Is It Time To Break Up With Weight Watchers?

Lately, I’m feeling obsessed with food and the scale. My weight loss, while moving again, is still very slow and frustrating. And as I get closer to my weigh-in each week (on Thursdays), I step on the scale every day and get frustrated when it goes up instead of down when I’m eating right. On days like yesterday, sometimes the weight fluctuations (even though rationally I know they are from water weight, hormones or whatever else) throw me into a funk, which can ultimately lead to poor eating behaviors, as in “Oh hell, nothing is working anyway so why not eat that row of Oreo cookies?”

I’m on Weight Watchers and for the past year, it has worked for me. I’ve stayed accountable because I have to get on that scale every week. But the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. And lately the scale doesn’t want to tell any story at all while my body adjusts to its new smaller, fitter size. I would still like to lose 20 pounds but I’ve lost 60 in the past year and that’s a pretty big adjustment.

On Weight Watchers, too, my mindset about food hasn’t so much changed as shifted. Don’t get me wrong, it’s shifted in a good way, but I still spend way too much time thinking about food. When I was fat, I’d think about my next snack, meal, binge… all day long. I’d have peace while eating, and then afterward, I’d spend time feeling guilty for overdoing it at the meal, snack, binge.

Now that I’ve lost weight, guess what I think about? Right. My next meal, snack….not so much binge anymore since I have to get on the scale on Thursdays at weigh in. But I do obsess about my food still. If I have a snack in my drawer set for 11:00, I’m thinking about it by 10:00 and by 11:00, I’m ripping into whatever it is, whether I’m hungry or not. If I choose not to eat something because I have to weigh in on Thursday, I spend time wanting it and feeling deprived, often only to be disappointed at the Thursday weigh-in when the scale doesn’t  move much anyway.

And guess what I do after my Thursday weigh-in each week? C’mon you know the answer to this if you ever read this blog. Or if you’ve ever been a weight watcher. I eat. Usually, the wrong things in too-high quantities. And trust me, free-for-all food Thursday is worse when that scale doesn’t budge.

When I decided to lose weight  a year ago, what I really wanted was to be healthy and to have a healthy relationship with food. I definitely have a better relationship with food in that I’ve re-introduced fruits and veggies, lean proteins and whole grains and limit the bad stuff, but I still think about food all the time. I’d like to be more like my naturally thin friends who eat when they are hungry. What a concept. No schedule, no obsessing. Just I’m hungry. Time to eat. I’m full. Time to stop.

Weight Watchers has incorporated the hunger assessment idea into the program, but for me it’s been about the food schedule and “when can I eat next?” What can I have today?” What can’t  I have today?” “It’s Thursday! Free-for-all Food day!”

I’m so happy with the changes I’ve made and I really do have Weight Watchers to thank for a lot of it. But I’m wondering, if I ever want to get to the next level, of simply eating for sustenance, is it time to shift my focus away from the number on the scale and more to the way I feel each day?

Do I break up with my scale and with Weight Watchers for a while and focus on other things like triathlon training? Obviously I would still need to plan and journal so I don’t slide back into bad behaviors. Or do I stick to what I’m currently doing and just try to reset my mind around the number frustration I’m feeling? It’s scary to think of walking away from Weight Watchers as it has become such an integral part of my routine this past year. At the same time, it’s not working as well anymore, so maybe it’s time to make a change. Thoughts?

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11 responses to this post.

  1. […] Here is the original post:  Is It Time To Break Up With Weight Watchers? […]

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  2. Posted by TheFatGirlBlogs on August 12, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    I did WW YEARS ago, and I found that their focus solely on the number on the scale as the indicator of success was very detrimental for me. I was also battling bulimia at the time (yes, you can be bulimic and fat), so I’m sure that was a major factor for me.

    But even now, it seems to me it’s more sane to judge your success based on how you feel, or progress towards some goal other than the number on the scale. How many times have you felt really good about yourself and how you were doing UNTIL you stepped on the scale? I know I give the scale and the number it tells me way too much power over how I feel about myself, and I’m trying to change that…

    Keep up the great work! 60 pounds is a great accomplishment!

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  3. Posted by emmayeats on August 12, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I completely understand where you are coming from! Weight Watchers can be both a curse and a blessing because it teaches you the right foods to eat, but I also find myself constantly counting points and trying to squeeze extra things into my day. But, during times that I’ve gone off WW I haven’t lost weight because you aren’t accountable for your actions. It’s very hard to stay on a diet if nobody is going to weigh you in! Just a thought, but everybody is different!

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  4. Funny, it was after I had been on WW about 15 months that I felt like you did… that the point obsession was getting tiring, the focus on the scale was excessive. That was also at the point I had lost 100 lbs and part of me was saying, “isn’t that enough already?!?” Because according to WW/BMI, I still had another 30+ to go, but I was feeling great, and had met all the health goals I had set out for myself.
    I decided to keep going with WW because I found the community supportive and I’m still using the tools when I find it suits me.
    60 lbs is a huge accomplishment. WW is a good way to keep monitoring yourself, but if you decide you want to stop, you’ll want to make sure you have another way you monitor yourself.

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  5. I think it’s possible to do both – to focus less on the scale AND to do Weight Watchers. Maybe it would be good to take a few NWI (non weigh in) weeks and see how that feels. I also know the dangers of weigh-in days – believe me! But whereas I used to (the “old” WW me) have a massive free-for-all after my weigh-ins, I now take it as a day for a small treat or a dinner out rather than… well, you know.

    I also think a lot depends on the focus and attitude of the leader. I’ve recently had the chance to sit in on about five different leaders’ meetings and they are ALL SO different. One would have me out the door and bingeing (at the ice cream store next door!) in about five minutes. She’s been a leader for a very long time (decades) and I think she is very much still in that Diet mentality. The theme for WW a few weeks ago was “the end of dieting.” The leader I work with now constantly talks about being Mindful. YES he believes in tracking and being accountable etc but his approach is SO much more than that.

    I’ve found Martha Beck’s “Four Day Win” and various intuitive/mindful eating books to be super helpful and I don’t find them in contradiction with the basic WW message which is about being active, making healthy food choices, changing mental/behavioral habits and building community.

    You’ve made such awesome progress – I totally get your frustration! I burnt out on WW many times in the past. This time I haven’t and I think it has more to do with me, keeping it “fresh” for myself in other ways. Are there other ways of shaking it up, making changes that give you a new way to relate to the program?

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  6. Posted by julierje on August 12, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I’ve pretty much been thin my entire adult life. I took a running class in college in 1985, dropped 10 lbs and never stopped running. But I love to eat and love bad food! My thoughts of food are exactly like yours- especially after hitting my 40s. Every calorie counts! I too plan out my meals and try to keep cheat days to a minimum. I just figured we have to fight the good fight and never give up. It is for a lifetime, but being fit is so worth it! Anyway I think what you have accomplished so far is wonderful!! Keep up the fight! Btw I totally agree with your previous post on the Time article- it all comes down to common sense. To me the way the article is presented is a bit irresponisble. Good luck and u are not alone!

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  7. I thought some more about your post… seems like you’re getting into a “dieting” mentality you’re not comfortable with. Especially if you see the day after your WI as a free-for-all day, and you’re obsessing about what you can eat next. That’s not sustainable, and no fun to boot.
    What are you willing to do/change for the rest of your life? What foods/activities make you feel more satisfied, and less food/diet obsessed? The ww filling foods can help you identify them, but I think they’re different for everyone.

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  8. […] prior to seething this post from Fat Girl to Fit Girl, I had been pondering ignoring the wishes of the Evil Trainer and I would […]

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  9. Hearing that you’ve had so much with Weight Watchers gives me hope that I can do it too. I just started Weight Watchers again on Sunday, and am hoping to lose about 100 pounds. And I completely understand about the obsession with food. I am so there.

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    • Weight Watchers is a fabulous program and I would never have gotten as far as I have without it. My best advice is to not have unrealistic expectations. When you lose slowly, your body adjusts better and the weight will stay off! Focus on healthy eating and moving. You’ll do great! Best of luck to you. Keep me posted!!!!

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  10. Although you decided to separate so you can have some space, I’m glad you guys plan to reconcile.

    Reply

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