Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding new confidence, a few recipes, and weigh in results

When I first started Weight Watchers, I remember how unsure of myself I was. I had no idea what to eat and how much/hard to exercise. I remember eating a sausage with penne and marinara sauce the first week and wondering skeptically if I could *really* lose weight eating this way. I remember walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes at 3.3 mph and wondering if it would *really* get me in shape.

I doubted all of my habits (for good reason!) and started the program with Socrates' famous truism, All I know is that I know nothing. I knew my past habits were unhealthy, so I looked for new ones. I experimented with new food, some of which I learned to love (beans, asparagus, oatmeal, sweet potatoes) and some of which I never quite got into (brussel sprouts). I experimented with a bunch of activities--running, Zumba, Body Pump, workout tapes, Jillian Michaels (she deserves her own category), Pilates, biking, and swimming. And from all of this experimentation, I've learned a few things about myself.

I like moderate exercise. In particular, I love walking. Lately, I've been walking a lot more and it's so much easier now. Without my excess weight, my stride is long, and I enjoy the feeling of stretching my legs, walking with purpose. My dad and I used to walk more quickly than the rest of my family, and some of my best memories are walking alone with my dad during the summer, stopping occasionally to wait for my mom and younger sisters. I like repetition, fresh air, and having a chance to think (or talk out-loud to myself). I like being self sufficient.

I also like running. When the mood hits, it's wonderful to go outside and jog. I love getting in a rhythm, where my feet tap the ground and I feel the exhilaration of pure speed. I love the way my breathing gets more shallow and sweat trickles off my neck, but I don't feel like I'm going to die. I've learned to appreciate a good workout. I also know that I can ALWAYS stop. That's important to me. In the beginning, I felt this obsessive desire to finish each workout and match (if not beat!) the intensity of the previous workout. These days, I listen more to my body. If I feel good, I keep going. If I don't, I walk. Walking is okay; in fact, it's more than okay =)

When it comes to food, I've learned that I like big breakfasts. I used to typically skip breakfast and now the first thing I do when I wake up is think, 'What am I going to eat?' I like big bowls of oats with a banana and peanut butter. I love poached eggs with an English muffin. I like a nice omelet with green pepper, cheddar cheese, sliced turkey/ ham, and mushrooms.

Oh and in case I haven't shared my oats at work breakfast recipe, here it is:


1 packet low sugar instant oats (any flavor you want)
1 small banana
1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter

Mix the oats in a big microwavable bowl with roughly 3/4 cup water.
Put on high for 1.50 minutes
Add sliced banana for 30 seconds
Add peanut butter for 30 seconds

Voila, you have a good bowl of oats.
6 points

I also love big, veggie-heavy dinners. In case I haven't shared, here's my easy, low point stir fry recipe:


Chicken breast (3 ounces)
Half a can of mushrooms (or fresh)
1 green pepper
1/2 can of pinto or butter beans

1/8 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp of sugar
2 tsp of ground ginger

Or, alternate sauce:
1/8 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon of canola oil
1 tsp of sugar

Make the sauce
Marinate the chicken (chopped into bite sized pieces) in the sauce
Chop the green pepper into bite sized pieces
Spray non-stick cooking spray on a frying pan
Add the pepper--cook until tender
Move the pepper to the other side of the pan, and dump in the chicken with some of the sauce (the pan should be hot)
Let the chicken cook (don't move it until the chicken is 3/4 way cooked--should look golden brown on the bottom)
Once the chicken is mostly cooked, toss it with the pepper
Add in all the other ingredients including the rest of the sauce
Cook for approx. 3-5 minutes.
Eat and enjoy

Depending on the sauce, the entire recipe is 5-7 points. You can also add other vegetables to bulk it up. Green beans and spinach make a good addition.

***Note: Do not make this meal the evening before your weigh in, since it's fairly sodium heavy***

Well, I hope that you enjoy the recipes. I know that they are easy and fairly obvious, but I've always liked reading about different takes on simple meals.

In other news, I weighed myself this morning and I'm down to 157.5 =) Happy Thursday everyone.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Emotional Baggage

This is a really hard post to write...mostly because it doesn't present me in my best light. But, heck, I've shared the Sex in the City cookie dough tales with you. So I figure I might as well spit out what's on my mind.

So, here it is: I struggle with being overly concerned with my appearance. I am constantly defining myself by the number on the scale and the size of the clothing that I'm wearing. Since starting this weight loss journey, I have lost roughly 80 pounds. Now, I know that many others have lost more and that in the grand scheme of things maybe 80 pounds isn't so epic. But it's been a major change for me.

I spent most of my early adult-hood, defining myself by my weight. On my better days, I thought of myself as pleasantly curvy--and with a 42DD chest, large hips, and solid thighs. On my worse days, I felt like the hulk. I remember screening men by their reaction to me. Would they like a bigger girl? Did they seem interested in me? And because I didn't value myself enough, I felt that all men who were interested in me (at my current weight) were obviously inferior to the "cool" guys who passed me by, hardly glancing in my direction.

I used my personality as a consolation prize. I laughed a lot, gave a lot, and generally tried to compensate for my too large frame. I let guys treat me badly because I didn't feel I was worthy of anything better. Of course, there were a few exceptions. A sweet, brief summer romance before college. A nice medical student I met before graduate school.

In my head, my weight was my defining feature--the only thing that really mattered.

You would think that if weight was so important to me, I would have done everything in my power to lose it--way before I hit 24 years old. But it's not so simple. At the time, I honestly believed I was doomed to be overweight forever. I felt powerless over my weight, incapable of changing my habits. So, I ate more and more. The more unhappy I got with my weight, the more I binged. It was a vicious circle.

For some reason, I decided to join Weight Watchers in March of 2010 and that decision has been life changing for me. It's been a fantastic ride of learning healthy habits and losing weight.

But I still have the same issues--just the reverse now. I am finally close to being a "normal weight," for the first time in my adult life, and it's amazing. These days, I walk into a bar, and I'm not the fat girl. I no longer feel compelled to compensate for my body. I can smile and flirt with the lead singer of a band, and most likely he'll smile and flirt back. I can wear short skirts and clingy dresses. Random men like to buy me tequila shots. I suddenly feel like an attractive woman in her mid-twenties. With a decent figure to boot.

But now I feel like I've lost sight of who I am (or maybe I never knew). I find myself doing the exact thing as when I weighed 240 lbs--defining myself in terms of my weight. I look to men to validate that I'm "not fat" and end up being more promiscuous that I'd like. I find myself flirting and behaving with men as if they are a ruler of my success: If every man desires me, than maybe I'm desirable. But of course, even the most beautiful women aren't universally beloved. And it's not just because people have different thresholds for beauty. It's because looks are just a small factor of who a person is.

I need to place more value on the inner Katie.
I thought that losing the weight would rid me of this problem, but unfortunately I still carry some of the psychological baggage I had with me throughout my life. I need to focus on losing weight to be a strong and confident person--inside and out. I need to stop obsessing about the labels, fat and thin, and focus instead on being happy and healthy. I need to focus on the deeper issues and be less concerned with the superficial.

Can anyone relate to this? I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

And the verdict is..

Down 0.5 pounds to make it a solid 159. Not too shabby =)

Sidenote: I haven't been paying for WW these past few weeks and I've been weighing in at home. It seems to be working so far. Do you think I should suck it up and pay for WW again? My plan is to go back sometime before I hit goal, so that I can become a lifetime member =) Does anyone know the rules of this? Do I need to lose a certain amount of weight to become a lifetime member?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cheating the System?

I am trying not to be psycho.

Every day, I find myself aspiring to undercut my points. I take a strange pride in being able to exist on less than 22 points (roughly less than 1100 calories a day). I try to outsmart hunger in any way I can--voluminous low point foods, cigarettes, countless diet cokes. Social events are more difficult than ever, as I feel self-conscious turning down food and alcohol that the former Katie wouldn't have thought twice about accepting.

Lately, this strategy has been failing. I simply lack the self-discipline to ALWAYS turn down food, alcohol, and ice cream (a separate category, if you ask me). And the scale is reflecting this weakness. Last week, I weighed in at 159.5 and this morning I weighed in at the same weight, 159.5. And it will probably be worse tomorrow since I indulged in a huge stir fry tonight (green pepper, mushrooms, pinto beans, and chicken--5 points of goodness) and a skinny cow ice cream sandwich. Notice, how I said indulged? Of course, that stir fry and ice cream fit into my 22 point day. But for some reason, I wanted to eat 2o instead of 22.

People say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. Well, I might have to take issue with that. My mom's homemade lasagna, cheesy and crisp from the oven. tasted pretty damn good. As did the homemade ice cream cake that I ate at my brother's graduation. The crust was simple goodness--crunched Milano cookies and butter--and the ice cream, Breyer's vanilla with chocolate chips--was pure joy.

So here it is, hard and simple, I am unwilling to starve myself to get skinny. I am unwilling to deprive myself of the foods and drinks I love in order to get to a certain ideal weight (ideal for whom?). But there has to be a way to achieve both. I look at my skinny sisters, with similar genetics as me, and watch as they strike a balance between indulging and restricting. They eat cake and wear bikinis. If they can do it, so can I.

I have to keep reminding myself that I did not reach 240 pounds by eating normally. Back then, I ate with utter abandon, hardly tasting the foods I consumed in quantities that made me feel sick to my stomach. I remember not even liking a lot of the junk I was eating. I ate because it was there. I ate because it was habit. That is not the case anymore.

Whenever I feel like my diet is out of whack, all I ever have to do is ask myself: Are you following the plan as Weight Watchers intended it? And the answer is always no. These past few weeks, I have tried to undercut the plan, and lose weight more rapidly than the plan allows. But, as usual Weight Watchers designed the plan as it is for a reason. They allotted the minimum number of points because your body needs that number of points to function. And they give out weekly points because it's no fun to have to turn down every homemade dessert and glass of wine.

So, my goal this coming week is to follow the plan as written. I will make sure to get my 22 points and I will use my WPs freely to avoid feeling deprived. I will get to goal. And if it takes a little longer to lose this last ten pounds, so be it. I want to stay thin for the rest of my life. I don't want to turn around and gain the weight right back.

Do you ever feel like you try to "cheat" the system? And do you ever feel irrationally guilty for being full or eating the maximum of your points?

Friday, June 17, 2011

How I've Lost Weight (Recently)

A few people have commented on my recent weight loss and wondered what I was doing differently to lose weight. To answer that question, I think that it's difficult to maintain a steady motivation when you're losing weight for a long time. It's only natural that you go through more motivated times when weight loss is a priority and other times when weight loss is more on the back-burner.

This recent burst of motivation all started at the beginning of May. As you might recall, in March and April I was flirting with OA and torn between following Momentum/ Points Plus. I was struggling with binging--succumbing to binges on a weekly basis--which was keeping me from losing weight. In the beginning of May, I talked to a friend and we decided that we were going to LOSE this last 20-25 pounds. We developed a weight loss spreadsheet and decided on a Weigh-In Day. In addition, I went out and bought an electronic scale so I could stop fretting about the inaccuracy of my weigh-ins. (I checked that electronic scale with my regular WW scale and they are very close).

At that point, I made a quick decision. I opted to go back to Momentum. The logic behind my decision: 1.) I know Momentum very well; 2.) I already have all the Momentum tools and it would be cheaper to follow Momentum by myself, rather than pay to use Points Plus; 3.) I don't trust Points Plus (disclaimer--I'm not saying this is a rational distrust; I just intuitively don't trust the new plan) which means it's more difficult for me to follow.

So, once I had decided to go back to Momentum, I adjusted back to the old plan. At first, I was terrified at the lack of points and the sudden cost of fruit. In fact, I almost quit the first week, because I thought I was starving. But instead, I adjusted back to Momentum. I re-learned how to stretch points and found an amazing (and HUGE) chicken-stir fry that only cost 4 points. I settled back into the Momentum groove and started losing weight immediately.

In addition, I upped my workouts. No, scratch that, I started working out more consistently. I started walking 1.5 miles during my lunch break, five days a week, and I started doing a 20 minute strength training exercise DVD every day, as well.

So, basically the answer to my weight loss is fairly simple: I've eaten less and moved more. A few specific things I'd like to mention about how I'm following Momentum:
  • I hardly use any weekly points.
  • I mostly reserve them for alcohol, and I've cut down on the alcohol quite a bit lately.
  • I've increased the size of my breakfasts and reduced the size of my dinners.
  • And occasionally (if I feel satisfied) I don't eat all my DPs (by a point or 2).
  • I never even think about AP points, since I'm not exercising that intensely.
That's about it. I hope this helps! Do you find that you hit motivation peaks and valleys throughout your weight loss journey?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A New Decade

It's official. I weighed in this morning and saw a number I haven't seen in a very long time: 159.5.

I was kind of stunned when I saw the number, so I walked around my apartment, made some coffee, and checked a second time. Yup, still there =)

I am officially in the 150s!!!

While I am definitely excited about my weight loss and being less than 10 pounds from my "goal weight," a couple of less happy thoughts keep popping up in my head:

  • My body is nowhere near perfect. I thought I'd feel really "skinny" when I got into the 150s. Sadly, that is not the case. First of all, realistically being 5'5'' (and barely that) and 159 pounds does not equal skinny, in anyone's book. I guess, when I was in the 200s, the 150s seemed really small, but that is no longer the case.
  • My life is nowhere near perfect. I thought losing weight would radically change my life and make everything wonderful. While losing weight has been terrific, it has not made my life perfect or solved any of my other problems.
  • The right guy hasn't magically shown up on his white horse to take me to his castle. I guess I thought that my weight was holding me back on the guys front, and well...unfortunately my guy problems were not a direct result of my weight issues.
  • Lastly, I think I'm going to need to set a new goal weight. I'd like to be thin, and yeah, I know this last 9.5 pounds will help, but I think I'm going to need to reset my goal weight. Which is kind of a downer...

Okay, okay, okay. I know what you're thinking: Katie why are you being such a Debby downer? Why are you deliberately looking at the glass as half empty? Well, there are a couple of easy PMS, guy problems, and sleep deprivation.

But, it's also, a tiny bit anticlimactic hitting the 150s. The evil part of my brain says, "Yeah, so?" But the other part is thrilled =) Can anyone else empathize with having conflicted feelings about hitting weight loss milestones?

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Own Worst Bully

It's tempting--awfully tempting--to look back on older photos of myself with a critical eye. Lately, I've noticed that when I look at older photos, my gaze hones in on the extra chins, the rolls of my stomach, my chunky arms. I find myself reveling in how large I used to be, because it shows how much I've accomplished throughout this weight loss journey.

But why go there? Why use my old self and those old photos as a way to make myself feel thinner and prettier? Have I become my own worst enemy?

I was talking to a good friend today, and I mentioned that it was crazy that I still got hit on at bars when I weighed 240 pounds. Her response: "You were model-y in a plus size way back then, with your big features, wavy hair, and big boobs." Her response surprised me. I had gotten so used to disparaging my former, larger self that I forgot how special and lovely I was, even at my highest weight.

I firmly believe that it is a mistake to hate on my old, 240 pound self. Because, like it or not, I am the same person I was then. Yes, now I've changed my eating/ exercising habits and I look different, but I'm still the same old Katie. The girl who gets lost driving around her own neighborhood. The girl who trips when wearing high heels. The girl who can cook addictive (and awesome!) chocolate chip cookies. The girl who reads books over and over again, savoring each scene, each piece of dialogue.

Even at my highest weight, I still had a certain something. A well proportioned figure, pretty eyes, curly hair. A nice smile.

I like the way I look better now--there's no denying that. But the last thing I want is to hate a part of myself. And that 22-year-old Katie did some amazing things. She graduated from two great schools (undergraduate and graduate), she moved to two new cities all alone, she made a life for herself in Richmond. And she made the rather epic decision on March 25, 2010 to join WW to lose the weight and get healthy.

I owe a lot to the former Katie, and I shouldn't forget it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hit 75 pounds!

The verdict is in. I went to my Weight Watcher meeting and weighed in at 163 pounds today, which means that I have officially lost 77 pounds =) Things are good in Katie Land. I am officially 13 pounds from my goal weight, which is an amazing feeling.

In other news, I got featured on the Weight Watcher Weekly =)

I am trying to rise above fretting over the odd angle of my face and the bold stripes of my sweater. In retrospect, it isn't the most flattering photo...and it was taken when I was 15-20 pounds heavier, but regardless, this is a good thing =)

Sorry for the short post! Work has been crazy and I'm so sleepy I can barely see straight. I just wanted to share the good news =)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Debunking the Top Five Weight Loss Myths

It's hard not to feel a little superstitious about weight loss.

I mean, when your body goes from this:
To looking like this:
It's hard to believe there isn't some sort of magic involved.

And when the scale acts like a scale--a twitchy mechanical device that is just as likely to show you a two pound loss as a two pound gain--it's difficult to not start thinking absurd beliefs:

(Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert and I barely passed high school biology. Please do no not take my opinions as anything other than the thoughts of one girl who has lost weight.)

1. Artificial sweeteners (and beverages/ foods with artificial sweeteners) do not hinder weight loss. Now (disclaimer), I honestly don't know how 30 packets of Sweet and Low would impact your body, but, when used relatively normally, these items will not hurt your weight loss. And believe me, I should know, since I routinely drink unsweetened tea with Splenda and I'm addicted to Diet Coke.

2. Processed food will not make you gain weight. Yeah, I know food with ingredients you can't spell is not healthy, but it won't magically make you gain weight. As long as the nutritional value of the food checks out (meaning it's low calorie, low fat, low cholesterol, etc) just the fact that it's processed won't make you gain weight. (It might, however, contain a lot of sodium, which will make you retain water and gain "false weight," but that will come off as soon as you replenish your water.)

3. Eating the same thing over and over again won't make you gain weight. You might, however, bore yourself (and anyone you cook for) to tears, but it won't make you gain weight. (The same applies to exercise routines.)

4. Eating the majority (or all) of your points in one meal will not make you gain weight. It might, however, make you incredibly hungry when you're not eating and incredibly full after that meal. But it will not make you gain weight.

5. Eating right before you go to bed will not make you gain weight. It might give you a tummy ache/ bad breath though.

I'm curious to know if you agree with this list. And do you have any additional weight loss myths to share?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Change in the Season...

I'm not sure how to start this post. I feel like an apology is (again!) in order. I'm sorry friends, I've been a terrible blogger. What can I say? Work has been busy. Life has been busy. And I don't have internet at home. All of which leads to fewer blog posts.

I will try harder to post more regularly, because it helps me to refocus on this journey. And most importantly it gives me an outlet to talk about weight/ health related issues, thereby giving my (very tolerant) friends and family a much-needed break from the saga of Katie's weight loss journey.

And I'm dying to share some good news--I finally found my weight loss mojo again. See, I'm even smiling...

I'm not exactly sure how I got motivated again (there were a long string of months where I was fighting to stick to the program), but somehow I did. I've been counting points (on Momentum), sticking to my points, and have even started to follow through on some sort of exercise regimen. And the crazy thing is--it's showing up on the scale. I started weighing myself on my home scale and I started at 173 (on May 5th). I weighed in last week (June 2nd) at 165.5. That's 7.5 pounds in a month. Not bad!

It's the first significant loss I've had in a while. And there's really no secret to it. I ate less. I drank less. I moved more. Now, finding the motivation to do that...that's not so simple.

Oh, and I found an exercise dvd that I can actually stand. It's been ridiculously hot in Richmond these past few weeks, so I needed an indoor activity. I'm poor (per usual) so I decided to go to the Goodwill and check out their tapes. Lo and behold, I found this prize:

The workout is called Stephanie Huckabee's Power Fit, 5 Day Workout. Stephanie has quickly become my new best friend. The workouts are divided into different target areas (thighs and shoulders, butt and abs, etc...) and each one is 20 minutes long. The workouts are not that difficult--nothing like Jillian Michael's 20 minutes of torture--but they do exercise the key muscles and I definitely felt sore afterwords. The competitive, type A part of my brain says I should be doing more. But the realistic part says that 20 minutes a day, five times a week is SO much better than my haphazard, more strenuous exercise routine.

Plus, the workouts are moderate enough so that I'm not completely starving afterwards. Which is a good thing, since I only get 23 points a day.

Speaking of points and Momentum, it took a while to adjust to the new plan. At first, I was absolutely starving, but after a while I started developing some tactics to help keep me content:

  • Protein in every meal is ESSENTIAL. I started eating an egg for breakfast as opposed to my oatmeal and that's really helped to keep me full longer.
  • You can add beans to stir fries. The other day, I was cooking a stir fry and randomly decided to add half a cup of pinto beans. Not only did the beans add protein, but they also eliminated the need for rice. It was a win-win.
  • Saving all your points until the end of the day is a recipe for disaster. You get too hungry and end up overeating at dinner.
  • High fiber/ low calorie tortillas are great to keep in the house. You can use them for sandwiches, homemade pizza, wraps, etc. Lately, I've gotten obsessed with a wrap with almond butter, jelly, and sliced banana.
Anyway, things are going well on the weight loss front and I hope this motivation continues until I get into the 150s (at least!). I think that it might have something to do with the weather--my appetite really diminishes when it's crazy hot outside. Winter, on the other hand, tends to make me want to eat heavy things (bulk up). What do you think? Do any of you notice a change in your diet/ cravings with the change of the seasons?