Overcome Stress

It’s always with us, but there are ways to rethink, reframe, and respond to stress that are healthy – and helpful.

Stress is natural and it’s something that everyone experiences.  It’s your body’s automatic response to perceived pressure or threat.  Stress seems to know when to hit you and it can hit you all at once – like on the day of your big presentation or it can build up over time – exploding like a time bomb.  I know my tendency is to try and suppress the stress as long as possible and when it bubbles up BOOM…there’s either a cry fest, scream fit or both.  I’m the worst at handling stress.  I may look like I have it together, but most days this is what’s happening inside.  Bless my family for braving those storms!  I have yet to learn how to channel that stress into something positive or useful.

The Weight Watchers Weekly on this subject reminds you that you can use stress to motivate you, like when you pull all the details together for a surprise party.  But more often it works against you and your health.  Stress can show up in many forms – pain, difficulty sleeping, upset stomach, and headaches.  It takes its toll on your emotional health too.  Some of the things you can experience when this happens is difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable, tired or always worried.  When you’re experiencing stress – let’s face it you’re more likely to overeat, eat unhealthy foods and gain weight.

Weight Watchers gives some suggestions on how you can reframe your stress.  Although we can’t control stressful situations, we can change our response to them.  What you think determines how you feel, which determines what you do.  Learning how to identify unhelpful thoughts now and the next time the stress gets in your face, you can reality check the situation, shift your thinking and come away with a calmer, more realistic prospective.

Here are some quick ideas of things you can do in the moment that stress hits you hard.  It will give you a chance to focus on something else, which then in turn will help you make a positive mindset change.  When you’re stuck in the moment of stress it can seem endless with no hope in sight – so one of these tricks may help you shift gears a little faster.

I know for me, the switch to darkness can happen fast when I’m stressed, so I plan on posting these in my office so I can refer to them when I’m having a moment.  I’m fortunate to have a friend that I can “lifeline” text anytime about any subject and she supports me.  Because as we all know sometimes your spouse may not give you the same support as your ride or die.

What types of things do you do when you’re stressed out or feel it coming on?

REF: Weight Watchers Weekly dated February 25 – March 3, 2018

Sustainability – Sunday Thoughts

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately is all of the different weight loss and “healthy lifestyle” programs that are out there. Now let me begin by saying that whatever program you choose has to be what’s right for you and I don’t judge anyone’s personal choice. This is just me being honest and sharing what’s best for me.
What’s not a surprise is I’ve been struggling to lose weight. I feel like I’ve been in battle for the past 4.5 years-since having James aka baby #2. I’ve run the gamut during this time of different programs. From seeing a dietician that had a fat and weight loss formula – which I liked the program because it was focused on eating “real” foods to doing a few Standard Process Cleanses with supplements and protein shakes to Weight Watchers – off and on between these other programs. During all of this I never really focused on exercise. I focused on the scale and how quickly I could get that number down. 

One thing I learned quickly is that I struggled drinking those shakes daily. Keeping them fresh and enjoyable was a nearly impossible for me. Now don’t get me wrong I still like a nice cold smoothie every now and again, but as a filler, not a meal. I also had a hard time keeping up with the supplement regime that some of the plans demanded to get ultimate results. I barely remember to take my thyroid medication each morning let alone a anything else!

I’ve noticed lately there is such a push for “quick and easy” plans that focus on losing weight through these “vitamin filled/nutrition packed” smoothies and shakes.  Other than Weight Watchers I don’t see anything or anyone that pushes you towards eating real foods. This is why I ultimately keep coming back to Weight Watchers. Because these other programs haven’t been sustainable for me. Shoot, sometimes Weight Watchers isn’t!

Figuring out a balance for eating real foods and incorporating the right amount of daily exercise is my focus right now. I want to make meals that I can feed my whole family instead of making a bunch of different meals every night.  As most moms do – I already make something special for one kiddo (which I pray ends soon), I don’t want to make separate meals for me too!  Now my hubby fully supports eating healthy meals – matter of fact, he’s love it if I made more of them!  But let’s face it, some nights there just isn’t enough time or enough energy to pull out the healthiest of meals.  Not to mention the times you just want to treat yourself!  
Working on what causes me to overeat is another factor in my diet lifestyle that I’d like to work on and NO plans (that I know of) work on that part with you.  If you’re lucky enough to find a WW meeting that discusses the “real food issues”, you are a lucky one.  Many of the meetings stick to the plan material for the week and recipes.  There are some times that you need to talk about what made you eat that entire tub of ice cream or pack of cookies.  I’ve attended Overeaters Anonymous meetings and read from my step book often, but I found the meetings to be emotionally taxing for me.  I need something a little more lighthearted while dealing with my food issues.  
Thanks for letting me get this all out of my head and I’ll be over here trying to figure all of this out, trying to get my body strong while fighting my food demons.  Wishing everyone on this journey the very best!

Scheduling Your Meals?

Planning when you’ll eat helps you manage hunger, avoid unplanned eating and make healthier choices.  

There’s a lot to be said for this.  If you have a scheduled healthy eating plan for the day, you’re definitely less likely to go off the rails and eat unplanned foods (and for most of us, that’s junk food- Am I right?).  A few years back i saw a nutritionist to help me in my weight loss efforts and that was the main sticking point to her whole program.  Eating breakfast as soon as you wake, then a snack a few hours later, then lunch, another snack, dinner and an optional snack in the evening if you needed something to tide you over until the morning.  Her schedule also included “food rules”, that I won’t go into all of them here, but one of them sticks with me today – which I still try to achieve (not nearly as much as I should) is no carbohydrates for dinner – proteins and veggies only.  Which makes sense if you really think about it.  Going to bed with a tummy full of carbs isn’t the best plan for weight loss.
Something that we rarely think about is there are two types of hunger:  Internal and External.  It’s vital for your weight loss efforts to be able to manage internal hunger, because when you’re internally hungry, you’ll eat just about anything and it raise your risk of external hunger.  the best way to manage internal hunger is to create an eating schedule that helps you from going long periods without eating.
So what’s internal and external hunger?  Here are some ways to recognize the differences:
What’s the trigger?
  • Internal – things inside your body.
  • External – outside forces, people, places, emotions, the sight of food, the smell of food.
Physical Sensations:
  • Internal – Growling stomach, slight lightheadedness and/or headache.
  • External – None
What you’ll eat:
  • Internal – Anything 
  • External – Specific food
  • Internal – Usually more than 4 hours after the last time you ate.
  • External – Usually less than 4 hours since you last ate.
Once you are able to recognize the difference between internal and external hunger, create and eating schedule to help you manage it.  Another good way to know, really quickly, if you are really hungry or if it’s your emotions (or any other from the list) – is what kind of food is going to satisfy you – will an apple fulfill your need for food or is it something super specific? (and for most it’s junk food)  
Scheduling your meals can also help in stopping yourself from overeating, because you are most likely planning your scheduled meals ahead of time.  When you meal plan you’re making better choices and creating a serving size for yourself.  You’re less likely to overeat when you’ve had something to “top off” your tummy all day long too.
Have you tried this?  Do you like it?  Any tips?

Move The Way You Love

Moving more is the gist that keeps giving.  Stretching, walking, yoga, running – any sort of physical movement doesn’t just help you shake the cobwebs from your brain and strengthen your body – but it can boost your self esteem, lighten your mood and even help you sleep better.

The second “gift” that comes with moving more is it helps with weight loss too!  Changing your eating and moving more – you can shed up to 20% more than if you only changed your eating habits.  Keep moving for the long term and you’re more likely to keep the weigh off too!

So here’s the secret – choose activity for its feel good benefits, rather than what you think you “should do”.  When you choose an activity that you enjoy, you are more likely to continue doing it, succeed in your weight loss and maintain it.  In one study that the Weight Watchers weekly sites, they asked people to walk a mile for “fun.  those people said they felt less tired and in a better mood than those that were asked to walk for “exercise”  Who knew?!

Walking – Walking is a great, everyday activity that teams up nicely with other pleasures like exploring nature, new adventures, spending time with family or friends or even listening to an audio  book.  In a recent study (done by Patel AV, et al. Walking in Relation to Mortality in a large Prospective Cohort of Older US Adults. Am J Prev Med 2017), they showed that a little walking can payoff big – the study included more than 62,000 men and 77,000 women and found that walking, even less than the two hours a week recommended by Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, can still help you live longer.

What to do?  What moves you?  If you have fun being active, you’ll do it more often.  So here’s a quick activity from the Weight Watcher’s Weekly to get you started:

WHAT will I do? ( make it simple, clear and doable – play ball in the yard, walk around the block) If it sounds fun to you, then it’s a great idea.

WHEN will I do it?  (make time for moving more and you’ll help make it happen – designate specific days and windows of time you can devote to it)

WHERE will you do it?  (It’s not enough to say I’ll walk- map a route so you know what to expect)

With WHOM (if anyone) will I do it?

So for this week pick an activity that you enjoy doing and set a specific goal to do it by answering the questions above.

For me, I enjoy walking (in the warmer weather-of course).  I download a podcast or book I’d like to listen to and then set off on the walk.  I usually shoot for at least an hour walk which equates to at least 3 miles for me.  I clear my head on these walks and don’t allow myself to looks at emails, Facebook or even answer calls.  This time is only for me.  I also do some running, where I download my favorite songs and hit the pavement.  Running outdoors is my favorite and I generally choose a route that requires me to complete the distance I selected, so i don’t quit half way through.

Right now, during the winter months in New England, I have been doing Jillian Michael’s workout programs.  I completed her 30 Day Shred and I am in my final month of her Body Revolution right now.  Up next I plan to do her Body Shred Program- which will end in mid-May, so at that point I plan to log some fresh air hours too.  I require a challenge in my workout, that’s what motivates me, something that “level’s up, every so often.  That’s what I like about Jillian’s programs.  They force me out of my comfort zone each and every morning and I feel great starting my day that way.

The key to all of this, is to find what motivates you and don’t let it get stale.  Because when your workout gets boring, it’s no longer serving your body or your mind.  It’s time to switch it up to something else.  Hit a trail with a friend or your family, try something new at the gym (like that Zumba or Barre Class you’ve been eying) – you never know how much it may change your mindset!

What’s your favorite way to get your activity in?  I’d love to hear of new workouts or things to try with my family!

Enjoy Eating Out

Plan for stress-free, fun and delicious away from home dining, thanks to zero Points goods and rollovers, plus your digital tools.

Using WW Freestlye is all about being able to “live freely” – giving you the flexibility to enjoy social occasions with family and friends-the trick is a little planning.  We all know you can’t dictate the menus when you go out to eat or visit with family or friends, but there are things you can do before you go!  That way you’re prepared for anything – even family holidays.  Because eating out doesn’t have to mean a restaurant, it can mean eating anywhere other than your house.

So for us weight Watcher’s out there – we can bank our points for that special meal out.  We already have weeklies to spend, then add up to 4 unused SmartPoints values per day to that mix and you have a nice little bankroll to pull from for that meal out.  

Another thing that everyone that has been at this whole weight loss thing for a while know is that you decide ahead of time (if possible) on what you’d like to eat.  Most restaurants offer their menu online for viewing so you can take a look at what they offer so you can make an informed choice when you get to the restaurant.  You can settle on what you plan to eat, long before you sit in the seat!  Will you have a dessert, drink or both?  When you make the decision ahead of time , you can feel more confident than when you are “in the moment”.

Another great tool that many of us have at our disposal is calorie tracking apps.  for Weight Watcher’s subscribers there is the WW App, where you can look up many restaurants and see how many point s that dinner is going to be.  If you can’t find the restaurant or the exact meal you were looking for, many of these major chain restaurants also post their nutritional information on their websites, so you can also track from there.  Those nutritional sheets are frightening for most of my old favorites at the restaurant!

Then there’s another good tool – pregame your meal!  Eat a low SmartPoints snack (or low calorie for non-weight watchers peeps), if you have yourself a filling little snack before heading out to that meal you wont be ravenous on arrival at the restaurant.

Last but not least when it’s all said and done – the most important thing to remember when eating out is to keep in the back of your mind “it’s just one meal”.  If you can remember that, you’ll get through it, even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.  The moments made with family and friends when sharing a meal are something that is far more important than how many calories you’ve consumed.  Knowing that you can get right back on your plan at the next meal is key and if you stick to that, then you’ve been successful because as one of my WW leaders once said – that was your plan – to enjoy yourself, then get right back on plan for the next meal.

What are your tips for mastering the task of eating anywhere but your home space?