I almost cannot believe I’m writing this.
And doubtless I will get some stick and criticisms, but I feel compelled to write in defense, of all things, Weight Watchers.
They’re a multi-million pound corporation, we know that. They don’t altruistically give out health and diet advice. They charge for it. Every year they bring out something new to their plan to keep the punters coming in, we know that.
Every year millions across the globe will be following a Weight Watchers plan of some kind. I would hazard a guess that nearly every person who reads this blog, knows someone who’s doing it, or considering doing it, or has just stopped doing it.
And for every person who successfully loses and maintains a loss, there will be hundreds who lost, and then gained again.
Let’s not mess around with language here though. Let’s not tout out the same old lines of “You didn’t fail the diet, the diet failed you”, or “it’s not a diet, it’s a life style choice”, or any other limp, lame, arguments for or against diets.
The fact is, that a calorie deficit is needed if someone wants to release extra pounds. How much of a calorie deficit is the more confusing point that merits discussion and research (maybe that’s another blog entry). And I want to release extra pounds. I am not happy at a heavy weight. I don’t feel healthy. I don’t like the way my clothes fit. And I don’t feel particularly attractive at a bigger size. Those are MY issues. Personal to me. And when a health issue struck back in September 2013, I decided I needed real help to start releasing those unwanted pounds of weight.
So I joined Weight Watchers. I signed up for the monthly pass, and I found a local class, with the most funny, stimulating leader. She doesn’t expect people to put their lives on hold, gives out sound advice about eating what you want so you don’t end up gorging on a load of foods you don’t want, and she doesn’t look down her nose at you if you gain half a pound in a week. She is a genuinely lovely person, who you can see cares about the people who come to her (as a point of interest, WW consultants were once self employed, but are now employed by WW. I wonder how this changes the incentive to have classes stuffed to the rafters, because my consultant doesn’t act any differently whether she has a class of 10 or a class of 50, and I’ve been there for both).
I decided I needed that extra help. Yes I know the foods of better nutritional merit. Yes I could put together a healthy meal. But weight loss wasn’t happening for me. And not doing anything was not helping my self esteem or self worth. I needed to act, for me. To feel like I was doing something positive, for me.
But I’m a realist. I appreciate that some weeks my weight loss won’t be of much significance to me. I’ll be enjoying evenings out, and socialising with friends. The weather will be sucky and I won’t be able to walk for hours on end. I also appreciate that this weight loss isn’t going to happen overnight. It will be slow, and for optimum health that is a good thing. I don’t want to lose valuable muscle in a bid to hit a lower number on the scales. And those scales. All they show is my weight, my gravitational pull to the earth. They don’t show my worth to other people, my value on the earth. They just show a very physical number.
Since I started at the beginning of October I have lost 21 pounds. It’s a slow, steady loss, with the odd maintain, and the odd gain. I haven’t felt miserable. I haven’t felt deprived. If I want it, really want it, I eat it. If I have a bad week emotionally, chatting to people in the online community is good and helpful, people support each other and encourage each other. OK, there’s the odd person who reminds me of my weight loss journeys in the past, obsessed with the skinny, giving out harsh judgments, and saying “no pain, no gain”, but actually, mostly, these are people who make amazing leaps and bounds in their lives, embracing movement, learning to love themselves where they are, and realising weight loss is just a small part of their life.
The thing is. At some point. I had to stop talking about wanting to lose weight for health, and actually get on and do something about it. I am big. How I got here becomes pretty irrelevant if I’m not prepared to break the mould and get on and do some positive things for myself. I know dieting isn’t long term if your weight loss goals are based around unrealistic dreams of a perfect life and supermodel existence. But it might just work if I do it with love, and appreciation of myself. If I accept myself where I am.
Yes Weight Watchers is a million pound business, but inside that million side business are people who do care about others, and who haven’t just got ££££££££ signs in their eyes. And if I can take the good bits, let go of the bad bits, and let go of my blame, then I can achieve my goals, little by little, bit by bit.