The last 2 pounds

As of Wednesday, I’m officially 2.2 pounds from my goal weight.

Though I’ve barely budged in months, I’ve tried not to get discouraged . . . because everyone said this would happen.

weight lossAfter going like gangbusters for months, completely revamping my diet and getting serious about every. little. morsel. passing through my lips, I took off more than 30 pounds in nine months. My progress was crazy. I felt so different, so much better . . . and just really, really proud.

Because I took off so much so quickly, I figured I’d be at my goal weight by now. I took it for granted. It’s been a little frustrating to see the scale barely move, but I’ve actually lost 3.5 pounds since writing this post near my birthday.

I’m so close to being “done” . . . but I really know I’m just beginning.

When I started Weight Watchers (affiliate link) in January, the hardest part was accepting the changes I was making weren’t temporary — the goal is, of course, to get healthy for a lifetime. I was emotional in those early days, whittling down my portions to something the program would deem appropriate, thinking I simply could not survive on anything less than a bowl of pasta a day.

I’m serious.

I could, of course. And I have. I won’t say I don’t have my bad days — my crave everything, bring me lots of chocolate and don’t ask questions days — but they are few and far between. The best part of Weight Watchers has been gaining the knowledge that you can eat whatever you like . . . you just have to hold yourself accountable.

WW has taught me how to do that. Not to deprive myself or starve myself, send myself on endless guilt trips or get hooked on some kind of diet food . . . but to really live my life, and well. I still eat cupcakes; I just count them into my daily Points allowance. I’m so indoctrinated on Points values and high-protein foods and eating well that I really don’t even think about what I’m doing anymore — I just do it. I’m on WW autopilot, and that’s a beautiful thing.

But I haven’t gotten here alone. From the beginning, my fiance — newly-minted at the time! — has been endlessly comforting and supportive of my changes. I didn’t realize I’d slipped into a dark place until I saw the splinter of light my new lifestyle afforded me — and though I would stress Spencer certainly never pushed me into making changes, he has always encouraged me. Because he wants me to be happy.

In fact, Spence and I joined WW together — and have stuck with it together. Though never overweight, he was interested in adopting healthier eating habits and, of course, keeping all the bad stuff out of arm’s reach for me. We learned the ins and outs of eating well together, limiting our portions and getting endlessly creative at mealtimes, and I’m so thankful for his love and dedication to helping me be more.

That’s why he’s going to make an excellent husband . . . in less than four weeks!

All this is to say, if you’re thinking about making a change — with your weight, diet, exercise routines, whatever — well, the “buddy system” is far from baloney. Having someone really in the trenches with me, guiding me and offering advice made a world of difference.

And if you don’t have that buddy to make the first change or visit to Weight Watchers with you, have no fear — because you’ll make new friends in meetings. I guarantee it. Though it’s been months since I met up with our Wednesday night crew (shame on me!), we met so many awesome people of all ages and walks of life by sitting ourselves down with a leader once a week for inspiration and encouragement. I miss that group.

I joined Weight Watchers for Spencer, wanting to know we’d have as many healthy years together as I could grant us. Wanting to be happy — and not self-conscious — during our engagement. But I’ve stayed with it for me.

One of my biggest fears is the idea of being felled prematurely by an illness or disease I might have been able to prevent if I’d only lived a little cleaner, so I drink my water, eat my vegetables, indulge in the occasional treat and really savor it — and I don’t worry so much anymore. Losing weight has freed up so much of my mental space and given me so much energy . . . though both have been consumed by wedding planning of late.

But no matter.

Even if the last 2 pounds linger, if they refuse and refuse to budge . . . well, I’ve come so far that I could never go back.

I’m in the home stretch, and it will continue to be a beautiful ride.


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Almost to goal: weight loss update

Weight loss


Well, it’s August 1 — a brand-new month! — and my weight loss end is nigh, friends. Really this time. With your kind support and encouragement in June, I decided to push myself past my original goal to lose 25 pounds and aim to get back in the “healthy” BMI range for my height.

As of Wednesday, I’ve shed 28.6 pounds since January and am just 5 pounds from my goal weight with Weight Watchers. After seven months of completely revamping my diet and eating habits, I’m thick in the middle of wondering “what’s next.” As I edge closer to going on maintenance, meaning I’ll be eating more to sustain my weight rather than actively keeping losing, I’m nervous — but excited, too. Because I did it! Well, almost. But I’m going to do it!

How am I feeling? Well, I’m feeling awesome. I had no concept of how heavy I felt until I became . . . lighter. Running errands last week, Spencer detoured to the fitness section of Walmart and handed me a 30-lb. weight. I could barely hold it, marveling that I could possibly have had all of that on my frame. For the first time in my 5-foot-two-inch life, I actually feel petite.


Almost 30 pounds


On a whim Wednesday, I ran into a department store for new pants. Little I own fits these days. I realized all the jeans I have are size 12 or 14, and I’m now . . . an 8. EIGHT. I wasn’t an 8 when I was walking six miles a day in college. I wasn’t an 8 when graduating from high school. I have never, ever worn a single-digit size, and I’m going to be honest: I’m REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.

All-caps kind of excited about it.

But it’s not about the size. Truly. I feel healthy, energetic, bold, confident. I feel better now, at 28, than I did at 22 (or even 18). Tons of fresh fruits and vegetables have become a way of life. I’m less careful about what I’m eating than how much I’m eating, though I’ve cut back or cut out some foods from my diet (like bread and pasta. Sigh). While I’ve always enjoyed seafood, fish are my new BFFs.

Desserts have been hard, but I can honestly tell you I’ve rarely felt deprived. All things in moderation, right? I still enjoy the occasional sweet, but I’m in control of foods and desserts . . . not controlled by them. Sounds simple, maybe, but I’ve gone from a woman with no self-control to someone who takes her health very seriously. I religiously keep track of what I’m eating (and how much), and I hold myself accountable. I’ve never missed a week of weighing in with Weight Watchers, and I don’t intend to.

What’s the greatest thing I’ve gained through loss? Freedom. I spent years worrying about my weight — gaining and feeling uncomfortable, having bridesmaid’s dresses let out, feeling awkward in unflattering photos (or refusing to be in them at all). After taking the first step to change that, I immediately felt relief — and have been released from so much anxiety and self-consciousness by making a commitment to myself. You hear these platitudes — you know, you’re worth it! — but believe me when I say . . . you are.

I was. I am.

Here’s to the last 5 pounds.


End goal

photo

Post Weight Watchers treat (frozen yogurt!)


My weight loss goal is in sight.

And that scares me a little.

I’ve started talking with the Weight Watchers crew about my end goal: where I really see myself. How much more do I want to lose? How am I going to know when to stop?

With 23.2 pounds lost and just 1.2 until I hit my personal goal, I have so many conflicting emotions about the next step. At this point, I really believe I’ve changed my eating habits — smaller portions; lots of fresh fruit and vegetables; way fewer sweets — and know I can’t go back to the way things used to be. Weight Watchers has retrained my brain, y’all; I can’t un-know what I’ve learned about eating better.

And, more importantly, feeling better. I didn’t realize how low I’d gotten — physically and emotionally — until I started really examining what I was doing. Since joining the program, my energy levels and confidence have soared. Instead of dreading photos, clothes shopping and running into acquaintances, I feel happy and buoyant and light. By modifying my habits and getting serious about what (and how much) I’m consuming, I’ve changed.

But how do I stop?

After losing 10 percent of my weight, I chose a new personal goal: I wanted to slim down to 150 lbs. At only 5’2″, that number was still 9 pounds more than the “high” end of the healthy BMI weight range for my height — so I’m still considered overweight. (Boo.)

All along, though, I’ve thought the “magic” number for my height — 141 pounds, depending on whom you consult — seemed unrealistic. I haven’t been that slim since high school, and I couldn’t picture myself more than 30 pounds lighter. Afraid of setting myself up for failure, I ignored that number. I couldn’t do 141, I reasoned, but maybe I could do 150. No problem.

Now at 151.2, I’m within sight of that goal. I can feel it. But now I’m wondering if I shouldn’t, for the first time in my post-college life, try to get back within that “healthy” range. It would feel great to be there, emotionally and physically, but I worry 141 is not a number I can sustain — not in the long term. Maybe I could drop another 10 pounds, but should I?

I don’t know.

I already have my lovely wedding dress that is currently two sizes too big. At least half of my work wardrobe is unwearable, and I’m not exactly in a financial position to buy all new clothes. Cry me a river, I know, but it is frustrating in its own way. I’m back to not having anything to wear not because my clothes are too tight, but because they’re too loose.

A better problem to have, yes — especially for health reasons. But frustrating.

Losing another 10 pounds would mean I’ve officially dropped three dress sizes, and absolutely nothing I own — or like — will fit. I feel like I woke up one day to discover all my favorite clothes had become unwearable . . . including my favorite jeans. Because I’m in such a flux right now, I have no idea what size pants to even buy. I’m left wearing and washing the same few pairs I bought on clearance at Kohl’s for the summer, though I know I’ll have to break down and invest in new duds soon.

It’s weird.

Weight is . . . well, a sensitive subject. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. And I’m not sure there’s an easy solution to this — just my general mental wandering over whether or not it’s time to quit. I’ll admit that it’s addictive, seeing that scale move . . . and I just hope I won’t lose momentum once I’m not actively dropping the pounds anymore.

I’ll just have to recommit, this time with renewed purpose: staying healthy. Maintaining.

Both leading up to the wedding and far, far beyond.


Ten percent weight loss

weight loss

Who knew losing 10 percent of something could feel so good?

Losing 10 percent of your paycheck? No.

But losing 10 percent of your weight? Something to be celebrated. And after 17 weeks, I hit that milestone Wednesday.

In January, the idea of losing 17 lbs. was daunting. Though I didn’t doubt my commitment to getting healthy, I had a hard time actually visualizing the weight coming off. The scale going down. My energy increasing. It was all too abstract . . . in the beginning, at least. But then I did start slimming down and eating better. Losing dress sizes. Investing in new clothes. Changing my thinking.

In the last month, I’d hovered around the same weight — even gaining for the first time since starting — and was starting to think I’d hit a plateau. Though I wasn’t exactly goofing around with my eating, I have been slooooowly introducing little treats back into my diet. That’s not a problem because, you know, this is real life. If I want to eat a baby Snickers bar, that’s going to happen. No, the real problem was feeling myself backsliding into a “just a little taste” mentality.

Just a little slice of cake.
Just a little bowl of ice cream.
Just a few M&Ms.
Just a handful of chips.

And I would eat them. And I would enjoy them. And life would go on as usual because this isn’t some sort of war against snack foods, you know? But all of those “little tastes” add up — big time. And if I dance around enjoying “just a little” of this or that, I waste the calories I could have used to eat, say, a chicken breast.

Chicken keeps fills you up better than potato chips, y’all. An indisputable fact.

So I reigned myself in. Got myself back in a healthy mentality. Returned to politely demurring in the face of a mountain of sweets and reminded myself that an occasional indulgence is A-OK, but I can’t slip back into a “eat whatever you want when you want it” mindset.

After 17 weeks of Weight Watchers, I’ve officially lost 18.4 lbs. and hit that 10 percent weight loss goal! I remember sitting in our first January meeting, right after I’d been handed my personal goals, and wondering what in the world I would look like with 17 lbs. shed from my short frame. And now I know. And though I’m still going strong, just having hit that magic number feels awesome.

Sorry if I talk about weight loss too much. I swear I’m not becoming That Girl who goes on and on about her eating habits (er, am I?), but this was too exciting not to share.

I’m holding my 10 percent keychain in the second shot, complete with my 16-week charm for sticking with it for four consecutive months. It’s a tangible representation of what makes me feel so good: not the weight loss persay (though losing two dress sizes is fantastic), but the joy I feel at having kept a commitment to myself.

Even when it was challenging.
Even when I didn’t feel like it.
Even when it made me angry.

I did it. And I’m doing it. And I’ll keep doing it.

My personal pride? The real icing on the (low-fat) cake.


Party food: navigating the table without guilt


You know, I love a good party. Like most folks, an opportunity to socialize and eat and give presents and generally enjoying the camaraderie of hey, we’re all here and enjoying the sunshine! is enough to get me out of the house. Though I have my socially-awkward moments, I really do enjoy a good get-together. So pass the spinach dip!

(Is it low-fat?)

Since going on my healthy-eating crusade, I’ve worked hard to identify the “danger zones” that propel me into overeating, snacking . . . or generally wolfing down food that simply ain’t so good for me.

Unsurprisingly, I kept coming back to parties — those hotbeds of deliciousness.

When we’re out with friends, we are often focus on chatting. Meals play a large part in the get-togethers we enjoy with others, yes, but food isn’t always the main focus. I usually find myself mindlessly biting into cream-cheese-stuffed celery, or downing pita chips and hummus like we’re approaching some kind of a hummus drought. I’m talking and laughing, probably taking photos.

What I’m not doing? Paying attention to what I’m consuming.

Personally, I’ve started following a few “rules” to get through these functions without overindulging. (Minus the cake, because: cake.) Now more than 16 lbs. down, I’m working to not slip back into old habits. With wedding showers, weddings, birthdays and more on the horizon, it’s important I keep it together.

So what I’m sharing is absolutely nothing new and, of course, I am no expert. But here are my party tips:


How to eat and have fun at a party
without that savory side of guilt


Be last in line. Whether it’s a work potluck or bridal shower, I make sure I’m one of the last people to get food. Because I’m always worried about holding people up, getting in line first means I’m more likely to make quick decisions and pile my plate with whatever is in reach. I just want to keep things moving. If I wait until the end, I don’t feel pressured to make a plate quickly — and I can focus on loading up on healthier items and tracking my portions. Plus, if other guests have already taken all of a particular dish? Well, less to tempt me. (And there are always vegetables left.)

Don’t hover. Everyone knows the best way to keep from eating a whole bag of potato chips is not to have the whole bag handy. It’s easy for me to hover around the snack table — c’mon, it’s the best place to be! — but I’m usually talking there, mindlessly dipping carrots into ranch dressing . . . and I’m not paying attention to how much I’m eating. Make a small plate with your favorites and walk away.


Fruit


If you want it, bring it. If you’re worried about a lack of healthy options at a get-together, offer to bring a fruit and vegetable tray and/or low-fat dip. You could even go a step further by stowing a small piece of candy in your bag for when you want something sweet, but don’t want to nosh on a cupcake. If you can’t eat what you don’t have, then make sure you have it.

Don’t go hungry. Just as we’re told to never grocery shop hungry, don’t go to a party with a screamin’-empty stomach. Have a small meal or healthy snack to tide you over. Eat a banana or apple. You’ll be less likely to go crazy at the party table, and maybe you’ll even save room for dessert. And speaking of which . . .

Eat that cake, but watch your portions. Y’all know I’m going to eat cake, and it’s not realistic to swear off all sweets. So though I do have dessert, I make sure I’m not being served the thickest slice in the lot. I used to be really timid with others, afraid of offending someone by not taking what they’d offered, but now I just politely explain that I’m eating healthy and I’d like something smaller, or I’m just going to skip it altogether. Everyone understand and has been awesome.

Though I may eventually reach for the taco dip, I feel more in control — and empowered — when I think about my long-term goals and actual hunger cues. Do I really want those chips, or am I just feeling left out? Am I hungry or just looking for something to do? Answering these questions isn’t always easy, but I force myself. I force myself to be honest.

But eh, yes — I totally want some taco dip.


Scale and non-scale victories

Blackberries and yogurt


I had my 12-week weigh-in this week — and I’m officially down 14.4 lbs. Aside from the blinking number on that scale, this loss has translated into . . .

• Losing almost two dress sizes, resulting in the acquisition of all-new pants;
• Wearing my skinny jeans with startling regularity (and buying another pair);
• Buying jeans in a size I haven’t worn since my sophomore year in college;
• Lookin’ awesome in the maid of honor dress I ordered for my sister’s wedding;
• And generally feeling great.

Continuing with my weight loss goals has been both harder and easier than I expected. I’m still gung-ho on Weight Watchers, utilizing all the tips and tools they offer — and I’m definitely in a rhythm. I don’t have to think about Points values and “good” foods and portion control . . . I just know it. And do it. Though I still reach for desserts at office parties and family gatherings, I’ve learned the necessarily skills to simply dial it back. To take control of my eating — something I didn’t realize was so out of control until I got a reality check.

Though I don’t have any full-body shots to share (and am not sure I’d be brave enough even if I did!), I think you can start to see the weight loss in my face. And I’m smiling pretty often these days!


December 2012

April - us


Also, that red coat is super loose now — and it barely zipped back then. Progress!

That’s how I’m really measuring the journey . . . by the difference in my clothes. I feel like I can “shop” in my own closet now, digging out pieces I haven’t been able to wear for years (or ever), and it feels so encouraging to realize that for every new item I must buy (like those aforementioned jeans), an older item can be re-entered into the rotation.

And as for my habits? The biggest changes have been . . .

Eating breakfast. Where once I scarfed down a granola bar and sipped a Diet Coke as my morning “meal,” I now take the time to eat low-fat Greek yogurt (I love the 100 calorie Yoplait varieties) with my own added blackberries, strawberries or banana slices, and often drink hot tea in the morning. On the weekends, I eat low-sugar oatmeal and fruit. I also eat a mid-morning snack — like low-fat mozzarella or cottage cheese — to tide me over until lunchtime, which brings me to . . .

Eating lunch at my desk. If you asked me what my single biggest hang-up regarding joining a weight loss program would be back in January, I’d have unequivocally shouted “HAVING TO EAT AT MY DESK.” Before January, I went out to lunch every. single. day. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Friends teased me about my constant runs to Panera, Noodles & Co. and Einstein Bros. Bagels, places that have probably shuttered in my absence. I supported the local lunch economy single-handledly, y’all.

But now? I make myself a healthy sandwich (bagel thin, lean turkey, fat-free mustard, low-fat Swiss cheese), eat Progresso Light soups or pop open healthy leftovers from last night’s dinner. If I go out to eat, it’s typically on a Friday — and it’s a real treat. I wait until someone is free to go with me, then make it a combination social outing/lunch treat. And yes, my wallet and check book — and wedding budget — are thanking me.

• Watching the sweets. This has been tough, but I’ve managed to enjoy small, simple portions of desserts rather than the big ol’ honking slice of something I’d preferred to have before. In the past week I have chowed down on my mom’s birthday cake, a friend’s Smith Island Cake and chocolate chip cookies, though, so really: it’s all about moderation. I’m still eating what I like — I’m just eating less of what I like.

In another three months, I plan to be on the same healthy track I am now . . . and if I lose another dress size, I will officially be the thinnest I’ve ever, ever been in my adult life.

That’s not my focus, though — my focus is all those “non-scale victories,” as our Weight Watchers leader will proclaim. It’s the happiness. The pride. The energy. And the conversation topics! Who would have ever thought I’d have something to contribute to chats about healthy eating?

I’m loving it.


Taking a bite

Apple

I took this photo Monday afternoon.

Why? you might think. Why waste your time taking pictures of food, especially when it’s half-bitten?

I’m not sure, honestly. I take too many food photos. It’s  my thing; a compulsion, really. I feel like I can’t enjoy a meal until I’ve documented it, and my need to capture food comes as naturally as breathing.

Three weeks into my weight loss program, it’s had its tough moments — but I’m doing better than I ever thought I would. My cousin’s baby shower on Saturday was the true test of my self-control — and I’m happy to say that I (mostly) passed. The spread was absolutely fantastic, and one of my all-time favorite dishes — strawberry pretzel salad — was out in all its gleaming, sugary, delicious glory. I calculated points and had a serving about half the size of my palm, y’all, and my hands are small. (Um, pretty much the only small thing about me.)

But the point? I had a taste, and then I quit.

I had one of my grandmother’s famous homemade peanut butter cups.

I had one cream cheese mint.

I had two white chocolate-covered pretzels.

Absolutely none of the awesome book-shaped cake.

A taste. And then I quit.

It wasn’t easy. In my more ungenerous moments, I look at others eating whatever they like and I feel hungry and tired and I think: I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m sure I will feel that way next week, and next month, and next year. But I also know I’ve committed myself to something bigger than myself, and though I’ve only lost 1.8 pounds so far? Well, it’s 1.8 pounds no longer dragging me down.

So yes: the apple. I’m not the sort of person who bites into apples. I’m the calculated type, the careful type; the person who slices her fruit into equal pieces, devouring them one at a time. I’m someone who worries about food on her face, about getting her desk messy, about apple getting wedged in my teeth.

But I bit it anyway.

Because the little plastic knife I was battling with wasn’t cutting it — literally.

And because, for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling in control of what I choose to eat. Or not eat. And I’m just going for it.

It’s a winding road ahead, but if it’s paved with juicy apples? I know I’ll figure it out.