Weighty issues (oh, and slow cooker thyme pork roast)

Pork

I think I set a record on Sunday.

The very first person — ever, in the history of kitchens — to call out, “Oh, don’t even TELL me we’re out of caraway seed.”

Because … who uses caraway seed? And who uses caraway seed so often that they actually fear running out of it?

(Well, my delightful grandmother, who made the Polish-inspired dishes from her own youth that I devoured in mine. But, you know.)

Never fear: our jar of caraway seed was more than halfway full, so I could stifle the panic building in my chest as I prepared this slow cooker meal for Monday. That’s right, friends: I officially got my act together and prepared a meal a day in advance, refrigerated it and pulled it out Monday morning to simmer for that evening’s dinner. (Just let the crock warm up to room temperature first, of course.)

And it was delicious.

Like, oh, much of the adult population, January finds me thinking about goals and priorities and all that adult-ish stuff. Now that I’m also a mother, a working mother and an often stressed working mother, I really want to get back to writing out a serious meal plan on weekends, sticking to it, grocery shopping on Sunday and placing an emphasis on healthy eats.

Despite my hesitancy in my last post, I went ahead and jumped back into Weight Watchers (affiliate link). It’s been three years since I nervously attended my first meeting and two since I hit my goal weight, dropping 35 pounds, but I’m now — post-Oliver — heavier than I was when I started in 2013.

I just wasn’t sure I was ready for that level of commitment. Last summer, when I was an exhausted new parent who had just returned to work, I got it into my head that I needed to get “me” back. Now. If I let myself slack off with my eating, I thought, I’ll never lose the weight again. I’ll roll right back into old habits. That will be the end of the person I used to know.

Well, I was right — and wrong.

I’m not my pre-baby self again, of course. Everything that happened in 2015 — the beautiful, the scary, the overwhelming, the miraculous — changed me forever. Becoming a parent changes you forever . . . and I’m extremely grateful for that! I mean, it should.

But I did go back to old habits. It’s tough to come out of a pregnancy — unexpectedly early, too — and go right back to tracking every single thing you put in your mouth: something I was not in the habit of doing. Like, at all. For the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I pretty much lived off Chick-Fil-A’s frozen lemonade milkshakes.

When Oliver remained in the hospital for a month, Spencer and I ate whatever was quick and convenient. This translated to many lackluster cafeteria meals a few floors down from his NICU, as well as Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A runs at odd hours driving back from Baltimore.

When he finally came home, it was just about stuffing something in your face between feedings, and diapers, and screeching.

Prepping enough to prepare healthy, quick meals with a newborn in the house? It just didn’t happen. I had grand ambitions of getting freezer meals ready before the baby came, trying to make our lives a little easier, but . . . well. That obviously didn’t happen.

After I went back to work in mid-June, I thought: it’s time. I now have nine uninterrupted hours in which I can focus on my job and control what I’m eating at ye ol’ desk.

That didn’t happen, either.

I was tired. And sick. Our company was sold over the summer and everyone’s duties changed quickly. Many of my friends were laid off, and I was staring down an extreme amount of change in a short time. It was the final straw in a very stressful season.

Quite honestly, I was depressed.

Though I haven’t discussed it publicly, I’ve been struggling with PTSD and postpartum anxiety since last spring — and there are times it was all I could do to get through the day. I finally sought help in the fall and feel about 1,879,986 times better than I did in October. The pressing weight of worry has lifted.

Through all that? I wasn’t obsessing about eating pumpkin pie, I can assure you.

pie

But I’m out of excuses now.

Oliver has been sleeping through the night — with the occasional hiccup, of course — for months . . . which means Spencer and I have, too. That early haze of dead exhaustion, which clouded absolutely everything, is gone.

Work has settled down. I’m happy and excited with my new responsibilities, and enjoying the new challenges. I’m still writing my column, but also working on projects and articles about different, interesting things. It’s really . . . fun. I miss my friends, of course, but we’ve kept in touch through the holidays.

The holidays are over. They were beautiful, but there’s something refreshing about vacuuming up all that rogue tinsel. It was sad hauling out the Christmas tree, but let’s be honest: the holidays have their own pressures that can’t be denied. Choosing perfect gifts, paying for said gifts, trying to see family and friends in a short time, traveling. It’s . . . a lot.

But January is bare. January is clean. January is scrubbed fresh, a calendar waiting to be filled with whatever we choose, and I’m ready again.

So I’m choosing my health.

It’s been a whole four days since I got back on track with Weight Watchers, so the aroma of my enthusiasm is still quite strong, I know! But honestly, there’s comfort in getting back to a familiar program that helped me so much before. It taught me to control my eating — and gave me such confidence — for the first time in my adult life.

Weight Watchers has been revamped for 2016, and I love the changes. LOVE. (They are not paying me to say this, by the way; my subscription is paid for by yours truly, along with generous affiliate referrals.) With their new “Beyond the Scale” approach, there’s a much greater emphasis on physical activity — not just your pants size. Obviously we’re all joining Weight Watchers to learn healthier habits and drop pounds, but everything begins and ends with overall health.

They’ve revamped how points for foods and drinks are calculated, and the new method makes much more sense. Under the old system, fats were fats; it didn’t matter if they were saturated, “bad” fats or good, healthy fats, ones we need and should eat. For example, a tablespoon of olive oil and tablespoon of butter could have the same points value. So what’s the incentive to go with the healthier option?

Many things haven’t changed, thankfully: fresh fruits and vegetables are still zero points, so you can — and should! — eat as much as you want. That was my saving grace the first go ’round. If I’d overindulged earlier in the day and was out of points for that after-dinner snack, I could always reach for a clementine and not feel deprived. There was always something to eat — as long as I’d made the effort to stock up on healthy food for the house. (But that’s another post.)

The first time I joined WW, I wanted to feel better: physically, mentally, emotionally. And I absolutely did. But I’ve come back to WW because I want to get my blood pressure down, return to a much healthier relationship with food and start showing my son — right now — that how we treat our bodies matters. And I know WW works.

So: there it is. My current weighty issues. It feels good to just . . . get all that out.

And I swear, this started out as a recipe post!

So, um, did you want to talk about pork tenderloin? Sure. Okay. Let’s do this.

This recipe is a WW recipe, actually: from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook, which is ringbound and glossy and pretty. Some of the recipes I’ve made from it have been hits, others misses, but this one? Definite hit.

If you don’t like sauerkraut, you won’t like this. But if you do? You will. So much that you’ll want to make it again immediately. The apples lend a delicious sweetness to the dish, while the sauerkraut, caraway seed and onion — which mellows through slow cooking — give it punch.

It’s the perfect blend of sweet/sour. Dig in!

Pork

Slow cooker pork roast
with sauerkraut and apples

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (1 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of fat
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 (2-pound) package of sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 large red or white onion, sliced
1 McIntosh or Cortland apple, peeled, cored and diced
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/2 cup dry white wine
Chopped fresh parsley

1. Sprinkle thyme, pepper and salt over pork. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.

2. Combine sauerkraut, onion, apple and caraway seeds in 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Place pork on top of vegetables; pour wine over. Cover and cook until pork and vegetables are fork-tender, about 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

3. Transfer pork to platter and cut into 6 slices. Spoon sauerkraut mixture around pork and sprinkle with parsley. Serves 6.


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Sweet pregnant progress

Cookie dough ice cream

Remember how I was once all, Meh, sweets, bleh, whatever, just pass the chips and queso?

Well, I still really love chips and queso. (And salsa. And French onion dip. And anything salty, really.)

But my sweets aversion? Well.

I feel like I’m reaching critical mass in my pregnancy — and still have about nine weeks-ish to go. (Um, did I just state a single digit for the countdown? Yeah, I’m not ready for that.) Just in the last two weeks, I’ve started swelling within an inch of my life — just call me sausage foot — and have actually outgrown some of my maternity tops.

Just let that sink in a minute.

I’ve long resigned myself to not being one of those ladies “with a basketball up her shirt,” and honestly? I’m okay with it. I’m not a skinny girl. But I feel like I’ve gone from “Er, is she pregnant?” to “MY GOD, SHE’S PREGNANT.” in the span of two seconds.

(That Cookie Dough Blast has absolutely nothing to do with it, I’m sure.)

I’m regularly stopped by strangers on the street with kind questions, then avert my eyes from their pitying looks when I inform them that this little guy and I will be hanging out until June. Coworkers have commented on how I look like I’m already “about done,” and I have to laugh.

Because I am, in some ways. But also: I’m not.

While I’ll admit that the constant backaches, poor sleeping habits and inability to get up from couches and beds is a wee bit inconvenient, I am excited to be firmly ensconced here in the third trimester. It’s nice to feel the baby moving all the time, and reassuring to know we’re getting into the final lap of this journey.

We’re less than two weeks from my local baby shower, about a month from Spencer’s birthday and our New York shower, and I’m already working ahead to prepare for maternity leave. We got the nursery painted last week, have been doing some shopping and I’m finally at the point where I feel an urge to stock up on baby clothes. And diapers. And other necessities.

All this to say: I haven’t been doing much non-baby-related stuff lately. Or thinking about much beyond the growing kiddo treating me to 5 a.m. alien kicks each morning.

But I have been reading. And I’ll have reviews heading toward your eyeballs shortly.

Just after I finish this milkshake.


Learning to share the funnel cake

Funnel cake

I see you over there, eyeballin’ my funnel cake.

It looks fantastic, right? The ultimate in fried pleasure. Perfectly golden on the outside, crispy on the edges, but still doughy in the center.

Warm from the fryer, the grease soaking through my paper plate.

Covered in powdered sugar, which is just beginning to form the most finger-licking crust.

Few things in life provide as much joy as a really good funnel cake — and they’re not all created equal, friends. The ones at our local baseball stadium? Lackluster. The creations at our county fair? AMAZING.

I know I should share one with my sister, a fellow funnel cake lover, or my husband — but, you know, I’m greedy. I can’t help myself. Though I have no problem stealing food off others’ plates (rude, I know), I don’t like to share dessert.

Ever.

As I continue seeking healthy eating and try to keep the weight off, though, I’m in the habit of avoiding sugar . . . until I get to an event. It’s harder to say no when deep-fried goodness is all around you, perfuming the air, and everyone has a corn dog or fried Oreo or funnel cake in their messy hands. I’m pretty strong, but I’m not that strong.

Where once I would have hogged a funnel cake all to myself, though, I keep working on balance — and know devouring an entire one alone is probably not wise.

So I shared. I shared on Sunday.

Spencer and I split one while my sister and brother-in-law had another, and the results? Pretty great. Successful. I ate my fill of fried goodness while feeling (somewhat) less guilty, and we all left feeling coated in powdered sugar in the best possible way.

The key to staying on track — with Weight Watchers, yes, but in general — is not to restrict yourself completely from foods you love. As our mothers always told us, All things in moderation. This has been the lasting strategy that keeps me from returning to old, unhealthy habits, and is one I plan to continue indefinitely.

Some goodies are “trigger foods,” though — and a year ago? I would not have had the funnel cake. At all. It’s a gateway food, and it would have been too easy for me to return to bad habits and eating whatever struck my fancy as often as I liked — a routine that brought me to my heaviest weight ever with health troubles that kicked off my mission to drop the pounds.

But I’m no dieting saint. I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that, for me, the occasional half of a funnel cake has to be okay — and as along as I wake up tomorrow still staying the course and choosing health, I’m doing all right.

For me, food once brought guilt: guilt of eating too much; eating “bad things”; snacking too much or too little; making the “wrong choices” and not doing anything about it.

I feel farther removed from the woman I once was 35 pounds ago, but I’m concentrating on not falling into habits that brought me there in the first place. Weight loss is great, sure, but how I live now is really about living. Reaching a sustainable level. Getting into habits that will serve me well for the rest of my life.

Even if I haven’t been tracking as religiously as I used to, I can see the fruits of that discipline in everything I do. Fresh produce, smaller portions, lean protein — and far less sweets.

Aside from the occasional funnel cake, of course.

It’s really not optional.


Stress management (sans pie)

It’s all too much sometimes.

It is. We all know it is. Those days when the phone won’t stop ringing, emails flood in, a hundred and one people are competing for something they needed from you yesterday . . . we’ve all had them — and will again. (And again.)

Though I try to keep myself on a pretty even keel, harried days are unavoidable. We all get stressed. As we’ve dealt with endless paperwork, financial decisions and the logistics of planning our move the last few months, I’ve been struggling to not panic and, you know, move forward with all of my hair.

Coupled with work, family, a traumatic accident in the extended family, trying to maintain friendships but realizing some friendships will naturally ebb and flow . . . along with, you know, day-to-day stuff like paying bills, feeding ourselves and making sure the car has gas? Well, it’s a process.

I’m still figuring things out. So many things. But what I have learned about stress management, thanks in no small part to my weight loss journey?

I can figure it out without pie.

I’ve always been an emotional eater, and it’s natural to want to reward myself with food. Celebrating? Have cake! Had a rough day? More cake! Need a little pick-me-up to get through a big work project? Candy! Bored with TV re-runs? Chips!

These are all behaviors I didn’t realize I had until . . . well, until I started paying attention. And I only started paying attention when I was more than 30 pounds overweight — and I decided to stop living in the neighboring lands of denial and “someday” (“Someday I’ll eat healthier, someday I’ll lose weight . . .”).

So much of my eating was done absentmindedly, and that’s what worried me most. My portions were out of control. I wasn’t even thinking about what I was eating; I was just popping crackers while cooking dinner, or helping myself to a third muffin because it was there.

That was the simplest explanation for so many of my eating habits: because it was there.

Now that I’m sharing digs — and a kitchen — with my husband, also conscious of his eating, it’s easier to control what comes in and out of our home. I’ve mentioned my mantra before — You can’t eat what you don’t have — and find myself going back to basics a bit lately. You can’t eat the good stuff, like fresh fruit and vegetables, if you don’t have the good stuff. Conversely, you can’t while the evening away with a bag of Oreos if you don’t have Oreos to tempt you.

You dig?


Weight loss - May 2014

It’s been almost six months since I hit my goal weight and became a lifetime Weight Watchers member, and I’m proud to have maintained my weight within a pound since January. But what you don’t always consider at the beginning of the journey? The “journey” has no end. It’s cliche because it’s true: good health is not a destination; it’s a way of life. It requires diligence and dedication. I’m not “dieting,” friends — I have a new diet. This is what I eat now. I can’t slip back into old habits after hitting some “magic” number.

And as life has gotten interesting, I’ve had to develop new coping mechanisms.

Before I share my own tips for dealing with stress without sinking into a pile of banana pudding, my previous go-to, I want to stress that I love y’all and would never want to make anyone feel badly about their lives or choices. As my favorite WW Leader would say? You do you, boo.

But if you see some of yourself in my words and are making changes, here are a few of my ways to deal with challenges in a healthier way:


Stress without pie


Talking it out. Despite being an active blogger, columnist and all-around oversharer, I often find myself feeling rather . . . guarded. Private. I’m not one to offload my issues, even to those I love and trust, so when I finally break down and talk about something? It’s big. And usually a relief. If I call my sister instead of helping myself to a crescent roll, I’ve made a step forward.

Pinterest. Really. It chews up time, gives me inspiration (healthy recipes! home decor! pretty places!) and generally keeps my mind busy. If I’m really stressed at work, I use my break to mindlessly scroll through pretty pictures at Panera while sipping coffee until I feel better. And usually? I do.

Baking. This may sound counter-intuitive, but I’m a stress baker. The careful blending of flour and butter and vanilla is nothing short of therapy. I love channeling my nervous or sad energy into the creating rather than dwelling. Baked goods are my love language, but I don’t let them linger too long; Spence and I may enjoy a cupcake or two, but the rest get carted off to our respective offices. Here’s a life maxim you probably know, but just in case: coworkers like free food. So now you’re suddenly popular, friends. Try it: it’s fun.

Reading. No surprise to bookworms, right? Distraction can be key during times of stress. And what’s better at helping one decompress than losing yourself in a good novel? When I keep my hands busy with a book, they’re not rifling through a bag of potato chips.

Cleaning. Since crazy times often equal messy houses, I try to stay on top of clutter by choosing one “project” to work on after dinner when I’ve had a long day. Spencer and I will occasionally email about this ahead of time — “Tonight, let’s go through the mail” — and it gives a focus to our evenings. Though I love unwinding with “The Mindy Project” as much as the next gal (and still do), having a cleaning project helps keep me from snacking at night. And then the apartment looks way better, so.

Snacking healthier. If my gut reaction is still to snack when feeling harried (which it is — hard to unlearn), I try to have choices on hand I can feel good about eating. I like the crunch and time-intensive enjoyment of celery with hummus or a ripe apple, but I’m also a huge fan of unsalted almonds, individual cottage cheese cups, grapes, low-fat pudding snacks, Triscuits and string cheese.

Getting your significant other on board. Piggybacking on my previous point, getting your loved ones to understand your stress tactics — like not have a chocolate cake in the house — can help. We have an agreement to divide up sweets and other goodies to take to work before they linger too long on our counters. (See also: stress baking.)

But sometimes cookies do help. And you know what? That’s totally fine. Am I a patron saint of healthy eaters who refrains from dessert like a sour-faced martyr? Absolutely not. I eat what I enjoy, and I enjoy what I eat — while being mindful of my overall goals. Foregoing cake today does not mean foregoing cake forever; it means I’ll choose to enjoy dessert when I’m in a clear frame of mind, not when I’m emotional and wanting to devour something just for the sake of devouring it. I drink something — water, hot tea, diet green tea, coffee — instead.

That sounds super boring, I know. Trust me. And if you told me I’d be “sipping water” instead of slicing pie a few years back, my eyeroll would have knocked you into a previous century. But I have changed, and I’m proud of how I’ve taken control of my eating — and my life.

I can’t tell you the difference it’s made.

I really feel like me. A calmer, happier me.


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.