Celebrating the little victories

So far this week, I’ve got a couple of little victories to celebrate – and it’s only Tuesday morning!

Alex invited some friends over on Sunday for dinner that night.  I was dead set on finding something to make that was nice enough to serve company but didn’t require me to go in the freezing cold to the store and spend more money on groceries.  I ended up coming up with a recipe inspired by the ingredients I had on hand: Artichoke Chicken Bake.  I took 4 chicken breasts that I’d already thawed and put them in a baking dish.  I emptied two (drained of liquid) cans of artichokes (not marinated) on top, along with a can of sliced mushrooms.  I added a half a cup of white wine and a tablespoon of olive oil, and then topped it with a cup of shredded romano cheese.  I baked that at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes and it turned out divine.  I made mashed cauliflower and sautéed spinach as sides.  The meal was Weight Watchers friendly (the chicken dish was 6 points, the cauliflower and spinach each a point) and it was delicious.  I was so proud to be able to whip up something that tasted good and was healthy without having to brave the cold or spend more money.  Win!

Last night I was supposed to do a workout with my EA Active 2.  I was pretty excited about it all day until I got home and I didn’t want to stop reading or get off the couch.  Then it occurred to me that in order to be successful at any endeavor, one must be flexible.  And so, instead of rigidly demanding of myself that I do the specific workout at the high intensity that I expected of myself all day, I let myself change plans and instead I took my book and went downstairs and used our elliptical-that-is-also-a-stationary-bike and read while I pedaled for a half hour (which is about as long as my butt could stand the bike seat).  It was a win-win situation: I got to read and earn some Activity Points – and I didn’t just bail on exercise all together like I’d felt like doing when I first got home.  And it was a perfect opportunity to remind myself that you can go ahead and plan all you want, but sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you planned, and that’s OK.  You can still make your goals happen, even if they don’t happen the way you expected.  Win!

January – A Month of Beginnings

So far, January has been all about beginnings and fresh starts.  I guess that’s pretty normal for the month at the beginning of a new year.  One of the things that’s begun this month is I’ve started back on Weight Watchers.  Well, that actually happened at the end of December, but I didn’t have my first weigh-in until January.  I did great my first week back!  I lost 4 lbs that first weigh-in and didn’t feel like I struggled at all the previous week getting there.  The new Weight Watchers program really guides you towards healthier food choices that help you to make better choices and feel fuller.  I’m hoping that this time I finally learn better eating habits that I can use the rest of my life.

The plan is theoretically the same – you still get a set number of Points – now called Points Plus – that you’re supposed to eat per day, plus a weekly allowance on top of that that you can choose to use on splurges, hungrier days, etc.  Points are calculated differently now, though, and help guide you towards healthier and more filling foods.  The best way that I can illustrate that is with “the banana example” (lol).  On the previous program, a banana was 2 points.  So was a sugar free chocolate pudding cup.  Now, rationally I always knew that the banana was a healthier choice because it carried with it more nutrients and fiber and would be more filling in the end.  But…  for the same amount of points I could have chocolate.  So I almost always went for the “fake food” chocolate.  Now, with the new plan, a sugar free chocolate pudding cup is still 2 points, but a banana is 0 points.  So what would I choose now?  The banana.

On top of many “better-for-you” foods becoming lower in points, many of the “not-so-better-for-you” foods became higher in points, as did many “staple” foods.  The daily and weekly points allowances also increased, though, so it’s pretty easy to fit in a lot of “good-for-you” foods and still have room for plenty of “ok-for-you” foods.

They also slightly modified the way that you could use Activity Points; letting you use them any time during the week that you earned them rather than having them “expire” that day.   This has helped me to become super-motivated to work out, since I’m not beholden to using those points the day that I earn them and can save them up for the weekend, for example, when we might go out and have some drinks.

Overall, I like the changes to the new plan and I feel like I’m making healthier choices.  In the past, I’d always recommended Weight Watchers because it was so easy – you just track what you eat and stay on target and you lose.  Now I feel even better about recommending it because not only is it still really easy, but by following the plan you’ll also make healthier choices and develop good eating habits that should keep you from slipping back into the bad habits that got you to a place where you needed to lose weight in the first place.  Oh – and I’ve had another weigh-in since the beginning of the month and had another 2.8lb loss, so I’m totally 6.8lbs down in the first 2 weeks.  How can you not love a program that helps you do that?!

Another thing I’ve started this month is working out with EA Active 2 on our PS3.  EA Active 2 is a “virtual personal trainer” game that uses sensors that strap onto your arms and right leg to monitor your movements and your heart rate.  I really enjoy working out with it because it’s not JUST getting on the elliptical and doing the same repetitive movement until your workout time has elapsed or JUST lifting weights.  It’s a video game that runs you through different drills and “exercise stations” – kind of like working out with a real personal trainer – and so you’re constantly changing up what you’re doing to keep things interesting.  Now, unlike having a real personal trainer, it can’t modify exercises to accommodate injuries and it can’t really tell if you’ve got your form perfect.  But it’s still a fun way to get a good workout in, without having to leave the house.  There is also an online portal that you can join to track your progress online and join exercise groups.  I haven’t played with that part of it too much yet, but it sounds cool.  I ended up getting it for the PS3 rather than for the Wii because the PS3 version allows for completely hands-free exercises, so you can easily add in free-weights rather than using the included resistance band and you don’t have to hold a wii-mote during cardio exercises and feel your hands making it all sweaty (gross).  Also, supposedly they will add downloadable content to the PS3 version in the future.  There isn’t any yet, but I figured I’d go with the system that allowed for a little future-proofing.

Another new beginning – and a very exciting one – is for Dodi and her husband, Scott, who welcomed into the world their first baby on Friday, the 14th!  I was fortunate enough to get to meet Emma Margaret on Saturday and am happy to report that she is a truly adorable little peanut!  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, but let me just tell you: she’s cute.  She’s got impish dark blue eyes behind long eyelashes and tons of blonde hair that already comes down past her ears!  I’m so happy for Dodi and Scott – congrats guys!

And now it’s time for another new beginning: me beginning to get back to work today!

Wake up Call

So, everyone who starts a weight loss program has a moment that makes them realize that it’s time to do something about their weight.  I’ve (obviously) known for a while that I need to lose weight, but for me, this time, the moment that pushed me back to Weight Watchers came in the form of a wake up call.  Well, not really a wake up call, but a call that came in the morning. From my doctor’s office.  First thing in the morning, right after I got to my desk at work… So it kind of was a wake-up call (because I’m not a morning person).

“Hello, Alison?” came the female voice on the line.

“Hi, yes, this is Alison.”

“Hi!  This is [your new doctor].  I just wanted to let you know that we received your lab results from your previous doctor’s office and they look fine…  I did want to point out, though, that you’ve gained 16 lbs from when you were weighed at that office in September to when you were weighed at this office in November.”

“Oh…” I said.  And then when she didn’t say anything right away I said, “Well, I go up and down a lot…”

I know that she was implying that maybe it was related to a potential thyroid problem (she brought it up in conjunction with the lab results that were taken after I found the cyst on my thyroid) but I don’t think that’s the case.  I know that I’ve been sloth-like and eating everything in site.  And those were the thoughts that I had while hanging up the phone and sitting down at my desk.  First thing in the morning.  Great way to start a day!  So, since I was sitting in front of my computer, I went to WeightWatchers.com and signed back up.

Tomorrow is my first weigh-in day since being back on the program.  I know that you’re not supposed to weigh yourself in between weigh-in days, but I weigh myself multiple times every day.  I only “count” the morning weigh-in in my head, though because you always weigh the lightest first thing in the morning because you’re always supposed to weigh yourself around the same time every day for the most accurate tracking results.  So, unofficially, I’ve lost about 4 lbs my first week back.  You always lose the most in your first couple of weeks (when you have the most to lose and you’re making the most drastic changes), so I know that I won’t be able to keep THAT pace up, but I’m hoping to keep it on the higher end of the healthy weight loss per week scale of 1 to 2 lbs per week.

I figure that if I give myself 3 months to lose weight (which will put us firmly in the “safe zone” to conceive and be covered by the Short Term Disability Insurance that we just bought (and just became effective as of January 1st), which requires a 10 month waiting period before covering pregnancy related disabilities), and if I really focus and work on it, I could lose close to 30 lbs.  That would not, unfortunately, put me at my goal weight, but it would put me close to half way there and it would bring my BMI out of the “obese” (OMG) category.  (I can’t wait for the day for my Wii Fit to stop telling me, “That’s obese!” when it measures my weight!)  I’m trying to think of it as “My Zero Trimester” (and that’s keeping me pretty motivated!).  I know that it may take us a while to be successful when we’re actually starting to try to conceive again, but hopefully I can keep myself from getting frustrated on that front and keep myself motivated on the weight loss front by focusing on every month that it doesn’t happen is at least a month that can put me closer to my goal weight.

So, as my brilliant friend, Cuch, said in a recent Facebook status: “Assault on the new year!!!! Charge!!!”