I joined Weight Watchers Freestyle program online 4 weeks ago. After a year, ok years of stress and emotional eating, I had developed some horrible habits – huge portions, eating Fast Food on the Go, and mindlessly shoveling food in. My weight was an an all time high as were my blood pressure and bad Cholesterol levels. At the end of 4 weeks over the Christmas holidays no less, I am down 5% of my weight, and am loving the program.
I joined with a friend, both of us over 50 and our experience is it has been harder to drop the pounds in our advanced age. We joined the weekend before our annual Gingerbread House Making Party, where we typically indulge in snacking on the candy decor. Rather than putting off starting the Monday after the party or even waiting until the New Year, we decided to jump right in and join the next day – there was no snacking at the the gingerbread house making. We were shocked we ate not one Hershey’s Kiss or M&M. I love how I could literally use whatever food I had in the house from the get go to start.
The first couple of weeks there was some adjustment as my body was used to mass quantities of not great choices. As a previous Weight Watchers member, I started familiar with the program. In a nutshell you are given a certain number of points a day and based on some formula determined by Weight Watchers weighing in Calories, Fat, Fiber, Carbohydrate, Protein and Sugar content each food has a point value. You also get flexible points to use over the week however you choose to use them and you earn points for being active. I am very familiar with the point program having done it in the past and LOVING how the new FreeStyle Program offers over 200 ZERO POINT foods. You have to keep a food diary for everything you eat EXCEPT zero point foods, though I try to journal everyting I eat to see how much I am eating. The zero point foods are not processed and tend to be natural foods you should be eating as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Disclosure here, I joined the program paying out of my own pocket – this is not a sponsored they are paying me or giving me free program. It is a program I know works and chose it after a couple of years of trying other things I didn’t stick with. I am NOT a nutrion expert, just another overweight American trying to make a permanent change to a healthy lifestyle. I did find a few ways to help me stay the course these past four weeks. I was not always perfect but overall I have changed my mindset on eating, stuck with the plan almost the whole time and have been successful.
Helping share in my success to start off, I offer my 5 Tips for Sticking with Weight Watchers Freestyle Your First Month
Tip 1: TRACK YOUR FOOD AS YOU EAT IT
If put off logging in foods eaten, it is very easy to forget later. I have not been perfect in tracking, BUT when I do not log it in right away, I tend to forget it. The website has a GREAT recipe builder you can enter ingredients and easily calculate points per serving from recipes. The app does not have this BUT does have a very handy bar code scanner for when you are grocery shopping and looking for lower point foods – for example I found 1 point smoked turkey breast hot dogs versus the old 6 point hot dogs the family eats. BONUS the turkey version were delish and my daughter asked me next time we had hot dogs, she wanted Turkey version too. That app in the store REALLY helped me find a better version health wise as all foods of the same kind are not created equally.
Tip 2: AIM TO BUILD AT THE BASE OF YOUR MEALS 4-5 POINT MEALS
This is actually much easier than it sounds as there are so many zero point options you can use as base of the meal. Sure life happens and all meals can’t all be low in points plus we all need to splurge once in a while for pete’s sake. The key is portion and planning. If I can plan to have low point meals, I can be have more indulgent in snacks or dare I say an occasional cocktail or glass of wine. The thing is if you can plan the day, you are less likely to feel deprived at some point in the day and avoid “it is 2 O’clock and I have used all my daily points now I can’t eat anything but zero point stuff MEH” feeling. In reality there is plenty to eat at zero points. Low point meals also mean looking at PORTION CONTROL which was a biggie for me.
Tip 3: FIND SUPPORT
I joined an online Facebook group for Weight Watchers Currently on the Program who are Age 50+. I cannot tell you how inspiring it has been to see all the success stories. At my age, it might take longer than when I was 20 to reach my goal, but I have seen it IS possible. Plus, I have gotten all kinds of tips on staying on plan and recipes to try. Seeing other’s success, I have realistic expectations about how long it will take to get to my goal from seeing others progress. I will say, if you have not done Weight Watchers before, I would suggest joining and going to weekly meetings in person. For many, support is having that weekly meeting of weighing in and sharing the journey in real life with others. It can the accountability they need to stay on track too by just going to a meeting.I joined online with a buddy to hold each other accountable in person and it is working for us.
Tip 4: SET GOALS
One part of the program is setting a goal weight, Weight Watchers has a range based on age and height. When I looked at the top of my range, honestly thought: “I haven’t been that weight since I was in my 20’s and that is way more than I need to lose”. I readjusted my mindset to go for it. Sure its a big number, but in the mean time I can celebrate success with mini goals. First up, I wanted to lose 5% of my weight. Four weeks later CHECK! Another mini goal is for the next four weeks to log EVERYTHING everyday and lose a certain number of pounds. I hope to hit 10% total weight loss of my weight in another 7 weeks as it will surely slow down. Remember SMART when setting a goal.
Tip 5: THINK ABOUT YOUR TRIGGER FOODS AND WEAKNESSES PLAN HOW TO COMBAT
My weakness, savory foods and well I like to eat mass quantities. I love chips, fries, popcorn at the movies, bacon, you name it. Sure I like sweet stuff too, but truth be told, my vice is salty good snacks. I have adjusted this month eliminating for the most part those foods, but I will be honest we went to Mexican for Dinner one night and I had chips and a drink. With my love of popcorn at movies for the 3 this month I went to I arrived at the theater with a bag of carrots and two bags of 100 calorie Emerald Natural Almonds and Walnuts. Drank water too. Only ate two bags of nuts at the first movie ate one bag at the second and third. The carrots, helped me get that crunchy sensation I like from eating and left me happy. I did not miss that popcorn at all. SHOCKER. Bacon – it is not a no no, but because of my high blood pressure I need to be careful. Point wise our family is fine with Turkey Bacon we all like the taste.
Regarding loving mass quantities of food, I can eat all the zero stuff I want NO guilt and just about all the time I am satisfied. It helps paring a zero point food with a healthy or protein in snacking I have found. For planning I keep good snacks on hand or with me on the go in the car. When I am hungry on the program, I just eat. FreeStyle typically pushes me to eat the healthy non processed stuff that is zero points – and when you have a supply, it is an easy first choice. When I eat out, I always plan ahead now knowing what I will order when I go in.
I am amazed I lost weight during Christmas holidays as I did indulge in some fabulous meals, a few treats at several holiday celebrations, though way less than years past. I will be honest at times in the first two weeks, I missed my old junk, but truth be told I don’t crave that stuff anymore. My body and tastes are adjusting to wanting the good stuff. Sure it is a long road ahead, but I love the philosophy of you can eat anything while on this program – insert the Oprah BREAD commercial. It is all about moderation, portion control and truly a balanced diet. For me I need to get my blood pressure down and cholesterol in check, the bonus is all the weight I will lose if I stick with it.
Have you considered any change of eating this New Year? If you are looking for a program that is a lifestyle change, give Weight Watchers a try.
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