For the first half of 2014, I still managed to stay at my goal. And then, well, I finally started to lose interest in the program. (If you know me at all, you probably know that I get VERY VERY EXCITED about things and then at some point later, I tend to taper off - not with everything but with some things. So sticking with WW like I did for nearly three years from the first day I walked into a meeting, well, I think that's pretty good.) I got sick of tracking (and I honestly hadn't been tracking for the past year anyway, but I got good at estimating and keeping things in my head). And then I started going to meetings just once a month instead of every week - or just popping in and weighing in once a month (that keeps your membership active) and not staying at all. (The support of the people at the meetings with whom I'd become friendly - and my amazing leader, always - was an invaluable part of my journey - without it...I got lost.)
And then my old habits crept in.
For me, the reason that Weight Watchers worked so well was that I was not eating mindfully until I joined the program. I would eat at a restaurant, feel stuffed, and still order dessert. Just because. I also would finish everything on my plate, or everything in the box/container/whatever from the grocery store because I didn't want to waste it. Or because, as I justified it in my head, if I eat it now, it will be gone, and I can stop thinking about it. And I'd eat an entire pint of ice cream, all at once. Every weekend. I've told this story before. You know how it goes. Off the program? Off being mindful.
I also stopped avoiding the purchase of certain trigger foods, like chocolate chips and M&Ms. I literally cannot stop eating those things (and a few others) if they are in the house. I can portion them out and put the rest in a sealed bag and then hide that bag, and I will still go back, find that bag, open it, and eat the rest. And feel gross. (but not GUILTY. Food shame is absurd. Associating the word "guilt" with food just doesn't work for me at all. I just felt physically bloated, ill, and overfull.)
And suddenly the scale was not my friend. I was at the top of my goal weight, when I'd hovered a pound or two below it. Then I was one pound above. Then I was at two - and that's what's "allowed" if you want to be an active Lifetime member and continue to go to meetings for free. I know that for some people this doesn't work. I know that for some people, this is shaming or problematic. That's fine. For me, the entire program worked, including this part of the journey.
I skipped a month of meetings, feeling embarrassed. I'd been such a vocal cheerleader at the meetings - and now I'd have to go back and admit I'd faltered? I hid. Then I ran into two women I know from WW - they were heading home from a meeting while I was walking home from Starbucks and taking the long way so I wouldn't have to walk by that very same meeting. They were so kind and friendly and sweet - asking how I'd been and being all around supportive and positive. I realized that I really shouldn't hide anymore.
So I went back to a meeting the next week and I faced what was going on. I weighed in and, as I already knew, I was more than two pounds over my goal weight. And because of that, I had to hand over the weekly fee after being a solid Lifetime member for over two years and, therefore, not needing to pay. Ouch. But I did it. I paid, and I stayed for the meeting, and I recommitted to the program and yes this sounds sooooo culty. I laugh every time I talk about it in these terms. I hear it. I get it.
This isn't actually where things got better, either. Because I had the confirmation that I was above goal on the official WW scales (which I've always suspected are calibrated to account for clothing weight), I skipped another month while I brooded. The last time this had happened, years ago, I started a bad pattern of "well, as long as i don't get to X...as long as clothing item Y still fits...as long as I'm not at Z...." I could easily have thrown up my hands and said, "Fine, I did it for two years, that's great, I'm done, pass the pint of ice cream." Instead, this time, I had the tools to catch myself before I went there thanks to all I'd learned while going through the WW program. While I wrapped my head around the idea of needing to track/be mindful all over again, I changed up my routine and my home to shake things up by doing the following:
- For Black Friday I bought a FitBit One, which gave me the shiny-new-toy motivation to start moving again after months on the couch. I regularly get 10,000 steps, and I make sure I get at least 5,000, even if that means jogging in place while watching TV or walking around the kitchen table a few times. In short: I love love LOVE my FitBit One. (that is my referral link, OK?)
- I also bought a Paderno spiralizer (that is ALSO my referral link, OK?), and now I eat spiralized zucchini, daikon radish, carrot, cucumber, sweet potatoes...you name it. I also eat pasta - yummy, yummy pasta - but this is such a great way to get extra vegetables into my diet and it's SO FUN TO USE too. I use it at least once a week.
- And I also bought a Tim3 Machin3 through Kickstarter. (That is not a referral link.) It's a rice/quinoa/slow cooker/steamer/yogurt maker. I love it. It makes the best quinoa I have ever had as well as the best brown rice, the most amazing sticky rice, and on and on. I haven't yet tried the yogurt function but I will sooooon. New kitchen toys (those two things plus a new coffee maker and a new eco-friendly nonstick pan) helped me get excited about healthy eating again.
- I opened the WW website and started tracking my food again. (Ugh.)
- I installed the app on my phone (by the way? the app is terrible) and tracked that too.
- And I stopped buying trigger food. I didn't stock up after Christmas on candy (I did that in 2013, after stopping).
I did not - and I will not - stop eating things I enjoy. I go to Jeni's Ice Cream quite often, thank you very much, and I get a trio, and it is amazing. I had a big plate of hand-cut french fries just last night. But I went back to mindfulness. Am I hungry? Am I bored? Am I full? Do I really want that? I ate half of that plate of fries and then offered them to friends and then put them aside, realizing that I was full, had enjoyed the fries very much (OH THEY WERE GOOD), and was only eating them because they were there.
Then this month, I went back to a meeting (and had to pay again because I skipped a month - ouch again!) and stepped on the scale, and found myself back at goal. No wonder those jeans finally fit again...
So that's my update. This is, as always, about me and not you. About how this particular program - all of its moving parts, including an amazing leader, interesting meetings, a financial obligation, the "points" vs. calories concept, the "free fruit and vegetables" angle - all of this came together to work for me to make me feel good, strong, and healthy again. I don't know if it will work for you and I don't know what will work for you. I have no answers, explanations, or advice. I'm also lacto-ovo vegetarian, and I don't know whether that's going to work for you either. I am only chronicling my personal journey and that's it.
Here's hoping I can stay on track this time.