What I Learned From Weight Watchers

This blog has been in my head for a LONG time. I have been nervous to actually write it out at the risk of offending people and of sharing some of my personal experiences.

Here it goes….

 

When I was 15 my mom took me to Weight Watchers. I was already chronic dieter at this point and my mom thought Weight Watchers would be the perfect place to teach me how to eat healthy. I was excited. I felt like my mom was giving me permission to diet and I would finally learn how to do it right.

 

I was just about 5 feet tall and when I stepped on the scale weighed in at 101 pounds. They quickly enrolled me in the program. In my mind that was validation that the program leader thought I needed to lose weight too. I started the program eager and excited. I followed the rules and started to lose a few pounds.

 

I quickly got bored with the rules and discovered ways to get around them. My favorite was to starve myself a day before weigh in and then binge like crazy soon after the meeting. Playing games with the scale was easy and fun and gave me a sense of power.

 

My mom had no idea. Her plan to send me to Weight Watchers to learn to be a healthy eater had turned into a big failure. I didn’t care at the time. I just wanted to lose weight. When I stopped losing weight on the program I became more obsessed with the number on the scale and eventually fell into a very dangerous eating disorder. I know this is not Weight Watcher’s fault, this was my own personal problem. However, I wish someone would have said, “honey- you are at the perfect weight for your body and we cannot enroll you in the program.”

 

In my 20′s I returned to Weight Watchers. After years of gaining weight, failed dieting, bingeing and purging, I thought Weight Watchers would help me break free from my food obsession. I started out “being good”, counting my points. tracking my exercise, weighing my food, and losing some weight. I learned that I could be “in control” as long as I counted my points.

The problem was I HATED counting points…

I learned to distrust my body. I did not pay attention to my hunger. I ate my points and lost weight.

 

I quickly got bored. I started playing more games. I chose to eat crap (mochas, cookies, french fries) over real food. It seemed like it didn’t matter as long as I stayed in my points range. I exercised more to earn extra points for more junk food. I still had no idea how to eat healthy- I just wanted to lose my stomach rolls and big butt. Eventually I stopped counting points and it was no longer fun to go Weight Watchers since my scale games were no longer working out.

 

I returned to Weight Watchers again after the birth of my first child. I figured I am a mom now….a real grown up and I can do it right this time. This time I reached “Lifetime” status. Hooray- now I get to be a Weight Watcher for life. This was quickly follow by “Yuck- I have to watch my weight for life.”….that sounds pretty sucky to me.

Again I started sabotaging myself with more food games…

So what did I learn from Weight Watchers?

1. Do not take your child to Weight Watchers thinking it will help them “eat healthy”.

2. Counting points, weighing your food and obsessing over portion control teaches you to distrust your body. It is impossible to develop a healthy relationship with food and your body if you cannot tune into your bodies messages.

3. Allowing the number on the scale to impact your mood messes with your overall feeling of self worth. When I saw a “good” number I was more likely to overeat as a reward for “being good”. When I saw a “bad” number I would beat myself up and continue to hate on my body which caused me to gain more weight. Too much body hatred causes STRESS and stress is linked to weight gain.

4. It is easier to lose weight than keep it off. I know this is true with any diet mindset.

5. Ask for your salad dressing on the side. This is one of the good lessons that I still use today.

I know many women who love Weight Watchers. If it works for you and you are happy with it that is great. However, if you are like me and have tried it multiple times and feel like a failure, please know you are not alone and there are other options.

People often ask me about calorie counting and portion control. I am happy to say I no longer obsess over these things. I have learned how to trust my body, listen to my hunger and enjoy food without guilt. I never count calories or weigh my food. 

For those of you who cannot imagine life without dieting, please know there is freedom. You must be willing to let go of the diets and  trust yourself to finally liberate yourself from the body battle.

 

6 Responses to What I Learned From Weight Watchers

  • Kelsey says:

    Michelle,

    I really liked this post. I’ve done Weight Watchers in the past. They give you lots of tips and strategies that work. However, although they give you advise on eating healthier during the meetings, it’s easy to focus more on points than proper nutrition. I like you, hated the idea of counting points and logging food daily gets old. It’s a great way to stay aware of what you put in your body though. I still work on portion control, but haven’t gotten to the place where I “trust my body” enough to tune into my body messages. I know it’s because I am a fast eater.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment Kelsey. I am happy to hear that you found this post helpful. Slowing down while eating is an amazing way to get connected to your body.

  • Lynn says:

    Great post… I have tried weight watchers in the past and never lost much weight. I felt unhappy because for me, the program made me obsess over food- all day, every day. I can’t really explain WHY this was the case for me, but it just was. I know that weight watchers has helped countless people regain control over their eating behaviors and their relationships with eating and food… but I am always appreciative to hear from someone who agrees with some of my feelings towards it… it’s not for everyone. In the end it made my already-disordered eating worse and I think that should be something everyone should be conscious of if they decide to try WW.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your honesty Lynn. You are far from alone in feeling like Weight Watchers does not work for you. I agree that WW makes people more food obsessed. I love having freedom from counting points, calorie counting and weighing my food. Once you learn to trust your body instead of control your body, weight loss comes naturally.

  • Tene says:

    I lost 30 pounds on WW. I rarely stayed within my points range, but I was eating less food and fewer junk foods so I was able to lose some weight. It worked for a while, but I stopped counting points (PURE DRUDGERY) and stopped losing weight.

    I am going to lose weight the way I did before, smaller food portions, better food choices and increased exercise. I lost 70 pounds, then got pregnant! Let’s see if weight loss brings on another baby!

    • admin says:

      Hi Tene- Thanks for your comment. I agree, counting points is pure drudgery and not a long term strategy. Let me know how it goes with your new health plan.

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