At 30 pounds down, here’s a categorized list of tips & tricks that have helped me & made me successful on the WW Freestyle Program
These last few weeks I’ve had so many of you reach out to me about WW, which I LOVE. You guys have had great questions, asking how it works, looking for resources, food hacks, inspiration. I figured this is the perfect place to do a brain dump of some of the things that have helped me in a big way with my WW Journey.
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One of the best things for me has been putting it right out there in the open that I’m giving this a shot. So many times, I would have a goal, but I would be so afraid of failure that I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because I didn’t want to be embarrassed if/when it didn’t work out.
Y’all. Do you know how SAD that is?!
I’ll be the first person to tell you that change is scary and sharing something that is a process with other people is a gamble. You risk embarrassment; you risk failure. But guess what? What if it works out? Do you know how good it feels to have so many people rooting for the same thing you’re working so hard towards? Friends, it’s so freakin’ good! And you know what is an amazing byproduct of sharing your journey/goal/dream? When the motivation runs out (because, let’s be honest, it always does), you have people in your corner to help you remember your why and to help you keep going even when you don’t feel like it.
Find an Accountabili-buddy!
When I signed up for WW, I had two real-life girlfriends doing it. Having them talk about it with me, just in regular conversation, sparked my interest and they were great sounding boards for questions as I got over my initial hesitation to start an actual weight-loss journey. Once I joined WW, I still came to them with questions (“Do I have to track zero-point foods?” or “How can a salad from Panera be 18 points?!”) and lamenting about what to make for dinner (“what’s for dinner so I can copy you?”). They’re also the first ones I tell about NSV (non-scale victories) and send photos of my barely clothed body asking if a new swimsuit looks gross or if these pants that I can finally button are safe to wear out in public. They’re the ones who build me up when I beat the shit out of myself for blowing my daily points on Mexican food some random Saturday afternoon and remind me to “track that shit and move on” because it’s okay to live my life and find a balance.
Whether you do WW or a diet or start taking a class at a gym or start a new workout regimen, you need a support system. Heck, for just about anything in life, you need a support system. It is extra helpful if you can find someone who is in the same boat you are.
Get on Instagram
Using Instagram has been an awesome accountability tool for me. I love posting pictures of my food and talking about recipes I’m making or trying, and it’s helpful to see point values associated with that. I also love posting, and seeing posts from other people, about weigh-ins, progress, and just the general encouragement that happens within the community on Instagram. I had been hesitant to share stuff like that “publicly” because of that fear-factor, but once I let that go, that’s when I really felt strongly committed to my goal and it was so freeing to just get it out there. From my experience, vulnerability brings people in rather than pushes them away.
Even if you don’t feel “safe” enough to do it on your personal IG profile or linking it to yourself quite yet, that is 100% okay! I can’t tell you how many people have created an “accountability” Instagram account strictly for this purpose. Create a separate profile! Don’t invite people in your real life to follow it unless you want to! You’re not ready to let your mom know you’re doing WW? You’re not that comfortable with the mean girls from high school or college or your workplace who lurk in your followers to see you slaying your goal? You’re just not excited about having everyone in your real-life talk to you about it and see you working towards this? THAT’S 100% OKAY! I guess my big takeaway is that the sense of community I’ve gotten from IG is something that I will always recommend, especially to those newbies to WW because the encouragement and inspiration is out there, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on it.
Actually Use the WW App
My mind is just blown when I hear (or read) people say that they haven’t been tracking. Tracking, and being a stickler about tracking, is the single most important habit I have developed that has made me successful in this journey.
When I first started, it seemed so daunting and I actually had some weird anxiety and guilt about it. Before starting WW, I had heard of doing a food journal or a food diary and writing own everything you eat, and I had been super turned off about that. It boiled down to two major reasons:
- It seemed tedious to write everything down.
- I didn’t want to be accountable for all the bad shit I was eating.
The best thing about the WW App is that it’s on my phone so I don’t have to carry anything extra around or worry about handwriting anything. It takes two seconds to go in and track something because of the predictive text and the extensive database of foods already entered in. You can save recipes and frequent meals. You can quick add. You can barcode scan food, so you don’t even have to type anything. It’s the easiest, most user-friendly version of a food diary I could ever imagine. I can decide the portion size. I can categorize my food into meals and snacks and get a visual representation of my day in food.
The accountability piece is a mindset. This took some time for me. The app makes me more mindful of my food choices because I have to record it. Once I got over the fact that it’s not WW I’m being accountable to, it’s myself, that’s when things changed. WW doesn’t give a F*** if I lose weight; they’ll take my money whether it’s a loss or a gain on that scale. It’s me. It’s me who cares, it’s me who gives a F*** if I lose or gain. It’s me who cares if I spend 23 points on cake. It’s me who cares how I spend my weeklies. It’s me who decides if I need that extra taco. I’m the one who makes those decisions and cares about the outcome and consequences. I’m the one I’m accountable to, and that’s a good thing. I’m worth being accountable to, because I matter. And these are things I had to tell myself out loud until I was willing to give myself grace and congratulate myself for doing the work. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it. And you’re worth it too, so if you need to have someone tell you nice thing about yourself and tell you why you matter enough to answer to yourself, you need to send me an email/Facebook message/DM on Instagram/leave a comment. Reach out to me. I will be that person for you, I will help you. I promise.
Ideas & Inspiration:
The Internet is literally the best invention ever, and it is the single best tool to find ideas of how to balance your day, inspiration for the age old question What Should I Make For Dinner?, and seeing other people’s stories.
My Favorite Blogs
There are a few websites/blogs that I continually go to for recipes and inspiration. I don’t always use a recipe when I cook and sometimes I do just fine lightening up some of our old favorites, but there’s something so nice about knowing that someone else has already done all of the work of coming up with a composed dish and calculating the WW math. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here a few of my faves:
- Skinny Taste
- My Bizzy Kitchen
- The Skinnyish Dish
- Drizzle Me Skinny
- Eat Yourself Skinny
- Lite Cravings
- Recipes on the WW Website/ App
**I also follow all of these lovely ladies on Instagram, but you can find their IG handles from their website or by searching.
Besides the WW App, I would honestly say that Instagram is the single most useful tool for WW that I’ve found. I use IG for not only the accountability piece (as mentioned above), but also for inspiration and ideas. The thing about Instagram is that you can follow hashtags in addition to actual people/accounts. So, even if you aren’t sure who to follow, if you follow a hashtag, you’ll still see some awesome stuff you may not have otherwise seen. Again, in no particular order, these are some of my favorites:
Planning & Preparation:
Honestly, I feel like every little gem of advice or insight I’ve gleaned came from someone else and something they’ve posted about or taken a picture of, and that’s really awesome. Putting it altogether and working it into a plan of action that works for you is what makes WW so personalized and such a fun adventure.
What I love about WW is that it makes you identify a goal, specifically. When I started, or even had the initial thought of “oh, I should probably lose some weight” I hadn’t even decided how much weight I wanted to lose yet. Anytime I thought about that, I’d go eat my feelings because I was so ashamed of myself and how big of a number it would be. I’d never even had a thought of what my “goal weight” or what an ideal number on a scale would be for me, hand to God that’s the truth. I started with some vague notion of “be smaller” or “weigh less” but the app makes a suggestion of a range and you get to decide from there. I also never went in, in those beginning days and weeks, with any sort of expectation of how much weight I would or should lose each week at my weigh in. I was just grateful if I saw a negative number. I love, love, love that I had to really commit to goal and work within the parameters I set out to see the success and that I set expectations of myself, and I’ve worked so hard to hold myself accountable to myself.
Sometimes, though, goal setting can lead to a shame spiral… that is, when things don’t measure up to your expectations. Maybe you thought you’d lose the weight faster than it’s actually coming off. Maybe you thought you’d have a higher average weekly loss than you’re actually seeing. Maybe you worked really hard and stayed on plan but didn’t lose any weight, or worse, you saw a gain, when you stepped on the scale. All of those things can lead to those negative feelings that you were already kind of running from when you started (or were thinking of starting) this journey, like shame, failure, disappointment. It’s in those moments that you need to remember this one very important statement: Give Yourself Grace.
The thing about this program is that it’s not just changing your diet; it’s just as much about your mindset as it is about the food you’re putting into your body. It’s a healthy balance between going hard to reach your goal but also being kind to yourself and giving yourself the grace to say…
- “It’s okay that I gained four pounds this week because I went on vacation and had a great time living my life and that was a special occasion.”
- “I don’t usually use my weeklies but it was So-and-So’s birthday party/ date night with my spouse/ insert a holiday here and I’m going to get back on plan tomorrow.”
- “I worked my butt off this week and the scale didn’t show up for me, but that doesn’t mean it was for nothing and I’m still worth the effort I put in even if the scale didn’t show it.”
You have to be realistic about your goal setting. If you’re setting out to lose 100 pounds, it’s not fair to think you’re going to do that in four months. If you’re trying to have an average weekly loss of 4 pounds, maybe you need to rethink if that’s healthy or realistic. If you find that you’re tying your own personal value and self-esteem to a number on the scale, find a buddy you can talk to (or a trained mental health professional) and find a way to reframe it so that you can be kind to yourself and have someone remind you of your why and that you’re so much more than a number on a scale.
I was a meal planner before I started WW. Now, it’s at a totally different level and it serves a different purpose. Meal planning helps me budget my points appropriately and allows me to feel more in control of my day. I would rather save most of my points to have a really good dinner, so dinner is always my anchor. I also pre-track every day. The first things that go into my tracker are what I plan to eat for dinner and what my sweet treat/dessert will be so that those points area already reserved, then the remaining balance is free to decide how I want to spend it. I try to spend no more than three points on breakfast so that I can still have a nice, filling lunch that doesn’t leave me feeling like I want to snack all afternoon until dinner (and I’m just not huge on breakfast in general).
The thing about meal planning is that for this to be more than just a convenience thing, I started paying attention to my eating habits and the why behind some of my eating behavior. Meal planning and budgeting my points helped me figure out that there are things I either already knew about myself (not a breakfast person) or things I learned about myself (I’m a “volume eater”, so portion size is important to me).
Meal planning only works if you set yourself up for success. I used to meal plan and then waste so much food (and money) because I would arbitrarily decide to get take-out or convince Jeff that we should go out to eat instead of just making what I had planned. Not only is this a waste of effort in setting up a meal plan, grocery list, going grocery shopping (or having it delivered!), but it also gets so expensive and it created such a bad habit.
My suggestion is to use meal planning to exploit your strengths and weaknesses. If you know you have a busy week, decide on making something that will make a ton of leftovers that you won’t mind eating all week long (hello, lasagna!). Build in those grace periods where you know you’re going to be eating out or when you think you want to splurge. If you can plan for it, you’re likely more willing to follow through, especially if it aligns with the larger goal. When Jeff offers to pick up Thai food on this way home, if it’s not planned ahead, more than likely I’m saying, “as awesome as that sounds, I don’t have the points for it, I’ve already got a plan for dinner, but thanks for offering!” That is a new behavior, and it’s one I’m super grateful for.
Shop & Prep Smart
I use my meal planning time to also curate my grocery list. I use my phone to keep my grocery list, that way I can talk to Siri and ask him to add stuff to my list as it gets used or as I think of it. (If you’re not doing this, I highly recommend it. In the Reminders app on the iPhone, I created a list called “Grocery List” and I just say “Siri, add string cheese to my grocery list” and my Siri will add it! It’s a beautiful thing!) Whether you go grocery shopping yourself or you get your groceries delivered, my philosophy is the same: stick to your list. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve wandered from my list, especially right after starting WW, but that was mostly because I was learning. I was using my barcode scanner within the WW app to scan just about everything to figure out point values. This was an eye-opening experience, which I’m sure you’ve had too. Ultimately, though, I find I waste more when I veer from the list. It’s all that extra stuff that gets thrown in that ends up not getting eaten because I really haven’t budgeted those extra snacks into my day, so I don’t really have the opportunity to eat them.
The things that you buy should also be in alignment with your goal. If you’re trying to stay on plan, and you’ve got your list of things you need for your meal planning, it doesn’t seem fair to yourself to throw in a box of Poptarts or that check-out lane Snickers bar because of a moment of weakness. If it’s not on your list, and it’s not congruent with your goal, it has no business being in your cart. However, on the off chance that it did make it into your cart, and you decide you really needed it, track it and move on. That’s the beauty of WW; live your life! Track it and move on. You can eat whatever you want, it’s all about choices!
I can’t tell you how much it helps me to take the time to prep. Whether it’s cooking meals in advance so all I have to do at the end of a busy day is throw dinner in the oven or cutting up fruits and veggies and packaging them in bags and containers for easy and quick access, it matters. When you have things ready to go, when you’re looking out for your future self, you’re more likely to stay on plan. It’s easier for me to make a smarter choice if I’ve set myself up for it. For example, I don’t know how many times I would wander into my pantry and decide on something stupid instead of cutting up an apple from the fruit bowl on my counter. But now, I’ll cut up an apple and put the slices in snack sized bags in the fridge and now I’m way more likely to grab that throughout the week because the effort is already done. Even though I have snack bags of mini pretzels in my pantry to grab in a pinch, it’s almost a no-brainer between the two on what I should choose, if one is just as easy as the other.
I would love to hear from you guys on what has made you successful with WW or even what you’re struggling with! The best thing I’ve gotten from this program is the sense of community and the outpouring of support from others with suggestions and inspiration. Drop a comment below or on social media and let me know what’s going on in your journey, and be sure to share this with your friends!!
Have any Tips & Tricks I haven’t listed here?
Sound off in the comment below or tag me @glimpseofgrace on social media!
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