Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Smart Points - First impressions

This was the intro screen on my app on my first day of smartpoints

I love that weightwatchers seem to be taking a holistic approach to their system. Weightwatchers does work, but in my experience this success is only long term if in conjunction with exercise and allocating yourself time for general well-being.

First things first, after my initial assessment online I was awarded 31 daily points and 42 weekly points. I am very glad to see the new system encourages you to have a daily fitpoint target however I think mine is quite low as I have a weekly target of 20 when after one day I managed to earn 14!

I am going to see after a week or two what exactly is my average and set my target manually following that. I have obviously smashed that goal by 2 days so want something realistic.
I do have a fitbit, and my target on that is 10,000 steps a day, which on some days is ridiculously hard to do. Naturally I managed somewhere between 5 and 6k a day, I have to go for walks / runs to hit my 10k, but most days I manage it. I adore how the fitbit is synced into the new app, it looks much better than how the old app did. This time it actually imports numbers! So I know if there is a time lag between the two. Brilliant, well done Weightwatchers!

As I already said I get 31 daily SmartPoints and 42 Weekly points, this is pretty much the same as I get on propoints. I was on 32 daily ProPoints and I could only ever eat so many weeklies (as I have lamented about before, very jealous of those who could eat all points and manage a loss). It makes sense to me that the weekly points have been tailored to the individual. A blanket 49 was never going to work for everyone.

Calculating Smartpoints:
Here is a screenshot of the calculator on my app.

Okay, so now we factor in calories and saturated fat, I never did quite understand why we stopped doing that when we moved to ProPoints so I suppose I think this is a turn for the good. I loved the old discover plan, it is after all how I managed to shift the bulk of my weight. I like that this looks like it takes the best of discover and the best of ProPoints.
I sometimes thought propoints would penalise healthy fats, so this change is addressing and fixing this.

Mobile site / Android App:
I love my technology, and it has saddened me that for everything Weightwatchers has done in the past, they only focused on the iphone leaving Android and other platforms as an afterthought. But now they have finally got a mobile site! Yay! Brilliant for when I need to delete the app temporarily to have more space on my phone, and great for those who aren't on the Android or Apple operating systems! I have tracked a little on it and it has been seamless, much faster than the android app.
Which I am also overjoyed to have released at the same time as the Apple one! And it works! and it seems to have been designed with android in mind as opposed to being a dumbed down version of apple's. I am very impressed!
It does seem a little buggy, but first releases on new apps are always like that and to be fair, it's been much worse in the past.

Weightwatchers Connect:
This is brilliant, it is essentially an internal Weightwatchers social media platform. It's available on the app (not on mobile or on the main site when I last checked) and is just a place to post updates, photos, and members of the community can 'heart' it or comment, it's quite similar to Instagram (which I love too). I just hope it's actually used!

One bad point is that the landing screens is just 'trending posts', which haven't changed in the first few days, probably because people don't know how to search and so only heart or comment on the trending posts therefore making them stay there. I'd like a search feature to search tags and discover some people. I presume / hope that will be happening shortly.

Practically / Day to Day eating:
I suppose really I need to have my first weigh in to be able to give an overall thought on it, but I want my first weigh in to be a different post.

Food wise, I suppose the biggest change I see is in all my treats, which always turn into snacks to me.

  • My 3 ProPoint Curly Wurly is now 6 SmartPoints. (26g)
  • A Weightwatchers summer fruit yogurt has went up to 2 SmartPoints.
  • A Wispa bar is now 11 SmartPoints (39g)
  • A Bounty Bar 14 SmartPoints (57g). 
  • My bottle of dry white wine is now 20 SmartPoints (which is probably the best value treat). 
  • Quavers are 3 SmartPoints (17g).
Some of my daily foods have changed too, I have mentioned the yogurts above;
  • Skimmed Milk has went to 2 SmartPoints (142ml) I only use milk in cereal so with my cereal of choice as shredded wheat - now 5 SmartPoints for two.
  • 200g raw potato is 5 SmartPoints.
I like to cook with real oil as opposed to the bottled spray, just by personal preference. I use my actifry or would measure out by half teaspoons and use a pastry brush to coat either pan or food. I also bake using both spread and real butter so these are of interest to me;
  • Rapeseed oil (I use for most cooking) 2 SmartPoints for 5ml (4 SmartPoints for 10ml, 6 for 15ml)
  • Olive Oil (I use when not using rapeseed oil) 2 SmartPoints for 5ml (3 SmartPoints for 10ml, 5 SmartPoints for 15ml)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (mostly in dressings, I rarely cook with extra virgin as it has a low smoke temperature and can burn so easily) 1 SmartPoint for 5ml (2 SmartPoints for 10ml, 3 SmartPoints for 15ml)
  • Sunflower oil (rarely used but the odd time) 2 SmartPoints for 5ml (3 SmartPoints for 10ml, 5 SmartPointsfor 15ml)
  • Butter (the real stuff) 2 SmartPoints for 5ml (3 SmartPoints for 10ml, 5 SmartPoints for 15ml)
  • Spread (I use LowLow Butter or Golden Cow, low low is what I have at the moment) 1 SmartPoint for 5ml (1 SmartPoint for 10ml, 2 SmartPoints for 15ml)

It's not all gains of course

  • Chicken is now 2 SmartPoints for 120g breast
  • 5 bacon medallions are only 2 SmartPoints
  • Lean Mince is 3 SmartPoints for 125g
  • Quorn Mince is 2 SmartPoints for 100g
  • Quorn Chicken style pieces are 2 SmartPoints for 100g
  • 100g (frozen) tuna steak is 2 SmartPoints
  • Frozen cod and haddock is on 1 SmartPoint! (I foresee a lot of fish curry in my future)

Those that are staying the same:

  • An egg is still 2 SmartPoints
  • 35g slice of bread (not calories controlled) is still 2 SmartPoints too
  • Wholewheat CousCous (30g dry) is still 3 SmartPoints (40g is 4 SmartPoints, 50g is 5 SmartPoints)
  • Wholewheat pasta (40g dry) is still 4 SmartPoints50g is 5 SmartPoints, 60g is 6 SmartPoints and 70g is 7 SmartPoints)
  • and of course most fruit and vegetables are still 0, so it isn't all change either.

I think I am going to make up a quick list of branded foods and have them on one of the tabs for ease / reference.

Other thoughts / General Reception:
I have noticed online there seem to be a lot of people not happy with the new plan, annoyed that they have so many magazines and books on the old system. I get that people are resistant to change. I was with propoints, but we get used to it. The way I look at it is that recipes are recipes. With my old pointed books, when propoints came in, I just pro-pointed the recipe when I came to use it and wrote it my the title, I'll just do the same again, same as when I get a recipe from BBC good food or from a friend on some dieting group. And how in my baking notepad I just point my own recipes, so I know just how much exercise I need to do for a slice of my snickers cake.

The redesign of the website I love too, there are distinct sections for food, fitness and well-being and I love having a browse through this, I really hope is gets updated regularly!

When going through the online material I cam across this;
Here’s the secret to success: Be kind to yourself. Perfection is over-rated.
It's so true! and not enough Weightwatchers I come across are kind to themselves. There's way more to you than just a scale and I love that Weightwatchers are embracing this.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Cancelling my weightwatchers magazine subscription

I wrote this post back in September, forgot to schedule it. Oops.

I have subscribed to the Weightwatchers magazine for years (nearly 6), every month I receive it by post and for a very long time I just kept renewing despite thinking pretty much every month while flicking through it, "why on earth am I buying this?"

(I have written about this before The weightwatchers magazine and me.)

To be honest I think it was habit. When I first started this journey I bought it each month and I read it religiously. The highlights of course being the recipes. Now I know that I could just google recipes or navigate though the Weightwatchers website, but there was always something nice about being able to have a magazine handed to you with bound copies and someone giving you suggestions. I liked it. I may not have cooked with them all, but they gave me inspiration to maybe mix up flavours, proteins and carbs as I do fall into ruts every now and then.

The format of the magazine changed a while ago too, so I suppose I wanted to make sure I gave it a good  chance before finally cancelling it.

But although the format has changed, I don't think the content has improved enough to warrant a continuation of my subscription. For pretty much the reason I mentioned before. Success Stories. There is too many, taking up too much page space that could be used for recipes, talking about in season produce and giving ideas on how to prepare, or, what the magazine really lacks. Fitness information.

Now I know Weightwatchers is a food plan, and they do talk in the magazine about health and fitness concerns, but in the long run. I could do with more advice on that side, and maybe a section just on tips to stay at goal, rather than see another girl who has managed to lose one stone (not taking away from her success, well done, I know myself how hard it can be to lose 1lb let alone any more). I just don't find that motivating at all. Whereas a few pages, split over beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise levels would be great. Guidance on what to do at the gym would be good, take away fear of weights, dispelling myths, reviewing classes / DVDs etc.

Before I was skimming over the success stories, now, I just flick straight on past. It was when I caught myself doing this I decided it has to stop. It is a waste of money and trees.

So I am giving it a break. I have not renewed my membership and I have decided that going forward. Should I feel the desire for the Weightwatchers magazine, I am just going to buy one in the shops. But only if the cover pulls me in and when it is something like this;

Lets face it, I will probably buy it. But then in 6 years of magazines they have only made a recipe the cover star three times.

I do want to find a good magazine though. I would ideally like to find one that focuses on good food and exercise but when I walked into the shops to work out which one to pick up next, I was overwhelmed by choice.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated?

PS. I still really like the US version of the magazine when I can get my hands on it.

Edit: Dec 2015.
And now with the introduction of smart points and a more rounded approach to weight loss I am hoping that the magazine will improve its content a little. I will probably buy the new year copy to see what things are

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Weightwatchers we meet again!

Okay, so I have neglected the blog since Italy, but I have still been on plan and I have plateaued again.

It's been mostly 1lb on, then 2 weeks to get it off, the 1 lb lost then half a lb on. It has been frustrating as hell. Something needs to be done.

So I had been talking to my bestie (who did weightwatchers with me all those years ago on the old discover program) and we decided enough was enough. Back to a meeting we go.

And last week we did just that. We returned to meetings. My weigh-in day is now a Wednesday, I have a good 2 stone (about 30lbs actually) to lose and no big target to hit it by, as long as I get there. Gavin and I got engaged in Italy in September just there and though we have pretty much set a date, my only goal is to be a bit more comfortable with myself by then, no dress size or weight targets set. I just want to be a bit healthier.

Just because I have not updated in a while, here are some holiday photos I put up on instagram at the time.

The leader I had originally was amazing, sadly I found out she has retired from being a leader so I obviously can not go to her meetings. The new leader is different, and the class hilarious. 

I got placed on the SimpleStart plan which I was able to stick to for 4 days, I had a trip to see family which gave me next to no control over prep but what I did have was quite nice.

 All meals were cooked from scratch and even on days with next to no time / laziness in the evening we still managed some good choices.

I couldn't bare to use my precious daily treat on jam for my crumpets so (roughly following a recipe in the simple start book) I reduced down some berries with the zest and juice of an orange to get the simple start breakfast you can see below.

When away my decisions weren't as great, I had chowder with wheaten bread and butter;

Along with quite a few takeaways. I was quite active on the fitbit so I think that served as damage control. As Gavin graduated on Wednesday I couldn't go back to class for the second weigh in, but that didn't stop me this week, I went to a different class on the Tuesday to get told 1 lb on.

Originally I was gutted about this, despite the weekend trip I stuck to the plan perfectly and did exercise, but now I don't mind. It could have been a bigger gain or it could have been an excuse to not get back to plan once home and I have been great.

I know from past experience that simple start and I just don't work together - although oddly I do see some success with filling and healthy. Either way, I want to go back to pointing and was given a nice new folder and some propoints information. No way to calculate them, but a book that covers non-branded foods.

The new smartpoints plan has came out in the UK, Australia and USA however it has not been released or even whispered about in the Irish meetings, I have asked about it, to be told we won't be getting it in meetings for a while. Disappointing. Not given any time scales either.

Of course being an online member - I have full access to it, and I think I am going to switch to it, there's no point in waiting for the meeting to catch up, and I use the online tracker naturally so it will do a lot of the work for me.

Quite excited for the new plan! First impressions post will be up soon!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Virtual Race - 2nd International Mermaid Day

I will write a post on what virtual races I do and what I love about each but seeing as International Mermaid day was Sunday 6th September I figured I will start with this one.

I have in the past done quite a few virtual races, but last year I noticed a number of people on social media take part in International Mermaid Day, it looked a really fun race and there was a virtual option. I was gutted that I found out about it too late and I could not participate.

Not the case this year!

This year as soon as I could I signed up for the virtual race and a few days before the race I got a wrecked envelope in the post - I wish I took a photo of it, seriously it was already  opened and crumpled beyond belief, I am thankful my medal is shipped after the race because there is no way it would have survived.

What I love about this race is that they ship a physical bib. This was new to me. Pretty much all the races I have participated in have provided a virtual bib which I could print if I wished but I never do as I have no printer.

So this was special. I mean look how cute it is!

What else I like about this virtual event is that I could choose what I wanted to do, I was not forced into a 5 or 10K, I could have picked anything I wanted.
So I did!

Ideally, I wanted to swim a mile, but the pool I go to wasn't available. So I decided instead to run one mile as fast as I could, hoping to manage a 10 minute mile, that was not meant to be. I managed it in 11 minutes, 11 seconds but it felt great. Really, really fun,I am not sure if that is because I knew it would be so short I enjoyed it more? But I loved it.

I also walked 3 miles by the water (where else would be appropriate?) and finally did one hour of yoga practice at home.
I could have went to a class, but then I would be following someone else's lead and I was about making my own waves that day.

This is my yoga space at home, I might dedicate a post on why I love it so much but for now you get a photo.

I started in easy cross, centering myself and rooting myself to the earth, I try start every practice this way as although I am quite flexible and can move into the vast majority of poses, I recognise the breath is the most important aspect of yoga for me and if I don't focus on it, I tend to lose it during the practice and I might as well do Pilates or normal stretching in that case.

From there I did neck circles.
Then moving onto some stretching for the thoracic spine
Lions's breath, for absolute fun and getting onto knees.
Cat pose.
Garland pose
A few rounds of sun salutations before moving into warrier 1, archer and then goddess pose.
Down to Garland again and then into crow.
I have exceptionally tight calves and hamstrings so even though I don't like it, I try to put a little into each practice to loosen them out. Sitting on a block I moved to 'stirring the pot'  (not entirely sure what the correct name for this is, it's just good to loosen out my legs).
Mermaid pose (of course!)
Lay on my back and rolled out my lower spine and moved into a shoulder stand and countered with bridge before moving into cobblers pose, rooting down again and having a few moments of thanks.

I have to say, I loved participating in International Mermaid Day, and I cannot wait to be part of the next one!

Edit: It is now 10 December and I never actually received my medal for this race. Quite disappointing, I am blaming royal mail, I believe they actually dispatched 3 t(three different occasions of course) to me and not one managed to make it. :-(

Sunday, 13 September 2015

8th September Weigh in

Last week I wrote how my aims were;
  1. Beat last week's step total, which shouldn't be too hard a stretch for me.
  1. Stay within points. 
  1. Track track track! It can be easy to forget to track, especially when on filling and health, but I need this to stay accountable, and I still need some type of portion control.
So, how did I get on;

1. I did beat last week's total of 64,346 steps

to be fair I smashed it, and was very pleased with it! Not bad considering I am behind my desk for 8.5 hours of the day.

2 & 3. I have been trying out the weight watchers filling and healthy plan, as I said last week to try and get myself back to eating good and filling food and this week was the first week ever I have managed to complete a full week of it. Normally when I try filling and healthy it gets to the point where I do not track everything I am eating. I am not sure why, but it happens. I do use the app, and have no excuses other than laziness.

Filling and Healthy was great to do, even if it did involve a lot more prep and organisation and heart ache at the idea of coming home at 9pm to chop up spuds (Tuesday). And 11pm trips to Tesco for appropriate foods for lunch the next day (Thursday night). I enjoyed all the meals and I like the liberation over not needing to point everything. I did still weigh things out though.
I did stay within the points I had at my disposal, both weekly and activity points and I actually had two to spare which was quite a shock for me.

What did I use so many points on? It's actually a bit funny, during the week it was condiments, salad cream to go on my salads, ketchup with some dinners. Olives and cheese to keep ticking until dinner. The odd (and I mean odd) curly wurly for an evening treat. I have to say though I only had two bars over the week and that is normally my treat of choice. I just didn't actually fancy treats. Could I have actually been satisfied with all I was eating?!

During the weekend I had the real challenge. No routine and I am screwed, boredom and I am screwed. But that weekend I kept it together due to having a well stocked kitchen and having planned my days out. Also the fact I actually had an active Saturday and Sunday helped.

I did have a take away and 2 bottles of Prosecco, so there you have the absolute vast majority of my available points. And because I tracked, I managed a loss. A big loss.


I was surprised it was as much as this to be honest.

I wish I could say got next week I expect the same - I really do not.
My activity has been very low this week, only a handful of walks and yoga everyday (yoga really doesn't count towards much for me weight-loss wise, but weight loss is not the reason I practice).

I have been very busy and lazy in equal measurements and organising and food prep has not been at the top of my to do list. I did want to make sure I got an update in here though to keep me accountable. And I will be back on Tuesday to tell you the damage and to draw a line under it and move on.

If I was able to manage it in that week past, I will be able to do it again.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

1st September weigh in

I have a holiday coming up soon and I know I will have a gain with my time. So I really want to focus over the next few weeks to try and serve some damage limitations.

This week just past I was on plan all week, come the weekend... not so much.

However I still managed a loss! Despite going out for lunch with my mummy and sister on the bank holiday

and having this...

I managed to lose 1.5lbs!

Quite surprising! 

My weigh in is still a Tuesday and what has worked out well is that I normally get my weekly fitbit stats email on a Tuesday too. This is a screenshot of how I did;

It was not the best week for me, but then it was not the worst either. A great result considering I was not fully on plan for the week!

I have been doing random days of filling and healthy recently as opposed to pointing. Now don't get me wrong, I still love pointing, and the propoints plan, but for this week coming I think I am going to do filling and healthy all week. Including the weekend. Sometimes pointing can be tiresome and I think I could do with boiling down to focusing on food that is filling and healthy for me,

My plans for this week are to;

  1. Beat last week's step total, which shouldn't be too hard a stretch for me.
  2. Stay within points. 
  3. Track track track! It can be easy to forget to track, especially when on filling and health, but I need this to stay accountable, and I still need some type of portion control.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Catching up, what I've been doing activity wise.

It has been about a year from I last wrote here. Partly because my laptop is a pain to boot up and partly because it's frustrating to try blog on a mobile or tablet.

But I have been wanting to write again, so here I am.

I am still on weightwatchers. As I have stated in previous posts I rejoined weightwatchers online in January 2014. I have since lost 2 stone and pretty much plateaued since this time last year.

However I am much healthier than this time last year. At least activity wise.

Last November I bought myself a fitbit. And I have to say it is one of the best devices I have ever bought (I am going to dedicate an entire post to this). For me it has been brilliant and it has left my other pedometer in the dust.

I have always been a walker. However in recent months I find myself walking a lot just to turn off my head or catch up with friends whereas before I would have just walked to get somewhere. The fabulous fitbit tracks my activity for this.

Picture taken on one of my lunch times walks
As always with me I am a stop and start runner. Earlier this year I ran the first leg of the Belfast Marathon in memory of my best friend's gorgeous wee nephew. The training I did for this ignited back the love for running I had years ago.

These were the pictures I popped on instagram at the time.

I was super pleased with my pace the entire way through the marathon as this was the first time I have ever managed to regulate my running. I ran or jogged the entire route, I did not stop once and I did not walk at all.

Since then I have managed for the most part to do the same in most of my runs, so in a way the marathon run was a major break through for me.

The race for life was my fastest 5k since my rejoin, I managed it in 29 minutes and 3 seconds, possibly less when you think about how long it can take to get through the cattle market that is the starting line.

As per tradition, I did it with my sister and best friend and we had a delicious meal afterwards to refuel in slims healthy kitchen. That peanut butter frozen yogurt is absolutely amazing.

However since the marathon and the race for life, I seem to have just stopped again (why do I do this to myself?).

I even knew that was going to happen so I signed up to a virtual race (probably another post about these, I do these quite often) hosted by justrunning, called 100 Miles of Summer. And it is pretty much what it says it is, over the summer I committed to walking / jogging and running 100 miles. And I did. But a fair bit was walking when I hoped it would be 100% running.

I completed the challenge on 10 August 2015 and although it did not manage to keep my fitness levels where they were earlier in the year I am glad I stuck with it and earned the medal. I dread to think of the weight I could have put on without it.

Finally, and probably the biggest thing, has been yoga. I have always practiced yoga, but not as often as I should do. I have always found it remarkably calming and it just feels good for me.

About this time last year I decided I wanted to go to a proper class. I went to about a dozen different classes to find a teacher that suits me and what I want from my practice and have been very lucky to come across two teachers, both very different, but it is their contrasts that makes me love yoga more.

I now go to at least two 1.5 hour classes weekly (normally three) in addition to my own practice at home, compiled by youtube videos, books, what I have practiced in a class, or just what I feel like practicing. I love yoga, it is very hard to put into words everything I get out of it (again, maybe a different post?) but I practice everyday, anything from 5 minutes to 2 hours. It is more than just physical health, it is emotional too. As I suppose most of my activity is.

And I think this time round, I am appreciating activity for the benefits it gives me other than weight or inch loss.