A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

A shift in my eating plan . . .

on June 30, 2014
*Apologies for the dense text! Of course on a day I have a lot to say, WordPress is misbehaving.
As I approach the one year anniversary of reaching my goal weight (still over 100 pounds down as of this week!), I’ve done a lot of reflecting on what weight maintenance has been like and what I want it to look like for the next year. This year, I’ve maintained my weight by essentially doing the same things I did to lose weight: tracking everything I ate using the Weight Watchers Points Plus program and phone app; exercising regularly but not eating those activity points; and saving my “weekly bonus points” for true splurges and special occasions. I took a week off tracking when we were at Disney World in February for the half marathon but otherwise haven’t missed a day or a meal.
Do I really want to do that for the rest of my life? Not really and while tracking has been well documented as a key to success in weight LOSS, I can’t really find it anywhere in research and stories about weight MAINTENANCE. Key factors in studies regarding weight maintenance have been primarily regular self-weighing, maintaining an increased level of physical activity and “avoiding overeating” – I love that one. A big question for me is if I can avoid overeating without tracking my portion sizes. I honestly don’t know. While I’ve gotten used to eating smaller portion sizes thanks to losing weight with Weight Watchers, I don’t know that I’ve learned what a normal portion size is per se. I’ve learned to only eat the portion size I have the points available for, so my portion of shrimp may be 9 oz one day and 3 oz another. Without that limit of “points available”, how would/should I eat? I don’t know that I’ll ever learn this until I practice it. Yes, I may “fail” by gaining a little to start with but that may be a reasonable consequence if it helps me transition to a longer term style of eating.
The other thing that has me reconsidering the way I currently eat is a conversation I had with my toddler earlier this month. He’s very into his “favorite” things right now and I asked him what his favorite thing to eat was. His answer, not surprisingly, was tomatoes. My guy loves tomatoes and has cherry or grape tomatoes as a side dish to almost every dinner we have at home. I then asked what Mommy’s favorite was (salad) and Daddy’s (pizza). These are all perfectly reasonable answers, but as this occurred in the setting of a meal where we were in fact, all 3 eating different things at home, it was a little sobering. I would estimate that we all 3 eat the same meal about once a week now. Most nights we eat at home, O has something easy and toddler palatable (beans and tomatoes are a favorite) and I cook something “normal” for my husband. My meal is either something related to Darrell’s dinner, with lots of low-point “swaps” or something quick and easy and low point, like a salad full of roasted veggies or my favorite veggie filled frittata. There are a few light, healthy meals like our beloved tuna melts that we all eat as a family, but those only occur about once a week.
While we all sit down to dinner together regularly, I’d really like to work on us sitting down and eating the same meal together regularly! That would mean healthier meals for all of us, which is definitely part of my big goal of having a healthy family, myself included. I have all of these fantastic cookbooks and magazines with great recipes to try and yet rarely pursue them because it can be complicated to figure out points with WW. I’m not lazy, just a busy working mom and it’s gotten to be easier to make old stand-bys rather than do the math or portioning to track WW points at night.
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So what am I going to do? Weight Watchers has clearly been very good for me, in terms of helping me lose 100+ pounds and holding my hand as I “consolidated” my weight maintenance over the last year. I joined Weight Watchers for lots of good reasons, so I am not ready to give it up yet. Instead, I’m going to switch over to the Simply Filling plan. With Simply Filling, you only count points for the foods you eat that aren’t on the “Power Foods” list and those points come from your earned activity points and weekly 49 “splurge” points rather than a set daily allowance. That means I don’t necessarily have to track every little thing or measure out the specific amounts of ingredients in recipes so long as all of the ingredients are on the Power Foods list. That in itself would make cooking healthy meals for my family so much easier! Last night, I made baked ziti with whole wheat pasta, homemade tomato sauce and ground turkey that didn’t count against any of my points tally because all of ingredients were on the approved list and we all ate the same thing from the same pan! Fantastic!
The “Power Foods” are fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins and fat free dairy essentially. Veggies like beans and corn that I had to count in the past no longer have a point value. These are all healthier options we should be eating more of , of course, and Weight Watchers theorizes that they’re foods with less abuse potential and more filling. I’m not sure about the abuse potential part – we’ll definitely have to wait and see with that one.
I’ve been doing this for a week so far and have noticed a couple of interesting things.
– The bulk of my daily diet was already on the Power Foods list. I examined the few things in my regular rotation that I would have to pay Points for and realized that most of them weren’t worth it. Laughing Cow cheese on my toast – not worth it. Half calorie crackers or Pop Chips with lunch – not worth it. String cheese – not worth it. PB2 in my yogurt – TOTALLY WORTH IT.
– I’m mentally still in the “save the weekly points” mindset so I find myself going for at least a little walk during the day to get the points to pay for my PB2 at night rather than dipping in my weekly points. I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually but for now I guess it is a good way to get extra steps in.
– I thought the fact that I felt like I was starving every afternoon was due to the fact that I had this mental association of driving home with snacking (fast food in the old days and big cups of fruit nowadays). Turns out, once I started eating edamame with my lunch instead of the half calorie crackers, I wasn’t hungry in the afternoon anymore. Maybe there is something to this Power Foods thing. Interestingly, the edamame are the same 2 points as the half calorie crackers on the original tracking plan, which really makes me wonder why I hadn’t picked something with more nutritional value in the first place.
I made the switch to soy milk as it is on the list and almond milk is not. Honestly, a little over almond milk at the moment after the chicken stock incident a couple of weeks ago!

I made the switch to soy milk as it is on the list and almond milk is not. Honestly, a little over almond milk at the moment after the chicken stock incident a couple of weeks ago!

For now, I’m going to commit to this plan for a month. To start with, I’ll try only tracking the things that aren’t on the Power Foods list and trying to pay attention to hunger signals to learn how to eat the healthy stuff like a normal person. I like I still have the ability to eat things that aren’t on the Power Foods list, just by earning activity points and managing my weekly points well, so I haven’t felt restricted so far. I’m going to keep with my regular weigh ins (at least once a week) and if things are getting too out of hand in the first couple of weeks, I’ll go back to tracking everything, even the Power Foods. If nothing else, at the end of this I’ll have had some practice with hunger cues and hopefully have some new healthy recipes for the whole family so I haven’t lost anything by trying this out. I also have the calorie burn “buffer” of starting my new half marathon training plan this month, so that should take care of the “maintaining an increased amount of physical activity” part of weight maintenance.

 

This feels like transitioning into real maintenance, which is a little scary but exciting too with the prospect of being more like a “normal” person and less a “former fat girl” (although I suspect I’ll always be the latter and actually am okay with that). My birthday appears to trigger this transitions for me – joining Weight Watchers to lose weight two years ago, registering for my first half marathon a year ago and now shifting to a different eating style for my family this year. I think this will be an interesting experience for all of us. I’ll keep you posted!

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15 responses to “A shift in my eating plan . . .

  1. I haven’t heard of this plan before, it sounds interesting! Almost like a less strict Paleo possibly? I need to start eating more power foods too!

    • Yes – it seems like it’s basically cleanish eating with the ability to “buy” your indulgence foods. I like the flexibility to buy treats (and that the list is broader than paleo/clean eating lists to start with). We’ll see how it goes!

      Sent from my iPhone

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  2. leannenalani says:

    I really look forward to hearing more about how you are doing with maintenance. There is so much I think I can learn from your experience because, as you know, I have struggled. I’d love to be able to just eat normally without tracking. When I tried it the experience was liberating and much more relaxing.

    My husband and I also tend not to eat the same dinners most days of the week. We often have different calorie allotments (he’s tracking, too) and desires on what to eat. It would be nice to share more meals.

    • The fact that guys get so many more calories definitely makes it harder. Even if we were both on the same eating plan, there would be differences. Darn guys and their muscle mass and faster metabolisms.

  3. Oh, that baked ziti sounds so good! I completely relate to the family meal dilemma. We are getting better, but it does seem like much of the time we are eating different things. My boys love tomatoes, too! Congratulations on being in full maintenance mode! What an amazing accomplishment to have lost 100 lbs AND kept it off! I agree with you, as well, about finding something that will work for the rest of your life. It’s hard to imagine tracking or counting calories the rest of your life. The Simply Filling plan sounds great; can’t wait to hear more about it!

    • The baked ziti was good, but needed a little more spice. We intentionally made it less spicy than usual because O was eating it, but that shifted things a little too much in the sweet direction with the spaghetti squash mixed in.

  4. […] One of the goals of my new eating plan was to have more true family meals and I’m happy to report that we’ve been doing great […]

  5. […] go into more detail about this on Wednesday, but overall it has been a good thing, served the purposes I wanted and I still fit in my pants. Wins all around […]

  6. […] my new eating plan for one month, regardless of the scale. I went into detail about my decision here, but really I was looking for a way to maintain my weight without tracking every day and to get my […]

  7. […] new hybrid Simply Filling-counting points approach. Are holidays treated like a weekend day, a la Simply Filling or do I count like a typical weekday? I ultimately decided that holidays are more like weekends in […]

  8. […] totally okay with? I haven’t gotten on the scale in over a week and am back to doing Simply Filling for the time being because it is easier and I need easy right now. I’m also surprisingly okay […]

  9. […] experiment with the Simply Filling program wasn’t a complete failure. I didn’t gain much weight and my clothes still fit (mostly), […]

  10. Bobette Massaglia says:

    I’ve been following the Simply Filling plan for about a year now and I love it! I was afraid I would overeat, but I’m surprised at how full I am when I’m eating Power Foods. I’m 8 pounds from my goal and I hope I’m able to continue following this plan. After being a Weight Watcher off and on for 20 years, I think I’ve finally found something I can stick with for life. It makes complete sense to me.

    • The key is definitely something you can do for life. I’ve drifted away from Simply Filling and now back to it – it’s definitely an easier way to eat if you can control your portions without more detailed counting. Glad to know it is working for you!

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