What a 24-Year-Old on Weight Watchers Eats: The Food Diaries

Our diarist is hoping Weight Watchers will help her shed 30 pounds. But will a cookout, beer, and free workplace food get in the way of her goals?
Pretzel rods seem like a fine snack, no? Our expert says cut them out if you want to slim down.

The Stats
Gender: Female.
Age: 24.
Height: Five-foot-three(ish).
Weight: 172.
Location: DC.
Profession: Receptionist and meeting planner for a small DC office.
Self-described activity level: “Generally, I’m pretty active. I run (OK, jog) outside at least once a week and get to the gym another two to three times a week. I run for between 20 and 40 minutes then sometimes do some weight lifting. Right now, I’m trying to lose around 30 pounds through Weight Watchers, enough to get to my healthy BMI.”

Day One
10:15 AM: Wake-up. It’s Memorial Day. Gotta love long weekends.
10:20: I grab a banana and a glass of ice water. I once read it’s important to eat right after waking up to get your metabolism going. The light breakfast and water were also in anticipation of a gym trip . . . but my significant other and I decide lay out at the pool instead.
11:30: Drank about a half of my Camelback water bottle at the pool. Plus I ate two zucchini muffins. A weird snack, I know, but I made a batch from a Weight Watchers recipe.
1:30 PM: We go out to lunch at a neighborhood cafe. Two diet cokes, a few chips and guac, and half an individual-size veggie pizza. I really attempted to stay healthy on the pizza and ordered it with broccoli and whole-wheat crust. The server said the menu lies and they do not have whole-wheat crust available—ever. Anyway, after I got the pizza, I put half in a to-go box immediately. It’s a strategy I’ve never used before, but a very smart idea!
5:30: Had two beers while visiting with friends. I turned down piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris though. So hard considering it was 95 degrees today. Ahhhh.
6 PM: Dinner time! Our friends’ family put out quite the spread: hot dogs, hamburgers, salads. Wow. There goes my remaining points for the day. I managed to do all right though: one hot dog, a scoop of macaroni salad, and two scoops of fruit salad. Yum!
9 PM: Re-hydrated from the hot day with a big glass of water. 

Day Two
8 AM: Poured a bowl fiber-loaded cereal, topped with fresh strawberries, and added 1 percent milk. Yum. I hope this keeps me full for awhile.
9 AM: Arrive at work and grab my usual 16-ounce cup of ice water. I’m not a coffee/tea person, especially not when it’s warm outside.
10:30: Hungry again. This is not good since I’m planning to go to the gym on my lunch break and I don’t want to eat my lunch beforehand.
10:45: I decide to eat my snack. I brought a slice of frittata that I made over the weekend. It has tomatoes, spinach, artichokes, green onions, and a light topping of cheese. It really was not good re-heated and I’m still hungry so I grab another large water cup.
11:50: Just finished a handful of chocolate chips from a bag left at the office. Fail.
12:30 PM: It’s finally time for the gym, which is in my office building’s basement. Super convenient. Today I ran/walked two miles in 25 minutes (not including my warmup two-minute walk). Part of that had an incline, so I’m happy with it. I also didn’t have time for anything else.
1:30: Back from the gym, promptly within my one-hour break. Heated up that leftover broccoli pizza from yesterday, pulled open a diet Coke and sighed. Pizza and soda is my favorite meal. Seriously.
4 PM: Took one pretzel rod from the office kitchen, the only free snacks the office keeps on hand.
5:30: Back home and feeling sorry for the dog so I gave her a nice 20-minute walk.
8 PM: Cooked a dinner of whole-wheat pasta, spinach, artichokes, and shrimp in olive oil and garlic. A little bland, but not bad.
9 PM: Ate a piece of fruit cobbler that I made over the weekend, another Weight Watchers recipe. Not feeling so well anymore so that will be it for the night. 

Day Three
7:50 AM: I decide to fix myself a little breakfast of strawberry-flavored Greek yogurt topped with just a tiny bit of corn-flake-fiber cereal. I really hope this keeps me full for awhile.
9 AM: At work. I get my usual 16-ounce cup of ice water and head to my desk.
12:40 PM: I made it until lunch without a snack, which is pretty much amazing, though I can’t say I haven’t been hungry. I heat up some leftover wheat pasta with shrimp and veggies. For dessert, I heat up some of the Weight Watchers cobbler.
3:30: I ate two pretzel rods from the break room. I brought an orange, but it’s messy and not very filling. I also brought an English muffin and some peanut butter, but that’s too many Weight Watchers points. I’ll save those.
7 PM: I head to my apartment gym and an encounter a (minor) disaster: All the TVs are stuck on a conservative news program. Ew, no thanks. I go back home upset and decide to have a couple drinks with my significant. Two blueberry vodka and diet lemonades, and a half a wine glass of Bethenny Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margarita[http://www.skinnygirlcocktails.com/home.php]. I resist the Blue Moon begging me from the fridge.
8 PM: I decide not to cook the chicken I thawed so I eat leftover frittata, zucchini muffins, and a tiny piece of a frozen pizza I made for my non-dieting significant other.
9 PM: I cook the chicken breasts anyway. I’ll bring them for lunch tomorrow.
9:45: I log all my food and drinks on Weight Watchers and see that I definitely went over my daily points. Ugh.

See Also:

The Food Diaries Goes Army Time

US News Releases Diet Rankings

Smoothie Recipes to Keep You Full and Satisfied

Day Four
8:10 AM: I’m not very hungry, but I recall my earlier mention of eating first thing so I eat a small bowl of cereal. No strawberries this time- because I’m completely out of fruit. Must go to the store soon.
9 AM: Giant cup of ice water for one.
12:30 PM: Another gym trip at work. I did 2.33 miles in 30 minutes, including my warmup and cool down. Wish I had more time but I gotta go buy a salad to eat with that chicken.
1:45: Munching on a very satisfying salad of romaine, chicken (two breasts), spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, egg, chickpeas, corn, and black beans. The only thing on the salad I probably shouldn’t have gotten was the chopped ham. Just a little scoop though.
6:15: Took the pup on a little walk around the neighborhood, about 20 minutes. I don’t really count walking the dog as exercise, but I’m writing it here anyway.
7:30: I head to the grocery store and pick up tons of fruit, veggies, and some meat and fish. Yum!
8:15: Everything is put away and I have no energy to cook. My significant other talks me into ordering pizza. I have enough Weight Watchers points left so I oblige. And eat a fresh apricot while I wait.
8:45: I eat three slices (well two were small, so maybe we can count it only as two?) of cheese pizza with tomatoes and two small breadsticks. I try to only dip in the yummy garlic sauce occasionally. I wouldn’t say it was healthy, but I don’t think it undid my day completely. Right?

Day Five
7:50 AM: I wake up and head to the scale for my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in. I gained a pound. I’m a little bummed because the week before I lost a pound and that week I completely binged at a festival with free beer and tons of fast food. I guess my downfall this week was the “healthy” muffins and the pizza, too. Bleh.
8 AM: Not feeling very hungry, but I eat a peach and ten minutes later, I’m starving! Weird. I hold off because I know I have snacks at work I need to finish.
9:35: A breakfast meeting lets out and as part of my job, I move the leftover food to the employee kitchen: a tray of bagels, muffins, and scones. Oh boy. There’s also a fruit salad, so I scoop a bit into a small bowl for myself. And then also cut off one tiny piece of a scone. OK, I went back for the rest. Oops.
12:30 PM: I didn’t bring anything for lunch besides fruit. Luckily, there was another meeting with leftovers. So, lunch was a half a tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwich, a scoop of pasta salad, and a brownie triangle (about a ¼ of a brownie). I know I really shouldn’t but it’s free and its right here! Resisting food at work is pretty tough.
3:30: I’m a little hungry again so I wander back into the kitchen where the day’s leftovers are spread. I take another couple bites of pasta and another brownie triangle. Really, its probably better than more sandwich or a muffin, which are still sitting out. Right?
6:30: Back at home, we cook up a couple salmon fillets and a frozen-veggie mix. I eat one fillet and some veggies.
9 PM: Dessert is a bowl of frozen fruit topped with non-fat whip cream. Zero points and delish!

From the Expert
Vienna-based dietician and American Dietetic Association spokesperson Judy Caplan says, “Even though the diarist does not lose weight this week, overall she uses some great strategies that, in the long run, will help her stick to her dietary plan. To start, she gets an A+ for continually thinking ahead to her next snack, next meal, and when she’s going to exercise. Planning ahead is probably the single most important key to successful, long-term weight loss and weight maintenance. She also has a great attitude and even when she thinks she fails, she gets right back to it the next day. Many dieters use any blip or slip up as an excuse to throw in the towel and give up, but not our girl!

“She eats breakfast, packs lunch, and brings snacks to work so she has energy to face the day with healthy food at all times. She even takes the time to make some Weight Watchers baked goods to have on hand to deal with sweet cravings when they occur. She keeps fresh fruit at work for snacks.

“And she takes charge. When the diarist orders whole-wheat pizza, even though they didn’t have it, she’s advocating for her own health. Studies show whole grains lower your risk for heart disease and stroke not to mention stabilize blood sugar and keep you full. She even saves half the pizza for next day’s lunch. Now that’s self control.

“She shops smart. She fills her fridge with lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains. She cooks with olive oil, a healthy monounsaturated fat, and puts peanut butter (non-hydrogenated, I hope) on her English muffin. Healthy fat keeps you satisfied and is important for heart health and weight loss.

“She exercises regularly. She plans her workouts during the day and then comes home and walks the dog. Regular exercise is crucial for successful weight loss and long term weight maintenance. Even though she gained a pound, the diarist has all the tools in place to drop the weight she wants.

“Now let’s talk about what’s not working. While the diarist appears to be counting points, she is still eating too many carbohydrate servings each day. Beer, alcohol, pretzels, pizza, muffins, pasta, and cereal all count as carbs and add up fast. She needs to carefully control carb servings and monitor portion size. Someone her size needs about 90 to 120 grams of carbs a day from starchy foods, sweets, and alcohol to drop weight (not including fruit). That’s about four to six daily servings. Check out the USDA’s new MyPlate guide for portion sizes.

“She also needs to plan ahead when drinking because one drink can have the same amount of calories as a slice of bread and a pat of butter, plus drinking lowers your willpower and can lead to over indulgence. Choose light beer, four ounces of wine, or drinks made with sugar-free mixers, and limit the number.

“She could ditch the white-flour pretzel rods for snacks, and instead choose fresh fruit with a few nuts, veggies dipped in hummus, or five whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of natural peanut butter. Eating healthy fat or protein with fruit slows down the digestion of the sugar, and keeps hunger at bay.

“Lastly, although she does a good job balancing wants and needs, she should avoid skipping snacks and not let herself get overly hungry because that leads to succumbing to temptations. All in all, I think she’s doing an awesome job of changing her eating habits and staying physically active. If she keeps it up she will slowly melt off her excess weight.”

Think you're brave enough to keep a food diary? We dare you. Send an e-mail to wellbeing@washingtonian.com with your contact information and a paragraph or two about why you'd make a good diarist. 

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