Monday, February 13, 2012

Lose It How You Want to Live It

I'm not 100% sure if this advice has been given to me, or if I've just heard (i.e. read on the WW's boards) it given to others, but either way, it resonates.

The idea is that you don't want to do anything now (while you're losing weight) that you wouldn't want to keep up with when you get to goal and maintain your weight.  (You know, for forever.)

And while I love Weight Watchers, and the tools it provides, I do not want to be counting points and tracking my food foreverrrrr.  I just don't.

Let's backtrack, shall we?  The year is 2004, I'm 20 years old, about to enter my final year of college, and realize I'm at my heaviest weight ever.  I got an e-mail from Weight Watchers Online that contained the success story of a young woman who was my height, had my starting weight, and had achieved the goal weight I had in mind.  I joined immediately, learned how to count points, haves snacks, and reasonably enjoy meals out.  I didn't drink at the time, so keggers weren't an issue for me, like they are for a lot of college students.  I also was living off-campus and had my own kitchen and was able to prepare my own meals.  It was awesome, and I felt I learned so much.

Nine months later, I had lost 40ish lbs and felt and looked the best I ever had.  It was the first time I can clearly remember being happy with my body.  Around the time I was reaching my goal weight, some friends suggested a book to me: The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower.  In a nutshell, the book discusses the French Paradox and the author's experience of losing weight and getting healthy in France, despite is resolve to give up worrying about calories and fat grams.  The basic recommendation was to eat whole foods, ditch the processed stuff, listen to your hunger signals, and eat in moderation.

That just made so much sense!  For the next year and a half, I'd say I followed Dr. Clower's advice about 90% of the time.  I still had my indulgences, but they weren't frequent.  And I maintained my ideal weight that whole time!  It wasn't until I started graduate school that I began to make processed and fast foods a part of my regular diet again.  And that's when I started to gain the weight back.  Some of it was stress eating from a stressful work environment, some of it was eating out too often when I became involved in a new relationship, but a lot of it was that I just didn't take the time to make wholesome foods anymore.

I recently wrote that after conquering my emotional binge eating episodes, it was time to refocus on my weight loss efforts.  I rejoined Weight Watchers Online.  But I've found that I'm burnt out on counting points.  I've been doing on and off for the past 8 years, and more on than off in the past 4 years.  I have to get honest with myself: Am I willing to count points forever?

This is a scary question for a loyal(ish) WWer.  You think, "If it's worked before, it'll work again, so I'll just keep doing it."  And don't get me wrong, Weight Watchers is a fantastic program.  But I'm sick of counting and tracking and I don't want to do it forever.  I know that I've had success with just "watching what I ate" and listening to my body, so I've decided to wean myself off of WW. The first step is to stop counting points.  Since I currently have my Weight Watchers Online subscription through April, I'm not giving it up just yet.  I am switching my tracker to the Simply Filling Technique and I will track what I eat, but not count points for it.  I decided to keep tracking for the moment because I sometimes tend to do a lot of "well, I haven't had a treat in a while, I can eat this cookie."  But really, I had a treat earlier that week, or maybe for breakfast that day.  I'm also going to keep my weekly WI to hold me accountable to my choices.  If I start gaining, then I'll be able to go back and see just how often I have a "once in a while" treat.

While I didn't track anything over the weekend, and do think I listened to my hunger signals, I'm calling today Day 1 of no counting.  I'm keeping my WI's on Friday.  I need to do some cooking to make sure I've got good meals to get me through the week. 

Project Eating Real Foods starts now.

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