How I lost 20 Pounds in 2011

That’s me “jumping for joy”. Why? I lost twenty pounds last year. Not only do I look better in my clothes I also feel more energetic, happy and confident. My hip measurement shrunk from 45 to 41 inches and my waist from 32 to 29. It was work, and at times it was difficult, but it wasn’t awful and I didn’t feel horribly deprived.

Here’s a photo of me wearing the same jeans last year. As you can see they’re tight and fit really well.  Now they’re so big on me that I’ve stopped wearing them.  They don’t look good anymore.

I’ve struggled with my weight most of my adult life.  As a child I was one of those stick creatures who could eat anything and everything with no physical ramifications. For years afterward I felt like I was still the same skinny kid, but that wasn’t the case.  Every year the scale crept up a few pounds. Occasionally I’d try a diet here or there.  It didn’t usually last.  I found them unsatisfying, difficult and boring.

In July of last year I realized that my weight was no longer in the healthy range.  I was physically tired and my clothing had become tight. Some things no longer fit at all. On a vacation to San Francisco my husband took a photo of me that literally made my jaw drop.  I was just horrified.  I had posed in the same dress for an outfit post that spring and had looked pretty darn slim, but that clearly was no longer the case.  The pounds were creeping on much more quickly than usual and something had to be done. If you’re curious, here’s the photo that shocked me into starting a weight loss program.

Because I was already exercising almost every day I decided that what I really needed was help making better food choices.  I have always had a fairly healthy diet, but I wondered if some small tweaks might make the changes I needed to get my body back to a healthy place.  Years before I had gone to Weight Watchers to help lose the weight I gained during my pregnancies. The program was successful that time, so I decided to give it another go. I’m so glad I did.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has been wonderful.  Although they give you good health guidelines to follow it’s not a set diet.  The plan is flexible, healthy, and satisfying.  Having followed the old “points” plan back in 2003 I have to say the new “Points Plus” version is a big improvement.  If you don’t know much about Weight Watchers here’s a quick overview that I pulled off their website:

“With Weight Watchers, every food has a PointsPlus value, which takes into account a food’s protein, carbs, fat, and fiber. Using advancements in nutritional science, Weight Watchers has developed a formula that wrap it all up into one easy-to-use number. You get a daily personalized PointsPlus Target, so you know how much to eat to lose weight safely while feeling satisfied. In addition to your daily PointsPlus target you also have another 49 weekly points to use how you like.”  
 

You’re encouraged to keep track of your points by writing down what you eat and how many points the food has.  You’re also encouraged to attend a meeting every week and weigh in.

Things I love About the Plan

  • Keeping track of what you eat is a key strategy at Weight Watchers.  The last time I followed the plan I had to write everything I ate in a little book. It was OK at first, but after a while I found it time-consuming and tedious. This time around I kept track of all my foods using an “app” on my phone. This little electronic tool made keeping a diary of what I ate easy, fast and simple.
  • Weight Watchers sells a line of really tasty, low point crackers, candy bars, candies, and snack bars. I have a big sweet tooth so the coconut bar candies were a life saver.
  • All fruit is zero points. At some point the people who create the Weight Watchers diet realized that eating fruit doesn’t make you gain weight.  I love fruit. Because I know it doesn’t count against my daily point goal I’ll reach for an apple or a banana when I’m hungry between meals.
  • Weight Watchers has a great website that includes articles, weight loss tips, really tasty recipes and all sorts of other great tools.  In fact, they refer to the website as their “e-tools”. If going to a weekly meeting is too difficult you can follow the plan through the website instead.
  • Once you become a lifetime member (i.e. you’ve gotten to your goal weight and kept it off for a few weeks.) your membership and e-tools become free. There are some limitations on this part.  You have to continue attending meetings and weighing in once a month.  You also have to stay within your goal range.  But if you can do these two things the program remains free.

My Weight Watchers Recommendations

  • Make sure you’re really ready to lose weight.  Although I found the program fairly easy to follow, there were many times that I was frustrated and bored with trying to change my eating habits.  The fact that I REALLY wanted to lose weight this time helped me through the difficult moments.
  • Go to a few meetings and find a leader who you really like.  The woman who runs the Saturday morning meetings near me is inspiring and funny.  She’s been part of Weight Watchers for years, but her outlook is realistic.  She still puts milk and sugar in her morning coffee.  I like that.
  • Weight Watchers has been in business for decades and over the years they’ve come up with a lot of different tools to help their members lose weight.  There are many strategies to try, so experiment with a few.  You never know what’s going to help you.
  • Keep going to meetings even if you didn’t have a “good” week. The support, general friendliness and other member’s successes really helped my enthusiasm even when I hit a “plateau” and didn’t lose any weight that week.

Whats Next?

I lost the weight but now I have to keep it off. In many this is the hardest part for me.  I continue to attend meetings, keep track of my food and weigh in once every week or so.  It’s kind of scary, especially as I give away clothing that no longer fit.  But I’m very excited that I’m wearing a size that I never thought I’d fit into again!

Coming soon on The Style Confessions: The suit that I wore in my 20’s comes out of the attic. It fits me again after 20 years.

Have you ever tried loosing weight?  What did you think of the experience. Have you tried Weight Watchers? Would you?

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31 Responses to How I lost 20 Pounds in 2011

  1. Alexis Grace February 20, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I love that you shared this story with us! Everyone I know who has really embraced weight watchers has loved it (it seems like a very logical system).

    Above all else, you look amazing and it sounds like you feel like it too!
    Alexis Grace recently posted..Vivienne Westwood Red Label F/W 2012 RTWMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

      Thanks Alexis! I do feel great, and that’s whats really important.

  2. anne aka SpyGirl
    Twitter:
    February 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    CONGRATULATIONS! I know it was hard, oh how I know!

    Weight Watchers worked really well for me too – back in 2004 when I was determined to get healthier. I lost 40 pounds with it. As often happens, the pounds have crept back on…
    I didn’t know about the Lifetime member deal (maybe because I was using the online system and they didn’t offer it?) which would have helped me maintain better.
    I’ve had a couple of retries (online) that haven’t worked.
    Thinking it might be time to try once again, and go to meetings this time around. There’s a chapter that meets within walking distance (= exercise). I’m in the fat jeans again and it bothers me.
    anne aka SpyGirl recently posted..Muted MondayMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

      It’s a great program that’s gotten even better. The last time I did weight watchers was in 2003. I liked it then but I like it more now. The new program is even better! The meetings are fun too. Very supportive.

  3. Lisa
    Twitter:
    February 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    Congratuations Heather!

    That is an amazing accomplishment!!! I am so glad you found something that works for you. I find that each year that passes, it’s more of a challenge to keep your optimal weight. I am having to step up my workout routine to see the same results I used to see with a lot less effort. It’s worth it though, when you find something that works for you, both with respect to health and fashion
    Lisa recently posted..The Joy of ToileMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

      It does get harder as we get older. On the other hand, I feel like I’m more capable of being dedicated to staying slim now than I was when I was younger. Maturity maybe?

  4. GRIT & GLAMOUR
    Twitter:
    February 21, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Congrats, lady, you look awesome!
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  5. Sylvia
    Twitter:
    February 21, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    Congratulations! That is a nice feeling and you look great. Sofar I’ve been lucky with my weight and it’s been stable throughout my life. I wrote about it a while ago about how I do it at: http://40plusstyle.com/10-healthy-habits-to-keep-the-weight-off/ However, I am not happy with my level of fitness, strength and flexibility, so that is my priority for now.
    Sylvia recently posted..Statement and colourful jewellery from JooixMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

      Europeans seem to have an easier time than Americans with staying slim. I think it has a lot to do with healthy eating habits. Strength training is so important as we get older. I plan on putting more of that into my life if ever I have time!

  6. Allison February 21, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Congratulations on your weight loss! I’ve known quite a few people who have found success with Weight Watchers. They’ve credited the education (re: portion control, etc.) and accountability of a weekly weigh-in as keys to the process.
    As someone who has had weight and body-image issues since childhood, I finally had to look past “dieting” to lose weight. My obesity wasn’t simply the result of poor food choices but emotional trauma that needed to be dealt with. Thankfully, after working with an amazing wellness coach and being brave enough to face the issues at hand, I’ve lost nearly 60 pounds over the past year! Conquering those demons made it easier to eat in a healthy way and incorporate exercise into my life. I try to avoid processed foods, definitely steer clear of artificial sweeteners, etc. Otherwise, I just eat real food in reasonable portions and move my body.
    I’m not to my goal weight yet, but I’ll get there! And along the way, I’m getting style inspiration from your fabulous blog! It’s one of my favorites!!

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

      Thank you Allison! I’m so glad you like my blog and find it inspirational. I’m happy that you’re working on being in a better place physically and emotionally. Keep up the good work!

  7. Sharon February 21, 2012 at 10:55 am #

    Congrats on the weight lost. I have recently began exercising and changing my diet more so because of my age then wanting to lose weight. But my midsection could stand to lose the tube. My concentration is on strength and stability which has made me fall in love with Yoga.
    Sharon recently posted..New York Fashion Week Fall 2012 Review in ShoesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      I like yoga too. I could use to firm up as well, but right now I only have time for daily, or near daily, walks and the occasional hike. Yoga is great though! Good for you.

  8. Stacey - Total City Girl
    Twitter:
    February 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Great for you Heather! That’s amazing! I would be happy if I could lose 10 pounds. At every stage of my life I always felt like I could lose weight but when I look back at my wedding pics from almost 12 years ago, I can’t believe how thin I looked and I actually felt bigger at the time. I must have been crazy! Now I really am heavier. I gained about a pound a year since then which doesn’t sound like much but it’s 12 pounds! I never liked to exercise but have forced myself to start going to the gym. I also have to be more conscious of what I eat. I am not a snacker but tend to nibble at night because I stay up so late. I wish potato chips were diet food! :)
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Tips On How To Use Dollar Store Doilies – Valentine EditionMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

      The weight crept up on me slowly too. It got really bad this summer because I’d been working so much that I didn’t have time to exercise as much. It’s amazing to be back in clothes I wore around the time I got married. Amazingly I felt like i was heavy then too!

  9. Jeannie
    Twitter:
    February 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Way to go Heather! I did not know you had a weight issue…
    Keep up the good work cuz you look fantastic!!
    Jeannie recently posted..My style icon…My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      Thanks Jeannie! It’s been a very slow weight gain issue. I really do love to eat and cook too, which makes it harder to be slim, but I feel like I’m now following a plan that I can manage.

  10. Wendy L. Conger February 23, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    You’re really a very good example for those who are having a hard time losing weight. Such an encouragement. Great job!
    Wendy L. Conger recently posted..Translate PDF filesMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

      Thank you Wendy! Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment too.

  11. A Brit Greek
    Twitter:
    February 23, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Congratulations Heather, this is truly inspirational and amazing! You’ve always looked great to us, but I know making a personal achievement means so much more and you’ve never looked better. Over the past few months, i’ve noticed that you quite literally shine/glow!

    x.o.x.o
    A Brit Greek recently posted..Blog Oscars: Will the Real A Brit Greek Please Stand UpMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 23, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

      Oh thank you! I have been feeling a lot healthier. Glad to know it shows.

  12. SACRAMENTO February 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I am so glad for you, I could do with loosing weight, but at the momment I am having another op with a left knee meniscus.
    You really look wonderful.
    Your blog doesn´t update in my blogroll.
    Could you shout when you post on facebook or twitter???
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Posting Frequency & Bugs Around My NeckMy Profile

  13. mary jo
    Twitter:
    February 24, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I was really interested in your post Heather, and you look so good lately–congrats on sticking with it! Since moving to the suburbs, I’ve gained 8 pounds that I can’t seem to lose or if I do, it bounces back. I have never considered going because I was told that my goal weight was unhealthy–haha fashion weight is not medically condoned, but I would like to find something that worked especially since bathing suit season is just around the corner!
    mary jo recently posted..eye on style: daniela belmondoMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      They don’t seem to be all that picky anymore so you might want to try it again. There’s a lot of research these days that shows that being a little bit thin is actually healthier than being at a healthy weight. Weird, but I’ve read it a few times. Of course we could just do a lot of yoga, but who has the time?

  14. Sarah Reece February 25, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Wow, that’s so wonderful. Congratulations for hitting the target so well. You look great and healthy.

    I’ve been trying to loose some extra pounds lately, but haven’t really been able to stick with my exercise regime well. My biggest problem is too much of fat around abdomen area, and its so hard to get rid off. I have not tried weight watchers so far, but it seems like a good idea after reading your post. I was also contemplating joining some Yoga classes.

    Hope I continue getting some inspiration from you, and inch closer to shedding these unwanted layers of fat around me, and all this sooner. Yes I will :)
    Sarah Reece recently posted..BluehostMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca February 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

      Hi Sarah and welcome to my blog. I’m glad you like it! I had great luck with weight watchers and I really encourage trying it out if it’s convenient for you. It’s very difficult to get fat to move from specific spots though. I’ve actually shrunk pretty proportionately all over. For exercise I just walk because it’s easy and free.

  15. Amber Lena
    Twitter:
    February 29, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    Good job on the weight loss (although I think you look beautiful in the S.F. photo, but then again, I think women are supposed to have curves!) I lost 35 pounds after having my twins on the old Points system, and now I’m trying to lose more, but it has taken me quite awhile to get used to the new PointsPlus. I started back in July, then gave up because the weight loss was too slow, then started up again in January and so far I’m down 15 pounds. I don’t go to meetings, I just use my app on my phone and that seems to work great. There are also a few good website (skinnytaste.com is awesome) that help keep me motivated.
    Amber Lena recently posted..Dinner for SchmucksMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca March 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

      I love the app on my phone, but I like going to meetings too. I’m amazed at the things I learn in there. I think it keeps me motivated to continue. Even with the app I don’t love tracking all my food but I’m afraid if I stop the weight will come back. I’ve been having my favorite clothes taken in which really terrifies me too. It’s hard though because if I don’t take them in they don’t fit and I can’t wear them. Sigh.

  16. THE-LOUDMOUTH
    Twitter:
    April 21, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I don’t know if I ever told you, but I remember Kimberly and I leaving Alexis’s holiday party and saying to each other, “Wow, Heather looks amazing!” We could definitely see a difference. I’m proud of you!
    THE-LOUDMOUTH recently posted..List :: 25 before 26My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca April 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Thanks so much Stephanie! I’ve actually lost a little more weight since then and now I’m working on staying at this weight. So far so good!

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