Posts tagged propoints
There are many things that make losing weight difficult. Motivation to eat healthily and exercise more comes and goes for all of us for many reasons. Sometimes it’s the weather – how hard is it to say no to a big baked potato at lunch time or a massive hot chocolate in the afternoon with our current climate? Sometimes it’s our lifestyle – it is more difficult to make good food and drink choices when you are busy and overtired. And sometimes it is the very fact that you are surrounded by food and drink all the time – it’s not easy to give into temptation when you can smell the chocolate!
For me and hundreds and thousands of people, what we do for a living hampers our weight loss efforts. Well unless you are a chocolate taster or a professional fast food eater your actual work isn’t the problem, it is the nature of what we do. Sitting at a computer for eight hours a day is a recipe for snacking, for drinking high sugar drinks, for giving in to temptation without even realising it. Especially when you work in an office with lovely people who provide cakes, biscuits and sweets weekly if not daily to help make everyone smile. And then there is the commuting. Not a problem I have any more as I’m only a short drive (or a long walk) from my office, but I admit there are always sweets in the car to help make journeys more bearable!
I mean, just look at this totally amazing cake… yes… look… drool… wish… want…
…I can confirm that this was quite possibly the nicest chocolate cake I have ever tasted. It was moist, had chocolate butter cream inside and on top, and of course Maltesers topping it off. So good. It was made by a colleague’s partner for our Red Nose Day bake sale (we raised just under £150 by the way!). An extreme example of how work can lead to over eating for sure (unfortunately the fact that calories consumed for charity don’t count is a myth), but there are often cakes in our office and when they are home made it is incredibly hard to say no. The fact is when someone brings in a home made cake I don’t want to say no, I want to eat it.
It’s not really the odd slice of cake that’s the problem, though (so colleagues, if you’re reading this, please continue to bake bake bake!) – we have weekly Weight Watchers Pro Points and Activity Pro Points that we can use to treat ourselves on occasional naughtiness like that. Not a problem, it is a lovely thing to share tea and cake with friends and I shall continue to do so when I fancy something that I’m offered. But it’s the fact that we’re sat on our bums moving little more than our fingers, that it’s too easy to not go out for a walk at lunch time thanks to a combination of the amount of work and the weather, that when we’re at work we eat for the sake of it. It’s the extra cereal bars, chocolate bars, cans of coke, full-fat lattes.
So what can we do? The best thing, of course, is to take all the food for the day to work with you. That should include a nice healthy but filling lunch and some healthy snacks for those grazing moments. Easier said than done and something I’ve been really bad at recently – getting into the habit of taking a packed lunch is key. And when you don’t have time or there’s nothing in the house? There are lots of healthy choices around, you just have to make the right decisions. This was an absolutely gorgeous Rainbow Salad from M&S with some honey and lime dressing – really tasty, I’d choose that one again. And thin cuppa soups are a brilliant way to “eat” without adding too many calories or Pro Points to your daily total – I always have some of those in my desk drawer.
I also try to keep a supply of healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, low calorie cereal bars and that sort of thing in my desk drawer – keeping snacks like that close to hand makes it easier to say no when someone offers to get you something from the corner shop.
The only way to lose weight successfully is to take in fewer calories than you burn off, so moving around is an absolute necessity. There’s not much chance of me getting a stand-up desk at work (not that I’ve asked), but I’m trying to see what things I can get done stood up, such as reading through reports and other documents. Organising any meetings away from my own desk also forces me to walk about, and of course making sure I take my hour for lunch and go out for a walk into town (without going into the cafes and coffee shops!) is great.
So now I’m after some inspiration. What should I keep in the house to create lovely things for midday eating in the office? What are the best healthy choices if you need to buy lunch? And what other things do you do to help curb your office over eating? Feel free to comment below.
Our Blog Ambassador challenge this week has been move more, sit less. We were encouraged to stand up more, walk around more and generally exercise more.
At the beginning of the week I ordered 30 Day Shred, a workout DVD by Jillian Michaels that I have been told over and over again really gets results. The premise is that you exercise for 20 minutes every morning for 30 days, and thanks to the combination of strength, cardio and abs circuit-type exercise, you notice a difference to your body very quickly. I can give 20 minutes each day, it’s practically nothing. It arrived on Saturday so I started it Sunday morning – so this morning was day three. And oh my goodness. Those of you who said I’d hurt? Yea, that. Those of you who said I’d sweat? Yea, that. Those of you who said day three would be really difficult because your body is already hurting? Yea, that. I’m on level one at the moment – I can do the vast majority of the exercises without too much difficulty – the cardio is much easier than the strength stuff. But I can’t do a single proper press up. Nope, not one. I’ll keep trying!
Apart from the DVD I’ve been using the exercise bike and doing my best to move around more. I have a desk job and sit at a computer for the vast majority of the day. As there probably no chance I will ever be provided with either a treadmill desk or a standing desk I am trying to get up off my chair as much as possible – there are things I can do stood up and I can make sure I make the most of my lunch breaks. I would use my Weight Watchers pedometer to track my daily steps but unfortunately I broke it less than a week into being a blog ambassador – it flung off my jeans and straight into the toilet bowl. Oops! I’ve tracked my steps before thanks to the GCC Walk the World scheme, and I know that wearing a pedometer does encourage me to move around more as I end up competing with myself trying to beat my average step count every day. I actually received a pedometer from Tesco in the post today, so from tomorrow I’ll wear that (even though it’s not all fancy and won’t work out any activity points) and see what happens!
I have to say I don’t much like the activities points on the Pro Points tracker. What I mean is I do like them – they mean extra food each week – but I don’t like how they are worked out. They take no account of how hard you work. Cycling on the exercise bike at full speed for 30 minutes is worth the same as cycling at a really leisurely pace barely raising your heart beat. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to work hard. Also, I earn the same points cycling for 30 minutes as I do for walking 30 minutes and doing aerobics for 30 minutes – but these exercises are not comparable on calories burnt. I guess I feel a bit hard done by when two Pro Points are added when I’ve got up early and worked really (really) hard before work. This doesn’t mean I’m not working hard, though…
Oh, and for the record, I have continued to eat breakfast. I find that exercising, then eating, then showering works for me and is a routine I am trying to get into during February. Apart from having that DVD which is motivation in itself I’ve also been challenged by a friend to exercise for 20-30 minutes every day for the whole of the month, to give me a bit of a kick and hopefully see some quick results. I would hope the DVD will cover that but if I get to the point where I can’t face Jillian Michael’s one morning I will still do something.
Food wise I’ve had another okay week, using up my daily points every day with mostly healthy food (the thai curry pictured above was a particular success!) and most of my weekly points too. I had pizza on Friday night which was particularly yummy and have continued to munch on the sweets and chocolates we have at home. I like that the counting system means I can still eat the things I want to. I’m eating loads of fruit and vegetables – even more than before (I’ve never been afraid of vegetables!), and I’m drinking lots more water. I am getting used to counting Pro Points now, I understand them more – I know what foods are free and what will cost me lots (although some things still surprise me!) and I like the way I can use those weekly points to treat myself to a nice hot chocolate or some fudge.
The proof is always in the numbers I guess and this week I lost another pound. I’ll take that – I don’t mind little losses, as long as I keep losing slowly but surely.
I made it clear in my last post about my Weight Watchers journey that I would not be counting while on holiday. For LincsGeek and I food on holiday is a very important part of the experience – we enjoy our food, enjoy eating out, enjoy finding a restaurant we love and going back to taste something else from the menu… and I enjoy just picking what I fancy from a menu rather than thinking about how many calories or how much fat I’m consuming. And anyway, you can’t spend valuable time away worrying about what you should or shouldn’t be eating.
Of course now I am back and ready to start again. I stepped on the scales this morning to assess the damage and was incredibly surprised. I lost weight. Just the one pound but if you could see the pile of hot chocolate glasses… and sweet wrappers… I know that skiing is good exercise, and you probably burn more calories when it’s -20 outside, but it has still come as a happy surprise.
Now I’m home again I’d better make sure I take positive steps to continue the trend downwards – I need to get meal planning again and desperately need to do a proper shop as we’ve not got a lot in.
Because I missed a week I have two challenges to concentrate on over the next seven days. The first is all about breakfast. Yes, yes, I know it’s the most important meal of the day, but unless I’m doing something that requires being fuelled up before I go (like skiing, a long walk etc), then nine times out of ten I don’t bother. I go through phases – I’ll eat breakfast properly for a few days before giving up and just waiting til my stomach starts moaning at 10am (or before). I’ve had boxes of cereal under my desk at work before now to try and get me into a routine of having breakfast as soon as I get in (I start at 8am so it’s early enough), but again I never get into a proper routine. So this week I will eat breakfast every single day, and try and vary it to keep me interested. It is most likely going to be cereal – weetabix, alpen, country crisp, that sort of thing. This morning I had some Sultana Bran. I give me til Friday.
I’ll introduce the other challenge later in the week.
What tips do you have for getting back on a decent diet after you’ve been off it for a week? What do you eat for breakfast?
Last week I took a day off work and hopped on the direct train from Lincoln to London to make use of my invitation to a blogger event hosted by Weight Watchers.
Apart from discovering what I think is now my favourite café in London – Drink Shop Do just round the corner from Kings Cross – the event was to introduce me and the other bloggers to Weight Watchers new approach to Pro Points.
As part of the event we were treated to a vast array of loveliness which was in fact the earliest afternoon tea I’ve ever had. Tea, juices, water, sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, sweets, and yes there was some raw carrot for good measure too. I don’t think I was the only person who wondered if the whole spread was some sort of test… well in fact it was and it wasn’t – it was a demonstration of how it’s easy to eat way too much than we need, but it was also a genuine offering that we tucked into happily. What a delightful place, and what an interesting event.
There is now a body of science that suggests that today’s overloaded food environment is one of the most important reasons why we tend to overeat. It turns out it’s not always our failing will power, but that things around us are sabotaging our good intentions and leaving us with little chance of success. The problem is that we live in a toxic environment where our ability to regulate hunger is constantly challenged – food permeates every aspect of our daily lives.
Penny Haslam (you may have seen her on telly) explained that we are continually making choices, subconsciously, about what we eat and how much. For example, our portion control (something I know I struggle with) may not be down to the size of our appetites, but actually the size of our plates. If we fill our plate we will eat what’s on it, even if we are way over full by the end – we’ve been brought up to finish the food we are given, it’s polite, we don’t want to waste it, we’ve spent our money on it, etc.
The Weight Watchers new approach takes all this into account, aiming to put you in control of your surroundings, translating the science of hedonics into the already popular weight loss programme.
Hedonic hunger is the idea that our exposure to food makes us hungry. It looks good, smells good, our brain says we need it. How many times have you said you are full but still ordered desert? It goes in a different hole right?!
I found all this very interesting, and it does make sense. My food decisions are based on see it, want it, eat it – from the good stuff to the really bad stuff. In order to lose weight and be healthy we have to find ways to work out when we are hungry and when we are actually not, and when it’s ok to indulge a little against when we should be good.
In order to help us do that Weight Watchers have introduced some new tools on their website and on their iPhone app – Tracking, Places and Routines. It’s not about going without, but teaching us to make our decisions consciously, and not just giving into the hedonic hunger that easily leads to over eating.
Over the next few months I will be testing all this out as one of Weight Watchers New Year bloggers. It should be very interesting, and another experiment in weight loss. Earlier today I signed up online and downloaded the iPhone app and started tracking my food and drink for the day. By 3pm I had already maxed out on my Pro Points Budget for the day – that cheese sandwich and two mince pies I had at lunch time ruined that. Why did I have the second one? Because it was there and the first one tasted so good!
So here goes. The idea is that I follow the Weight Watchers Pro Points system from 1st January, so between now and Christmas I will be getting used to how it works and learning about the science and what my “oh go on then” foods are (there’s another blog post in that sometime soon). I will be sharing even more food photos than normal (without meaning to add to your toxic environment!) and will be taking part in weekly blogger challenges which sound like fun. We were sent on our way from the event with a Santa sack full of Weight Watchers goodies to get us started.
In the meantime, please feel free to comment on the new approach, or with any helpful hints and suggestions you have for a newbie to the Weight Watchers Pro Points system.