Wednesday, September 30, 2009

End of the month roundup…my ten tips on weight loss

It’s the last day of September, and when I got out of bed this morning, I decided that I would use the last day of each month to review my own findings on my weight loss journey.  By re-reading my 16 previous blogs this month, I was able to reinforce things that I already kind of knew but didn’t want to face and re-visit things that I would not have ever known about, if I hadn’t decided to join Weight Watchers again.

Here’s how September looks to me:

My refrigerator isn’t my enemy. 
As much as I would like to blame anyone but myself for messing around with its contents, I have learned to stock it full of better food choices and meet up with it when I am actually hungry.

Portion control is and will continue to be my toughest challenge.
Learning to identify three or four ounces of meat, chicken or fish is done best by using my scale right now.  What I thought was four ounces, before weighing it, turns out to be more like six or eight ounces.  So, the scale will be used until my ability to judge portions improves.  And, the added benefit is that you get a lot more servings out of a roast when you eat less of it each time.

Walking isn’t as bad as I thought.
I’m not turning into an athlete.  I  will be walking the three miles roundtrip to my Weight Watchers meetings and taking one additional walk each week.  It’s a start.

Staying for the whole meeting is helpful.
How else would I be inspired by our leader, Claudette’s, words of encouragement and the group’s tales of how they are making it work for them.  Whether it’s being “wowed” by the member who lost 130 pounds or feeling compassion for the one who has struggled to maintain her weight for one more week, there is always something to learn.

Giant fudge bars are great and have only one point.
No more needs to be said about this topic.  Good thing I stayed for the whole meeting.

Weighing- in once a week is good for me.
It’s just enough involvement with a scale to tell me what I need to know without making me crazy.

Free food isn’t really free.
Whether it’s a coupon “deal” or a wedding buffet, just because the food seems plentiful and low/no cost, there always is a price to pay.  I’d rather save the points.

Eating breakfast keeps me together until lunch.
I was a breakfast skipper, which made me a lunch/snack overeater.  Not any more…breakfast is a very cool way to start my day.

Milestones should be celebrated.
Stars are awarded for milestones at our meeting.  Nothing stops us from setting up a reward system for ourselves when we achieve important goals on our journey.  I will be patting myself on the back and buying myself a little something special for every 10 pounds lost.

Having someone say they are proud of me makes me smile.
I write this blog to help me be accountable.  The more people who are “in the know” about my journey, the more excited I am about reaching my goal.  And, to have someone I care about say that they are proud of me is the icing on the cake.

My final thought is this.  My husband and his friends use the expression, “it’s not a sprint, but a marathon” quite a bit, and I think that it applies to my desire to lose weight.  I used to be in a hurry to get the weight off, but I clearly didn’t pick up enough lessons to keep it off.  This time, I’m taking my time and savoring each lesson along the way.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weigh-in day...a love story

I remember being a child growing up in New Jersey and having my mother “bundle me up” in my snowsuit and then stand in front of me attaching my mittens to my jacket, so they wouldn’t get lost.  And then she’d send me off to school each morning with my lunch box and a kiss goodbye.

I got to experience a bit of that feeling this morning as my husband got me ready to go to my Weight Watchers meeting.  I was walking there again, by choice this time, and he was preparing me properly for my journey.  Instead of carrying my 20- pound purse, he appeared with a “fanny pack” to keep my arms free.  I loaded it with the essentials, my Weight Watchers monthly pass, the house key, my driver’s license and $10.  The $10 was just in case I wimped out and had to call a taxi somewhere along the route.  The driver’s license was in case I fell into a ditch and forgot who I was.

As I stood in front of him, he attached the ‘fanny pack,” something I have not worn before, and also attached a tiny iPod Shuffle so I could listen to music.  It’s funny that my friend Elaine suggested that I listen to music while walking, and I told her that it was not an interest of mine.  But, today, I gave it a try and Bruce Springsteen was singing to me before I got out the door.

And then, when it was time to go, my husband gave me a kiss goodbye.  It made me happy.

Today was weigh-in day and I’m pleased to report a drop of 1.2 pounds, for a total of 4 pounds in two weeks.  Yeah!

And, when I returned home, (and didn't call a taxi or fall into a ditch), my husband had left for work.  But in his place was a cold bottle of water and a note telling me he was proud of me.  I’m still smiling.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Weight loss rewards...recognizing milestones along the way

I believe in rewarding success.  As a business coach and former corporate executive, I know the importance of setting goals and acknowledging milestones along the way. So, why not reward myself on my weight-loss journey?

I decided that a “fair” way to recognize my achievement is to treat myself to a small gift when I have lost 20% of my 50 pounds goal (10 pounds) and then to repeat those gifts every 20% until I lose the weight.  So, five gifts over 50 weeks…seems like a plan I’ll enjoy.

I’m not talking about BIG ticket items, here.  And I am not treating myself to a milk shake, either.  But, until I hit the first milestone, I can have some fun thinking about what reward will be my first.

Talk to you soon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Playing fair in a restaurant...leave that bread right where it is

Saturday night…date night with my husband.  As empty nesters, any night can be date night and this week, we chose Saturday.  What happens on date night stays on date night with the exception of what we did for dinner. 

We like to support our town’s restaurants, so we try to stay close to home.  One of our favorite places to go is a Mexican restaurant.  But, I just didn’t feel ready to tackle my points with that menu.  So, we went Italian. 

I knew from the menu in the window that there were alternatives to pasta, and it was easy to find a meal that was “point appropriate” and desirable.  A grilled under a brick chicken breast served over a bed of fresh greens with fingerling potatoes kept me interested in my meal, especially remembering that I didn’t have to cook it.

The hardest part for me was staring at the bread…and the olive oil infused with herbs.  I could have asked to have it removed or not served at all.  But, in real life and with my husband who loves bread and oil sitting at the table, that option just wasn’t viable.  And it never will be.  I have to learn to enjoy other people’s pleasures without indulging in them each and every time.

I made it through last evening’s bread encounter with flying colors.  A sense of satisfaction came over me as we left the restaurant, but I actually think it was more because I didn’t have to wash the dishes than it was because I didn’t eat the bread.

Talk to you soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My theory of weight's all about the scale

I think that I must have been adopted.  Not really, but after speaking to my dad and my sister this week, I wonder why they are the way they are, and I am not that way.  Let me explain.  When my dad and I were chatting, he mentioned, for the one millionth time, that he weighed 195 pounds when he got out of the Army, and that now he weighs 205…pretty impressive for an 84 year-old guy. 

Today, I was chatting with my sister who mentioned that she weighs 115 pounds, the same weight she was when she got married about 30 years ago.  I won’t even go down the path of how a 5’6” person can weigh so little, but she has always been a size 2.  Averaging us together, we are a “normal” weighted person.

Which brings me to the question of how this happened.  I believe that the secret lies in owning a scale and using it.  Both my father and my sister own scales and go through the daily ritual of weighing themselves.  I, on the other hand, threw my scale out a few decades ago because, from what I remember, I didn’t want to know what it said.  It’s the old conundrum of the chicken and the egg.  I’m not sure which came first, my weight gain or my disposal of the scale.

But, now, I am becoming a little more like my relatives.  I go to Weight Watcher meetings and they have a scale.  A happy balance has been achieved.

Talk to you soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Don't skip breakfast...even when drooling

When I left for the dentist yesterday, I thought I was going in for my quarterly routine cleaning.  Too bad I had forgotten that I’d agreed to an interim appointment to have an “issue” with one tooth worked on.  I had not eaten breakfast before I left, because I figured I’d be home by 11 a.m., and it would give me something to look forward to while sitting in the dentist’s chair.

Well, I was wrong.  Eighteen Novocain needles into my “procedure”, the last thing I was interested in was my breakfast.  I just wanted to go home and dine on Advil. 

I did arrive home at 11, took the Advil and then made my breakfast.  I know from both common sense and my Weight Watchers program, that eating breakfast is healthy and going to help me control my appetite for the rest of the day.  As much as I wanted to eat ice cream because I felt sorry for myself, I didn’t.  I ate yogurt, fresh strawberries and a banana…soft foods that involved little chewing but held me over until a very late in the day lunch.

Lessons learned for the day were not just about portion control.  I patted myself on the back when I ate three meals and a snack, didn’t eat ice cream to “comfort” myself and stayed within my points.  Oh yeah, I was also pretty happy when I stopped drooling!

Talk to you soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No such thing as a free meal...even with a coupon

Have you ever gotten a coupon in the mail for a three -course dinner and felt compelled to order all three courses because you were paying for it anyway?  Well, last evening, my “Girls Night Out” group had our monthly get together, and I was the one with the coupon that was good for all six of us to get the three- course deal for $21. 

My other five friends are skinny.  They were excited about the opportunities contained in the choices of Caesar salad or minestrone for the appetizer, ravioli, chicken marsala or mahi mahi for the main course and ice cream or lemon bars for dessert.  All for $21.

I, on the other hand, was not excited.  I was annoyed.  I wanted “the deal” more because it was a deal than because of the food.  That made me think about some of my less than sterling eating decisions in the past.  Does my portion control issue get aroused even more when the food is seemingly “free?”  Is this why buffets and wedding receptions are really more fun for me than they actually might be?

I ended up ordering off the regular menu.  I paid $17 for grilled salmon.  I look at it as I saved $4 compared to the rest of the group and that I didn't end up adding points for food I didn’t need or really even want. 

Bring on that next buffet table…I think I can outsmart it!

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Forklift operators beware...potatoes now under control

I’m not sure which is worse, the three- mile hike I took to get to and from my first weigh-in or the stiff and sore body that I woke up to this morning.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because I am proud of myself for doing it. And how could I really expect that I would spring out of bed, since I had not exercised in years.  With aspirin on-board, I will carry on!

Last evening, I was trying to figure out what to do with the last few potatoes in a 5-pound bag. Luckily, it dawned on me that I could look for recipes contained on the online Weight Watcher eTool and see if somebody had more imagination than me. 

I love potatoes; and one of the portion control issues that I face is just how many of them I could eat if left alone.  A mountain of mashed potatoes and a fork is pretty much all I need to “make my day.”  But now, recognizing that eating properly does not allow for a forklift to deliver a mountain of potatoes, I need to back off and cook the portion sizes that healthy eaters eat.

I did find a very good (and easy) recipe for roasted potatoes, Dijon-Roasted New Potatoes.  If a recipe takes longer than 10 minutes to assemble, I’m too impatient to make it.  This one was quick to assemble, cooked in 30 minutes and three points.  It made a perfect side dish to the grilled chicken, fresh steamed green beans and homegrown tomatoes that I served with it.

By filling the rest of my dinner plate with colorful, low point options, my need for a ton of potatoes was quelled.  I guess I’m putting some forklift operator on mandatory layoff.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My first week’s weigh-in…and the car doesn’t start

Yes, you read that correctly.  I was dressed in my “lucky” outfit and headed out the door at 9:15 a.m., which would get me to my 9:30 meeting with time to spare.  I put the key in the ignition and…couldn’t get the car to get out of “park.”  With nobody else home to help me, I was faced with a bigger decision than not to eat the cheesecake at Sunday evening’s Movie Club dinner.  Should I:

a)     Attend another meeting on another day since my membership allowed me to do it,
b)    Try to saddle one of my Labrador retrievers and ride him to the meeting (he could tell I was contemplating that and hid in the bathroom), or
c)     Walk 1.58 miles (according to Mapquest) to the local meeting and arrive late?

I made a commitment to Claudette, the meeting leader, and to myself that I was going to be at her meeting, so I ran back in the house, put on my walking shoes and began my trek.  Please keep in mind that I haven’t walked anywhere in too many years to remember and that I vowed that exercise wasn’t entering my weight loss mission, at least for a while.

Thirty minutes later, and 20 minutes late, I arrived at the meeting, sweat and all.  I was proud to share my tale with the group and even more thrilled when some of them offered me a ride home.

BUT, I didn’t take any of them up on that ride.  After losing 2.8 pounds, I was re-energized and walked.  What took 30 minutes in one direction took 45 minutes going home. 

And here I sit, nursing a nickel sized blister on my left heel but with a big smile on my face.

One week down, 49 to go.  I’m on my way.

Talk to you soon.

Dressing for success…on the scale

During those other decades of going to a Weight Watchers meeting, my procedure was to wear the lightest clothing I could find in my closet for my weigh-in.  Even when I lived in New York and it was winter, I could be seen attending a meeting in a tank top and shorts, just in case it weighed in at a few less ounces than the appropriate attire.  And, there would be no eating or even coffee drinking before a weigh-in.  Who knew what havoc that could play on the scale.

Now that I have grown into my 50’s, I will be having that cup of coffee I need to do anything at 9:30 a.m. and wear clothing that is appropriate to the season.  Luckily, the seasons in California are all pretty much warm or hot, so I have an automatic buffer against wearing a heavily stuffed down parka.  I am a bit superstitious, however, and will wear the same outfit I wore last week (washed since I wore it) every week.  I can’t be expected to give up all my bizarre behaviors in the first week or two.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Potluck dinner…out of luck guest?

Sunday evening was our Movie Club dinner and day five of Weight Watchers. I knew it could be tough, especially since my husband and I signed up to bring the dessert.

A trip to Costco yielded a cheesecake, which, of course I love, and then my husband asked me if I could whip up a strawberry coulis (“whip up” sounds like I know how to cook…I needed a recipe) to compliment our store bought submission. It wasn’t easy to NOT put my finger in the creamy strawberry delight, just to make sure it tasted okay, but I resisted. I didn’t doctor the recipe for me, I played it straight for the other 11 people who were going to eat it.

As a Weight Watcher, I get a certain number of points each day plus and additional 35 points per week to “spend” on the foods I eat. As of the Movie Club dinner, I still had 33 of the extra points. But, I liked having them and was pretty sure I wasn’t going to use them, even though I certainly could.

Dinner was served…a wonderful looking, notice I said looking, pasta carbonara with garlic bread. Too complicated for me to try to figure out point value of the pasta, so I enjoyed a big pile of heirloom tomatoes. I love heirlooms and they have no points. I figured that I was only going to be at this function for four hours and I could eat something with known point value when I got home. And that’s exactly what I did.

I watched everyone enjoying the meal and the cheesecake with my strawberry coulis, and knew that I would be just fine exercising patience.

I still have my 33 points in the bank.

Talk to you soon.

Tuesday, September 15…my first meeting

I was actually excited to hop in the car and drive one mile to the Lutheran church that will become my every Tuesday home away from home for about an hour. Maybe some day, I might even walk to a meeting…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

In my last three adventures with Weight Watchers, I never stayed for the meetings. I picked up the materials, got weighed in and left. I was that “know it all” who didn’t need to hear the speaker. Just give me the directions and I will follow them. I did follow through, and I did lose the weight. But this time, I am doing it correctly. I will be staying and participating in every meeting. I want to know what goes on for an hour.

When I was younger and dropping in at the meetings, everyone seemed so much older than me. Guess what? They don’t anymore. There was a big turnout of about 30 people, 28 of them women, and the average age was pretty close to mine. I’ve finally grown into the demographic of my local chapter, and I stayed for the full meeting and afterwards to hear the new member tips.

I am psyched to get going and to get home to place my grocery order online. Yes, my groceries are delivered from my local Safeway. You’d be surprised how much money and time I save doing online grocery shopping. I can plan my meals for the week, order only what I need, and resist buying junk food that I love because I am not in the same aisle with it.

Time to stock up on Weight Watcher Giant Fudge Bars, because my fellow meeting attendees swear by them and they only have one point each. See, it paid to stay for the meeting in this one tip!

Talk to you soon.

A new beginning…preparing myself for that first meeting

I will confess that this is not the first time I have joined Weight Watchers. It’s the fourth time over a period of 30 years or so. That works out to once each decade of my life, starting in my 20’s when I was in college and gained that freshman 15, which in my case was supersized to 25 by my senior year. It was time to look for a job and I needed to look “professional.” At that age, the 25 pounds was gone in about eight weeks.

In my 30s, I rejoined after having my second son and wanted to lose the stubborn baby weight. I was a senior executive in New York and needed to fit into my tailored Wall Street wardrobe. It was that same 25 pounds that had decided to re-visit me, and it took about 12 weeks to rid myself of the “stubbornness.”

In my 40’s, I remarried. As an almost new bride, I prepared for the wearing of the wedding dress, (sounds like the running of the bulls) by going back to my trusted friend, Weight Watchers. I factored in a longer time period to lose the weight because I knew that each decade before I was adding a month. The loss of 25 pounds took 16 weeks, and the running of the bride down the aisle to meet her soon to be husband was accomplished in her smaller body.

And now, as I look at my late 50’s, and not 25 pounds, but 50, I am pleased to report that the reason to lose the weight is not an event with a timetable. I am giving myself permission to take 50 weeks, a generous allotment, to lose the weight for a healthier me. And if it happens to run long, so will these columns.

Talk to you soon.

How Movie Club motivates my weight loss...and I can still eat the popcorn

Should I blame it on Movie Club…or thank them. I’m going to thank them, but you need to know how this idea to chronicle my next 50 weeks came about and why to understand how my Movie Club got me off my *** and into a Weight Watchers meeting.

Let’s begin with the fact that I don’t exercise. I never did. I was the kid picked last for all sports teams and dreaded P.E. class because I hated to be out of breath, which I frequently was because I was the “overweight one. “ I come from a long line of non-athletes. My father and mother prided themselves in the fact that they hated P.E. class, and I wanted to be just like them. They turned out just fine, and not overweight, so if I waited long enough, I would be just like them…or so I thought.

I must have gotten the genes of some of my other “bigger” relatives who didn’t exercise. So, before I go any further with this weight loss idea, let me just say that after 57 years of not sweating, being out of breath and avoiding “spinning classes”, which I thought had something to do with yarn, I’m not changing a thing in that department.

If you want to follow my story, be prepared for one that centers around my eating, not my exercising.

Which gets back to Movie Club. Every other month, my club of six couples, meets and discusses a movie over a potluck dinner. This month’s pick, and the meeting is tonight, is Julie & Julia. If you don’t know about this movie, which is unlikely if you are reading this column which ties into food, you will remember that Julie is the young woman who decided to make 524 recipes in 365 days using Julia Childs’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

By writing her blog, Julie was forced to be accountable and finish all of the recipes in the allotted time. I know that I operate the best if I am forced to be accountable, so it makes perfect sense to me that if I report in to you on a regular basis, I am more likely to succeed with my goal of losing 50 pounds in 50 weeks.

Now, it’s not going to be a “slam dunk” for me because I love to eat. I don’t have any other excuses than that. It’s interesting that my two Labrador retrievers are slim and fit and never get table food because I want them to live FOREVER. But when it comes to me, I don’t seem to have the same motivation. I don’t want to live forever, but I do want to be around a lot longer, so I know I have to treat myself as well as I treat my dogs.

So, join me and see how my shopping for food, preparing my meals, attending Weight Watcher meetings, going out to eat and going on vacation, one of which is a seven day cruise, is working for me.

And share your successes with me. Whether you are an armchair follower or a partner in my weight loss journey, let me know how you are doing.

Talk to you soon.

I’ve lost it and I’ve looked everywhere…

Yes, that’s right. It’s definitely lost. It has been gone for at least three years, when I first noticed it missing. When I was a younger woman, it followed me everywhere, but since turning 50 plus, it just seems to have vanished. Where is my WAIST?

I used to answer those magazine quizzes by saying that my body type was “pear” which certainly wasn’t as cool as “hourglass” but better, it least in my mind, than “apple.” Guess what, it’s time to make that pie, because apples are all I’ve got! Great for computers, but not so great as a body type, according to both doctors and my jeans.

I am really excited to see what happens when the first pounds start to leave my body. Where will they come from? It would be nifty if the apple began to shrink, but I think that past history of losing weight will prove that hit hits my face first. I will be exhibiting a collage of my head on a monthly basis, beginning at the 10 pounds lost point, and we can all watch the chin(s) take on a new shape. I will not be demonstrating my apple reduction with such clarity due to the fact that I think it may scare some of my readers.

Talk to you soon.

Grandma writes a diary…not a novice in trying new things

When I read other people’s accounts of things, I always wonder “who’s writing this?” So, I believe you need to know some things about me, other than that I am 57 years old, 5’ 10”, married, the mother of two grown sons and two black labs, and, of course, the woman who needs to lose (at least) 50 pounds.

So, here are six things that I have been up to in the two years since turning 55 and becoming a GRANDMOTHER, I have:

· written a book, What’s a Mother (in-Law) To Do? 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son’s New Wife, which was released by Simon & Schuster in June 2009,,

· started a pet product company and have my first product, supercollar® coming out in October, 2009,,

· became a 2009 semifinalist in Inc. magazine's "Newpreneur of the Year" Contest

· became a volunteer for Mentiuum, an organization that supports the development and advancement of key talent in the workplace,

· became the In-Law Relationship columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, and

· gotten a backyard makeover from HGTV’s Colorsplash.

Now, what got me to want to lose the weight, other than the fact that I want to live a longer life? It’s the last item on this list. There’s nothing like looking at yourself on television for 30 minutes to give you the incentive to do something.

I had already told my family and friends that the camera adds at least 50 pounds, but I was sure it was 100 pounds after watching myself in action. That, plus the avoidance of having my picture taken, unless at a long distance through Vaseline, pushed me over the edge.

It's clear that I am not currently comfortable with my size. For those of you who are my size and are comfortable, this column is not for you. I am extremely happy with my life and not going to be analyzing why I eat as a psychological exercise. I just like the food and need to understand how to eat everything I like by getting the concept of portion control. That's my Achilles' Heel. And that's why I chose Weight Watchers. I can learn to do this and will use the tools and wisdom of a company that has been doing it for over 40 years to help me.

Talk to you soon.

South of the Border…the lead-up to my first Weight Watcher meeting

During the week that ended on September 13, my husband and I went to Mexico. And I figured out that if I lived there, with a chef and no access to a refrigerator, I could probably lose weight. It was all about the fish…fresh, plentiful and grilled to perfection. It was enough to make me not want junk food. But then I came home and met the enemy in my kitchen. My refrigerator was calling to me as I re-entered reality. And I knew that my fresh fish “pipe dream” had come to an end.

You see how I blamed the refrigerator. It’s a handy way to circumvent the obvious problem of my relationship with this appliance. We have been in love with each other for so long that we have developed a mutually satisfying existence. I fill it full of junk and it lets me remove whatever I want, whenever I want, and eat it.

Well, one of us has to take control, and since I weigh less than it does, I will be attending a Weight Watcher meeting and getting us both in shape.

In order to assure myself that I would not make excuses for not stepping up to the starting line, I went online and signed up for the special, $39.95 two-months of meetings, pass. I know that money also motivates me and throwing it away is not going to happen. So, by owning my new pass, I am ready to attend the meeting on September 15.

Will I show up at 9:00 a.m. and take my place on the weigh-in line? Of course, I will…I’m motivated!

Talk to you soon.