Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Power of Words

Our usual Weight Watchers leader, Gill, is away for the next 3 weeks, so we have guest leaders for those 3 meetings.  For the first 2 we have Rosemary - I haven't got on so well with her in the past, but I'm getting to like her as time goes on.  Something she said in the meeting this morning triggered something in my mind that I've been meaning to blog about for a while.  In fact I may have even talked about it before, so if this is a repeat waffle, I apologise for that.

Words have power.  Words have a lot of power.  So many phrases and expressions, even the very shortest, have the most enormous power in and of themselves, and are even stronger when you put them into context.  

"It's a girl/boy."
"I'm so sorry."
"I love you." 
"Not guilty."  
"All clear."  
"I do."

Some of them carry joy, some carry heartbreak, and some carry unimaginable relief.  But they all have power over us of one type or another.

Weight loss is an area in which words are enormously significant and powerful when it comes to attitude and state of mind.  What it was that Rosemary said this morning which struck a chord with me was that when she went back to Weight Watchers for the last time before she finally got serious and reached her goal weight, she made a personal decision to not refer to herself as being "on a diet".  Historically, this phrase conjures up all kinds of negative connotations, of being deprived and hungry, of being boring in social situations, and of suffering to achieve what you want.  It's not helpful.  One of our members commented that she has replaced the expression "on a diet" with "on Weight Watchers", because it tends to encourage people to ask about it, rather than automatically making negative assumptions.

Another word, or pair of words, traditionally associated with weight loss and desperately unhelpful are "slimming"/"fattening".  "Slimming" is used both as a verb ("I'm slimming.") and as an adjective ("That dress is very slimming.").  "Fattening" is applied specifically as an adjective for food.

In my usual contrary fashion, I'll tackle the second one first, not least because it's the one that bothers me most.

I have a strong memory of a discussion around the lunch table at work one day a good few years ago in which we were discussing and comparing recipes.  Lasagne came up, and I detailed my recipe for Lasagne, including the fact that I refuse point blank to buy white sauce or a packet mix, and insist on making it myself using the roux method.  An older lady who had been calorie counting for many years gasped in horror.  "But that's FATTENING!"  She was absolutely scandalised.  No amount of pointing out to her that in order to make the required amount of sauce I needed 30g of butter and 30g of flour, which amounted to a total of 7.5g of butter and 7.5g of flour per portion would make any difference.

My colleague's scandalised look and expression have stayed with me, and since that day I have never, ever used the word "fattening" to describe a foodstuff.  It infuriates me when I hear it.  There is no single foodstuff the consumption of which will globally result in people being fat.  It is certainly the case that everybody reacts differently to different foods - an example being that I know a fair few people who have discovered that eating bread can slow down their weight loss - but no one food results globally in a state of being fat for everybody who ever eats it.  

"Slimming" as a word doesn't offend me quite so much.  Used as an adjective to describe clothing, it's absolutely fine.  My only issue with it is that it's very old fashioned when used as a verb to describe the activity of attempting to lose weight, and hence it goes that saying "I'm slimming" tends to carry the same negative connotations as "I'm on a diet".

I'm discovering that one of the most important things in sucessfully losing weight is state of mind.  Clinging on to words and phrases with historically negative connotations does not help.  Far more useful is to find your own definition for what you are doing, why you are doing it and why it is important to you.  Come up with an expression, an explanation which defines your weight loss efforts - your weight loss journey if you like - and which makes you feel strong, positive and confident when you think it, when you say it and when you hear it.

 "I've made a positive choice to change the way I eat and the way I live, to attain and maintain a healthy weight, and to make my body strong, fit and healthy along the way.  I am doing these things for me and me alone."

Trust me, it helps.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

That moment when you get on the scales after your summer holiday...

So I went to weigh in this morning after the better part of 2 weeks since my last class, with my 6 day camping holiday in the middle of that.  It's safe to say that I didn't hold back when it came to food and drink on my holiday, and correspondingly I gained 5lb at the scales this morning.

In times past, a gain of 5lb would have been cause for abject misery, and a trigger for severe depression, very likely culminating in falling off the wagon completely.  In common with many other things about my weight loss journey, this time I'm trying to do this differently.  This time, I weighed in, looked at the number, looked at Karen (the lady who weighed me) and giggled - and she giggled with me.  I thoroughly deserved the gain, I thoroughly enjoyed what I did to get it, and I don't feel remotely bad about it.  5lb will come back off very quickly indeed.

I think this is a key point really, so it bears saying again.  It is not the end of the world if I have a gain, so long as I know why it happened and I had fun doing it!  Needless to say, there are times when I gain and I know why, but I didn't necessarily enjoy it, perhaps for medical reasons or some other good cause - and that's OK too.  It beats the hell out of those weeks where I have a gain for no good reason at all.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

It's only a biscuit, how bad can it be?

You just know there's a story coming here, don't you?

After my Body Combat class this morning, my lovely husband took me shopping for some summer clothes (since my wardrobe was a bit light on summer items), and then we went for lunch afterwards in Costa Coffee.  It was nearby, not very busy and heavily air-conditioned.  This afternoon the latter was a prime concern!

Starting today I had a lot of my weekly points still remaining so decided I could push the boat out a little bit.  I chose an iced coffee, a panini and a bag of crisps (26 in total), and then decided that I wanted something sweet.  Checking out the goodies by the till, I spotted something that amused me - giant custard creams/bourbon creams!  They looked to be about 2, maybe 3 times the size of a standard one.  Fair enough, I thought - that's probably somewhere in the region of 6 points.  It's only a biscuit, how bad can it be?

When I got home, I checked it out.  What I had estimated at 6 points, in fact came in at an eye-watering 12 points.   What can I say, you live and learn!

I now have 3 of my weekly points remaining and 3 days to go before weigh in.  So far I have 17 activity points accrued, but as ever I prefer not to use them unless I have to.  Plenty of fruit, salad and good behaviour on the horizon, I think.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Damage Limitation

One of the frustrations of attempting to lose weight, however you do it, is that there are times when life gets in the way, and you just can't do anything about it.  As with anything there are coping strategies, and it's down to every individual as to which one you choose.

My preferred strategy is damage limitation.  It walks a line somewhere nicely in the middle of "deprived misery" and "to hell with it".  This weekend was a good example of how I use it.

This weekend I went to stay with my parents overnight.  On Saturday night there was a BBQ at our friends' house.  Knowing that our friends' cooking is absolutely superb and positively irresistible, and knowing that my willpower is weak at the best of times, I was very worried about it.  I sought advice from my Mum and she suggested that advance preparation was the way to go. 

My parents' best friend very kindly took me to Tesco and we laid in supplies - a whole heap of fresh salad including some really nice tomatoes and sweet peppers and some Jersey Royal potatoes, and a load of fresh fruit including all my favourites - pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, melon and grapes.  We went back to my parents' house and constructed a big bowl of salad and a big bowl of fruit salad to take with us.

At the BBQ itself, I started by filling 1/3 of my plate with salad, with low fat salad dressing.  I then added meat and salmon and a very little coleslaw and potato salad, plus some bits of veg.  Absolutely fantastic meal - and having 1/3 of my plate made up of salad and making sure that I ate it in with everything else rather than leaving it until the end meant there was less room for anything else.

Afterwards, with some considerable willpower, I had fruit salad instead of one of the fabulous desserts on offer.  I will confess, although the fruit salad was lovely, it was the only time during the meal that I had any feeling of deprivation.

Before we went out, I'd decided that I would allow myself one "naughty" item - I didn't know what it was going to be, but I wanted to give myself a little bit of latitude.  My naughty item turned out to be an absolutely delicious piece of chocolate-topped shortbread made by our friends' young daughter, which I had with our coffee after the meal.  It was lovely, and worth waiting for.

So - damage limitation.  Top up on "free" items such as fruit and salad so as to limit the amount of other stuff I can eat, but allow myself one "naughty" item of my choice to avoid feeling deprived.  I've done the same thing before, but this is the first time I've really registered what I was doing and written it down - perhaps it will be useful to someone else, I hope so.

Because I didn't count points over the weekend, I have no way of knowing how Wednesday morning is going to go for me.  I have stuck to my points limit like a limpet today and shall do the same again tomorrow - and what will be will be.  But the main thing - the most important thing, I think - is that I'm pleased with how I dealt with what could have been a very difficult situation - with the help of some very sage and welcome advice from my Mum!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Business as usual

After a long hiatus, I'm back at Weight Watchers.  I've had three good losses in a row (5.5lb in three weeks) and I'm feeling like I'm properly back in the saddle at last.  At the suggestion of the wise and lovely Gladys, I've decided to resurrect this blog - and have also repurposed my Twitter as a tool to help, since I wasn't using it for anything else.

A couple of things have changed since I was last "here".  I've had a problem with my back which has taken a very long time to settle down, and which has stopped me doing my usual gym classes, much to my continuing irritation.  I've never stopped cycling, but in the last few weeks I've been able to up the amount of it I've been doing and have been swimming as well - even adding that much activity has made a real difference and I'm feeling better for it.

The other thing that's changed is that, very sadly, we are now a 2 cat family instead of a 3 cat family.  Squeak, one of our two old ladies, had to be put to sleep a few weeks ago.  We were both devastated, but  had to remember that eventually old age catches up with us all.  She was 18 years old and had a very long and happy life with us.  Nobody can ask for more than that.

So - hopefully I shall manage to think of interesting and inspiring topics to write about and keep the blog going this time.  Watch this space. :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Oops, I did it again.

Usually when I fall off the wagon I make a point of not falling off so badly that I can't catch up with the wagon if I run.  Unfortunately sometimes it doesn't work out like that - this has been one of those times.  I don't have any excuse because there is no excuse, there never is.

A few weeks ago, I had a couple of bad weeks at the scales.  A few weeks in a row where I worked hard and got no result for it - stayed the same, gained a pound, lost half, stayed the same.  That kind of thing.  Then finally I had a good result and lost 2.5lb.  Naturally, I was delighted.  But for whatever reason, this was where I parted company with the wagon.  I don't pretend to understand it, except to say that in the past my brain has repeatedly and regularly demonstrated a particular gift for self-sabotage.

I could stand (well, sit) here and make countless excuses to my readers for why I've been off plan for the last few weeks, but none of them hold water.

Time to move on again.  Back to eating properly, back to blogging - and back to the gym, too.  Onwards.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

This week's weigh-in and a little more pride...

I've just realised that I never made a post about this week's weigh in.  I've had a very difficult couple of weeks medically and been sleeping a great deal as a result.  I'm afraid the days have been somewhat slipping away from me.  It's taken me until the last couple of days to get my head together and regain normality a bit.

So - I last posted on Tuesday night, when I'd been out for a meal with my husband, done it within my points and enjoyed it as a very proud full-stop to a successfully on-plan week. 

It even gets better!  As well as my pride over my meal out, I've managed to endure an unpleasant couple of weeks at the hands of my idiot body without going off plan.  Before now I'd have used any kind of medical crisis (of which I have my fair share) as an excuse to go wildly off plan, gained weight accordingly and spent the following weeks furiously flagellating myself for it.  

This time I've somehow (and I'm not sure how, it just happened) taken the view that some things are more important than using food as a comfort blanket, and instead used a combination of a loving husband and family, a warm and purring cat (of all of them Holly, one of our old girls and very much a 'mummy's girl', always seems to know somehow when I'm not at my best) and a thick and cosy duvet in front of some good TV.  It's been strangely, but very significantly satisfying.

The only thing I haven't been able to do anything about is that I haven't been able to really do any exercise for about the last 10 days.  To try would have been silly.  Hopefully I'll be able to get back to it soon.

Anyway - my weigh in!  I recorded a loss of 1lb on Wednesday morning, and was absolutely delighted.  Onwards and downwards!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

My lovely husband took me out for dinner tonight.  Generally when I'm "on a diet" (and more on the cleverly-placed quotation marks later, I've another post brewing about that one), this is the kind of thing that sparks panic, especially the night before weigh in.  But - not this time.  This time I was determined to put some effort into the situation and to not do what I would usually do: end up either forfeiting the meal out altogether because I couldn't trust myself to behave, or going anyway, adopting a "sod it" approach, eating exactly what I wanted and spending the whole evening and most of the rest of the week feeling guilty about it

I planned today carefully, starting from first thing this morning.  I ate my breakfast and then carefully packed up some food for work, making sure I counted everything carefully.  It was a balancing act really, making sure that I took enough food with me so that I wouldn't be hungry during the day, but less than normal so that I'd have more than usual left for this evening.  On an average day I get home from work with about 15 to 18 Pro Points left over, which is enough to have dinner, have a yogurt or chocolate mousse or something similar afterwards, and usually have a snack of some kind later in the evening,

So - an average day looks something like this (at the moment I have a daily allowance of 40):

Breakfast:  Bagel with cream cheese (8)

Mid-morning: Banana (0), pack of Quavers from multipack (2)

Lunch: Soup (4), Ryvita (4), Philadelphia mini tub (1), yogurt (2), Quavers (2)

Afternoon: A Banana (0), if needed.

This leaves me with 16 for the evening.  About normal.

Today however I needed to do it differently, 14 Pro Points wasn't going to cut it for a meal out.


Breakfast: Weetabix with skimmed milk, chopped banana and strawberries (5)

Mid-morning: Banana (0), Quavers (2)

Lunch: Soup (4), Ryvita (4), Philadelphia (1), Yogurt (2)

Afternoon: Nothing.

I went through the day eating only what I'd planned, and I got to the evening with 22 Pro Points left and a strong and warm sense of victory. Much better!  What I really found interesting (and I'll come back to this thought another day, I think) was that I ate less for breakfast and during the day, and didn't feel any hungrier by tea time than I usually do.  This makes me feel a lot better for the future- knowing that when I have to drop my points I will be able to deal with it, in spite of my fears.

Anyway - back to this evening.  The next step in my planning process involved one of my most-used Weight Watchers tools - the Eating Out Guide.  We were eating at a chain pub in the city centre, and the Eating Out Guide has a good number of their menu options listed.  I had a good look through it to make sure I could find something I liked for 22 Pro Points - and I could!

So here I am, at home with my feet up, enjoying a cup of coffee, having enjoyed a meal out with my husband and done it within my daily allowance of ProPoints - and I'm not shit-scared about my weigh-in tomorrow morning.  Reeeeeeesult! :)

(P.S. - If you're wondering, it was fish pie with peas and a piece of warm ciabatta.  Bloody lovely it was, too!)

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Battle of the Body Test (or: 'Why weighing yourself every day is never a good idea.')

As you know already, I stayed the same at this week's weigh in.  In the run up to the weigh in, I was very worried about the result, even though I thought I'd had quite a reasonable week.  I need to go back a bit to explain this.

Since we got our Wii and the Wii Fit Plus about three weeks ago I've been doing the 'Body Test' daily as it recommends.  Each day this performs a centre of gravity test (the results of which can be quite interesting) and records your weight.  It then tells you your BMI, and tells you the change in your weight since the previous day.  If your weight has gone up it then asks you to select from a list of possible explanations as to why it has gone up.

Now - I don't like this.  I don't like it for a number of reasons, the main one being that I've always stood by the belief that it's a very, very bad idea to weigh yourself every single day.  The average person's weight can vary by an astonishing amount even over the course of a single day.  Almost all of us are lighter in the morning than we are in the evening - and in fact, to give the Wii Fit its due it does recognise this.  If you weigh in one day early in the morning and the next day in the evening it will warn you about it.

So back to last week - in the days before my weigh in, the Wii Fit recorded a drop of 1lb over two days, and then showed me a gain of 3lb in the subsequent two days.  Since the second of these days was immediately before my weigh in, I was understandably very worried.

So, fast forward to Tuesday, which found me worrying at the lovely Gladys about my weigh in the following morning.  Gladys has a unique way of finding the right perspective on this kind of thing and pointing it out to me when I can't see it.  She warned me that in the past her Wii Fit has, impressively, managed to show a difference of 5 or 6 pounds in her weight in the space of a couple of hours.  Not an especially reliable or accurate piece of kit when it comes to measuring one's weight, it seems.  Gladys also reminded me very sternly that I should know better than to get sucked into the daily weigh-in torture cycle.  Well, quite.  Needless to say, I've taken her advice to heart.

So, from here on I'm using the Body Test tool on the Wii Fit differently.  I'm going to perform the test only once a week, when I get back home from my Weight Watchers class - that way I get the accurate result first, and I won't spend the days before my weigh in worrying about what I'm seeing on the Wii Fit and whether there's any accuracy to it - and I won't log in to the Wii Fit every day to see a BMI graph that looks like the Himalayas.  A victory for common sense!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Maintenance - unfortunately...

So, I stayed the same at weigh-in this week.  I hate it when this happens, it's almost worse than having a gain because of the horrible sinking feeling of a completely wasted week.  It's worse still when you don't know why.

On this particular occasion I can at least think of multiple potential good reasons why it might have happened.

First, I've done quite a lot more exercise than normal this week since I've been sticking to my aim of doing my Wii activity every day - or nearly every day, I'm now taking a rest on Wednesdays.  I've changed the activities that I've been doing in the last week.  In my first week I was doing mostly Kung-Fu, Step and Jogging, very much aerobic activities.  This week I've done more with Rhythm Parade and Boxing: both are also aerobic, but both also include a lot of upper body work, the muscles in my arms have been quite sore this week.

It's long been known that if you suddenly go from not working muscles to working them, you can maintain or even gain weight but still see a change in your shape and size.  I should add here that the oft-quoted "muscle weighs more than fat" adage is a misinterpretation of the facts, but the sentiment is right.  As a friend of mine pointed out in her own weight loss blog this week, the correct expression is: "muscle is heavier by volume than fat".  Muscle is denser than fat, so the same weight of it occupies less space.  This is what can lead to two people of the same height and weight being dramatically different in shape and size.

The second possible reason is that my food intake really wasn't brilliant, for a number of reasons.  Firstly I had the issue I talked about earlier in the week with having used all of my weekly points at the start of the week, causing me to eat into my activity points later in the week.  I'm never happy when it happens.  Secondly I had two meals which involved guesswork - in one of them I forgot to measure the olive oil I used in cooking a meal and I'm quite sure I used more than I guessed, and in the other I got a takeaway sandwich from the sandwich shop close to work at lunchtime.  I didn't make a wise choice, and what I did choose was very difficult to guesstimate.  Not good.  Additionally (as evidenced by these issues), what I've eaten also hasn't been brilliant.  I've eaten too much  bacon (which is salty and has a tendency to cause me to retain water), too much pasta and too much bread.

The last reason is hormonal.  I am, very obviously, a woman with all the joys and pleasures that brings - and all the hormonal booby traps too.  This is something I can do nothing about.  If water retention as a result of this has been a factor, it should sort itself out next week.

So - there are a number of potential reasons for this week's result.  Some of them I could have done something about, and some of them I couldn't.  I'm going to try very hard not to let it get to me.  Onwards and upwards into this week.  This week is going to be all about the exercise again, but also all about making wiser food choices, and managing my weekly points in a more disciplined way, working to not leave myself short when I really need them.  This week I'd also like to try to not use any of my exercise points.  Although last week I had a good result when I did use some of them, this week I'd like to see how it goes when I don't.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Weekly Points - budgeting for fun and profit

I'll freely admit that one of the many things I've never been very good at is managing a budget.  As some of you will know, the current iteration of the Weight Watchers system, the "ProPoints" system involves both a daily allowance and a weekly allowance of ProPoints.  For each person the daily allowance is different, but for everybody the weekly allowance is the same - 49 ProPoints.  The idea is that you use your daily points for your day-to-day meals, and your weekly ones either for days when you find you need a little more latitude, or for treats, perhaps for a meal out or a takeaway.  Your choice, really.  

Here's a screenshot, taken last night (when I first started writing this post) from the gaudily-coloured spreadsheet that I use for keeping track of such things.  You can see that I used almost all my weekly ProPoints in the first couple of days of the week - well over half of them the first day.  It's unfortunately starting to become a habit.

Part of the problem with this, as with so many things related to weight loss and weight management in general, is that there's a large psychological component to the issue.  I strongly suspect that I'm not alone in this.

In an average week I start the week knowing that I have my full week's allowance to play with - and so I inevitably find myself indulging in an oh-my-god-I've-got-my-full-allowance-to-play-with-again frenzy.  By the weekend I've used most, if not all of my weekly allowance, and then find myself pushing against self-imposed restraints if, for whatever reason, I'm struggling to stick to my daily allowance.  And this is where I end up eating (quite literally) into my activity points, and sometimes feeling bad about it if it's been a week when I wanted  to bank my activity points and not use them.

Additionally, the other psychological element is that once I know that I have no weekly points remaining, once I know that my "safety net" is gone, it becomes far harder to stick to my allowance each day.  Purely psychological of course, there's no reason for it to actually be any harder, I still have the same number of points each day, I still cook the same way, I still have the same things in my fridge and in my cupboard.  The problem is between my ears.

I find myself not quite sure how to go about changing this.  At the moment my weight loss is going in the right direction but I'm acutely conscious that as I lose more weight and my daily ProPoints allowance drops, I'm much more likely to need my additional weekly allowance to be spread out over the course of the week instead of all bunched up together.  It's something I'll need to address and work on as time goes on.

I've always known that doing this properly this time was going to involve a major change in my thinking in a lot of ways.  Much like pine needles in the weeks after Christmas, every time you think you've got them all another one pops up!  If this is a problem that anybody else has addressed successfully, I'd love to hear how you did it.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Striking a blow for "The Curse of Can't Be Arsed"...

Just a quickie this morning before I make myself late for work!

I struck a blow for "The Curse of Can't Be Arsed" last night.  I rode my bike to work yesterday morning, even knowing that it was going to snow later in the day.  Sure enough, by hometime it was fairly well tipping it down.  My immediate instinct was to leave my bike in the lockup at work, grab an umbrella and go and wait for the bus home instead.

But I didn't - I pulled on my ass-kicking boots, buttoned myself up to the neck and hopped on my bike for the journey home.  It was cold and unpleasant, I got home wet through and with my eyes and face stinging from riding into the oncoming snow - but I did it, and I was proud of myself.

The first of, I hope, very many pokes in the eye for "The Curse of Can't Be Arsed".  Go me. :)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


I was delighted to get on the scales at class this morning and find that I'd lost 2.5lb in the last week.  I've been working very hard activity-wise this week, and I stood on the scales with a large grin on my face and the wonderful feeling of having received a well-deserved reward for a lot of hard work.  This brings my total weight loss so far to 10lb.  I'm 4lb short of my first stone, and also 4lb from having lost 5% of my starting weight, which is one of the first big milestones to pass.

Earlier in the week I talked about activity points, earning them through exercise and whether or not to eat them: that's what the title of this post is about.  Last week I earned 34 activity points, and ended up eating 16 of them, which meant that I got to the end of the week with a credit balance of 18.  Obviously, based on the results I saw this morning, it did me no harm at all!

It's hard to not consider the fact that had I not eaten any of my activity points then I would have had a really massive loss - but to be honest I'm very happy with my result, 2.5lb is a healthy loss in a week, and I feel as though I've achieved it quite easily - although I've done more exercise than I've ever done in my life, I've actually been enjoying it, and I've been able to use some of what I've earned for treats without undoing my hard work.

Although the exercise "regime" I'm currently putting myself to is very hard work, I'm going to keep doing it.  I've seen the result this week on the scales, and I'm already feeling the result of the combined weight loss and increased activity.  Yesterday in the course of my housework I ran up the stairs, realised I'd forgotten something, ran back down them again, then turned round and ran back up.  Absolutely, completely unthinkable really not very long ago.  I'm feeling some negative effects too, I'm even more tired than usual and I hurt in a lot of places, a lot of the time - but I think for the moment the positive effects are far outweighing the negative ones.  Hopefully as time goes on I shall get used to it, and it'll get easier.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Exercise - Do Points Win Prizes?

So, we're almost a week in with the Wii and I'm still loving it - I've been on it every day but one, and have managed at least half an hour each day.  Most days I'm doing it as soon as I get out of bed - before I have time for the "can't be arsed" feeling to turn up.

It's the first time I've begun to establish an exercise routine and enjoyed it.  I think it's a combination of things - the fact that there's a whole range of activities so it's possible to do different things every day (mostly I'm doing step, jogging, hula hooping, rhythm Kung Fu [this one is a great warm-up] and also bowling, golf and table tennis from the Wii Sports game) and the fact that the activities are fun, the fact that the whole thing is bright and cheerful and makes me smile and also that I don't have to leave the house or even put anything other than my PJs on before I do it.  It's not the same as having to go out in the cold to go to the gym, travel for 20 minutes to get there and then spend half an hour in a freezing cold air-conditioned gym, pounding away on the treadmill or the bike.  At home I can work my way down my first cup of coffee of the day while I exercise, and when I finish I can get straight in the shower and get on with my day.  It's all good.

The main thing this post is about though - activity points.  Earning Pro Points through exercise.  My lovely husband and I are having a difference of opinion over this.  When I earn activity points I hate to even consider using them on extra food - to me it's almost a challenge to earn as many as I can over the course of the week, the point (if you'll pardon the pun) isn't to run up a credit balance and then use it.  Carl is more of the opinion that if you earn them then they are there to be used.

I know that all the Weight Watchers documentation says that it's optional, but to some degree I feel as though using the points on extra food almost seems to invalidate doing the weight loss benefits in the first place.  I suppose I also need to think about the fact that exercise isn't just about accelerating weight loss, but about getting fitter and toning up my body.  I also have the issue that I'm not always certain that I've calculated my activity points correctly - what if I've not been working as hard as I'm meant to or not doing the activity in the right way?  It has the effect of making me feel guilty if I use activity points on food.

I think perhaps I need to try to take a slightly more relaxed approach to the concept.  I'm never going to use all the activity points I earn in any given week on food, but perhaps I need to stop giving myself a headache if I use a few of them.  So far this week (since Wednesday) I've earned 22, and I used 4 of them on a snack this evening (having used all my weekly points on a very nice lunch and dessert in the pub on Friday!) because even having had a relatively large meal at 7pm, I was hungry by 9.30 - probably connected to having spent 40 minutes on the Wii this afternoon and then done a load of housework this evening.  I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

Does anyone else have a view on this?  What do you do?

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Food Based Reality Check... and this week's weigh-in.

It's taken me a few days to post about this week's weigh-in because initially I was quite disappointed.  I needed to take a few days and work out what happened and how I felt about it before I posted about it.

I lost half a pound this week.  I won't say "only" half a pound because I used to get told off for that by my last Weight Watchers leader, but I can't deny having been disappointed.  I'd stuck within my daily and weekly points, eaten all of my weekly points but no more, tracked everything I'd eaten that week and done a lot more exercise than usual, there was no particular reason for a small loss last week - well, I didn't think there was.

The following morning I was making my breakfast and inspiration struck - most mornings I eat a bagel with low fat cream cheese for my breakfast.  For the last couple of years I've been buying the same brand, and using the points values in the Weight Watchers database for them since I started back on the plan.

Last week though I got a food order from Sainsbury's and the bagels from their in-store bakery turned out a lot cheaper than our usual brand, so I bought them.  What I didn't notice until it suddenly struck me on Thursday morning was that the ones from Sainsbury's are quite a lot bigger than the branded ones we usually have.  

So, having checked the Weight Watchers database to find out how much each of the branded ones weighs, I put one of the bakery ones on the scales - and was truly horrified.  The branded ones are 85g each and the bakery ones are 120g.  All week I'd been cheerfully pointing them at 6 Pro Points, when I should have been counting 9 Pro Points for each one.  It's not hard to do the maths really.  I have one every morning for breakfast and at the weekend I had one for lunch one day - 8 x 3 = 24.  Over the course of the week I had an additional 24 points that I didn't account for.  Suddenly, light dawns.

The moral of the story is and has to be this - if you buy something new, double check the Pro Points.  You can't simply buy something of a different brand and assume that the Pro Points will be the same as the brand you were using before.  I don't know how many other things could trip people up in this way, but I imagine there are an awful lot of them.  Obviously with some things this doesn't apply - a medium egg is a medium egg, and half a pint of semi skimmed milk is half a pint of semi skimmed milk regardless of the branding - but one bagel is not like another any more than (choosing another item I can think of off the top of my head) one can of tomato soup is like another.  Get out the scales and the calculator, check it, write it down and you'll know for the next time.

If this post stops somebody else from getting caught in the same way it will have been worthwhile!  

So - onwards and upwards now into the new week.  This has been quite a challenging week already, but I'm learning things about myself and the way I think about food from it, which is always helpful and positive.  I'll be back tomorrow, I think. :)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Wiiiiiiiiiiiiii! (also known as: 'Exercise: Learning to Try')

We've been talking about it for a while, and off the back of a well-timed bonus from my lovely husband's work, we decided to take the plunge.  We are now the proud owners of a Nintendo Wii, complete with Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, including the balance board.  (I also acquired the 'Zumba Fitness' game, but I'm quite sure that's going to merit a post all of its own sooner or later...)  Amazingly enough, we've never owned a games console in all our time together, so it's something completely new for us.  I think both of us are gripped by a certain degree of fascination with the thing!

Of course, the main idea is to help us both with our general fitness and weight loss.  It's a type of exercise that means not having to leave the house, that we can do together and which has an in-built monitoring system.  It's cheaper than gym membership too - the cost of it equates to about 4 months of gym membership for us both, and then there are no further costs.  

Being in the position of suffering with a overabundance of different medical conditions, I've found that a standard gym is simply no use to me.  Although time spent using the weights machines in the gym does work my muscles as it's supposed to, it also usually leaves me with crippling fibro pain for several days.  Not constructive.  

I'm of the view that doing gentler, low-impact exercise to tone up is going to be far better for me in the long-term, especially when combined with my usual cycling activities. On the left here is a picture of me with my gorgeous girl, Annie, seen on a grand day out to York.  At the time my parents and I had cycled from Escrick to York - we then had lunch and cycled back, the cycle path is beautiful and it was a lovely day out.  

Anyway - as I can't drive, Annie is my main means of getting around the city.  I go to and from work with her, to and from Weight Watchers with her, and to and from just about anywhere I need to go.  She's a superstar and has a (sometimes mercurial) personality all of her own.  I acquired her last summer through the government's "Cycle to Work" initiative, which means I got her through work and am paying for her through a salary sacrifice scheme - the idea is that I save tax on the cost of the bike and all its accessories so long as I use her to get to and from work.  Quite aside from all this and the health benefits, the freedom that Annie has afforded me has done wonders for my self-esteem.

All this is very interesting, but I'm sure I started this post talking about something else... ah.  Yes.  The Wii!  My lovely husband set it all up last night after dinner, and we immediately started playing with it, setting up the "Mii"s to represent us, playing with the sports, setting up the Wii Fit accounts for each of us.  We were amused and insulted by turns to discover that the balance board goes "Ouch!" when you step on it!  My husband was chuffed to discover that his "Wii Fit Age" was exactly right - I however had no such luck, having to suffer the indignity of being aged up 12 years by a games console... how rude!

Having spent some time on the balance board yesterday evening doing some of the balance activities, I discovered soreness this morning in muscles which I don't think I really knew I had.  This can only be a good sign for how much good it's going to do me!  So far my favourite activity is 'Rhythm Kung Fu' but no doubt that will change. :)

At the moment we're planning to both try to do 30 minutes a day on the fitness activities, plus maybe play some tennis or golf or bowling together if we feel like it.  At the moment I'm optimistic - as the alternative title for this post says, it's all about 'learning to try'.  I'm not sure that learning to try and then keeping on trying isn't half the battle won with some things.  In the past there have been so many things that we've tried with a token effort and given up on in a very short space of time without really trying.  I can't speak for my husband, but for me I think focussing on the need to try and really try properly will help me.

I promise to come back with tales of achievements, aches and pains and comedy moments involving the Wii.  After all, why not share the joy? :)

Sunday, 29 January 2012


The annoying thing about blogging is the endless need to think of things to write about in an intelligent and articulate fashion!  So often in the middle of the day I find myself thinking: "that would make an awesome topic for a blog post, I must do that when I get home".  But of course, nine times out of ten, by the time I get home and sit down at the PC the idea has evaporated into the mist.

So - I'm going to do something to try to help myself with this.  For as long as I can remember I've kept a notebook and pen in my handbag - that way I never get caught without a pen and paper when I need one! Invaluable for such things as shopping lists, phone numbers and the like.  I'm going to make use of it for writing down ideas for blog posts as I think of them - prompts if you like.  With any luck, I'll remember what I meant to say, and there will be more posts as a result.  Fingers crossed anyway. :)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

First Week Loss

Great result this morning - 4.5 pounds, which I'm really pleased about.  Because I didn't rejoin and start from scratch again this time (I continued my membership from where I left off in October and opted to just put my big girl panties on and deal with it in relation to the large gain last week), it puts my current weight loss at 7lb.  I see this as a really good start, and it's both buoyed me up and reassured me for the future.  I had a delivery from the nice man at Sainsbury's this morning so there's plenty of fresh food in the house, lots of vegetables, soups, fruit, Weight Watchers snacks and that kind of thing.  I'm all keyed up for the week ahead.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Staggering Inspiration

So, while minding my own business on the sofa last night, half watching 'The West Wing' and half doing battle with my latest piece of knitting, I received a text message from the lovely Gladys.  Gladys has her weigh in on a Monday night and always texts me to tell me how she's done.  She's had a bit of a tricky few weeks since the new year and her weight hasn't really shifted in a positive direction - she was starting to think she'd hit a plateau.  Apparently not, since last night she recorded a loss of 6lb!  In my surprise, what I sent in reply was decidedly post-watershed!  I'm so, so proud of her - and of course it provides me with even more inspiration.  I told her at lunchtime that I felt as though I should rub the top of her head for luck before my weigh in tomorrow!

Ah yes, weigh in tomorrow.  Watch this space!  As of this minute, my totals for the week are good.  I've used all of my 49 'weekly' points (but not gone over), today I came in 1 point under my daily allowance for the first time this week, and I've recorded 13 activity points, which I haven't used any of.  So for the week as a whole I am 14 points 'in the black'.  First week back or otherwise, considering the number of weeks in the past where I've finished with my balance in the red, this is a major achievement.

So - until tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The "I want..." List

I suspect everyone trying to lose weight may have one of these - an "I want..." list. It's a list of things you want to do, to have, to feel - your reasons for losing weight really, any statement which you can start with the words "I want".

Most likely a lot of people have a mental list of one or two things they carry around in their heads the whole time: "I want to be size 10" or "I want to fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans" or "I want to be able to run up the stairs and not be out of breath" or "I want to get back to the weight I was when I got married" - there are so, so many reasons to lose weight and they are different for everybody. No reason is any more or less valid than any other.

I know that I have many, many good reasons to lose weight - it seems that every single day I think of half a dozen new ones.

I've decided to make an actual list rather than just trying to remember all my reasons - if I have them in one place then I can come back to the list and keep reminding myself of them. As I think of new ones, I'll come back to the list here and update it. Even better would be able to come back to the list and tick things off as I achieve them.

So, here it is:


1. To buy clothes from any shop on the High Street instead of being limited to places that offer "plus size" ranges.
2. To not be too hot all the time, even in winter.
3. To be able to wear makeup (without it sliding off because I'm sweating).
4. To enjoy the summer instead of dreading the heat.
5. To be able to fit into any item of clothing labelled "one size fits all".
6. To wear a bra which isn't either baggy or cutting in so much that it draws blood/leaves bruises.
7. To have a bath with all of me under the water.
8. To sit with my legs crossed without it hurting.
9. To sit on my husband's lap.
10. To wear a bikini for the first time in my life.
11. To be able to ride a horse again.
12. Clothes shopping to be a pleasure, not an ordeal.
13. To run up the 4 flights of stairs at work, not take the lift instead.
14. To wear high heels without being in agony.
15. To be able to paint my own toenails.
16. To simply not feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

The list is subject to change at no notice, but it's a good start.