I toe the line? How do I know when to dissuade from certain things, and when to let her decide when and what to treat herself to? I asked. And I explained my position to her. Not just once – always (which she is probably sick of at this point). I make sure we are always on the same page. “Just tell me how to help. If you want a treat, should I remind you about points? I never want to make you feel bad or like I’m policing you. I love you – just let me know the best way to help you!” Her answer may change, or it may stay the same. But for me, I need her to know I am consciously trying to be the best Lady Sidekick possible. Sometimes, that’s all I can do.

Usually, though, there is always more to do. When Karen finds a new recipe that she wants to try, I go with her to the grocery store to help hunt down the bizarre ingredients required. We go up and down the isles, and I will calculate the points of anything new that seems potentially worth trying. In my free time, I’ll google and research different recipes that she may find interesting or tasty. What has the most nutrition packed into the fewest points?

But it goes beyond food. When she’s having a bad weigh in day or feeling discouraged, I remind her it’s a process. I remind her of the progress that she HAS made. I remind her that the scale can only give her numbers, and it is not necessarily indicative of how she actually looks. I remind her that although the scale gives her a good quantitative way to measure progress, the most important part of the whole process is that she is living healthier (not that either of us were ever specifically unhealthy). I remind her that no matter what, with all my heart, she will always be beautiful and I will always love her. Unfortunately, this last bit of advice doesn’t always help as much 😉

Finally, I’ve learned that although I initially jumped on the bandwagon to be Lady Sidekick, I quickly gave myself the title Señorita-This-Is-For-Me-Too. Actually, I gave myself both titles today (in case that wasn’t blatantly obvious). No matter. It’s true. This is for me, too. By not doing weight watchers, I have started living healthier, too. And I feel great. Karen often asks me, “Do you feel like you’re missing out? Do you miss going out like we used to? Is it torture?” Every time I tell her, “not at all.” I enjoy the food we eat, I LOVE experimenting with new recipes with Karen, and it’s the coolest feeling to know that we really are healthy people. We are both doing a great thing, regardless if I am specifically “doing weight watchers” or “counting my points” and we are both doing it together. I love doing anything with Karen, and with her I feel like I can do anything. I hope as her Lady Sidekick, she feels the same.

I am open to suggestions and criticisms, from both her and all of you. For anyone who finds it challenging to be “the supporter” – I’m happy help you too. It’s a tough roller coaster sometimes. When the person you love most feels so discouraged and there is nothing immediate you can do to help, it’s tough. But instead of sneaking a McChicken on the way home so you’re not eating it in front of your person, try joining them on their journey. Even if it’s unofficially. Even if it’s only sometimes, or even temporarily. Make an effort – we can all stand to be a little healthier, and we can all stand to be a little more supportive. Try joining the journey – you might surprise yourself with how much you love NOT doing weight watchers, too!

XOXO
-Lady Sidekick