Buddies, I hate to see anyone here on this wonderful board struggle, stress out, and get frustrated. It only leads to more of the same and a feeling of hopelessness. I have to say that none of this is necessary. I have struggled mightily in my journey to successful weight loss. I have succeeded for the most part to lose the weight, but failed in the end by allowing myself to stick my head in the sand and refuse to see what was in front of me.

I have spoken on this subject before and feel a need to re-address it. We are all worth the effort that it takes each and every day to stay OP and be focused toward our goals. It takes effort to maintain that goal once it is reached but the result is so worth that effort. I won't go into all the reasons each and every one of us needs this journey. You all know the reasons. I will however try to make some of you open your eyes and take a good hard look at how you are working your program. I mean no offense to anyone here and I am not talking specifically about anyone but myself. We are all different people and what applies to me may not necessarily apply to you.

In the beginning, WW is like the savior of our world. The program is so easy and we are excited about the newness and the success that we have. Those of us that have 100 or more pounds to lose have many more battles along the way than those that only need to lose a small amount of weight. Most of us have eaten the same way for years and these habits are very hard to change. As time progresses and the weeks go by, those initial losses slow down. We wring our hands and tweak this and that and maybe get some results and continue on. Then the losses slow again and we tweak this and that and we don't get results. We do everything we are supposed to. I was known as the queen of the 4 point dinner. At my meetings, each week, everyone wanted to know what new thing I had found that was one or two points and made us feel like we were cheating to eat it cause we could have so much for so little points.

I was 16 or 18 pounds from goal (I don't even remember anymore) and I threw in the towl. I gave up on WW, I gave up on my meetings, I gave up on BCB, and I gave up on me. I had lost over 100 pounds and I just gave up! I was frustrated because I couldn't crack the 160 pound barrier. For months I gained and lost the same two pounds.

When I look back, I see what I did wrong although no one on the planet could have convinced me of that fact at the time. I was so busy worrying about whether I would have enough points for snacks at night that I was filling my days with 'empty calories'. I ate a lot of one or two point snacks and a lot of low point crackers and breads for one point. I got in my fruits and veggies by eating a ton of salad and very little real fruit because why would I want to eat a delicious piece of fruit for two points when I could eat a cup of steamed veggies for zero points? I saved a lot of points for mindless nutritionally invalid food because I was afraid that I couldn't stop eating at night.

I restarted twice and quit before I really got going well. I suppose that I wasn't ready to deal with my fear of failure so I didn't try to change what was really wrong. I had the right idea when I came back to BCB this spring. I just didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle put together so I continued to struggle and got frightened even more when I saw that so many of my buddies were struggling as well. We must address not only 'trigger' foods but 'trigger situations'. We can not succeed unless we refuse to give in to excuses for emptying the contents of the fridge into our stomachs because we are having a crisis. Whatever the crisis is, it won't be solved by us eating to oblivion and feeling even worse about ourselves.

Here is my tunnel vision, single minded 10 step plan:

1. Find the program that works best for you and stick with it. If, like me you find that is a combination of both CORE and FLEX, then just do it. I find that when I eat exclusively CORE, I feel that I am 'cheating' when I add points for bread or desserts or whatever. It makes me crazy and I veer off course too easily. I do like the way I feel when I eat mostly CORE foods but continue to count points. In this way, I have learned that CORE foods fill you up quicker and keep you full longer and you begin to crave whole grains and fresh produce. For me, I have learned to eat my largest meal at lunchtime. This is usually a CORE meal. In that way, I am still full at dinnertime and eat very lightly. If I want a snack later, it is usually a hot mug of herbal tea with baked oatmeal or an energy bar.

2. Don't search out sodas, chips, and snacks that are low in points but leave you still wanting more. This was a huge epiphany for me. I spent so much time lowering the points of the real food that made up my meals that I stayed hungry and was never quite satisfied with any snack that I ate. So, I wanted something else to soothe that feeling of wanting something but not quite knowing what it was. Thus, I continued the vicious cycle of night time eating but never being satisfied.

3. Make breakfast no less than 5 points (or the equivalent in CORE food if you are doing CORE). This was the hardest lesson of all for me to learn. I have never been a breakfast person and at one point I was drinking half a slim fast for breakfast just so I could say I had eaten breakfast. It turns out though, and all of you know this, that if you feed your body first thing, the metabolism kicks in sooner and keeps going all day. When you do this, your stomach is usually rumbling within an hour! This is truly the best 5 points you will spend every day. I still can't face a cooked breakfast when I get up (maybe because I can't face cooking that early!) but I have done away with the one point english muffin and a slice of fat free cheese for two points total as my breakfast. Keep it as nutritious as possible. Milk, a piece of fruit and cereal works great. In a rush, a cold slice of baked oatmeal with the milk and a piece of fruit will get you to the five points too.

4. Always plan ahead. It doesn't matter if you are going out for lunch or dinner, a good plan always saves the day. If you are truly into planning, it is very good to plan the whole week ahead just to have something to fall back on in case you are clueless and opt for a low point fast food lunch or dinner. I know this is hard, especially for those who are working but it can be done if you want it badly enough. A plan is just an outline. You can always switch it up as necessary but I always feel secure knowing that when I look in my journal for the day, there is a lot of food in my plan for the day. It always amazes me how much food we can eat and still lose weight.

5. Use that fridge and freezer! Make them your ally instead of your nemesis. Keep cut up fruit, veggies, and healthy snacks in single serving bags in the fridge so you don't go looking through cabinets when you get the munchies. Use the freezer to freeze whole meals for yourself in single serving sizes and mark the point value on the bag. You won't have to give into the urge of calling for a pizza or making a run to Subway so often if you know that all you need to do at the end of your busy day is nuke your dinner. I don't know about you buddies, but I have no problem fixing an entire meal for the rest of my family and nuking mine from a pre-frozen bag. When there are enough left-overs of a meal I particularly like, I freeze them for me when I need a dinner quick. I did this last month with cabbage rolls and wound up with four bags of them because I wanted to make extra. It is just as easy to make more to freeze of a meal that freezes well and I call it my 'stash' and no one gets into it unless I say they can. This works good too when a wayward son drops by on the weekend and asks what you have good to eat!

6. Find your trigger foods and situations and rid yourself of them. This is an exercise in self-revelation and telling the truth. It isn't easy but it is necessary if you are going to succeed. When you can incorporate trigger foods back into your life without scaring the pants off yourself, do so but always remember what they will do to you if you overindulge. As for the situations, only you can say what makes you run for the chocolate or the chips and you need to find an alternative other than food. Self help is just that, helping yourself heal and get healthy. Eating healthy on a permanent basis is probably the hardest thing you will ever do but it is imperative if you are going to succeed. The very best way that I have found to deal with trigger foods is to make sure that I have the points and indulge. You will go on a binge eating one or two point crackers if you really want chocolate. You will also find that if you 'allow' yourself to have it, you only need a bite or two most times and the rest gets left on the plate. I know that sounds unrealistic but over time, you will see that it becomes true. At first you will eat it all but in time, you won't and you also won't want it as often.

7. About anchors and rewards. Set up a system for yourself. If you go to meetings, you will get plenty of anchors there as you lose weight. If not, what is stopping your from giving yourself anchors? Special things that will remind you constantly how far you have come. It can be as inexpensive as a new pen and as expensive as a gold bracelet that you add a charm to for every so many pounds lost. You decide, it is your anchor. As for rewards, I suggest that you do something very nice for yourself every time you lose at WI. I don't care if you lost two tenths of a pound, if you lose, you get a reward. Treat yourself to a new nail polish and give yourself a manicure or if you really had a great week, go get a manicure! Get a new hair style, or a new outfit. It is the same for the guys, figure out a reward system and reward yourself appropriately.

8. Try a new dish at least once a week. There can't be enough said about how bored we become with eating the same thing over and over again. Keep it fresh by searching out a recipe that looks good and give it a try. Try a new spice or seasoning or a new vegetable that you have never eaten. You may be surprised by how much you try that you like.

9. Take some me time every day. It doesn't matter if it is only five minutes but you need to reflect on your progress every day and plan what you will do tomorrow without interuption. Use some of that me time to soak in a tub with no light but candlelight (make them scented candles too!). Use it to sit outdoors and leisurely sip a mug of coffee or tea. Think about your progress that day and what you will do to have an even better day tomorrow. If you don't take the time to treat yourself with kindness, who else will?

10. Use BCB as a great source of information and companionship. It makes no difference whether you are just beginning or have reached goal and are on maintenance, we are all on this journey together and it is a journey for the rest of our lives. I hope that each and every one of us will use the wealth of information and inspiration that we find here.

There is actually a lot more that I could write but I think you all get the idea. Now, wouldn't it be nice if you all made up your own 10 step plan and actually put it into effect? Have a wonderful evening buddies!