From My WW (aka Weight Watchers) Lifestyle
Why I am not taking a break from my WW Lifestyle? Well, 3 Years ago I finally made the step to “rejoin” Weight Watchers. I do not really want to call it rejoin as I only had done WW once years ago back in Germany. For a very short period of time. At that time, I lost 15 Kilogram. And gained a lot more than that back, after I stopped because I thought I had successfully completed my diet.
So it took me a lot of years to seriously do something about being overweight again. Some health scares (vertigo, too close for comfort to diabetes) had me on the edge for a while. But only when we got this energetic little pooch, I realized walking and running around is kind of tough with all this weight. And not so much fun.
But the universe sent us the most energetic puppy there was. He would not stop and no furniture was safe from his little puppy teeth, unless we made sure his energy was worn off. And that only worked when we walked and played outside. A lot. And then some. And my body was so heavy, it really wore me off much more than it did him. So something had to happen, but I did not have any trust in my discipline.
One Day in April 2017 I finally thought, I will just give it a try. What do I have to lose? If it does not work, it’s not working. But I promised myself, if it works, I will do this as a new lifestyle and not as a diet. And that meant I could not deprive myself. I could not do this by starving myself for a while to get rid of some of the weight and then “go back to normal”. This had to be my NEW NORMAL. Weird term to use right now during the pandemic when this is probably one of the most used terms in 2020.
Well this was 2017, no pandemic in sight but I am definitely thanking my 2017 self for having taken that step now in 2020 with everything going on. And so I got started and with me the hubby, which is super helpful. He had gained some “we moved to the US” pounds he wanted to lose and he also tends to pack on a little weight if he is not looking after what he is eating and most importantly, how much.
And I approached this, as I am approaching many things at work – with a strategy and a plan. I researched and tried a lot of recipes for different things. Since I love pasta, removing pasta from my diet was not an option. I learned I could very well have pasta, I just had to switch ground turkey for the low fat beef I usually used in my meat sauce and eat 1 portion instead of 2. Then I found some delicious sweet treats that fit my plan at that time. I experimented until I found a breakfast that had the right point / satisfaction ration and so on. I even found ice cream (Enlightened) that works for us to have a weekly ice cream sundae. Even with toppings.
And then came our first vacation after I had started. Just a few months later, actually. And I was scared. Because I was an active reader on Connect, the WW (Weight Watchers) Social Media platform for WW members. And many, many members shared there, how they took a break from WW during their vacation time. And I followed some of them, just to see how it went. Disclaimer: I am not judging. At all! Everyone needs to find their own way.
Many of those that had taken a break came back and were struggling to “get back on track”. That really scared me even more. But when I read their vacation posts (if they did any) it seemed as if they had not just taken a break but had gone back to their pre-WW way of eating. Not only the same food they indulged in previously, but most importantly also the same quantities.
Now, my brain as much as likely theirs had been trained to overestimate the amount of food my body actually needed to fuel. And most importantly to feel satisfied. It was all in my head though. When I started WW and forced myself to stop after the portion size the WW app deemed to be sufficient for my size, weight, level of activity etc. I was hungry. But it was only in my head. The portion size just looked so tiny. Compared to what I had previously consumed, anyways. So I had started tricking myself by using smaller bowls and plates for my food than I would use for my husbands portion. And that surprisingly did the trick. The trick on my brain. And so I started to feel satisfied. Not full to a point of feeling uncomfortable. Just satisfied.
So when I thought about our vacation, I decided I would not “take a break”. I reminded myself that I had promised myself if this worked, it was going to be my new lifestyle. I am German and if I am setting a rule for myself, it’s on. So IF this was going to be my lifestyle, than vacations would have to work on the plan, too. Because vacations are clearly part of my lifestyle and always will be.
And so we went. I had lost a couple of pounds already. I was not where I wanted to be, but it helped with surviving the heat and the activities needed to keep this pooch entertained. We had a blast.
I got to have a lot of anticipation as well, as I spent the nights leading to our trip at home researching restaurants and their menus to come up with options of food I could eat. I had already planned to also cook myself some of the dishes we liked. We rented an Airbnb so cooking ourselves was not a problem at all. We had our standard breakfast, our Starbucks coffee (yes, I found a coffee drink that works on my plan) and then were free to either go out for dinner or eat in. There was A LOT of grilled fish with veggies. And I loved it. I actually like fish, lean poultry and meats and veggies a lot. I was just previously to lazy to cook all of this myself or make a healthy breakfast for that matter.
But this was no different than building any other habit. With repetition comes routine comes proficiency and enjoyment. And so after a few weeks of being exhausted while going through the “change management process” I was there. And I have been there since. No breaks. Not even, when I have been sick or life got overwhelming. The more overwhelming life gets, the more comfort I am getting from meal prepping the lazy way. Check-out some of my tips here.
My new lifestyle sustained a couple of vacations so far. I will not lie. It’s not always easy and it requires effort. You need to prepare food, you will have to likely find a vacation place where you can also cook yourself to not just eat out. And you need to find restaurants that you can make work on your plan. But you will be rewarded with a lot of energy for whatever shenanigan’s you have planned during your trips. Lots of walking? No problem with ~60lb less.
We went back to the same vacation place a year after our first “vacation on the WW plan”. I had lost a lot of pounds by then and had reached my goal weight. We had a blast again. Yes, we ate at the same restaurant almost all the time when we dined out. And had similar dishes, too. But we loved it that way. It was great.
Breaks from our lifestyle have not yet happened and I do not plan on changing anything. I have been maintaining my weight loss for over 2 years now. And I am feeling good about. Most importantly, my level of fitness helps me with any health risks that are out there in 2020. I am not having diabetes. I did not have a vertigo attack since and I am able to walk, run and play with the dog, even at 90 degrees heat.
This new lifestyle does absolutely include ordering food delivery. Mainly pizza and sushi and once in a while Chinese food as well. It’s not a problem. We are regularly getting Chik-fil-A takeout, too. And I am always portioning things out, to fit my plan. The only exception is pizza. If we are ordering pizza, I am not just eating two tiny slices. That would not work for me. But I do not have to. I am making sure that I eat less for the rest of the day and take it easy in the days before and after the pizza order. But I am indulging in my favorite pizza.
But honestly, my favorite pizza is already a light version of a pizza as I am having mushroom, green peppers and roasted red peppers on my pizza. And I am ordering the pizza with less cheese and less of the sugary marinara sauce. In return I am eating as many slices, as I like. That is still never the entire pizza as I would have eaten before my new lifestyle. And that’s also why I am not taking a break.
This one exception also keeps me on my toes of not taking breaks. Firstly I do not have to, I can have pizza and stay on my plan for the bigger picture. Secondly, it’s tough to not want to eat a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream right after. And another pizza or similarly dangerous fast food the next day. And that gives me a small glimpse at what would happen, would I take a break from my lifestyle. I would have a really hard time getting back. And with every pound gained, it would get more and more difficult.
I am 45 years old. As much as I feel young and energetic, I am not going to lose the pounds “as easily” as I did 2 years ago, that’s for sure. So a “vacation break” or a “things are too overwhelming and stressful break” would turn into, I fell off the wagon and the wagon then rolled right over me. Instead I continue to remind myself, that comfort food does not exist (for me anymore). Check out my post about my journey to this realization here.
And if I feel exhausted and blame it on my new lifestyle being “difficult”, I am looking at pictures like these. On the left I was too heavy to enjoy exercise and playtime. I felt uncomfortable and shopping clothes was a nightmare that involved tears more often than not. On the right it’s me playing mini golf with my hubby on our anniversary of being a couple for 20 year. And it was even my idea. At 90+ degrees. And I had FUN doing it. A lot of fun.
When you start your journey, people at first do not notice. And many of us are dependent on the feedback of others as confirmation we are doing the right thing. That’s the first hurdle for many. If we make it through that, people start noticing and those compliments are driving many of us to continue. Great fuel and energy. But once we meet our goal weight, these surprised faces of barely recognizing us, that kept us energized, are not happening as much anymore. Some people now even just know our new, smaller self. That’s the next hurdle. In order to be able to sustain this, you need to enjoy the journey yourself.
Experiment with new food and recipe ideas, use meal prepping as a means of avoiding mishaps and to help you through stressful times without requiring to take a break from your lifestyle. And develop routines. Routines are super helpful to just keep going without overthinking it. I am talking about the power of routines here.
So the answer to “why I am not taking a break” from my WW lifestyle is, this is my life. It will be my life until, well I am not alive anymore. I am completely fine with that. Taking a break would make things more complicated than I could ever enjoy a week or two on vacation mindlessly splurging on all things. Our next trip is coming up. We are going to be in another Airbnb. In a cabin on a mountain facing the great smoky mountains. I am sure the region has some delicious local food. And I will sample whatever I want to sample. And I will make it work on plan.
I will prepare some food to take as our basics, we will go grocery shopping and cook whenever we want to. And if we want to dine out, we will. Unless it is so cold, that we can’t eat outside. We are bringing our little monster with us for long walks and hiking trips. And what I am looking forward to is the time spent outside with cooler air, hiking, seeing towns we haven’t been to and making memories.
And this little one will keep us busy, that’s for sure. So calories will be burned left and right.
As always, you gotta do you. Breaks would not work for me, if I am seeing this as a lifestyle change. Breaks / cheat days or weeks to me would make this a diet. A diet includes depriving myself and starving myself. I am not doing any of this. For example I am eating chocolate every night with my espresso after dinner. And I am having pasta at least 2-3 times a week and I am eating “bread” in the form of home baked 2 ingredient dough inventions. It’s what we like eating and we are fine with enjoying this in the portion sizes our bodies actually need.
You are successfully doing things differently? Great! Please keep doing what you are doing. Because that is all that matters – that this journey works for you. Ideally for the rest of your life.