Wednesday, February 10, 2010


P’UP is turning into a family affair. My oldest daughter decided she was willing to try one aspect of the project: Improving eating habits and exercising. After making so many changes on my own in the previous two years, I decided that perhaps we needed something more organized to help us get going together. So we decided to try Weight Watchers, and to see if the program can live up to his promise to help you, “stop dieting” and to “start living.”

We were dead before, you see.

We’re nearing the end our second week on the Weight Watchers program, and that alone is an accomplishment. This week, we’ve focused on two goals: 1) Incorporating more fiber-dense and nutritious foods into our menus (instead of buying all that empty brand-name “diet” fodder); and 2) Working out together.

Weight Watchers’ online tools and recipe converter have made it far easier (and dare I say, far more fun) to get a handle on both our nutritional needs and emotional outlook on the changes we’re trying to make. Having a weekly meeting on our calendar helps us to divide our goals into tidy increments that seem doable: A person can put up with anything for a week, right?

What we’ve accomplished: 1) Adding bulgur wheat dishes like Tebouleh to our culinary arsenal. Not only is it inexpensive, it’s packed with nutrients and whole-grain happiness. It’s low cost in the caloric sense, satisfying, and perfect when stuffed into a whole-wheat pita with a little hummus and mixed greens (recipe will be posted soon); and 2) We’ve made it to the gym together, an addition to my already busy recovery workout schedule.

The emphasis, at our house anyway, isn’t on the numbers. Our goals are relatively small, and reachable – always important for people trying to make big changes in their familial culinary traditions. Weight Watchers promotes this type of goal setting, dividing rewards (stickers, key chains, reasons for people in the meetings to clap for you) into five-pound increments. So no matter how much you have to lose in total, it’s only important to focus on five at a time.

Our goals, however, revolve around nutritional exploration and exercise. As a general rule, I don’t recommend weight loss programs. That being said, a program like Weight Watchers that requires clients to eat real food instead of pre-packaged mystery meals shipped to one’s house, is a smart way to go. For us, it has become something we can do together as a family with everyone invested for their own individual reasons.

This, I think, is really important. In any family unit, when one person goes such changes alone, it can be very hard on everybody. We’re keeping each other motivated and accountable to goals, working together on recipes, and walking together. This is the first time my kids have been willing to join in on the fun of change, so I’m excited.

Sundays have become our official planning day. We head to the Weight Watchers meeting in the late afternoon, go to the grocery store to stock up on perishables, like vegetables and fruits (no canned crap for us!), then spend the early evening cooking. What we’ve learned: With busy lifestyles, it’s really helpful to cook and freeze meals in one shot, package some meals such as soups and our beloved Tebouleh in single-serving containers, and cut up fresh vegetables in advance.

Though it seems like a lot of work, it’s not. Taking a couple of hours to plan and prepare the week’s meals (or as much of those meals as possible) has made day-to-day operations much easier. Each night before bed, I pack my lunch with fully planned healthy fare instead of doing what I used to do: Grabbing whatever’s handy and heading out the door. It’s been two weeks since I’ve eaten yogurt and pizza (not the best combination), or any restaurant food.

As a result, I’m saving money. I’m no longer tempted, either, to eat things that aren’t as healthy just because they’re handy (like a Wendy’s Baconator). As a general rule, I am more relaxed and introspective on Sundays, always have been, so it feels good to do something that will help relieve my weekday stress. My fifteen-hour days are no longer an excuse to do anything less than I deserve. That alone, feels like relief.

In terms of P’UP and my recovery, losing weight will make climbing and recovery easier. My immediate goal is to lose five percent of my starting body weight and to be able to walk/run 15 miles each week in the gym. Last week, I managed a total of 8 miles, so I am halfway there. The physical therapy exercises with the rubber band are helping to increase calf and ankle strength. The exercise I hate – motioning with the big toe the letters of the alphabet in big, sweeping strokes – still sucks. Though mobility is returning to the ankle and ligaments, the pain after the workout is enough to set my teeth on edge.

However, I’ve made progress and may be at the climbing wall this weekend to give it a shot. I’m not expecting to complete a route – I’m most worried about the first few moves. We’ll see. I’ll never know what I can do until I try – and I’m thinking that I’ll be ready to learn my limitations by Sunday.

I was tempted to keep our work with Weight Watchers secret for fear someone would post something about how we didn’t need to, that we could do this work on our own. I’m sure that we could – we’re tough birds – but it feels good to have an “official” outside space in which to experience this change. And it helps to meet and support others who are trying to do what you’re doing: Live.

Because this isn’t a numbers game, I won’t be posting losses in terms of pounds. When I reach that first goal, I’ll let you know. Thanks for your support.


  1. Post progress on the program by "Gun Size." My guns are now 7, by the way.

    I'm glad that you're looking for nutritious rich foods. Something I've taken for granted is just how important eating healthy as a kid has been for developing good habits now that I'm super old balls. Having a healthy lifestyles professor as a father made all the tough food lessons second nature. For instance, he taught me to read a label when I'm deciding what to get at the grocery store. For example, next time you're in the cereal isle, check out the labels and ingredient lists on Cheerios vs. Multi-grain Cheerios. You might be surprised.

    I wish you the best of luck and I know you have the mettle to stick with it and succeed. Like you always say, it's a process. I'm looking forward to hearing how the return to the climbing wall goes.

  2. Ahem, we don't eat boxed cold cereals. It' s oatmeal, man, all the way. Thanks for your support! I can' wait to get to the wall again.


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