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  • Weight Watchers Week Four: The Power of the Mini-Goal

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    I didn’t start out intending to give weekly updates on how Weight Watchers is going for me, but I seem to make a discovery each week that’s worth sharing. For instance, I realized this week that one reason Weight Watchers is really working for me is that I can set as many mini-goals as I want, and it’s easy to track my progress.

    For example, every day, I aim to stay within my daily points allotment and I aim to earn some activity points. I also have weekly goals for total activity points and leftover weekly points allowance. (The way the Flex plan works, you get a daily Points allowance and 35 weekly points that you can “spend” any way you’d like, but I try not to eat all of the weekly points.) I do try to eat all of my daily points, including any earned activity points, so that my body doesn’t go into starvation mode, but I figure I’ll lose weight all the faster if I eat as few weekly points as possible.

    The Weight Watchers E-Tools function has a daily check list for glasses of water, fruit and veggie servings, dairy servings, multivitamin, healthy oils and activity. When you reach your daily goal, it gives you a happy face, and I try to get that happy face in all categories every day. (The dairy and healthy oils are my weak points – I love both, but I end up not eating them since they tend to be somewhat high in points.)

    All of this has made me realize the importance of mini goals and their power to help me achieve larger goals. My main goal is to get down to my goal weight but I don’t really focus on that final number on a daily basis. Instead, my focus is on whether I am achieving my mini goals and whether my weight is decreasing on a weekly basis. And of course, continued success in achieving my mini goals will result in the overall achievement of my main goal.

    Most importantly, however, I can see how the power of mini goals applies to all areas of my life. And it probably applies to your life, too. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to achieve, try breaking it down into daily mini goals. I bet you’ll see some amazing progress before you know it!

    What about you? Have you had success with mini goals?

    Weight Watchers Week Three: Volumetrics is definitely onto something

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    I’m loving Weight Watchers for the fact that I can work any food I want to eat into the plan. I can have anything I want, just not everything I want. Fair enough – life usually works that way.

    But I don’t have a lot of points left after eating foods like kalua pork, which is so good that my mouth waters just thinking about it. I normally eat kalua pork with white rice, but that’s it’s eight points for a mere four and a half ounces of pork and a half cup of rice. That’s not enough for a meal for me. So I filled it out with veggies. Lots of veggies.

    In fact, I’m eating more fruit and vegetables than I ever have in my entire life because they’re low in Points. I sometimes feel like I’m on the Volumetrics diet, which is about filling up on foods that are low in calories. The idea is that people like to eat and to feel full, so they just have to do that on low-calorie foods in order to lose weight. Volumetrics just didn’t appeal to me because I don’t want to eat mostly fruit and vegetables. But of course, that’s a big part of what I’m doing now.

    I guess the difference with Weight Watchers is that the ability to indulge is built in. It seems I needed the structure that Weight Watchers provides, while still giving me the flexibility to eat what I want and when.

    One fabulous site that was recommended to me by friends who were already doing Weight Watchers is Dotti’s Weight Loss Zone. The Restaurants section lists the Points value for hundreds, if not thousands, of foods from restaurants and even some stores. If I know I’m going to grab something from a restaurant while I’m out, I consult this site before I leave the house.

    Weight Watchers Week Two: So far, so good

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    The best part about Weight Watchers so far isn’t that I’ve lost weight (although that’s pretty awesome) but that the way I’m eating now is a way that I can live with for the rest of my life. Weight Watchers says they’re not a diet, they’re a lifestyle, and it’s true. In the last week, I’ve eaten chocolate, pie, and some absolutely heavenly soppressata and Spanish chorizo. It’s all about portion control, and I’m learning to eat my favorite foods while staying within my Points allowance.

    In fact, I’m now eating the way I’ve always known that I should eat: mostly fruit and vegetables, with some protein and dairy, and small portions of treats. I don’t know why I needed to join Weight Watchers in order to make this change, but it’s really working for me.

    The greatest difficulty is preparation, because my family doesn’t eat the way I do. The boys will eat the same fruit, and Marc will eat (most of) the same veggies, but the boys won’t, for example, eat a salad for dinner. So I am spending more time in the kitchen. I’m not too happy about that, so I am trying to figure out ways to streamline the whole process of making two dinners. Sometimes the solutions are obvious, like when I made beef nachos – everybody else got the nachos, while I topped a plate of greens and tomatoes with some of the beef mixture and a quarter cup of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese. I’m working on coming up with more easily adjusted meals like this.

    I can’t really assess the impact of Weight Watchers on our monthly spending yet, because I haven’t been buying much meat. I’ve had a pretty good stockpile in the freezer, which we’ve been eating for the last couple of weeks. I don’t break my grocery budget down by category, so I’m really just going to keep an eye on the trend of my spending at grocery stores. It goes without saying that even as I eat healthier, I want to keep my spending in check.

    One of the best things about joining an At-Work program instead of meetings at a regular Weight Watchers center is that I have a built-in timeline. The At-Work program requires a minimum of 15 paying members to continue each 17-week session. The group I joined just barely made it to 15 members for the current session, so there’s no guarantee that there will be another session when this one ends right before the holidays. Because of that, I feel extra motivated to reach my goal weight by the end of this session, and fortunately, I don’t have that much weight to lose so my goal is pretty realistic. I don’t think the same motivation would be there if I’d simply joined regular meetings with no (forced) end in sight.

    Right now, my plan is to keep doing what I’ve been doing since it’s obviously working. I just need to make those adjustments in the kitchen so that I can keep up the progress without losing my mind.

    Weight Watchers Week One: Adjusting to the program

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    Thank you to everyone who encouraged, advised and supported me last week when I announced that I had decided to join Weight Watchers. I signed up on Monday and will attend meetings for the next 17 weeks. (The At-Work program is a 17-week commitment, but there are two Monday holidays during this session.)

    This first week is a time of adjustment for me. Having never been on Weight Watchers before, I had to learn about the program and decided whether to do Flex or Core, and then figure out how I was going to track things. The Flex program is what most people seem to choose, and what you hear people talking about. Each food has a Points value, and you have a daily Points allowance that you are supposed to stick to.

    I briefly but seriously considered the Core program, which in a nutshell allows you to eat as much as you need to feel satisfied from a list of permitted foods. I thought it would be easier to just eat off a list than to keep track of points, and figured it would actually be healthier anyway. But then I discovered that our family regularly eats foods that aren’t on the list (like pasta), so I didn’t think it would work for our lifestyle at all.

    So I chose the Flex program and have been learning the Points values of different foods. The At-Work program includes the Weight Watchers E-Tools, which has an online Points tracker. I decided pretty much immediately that I would track my Points online, and am already dependent on E-Tools. I particularly like the Recipe Builder, which allowed me to input my granola recipe to determine the Points value. The initial results were frightening, but I tweaked the recipe a little bit. It didn’t make a huge difference in points but it’s a little lighter and makes an acceptable breakfast now. I’ll share the revised recipe with you next week after I make it over the weekend. So stay tuned!

    Frugality vs. health (or, I’m joining Weight Watchers)

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    I’ve tried losing weight on my own. Many of you can probably relate. I am less than 10 pounds heavier than I was as a teenager, but I was not a svelte teen. In other words, I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my life and I’m sick of it. I’ve made some good changes in the last few months, most notably making time for exercise again. While I’m not working out every day like I was back in the spring, I do exercise 3 to 4 times per week. And I can run 2 miles without a problem.

    However, I could use some a lot of help with my eating. I’ve tried FitDay and even SparkPeople after some readers recommended it. But I have to be honest, I fall off the bandwagon pretty quickly.

    I’ve thought about joining Weight Watchers many times. I considered the online program but felt my attitude towards it wouldn’t be any different that it was toward FitDay and SparkPeople. Yet as a mother of two young boys who works full-time, it’s impossible to find a minimum of 1 1/2 hours each week to attend a meeting without sacrificing something that’s very important to me.

    And then I discovered that there’s a weekly meeting held in the office building where I work. I attended an open house session on Monday, and discovered that I liked the leader. The jury is still out on the other members – I was at least 10 years younger than the person closest to me in age, and more like 20 years younger than most of them, so I felt quite out of place. However, about halfway through the meeting, a woman about my age who looked fabulous came in, holding pictures of herself from two years ago, to show just how far she had come. It was inspiring, to say the least.

    The cost for workplace meetings is different from plans held at Weight Watchers centers, so I’ll be paying $208 for 17 weeks, or $15 per session. That seems a little steep, but let’s be honest, nothing else has really worked for me. I’ve never done Weight Watchers before, and it’s obviously worked for other people, so I feel I have to give it a try.

    Good health is one of those things I believe in spending money on. So I hope that this will be money that is more than well spent.

    I was talking with a friend who is currently doing Weight Watchers and she mentioned something I noticed at the open house meeting: there’s an encouragement to eat whatever is low-calorie, even if it is fake or processed. Not surprisingly, the meeting leader was selling Weight Watchers food products, including nutrition bars and snacks. I was more surprised when she said she carries spray bottles of butter and salad dressing with her when she goes out to eat, and that she only buys low-fat, reduced calorie snacks for her children.

    That’s not something I plan to do. I just need help learning to eat a few bites of cake instead of the whole piece. And I would rather have a few bites of the real thing than a big piece of fake cake. I also think the weekly meetings will serve as a huge motivator for me, which is what I need most of all. It’ll be a chance to re-commit each week to losing weight, with some guidance on how to make that happen.

    One thing this means for CFO is more recipes. I don’t plan to change what I eat, except to add more fruit and vegetables, so I will have to focus on cutting back on how much I eat. And that means measuring, and that means I’m more likely to write down a recipe instead of just throwing it together like I usually do. I will probably also make more Cooking Light recipes, since I find them to be pretty reliable.

    In the meantime, if you’ve done Weight Watchers before, I would love it if you would share your tips on making the most of the program in the comments. Thanks!

    Making a few more changes

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    The changes I’m talking about this time aren’t to this site, though. Instead, the changes are – hopefully – to me. As in, losing weight and gaining muscle tone. In other words, I’m getting in shape.

    While this is something I’m always thinking about (the Fitday experience a few months ago didn’t last very long, I’m afraid), it’s something that always takes a backseat to taking care of my family, work, and this blog. But that can no longer be the case. Marc has promised Alex that we’ll take him to Raging Waters or another similar water park this summer.

    This means I’ll have to wear some sort of swim attire in public. After all, Tyler won’t tolerate being left out of the water the way he did last summer during our trips to the beach.

    Is this a vain reason to want to get in shape? Of course. But it’s much more than that, in the sense that I am more concerned with avoiding how miserable I’ll be if summer comes around and I haven’t gotten in shape, than I am with looking hot. In other words, it’s mostly about preserving my happiness and avoiding misery.

    So what does this have to do with this site? Well, I’ve hinted at it above, in that I’ll have even less time to blog than usual because I’m trading in some of my post-kids’ bedtime computer time for a nightly date with the treadmill or yoga mat. That means less time to respond to comments and emails, and I ask for your understanding in that regard. I plan to continue posting quality articles, and I am hopeful that regular workouts will actually help me become a better blogger because I’ll have more energy and be mentally sharper.

    One thing my new regimen will allow me to do is really make use of the Go Workout Mom First Year Fitness Journal, which I promised Cindy I would review a couple of months ago. I downloaded it and started to read it but haven’t gotten very far. But now I’ll really use it and be able to give you a thorough review.

    I plan on posting in a few months and telling you about my wonderful progress and success!