How I lost 25 Pounds in 10 Weeks
I reluctantly joined Weight Watchers with my mother two and a half months ago. I was doing it primarily to be of some moral support to her. I knew that I had put on a fair amount of weight since my late 30’s, but didn’t feel that my weight was a problem. However, to be honest, I didn’t like how heavy I looked in pictures (do all cameras add 20 pounds?) or how lethargic I often felt. Nonetheless, I didn’t think there was really anything I could do to effectively lose weight and keep it off — I had tried a number of things, but never stuck with them long enough to see any significant results.
Needless to say, I’m glad I agreed to start this program with my Mom and that I had her as moral support, to keep me accountable and on program. I’ve learned a lot over the past several weeks and am feeling better about myself and have much more energy. I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned for those of you who may wish to lose some unwanted weight, but are unsure where/how to start.
The Food Pyramid
The first “food pyramid” was developed in Sweden in the early 1970’s. Since then it has undergone many changes over the years. Most of us are probably familiar with the version released by the USDA in 1992 (pictured to the right). We may wonder why, though we feel we comply with the food pyramid, our body shape continues to look more like a pyramid with each passing year. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Too many refined grains which are low in fiber, instead of whole grains.
- Too few FRESH fruits and vegetables. Fruits canned in corn syrup and vegetables canned with preservatives have lost much of their nutritional value.
- The American diet, especially, has too much high-fat dairy and meat. We love our whole milk, our ice cream and our beef. And, if we’re going to each chicken or fish, we prefer that it be deep-fried.
- The previous bullet item, alone, results in us getting too much “bad” fat and oils in our diets. Then add to that our obsession with sweets, snacks and sugary soft-drinks and the pyramid begins to look like an hour-glass, unlike our own figures.
Changes in Eating Habits
Following are a few of the important changes I’ve made in my eating habits which have resulted in me consistently dropping about 2.5 pounds per week, on average. Without following the “PointsPlus” counting program advocated by Weight Watchers, I don’t believe I would have been as successful starting out; however, now much of what I’ve learned is coming much more naturally and I don’t have to be as mindful of counting every point — I am now in the mode of making healthier choices.
- More fresh fruits and vegetables – I used to think nothing of making a meal of spaghetti. Now, I’m much more consciencious about making sure I have a fresh vegetable along with it: perhaps some salad or steamed brocoli. On the Weight Watchers’ PointsPlus program, fruits and veggies are free (i.e., zero points), so when I’m in the mood for a snack, I now reach for a banana, apple or carrot sticks.
- Substitute lean meats – Eating more chicken, turkey and fish instead of beef is an important step. Also, you can get some of your required protein by eating seeds, nuts and beans. If you’re going to have hamburger, make sure it’s lean and that you drain off as much fat as possible (the George Foreman grill is great for getting rid of excess fat).
- Drink more water – Whereas I used to always drink whole milk or juice or even soda with a meal, I now only use non-fat milk (usually in the morning on my cereal) and then drink water with my other meals and throughout the day when I’m thirsty. I don’t even miss all of the calories that I’ve eliminated by switching from sugar-laden drinks to water. Water helps alleviate feelings of hunger and helps your body more efficiently eliminate waste products.
- Use healthy oils – I’ve learned to stay away from deep-fried foods altogether. However, your body does need “good” oils on a daily basis. Weight Watchers recommends 2 teaspoons of healthy oils (olive oil, canola, sunflower, safflower or flaxseed) each day. I like to fry my eggs or sautee my vegetables in olive oil and also add olive oil and red wine vinegar as a dressing to my salad.
- Reduced Portion Sizes – My first two weeks on the Weight Watchers program were the most difficult, because I was so used to eating relatively large volumes of food. However, as I stuck with the program, I found that my appetite diminished and I could actually feel full and satisfied with significantly smaller portions. Part of this is likely due to the fact that my prior diet left my body still craving certain nutrients that I was not getting in my bleached-flour, high-sugar, high-fat, carbohydrate-rich diet. Now that I am eating a more well-rounded diet (with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and high in dietary fiber), my body is getting the nutrition it needs to function properly.
Variety is the Spice of Life
When people think of a diet, they often think of bland, boring food. They think of depriving themselves. They think that their food pyramid will now look something like this:
However, this is not necessarily the case. You simply need to get creative. There are a plethora of healthy foods and recipes that you can try in order to determine what suits your palette.
One thing I like about Weight Watchers is that each week they hand out a new brochure with inspirational testimonials, health information and new recipes. My mother and I have enjoyed trying out some of these recipes and have found some favorites that we’ve now incorporated into our regular repetoire including:
- variations of stir fry
- a delicious kale salad
- new grain dishes: some of which we’d never tried before, like orzo, quinoa and this tabouleh salad with cucumber, tomato and feta cheese:
If you’re going to embark on a diet program — or change your eating habits for the better — you need to have a plan. You will never stick to it if you constantly feel that you are depriving yourself. Make sure you get a good recipe book or two with healthy, tasty recipes that you will enjoy eating. Weight Watchers has several such recipe books to choose from:
Snacks that promote weight loss?
Sometimes you need a treat. The Weight Watchers’ Points Plus program does not preclude you from having snacks — you just have to count them and stay within your overall allotted number of points (plus weekly flex points). You will likely find that your usual snacks are very high on the point scale if they are high in sugar, fat or carbohydrates, so you certainly may not be able to indulge as frequently or in as large of portions.
However, you will also find that there are healthier, low-point alternatives which can satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your points budget. Of course, there are recipe books available for healthy snacks and desserts, too. However, I’d like to highlight some great, low-point snacks made by one of our partner businesses, Vitalicious.
Vitalicious VitaCakes have only 50 calories (1 point on the WeighWatchers PointsPlus scale), and I personally love them. My mom prefers the VitaTops, which are only 2 points. Both of these are delicious and can help to satisfy your snack craving. Unless you looked at the label, you would never know that they were low calorie and high in protein and dietary fiber, but the results will show up on your scale 🙂 Check out Vitalicious for all sorts of healthy snack ideas and products.
Change of Mindset
It is commonly said that you can develop a new habit (or break an old one) in roughly 30 days. I’m not sure it that’s true in general, but I will say that after sticking with the Weight Watchers program now for over two months, much of what I’ve learned and applied is becoming more second-nature. Whereas I originally doubted that I would ever get below 200 pounds again, I now can realistically see myself getting down to 175 by the end of the summer. My skepticism has changed to optimism: my doubt to expectation.
What is the most effective weight loss program?
There are hundreds of diet plans out there and “magic” diet pills that claim that they will help you lose lots of weight in a short period of time. I don’t doubt that some of these work for some people, but I know that nothing I had tried previously had worked for me. I guess the answer to “what is the most effective weight loss program” is “the program that works for you”. In my case, I found Weight Watchers to be the best program for weight loss. In my opinion, there are three primary reasons that Weight Watchers worked for me, and should work for virtually anyone:
- Sound science: Behind their PointsPlus program and recommended eating habits is a wealth of scientific study along with years of experience and tens of thousands of success stories. The program has been adjusted over the years as new scientific evidence has become available.
- Accountability: The weekly meetings provide encouragement and support as well as accountability (you need to weigh in each week). In addiiton, you are recommended to track your PointsPlus point consumption each week. There is plenty of sharing that goes on at the meetings. Of course, you can add a level of accountability by partnering up with someone when you join (like I did with my mother) so that you can encourage eachother and keep eachother accountable on a daily basis.
- Education: Each week the designated leader (who, themselves has to have achieved and maintained their target weight) shares useful educational information and gives a weekly assignment to focus on a specific aspect (e.g., count your fiber intake or focus on increasing your level of activity). In addition, weekly pamphlets are handed out with healthy (and tasty) new recipes and educational/inspirational articles. There is also a wealth of information provided by Weight Watchers online.
If you need to shed a few pounds, or if you just want to learn how to make healthier dietary choices for you and your family, you owe it to yourself to check out Weight Watchers.
Get healthy, feel better, live longer, enjoy life!
To your health,
Patrick @ Family Staples