Weight Watchers – It DOES work!

Now (July [yellow shorts] & August [blue dress] 2012): 

BEFORE:

                                                  November 2011:

I have struggled with my weight since I was a little girl. I was always the heaviest girl in my class. Sure, I was picked on, but it was something that made me stronger and made me not care what others had to say. Did it hurt at the time? Yeah it did, no one wants to be the odd man out. But if it weren’t for some of those struggles, I would not be the woman I am today. When I was 17 I joined Weight Watchers for the first time and lost around 50 pounds and ended up quitting because I was going with a family member and their schedule at this particular meeting didn’t meld any longer so we stopped. And I gained all my weight I loss back.
The middle of February 2010 I told myself that I had had enough and that I was going to do something about my weight. This was the first time in a VERY long time that I had the courage and the strength to do something to better myself. People around me had been telling me to lose weight, but if your state of mind is not into it, you are not going to do it. This time, I was ready and I was prepared. I found a Weight Watchers meeting which was in my city and I walked in on a Thursday night, shy and quiet and asked how I could sign up for Weight Watchers. I signed up and became a monthly member (which means the monthly fee is deducted from my credit card monthly and it allows me access to the Weight Watchers online E-Tools system).
I have been a withstanding member ever since. I look forward to my Thursday meetings and enjoy the comradely that comes from these sessions. I absolutely adore my leader (a leader is the individual who is a part of Weight Watchers, has lost all the weight they needed to be at goal – which is what your individual ideal healthy weight is and has maintained it), she’s incredibly helpful and she has helped me during some rough patches in my weight loss. The folks who are in my meeting are all friendly and we tend to talk before and after the meeting on Thursdays. We share recipes, tips, ideas, new products that are out in the market that are “point friendly”. It’s really a great bunch of folks and I cherish the relationships I have built with each of them.
Now I know I have been talking a lot about the program itself and I feel as though that’s very beneficial for anyone who’s new to the program, who doesn’t know about the program or just has incorrect knowledge passed on to them from others.
I just want to state this quickly, let me start this off by saying Weight Watchers is NOT Jenny Craig, it is not Nutri Systems, it is not the grape fruit diet, it is not the Subway diet, it is not the cookie diet, etc. What Weight Watchers IS is a lifestyle change for the better! With Weight Watchers you eat your own food – no we fellow Weight Watchers members are not tearing open a package of freeze dried “chili” and going to town (I mean, really?). Yes, Weight Watchers sells brand name foods in stores – but this is only as a helpful tool to members (or the general public) because there are times in your life where you’re on the fly and you need something to eat and you’re unsure. When this happens you can just snag a Weight Watcher meal and heat it up – the points are on it for you and it helps eliminate poor choices. We actually go out to restaurants, we can eat cupcakes/ice cream (and even together if the mood strikes), we can eat dips and chips, we can eat steak and cheese sandwiches, and we can eat pizza (among everything else there is food wise) – but the key is – we do so in moderation!
From the pictures, you can see I have lost a drastic amount of weight. From the last week in February 2010 to this date currently, I have lost 175+ pounds following the Weight Watchers program!
I still have a little ways to go before I am at my ideal goal weight, which would make me a Lifetime member! Incase you are unfamiliar, Lifetime members are members of Weight Watchers who have lost all the weight they need to and are considered to be at a healthy weight compared to their BMI. A bonus for Lifetime members is they do not have to pay a monthly/weekly fee, they will now have free access to Weight Watchers online system E-Tools, and they are able to go to as many meetings as they want (as they would also be able to do as a non-lifetime member). Lifetime members also weigh in once a month compared to the weekly that non-lifetimers weigh in.
Out of all the individuals who are at my meeting, I am the individual who has lost the most amount of weight. Many of the ladies and gentlemen I speak with tell me that I am their inspiration and that I inspire them to do better and to “get back on the wagon.” I never once thought I would inspire individuals to lose weight or to continue losing weight. But it’s a great feeling and I enjoy helping others with their journeys.
Incase you’re wondering, I lost the first roughly 80 pounds on my own by just eating healthy and watching what I was eating. This means weighing and measuring and tracking my food intake. After that I started to add in activity (zumba and general activities such as weight training and adding in the elliptical and treadmill into my routine). These days I hate the treadmill so I go to three zumba classes a week and find when I do that I’ve been losing roughly 2 pounds a week by eating healthy and exercising.
Once I hit my goal weight, I want to work for Weight Watchers as a receptionist and I hope to one day become a leader so I can continue to inspire individuals and share with them the wealth of knowledge I have learned during my journey.

Deliciousness: Strawberry, Pineapple & Coconut Cake!

I’ve been on this baking kick as of late I’ve been making cupcakes and muffins and enjoying it all. I’ve wanted to make a pineapple cake for a few weeks now but just hadn’t gotten around to it. I then saw a strawberry coconut cake on pinterest and then wanted to make that. So then I thought … why not just combine the two together? Pineapples and strawberries go perfectly well together and coconut could just be an added treat. Now if you follow some of my food posts, particularly my baking posts (particularly on LUUUX), you see that I like to use healthy alternatives in baking. That is primarily eliminating the use of eggs, oil and butter in my cooking. I do use those things in other ways but there are ways to make moist, delicious cakes/muffins, etc. without using them. I also wanted to test this recipe out because my boyfriends moms birthday is in a couple weeks and I’m pushing him into making her a cake (with my help of course).

So what did I use to make this cake? Simple! One box of white cake mix, 1 box of sugar free strawberry Jello, 1 can of crushed pineapple, 3/4c shredded sweet coconut and a tub of light Cool-whip. I mixed the cake mix, Jello, crushed pineapple and half the coconut mixture together with a mixer. When incorporated, I then equally placed the batter into two greased cake pans and baked according to the box directions. I let the cakes cool on top of the stove for a few hours and when completely cool to the touch, I removed one cake and put it into the center of my cake holder, smeared some whipped cream on top of the bottom layer, then added the second cake on top of it. I then frosted with the whipped cream all over and used my residual coconut to sprinkle over the top of the cake as a decoration.
Because of the Jello and coconut the cake has a little bit of a heavier texture. The pineapple gives it a wetter/moister texture when compared to regular cakes that use oil and eggs. The whipped cream is perfectly light to go along with it because the cake itself is sweet enough on its own. Overall a fabulous treat and one that I’ll be making again.

QUESTIONS:
Do you like baking at home?
Would you make a cake like this for yourself and your loved ones?
Have you ever incorporated healthier techniques into either your cooking or baking?

Images are mine do not take or use. Thank you.

Slip-ups to AVOID while losing/maintaining weight!

So with the 1st of the year behind us and for those who make them, the New Years resolutions made, I wanted to leave some tips for those who are watching their weight, trying to lose weight or are on their own personal (and hopefully HEALTHY) lifestyle change. I personally have been on my own lifestyle change for the past two years and have not felt better! I still eat the items I love, but I have them in moderation. The big thing that is different from the me now, compared to the me then is I am VERY conscious and aware of the foods I am putting in my mouth! By foods I mean snacks, fruits, vegetables, drinks, and entire meals (whether homemade or purchased at either the grocery store or at a food chain). Before I get into the mistakes, there are just two general rules I personally live by so I just want to mention them quickly.

The #1 rule I live by is you are NOT on a diet, it should be considered a change of lifestyle. The old saying goes, rules are made to be broken. So don’t set yourself up for failure. I’ve been in that boat where my diet was going to start TOMORROW and tomorrow came … and went … and so did my plans. When you start to think of things as a change of lifestyle, they become easier. And don’t go into it with a diet mentality, no one will be content and be able to live off of brown rice, steamed broccoli and plain baked chicken the rest of their lives. Old habits die hard in that scenario.

Rule #2 make sure you want to get healthy for yourself and that your mind is in the game! If your mind is not in it, or if you are doing this for other people, you may find success – but you won’t maintain that success. I’ve done things for others regarding my health and while I road the wave, my heart wasn’t there and I eventually just gave up. So make sure this is for you and you only.

Rule #3 be realistic about what you want to obtain! Don’t think you’re going to drop 25 pounds in 30 days. Think of the amount of time it took you to put that weight on. It’s going to take longer than a month to lose that, because sadly, it takes longer to get the weight off THAN it does putting it on. You just have to have faith and a positive attitude and you will drop the poundage!

Now onto the foodie blunders! I’ve been told some of these numerous times and I’ve heard them recited by nutritionist, doctors, and even Weight Watcher leaders. Sometimes you can mindlessly dismiss food items without realizing the hindrance they can do on your weight loss or maintenance of a loss.

Don’t skip meals! Breakfast is the biggest meal many skip – but this is one of the most important meals of the day. It fuels your body and gets you amped up for the day ahead of you. Think of your body as a car that has hardly any gas in it. If you don’t fuel the engine (and in this case, your body) you’re going to burn out and run out of gas. You don’t have to have a full course meal, you can have cereal, an egg (scrambled or hardboiled), a granola bar, a few slices of deli meat on a piece of bread. Something! Something (and your coffee is NOT considered a meal supplement!) is better than nothing.

Don’t drink your calories! Don’t drink high sugared sodas and juices. You may not think they’re doing any damage, but typically with these beverages the serving size is 4 ounces and usually the serving sizes provided in the “to go” containers are more than double that amount. The caloric content isn’t worth the benefits because these beverages will not sustain you and typically because they are sugary they end up making you crave foods. If you are a soda drinker (and I am) switch to diet or if you can’t handle the “diet taste” switch to the mid-grade level – such as Pepsi Max or Coke Zero where it is zero calories but doesn’t taste just as Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke would taste. If you are a juice drinker and you refuse to give it up, there are diet juices out there and lower calorie alternatives to juices. But I would personally say – grab a pack of Crystal Light or Snapple To Go and put that in a bottle of water. You may really ONLY be craving the sweet – which in these 2 cases are generic but only 5 calories – the equivalent to a piece of gum.

Know what you are ordering if going to a restaurant! I do this ALL the time! If I am asked to go out to eat, I jump on the internet and look up the restaurant beforehand. Most restaurants are now with the times and offer their nutrition information on their websites. You can take a peaksee at some of your favorite items and figure out what you really want through the process of elimination. If the dish I am ordering has a sauce, I ask for it on the side. For my vegetables I want them steamed with NO butter and when it’s regarding a baked potato? I make sure they know I want it plain, plain, plain – because some restaurants roll their potatoes in butter BEFORE rolling them in salt and serving it to you.

That ketchup on your plate, or that dressing on your salad isn’t a ‘free’ food! So many of us go out to eat and ignore the fact that condiments have calories and serving sizes associated to them. What a restaurant is giving you on your salad is NOT a serving size; it’s doubled or even tripled. What you can do is order a Light or Fat Free dressing – or if you want your favorite that isn’t light, order it on the side and dip your fork into the dressing and eat your salad that way. Typically we are only looking for the flavor of the dressing. If you are ordering something like a hamburger, ask for your condiments on the side (particularly mayonnaise) or skip it all together.

Know a serving size! If you are purchasing something that has a label on it, flip it over or turn it around. Every item has a nutrition label on it – even some packaged meats do. In meats, serving sizes are in ounces. In liquids serving sizes are generally in tablespoons. In grains they are usually in cups. But be aware of what you are eating – we tend to have portion distortion if we THINK that is a half a cup – when if you measured it, it’s probably around ¾ or even a full cup.

Working out is your friend! And by working out, I don’t mean you need a gym membership. A simple walk is exercise and will help with your weight loss and even help you with maintaining a loss. It also helps keep you overall healthy. If you don’t want to join a gym, do exercises at home – there are countless exercise videos through cable stations or even on YouTube. Use your Wii or Kinect to exercise. Chase your children. Park further away from a store and walk a little more to get there. If you’re going to the mall park at the end AWAY from the store you are going to. Just remember that little things add up over time.
I admit I got a little long winded with this, but this is something I have become truly passionate about. I follow the Weight Watchers program and have lost over 175 pounds in 2 years. It takes time and I’m still losing. If I started this journey saying “I need to lose 175 pounds” I’d have thrown in the towel more than a year ago. Positivity, having your head in the game, being active and being aware is truly the tools you need to succeed.

I am not a nutritionist. I am just a regular person who wanted to take charge of their life and be healthy and above all happy. If you have any questions or want ideas for meals, etc., feel free to ask me here or even send me a message. I’d be more than happy to help!