Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Weight Watchers in Berlin - found myself a good meeting, losing the weight

I promised Mary, my Wednesday morning Weight Watchers group leader in Bloomington, that I would send her updates on Weight Watchers - how is it different, how is it the same - here in Berlin. (I was supposed to write to her about the Weight Watchers in Oakland I went to this summer, too, but never managed.)

OK, first of all, super briefly, here are the big differences:

Here, fruit is zero points. At home, it ain't. I'm eating tons of fruit!

Here, meetings are officially 45 minutes long and often go longer. There, they're 30 minutes and stick to it.

Here, there's only the flex plan (count your points); no core plan (where you are more limited in kinds of food but don't count points). On the other hand, they have 18 "Sattmacher" ("full makers; satisfied makers" - i.e. things that satisfy you) - things you can eat as much of at a meal as makes you comfortably satisfied (not stuffed!) I haven't really started using those yet. There are carbohydrate ones and protein ones. I'll tell you more about that later.

The number of points you get seems to be about or exactly the same. However, you don't get the 35 extra points to play with per week; instead, you can save up 5 of your basic points per day and use them later in the week. (Maybe this is because the fruit is zero points?)

I think those are the main differences.

Oh yes, and you have to wear your shoes when you weigh in!

And after you hit goal you have 2 kilos grace weight rather than 2 pounds (2 kilos being 4.4 pounds). (Because of the shoes???)


So much for the thing in general. Now about me:

I flailed, flailed, flailed at the beginning (starting to sound familiar). There's a very convenient meeting place near us, it's almost at the end of the Kurf├╝rstendamm, the Causeway of the Electors, nearest to us - on the bus it's 10 minutes from here. Very convenient. And rather than a meeting in a church or some kind of public place as many of them here are, it's a little storefront dedicated to Weight Watchers, run by two women together - and they have 6 or 8 or 10 meetings a week. But most of them are in the evenings, and I didn't want to do that: a. I'm too heavy in the evenings, and b. I'm usually doing stuff with the family.

So I hit on Saturday mornings. First I went at 8:45, which has its advantages because I could be home and do family stuff. But I have to get up awfully early to go for a good jog first, which I like to do.

So then I tried 10:30 Saturday morning, which was nice because it was a much smaller group, easier to connect and talk and be part of the group - and I didn't have to get up so terribly early - but on the other hand it was the middle of the day before I rejoined the family.

So then I didn't go for a couple of weeks, and finally I hit on the Tuesdays. That's also nice because it connects up with my Weight Watcher beginnings, Judy Pennington's Tuesday morning group that I went to with my buddies Boo and Sue. 

So here's what I did:

- went on a Tuesday
- declared it was a new beginning, so nobody could sneer at the very large number on the scales
- had breakfast first, because it turns out I'm going to have to weigh in every week, not just once a month which is what I would have to do in the States as a lifetime member if I get in under the limit the first week - if I skip breakfast first once I have to keep doing it because otherwise it throws off the comparative weight of course! - and if I skip breakfast once every week I am really messed up in terms of rhythm and balance.

Then, after that first Tuesday morning meeting, I came home and:

- completely rearranged the cupboard, putting the sweets (cookies, chocolate, cakes) and nuts and raisins, all that kind of thing, down below - it's two shelves on the bottom that have their own separate door; and putting all the grains and cereals and pastas and rice at eye level, and below that whatever else is in the cupboard. So now when I reach in for my morning oats for oatmeal, or I reach in midday to make Felix some pasta or something, I am not staring right into peanuts or cashews or chocolate or cookies. 
- reread a thing I got off the web called something like the 20 healthiest foods for under a dollar
- supported by the cupboard rearrangement and the web document reading, went shopping and bought no cookies, no chocolate, and lots of local seasonal vegetables (enormous leeks very cheap! enormous turnips I think they are also very cheap!), filling my shopping cart and spending half what I usually had been spending
- came home and put some of the things on the wall that I used to have: my big piece of paper where I keep track every day of whether I did my stretching, whether I took my pills, how many steps I took, and any other projects and agendas I have for the day (the first few days I then wrote: do not go over points! and that was helpful) - along with some other inspirational things I write on the wall. Still need to put up some more things - some of my lists (why am I doing this? how can I stay on track?).

Then, for the next week, I proceeded to REALLY stay on track. If you read my first post, you'll know that I lost big-time weight for 3 or 4 days. In fact, I can say it now because I have regained the proper humility, when I lost a kilo a day for the first 3 days I was already worrying about how awkward and embarrassing it was going to be to go into the meeting the next Tuesday and explain how I had lost 7 kilos in 7 days. What would they say? What would I say?

Well, it didn't turn out to be a problem. I weighed in at 1.8 kilos less on week 2 of my new start. (And for the record, week 3 weighed me in at 0.3 kilos less than week 2.) So it's still rocky, I'm still not just sliding down the weights.

Here's the thing about me: as I was telling my grown-up son the other day, from the time I wake up till about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I'm generally eating because I want to. It comes from inside me. Then, if there is some kind of a dinner, I eat it because it is expected - but in fact I could easily skip it! So therefore since it seems an awful lot easier to skip what others are expecting of me than to not eat when something inside me is screaming eat, EAT; and since if I don't skip one or the other I will definitely gain, not lose, weight, I would rather skip dinner (I eat wonderful breakfasts and lunches and get all kinds of fabulous nutrition and check off all the boxes in my weekly points tracker).

The downsides about this are that it kind of puts a spanner in the family-dinner works. Don't know how to figure that one out. Also that it's tricky when we're invited out.

Also, useful for me to know and register: the inner thing screaming "eat, EAT" is a lot calmer and quieter or shuts up entirely when I have had plenty of sleep. Which is why I do try awfully hard to get plenty of sleep, even though it really eats into our social life and my time with husband and with son #1. 

Also, as I have intimated before, sometimes an enormous amount of exercise is counterproductive for me - if I don't plan well, I end up eating so much afterwards that the scale goes the wrong way. And in general, in the long run, if I have to choose between sleep and exercise sleep is better. But I do try to arrange things so it is not either/or!

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