Breaking up with Weight Watchers

In some ways maybe I was fortunate that I was almost 30 before I started on the weight loss roller coaster that a good portion of humans especially women in first world countries seem to ride on. Up until 27 or so I never had issues with my weight, having spent a good chunk of life being able to eat anything and never gaining weight. Yet when I made the decision to kick the smoking habit, I traded butts for food and the pounds started coming.

In the first year after smoking I put on a good 20 or so pounds which while not a huge deal on my small frame frankly was not a good look. After kicking around trying to lose the weight on my own, I decided to join Weight Watchers for the first time, I took off some of the weight and promptly stopped going. Of course I didn’t make it to goal and as you can imagine like many folks on the diet roller coaster I gained the weight back.

Well we moved to Maine and around the same time my Mom started the fight for her life, I fell off the non-smoking wagon and started eating more and went for round 2 on Weight Watchers. Again, I took off some weight, went down a size and promptly stopped attending the meetings before hitting goal. My Mom died, I gained weight and then got pregnant all in the same year. You might say at that point I wasn’t too concerned with my weight as I vacillated between elation at welcoming a new life into the world and dealing with my raw grief at the loss of my beloved Ma.

Frankly even after my daughter was born, I didn’t think about my weight…shit, I had a license to eat, hell I was a nursing mother. So guess what? I ate and ate….it took looking at a picture that the Spousal Unit snapped when the kidlet was 8 months old that made me go, oh dear…what have I done? Turns out at 8 months postpartum I was heavier than I had been during my pregnancy and when I had a job interview and realized that the size 14’s were tight, I knew I had to do something.

You guessed it. I went back to Weight Watchers and lost weight only this time I did not stop, it took two years but I took off almost 50 lbs going from a 14/16 to a 4/6. I actually made goal and became a lifetime member a status I maintained up until earlier this year when abdominal surgery kept me off my feet and well old habits die hard. Armed with pain pills, the remote and a loving husband who fetched me Munchos and Frappacino’s for his beloved, I gained weight.

Right now I am 14 lbs heavier that my supposed goal weight and as I wrote earlier this year I am not that bothered. I broke down and bought a few items of clothing in acceptance that the weight will do what the weight will do.

I admit I have been going to Weight Watchers since this summer and pretty much while I took a few pounds off frankly I am in what I call monitoring mode, making sure the numbers don’t go up. But I have a confession, I don’t think I like Weight Watchers. Don’t get me wrong I am glad I took off the weight I did, it wasn’t healthy for me. I knew when walking started to become uncomfortable I needed to take that weight off.

However deep in the pit of my soul I have often felt Weight Watchers is on some levels a racket designed to keep you dependent on them. Those thoughts came full circle when they introduced the new Points Plus System recently that basically renders all the stuff I have “learned” in the past decade moot. Oh I know this program is scientifically based…yada, yada. But it also requires that I buy more gadgets since the free “point” calculator known as the slider is no longer valid. I admit maybe I just have sour grapes but on some level all diet programs are based off the fact we have no willpower. We are weak willed fools who are also slaves to numbers never mind that maybe our bodies may have a natural weight and it isn’t the so-called goal weight.

I just finished an amazing book Geneen Roth’s Women, Food and God I recommend it to any woman who struggles with her weight. Roth articulated much of what I feel that the bigger issue is we need to know why we are overeating and not monitoring ourselves. I am convinced that for most of us the struggle with food and weight, it’s not the food but underlying issues we need to address. On a deeper level there is something barring situations where there are true physical/medical reasons for the weight gain which in that case I am not in a place to address. But for many of us there are deeper emotional and spiritual issues that keep us on that silly roller coaster of weight loss. After all why do re-gain weight after losing it despite the fact we say we are happy with the weight loss. In many cases weight loss is not the panacea that we thought it would be, if we are broken in any way we are still broken regardless of what size we are. Reminds me of how for years I thought if only I could get a degree my life would change, it did but not the type of change I thought would happen.

The problem I have is that programs like Weight Watchers will never get you to that point and frankly depending on your personality many such programs can make you crazy trying to stay on their system.  So as I head into a new year I am leaning heavily towards saying good bye to Weight Watchers, that $12 a week I am spending (see, even though I am a Lifetime member because I am no longer at my goal weight I must pay for the weekly weigh in and meeting) could be used to support one more yoga class a week which will go a lot further in keeping me calm than trying to figure out my points on the new handy dandy calculator I must use.

If I am intentional in all that I do, I believe that can extend that to what I choose to put in my mouth or in how often I move my body. So while I believe that programs such as Weight Watchers are beneficial, to me, I think it’s at the end of its shelf life with me.

7 thoughts on “Breaking up with Weight Watchers

  1. Shay, I really agree with this post. I’m seriously considering ending WW for myself too although I will admit that I’m afraid of putting the weight back on if I leave. When they changed the whole points system, I really started to panic. I had gotten into the habit of faithfully tracking online everyday and the poof! I go to track and everything had changed. No warning. No option to stay with the original program. I was very angry and worse I felt so disoriented and started wondering about what to eat and what not to. Foods (especially fruits) that I had religiously parceled out for myself because they were a point each are now no points. How can that be?? I’m not confident enough to leave yet though and I’m kind of mad that I have come to rely on them so much. I don’t like they someone else has so much sway in my life. I trusted WW and they really shook that trust. I realized I haven’t learned to trust myself. I want to work on trusting myself but I really don’t want to gain weight again. It’s a conundrum.

    I’m like you though . . . I could use that $18/month (I only do the online program) to take a yoga class. But some more workout DVDs or workout equipment. Heck, my local gym is $18 a month.

    Thanks for the book recommendation.

    • You are not alone, I was talking with a colleague who is also a Lifetime member and she said she has no intentions of trying this new program. She weighs in weekly and in over a decade has stayed at her goal weight.

      That’s the thing, I have been with Weight Watchers long enough that I have seem them tweak the program but this change is drastic. Like you I hate the fact that while I lost the weight and have been successful in keeping it off over 2 years before the surgery that basically we have become dependent.

      I am at the point in life that I am not okay with that, I admit I have my own fears and after a decade of being in this kooky relationship with Weight Watchers its scary to think of saying good bye. Yet I don’t think it’s healthy to have this dependence on their program. I like to believe I can trust myself to make wise food choices.

  2. This is so true – while WW is less egregious than some of the others, its model is that it wants you to keep coming back for more (there was even a paper studying their outcomes where it showed that the # of lifetime members was tiny – they really make their $ from folks who never achieve that status, but if you have to pay *despite* being lifetime, then they must really be raking it in!)

    Anyway, they can do a lot of good, but the fact that you can never focus on ‘maintenance’ and be supported by them in making healthy, moderate choices unless you’re within their accepted weight range just highlights that they’re using a profit-driven, rather than health-driven mentality. Which makes sense for them, but it’s a lot less useful for those of us who are the ones shelling out the cash!

  3. Sparkpeople.com has most of the good things about WW online. It’s also less dumbed-down and free.

    I quit WW for the billionth time a few months ago and have had much more success with Sparkpeople.

  4. The only reason I keep weight off is because I am too broke to buy all new clothes. I stay in an 8-10 depending on the cut of the clothes. When my pants start getting a little tight or I’m getting a little to muffiny, I cut back on the food. Clothes are expensive!

  5. I think it’s quite unfortunate that you’re ending your relationship with the WW program. I just discovered WW recently and am quite impressed with how well I’ve done on the program to date. Speaking from someone who’s tried every weight loss program under then sun, WW is the one program that not only suits my lifestyle, but one that’s realistic and makes weight loss simply easy.

    In comparing the new PointsPlus program to the old Momentum program, I don’t find the change all that drastic. Yes, fruits are now free, but you have to keep in mind that a lot of the food values have gone up in points, so when you think about it, you’re really paying for your fruits with the increase in food values overall.

    Either way, I’m all for finding what works for you and if you feel that WW just isn’t doing it for you, then maybe it’s time to make a change.

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