Committing to New Habits

We’re less than three weeks into the new year. Raise your hand if you’re already struggling to stick to your resolutions, and find yourself slipping back into some old habits.

(Me me me)!

The good news? I’ve already started accomplishing at least some of my goals for this year: I’ve found a new workout that I absolutely love. I signed a one-year contract at my local karate studio for Muy Thai kickboxing. And anyone who knows my tightwad ways knows there’s nothing that motivates me more than the thought of not getting “my money’s worth.” No matter, though — I’m already addicted. I think it’s a riot that this season of The Biggest Loser is incorporating two new trainers: one is a martial arts expert, and the other a professional boxer. As I’m watching the contestants release all their stress, anger, and frustration by punching and kicking and pretty much fighting their trainers to the death, I’m feeling more and more confident that I’ve found the workout for me.

I’m also completely obsessed with the Nike+ Sportband I got for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) You tuck a little sensor into your Nike+ sneakers, and then a watch displays your time, miles, calories, and pace. I finally have an idea of how far I’m running — and how fast I’m actually going — while I’m exercising outdoors.

The watch also features a removable USB you can plug into your computer, and then track and share that day’s running stats with others. I love, love, love it, and despite the frigid, wet, icy weather here in the Northeast, I’m opting to skip the boring treadmill and brave the outdoors at least twice a week. Well, when I’m not throwing elbows and performing roundhouse kicks, that is.

Best of all, I realized that I’ve actually been clocking a pretty respectable time while running at least a 5K all these months. I’m thisclose to being confident enough to enter a group race; I’m already looking around for 5K runs in my area.

In other news, I’m having some mixed feelings about Weight Watchers’ new PointsPlus program. On one hand, I absolutely adore the fact that it’s forcing me to stop obsessively counting calories, and instead evaluate a food in terms of its actual nutritional value. I love fruit, and now that it’s “free,” I’m eating pears, oranges, and grapes like it’s my job. Finally, I can eat bananas without worrying about “wasting” 2-4 POINTs! I’m still chipping away at my holiday weight gain, but nevertheless, I already feel lighter, less bloated, and more energized now that I’ve essentially banished many of the carb-heavy packaged snacks and processed foods from the house.

But does anyone else find themselves craving carbs even more? I never realized how much I relied on pasta and cereal and granola bars, and now that they count for a whole lot more (the POINTs for my Kashi GoLean Crunch have almost doubled), I’m reluctant to grab a Fiber One bar on my way out the door or snack on popcorn in front of the TV. I know I can still eat these foods, of course, and I do — it’s just more difficult to work them into my 29-POINT day, is all.

Meanwhile, I’m reading yet another writing book, The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen, and I started thinking about how the advice that’s meant to boost my success as a freelance writer (read: stop procrastinating) also applies to my somewhat lackluster approach to my continued weight loss. It lists some of the top productivity busters as: fear (yep); lack of short-term goals (correct); and perfectionism (is she writing about me, or what?)

I’m terrified of failing as a writer, and I’ve always been afraid of the unknown: life as a thin person. In my 25 years of life, I’ve never not been overweight. I stopped setting specific goals (like lose 15 pounds by my birthday) because I beat myself up if I don’t meet them, and my incessant need to be perfect is keeping me from sending article ideas to editors and leading to eating binges when I don’t adhere to every single aspect of the Weight Watchers program every single day.

Lately, that saying keeps rolling around in my head:

If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

I hate obnoxious cliches, but this one pretty much sums up every facet of my life that isn’t going the way I’d like it. I’m not making enough money as a freelance writer because I’m not actively seeking new outlets, and my weight loss has stalled because I’m not actively trying to change what I’m eat and the way I’m exercising.

It’s time to re-commit…to both my career and my weight loss efforts.

How are you all doing with your resolutions?

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8 thoughts on “Committing to New Habits

  1. Jennifer, Amazing to hear how you’re identifying the weave of all of these facets of your life–writing and weight loss. Fear is so powerful, and it has so many disguises. You might want to jump right to Chapter 11 and work that section, first. It has some fun exercises for dialoguing with fear, and working creatively to honor its message while taking fear out of the driver’s seat. Wishing you so much satisfaction in making 2011 your best year yet!

    • Hi Sage,

      Thanks so much for reading, and for your kind words! I’m absolutely loving your book (and blog). I really do feel as though you’re talking directly to me; I’m ashamed to admit that I’m guilty of every single one of those productivity busters. I know they’re destroying any hope I had of ever being able to sit at my desk and actually do what I say I’m going to do…and make this whole dream of being a freelance writer a reality.

      I’m already taking small steps to apply some of your tips: starting with organizing this disaster of a workspace. It all seems so obvious; how can I expect to take myself seriously (or get anything done) when I’m buried under stacks of magazines and have no system in place to track submissions and invoices? And yet I continue to do everything in exactly the same way, because if I were really trying and still couldn’t make a decent living as a writer or reach my goal weight, then I’d definitely feel like a failure. It’s crazy when you think about it, but it’s definitely comforting to know I’m not alone!

      I started thinking about how these inner battles I’m constantly having with myself are affecting my success in everything I’m trying to accomplish, whether it’s landing a byline in my favorite national magazines or losing these last pesky pounds once and for all. It’s nice to know that there are plenty of simple steps I can take, and that it’s okay to set concrete goals and envision what I want for the future.

      Believe it or not, Chapter 11 is exactly where I left off reading last night, and you can be sure I’m going to try absolutely anything to conquer this fear once and for all. Can’t wait to get started! πŸ™‚

      Thanks again!

      Jennifer

  2. hamiltonmka

    I love the saying: If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. For those of us who struggle with weight loss it really needs to be something to live by. But it is HARD! Don’t beat yourself up too much as you really have come a long way. I find for me, I do best with small amounts of time to “tow the line” so to speak. I am going to do what I need to do for me *today*. Then say the same thing the next day. The days add to weeks, weeks to months. Another saying I like is “fake it ’till you make it”. Try making yourself practice the things you want to become habits. Just my 2 cents.

    As for the new Points Plus, I don’t really notice missing the carbs. With all the activity you’re doing, certain you are earning enough APs to have those carby items that are higher in points? Are you using your APs? I know for me, if I don’t use my APs daily I don’t lose or don’t lose much. Something to think about.

    It’s so nice to read you here again!

    • Hi there, happy new year! It’s great to hear from you! πŸ™‚

      As always, thank you for your sound advice, and for keeping things in perspective. I know exactly what you mean about focusing on one goal at a time, and taking it one day at a time. That’s one of my many, many struggles: I’m impatient, and my perfectionist tendencies make me want to tackle everything all at once (so I can see big results all at once). Of course, we all know it doesn’t work that way.

      I’m definitely continuing to earn APs, but I’m currently experimenting with how many I can eat to get the scale moving. I had been eating ALL of them, every single day, for quite some time…and we all know how that’s been going! So I’m playing around with how many I eat and how many I save, and on most days, that means I’m better served reaching for an apple instead of popcorn for a snack, or more chicken and fewer potatoes at dinner.

      I’m definitely still eating carbs — believe me! — but I think I’m just still getting used to the idea that everything I used to eat without a second thought are suddenly significantly more POINTs: my Vitamuffins, sandwich thins, low-fat ice cream, etc., and that’s making me want them more, if that makes sense. I hate that those stinkin’ little Weight Watchers desserts are now upwards of 4 POINTs, you know? I think it’s just the principle of it all. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks again for reading! I really appreciate your support, and am looking forward to your feedback again this year! πŸ™‚

      Jen

  3. hamiltonmka

    Yeah, all that processed stuff really shot up in points with the points plus, didn’t it? I guess I don’t eat that much of the premade frozen stuff. My biggest “heartache” is how high in points the microwave popcorn is. It was so nice to be able to scarf a 1 point bag when I really “needed” to! Now I only have it once every few weeks. And I don’t do the sandwich thins anymore. For 1 extra point I’d rather have REAL bread. Ya know? I’ve been eating a protein bread from Trader Joes that’s 2 points a slice and it’s great. I was never into Vitamuffins either. But if I can make a comment about the food items you’ve listed (just keepin’ it real, Dr. Phil!) …. do you eat a lot of processed foods like this? Maybe trying to do more of the “power foods” or just “clean”, not processed foods would help move the scale along. Do you cook? If so, I can pass on some links to some great WW recipes that I’ve come to rely on. Any way, you’re doing great! Keep chuggin’ ahead!

    • Same here — I love microwave popcorn, and I loved the 1 POINT bags to pig out on when, like you said, I really “needed” it! Fast and filling…my kind of snack. πŸ™‚

      I’m with you on the real bread. I actually really like the taste of the sandwich thins, but now I’m eating the new Weight Watchers whole wheat bread (2 POINTS/2 slices), and that’s pretty good. I’ll definitely go check out the protein bread from Trader Joe’s — I’ll take absolutely any excuse to go there!

      Yes, please do feel free to comment! Always! To answer your question, I honestly don’t eat too many processed foods. The ones I listed (e.g. Vitamuffins) are more my daily “treat” snacks that keep me sane and satisfied, you know? Gotta get my chocolate fix somehow. But, like I said, I’ll still eat these foods from time to time…it’s just a matter of getting used to the idea that what were once 1 POINT, no-guilt snacks now have to be budgeted into my daily menu a little better.

      I think it’s just a mental thing, honestly. I became so accustomed to a certain way of eating, and certain foods that I relied on a day-to-day basis, and now everything has changed. And, admittedly, I can be resistant to change… πŸ˜‰

      In any case, I have been trying to eat even “cleaner” in recent months, and with the new program, I’m proud to report that I’m doing better than ever!

      I’m slowly but surely improving my cooking chops, and I’m relying heavily on WW recipes labeled “easy” with a 45-minute or less prep/cook time. I’m taking it slowly, and one day at a time. So, yes, PLEASE do send along some of your favorite WW recipes! Some of the ones I’ve made so far are absolutely delish…and, others, well, not so much. I’d love to hear what your go-to meals are!

  4. hamiltonmka

    Here are a few I make quite a bit:

    These chicken bites are a great and easy appetizer: http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=190401

    I like to make soup on Sundays and then eat it for lunch all week. I love this Italian Wedding Soup:
    http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=109361

    Or, I buy a bag of the precut butternut squash from Trader Joes. Cook in the microwave per the instructions on the back of the bag and then make a soup with it. There is also a recipe on the back of the bag but it’s basically you puree the quash and then add 1 cup of hot fat free chicken broth. I also add about a 1/4 cup of fat free half and half to make it a little richer. Add salt & pepper and you have a very low point soup.

    This is also a fantastic corn bread recipe that is really easy to make and sooooo good:
    http://www.weightwatchers.com/food/rcp/index.aspx?recipeid=66571

    Have you checked out http://www.skinnytaste.com? These are my favorites of hers that I make all the time:

    Broccoli Cheese & Potato Soup
    http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/12/broccoli-cheese-and-potato-soup.html

    Santa Fe Chicken (omit the chicken broth as it’s too soupy then serve over rice or over a baked potato – be sure to stop with more chopped cilantro or green onions, ff sour cream and low fat shredded cheese)
    http://www.skinnytaste.com/2009/02/crock-pot-santa-fe-chicken-425-pts.html

    • YUMMY! Thank you! I love the idea of making soup over the weekend and then having it for lunch during the week — kind of eliminates my need for bread-y sandwiches all the time, huh? Italian wedding is my favorite, can’t wait to try that one.

      I haven’t been to skinnytaste.com — lots of great stuff on there! I am so making the Santa Fe Chicken during the week…the crock pot is the best invention ever made, I swear. ;-D

      Thanks again!

      Jen

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