No longer a Weight Watchers poster child

Poster childWhen I started with Weight Watchers in July 2002, I weighed 323 lbs. I had a goal of losing 65 lbs before chairing a national conference in April the following year and was highly motivated to stick to the Winning Points plan and do whatever I needed to do to get there. It didn’t actually seem all that hard – I went to my weekly meetings, journaled faithfully, went to the gym for cardio and strength training, and buckled down to just doing it.

I didn’t feel good in my extra-large body. I was tired of being tired all the time, of having no energy to walk even a few blocks, of having to ask for seatbelt extensions on the plane and go to shop online to find clothes that would fit. I was a round, soft, Pillsbury Doughgirl in flowered dresses and short graying hair. I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself and it was time to change.

I made it manageable by first setting a 10% goal. 32 lbs was still a lot but it was more realistic than constantly looking at the 65 lbs I wanted to reach. I also had someone that I checked in with by email several times a week – and a buddy in NC who started at the same time I did, with as much to lose as I did. We were at the same place in our journeys, learning the plan, finding recipes, figuring out how to move and think differently.

I achieved that original goal of 65 lbs in the time I wanted and lost an additional 50 lbs over the next 12 months. I felt like the Weight Watchers poster child. I was even asked by my leader to be part of a news segment on a slow news day when they were talking about weight loss tips for a holiday weekend. It was nervous-making but fun and I was looking very svelte and feeling happy with myself.

But I got tired of being the poster child, of being the one that everyone else looked to to do the program right. I didn’t feel that I could make a mistake. Every time I had a cookie or a piece of pizza or anything, even if I was counting it, people were watching me and it started to make me very very squirrely. Were they paying attention, or thinking it looked good, or figuring the points and condemning me for eating something that tasted good?

I found myself going back to old habits, the ones of secret stress eating. Though it’s hard to imagine eating secretly when you live by yourself in the first place and no one is there to watch. One of my really bad habits was to stop at CVS on the way to work and buy some food as well soda – and find a big bag of whatever it was gone before lunch. I never went back to the “1 lb bag of M&M’s” which I used to eat without really flinching, although they did sort of made me sick. But I would buy them to “share” by filling a little desktop candy machine in another office – and then find myself running in and helping myself.

It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t make me happy. I gained back 50 lbs. No one thinks of me as a Weight Watchers poster child anymore, so I guess I got what I wanted.

But I’m not happy with myself now, either. Other people are the poster children and I miss the attention of being noticed for my success. People around me in my real life don’t see that I’m doing anything different because they didn’t see me eating in secret; they just saw my face get rounder and my clothes get tighter and then move up to a new size. It’s been too soon in my “new year’s resolve” for there to be any physical transformation that anyone can see. It will take at least 30 lbs before they see anything.

So I need to rely on my own self-motivation and I don’t trust it. It feels fragile and on little wobbly legs, not the strong, focused way I started this originally. I know it’s not a contest with others of You who have the energy and clarity about what you’re doing and why. I read blogs and sometimes feel energized but other times just get, not depressed, but bitchy and whiny that you are in a place where I used to be but am not right now.

The only thing I can do is to just do it. Looking at the long haul, focusing on my failure to maintain the loss I once had, isn’t going to get me there. Small choice by small choice. Trips to the gym when I don’t feel like going – even to do do just a small thing, just to make sure I go – because exercise will make a difference. Online journaling will make a difference. Making sure I leave work on time at least three days a week.

The goal is not just losing weight. It’s reducing physical stress and taking better care of myself. I know how to do this. Now I just need to do it, one step at a time.

4 thoughts on “No longer a Weight Watchers poster child

  1. Gosh, I don’t know what to say to this except that I do understand. It’s very hard having lost the weight and gained some of it back (I have done the same). The good news is that we know how to lose it again…each time, I hope, we get better at it because we know more. 🙂

  2. Lori

    I think the concept of being a poster child is repellent to me because I know how fragile this whole thing can be. For me, a good day can turn on a dime. (It also can mean the opposite too.)

    Like Helen, I really do understand. I do like inspirational quotes and stories. Yet, I find them repellent at times. Who wants to spend time with a weight-watching version of Up With People?

    Losing a lot of weight is hard because like you said, it will take a lot of weight for it to be noticeable. It’s hard to get excited about losing one pound when you have a lot to lose. My friend C and I discussed this over dinner and how slowly it takes to change our own opinion of how we’re doing. Just remember, the things you start out doing may seem small to you, but to other people who know what this is like–we all know what a big deal it is, even with the little things like leaving work on time.

    You’ve really had a very good week and I’ve been so proud of you for doing the gym, the Tai Chi and the little things like walking to appointments.

  3. Good luck – I’m not suren that one diet or plan will ever fit all and I’m probably not the best sorce of advice for worman as those who know me consider me somewhat of a neanderthal.

    However, the first step is total honesty and doing it for yourself – don’t throw out every thing you leared at WW just expand your knowledge base by tag surfing and find compatable dieters who will encouage you and give you tips.

  4. It is tough. If losing weight were easy, NO ONE would be overweight. I am struggling right now to get back in the groove. So I am starting slower this time, working my way back to where I was right before Christmas. And I know, I will get there and the weight will begin to budge.

    You really are doing great and are an inspiration to others (common theme around here, no one wants to think that they could actually inspire or motivate anyone – we must all work on this). Best of all, this small group of internet diet buddies, will help you and just like you have helped others.

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