This year, I gained 20 pounds. I chalk it up to being on bed rest for a few months in pain, a severe case of endometriosis that led to my second surgery and, the real clincher: menopause. I’m sure the sugar habit and lack of exercise contributed, too.
Whatever the reasons, it sucks.
I was looking at photos of last Christmas and getting a little teary-eyed at the sight of me in my little size 6 dress, cursing the size 12 jeans I am currently wearing. And please, don’t get all hung up on my size. I know 12 is a perfectly reasonable size for most women. I happen to be on the short side, 5’3”, and I have a smallish frame. So a 12 is overweight for me. I am overweight. And uncomfortable. And unhappy. I’ve got a closet full of clothes that don’t fit and I involuntarily groan when getting up off the ground. It’s time to do something.
I’ve been working out and plan to maintain for the rest of this year. I just don’t need the stress of trying to lose weight during the holidays. I’ll be happy to maintain between now and New Year’s.
Come January 2nd, I’m getting started on shedding the weight. I’ll be doing Weight Watchers, because it works for me, but you can totally adopt these strategies without joining WW. I’m doing the online version, basically just using the app. Meetings don’t work at this time in my life, but if you can make it work for you, it is a great thing!
Here’s my plan.
Eat around 29 points per day.
Of course, this isn’t set in stone and one of the things I love about WW is the flexibility. I can use my bucket points as needed.
My target points according to WW is 26, so that leaves me with 28 bucket points each week, as opposed to 49. In the past, I have been hungry on WW, so I figure using some of my bucket points in my daily allotment will help.
I’ll have 28 splurge, or bucket points per week to play around with. I can eat these all at once at In and Out, or spread them over a few days. (Most people have 49 bucket points each week, but I am using some of mine to add to my daily target.)
This is the one thing I’ve never figured out how to do while counting calories, and splurging is very important to me. If I can’t figure out how to splurge occasionally and still lose weight, I will give up. Believe me, I’ve tried to figure it out on my own and it just doesn’t work for me. For this reason alone, I chose the cost of Weight Watchers over counting calories for free. Well, that and the free fruits and veggies. More on that later.
Eat my Activity Points on Weight Training Days
I’m typically starving on days when I weight train, even with light weights. I’m not sure if its because I’m hypoglycemic, or just a wimp, but no matter the reason my stomach literally growls all day long if I try to diet too much on weight training days.
For this reason, I plan to eat my activity points on days I weight train. I usually try to avoid eating my activity points (or calories burned if you’re counting calories instead of points) because it slows down the weight loss. But I’ve decided being happy and functional while losing slowly is better than being miserable and losing quickly.
Wow, it’s almost like I’m growing up or something!
Load up on Fruits and Veggies
Most fruits and veggies are zero points on WW. When you’re watching your points and trying to fill up, you naturally start bulking up your meals with salads, veggies, and fruits. A handful of almonds will cost you 3 points, and might take the edge off of your hunger, but add an apple to that for zero points and you practically have a mini-meal. While I usually try to eat my plants, I’m not always successful, but I naturally get more fruits and veggies in while on WW. It’s so worth it!
3, 3 Point Snacks a Day
Yes, you read that right. Some people can get by with one or two snacks a day. I require three. Hypoglycemia does that to you. If I wait too long to eat, or don’t have enough protein at any meal, I will have a major sugar crash and start shaking, feel like I’m going to pass out, and get a little snippy. Not a fun way to live. So I am working in 3, 3 point snacks a day. This will ensure that I can have a little protein at each snack. There’s tons of 2 point snacks out there, and some of them might work for me. But allowing my self the possibility of 3 points will make my life easier.
Eating every three or four hours is also supposed to speed up your metabolism, so win-win!
If you’re able to get by on less snacks and don’t like to graze all day, then you can eat a little more at meals.
A Sort-of Guideline for Each Meal
If I am unable to stick to my meal plan (see below), and I want to choose something to eat on the fly, I have a loose guideline for about how many points I should aim for at each meal. See the language I use here? Loose, aim for, about. Very important words. Being easier on myself is a big part of this plan and, key, I think, to making it stick.
Here’s my sort-of guideline:
Breakfast: 5 Points
Snack: 3 Points
Lunch: 6 Points
Snack: 3 Points
Dinner: 9 Points
Snack: 3 Points
I just used my calculator to make sure that equals 29 points a day. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I homeschool my children.
I’m planning 8 weeks worth of meals. I figure 2 months is a great start, and I can either keep doing the 8 weeks over and over, or tweak it and start over in 2 months. Here’s how I broke it down.
Each week, I have:
2 breakfasts to choose from
5 snacks to choose from (remember I’ll be eating 3 a day, so this gives me variety to choose from)
2 lunches to choose from
6 dinners. On the other day a week, I can eat out, eat leftovers, make a salad bar or pasta, or throw something together.
There’s also things I’ll always have on hand, like eggs, protein shakes, low calorie soups, sandwich and salad stuff, and pasta and sauce for a quick dinner. This way, I always have something to fall back on if needed.
I’m working on a PDF to share if anyone is interested in my 8 week meal plan. I pretty much only chose recipes I could link to online. Just remember that your points target might be different than mine depending on your age, weight, and activity level, and all kinds of other mysterious things. And if you’re nursing? You get like a gazillion more points. Or ten. Or something like that. So double check if you’re on WW. If you’re just counting calories, I recommend My Fitness Pal, a great app. You can definitely use this plan and just count calories, I just don’t know how you’d work in the splurge.
Also, this plan is very specific to me. I don’t eat fish, or mayo, or olives, or walnuts, or beets, or artificial sweeteners, or about a dozen other things. So you might want to make some changes to my menu if, like ninety percent of Americans, you have more sophisticated tastes than I do.
I also added some fun breakfast choices, but I will most likely eat an egg every day for the rest of my life. It’s the only thing I’ve found that keeps me from feeling like I’m going to faint an hour after breakfast.
I will get the PDF up by the last week of December so you can grocery shop and get ready if you’re going to join me. The plan will start January 2, to give us a day to ease in to it. Yes, we will be rebels and start on the second day of the year!
Take that, resolutions!
A List of Better Choices at Restaurants we Frequent
I use the term restaurants loosely. When we eat out, it’s at taco stands or fast food places mostly. In the last few months, I’ve stuck to what I consider “healthier” fast food: Chick Fil A, In and Out, Chipotle, and Subway. These places are either lower in calories or use fresher ingredients, but I can still blow my points up at any of these places. Waffle fries, anyone?
I know I will find myself needing to eat out sometimes, so I’m preparing a list of better choices at nearby places. If all else fails, I can always get a salad with grilled chicken at just about any fast food place.
Moving My Body
Most of my focus here is on the food, because that is what trips me up. I have been working out and I actually enjoy it. But, like with anything, I can get lazy in this area or get crazy in this area.
I have a general plan to get moving more and build up my strength. I have very little strength right now, and I can’t wait to get stronger!
I joined a gym and signed up for six months of personal training. Once a week, I get to train with a pro for 30 minutes. Now, if I was reading this, I would think, Okay, this plan isn’t going to work for me because I can’t afford a trainer! But guess what? You absolutely don’t need a trainer to lose weight. In fact, I’ve been going for 4 weeks and haven’t lost an ounce. Because, for me, weight loss really happens in the kitchen.
The trainer is helping me get stronger and is giving me a sense of accountability that I need, and it is a huge blessing. But it is not necessary. We are paying $99 a month for gym membership and one personal training session a week. That is an amazing deal here in Southern California. I gave up something I was saving up for and we decided to eat out less to be able to afford it.
If you’re interested in the crazy good deal I got, try Anytime Fitness! (Not an ad, just love it!)
Here’s my plan:
Mondays: Zumba class at the gym. If I can’t make it to the gym, I’ll do a workout video on Netflix or one of the several that I own.
Tuesdays: Work out on my own at the gym. If you don’t have a gym, get a Jillian Michaels video and use 5 lb weights. Tuesdays work for me because my girls have rehearsals near my gym. I’m trying to make this work with my life!
Thursdays: My session with my trainer at the gym. Do a video if you’re on your own at home!
I usually plan 2-a-day workouts, 6 days a week when I start to diet, and then I crash and burn. So this time, I’m starting slow and this is all I want to plan right now, because if I try to work out 6 days a week, I am setting myself up for failure. HOWEVER, I have fallen in love with the elliptical and I like to take walks with my family, so I will be adding these things in as I can.
A side-note about the elliptical: I love to run to upbeat music, but it aggravates my pain too much these days. I miss that feeling I used to get while jogging, but I have found that the elliptical doesn’t aggravate my pain, and kind of makes me feel like I’m jogging. Nice!
I think I’ve hit on all the issues I usually run into while trying to lose weight, and this is my battle plan for facing them. My last point, though, is the most important:
Grace, Grace, Grace
I know I will not be able to stick entirely to this plan. I might have a busy day and forget to thaw the chicken. I might find myself out at lunchtime and have no choice but to hit a drive-through. I might miss my planned grocery shopping day and have nothing but pasta in the house. I might sleep in and miss Zumba. I might just not feel like cooking. I might really, really need a piece of chocolate cake.
And that’s okay. Because I plan to give myself grace.
I have a sort-of guideline of how many points I should aim for at each meal. I have a list of good choices at nearby eateries. I plan to keep some quick meals on hand in case the day gets away from me. I’ll have some to-go snacks to keep in my purse.
So I should be okay.
And if I really screw up and miss the mark on my points one week?
This is life. I am not a perfect person.
I’ve gots issues.
Lots of them. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t need a plan to lose weight, I would just, you know, eat less and move more. That doesn’t work for me because I am a flawed individual. So, I need a plan.
But if I miss a workout, forget to track a dinner, or blow up my points with a movie-sized bag of sour patch kids?
I will just keep moving forward, and eventually, I will get healthier. Good choices will become second nature. I might always have issues. I might always struggle. Even when I was 110 pounds, I struggled. I know this. I know it won’t be easy and that I have an obsessive personality when it comes to these things and I might just sabotage myself.
When that happens– not if, but when—I will give myself grace and move on.
And that? That might be the biggest change of all.
Eating better, moving more, taking time for myself in this crazy life of raising a family… all super great things I’m looking forward to changing.
But loving myself and giving myself permission to mess up?
That might be the most life-changing thing I do this year.
Are you with me, friends?