04-04-2016

5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers

I just finished up month 2 of WeightWatchers and I love it! I have lost 7 lbs so far, and I’m pretty happy with that. Especially since I’ve had multiple weekends where I stopped counting points because I’ve been out with friends, etc. The main thing it has taught me is portion control. Turns out I was majorly overeating before. And the actual portion size of pasta still makes me sad…

I wanted to share with you all a few things about WeightWatchers, and hope it might be helpful if you’re considering joining or know someone who is. I love it and for some reason it has much easier for me (and holds me more accountable) than simply counting calories. I really can’t explain why but I think it’s so much easier this way, even though I realize it’s essentially the same thing.

The main thing I like is that you count your points and have a set number of points for each day, AND you get bonus weekly points so you can splurge a little on things you want. So anyway, here are 5 things you should know before starting WeightWatchers:

Here are 5 Things You Should Know Before Starting WeightWatchers | http://reach-yourpeak.com

You might be really hungry in the beginning

There is definitely an adjustment period, which can be said for any new nutrition plan you might start (IIFYM, Paleo, Whole30, counting calories, etc.). Especially if you have been overeating, like I was. I felt like I was always hungry, and still starving after my dinners. But that goes away in a week or so. Your stomach needs time to adjust. When you’re hungry, eat some fruit if you need to, which is 0 points. Nowadays, I find that I can stick with 3 meals and 1 snack before a workout, whereas in the past I would have a snack every 2 hours or so. Not that there is a problem with that, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to know what your total daily intake is, no matter what plan you’re on.

There’s a new points system

I did WeightWatchers in the past with their PointsPlus system and liked that, but now they’re using SmartPoints which is even better. When calculating points, it takes into account protein and sugar. So if something is high in protein, it will lower the points value (since we know chicken, fish, etc. are great sources of protein and should be encourage), and if something is high in sugar, it will really up the points value. I used to buy the WeightWatchers mini cakes and snacks (because I have a major sweet tooth) and loved that they were only 2 points for a little mini carrot cake. However, now those cakes are 4-5 points…so not worth it! There is more to this new point system I’m sure I’m leaving out, but I wasn’t an avid user in the past so I don’t know everything that has changed.

Activity points doesn’t mean you can eat more

This is another aspect of the new points system that a lot of people had opinions on. In the past, if you exercised, you were able to eat back those points. So if running was 5 activity points, I had 5 extra points daily to eat. Now, activity points don’t count towards food. WeightWatchers wrote on their FAQ page:

In a nutshell, no. Exercise doesn’t cancel out food choices, so moving shouldn’t be an excuse to eat more. If you don’t do any exercise at all, you can still lose weight on the Your Way Program. But doing both is of course optimal. Watching your FitPoints™ add up and hitting your weekly exercise goal can be great motivators and there are so many health benefits to gain from regular activity.  

However, if you’re doing high-intensity workouts (for example, training for a marathon or attending multiple spin classes) at least three to four times a week, you might want to swap some of your FitPoints™ for food to account for the amount of energy you’re expending. 

At first I was like, “But I exercise daily I need extra calories!” But like everything else, you adjust. Now if I will be exercising twice in one day and hour long sessions or more, I don’t feel guilty about eating extra, and that’s what those weekly bonus points are for anyway. I think what they say makes sense, and I know I’ve been guilty of thinking runing 45 minutes means I can eat extra…when in reality those 45 minutes only burn 300-400 extra calories. 

There’s a great support system

There are many online forums for WeightWatchers users, but the app itself has its own social media platform. It’s a great way to connect with like minded people and get any questions answered from other users. You can upload photos as well, and it’s almost liek a combination of Facebook and Instagram. The WeightWatchers website has a lot of resources and recipes to help get you started. And of course, you can find a myriad of recipes on Pinterest! Oh also, the app gives a lot of values for popular restaurants. You might be shocked to know how many points some of your favorite entrees have. I was when I found out French Onion Soup is around 20 or so (insert crying emoji).

It’s flexible and non-restrictive 

I think this is my favorite part of it. I can’t believe that even with weekends of drinking and eating whatever, I’ve still lost 7 lbs. in 2 months. I mean, I’m also exercising but I haven’t been able to lose weight in  years and have just been stagnant. Since you get weekly bonus points (around 28) it really allows you be flexible and still indulge. I usually try to save almost all of those for weekends when I know I will be going out with friends. Or you can also have extra points daily if you want to have that sweet treat after dinner or a glass of wine :) According to WeightWatchers, even if you use all of your weekly bonus points, you should still lose weight.

So that’s that! I will continue to use WeightWatchers until I hit my goal…another 10-12 lbs. to go! It has taught me good portion control and even when I’m out and not tracking, I still know how much I should be eating and about how many points everything has. 

What do you think about not counting activity points towards extra calories/food points?

Do you find you eat more when you workout and justify with “Well, I worked out today sooo….” :)

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02-03-2016

My First Week Of WeightWatchers + My Grocery Store Picks

So I started WeightWatchers last week…and so far have lost 3 lbs.!! I have done WeightWatchers in the past but I was just calculating points based on calculators I found online. This time I decided to join the plan in order to get recipe ideas from them as well as their handy dandy app. Plus, I only really stuck with it for 3 weeks last time.

This time, I’m determined to lose at least 15 lbs. by summer. I just have not been feeling great about myself and need to lose fat. I store fat in my midsection which is even worse (this is the worst place to store fat).

Anyway, I decided to join WW with a friend. They’ve changed their point system to account more for added sugars and protein, which I really like. For example, one of their carrot cake snacks used to be 2 pts. and now it is 4. I think it’s important for people to cut down on their sugar intake.

So like I said, I lost 3 lbs in week one! This is a combination of my diet as well as working out way more than I have in recent times. I’ve been trying to do spin in the mornings and run in the evenings, though sometimes I run before spin, or I’ll do a run, then one of Ride & Reflect‘s 30/30 classes (30 min. spin and 30 min. yoga). This may seem like a lot but I have hit a plateau and knew I needed to switch things up and do more. I think many people, such as myself in the past, grossly overestimate how much they are burning in, let’s say, a 4-5 mile run…which leads to eating more, which leads to not losing weight.

I was running consistently, but definitely overeating. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far with WW:

  • My portions were too big. The first few days I was shocked by how “little” I was eating…definitely was not supposed to be eating that much pasta :) but I always justified it with, “I just worked out, I can eat this for dinner.”
  • When I’m tracking my food, I have more motivation to say no to things. I went to Starbucks and really wanted something, but all their snacks were at least 10 points or more! I knew that would leave me with very little for the rest of the day, so I said no.
  • Drinking tea helps. I’m sure you’ve all heard this, but drinking tea can help with cravings. So now before bed I drink this detox tea I bought, or a lemon ginger tea for digestion.

I’m really liking the program so far. I needed much more accountability with nutrition, and this is helping me stay on track. For some reason, if I’m just tracking calories on my own in MyFitnessPal, I just am not as motivated. Oh, I also got a food scale which I love! It’s been eye-opening seeing the actual portion sizes of things, like chicken or beef.

One last thing: I posted a new YouTube video on my channel today! It’s just a quick video of some of my favorite picks at the grocery store. Check it out:

And lastly, don’t forget to sign up for my 5 day fitness challenge! 5 days of workouts sent right to your inbox and one lucky winner will win a PlantFusion prize pack! You can sign up below:

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Let me know if you sign up!

Have you ever tried WeightWatchers or a similar program?

What is harder for you, consistent exercise or consistent healthy nutrition?

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03-20-2014

Are You Eating Enough Calories?

When you want to lose weight, the “rule of thumb” is to subtract 500 calories from your total daily calories, or exercise to burn an extra 500 calories.

Apps like the LoseIt! app (which I do love), give you caloric numbers depending on what your goals are and how fast you want to lose weight. When I put in that I want to lose 10 lbs., it told me I should be eating 1,200 calories.

How often have we heard that number? 1,200 calories? It seems to be the “magic” number for how many calories to eat and lose weight, but also the number you’re never supposed to dip under.

But how many calories do you actually need?

calorie calculator

Well, it all depends on how often you work out and for how long. When I typed in my stats into the Mayo Clinic Calorie Calculator, it told me I should be eating 2,000 calories daily, and a minimum of 1,700! I’m definitely not eating 2,000 calories per day, but have been trying to be better about eating more. It’s just hard, but I’ll get into that later.

The Plateau

Have you been struggling to lose weight or bodyfat? It may be metabolic damage – or, not eating enough calories. Contrary to popular belief, you need to EAT MORE to LOSE. Recently, trainer Tony Gentilcore had a guest post from another trainer who discussed metabolic damage.

I’ve seen real people…exercising often and leading a busy life consuming less than 2000 calories a day. 

Hmmm….shouldn’t they be burning at least 623 calories a day from fat, leading to over one pound of fat lost a week? (3500 calories in a pound of fat).

Quite often, they don’t because their metabolism has adapted to such a low calorie diet that it won’t chance increasing energy expenditure for fear of burning through it’s precious energy stores.

Not eating enough calories puts stress on your body, and increases cortisol…along with other negative effects. This post also states that, “even if you don’t drop your calories too low, dropping carbohydrates too low can inhibit your metabolic functioning.” Don’t be afraid of carbs! Especially if you’re an active person!

The first time I heard about “metabolic damage” was when a friend sent me this video by trainer Layne Norton. He is mainly using fitness & figure models as the example here, but I think a lot of active people can relate. He really opened my eyes as to how dropping your calories or going low-carb can have a negative affect on your body:

He has said that what he does to help figure competitors recover is to have them eat a bit more calories each week until they reach the threshold for how many calories they can eat without gaining weight. It’s something that I have started doing as well. I used to only eat 1,300-1,500 calories because I wanted to lose bodyfat. Clearly, not enough!

Recently, I’ve been tracking my calories and trying to eat close to 1,700-1,800 and will slowly build to 2,000. It is really hard for me because I have no clue what to eat to get there! I can only eat so many protein shakes, fruit, eggs, etc. So any healthy snack ideas you have, please feel free to comment ;)

If you have been stuck in a plateau for a while (I certainly have), then how many calories you consume may play a role. Another thing to think about is your macros (protein, carbs, fat). Check out “If It Fits Your Macros” to get a break down of how many calories they think you should eat, along with macros.

I’ve written about IIFYM before, and don’t 100% agree with the premise, but I do agree with trying to calculate what percentage of each macronutrient you should be getting. Like I mentioned above, I use the LoseIt! app to track all of this.

If you want to see part 2 of Tony’s post about recovering your metabolism, check it out here.

If you want to get a clearer picture of your caloric needs, the best and most accurate thing would be to consult with a nutritionist or dietician.

Do you eat enough calories?

Do you track your calories and macros?

How does eating affect your workouts?

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