I remember signing up for weight watchers for the 3rd time. At that point, I was about 35 pounds overweight and I felt like I had to face the music. I needed some help. After the first meeting, I dutifully went to the grocery store and remember thinking to myself… what can I get with the least number of points? I remember instead of my normal bread, I bought weight watchers bread, instead of my normal ice cream I bought weight watchers ice cream sandwiches. I chose the least delicious but highest fiber breakfast cereal and low-fat everything. I bought giant tubs of popcorn and endless zero point diet sodas. Instead of my normal French Vanilla coffee creamer, I bought the sugar-free! I was going to do this!! I was going to lose weight.
Fast forward a few weeks/ months… I was hungry. I had lost 10 pounds. But…if I even had one meal “off” I felt like I was failing. I wasn’t any healthier and was completely addicted to diet soda to fuel the time in between my tiny meals. I obsessively worried about points and even remember a specific day that I cried because my husband ate a bite of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 2 points gone forever and I was out of my special bread. Yes, I cried.
I joined a gym and did cardio by myself so I could earn more points. I felt guilty and dissatisfied with my body.
It wasn’t long before I quit. I gained all 10# back and was no better off than before I started. I think a few months went by before I joined again.
This was the cycle. It was frustrating and defeating. Obviously, there was something wrong with me..because I couldn’t do it.
How did skinny fit people eat “healthy” all the time? Why couldn’t I do it? Maybe I didn’t have the willpower or maybe fit people didn’t have 2 small kids, bad genetics, a bad knee and a busy job.
Yup, that was it… obviously, those were the reasons.
I needed direction……. sadly I didn’t learn what I needed for a few more years.
Now, as a nutrition coach, my mission is to teach people the skills, habits, and mindset needed to be fit and healthy in the long run. My goal is to share the information I desperately needed back then.
Here are some of the important differences between how I dieted then, and how I live now. These are the tenants I teach to my clients.
Then -> Diet composed of mostly processed “diet food” that met the requirements of my points but had no nutritional values.
Now -> Diet built almost entirely around whole foods and high micronutrient food choices.
Then -> Worked out as punishment for food or to earn more food.
Now – > Exercise is to build muscle, improve health, stay mobile and have fun with friends.
Then – > Obsessively focused on the scale
Now – > Measure progress with body composition, overall health, performance gains and life balance.
Then – > Drank diet drinks, sugary flavored coffees.
Now – > Drink lots of water and black coffee.
Then -> Mindlessly ate inflammatory foods that didn’t work for my body. Suffered from eczema, reflux, and joint pain.
Now -> Avoid inflammatory foods. Certain ones I completely avoid.
Then – > Stayed up late watching Netflix or TV.
Now – > Regularly sleep 8 hours minimum and wake up without an alarm clock.
Then – > Ate out due to stress or lack of planning or to binge on junk food.
Now – > Eating out to enjoy special food and time with family and friends.
Then – > Hoarded points to have more “diet” weight watchers chocolate cakes.
Now – > Enjoy a delicious dessert on occasion without stress or worry.
Then – > Felt guilty about changes in my body and constantly questioned if I was doing something wrong.
Now – > Understand my body does not look the same all year and it probably shouldn’t.
I’m not saying my current nutrition is perfect. I know it isn’t. I certainly don’t know everything and am always learning how to improve both my personal and family nutrition as well as the support I give my clients. I am not specifically knocking weight watchers. All of my “nows” are potentially compatible with that program or any program for that matter… the problem was… I didn’t know how to do them.
If I think about how I invested my money, energy, emotions and time during that period in my life, it is easy to see now that the payoff wasn’t sustainable. I wasn’t developing any of the habits and skills I really needed and any weight I lost would come right back. Ultimately, I wasn’t very healthy on the inside regardless of what the scale said.
Big takeaway…. Be honest with yourself when you start a program. Are you doing the work to build real habits? Or… are you doing what I did…. hoarding your points for another weight watchers ice cream sandwich so you can lose another pound but gain nothing?