Weight Watchers is truly the healthy-living program that not only works for weight loss but also helps people keep the weight off. Just ask Bri DeMattia, who joined Weight Watchers in January 2015; by May 2016 she had lost a whopping 99.2 pounds (7stone). Even better, she's stuck with Weight Watchers' maintenance plan and kept her weight off. By stocking her fridge with healthy staples and keeping up a rigorous Zumba schedule, Bri is healthier than ever. Keep reading to learn more about her journey.
POPSUGAR: What was the moment or motive that made you decide to start your journey?
Bri DeMattia: After getting married and moving into our new house, I realised I couldn't even comfortably walk up the stairs. There was one instance where I was forced to walk from the basement to the second floor (whew . . . two flights of stairs!) several times in a row, and I was so out of breath I couldn't talk to the person I was on the phone with. That was the last straw for me!
PS: What made you choose Weight Watchers?
BD: I had done Weight Watchers in the past, prior to my wedding, so I knew it worked. Weight Watchers lets you live your life — I couldn't survive without eating out and birthday cake — while helping maintain a healthier lifestyle.
PS: What's your favourite way to work out?
BD: Zumba! Zumba was one of the first activities I eased back into when I joined Weight Watchers. I could barely get through a class at first and hid in the far back of the room. Slowly I learned the choreography, got into better shape, and became a "front-row diva." As of 2016, I'm a licensed Zumba instructor, teaching three to four classes per week!
PS: What's your weekly exercise schedule?
BD: I work a full-time job, so I usually exercise right after work. I pack my gym bag in the morning to make sure I have everything I need — no excuses! I try to get in five to six days of exercise (usually 50 to 60 minutes), but I always have a rest day worked in there.
PS: How do you keep workouts exciting?
BD: I love group exercise classes, so in addition to my Zumba classes, I also mix in weightlifting classes and high-intensity interval training. I think the group exercise classes really help motivate me because I'm surrounded by people with similar goals as I have. Group classes can be a great way to try something new!
PS: How much weight have you lost?
BD: I lost 99.2 pounds from January 2015 to May 2016.
PS: What was the first big difference, other than the number on the scale, that really made you feel proud and excited?
BD: Honestly, I was so proud and excited when my youngest sister decided to join Weight Watchers after seeing the progress I had made after being on the program for six to seven months. It made me so happy to know I inspired her to make a change. Now we're Zumba instructors together!
PS: How do you track your weight loss?
BD: During my weight loss, I weighed in weekly at Weight Watchers meetings for accountability. Now that I'm a Lifetime member, I still attend meetings, but on a less-frequent basis (my Zumba schedule conflicts with my regular meeting time), so I weigh myself weekly at home. I use the fit of my clothes as a better indicator of my progress now that I'm in maintenance mode.
PS: What's a typical day of meals and snacks?
BD: I love variety, so I'm constantly mixing up my meals by making different dishes I find on my favourite healthy-eating sites: SkinnyTaste.com and EmilyBites.com. Both ladies are Weight Watchers, so they take the guesswork out of healthy eating. A typical day for me might look like this:
- Breakfast: banana and greek yogurt or protein shake
- Lunch: turkey or ham sandwich with low-fat cheese and guacamole (avocados are my favourite!) plus a big side salad and fruit. Whatever it is I'm eating, I make sure it is heavy on protein and I bulk it up with veggies and fruit. On Weight Watchers, most fruits and veggies are zero points, so I can fill up without adding points to my meal — bonus!
- Afternoon snack (pre-workout): apple or other seasonal fruit and flavoured almonds. I'll add a protein shake to hold myself over until dinner if I know I'm teaching a Zumba class and dinner will be late.
- Dinner: Salad to start, homemade cheeseburger made with lean beef, a big pile of veg (for simplicity, I LOVE the steamable bags and always keep plenty on hand so I have no excuse not to include a veggie with dinner). I also love my new air fryer, which allows me to make homemade chips, courgette fries, and basically anything you'd traditionally deep-fry, but in a much healthier, practically oil-free way.
PS: Do you count anything other than SmartPoints? Why or why not?
BD: If I'm exercising a lot more than usual — for instance, when I was training for a long-distance (100-mile) bicycle ride — I also count calories. I found that I wasn't eating enough calories with all the biking I was doing, so being able to see both helped me figure out a better balance.
PS: What's the range of SmartPoints you eat per day?
BD: On a standard day, I do my best to stick with the 36 points I get in "maintenance" mode. However, I allow myself to use FitPoints (we earn them through exercise) for times when I need more, like birthday parties, cookouts, or a splurge on dessert for date night.
PS: What are the healthy staples that are always in your fridge?
BD: I keep tons of flavours of greek yoghurts, lean lunchmeat, chicken, lean ground beef, salad ingredients with light salad dressings, mini Babybel cheeses and string cheese . . . and always tons of fresh fruit!
PS: How do you strategise for meals out?
BD: My husband and I eat out frequently, at least three to four times per week between lunches and dinners. I wasn't willing to give that up during my weight-loss journey, so I work it into my day. Usually I know in advance if I'll be going out for dinner, so I'll plan a lighter lunch — maybe swap in a large grilled-chicken salad instead of my sandwich — so I have more flexibility with my dinner. My go-to meal usually consists of a protein as my main dish, a vegetable, and a side salad. I always leave room for the bread because I can't avoid it! I've found that you can make healthy choices just about anywhere, especially if you can look up the menu ahead of time and come mentally prepared to make a healthy choice.
PS: Do you use a fitness tracker? Which one? Has it helped you?
BD: Right now I have a Fitbit Blaze, which I really love because it not only tracks my heart rate so I can get a daily and workout-specific calorie burn, but it also lets me control my music when I teach my classes!
PS: What role did Weight Watchers play in your journey? Would you recommend it?
BD: I would highly recommend Weight Watchers to anyone looking to lose weight by making sustainable lifestyle changes. It won't be the quick fix some people are looking for, but Weight Watchers helps instil healthy habits like exercising portion control and balancing meals when you have events later that day or later that week. I also love Weight Watchers meetings for the accountability. The meetings really provide great support because everyone there struggles with the same issues, so you never feel like you're doing it alone.
PS: What advice do you have for anyone starting out on a weight-loss journey?
BD: Making the choice to become healthier and lose weight is difficult, so my biggest advice would be to take it one step at a time. Start by changing your eating habits, and then venture into adding exercise or adding new exercise into your routine. Whenever you feel like you're in a rut, introduce something new . . . new types of food, a new form of exercise . . . anything to keep yourself motivated!