Yesterday my brother posted this on Facebook:
Three. Funny that he picked that number. Today marks three years that I made a big change and stuck with it.
On January 13, 2009, I walked in to Weight Watchers in Culver City and signed up. When I stepped on the scale for the initial weigh-in, I was surprised by the number. I knew my driver’s license weight was wrong — whose isn’t? — but didn’t realize I was so off. Since I hadn’t weighed myself in a long time, I didn’t know that I was almost 30 pounds over my driver’s license weight.
I sat through the basic meeting and afterward stayed for the newbie orientation. I went home, flipped through the week 1 booklet and looked up the points values of some of the foods I commonly ate.
I followed the program, even though I didn’t always stay within my daily points allotted. As I wrote last year, I diligently tracked and counted points for everything I ate or drank. I measured my food and tried to meet the good health guidelines set by WW (e.g., five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, whole grains, drink plenty of water). About six weeks into the program, I signed up for the gym and started exercising regularly. I got some help and tips from my siblings.
Good old diet and exercise worked. The pounds came off and a year later, I reached my goal weight. I lost 60 pounds, or 31% of my starting weight.
Recently some friends who know I was successful on Weight Watchers have asked me what I liked and disliked about the program. Would you recommend it? My response:
Overall: Yes, I’d recommend Weight Watchers.
What I Disliked:
- Cost. It’s not cheap. I think it’s about $40 for a monthly pass, which includes the weekly meetings and e-Tools (for tracking, recipes, recipe builder). I think the cost of WW balanced out when I started cooking more and eating out less.
- Tracking everything can become tedious. Initially I was okay with it, but after 6 months I slacked off and my weight loss slowed down.
- I became obsessed with food and sometimes became a bit anxious if I could not control the eating situation.
What I Liked:
- Emphasis on eating healthy rather than just low calorie or low fat. I know lots of people picked up “bad habits” of eating low-point, highly process foods like
- There’s no list of restricted foods (e.g., bread, pasta)
- Easy for someone not too familiar with healthy, balanced eating
- The Points Plus system is pretty easy to follow
- Most fruits and veggies do not count towards your daily points total. Starchy vegetables like corn, potatoes and peas will cost you, as will the high-in-good-fat avocado.
- You get credit for working out. They don’t emphasize anything hardcore, especially if you’re coming from a sedentary lifestyle.
- I liked the meetings, but they got less helpful as time went on. The topics can become repetitive. They’re good for the support and the ideas you get from others. If you meet a milestone, they’ll acknowledge your success, but only if you’re okay with being mentioned in front of the meeting.
- The leaders are not too pushy with their products.
- All the leaders and receptionists have lost weight and maintained the weight loss using Weight Watchers.
- It works, but it’s not fast. You should lose 0.5-2 lbs a week.
- They have apps for the e-tools to help you track. I liked writing things down.
- Initially I felt deprived, but that feeling decreased. I didn’t feel like I was really on a diet until I started losing more weight and had to restrict a little more.
- The plan includes a set number of points you can use throughout the week that allow some flexibility. Even if you use these points, you should still lose.
- There’s a no-tracking or counting option focused on Power Foods (clean eating focused on lean meats, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables)
- They reward the people who are successful with Lifetime Membership (free meetings, access to e-Tools)
As with most diets or weight loss plans, maintaining might be more difficult than actually losing. I’ve gained about 10 pounds back. I attribute that to no longer tracking points, eating out more often and being more relaxed with my eating. (See: burger week 2011… actually, I didn’t gain weight after that.) I probably would have gained back more if I wasn’t training for marathons and half marathons.
One of my goals this year is to get back to goal weight and fit in to some clothes that no longer fits, like the pants above. And yeah, I’m not immune to the pressure to lose some pounds for my wedding day. Part of my plan is to go back to Weight Watchers, weigh-in monthly, and begin counting points again.
Today I went back to the Culver City Weight Watchers for my monthly meeting and weigh-in. When I arrived, there was a crowd outside, and security guards handing out wrist bands. I had no idea what was going on, but it quickly became clear when I saw even more Jennifer Hudson posters and women holding her book. I decided to stick around and get a book. The woman ahead of me seemed to ask for help losing the last few pounds. Jennifer responded, “really watch the carbs.” Because of the book signing, I wasn’t able to weigh-in and the meeting size was limited.
I’ll weigh-in next week.