Why Weight Watchers?
Plain and Simple.
Okay okay there is more to it than that.
To me: Weight Watchers is MORE than a weight loss program ... far more.
What do I mean by this?
I have battled with weight problems my whole life - especially the mental issues that come along with it:
* Low self-esteem
* Binge eating
* Closet eating
* Emotional Eating
* Eating Disorders: Anorexia and Bulimia
For years, I just wanted to be skinny and didn't care what it took to get there. I never thought the self-loathing and self-mutilation would ever end. I yearned for a place where I wouldn't feel like an outsider where people would understand what I was going through...
And then I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting on November 2, 2009.
Halloween 2009 - the picture that drove me into Weight Watchers open arms
The above picture was taken on a Saturday Night - Halloween 2009, showed up on Facebook on Sunday and I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting on the Monday.
I clearly had tried losing weight on my own before. Heck I even attempted WW on my own in college with success, but it didn't stick.
What made the difference? Attending a meeting.
But why? How could 30 minutes with complete strangers alter my success with weight loss and beyond.
Well here's why:
1) Judgement Free Zone
This was the first place where I openly admitted to eating an entire box of Cheez-Its in about 20 minutes. And you know what? People understood. No one pointed or snickered at me. Instead people nodded and shared how they had their own "Cheez-Its" incidents.
Wow! I knew this would be a place where I would feel comfortable sharing my successes, but more importantly my slip-ups without a judgy eye asking why they heck I didn't just stop at one serving.
Ummm hi person - 1) a serving of Cheez-Its should really just be the entire box and 2) Once the box is open the Cheez-Its will go bad if I don't eat them all at once.
Phew... moving on.
I loved being in a room full of complete strangers yet feeling like I was with family.
I even made friends with two women - Casey and Naomi - who I would sit with every week. We would share our journeys, celebrate the ups and discuss the downs.
I can remember Casey and I each had our first gains on the same night. We had been doing WW maybe a month or so and we both went up. I was pouting in the back of the room with tears in my eyes and Casey was next to be bawling as well. C'mon, it can happen your first gain when you think you are going to lose every week. ;) But we both stuck through the meeting, let out the feelings and moved on. That one gain wouldn't keep us down and we had each other to lean on.
Hearing others share their stories, struggles and celebrations kept me moving each week. I always tell my WW members:
When you are struggling, you need your meeting When you are doing well, your meeting needs you!
And it is true!
Not everyone in our every day life is going to understand our healthy lifestyle journey, but the folks in that room do. You have an instant cheerleading section.
4) The Leader
I was blessed with two amazing leaders in Chicago (both named Lisa).
Lisa, a WW member, Lisa & I at the Jennifer Hudson WW Center Opening in Chicago
These two women were great inspirations to me as well as wealths of knowledge. They would lend an ear when no one else would. They understood that it wasn't always about the cupcake, but the feelings behind the cupcake. As a leader you have been through the program before and you know that the game of weight loss is MORE than what you put in your mouth.
Having someone so accessible through email, Facebook, etc made me want to be that same kind of WW Leader, which is why I am so available to my members. I know that occasionally the only person we can truly turn to is a third party that gets it.
I get so excited when members tell me they leave the meeting room feeling motivated every week. It pumps me up and makes me want to have an awesome week myself.
I am a WW Leader to pay it forward. I want to share how important WW meetings are to me with them.
5) Tips & Tricks
To this day I leave a Weight Watchers meeting learning something new whether it be a product or an idea on how to handle emotional eating.
It was in a WW meeting room that I learned you can handle emotions without turning to french fries. YES I know. It was mind blowing. I thought food was the only thing to turn to, but it isn't. Through other WW members, I started an arsenal of ideas when the emotional eating started rearing it's ugly head: go for a walk, journal, talk to a friend, count to 10, if you are going to snack choose healthy options, etc.
Yes these sound like common answers, but I needed those ideas from others because I was sooo lost in my own problem. I needed options because let's face it when emotional going for a walk isn't always going to save the problem. Am I right?
So through the WW meetings I was able to
stop learn to curb my emotional eating. But the biggest thing was recognizing the triggers. Before I would never stop to ask if it was real hunger or not, I would just dive in. Now I ask:
How am I feeling right now?
Then I can check to see if it is hunger or something deeper.
6) Being Honest
I have to 100% be honest with myself. This took me a long time to realize. Whether it be with my tracker, my head, my heart or my emotions. Lying to myself and saying everything is okay when it isn't - won't fix anything.
Thanks to WW, I have stopped lying to myself. I have learned that it's okay NOT to be okay. If I want to continue to have a balanced, healthy lifestyle, I need to continue to work on the mental side of weight loss as much as the physical - if not more.
Hitting goal didn't mean all the negative self-talk would magically go away. Far from it. I continue to work on nixing the negative with the help of WW and my meeting.
I can also say that I can count on one hand the number of relapses I have had with my bulimia since starting WW and for that I am eternally grateful to the program.
7) Love Clapping, Bling & Bravos
I never thought I would get such joy out of a tiny green star sticker that says BRAVO on it... but I do.
Like my BRAVO necklace?
Clapping for successes and bling to commemorate milestones. It all plays into my long-term success. Looking at them reminds me of how far I have come.
The love felt in a meeting room when a group is connecting, supporting and motivating each other is unparalleled. THAT is the feeling I bottle up after each meeting and keep in my back pocket for truly tough times. THAT is what has made a difference this time around and has helped me to push through the forest of maintenance.
Because there is always a Welcome Sign on one of those lime green chairs in a WW meeting letting me know I'm home!