Friday, September 5, 2008

If Weight Watchers Was My Lover, Would You Tell Me to Leave Him? Part I

My parents first introduced me to Weight Watchers when I was in the 3rd grade. I didn’t like him at all. He was all about rules and regulations. In fact, I remember reaching for something to eat in his presence and my mother screaming out, “You’re breaking the law!” It pissed me off. Whenever he was around my parents served things for dinner like bland white fish and very yucky apple desserts that were euphemisms for “pie.” Luckily, he didn’t stay around long.

My dad alone introduced me to Weight Watcher’s replacement—Dr. Atkins—when I was in the 8th grade. It was a brief, seemingly successful relationship that was over as quickly as it started. Inspired by my dad’s enthusiasm for what Dr. Atkins would do for me, my time with him was full of pork rinds and ham. One good thing, I suppose, was that it was at this time that I finally returned to eating eggs after a stubborn adolescent absence. My exercise was playing Frisbee with the kids I babysat. I lost about 35 pounds—from about 170 to 135. I think I weighed 135 for 1 day before the scale was rising again, but it was exhilarating to fit into my mom’s wide-lined cream soft corduroy pants—my target through the process. As soon as I ate any fruit with Atkins, though, I had diarrhea. The charley horses in my calves were so repetitive at night (from lack of calcium—no milk, etc.) that I couldn’t sleep.

My third or fourth summer home from college, I counted 1200 calories a day—the limit set by my weight-lifter boyfriend. His motto was, “Hungry? Go to bed.” My exercise was walking the neighborhood. I lost umm. . . I think about 35 pounds again. (Yes! It was 35 pounds--starting from 195--the weight I was when weight lifter boyfriend picked me up and guessed it right. In my struggle to keep from regaining it ALL, I hooked up with Overeater’s Anonymous (OA). In OA, I struggled with my higher power, got blissfully seduced by a 13th stepper (enough to get rid of the weight-lifting boyfriend), and slowly regained weight.

A few years later, about a year into my first professional job (~1990), I bumped back into Weight Watchers. I walked downtown to meet him during my lunch hour. We met above a jewelry store. Our chaperone (aka Leader) was a woman who’d lost a lot of weight and who now wore layers upon layers of clothes. I remember asking her once if she ever suggested therapy for people needing to lose weight. The meetings were small. I remember feeling very vulnerable. He’d changed into a food group devotee—giving me a chart telling me how many breads, proteins, milks, and fruits to eat each day. I struggled to lose 10 pounds, the last 2 coming and going, coming and going. (I had gotten over the 200 mark--and every time I got close to going below it, I'd regain.) I think it was during this time that I experimented with step aerobics. They had free classes in my office—the first day after, it hurt to breathe.

There may have been fleeting glimpses of Weight Watchers in my life after that, but none memorable until 1999. My beloved grandpa had died the previous fall. My hubby had stopped smoking on Jan. 1, and had gained weight. We had to put our dog of 12 years to sleep in May, and a week later my father-in-law died unexpectedly. I was blue. I bought The Art of Happiness and verbally referenced Changing for Good. I asked my husband if he’d be interested in joining Weight Watchers. He was.

I’ve already told you about Bob being there when I first saw Weight Watchers again. Then, it was truly a love affair. I loved him. I loved the mental aspects of him—based on my dad’s NLP—the winning strategies, the storyboarding, the positive self-talk.

I loved the tools he offered to help me become a normal eater—things other people somehow learned naturally when growing up—like banking points for a big meal.

I loved that he didn’t give me any specific food restrictions—I planned for a weekly ice cream cone.

I loved our chaperone—she directed our meetings like no leader before or since—she encouraged people to talk only when they had reached a 5 lb milestone—so the focus was always on people building/accumulating success. Meetings were inspiring, hopeful. . .

When people hit the established markers for rewards—the 10 lb red bookmark; the 25 pound magnet, the 50 pound magnet—she invited them to come to the front and share what they learned so far. I lived to share my successes.

At the beginning, I stayed quiet until I had something to share—could prove to myself that I was worthy of speaking. I loved that the leader made me walk the walk in order to be able to talk the talk (using the OA lingo). It’s so easy to say it all . . . doing it is so much harder than saying it. Having to do it in order to be able to say it made me feel powerful.

My goal was to lose or stay the same every week. I met that goal for about 6 months—50 pounds. I believed in him; I believed if I followed what he said to do, it would work. I took comfort in finally being told what my limits were—limits that were directly related to my current size.

His points didn’t feel gimmicky to me—they seemed like a simpler way than having to tally the 3 key numbers—the calories, fat, & fiber. We became fiber junkies (this was when you could count it all! Not just 4 grams.)

I wrote down my food. I started out walking 20 minutes a day, because that was what he told me to do. We added time every 3 or 4 days. I was able to hang on in my head to the next weigh in, the next time I’d be with him, to keep myself on track. He seemed so perfect, so easy to be with, I couldn't figure out what had stopped me from hooking up with him before in my life.


  1. If only the desire for food, food, food, was not so strong. Keep up the blogging. We have to win this battle.

  2. Great post! I am looking forward to part 2.

  3. Love your writing and honesty. I have been in love with WW for 3 years, although we've recently rekindeled our romance. My husband loves him too so "point talk" doesn't feel like cheating. :-)
    Best wishes and I look forward to reading more...

  4. Thanks for the great post. You do a great job of giving the reader a glimpse into how darned difficult it is to lose weight.

    I know for my own food addiction, I had to find out what was at the very source of what was making me overeat. I always felt like I knew about counting calories, what to eat and what not to.

    But why couldn't I ever follow through?!?!?!


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