Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thoughts on Weight Watchers

It was hard getting back to reality this morning. After coming home from Indiana yesterday, I felt like I needed a weekend to get back into our usual routine, but the kids had to go to school today. After I got them on the bus, I was debating if I should skip my run today--it was raining outside, and I really didn't feel like running in the cold rain.

Even though I always think about skipping out, I never do ;) But thankfully, the rain stopped long enough for me to get a run in! I had four miles at tempo pace on the schedule. It wasn't too cold this morning, and felt perfect for running... until I realized just how windy it was.

The first couple of miles flew by at an 8:18/mi pace, but I had a tail wind. When I turned around, the wind was SO strong I felt like I was running in place. I pushed harder, to try and hold the same pace I was running, and I felt like I was. But when I looked at my Garmin after mile three, I saw 8:36. The wind made a huge difference! I had a headwind the entire way home, so the last mile was pretty challenging as well.

But I still finished with a great overall pace, and felt like I got a good workout.

When I got home, I showered and got dressed to go to my Weight Watchers meeting. When I got there, I weighed in (stayed the same as last week, which was good). There was a woman in the meeting who reached her Lifetime status today, and she was really excited about that. I have three more weeks of maintenance until I reach Lifetime.

I've been asked quite a bit recently if I think that Weight Watchers is worth the money, and if I like it better than counting calories. I really think it depends on the person. I've already proven that I can do Weight Watchers on my own, without paying them a dime--so in my instance, I would say that it's not worth the money. HOWEVER--I know that I wouldn't have stuck with it if I hadn't paid them when I joined online a few months ago. I didn't want the money to go to waste, so I followed the program. If I hadn't paid for it, it would have been easy to just quit on Day 1, like I wanted to.

Some people really thrive off of the meetings, and getting weighed in. If you're one of those people, then I think that the money would be worth it. It's pretty expensive--I believe it's $12 per week, which includes your weigh-in and all the meetings you want to attend that week.

However, the whole thing still boils down to whether you're willing to put in the effort to making lifelong changes. Weight Watchers can give you the tools you need to count PointsPlus, and the support you may want, but they aren't the ones making decisions about what/how much you eat. I've been following WW program for the past few months, and I've lost over 20 pounds--but I'm the one that made every single decision about what I ate, how much I ate, how much I exercised, etc. I had to have that self-control to make the program work. You get out of the program what you put into it.

In that sense, if you have that self-control, then you can make any program work for you. There are many free programs for weight loss (SparkPeople is my favorite, and what I used to lose the majority of my weight); but again, those will only work if you make the right decisions.

The WW plan is very similar to counting calories--you can eat anything you want, but you measure out your portions and count the PointsPlus/calories for that portion, keeping your daily PP/calories within a certain range. The biggest difference between the two plans is that WW has "free" fruits and vegetables, that you don't have to count against your daily target. When counting calories, you count EVERY calorie that passes your lips; on WW, you don't have to count the fruits or most veggies.

Counting PP is also much easier to tally than counting calories. For example, it's easier to remember that you had 8 PP for lunch than it is to remember that you had 378 calories for lunch. It's especially easier to add up your meals in your head--6 PP for breakfast + 8 PP for lunch + 10 PP for dinner + 6 PP for snacks instead of adding up 248 calories for breakfast + 378 calories for lunch + 569 calories for dinner + 431 calories for snacks.

Those are the two main reasons I like Weight Watchers at this point. The biggest downside is that it's expensive; but there are ways around that. I followed WW without paying for a while in 2009-2010. I bought the materials and did it on my own. I used SparkPeople to calculate the nutrition info in recipes, and then I used that nutrition info to calculate the Points. All you really need is the PP calculator; and there are free phone apps for calculating PP.

I'm getting way off track here! Basically, I am really liking the WW program right now; I think it's expensive, but worth the money if you're willing to put in the work. In a nutshell :)

Anyway, after my meeting, Jerry and I wrapped the kids' Christmas presents. Estelle was in heaven with all the bags and paper all over the floor...
Here she was getting ready to attack Phoebe, who was innocently poking around.

Jerry and I discovered that we are a couple of gifts short for Noah--not sure how that happened! So I'll have to go get him a couple more presents, probably tomorrow. My sister gave the boys a Kinect for the Xbox, and I'm actually pretty excited about that. I've heard that there are some good exercise games for the Kinect, so I think I may do another six-week challenge when I get home from Key West. I haven't been strength training (yet again) so I need to get back at it!

21 comments:

  1. My son got Kinetic for XBox last year for Christmas and the games themselves can be quite a workout! Basically YOU, your body, is the controller. There is lots of movement. I think you and the boys and Jerry are all going to love it.

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    1. I watched Jerry mess around with it, and it kind of creeped me out! ;) I'm going to give it a try once we get a game that interests me.

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  2. " I had to have that self-control to make the program work. You get out of the program what you put into it. "

    I really really needed to hear this today. Thank you. I have been struggling hard core to get back on track and am feeling very overwhelmed. I just need to take it one day and one step at a time.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts of WW and PointsPlus. I think I am just going to keep plugging along with SparkPeople, but we shall see!

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    1. Getting back on track can be really difficult--I've had to do it a few times in my journey, and it feels even harder than getting started in the first place! But I find that if you're persistent, and you just keep trying, you'll still make progress until you feel ready to give it your all again.

      I love SparkPeople, and if you're enjoying their program, there is no reason to make any changes. I joined WW out of sheer desperation to get my weight gain back under control.

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  3. You're going to LOVE the Kinect. There are so many things you can do with it!

    "Your Shape: Fitness Evolved" for Kinect is a "game" you need to look into. It's a good workout and fun.

    I read an article some time ago in which the author compared Kinect's Dance Central to running (in terms of aerobic exercise/calorie burn) and she proved that Dance Central burns more calories than running! Obviously I don't know the specific details to this experiment but I can vouch on DC being a good workout. I own Dance Central 1 and 2 and they are a blast and make you SWEAT. I am far from coordinated but it doesn't matter when no one is looking (or when everyone is looking. It's great for parties too!).

    Sonia
    Los Angeles

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    1. I've heard great things about Dance Central--I'm SO not a dancer, so I don't know if I would like it, but I may give it a try ;)

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  4. Thanks for the insight. I was thinking about doing Weight Watchers as I saw how good you were doing on it, mostly because a few weeks ago my weight loss had stalled. I use SparkPeople and really love it. I've lost 30 pounds so far, with about 10 left to go. And I want to thank you, reading your blog has inspired me to start running, and I completed my first 5k last weekend. I could only run about 2/3 of it, but I'm so proud of myself that I completed it. And the weird thing is that I actually enjoy running! I got a Kinect about a month ago and have the Nike fitness game and I really like it. It's tough, but it gives you a good workout in 30 minutes. You can pick how many days you want to work out and it includes a day of strength training (although I'm going to start doing more because I don't feel that is enough). Anyway thanks again for your motivation!

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    1. Congrats on your 30 pound weight loss!! That's fantastic :) And if you're enjoying SparkPeople, I would stick with that. I couldn't seem to get back on track with Spark, and I was feeling desperate to do something, so I thought maybe by paying for Weight Watchers I'd actually stick with it. Like I wrote in the post, both programs are very similar, so there is no need to make the switch if you like what you're doing :)

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  5. Hi Katie,
    I started reading your blog about a month before you broke your jaw, you were still blogging on spark people at the time. This is the first time I have commented and it actually has nothing to do with this post. First let me say that you are an inspiration. I will tell you my story. Over two years ago I decided to try and lose weight AGAIN. I started off at 248 lbs, I am 5'5" and was 31 years old. I have been married to my high school sweatheart for 13 years and have 3 kiddos. I was inspired to see someone like me lose the weight and later see you continue to keep it off. So I gave it another try and began to lose weight, my goal weight was 135. I started couch to 5K in preparation to run a river to river relay with my family (adults). I got down to 198 lbs in about 6 months and was able to run in the relay which basically intailed 3 5ks in one day. I was so excited to be in onederland and finish the race. Unfortunately I began to celebrate in all the wrong ways and the weight slowly piled on. Long story short I am back up to 248 lbs and I am miserable because of it. I had mentally decided to have the sleeve gastrectomy surgery to lose and keep the weight off. I approached my husband about it tonight and he said he is not comfortable with the risks involved. So many tears later I went in search of your blog. I need someone like you to tell me that it is possible to lose the weight AND keep it off. Will I ever be able to stop binge eating? Help

    Lauren

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    1. Hi Lauren,
      I know how daunting it is to see that you have to RElose the weight--I've had to do that many times in my life! But I KNOW that you can lose the weight and keep it off without getting the surgery. The surgery isn't the answer you're looking for--I've gotten MANY e-mails from people who have had weight loss surgery, and they tell me that they gained the weight back and it wasn't the answer to their weight problems (my mother-in-law is an example). I really felt hopeless before I started losing the weight, and I never imagined that I would one day get to my goal!

      I'd be happy to chat some more with you, if you'd like. Just send me an e-mail at SlimKatie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. But I really do believe that you can do this!

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    2. Thanks so much, Katie. I will be in touch after the holidays. Have a Merry Christmas!

      Lauren

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  6. the yourshape game is a great workout and really fun! I don't know how the wii workout game works (other than what you posted), but Yourshape doesn't really have a six-week challenge or anything like that. You can set up challenges for yourself, but it doesn't give you a day by day plan - it just gives you a certain number of minutes to meet, and marks certain workouts based on the type of challenge you picked (there's weight loss, strength training...and something else, i haven't done it in a while). I actually prefer to not do it like that, because if you do any workout besides the ones it marked for you, it doesn't count towards your goal minutes.

    sorry, didn't mean to get all teachy on you, but I do love the game - also the dance game is super intense. I can't even get through one dance without having to sit down and breathe (but I'm exactly in great shape.)

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    1. I love the idea of meeting a certain number of minutes! It would be fun to see the progress as I do more and more. I will have to check that game out, thanks for sharing!

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  7. Hey Katie!
    I will be in Miami (99%) round the 2nd of January.
    As, you got me started in my weight-loss journey I would love to meet you.



    If it is okay with you, and our dates coincide we could meet at a central place.
    :)

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    1. Hey there! I'm actually not going to be arriving in Miami until the 3rd--and I'm so sorry, but I have a trillion things to do before the race starts! Normally, I'd be happy to meet up, but I'm only going to be in Miami for about 20 hours, and my team is going to be crazy busy getting prepared for the race. Have fun and enjoy (what I hope is) great weather! :)

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  8. I subscribe to Weight Watchers Online and it's only about $25 a month. I have access to many, many tools and resources through WW online and I just need to enter my food/exercise and it calculates all points for me. Granted, I don't have the face to face support of weekly meetings, but it works great for me and is less expensive. I think an investment of $25 a month into my health is a small price. Just wanted to mention that for those who are on a tight budget or may not have meetings in their area or a schedule that can accomodate meetings. Thanks again, Katie! You inspire me!

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    1. Yes, that's a good point. I meant to mention that--I've used both WW Online and now I'm using the meetings, but I feel pretty much the same about both. WW Online is great for people who know the program already; it's not so great at explaining the program to those who are new to the program. But it's definitely more affordable!

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  9. I go to Weight Watchers for the accountability and because it entertains me. I found the best meeting and wake up at 6:15 on Saturday morning just to be there on time. I actually don't count Points consistently. Occasionally I count Points and sometimes I use Sparkpeople to count calories. My goal is to not have to count anything ever again, just to know when to stop eating. I realize there will probably be points in my life where I need to revisit tracking even after I lose weight.

    So when I attend WW, I go with the mindset of learning general tips for weight loss. At this point, most meetings cover stuff I've sat through before, but sometimes the topic hits closer to home than other times. Like, I may have been planning to get back into exercise, and then there's a meeting about exercise so that finally pushes me into it.

    I use the monthly pass for $40 a month and I don't really use eTools that much except for tracking my weight. So my meetings are about $10 each, which is how much a movie costs. I never go to movies, so I figure it's okay to splurge on WW.

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  10. I completely agree with you! WW is an expensive tool - which is very helpful, but ultimately it comes down to the individual and their commitment/choices.

    I've used WW on and off "successfully" since 2003. WW is a great place to start, especially for someone who wants to lose weight but doesn't know much about how many calories they should eat, and/or they dread having to count calories (personally, I abhor counting calories).

    I've tried both the old and new WW programs (Points and Points Plus)... I personally prefer the old Points program - mainly because it's the one I used the longest AND I can now do it for free (there are plenty of online resources with the calculations for daily Points allowance, etc...). With all that said, I do miss having the WW online tools.

    Along the way I discovered some flaws with the WW so I modified it slightly. I don't agree with calculating higher fat foods at a higher Points value. I understand why they do it - and if someone is eating crappy fattening food then yes, by all means it probably should be calculated a little higher than healthy foods... but an egg is healthy and 70 calories. It counts for 2 pts (on the old program). 2 eggs would then be 140 calories but is counted as 4 pts ... yet if you keep in mind that the general rule of thumb is 1 pt = ~50 calories - then 2 eggs would actually be 3 pts not 4 pts... but, because of the fat content - it bumps up the points.

    Other examples would be nuts, cheese/dairy... all very healthy/beneficial foods (when used in moderation) but they tend to have higher points values due to the fat content.

    It took a few years but I finally realized that fat isn't the enemy. The body and brain NEED fat! Yes, fat has more than double the amount of calories per gram than protein or carbs... However, 150 calories = 150 calories - whether it is coming from fat or not. So I stopped calculating points based on fiber/fat/calories and instead switched to the 50 cal = 1 pt as a general rule (and I count half points too so 75 cal = 1.5 pts).

    In a way I am counting calories - but I'm using points instead because as you mentioned - it's easier to mental add and keep track of 5, 10, 7 and 6 pts than it is to calculate 248, 492, 361, and 305 (as previously mentioned I hate counting calories).

    We all know calories in vs calories out - but weight loss isn't always that simple. Sometimes you can have too many calories out and not enough calories in and yet gain weight... or you get stuck in a plateau for weeks or months!

    I've learned a LOT about health, nutrition, and fitness over the last several years. Now that I'm more knowledgeable about this stuff I'm fully capable of losing weight without WW... but when others ask about my weight loss success (thus far - because I'm still a work in progress) I typically recommend they look into WW because it would take far too much time to explain everything I've learned over the years. Or, for those who can't afford WW I highly recommend SparkPeople too - it's free and is full of resources.

    I've had a treadmill for years - but it didn't do me any good until I used it. Having a tool and using it to one's benefit is what makes the difference... WW is a tool - nothing more, nothing less... as you put it: You get out of the program what you put into it. :D

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  11. Katie, have you ever been on Weight Watchers while you were strength training? I do boot camp four times a week, in addition to my running, and WW just bugged me. Every time I'd step on the scale, the number would go up, even if I've lost inches. And rationally, I would KNOW why the number has gone up, but it sucks when the number on the scale is what WW looks at! And I had always read that if you keep up with the strength training, the number on the scale eventually evens out, but mine never did. Even when I am losing inches, the scale is going up!

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  12. Katie, I'm excited that you're getting a Kinect! I work in a video game store and the other day I was given a few free Kinect games to try out (fitness ones) so they're on my "to try" list.

    For you I'd recommend Your Shape: Fitness Evolved for Kinect. It's an all around workout (Similar to Wii Fit), it has aerobic workouts , strength exercises and Yoga for a core workout. There is also a UFC Trainer program which I heard is good too. There are a few dance games as well (Dance Central and Zumba) but I saw above that you're not into the dance games as much (me neither). So Your Shape and UFC are the ones I'd recommend to look into.

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)