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?