A year ago, the thought of joining Weight Watchers© was laughable to me. My ignorant opinion was that Weight Watchers© and similar programs are for obese people who don’t know how to work hard in the gym and simply need someone to pry the Oreos out of their hands while they work through their deep dark emotional eating issues.
I most definitely did not need THAT. However, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the state of my physique. I looked in the mirror and saw a mother of two who was destined to spend her life on an ongoing quest to get back into the beautiful, pre-baby clothes that longingly called my name every time I chose my outfit from the two-sizes-bigger section of my closet. I’ve never been technically overweight, but the bottom line for me was that I wasn’t where I used to be and felt most comfortable. Yes, I was younger then. No, I hadn’t birthed two children then. None of those facts made me feel any better, however.
I was frustrated…frustrated that I was doing what I’ve always done (eating what I thought was relatively healthy meals and going to the gym) and that simply wasn’t cutting it. I told myself that I just needed to prioritize going to the gym more frequently, jog faster and work out for longer periods of time. I felt like I was living out that old adage about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Fast forward to today. I am a lifetime Weight Watchers© member, having met my self-determined weight loss goal (23 lbs.!) and maintained that weight for a set amount of time. In addition to being happy to have lost that amount of weight – and frankly I didn’t start out thinking I needed to or could lose that much – there is significance in reaching this goal because I almost didn’t begin.
In order to truly appreciate this achievement, you have to understand that I am NOT a help seeker by nature. I can be on a shopping mission for a ¾ sleeve pink t-shirt, but will answer “I’m just looking” to the sales associate’s question of how he/she may assist me. I spent an entire year in high school Trig class not understanding a single principle being taught, but wouldn’t think of actually asking for some out-of-class help. Instead, I chose to inch by with a barely passing grade just to avoid the embarrassment of admitting I needed help. As an adult I can appreciate the irony of this, as my grade itself was enough to convey my need for help. I’ve gotten a bit better through the years in some areas, but I would still say my inclination is to handle issues on my own or even try to ignore them altogether.
The fact is, I don’t like to be wrong. I don’t like to come across as weak. And I certainly don’t like to talk about how I’m wrong and weak, which is exactly what I thought Weight Watchers© would entail.
With all of those emotions swirling in my head, last February I entered a Weight Watchers© meeting kicking and screaming. I will admit that my decision was made far easier by three facts: 1) My company provided on-site meetings as a fully-paid benefit, so I really had no valid reason NOT to attend, 2) Co-workers had experienced success with the program so I knew that it must work for some people, and 3) I had average-weight friends who joined with me, which normalized the effort.
As reluctant as I was to join the program, I am now a tremendous proponent of Weight Watchers©. While I’ve learned plenty of helpful tips and have a lot of tools to keep me on track, most of the information presented at the meetings isn’t rocket science. However, my whole philosophy on food and exercise has changed as a result of how I’ve applied that information and experienced week-after-week success. While I’m not going to get into the details of the program, I will share a few of my personal “light bulb” moments.
First, I used to think that the only way to lose weight is to do cardiovascular exercise. Now, please don’t misinterpret what I’m about to say, as I definitely think cardiovascular exercise is important to overall health and can be a tremendously significant part of a weight loss plan. BUT……
It ain’t all that and a bag of chips, girlfriend.
In fact, let’s just get rid of the bag of chips and skip the treadmill. J All joking aside, in the past year I have focused primarily on weight training and building lean muscle along with monitoring my food intake. I have buried the expectation that I’m not making any progress if I don’t spend 45 minutes on the treadmill every day of my life. Such freedom I’ve found!
Second, I’ve realized that weight loss and financial management are identical philosophies. If I have a budget of $100 to spend on clothes, I can do one of two things. I can go to my favorite store Ann Taylor and buy a single pair of beautiful, lined pants. The consequence is that there is no money left for anything else. OR I can go to Target or T.J. Maxx and get 3 shirts, a skirt, a pair of pants and a scarf. Neither is right or wrong, but simply the choice I make in how to use what I have to spend.
I’ve spent much of my life thinking the cake or the yummy Mexican meal was bad, bad, bad. Now I simply know I can say yes to those indulgences. But, just like with the clothes scenario above, my food budget is set, so I have to plan for how I want to use it. If I want the yummy Mexican meal, I simply have to rearrange the rest of my daily (or weekly) intake in order to compensate. The best part is that I have learned to really ENJOY those foods because I have zero guilt about what I’m eating! Likewise, the program helps members reach daily healthy food group targets by allowing them to eat unlimited fruits and vegetables (to satisfaction). The goal is a satisfying AND balanced day.
While this article may feel a bit like a Weight Watcher’s commercial (maybe I’ll take over for Jennifer Hudson!), my intent is to share with you my story, as I know many of you likely have the same thoughts, fears, and doubts. I know most women worry about their weight, even when others look at them and find little or nothing to criticize. Life is too short to spend it worrying and fretting over why the scale doesn’t love you. If you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You might just end up losing the worry AND the weight!