No, this is definitely not an exercise post. I didn't exercise yesterday because it just didn't fit into my schedule (I know, excuse of the century), and though I had planned on running today, I skipped it because I was exhausted. Don't get me wrong, I'm on board with the idea that exercise can give you a nice energy boost when you're feeling that afternoon lull. But trying to get in a good run when it's hot and humid outside, after 4 hours of sleep, an hour of commuting, and several hours of yakking endlessly at people... well, that might just be dumb.
But I digress. For once, I am not writing just to whine about how hard working 10 hours a week and running 3 whole miles at a time is. This is an entry I've been thinking of writing for a while now, and finally got my motivation to actually do it this weekend. The thing is, I have a confession to make. No matter how much I whine...
I LOVE WEIGHT WATCHERS.
Okay, so maybe I'm biased. I did after all lose about 35 pounds on it. And it gave me a job. But the thing is, I really am passionate that Weight Watchers is not only a great nutritional program, but an amazing system.
You might have heard about the recent Consumer Report that named Jenny Craig as the best diet, followed by SlimFast and then Weight Watchers. Now, I'm not here to bash - if people can lose weight, get healthier, and feel more confident by doing any kind of program (that is safe!)... I'm happy. I know how grateful I am for my weight loss and how much better I feel, so I wish anyone trying to do the same the best of luck, regardless of the program. But let's face facts. Jenny Craig and SlimFast are diets. Weight Watchers is not a diet - it's a lifestyle change. So this study is already really problematic. And to add to the problems... rumor has it that the study was at least partially funded by Jenny Craig. Oh, and they used the old Weight Watchers program for the study... not the new one that was launched in January. That's kind of an issue as well.
The thing is, I'm sure people have success on Jenny Craig. From what I understand of the Consumer Report study is that success is one of the reasons Jenny Craig came in first - people had "impressive" success. I'm assuming that means big, fast weight loss. But isn't that what doctors have been telling us to avoid for years? I can't say I was thrilled when I was losing half a pound a week, but I knew it was healthy weight loss. If you do the math of how quickly many celebrity spokespeople lose on Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem, it's not the doctor (and Weight Watchers) recommended 1 to 2 pounds a week. I'll take healthy over "impressive."
And while they may have success, the study didn't seem to mention anything about the aftermath of that success. We get a lot of people in Weight Watchers who lost weight on Jenny Craig or SlimFast, but as soon as they started eating real food again, they gained it all back, sometimes plus a few extra pounds. Who wants to eat frozen Jenny Craig meals for the rest of their life?! I LOVE FOOD, and I'm pretty positive that anyone else with weight issues also loves food. I didn't get to Weight Watchers because I was eating too many baby carrots. So what's the joy of losing weight if you're not getting to enjoy food? And what is that teaching you about food?
Weight Watchers is not just about losing weight, and I think that is something the study, and many people looking to lose weight, seriously overlook. If you have a weight problem, chances are good that you also have a disordered relationship with food. So if you go on Jenny Craig, you will most likely lose weight - but does it help you mend that relationship with food? Absolutely not. If anything, it makes that relationship even weirder because now you're not even buying, eating, and cooking what I would consider "normal" and "real" food - you're heating up frozen meals made of God knows what. The weight may come off, but if you try to incorporate eating normally back into your life, you haven't changed anything.
But Weight Watchers helps you figure out your relationship with food, and navigate it so that you can eat realistically for the rest of your life. Our topic this week was "Getting to Know Me" and it was all about what I called advanced tracking - tracking beyond just your food. Keeping a food diary is great, and I highly recommend it to anyone losing weight, whether they are doing Weight Watchers or not, because it keeps you accountable, and it makes you aware of what you're putting in your body. But what I urged my members to think about yesterday and today was how other things affected their relationships with food. For instance, I asked them if they thought tracking their emotions would help - if they binged on chocolate while they were sad, would it help to write that emotion next to the food? Here's the short answer: HELL YES. Because it makes you aware. Then you know that when you are sad, you're going to crave chocolate, so get away from the candy jar and go for a walk.
I'm sorry if this got a little preachy. I found renewed faith in Weight Watchers yesterday, and especially our new PointsPlus program, because the truth is, I've been fudging it for a while. If you've been reading this blog regularly, you know that I've gained back a little bit of the weight I lost, but instead of really recommitting to losing it, I've just been messing around. This week was different, and I tracked religiously, exercised well, and really stayed on program. And it paid off - the weigh-in I was worried about (since I didn't really want to fax my weight to my boss when I was over my goal) showed that I'd lost about 5 pounds. In a week. And yes, that's more than the 1 or 2 recommended pounds a week, but it is normal for the first week on (or back on) the program.
Forgive the preaching. I just sometimes lose sight of how great this program is because it's now my job, and every job comes with a lot of other stresses. At the end of the day, though, I am so grateful that I am able to teach this program to other people, and I hope that every one of them sees the success that I did.