Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Week #13: The Week We Talked About Fiber

You know how I usually come up with something pithy at the end of the week about the topic in our meetings? Yeah, this week I just can't do it. So instead, I'll pull back the curtain a bit on what it's like to prepare for a Weight Watchers meeting.

Weight Watchers decides what our topic of discussion will be for the week. They also give me some suggestions on how to frame the topic - suggested questions, objectives to achieve, information to impart. All of that is published to employees each month in a Meeting Guide. How I actually run the discussion is up to me, and I'm free to add my own questions, tweak the overall direction of the topic, find my own motivational closing quotes, that sort of thing.

Most of the time I stick with the general suggestions. For one thing, now that we have standardized flip charts, it's easier that way. (Here's a hint: if I'm blowing through a chart really fast, it probably means I decided to focus on something else more!) For another, I'm not one for gimmicks. Other than the occasional silly headband, I don't bring in stories or poems, don't dress in costume, and very very rarely play games or do small group projects. I suspect if I did more meetings each week I might handle things differently, but when I've got a full-time job, spending a lot of time preparing for just two meetings a week doesn't make sense.

So back to this past week's topic: when I first received the March guide, I flipped through to see what the topics were going to be for the month. When I got to the fiber topic, I groaned. My objective for the week was (and I quote) "to facilitate a fun, high-energy discussion about how fiber helps with weight loss and how to eat more of it." Sure thing, boss.

Look. Most of the topics we deliver are excellent. They are informative, or they are valuable in some other way, either by improving your outlook in regards to weight loss, or by helping you stay motivated to continue the journey. Occasionally there's a topic that's...not so hot. One that just doesn't go over well. Sometimes the group just isn't into it, or it's not extraordinarily relevant (inevitably the "cold weather exercise solutions" topic lands on a week in winter that we're having a heat wave). Some topics can feel (to me) to be very "teachy" and less about group discussion. Sometimes the topic sounds like it's going to be a bust, but then I go out there, and you guys love it - and other times the complete opposite happens.

That's the thing about hanging out with you guys. You just never know where the discussion will take you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Week #12: Discovering What Works (And What Doesn't)

In both the meetings I led this week I'm pretty sure I mentioned the old saying "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." I've been known to have bouts of temporary insanity over the years, but this past week I had a revelation that is timely for me to share based on this past week's topic.

I have an "official" Weight Watchers goal weight, but then I also have the super-secret "Steph's Happy Goal Weight." Right now my actual weight is somewhere between those two numbers. And it has been for quite some time. This past week I finally decided to make a change that I hope will make a difference in bridging the gap between actual and happy.

For the past week I've been following the Simply Filling Technique. What that means is that I have been eating strictly Power Foods and not counting their PointsPlus values. On the rare occasion I desire a non-Power Food (okay, that dark chocolate egg just JUMPED into my mouth, I swear!), I have my Weekly PointsPlus Allowance to dip into.

For a long time I've said that I eat mostly Power Foods anyway, but opt to track PPV because I simply don't trust myself to adequately manage my portion sizes to fully embrace Simply Filling. But this week I decided to go for it and dive all the way in. And it turns out...I ate more non-Power Foods than I realized.

Subway veggie delites, Pop Chips, Baked Lays, pudding cups, regular (not reduced-calorie) bread...none of those are Power Foods. What I learned is that my meals are about 95% Power Foods, but the quick snacks and gap fillers I have throughout my day often are not.

So this week those "gaps" were filled with things like hard boiled eggs, applesauce and popcorn. All foods that I enjoy, and eat from time to time. But I had to make a concerted effort to have those in the house or in my lunchbag at work.

Simply Filling is really a great way to eat, and I'm going to continue with it this next week. I'm posting this the night before my weekly weigh-in so I can't tell you what difference it has made at the scale yet, but I notice the difference in the way I feel. I am feeding my body such healthy food! All the time! I'm not feeling hungry! I'm not taking in empty calories! I've still been tracking my food on eTools (after having switched my settings to "Simply Filling") so that I'm still mindful of what I'm eating, but the numbers don't matter.

Trust me - if I'd eaten this way before Weight Watchers, I'd never had to have joined. Want to learn more? Open your "Meet PointsPlus" booklet to page 54-55. Need a portable listing of Power Foods? Our trackers have it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Week #11: Nix Negative Thoughts

I feel like 30 minutes in a Weight Watchers meeting room isn't nearly long enough to get into how devastating negative thoughts can be to one's weight loss process. And it certainly isn't long enough to figure out how to get rid of those thoughts and replace them with positive ones!

What I can do is share with you some of the things I do to stay positive. Generally I'm a sarcastic, cynical person who is not prone to outbursts of rainbows and unicorns. I wouldn't say I'm a pessimist, but I'm certainly more of a realist. So it's important that I remember to be thankful, grateful, and proud of all I have achieved.

I collect inspiring quotes and images on Pinterest (By the way, some of those pins have profanity on them - don't say I didn't warn you! Also, yes I do have a board named Food Porn. Better I look at it than eat it, right?)

I remember how far I've come. This is me before:

And this is me after:

And probably the most important thing I do to stay positive? Work for Weight Watchers. Seriously - what's better than helping people achieve a similar goal? In my experience, not much. That's why I've been doing it for almost fifteen years! Thanks for being part of my journey.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Week #10: Portion Distortion?

That's a tablespoon of peanut butter, right?

A few years ago I stumbled across something that was very eye-opening about the typical portion sizes - Portion Distortion Website. That's worth clicking to check out the slideshow of how things have changed in the last 20 years (enough time has passed since its creation that we're almost on 30 years - I can only imagine some things have grown!). The "great" thing about the website is that it not only shows you how much bigger the typical serving has gotten, but how much longer you'd have to exercise to burn off those excess calories! Frightening.

So portion size really makes a difference. Unintentional portion creep can make or break your weight loss. Whenever a member talks to me one-on-one about why they aren't losing weight, this is one of the first few questions that I pose. What I'm really asking is "how much are you eating?" You all probably think you know, but it's good to go back and double check. You might be surprised at what you find!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Week #9: Get Moving, No Excuses!

I joked in the meetings this week that rain was no excuse to not exercise - I quoted my very own parents who would say "you're not made of sugar, you won't melt!" Sometimes the things we tell ourselves to justify not exercising are excuses.

And sometimes they are reasons.

A friend of mine has spent the last several months training for an Ironman Triathlon. If you clicked that link or had any idea what that involves, you know he had to ditch his excuses. Lots of swimming, lots of bike riding, lots of running. He is currently in New Zealand, where he hoped to join an elite club of athletes to finish this grueling event. And so it happens that New Zealand is experiencing unprecedented weather. Rains and gale force winds have led the organizers to cancel the event. A race half the usual distance will be held the next day. Ironmen (and women) are not a skittish sort, so you know for a race like this to get "postponed", the conditions must be dangerous.

That's a good reason not to exercise.

So the next time you're thinking about bailing on a workout, ask yourself - is it an excuse, or a reason? Down with the flu? Good reason. Having a good hair day you don't want to mess up? Bad excuse. Your city is experiencing a storm of the century? Maybe stay inside. It's 50 degrees and misty in San Diego? Get out there - you won't melt!