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Uncertainty and Changing Plans

I’ve been second-guessing my decision to track SmartPoints.

I know. It’s been two weeks. Actually, it’s been less than two weeks.

Yet, I’m having some doubts.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not second-guessing my decision to step away from calorie counting and track points/bites. I am absolutely 100% committed to that decision. Admittedly, letting go of some of that control is hard, but it is worth it. I would rather have a little uncertainty over the exact number of calories consumed if it means not needing to pull out my food scale or tracker as often.

However, I’m not sure that I went back into the right plan.

I love SmartPoints. While I think there are good things to say about all of the SmartPoints plans, Green has always been my happy place. It’s a very livable plan for me.

So, why would I give that up?

Unfortunately, as much as I love Green, the plan isn’t without its flaws. The biggest drawback is that even with the smaller list of zero-point foods (compared to Blue and Purple), there isn’t much of a correlation between points and calories. 30 SmartPoints of chicken and 30 SmartPoints of cake have a very different calorie count.

I don’t plan on being in weight loss mode very long. Eventually, I’m going to take another break. I’m not sure when that’s going to be. I’m also not sure how I’m going to do it. I understand that reverse dieting involves gradually increasing my daily calories week by week until I hit maintenance. I’m just unsure if I’ll be mentally ready to count calories by the time I’m prepared to switch.

Trying to gradually increase my daily SmartPoints is likely to have mixed results simply because the calories don’t line up with the points.

They do with PointsPlus.

The closer correlation between PointsPlus and calories isn’t the only reason I’m considering a switch. Protein is another factor. When I weigh my food out in grams, it’s difficult for me to “see” portion sizes. Since protein lowers the SmartPoints value, I can easily overeat something like chicken breast. On PointsPlus, most lean protein follows a 1 point per ounce guideline. If I have a 12pp portion of chicken, I should probably cut it in half.

I also can’t forget that I stopped tracking SmartPoints in June for a reason. On both PointsPlus and SmartPoints, most of what I eat is the same points. Now, there are some differences, of course, but they balance out. My chicken is a point lower on SmartPoints, but the teaspoon of ghee is a point higher. Unless I have a day where I have some extra sweet treats, things even out. I don’t eat sweets every day. Over a week, I get more points on SmartPoints than PointsPlus. So, the fact that the points for most of my meals balance out is relatively significant.

It sounds like I’ve made up my mind. I haven’t. I feel like I should stick it out a little longer before I switch plans again. After all, I like what I’m doing now. Is this just “the grass is always greener” syndrome? Am I doing this because I’m frustrated that the scale hasn’t shown much movement over the past two weeks, and I think a new plan will kickstart my weight loss?

The latter is definitely a factor in my thought process, but I know that cannot be why I decide to switch plans. Chasing after the plan that gives the quickest results doesn’t work.

That’s why, despite wanting a plan where points and calories are more aligned, I’m not looking at trying the old Points plan. I know that’s not a sustainable plan for me.

At the end of the day, I just need to make a decision. If I decide to switch to PointsPlus tomorrow and am completely miserable, I can always switch back after the week. My goal is to stay in my daily and weekly points. Switching plans doesn’t change that.

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Down to the Last 10 Weeks of 2020

With my beautiful, new, pink 2021 Powersheets sitting in its bright yellow box, I’ve been finding myself a little less motivated to set goals. After all, we’re near the end of October. After this, we only have two months left for the year. It’s like pigging out on junk food before starting a diet; it’s easy to tell myself, “I’ll start that in the new year.” We’re less than 10 weeks away from the end of the year. Why not just take a break and start fresh in January?

However, this is also the start of my second third of #90DivineDays. While I have somewhat abandoned the concept of adding new goals in each of the goal areas we discussed: Food, Fitness, Personal Development, and Spiritual Growth, because I ended up changing and adding some new goals earlier in the month. I decided to make the changes when I saw a need instead of waiting for a specific date to try something new.

Personal Development

A few weeks ago, I decided to utilize a daily planner to schedule my to-do list and see if it would increase my productivity. I’ve been pretty inconsistent with using a planner this year. However, I’ve also taken the time to figure out what kind of planner system works best for me. I’ve learned that weekly planning isn’t efficient. I rarely know my schedule more than a day in advance. I have to plan things day by day. I never know what stickers to use or how much space to leave for each day when planning my week.

On the other hand, using a dashboard layout with a weekly to-do list also doesn’t work well. If I don’t decide on a specific day to do something, it doesn’t get done. So, I’ve been learning that using a combination of Google Calendar and a daily planner layout seems to work best for me. I use Google Calendar to record scheduled events and appointments, like job interviews, online meetings, and Holidays. Then, I look at any scheduled appointments, Powersheets goals, and any random-to-do list items I need to accomplish and fit them into my daily planner.

The system I’m using isn’t without its flaws. For one thing, I threw together a quick DIY daily planner using some Happy Planner daily refill pages, so it’s not a very polished system. It’s entirely composed of daily pages, so it lacks space to make generalized plans for the month or week. It would be nice to have a spot each week to add jot down a to-do list for the following week. 

However, despite its shortcomings, it seems to be doing the job. I’ve been a lot more productive, knowing that I have a daily to-do list. I plan on making some changes in 2021 if things continue to go this well. I toyed with the idea of frankenplanning my own 2021 daily planner with Happy Planner refills and inserts. However, I am not a fan of some of the compromises I’d have to make with the design. It would also end up costing me about as much money to buy a brand new Erin Condren Life Planner. 

I haven’t officially decided on placing the order yet. I want to make sure this is something I am going to use. I figured, while not perfect, my DIY planner will be enough to show me at least if a daily planning system works for me. If I’m consistent in using it during the 56 days I have leading up to the date I decided to order a new planner, I’ll place the order. Ideally, I’m aiming for 100% consistency, but I know things happen. As long as I hit 90% consistency by December 7 (and I still like the daily planning, of course), I’ll place the order. [There’s also a chance that I’ll order it sooner if I hit that same number of days before the 7th, but I still won’t order before December.]

Food

I’m not making many changes for food since what I’ve been doing has been working. I’m just tweaking things here and there as I see fit. However, I recently changed my supplement routine. Instead of taking my beloved SmartyPants gummy vitamins, I’ve switched to a multivitamin pill. I’ve also added things like fish oil, B-vitamins, and a few supplements that may help with muscle recovery, anxiety, and focus. I am still experimenting with a few things with the vitamins, however. Today, I decided to take my multivitamin with lunch. This past week, I’ve noticed an overall feeling of blahness with some slight nausea sometime between 9 am and noon. I realized that the culprit could be my new multivitamin. Perhaps, the iron in the supplement is too harsh on my stomach. It’s also possible that my Fab4 smoothies aren’t quite enough food to take with the vitamin. I feel a lot better today than I have felt, which is a good sign that the multivitamin is the issue. I’ll see how I feel after lunch today, but there’s a chance I’ll have to find a new multivitamin. 

Fitness

My fitness goal is more or less the same. I’m still exercising six days a week with a minimum of three strength training sessions. However, I’m changing things up just a little. A few of us started LIIFT4 a couple of weeks ago. I finished day two of week three today, and my arms are killing me. (So is my chest, for that matter). This round has been so much different than my first attempt at the program back in May. In May, I only had access to 2 and 5-pound dumbbells, which were ok for some of the moves but were far too light for most. I was also working part-time as a bakery dishwasher. Since I only worked on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were also the arm-heavy days (triceps on Mondays and biceps on Tuesdays), I didn’t want to push myself too hard. Tuesdays, especially, felt like a race to see if I could finish my work before my arms quit. Now, I have access to a nice collection of dumbbells ranging from 2 to 12 pounds. I’m eating more and fueling my body well. For the first time, I’m pushing myself and working out in hopes of increasing my strength and endurance.

In addition to my Liift4 schedule, I’m also incorporating Walk at Home workouts. Typically, if a session is around 36-40 minutes long, I’ll follow LIIFT4 with a 1-mile walk. On shorter lifting days, I’ll do a 2-mile walk. Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’ll walk 3-5 miles. However, I’m also allowing myself some flexibility to take that walk outdoors if I want. 

Spiritual Growth

The only thing I haven’t changed anything with is my Spiritual Growth goals. I’m still reading the same devotionals, and I recently started a new scripture writing plan. Perhaps, as this month progresses, I’ll make changes in this area. For now, I’m focusing on consistency and maintaining the habits I’ve started to develop.

Despite not starting any new habits specifically for the second third of #90DivineDays, I did create my new tending list for the next five weeks. This was the first time I ever made a tending list without much struggle. I have tweaked it a few times since the month started. I added a monthly task or two- including one I wrote in after it was already complete. I also swapped out one of my daily tasks. Initially, I put in my afternoon quiet time as one of my daily items. Then, I realized that with the deadline for ordering my planner approaching in December, using my planner each day was a more important goal to track.

Monthly Goals:

  • Get My Car Inspected
  • Finish reading The Slight Edge
  • Read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  • Finish the Yes Fit Beauty and the Beast Race
  • Yes Fit Turkey Trot 10K
  • Finish my Christmas Wishlist
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving
  • Deep Clean Kitchen counter and stove/Spray Enzyme cleaner on spots that one of our cats frequently uses as a litterbox
  • Decorate bedroom for Christmas

Oh, and there’s one other item listed for this month, but I’m not ready to share it. I will say that I’ve already started working on it and I expect to finish it in a couple of weeks.

Weekly Action Items:

  • Workout 6 days per week (3x strength training)
  • Devote time to searching for a job Monday-Friday
  • Do a deeper clean of my bedroom (sweeping/dusting) once a week.
  • Wash my bedding on alternating weeks
  • Publish one blog post
  • Publish two Instagram posts

Daily Action Items:

  • Write for blog
  • Read
  • Nightly tidy
  • Stay in my calorie range and drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Use my planner 

I’m excited to see what these next five weeks have in store for me.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but I already put in a few monthly action items for next month!)

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Sticking to what Works… Until it Doesn’t

I love the WW Green Plan. I lost a bit of weight on it back when it was the new SmartPoints plan a few years back before I put the weight back on when I went on medication to manage my mental health. When I started back on it in September, I spent time modifying the WW app to allow myself to go back to following that plan.

I lost about 30 pounds on SmartPoints.

Last Sunday, I weighed in at 0.2 pounds above what I weighed on March 1. I have been in this same weight decade since December. My only saving grace is that even with some large gains, I haven’t gone up into the higher weight decade.

Now, I haven’t been perfect, but I never have been (and never will be). Still, I’ve had more good days than bad days and that’s always been enough. Lately, however, it hasn’t been enough.

This week, I’ve been doing an experiment inspired by Brianna’s own calorie and point comparison experiment. I decided to switch to tracking on iTrackBites instead of the WW app to take advantage of the secondary metrics. Clearly, something has not been working for me and I need to figure out what it is. I figured the first step would be to look at how many calories I’m eating.

Now, this was a rough week to start an experiment between PMS hunger and eating like a jerk, but the on plan days have been very insightful.

I am still following the Wendie Plan. I do not count points for fruits, vegetables, or the oil I drizzle on my veggies before roasting or air frying (but if I make a salad dressing or something like waffles, I will count points for the oil in that). I am, however, counting calories for those things.

On a “good” day, I’ve been averaging about 1,831 calories per day. According to my Fitbit, my 7 day average calorie burn is about 2,160 calories. [This doesn’t include my “high” point day which would obviously skew my calorie consumption]. It’s no wonder I’m not losing weight.

I’ve looked at the numbers. Obviously, the fruit, veggies, and oil that I don’t count as points still have calories. However, even after subtracting the calories from those foods, I’m still hitting my calorie goal. I know people who, even with 0 point foods, struggle to hit their calorie goals without blowing through their points. I don’t have that problem at all.

If I spend my entire points allowance on chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. On a bundt cake? 640. That’s an average of 75 calories per point vs 21. The problem is, I eat a lot more chicken than I do cake- which is what WW wants me to do.

On PointsPlus, there’s a 10 calorie per point difference between chicken breast and cake.

Most of what I eat on a regular basis is either the same points between SmartPoints and PointsPlus or is fewer points on SmartPoints. I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods. Between daily and weekly points, I have 14 points more on SmartPoints than I do on PointsPlus. If most of my foods are the same on both plans, it means I’m easily overeating on SmartPoints. Take my work lunch for example? The protein powder I use is a point more on PointsPlus than on SmartPoints, but the 1sp fiber powder is 0pp. This means that my smoothie is going to be 9 points on either plan. However, I’m looking at 9 out of 30 points on Green and 9 out of 26 on PointsPlus (which I still think is the “yellow” plan- even if Brianna says it should be the glitter plan). That’s nearly 35% of my daily target vs 30%. Things like that can add up FAST.

One thing that confused me about when SmartPoints first came out was that, even 40+ pounds above my goal weight, I hit my minimum daily and weekly target. It just didn’t make sense. At the point where I hit my minimum of 30 dailies and 35 weeklies on SmartPoints, I was still at about 29 PointsPlus. Right now, I’m at about 26pp. Being at my minimum while I’m around 12 pounds from hitting a healthy weight range makes perfect sense. At 30+ pounds above? Not so much.

So, I’m stepping away from SmartPoints- at least for the time being. Tomorrow, I’m going to switch my tracker on iTrackBites to start tracking PointsPlus values on the Carb Concious plan. I’ll still be double tracking calories- just to keep myself in check and see what other tweaks I need to start making. Other than switching plans, nothing else will be changing. The foods I eat will probably be the same- with a few tweaks here and there. I still plan on following the Wendie Plan guidelines for PointsPlus.

I’m hoping that making a few small tweaks here and there with my diet, in addition to starting a mini fitness challenge for my Birthday (which I’ll announce at some point) in addition to finishing out Liift 4 will be enough to get the scale moving in the right direction.

Now, I will be adding one more food to my list of foods I will NOT be counting as points. Every morning, I add two scoops of unflavored collagen peptides to my water. On SmartPoints, that comes out to 0 points. On PointsPlus, however, that’s 2 points. I still plan on counting the calories for it, but since I’m taking the collagen as a supplement and not as food, I’m going to treat it like I do my vitamins or any medications and not count any points. If I find that I need to start cutting back on some things, I’ll look into counting it in the future, but for now, I’m going to see how not counting it works for me.

I’ve always struggled with “the grass is always greener” syndrome when it comes to diets. No matter how well a plan is working for me, I always look at others and go “I wonder if I should switch.” It’s taken me a long time to reach the point where I’m no longer wanting to make major changes every few weeks. I’ve been staying in my own lane. It’s been working for me, so why change?

Except, it’s clearly not working anymore, so I need to make a change.

I’m nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been on PointsPlus. I’m used to having 30 points a day that I aim to divide evenly between 3 meals. I’m not used to dividing 26 points up; 26 points don’t even divide up evenly between the meals. I’ve never had anything below 30 points on PointsPlus, so that in itself is going to be a challenge- on top of relearning the points values for foods. I’m going to have to learn how to eat with these changes: figuring out how to divide my points and learning how to enjoy the fact that I don’t have to schedule my entire week around one dessert without using it as an excuse to eat like a jerk.

It’s going to take some time to figure things out, but the best way for me to figure that out is just to get started.