Healthy Tastes Good

 I definitely feel the best I ever felt in my entire life. I feel absolutely beautiful. 
*People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.
Growing up in an Italian family, pasta and meatballs were definitely on the menu — and Danielle enjoyed those meals much more than the healthier ones that her mom also made. But when her clothes became snug, and she started shopping for a new wardrobe, she knew she had to start making some changes. So Danielle decided to take control of her food choices and join Weight Watchers meetings. Along the way, she figured out a grocery shopping game plan, a consistent workout schedule and creative ways to fit in delicious foods so that she could stay on track and continue to enjoy her life.

In Danielle’s words:

In high school I got a job at my local grocery store: I was a bookkeeper and a cashier, and I also checked in groceries as they came off the truck. I worked there part-time until I turned 23, when I became a teacher’s assistant. Though I was familiar with the inventory and became savvy at spotting a deal — like Buy-One-Get-One-Free crumb cakes — I didn’t do the shopping for my family. I live with my parents, and my mom and dad are the ones that cook. My mom made healthy meals, but I wasn't willing to give them a chance. When she’d cook her comfort meals like Italian meatballs, sausage and homemade sauce over pasta, or her delicious mac ’n’ cheese, I’d always overeat. Unfortunately, those dishes weren’t very good for my weight, which I’ve struggled with my whole life.

My turning point came when I was shopping for capri pants around Memorial Day — I needed clothes for work, and when I couldn’t find a pair that fit, I knew I had to make a change. I was determined so nothing was going to stand in my way!

Tackling the grocery store

After my first Weight Watchers meeting, I went straight to the supermarket. Even after all those years working there, I was completely overwhelmed. So I stuck to the “safe” foods: I bought fruits and veggies, packets of oatmeal, Weight Watchers bread and ice cream and frozen dinners. If I could tell the PointsPlus value of the item right away, it was in my cart!

Getting confidence in the kitchen

After a few weeks of eating the same things, I decided to branch out. I started watching the way my parents cooked — always experimenting with spices and different ingredients. I first made a stir-fry with rice and steamed veggies; it was a fresh meal that was low in sodium, and I loved it. I’d also get ideas from Members at my weekly Meetings (like black bean brownies!) and the Program book. I learned that instead of eating the pre-sweetened packets of oatmeal, cooking my own would taste so much better. So I started with plain oats, and for sweetness, I’d sauté apples and add them in, with a touch of cinnamon.

Sticking to my budget

I never realized that a shopping list could keep me on track, but it does. Not only does it help me buy the foods that are healthy and good for me, but it also keeps me within my budget. I also follow my parents’ lead by going to different stores to find the freshest foods at the lowest prices. I’ll go to Best Market near me for produce, Trader Joe’s if I want to add a little creativity to my meals — I love their pizza veggie burgers and crab cakes — and I’ll head to Walmart for staples like almond milk, coffee creamer, cottage cheese and yogurt.

Fitting in exercise

When I first started the Program, my gym membership was expired. That was fine for me since the weather was so beautiful out. We have a pool in our backyard, so I started swimming laps, and I'd ride my bike around our neighborhood. My boyfriend plays hockey so I began rollerblading, too, and now in the winter, I love to go ice skating! I eventually joined the gym last year, and now I work out there four to five times a week. I never expected to love activity as much as I do! br/>

Preparing for important events

Once a month, my boyfriend and I go out for a special date night. The day of, I make sure to eat a light lunch and have lots of fruits and veggies. When we go to the restaurant, I skip the appetizer, and enjoy my main entree. Then, afterwards, we get homemade ice cream at a nearby shop. Knowing that these nights are like little celebrations helps me continue to stay on track for the rest of the month — I discovered that indulging a little bit is what I need to stick to my new, healthy lifestyle. I definitely feel the best I ever felt in my entire life. I feel absolutely beautiful.