Saturday, April 07, 2007

focusing on the positive

Photo by Lori WrightPhoto by Lori Wright

Recently, I saw an episode of "The Diet Doctor" on FitTV focusing on the Weight Watchers plan. It was interesting to see the plan from the point of view of an informed outsider.

One of Dr. Melina's criticisms of the plan was that the Flex Plan would allow you to eat unhealthy foods as long as you stayed within your points. I think the example she used is that you could eat seven cupcakes and be within your points.

At first I yelled back at the TV with my my well-conditioned responses from years of WW meetings. "What about the Good Health Guidelines?" The guidelines, for those of you who are not brainwashed like me, require that members eat certain kinds of foods, like five servings of fruits and vegetables, in addition to staying under their points. But I know that I've had days where I have eaten, if not seven cupcakes, a combination of various questionable choices that were under my points. Those guidelines are easy to ignore.

I liked the answer that the Weight Watchers leader gave Dr. Melina better than my own response. To paraphrase, she said that Weight Watchers understands that a dieter might do something like eat seven cupcakes one day. But she'd also see that maybe seven cupcakes wasn't the most satisfying way to use her points. The program was designed to help people learn through experience and the discussions in meetings how to make better choices.

Imagine that, letting dieters learn for themselves and figure out how to make better choices. Putting people in a position of power and teaching them how to take care of themselves.

Sure, some of the meetings that I've attended have focused on low-points junk food. People like to make concoctions out of fat-free Cool Whip, sugar-free Jello, and Fiber One where you can eat a huge bowl of something sweet for a tiny number of points. And lately, people are talking a lot about the 100-calorie packs of every conceivable type of junk food. Weight Watchers gets a lot of money to advertise this stuff in their publications, which I find a to be a little bit of a conflict of interest. But I think that, overall, the message is more about finding ways to deal with your feelings without food, and to make healthier meals. The recipes in Weight Watchers Magazine are really good ones with real ingredients, not a bunch of fat-free, sugar-free junk.

Even on the days I go way over my points, I eat a lot better foods than I used to. I guess that I have learned over the years, exactly like that leader said, how to choose foods that help satisfy me. I recently found an Oreo wrapper in my yard and it was funny to think that I knew that it had blown in from a neighbor's yard because I never buy Oreos. I don't even go to the aisle in the store where they sell Oreos.

My local grocery store has a sort of mini health-foods store built in. Right before you get to the produce aisle, there is a section with organic frozen foods and dairy, and packaged foods like cereal and crackers. Most of the processed foods I do buy lately are from that section. I like the Food for Life sprouted grain breads, especially toasted. I'm a big fan of Kashi products: the crackers, granola bars, and frozen waffles are a staple in my diet, maybe a little too much of one. I'm sure I could improve my diet even more by cutting back on them. Other than those splurges, and a brand of blue corn tortilla chips I really like, most of my groceries are from the meat and produce aisles. And soon, the farmer's markets will be open and I'll be getting good local produce again instead of having to buy veggies that were flown in from California or Chile.

The biggest change is that I eat vegetables now. I never knew how to cook them right until I started watching Kathleen Daelemans on her show "Cooking Thin" (which is, sadly, no longer on the air, but I'm hoping she'll have a new show soon) and tried some of her recipes. Now I even take recipes like this one for Pad Thai and add in more vegetables (in this case, red peppers and broccoli instead of the bean sprouts) to make them more satisfying.

So, for those of you who have been wondering, after reading so many posts where I complain that I've gone over my points, how I lose weight at all, now you have your answer. Even when I overdo, I'm still conscious of what I'm eating and try to make better choices than I did during my all-starch-all-the-time days. I can't tell you the last time I pulled through a drive-thru. I think my bad days might be better than my normal days used to be. Though I still have room for improvement, maybe I should focus on the positive a little more -- that through trial and error, I have figured out a recipe for satisfaction that works for me 90% of the time.


  1. Yu might be interested in this website.
    It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
    There's some good vegetable dishes there

  2. Loved this post. Now, I am wondering about those that don't use all their points more than ever - as in - do they just not eat? eat radishes/lettuce/cucumbers like eating disorder? have no activity so they are never hungry? it would be interesting to know - I eat every bit of my allottment - hard to picture eating less and feeling good.

  3. Vickie, I couldn't tell you. I never have trouble eating all of my points plus some. Maybe someone who is in that situation could shed some light?

  4. P.S. cool website, hamster.

  5. Judi Finneran5:45 PM

    Congratulations on making so many healthy choices and I agree on people making choices which support their lifestyle instead of focusing on being on a diet. A diet it temporary and a life style change can become permanent.



  6. Very thoughtful post and full of self-awareness. I've watched those criticisms of my program of choice and it makes me mad, but there is truth in what is said.

    It's also true, as you have found for yourself, that we do learn from the mistakes in what we eat. Could I eat 7 cupcakes in one day? Probably not, at least not now.

    I could have easily eaten them when I started but I've learned that ultimately I'm not satisfied and get angry with myself and set myself up for further going off track.

    I'm off to the grocery store in a few and will think more about which aisles I'm checking after reading this post. Your store sounds like mine and I suspect I shop a similar pattern - adding in my diet soda and fizzy water :)

  7. Great blog! At last I found the "real weight loss success" blog

    I'm just wondering if you had ever tried supplements before or just apply proper dieting for your weight loss goals?

    Anthony Voronoff
    Proactol review

  8. Good post; it's a reminder that when I'm beating myself up about how I use my points, it's still better than the old days when I weighed a lot more.

    The one problem with me and a lot of other people on this weight loss journey is that we seem to think we need to lose it right away and get frustrated. Perhaps the truth is that we need to learn, screw up, relearn and modify our behavior which takes a LOT longer to be successful and keep it off.

    Your post is a reminder that we have made progress even if it's not as fast as we would like, etc. etc.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07