Friday, September 17, 2010

Fessing up--the road to health, fitness, and more energy! We're ON it! :)

by Bev Sninchak

So I wasn't going to bring this up because I HATE pressure from people when you share such things, but Paul and I began a new lifestyle program and it's working well, so I'd better fess up. Been trying to keep it a secret and on the down-low, but it's kind of hard considering all the positive changes we're feeling! XD

First of all, I want to say upfront that we appreciate any support and encouragement, but please realize we did this to FEEL better and have more energy, first and foremost. We are doing it for ourselves and nobody else. The side result is that we are dropping weight and getting fitter, but this is NOT a temporary, quick fix-it thing. This is an ongoing lifestyle change for the sole purpose of getting fitter, eating better and having MORE energy so we can accomplish the goals we have. All else is the proverbial cherry on top.

Again, the focus is NOT solely on weight. We appreciate your enthusiasm and encouragement, but our focus is much broader than that. It is on our overall health and energy level. We do a LOT of stuff in our lives, and we need a higher energy level to keep up with everything we're involved in. I've had friends who said things in the past and thought they were being supportive, but they came across as condescending...and this is why I've kept my mouth shut till today. Judgment and condescension is not something Paul or I want to hear or will accept. Sometimes people mean well, but the way they say things may come out as a veiled slap in the face. Believe me, I've had a lifetime of such back-handed 'compliments.' More on that at a later time.

Also, let me point out that everyone is on a diet. A diet describes what you're eating. So everyone is on a diet of some sort, whether they know it or not. Obviously some ways of eating -- or diets -- are better and preferable to others. We used to eat one way, and now that's been altered and changed to include more whole grains, fruit, veggies, lean meat, less sugar, etc. What are we doing? What's the lifestyle change?

Drumroll:

I joined Weight Watchers in mid-July and Paul joined in August. We are following the POINTS system and follow the credo of Move, Track and Stay on Point. Since we began this lifestyle change, we've both lost an average of 1 to 2 lbs per week -- which is GREAT, of course -- but the BIG improvement is in HOW WE FEEL. I can't begin to describe how different I feel when I get up every day. I've come to realize that refined white sugar has been horrible for my mood and horrible for making my body feel out of whack -- and I discovered this after changing how and what we eat.

If you've followed the WW POINTS system, you'll know that NOTHING is off limits. In fact, one week when I lost 2.2 lbs, I had pizza AND a cupcake that same week - and still lost over 2 lbs. How? Well, it's the POINTS system. Everything you eat adds up to so many points. You get a certain amount of POINTS per day, based on your fitness and weight levels, and those POINTS go down as your body changes. You are encouraged to eat ALL your points daily -- as crazy as it is, you MUST eat to lose weight and get fit. If you don't, your metabolism slows down, your body goes into starvation mode and you burn less calories. SO, you eat. But you have to make decisions about how many POINTS you're willing to spend if you're going to stay within your daily POINTS total.

You do get weekly POINTS on top of your daily and you DO get activity POINTS as well -- so if you go for a walk, work out, do yoga, play Wii fit or do some type of activity, you get those POINTS to use that week as well. That means if you wanna splurge on something come the weekend, you CAN because you've gotten in your activity AND you've been smart enough to dole out your POINTS wisely. So you can have that slice of pizza -- but you may want to top it with veggies instead of a bunch of meats to save those extra POINTS instead of spending a bunch all at once. ;)

Because I'm a FIEND for tracking stuff, Paul says the program is great for me. I love charts, graphs, and tracking things. So tracking what I eat and my activity POINTS daily is something I really get into. If you BITE it, you WRITE it, essentially. You gotta log EVERYTHING you eat and you gotta log any activity you have as well to see where you're at for the day and week. Let me tell you, it was FUN trying to figure out how many activity POINTS you get for sex :D Yet another reason to have MORE! Hee hee!

I can't go into it more than that, because to get the specifics you'll need to join the program, but suffice it to say it's working, we are feeling better and we have more energy, which was the whole idea in the first place! Now, instead of grabbing a regular soda (which, I'll admit, I was a soda addict), I'll grab a water w/ Crystal Light.

For a snack, I'll have fruit or yogurt. Breakfast, which I rarely used to eat (BIG no-no!) is now Grape-nuts with berries or a banana or a whole wheat bagel and fat-free cream cheese. Or, if I'm really hungry, a double-fiber Orowheat English muffin stuffed with a scrambled egg and topped with fat-free cheese. If you get Morningstar sausage patties, you can throw one in there and have your own homestyle egg sandwich to rival the fast food (fat-laden) ones!

If I want a treat, I'll grab a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich (they are HEAVENLY!) for only 2g of fat. And the movies? No problem! I get a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich, diet soda and a small popcorn with no butter and I'm FULL and happy! This is compared to the not-so-healthy alternative I used to have (trust me on this!)

You won't find white bread in our house at all anymore. You'll find the highest fiber bread we can get, plus a boatload of fat-free, protein-rich Greek yogurt (Chobani is our first choice), a bunch of various fruit, cases of bottled water, Crystal Light, ground turkey, low-fat lunch meals like Lean Cuisine or Eating Right, fat-free milk (well, we always drank fat-free milk), lots of high fiber cereal and veggies for homemade, low-cal soups for the crockpot, etc. Our kitchen stop looks SO much different than it did mere months ago!

What about eating out? Well, make common-sense choices. But some things you think are better to eat, aren't! Fast food salads are often just as bad as if you'd ordered that burger, believe it or not! We like to go to Golden Corral or Country Kitchen buffet, that way we can pile on the foods we know are the better choices, like the veggie/fruit bar along with a lean piece of steak or chicken. Taco Bell has some yummy stuff on their Fresco menu as an alternative to the regular menu. Bottom line is that you CAN eat better no matter where you're at. It's all in the choices you make, and you don't have to eat like a rabbit and have nothing but lettuce! Blech! Sorry, but that's not living to me.

With this lifestyle plan, if I watch my POINTS and allocate them the right way, I CAN have pizza on a night out. I CAN have that slice of bday cake that comes along a few times a year. I CAN have that occasional piece of chocolate (if I really, really want it) -- but if I have those things, I know that 90 percent of the rest of the way I'm eating has to make up for it. Can you tell I'm excited? Of COURSE I am! Because NOTHING is off limits. I decide what to have and when, but the strange thing is once you work these healthier foods into your life, you find yourself reaching for a piece of fruit or making a low-fat smoothie instead of noshing on Doritos! Your tastes change, and you realize, "Hey, I feel better now that I eat this way!" The end result is you WANT to keep going and you know the way you approach things has changed! :)

The first part of the lifestyle change is changing how you eat. The second part is moving in more and better ways. Paul and I have spent the beginning of this lifestyle taking our time to learn about the choices we need to make to eat healthier and fold nutritious foods into our routine. Now that we have more of a handle on things, we are incorporating the second part of this lifestyle. That includes walking, doing Tai Chi and yoga. All very measured and all in a way that gradually ups our activity level in ways that appeal to us. I like the idea of balancing mind/body, and I'm a fan of Eastern belief systems, such as Taoism, so Tai Chi and yoga were obvious choices for me. The great thing is that Netflix allows me to access a bevy of DVDs on Tai Chi and yoga! It's also fortunate we have a dog, because we can take her to the dog park for an hour or so and get activity time in ourselves :)

This is getting long, so I'm going to wrap it up. My intent on posting this was two-fold: one, I wanted to put a shout out there to anyone else who is doing the WW lifestyle/POINTS system, and two, I wanted to come out with this to explain what we're doing, why we're doing it and why I might be sharing some kick-butt recipes and tips in the future on my FB wall, links or notes. :) This is a journey Paul and I are BOTH excited about, and we've already noticed some amazing changes in how we feel and our energy levels.

For anyone who is interested, I have a blog over on the Weight Watchers site. You don't have to be a member to view it. I have nine blog posts thus far. Here's the link:

http://community.weightwatchers.com/Blogs/UserBlog.aspx?blogid=1037310

If you're already a member of the WW community, feel free to FRIEND me over there! Here's the link to my profile: http://community.weightwatchers.com/Profile/userprofile.aspx?sid=2683685