A year ago on November 18th I went to my Weight Watchers center in Park Ridge, IL, weighed in, and much to my delight I hit my magic number, my goal weight that I had been striving for since I can’t remember when: 135! There was a little celebration during the meeting where I was awarded my “goal” star charm to do with as I pleased (for a time I put it on a chain and wore it around my neck until it started to tarnish). Now, I just had to maintain this weight within range (5 lbs under or 2 lbs above) for 6 weeks and then I would officially have accomplished my ultimate weight loss goal of becoming a Lifetime Member of Weight Watchers.
6 weeks later, I did.
Now, with a year’s worth of weight maintenance experience under my belt, after working for Weight Watchers for almost a year, and after several whirlwind life changes I am hear to tell you this: It does NOT get any easier!
I’ve given a great deal of thought to if I should post something like this or not, but knowing that everyone has their own experiences with their weight loss journey, I am here simply to offer you mine. My thought, opinions, and struggles. If this doesn’t apply to you, then kudos to you and please tell me your secrets, but odds are, it will.
Now, where was I? Oh, that whole “it doesn’t get better” thing. Let me just say this. There is a reason that Weight Watchers markets itself as a lifestyle and NOT a diet. These terms are two different things. A diet is a quick (..quick-ish?) fix for losing weight. You abide by super strict rules, count calories, drink only juices or eat no carb, or no sweets, while having no fun enjoying any food (although I do get myself excited over a good cold pressed juice now and again). These diets can be very successful, but once you have found your success and you’ve hit your goal, you stop the diet and BAM! the weight comes back! Why? Because quick fixes can not be maintained. Weight Watchers teaching me to account for everything I eat, but letting me eat whatever the heck I want turned weight loss into a maintainable lifestyle. I wanted to be a lifetime member so I could have access to Weight Watchers for life, free of charge, because I know that is the lifestyle I want to keep up. I can have my cake, eat it, and as long as I account for it, life is good.
However, after a year of being at goal and currently sitting 5 lbs over that goal (I know, not a big deal to some, but to me it is) I have learned the cold hard truth. It doesn’t get easier once you stop losing. In fact, I honestly think the weight maintenance phase (aka the rest of your life after hitting goal) is a lot more difficult than the losing itself. When I was losing, I had that goal in mind. I longed to see the magic 135 show up on the scale for the first time in my life. When it finally did (and hit Lifetime status), it was done, over and complete…and so was the motivating goal of something to strive for.
After that I found it really easy to be a little bit more relaxed in my tracking. Some days I would “forget” to write in a snack, or not bother tracking if I was having only one little bite (several times in a day..), or some days (weeks..) not track at all. For someone who lost all 57 lbs of her weight thanks to tracking, not tracking will cause all hell to break loose. The result? Surprise surprise, the scale starts to move back up!!
Now, I know that Weight Watcher’s plan also allows for the Simply Filling Technique, which means I can eat as much as I want of all things considered power foods (listening to my hunger signals to tell me when to stop), and I use my 49 weeklies to track any non power food that I eat, however I am an overly indulgent personality. If there is something in front of me and I am told I can eat as much as I want, odds are I will eat WAY more than necessary, causing simply filling to fail me. I know it works great for so many people, I just know that I won’t be one of them. I need numbers, portion sizes, and limits. This goes for everything, as that over indulgent personality expands well beyond my love of food.
On maintenance you are supposed to add 6 Points Plus to your target once you’re at goal. I work for the company and I say that’s a bunch of bologna unless you plan on getting an Active Link and burning off every single one of those Points. Instead we have to learn through trial and error what value works for each person. I have one life timer (we’re talking a long time) in my meeting who has bumped her 26 to 29, and that’s where she stays. She also forgets to use her 49 weeklies. I was amazed by this. That’s the discipline I need. I have discovered that the best way for my scale to cooperate is to keep myself at 26 Points Plus a day (the minimum you need for weight loss and the amount I’ve spent a good portion of my journey eating). Apparently I need to keep the weight loss mentality when it comes to tracking.
I’ve discovered that there is a severe lack of self discipline that I have allowed into my life making it very difficult to stay on track. I acknowledge that I’m having this issue and yet I STILL will not measure my bowl of ice cream, or pick the higher Point snack knowing I don’t have many left. My favorite is when I get home from work late at night, and manage to throw away an entire day of good behavior. WHY?!
In an effort to gather some opinions, I’ve been more chatty about this topic at Weight Watchers and I pretty much have heard the same thing from all Lifetimers. I’m glad I’m not the only one that actually finds the process (the ongoing, never ending process) of maintenance to be so much harder than the process of losing.
Now, of course, the question is: how do I get myself back on track?? I really thought about this post for quite awhile before deciding to write it, and with that also came me thinking about solutions and observing my behavior. I find that it is easiest for me to stay on track when everything else in life seems to be going smoothly. The last time that happened for me was a period of about 3 days (last week) where everything seemed in sync: Spiritually in tune with God, energized and motivated, excited to hit the gym, feeling the in-love butterflies every time I looked at Erik. When that happened I had the 3 most in control days that I’ve had in a long time. Then things get rocky in paradise and BAM, the self control is GONE! It is so incredibly frustrating, and yet I don’t know what to do about it.
This blog is actually one of my largest solutions. If I want to be a health and fitness blogger (along with all of my other categories on here) then I have to practice what I preach. It’s the same thing with working for Weight Watchers. I’m not entirely sure how that hasn’t encouraged me more, but I’m trying. The bottom line here is simple. My dear readers who are on a diet: if you consider what you are doing a “diet” eventually it will fail. What you need (what we all need) is a permanent lifestyle. There is no quick fix for the issue of weight. If you stop doing what got you to lose, even after you hit goal, the scale will go back up. The only difference is increasing the Points or calorie intake just enough to stop the weight from coming off, but the line between just enough and putting the pounds back on is really thin. Be careful.
This is in no way meant to be a downer post. Quite the opposite actually. I want to motivate you, inspire you, and enlighten you. I want you to know that there is no such thing as a temporary diet that will make you skinny forever (if you’ve found one, let me know…). I wanted to get it out there that I struggle every single day with food and weight maintenance, and I know that I have to be a Weight Watcher for life if I am going to keep my body at my goal. It takes a lifetime of hard work, dedication and self-discipline.
Have any of you come to this realization? Or better yet, do any of you have words of advice for me? I might work for the best selling weight loss program in America (it’s true, we are!), but I am by no means an expert. I might have a lot of the know how, but until will power and self discipline doesn’t have to play this game anymore (which they always will, so it’s pointless to dream of that day) I will never have it all figured out. I will always need motivation, encouragement and help. Just because I’m a lifetime member doesn’t make me a superhero. It just makes me woman on the next phase of her weight loss journey. This journey will end only when my life does or when I choose to give up and go the other way. Seeing how I’ve been there once and don’t plan on going back, a lifetime of this lifestyle it is!
Now if only I could get my will power and self- discipline levels to cooperate…
Be happy and be healthy, my friends.