Someone asked me why I chose Weight Watchers as my weight loss program over others. This time around it is because I am familiar with how Weight Watchers works, and that comfort level means I don’t have to ALSO learn a new system while learning to eat better. But that wasn’t always the case. Here are some other things I tried before coming to Weight Watchers the first time, and my thoughts on each.
Going it alone.
As far back as the 1990s I was conscious of the fact that I needed to lose weight. Although my weight wasn’t what it is today, it was still more than I wanted it to be. I was then, and am now, a firm believer that the best and only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than I consume. Everything else is just details.
My initial attempts to lose weight were just to do some portion control. I thought I would just wing it and eat less. I remember during one of these attempts we had guests in from out of town. I was talking about how I was going to eat less, as I was preparing two burgers on my plate at our backyard barbecue. Needless to say after that failed attempt I heard about how my plan had failed.
The truth is that left purely to my own devices I lack the discipline to stick with a process, and the knowledge to know which process is best.
Atkins Diet and South Beach.
Each of these two is based on elimination of carbohydrates from the diet, with an emphasis on eating protein. I looked at these, and saw what some others had done while on the diet. I saw that they had to carefully make sure they had no carbs, including no bread, pasta and the like. The weight loss was significant and quick when they started. But, too often I saw these same people pack the weight back on as soon as they stopped the overly restrictive portion. That wasn’t for me.
Other “Fad” Diets.
There are thousands of them. Many come to me on 5th generation Xerox copies, and include extremely prescriptive daily menus for some portion of time. Others, similar to Atkins and South Beach, rely on elimination of some food group or another. Typically the food group being eliminated is something that many people really like, and replaced by something they don’t. I think people see success in them because they end up just eating less.
Oh, and don’t forget about Jared Fogle. He’s the guy who ate nothing but Subway, and walked a gazillion miles to lose weight. While he is an inspirational story, I just couldn’t see myself downing foot longs to lose weight.
Jenny Craig, NutriSystem, and those kinds
There are a number of diets available where you pay to lose weight, and you pay to have a box of food delivered to your house. The food that comes is carefully measured and prepared so that, if you follow their plan, you will lose weight. There are plenty of commercials showing celebrities who have had success with the plan. I have no doubt that it was successful. But there were three reasons I didn’t opt for one of these:
- I am a cheapskate at heart. I wasn’t about to pay extra for food that I could just as easily buy at the store
- I worried about sustainability. What happens when I stop paying them? Would the weight come back? And if it did, would I have to buy more of their food? I didn’t want to become part of NutriSystem’s income stream
- I didn’t want to be singled out at the dinner table. My wife is a terrific cook. At the time all 4 of my children lived at home. I didn’t want a plan where daddy had his food, and everyone else had theirs.
Everyone has seen the magazine covers showing some star who lost half of his or her weight because of surgery. The notion isn’t new, I can remember my mom and godmother talking about people having their stomachs stapled back in the 1970s. The results are undeniable. People who go through one of these procedures lose weight quickly. But there are some drawbacks.
Risks from the surgery. All surgery has risks involved. There can be complications from infections, and the like. Having my gut cut open to lose weight didn’t appeal to me at all
You CAN’T eat any more. I sat next to a person who had recently had this surgery at a dinner. In the month or so since going under the knife he had lost a dramatic amount of weight, with more to go. During the hour long dinner, he sipped a single glass of ice water as he explained that he could only eat or drink a few tablespoons at a time. I know this sounds like a cop out, but to me there is a tremendous social aspect of a shared meal, and watching someone else enjoy whatever they are having while I sip ice water just doesn’t do it for me. I would find that very depressing.
Excess skin. I was once on a boat on the inter coastal waterways in Southern Florida. We had stopped and put in our anchor near a few other boats on a sunny afternoon. In the boat next to us was a man who’d had bariatric surgery. He had lost over 100 pounds and was feeling good about it. He was sitting under an awning on this sunny day, with his shirt on. As he told us about his rapid weight loss, he lifted his shirt. What I saw was amazing. He had just folds of extra skin hanging. He’d lost the weight so quickly that his skin couldn’t respond. Ahead of him was more surgery to cut away the 20 pounds or more of the stuff. I guess it is possible that could happen to me, and if it does by my methods, then I will deal with it.
When I finally decided on Weight Watchers, I had 4 basic reasons:
- It wasn’t a diet of elimination. I didn’t have to cut out something I really enjoyed, like carbs. I knew any diet that had that element would fail.
- It was familiar. There were people in my life who had used Weight Watchers with success. I was familiar with how the program worked. I could even go to meetings if I needed extra support (more on that in another, future post)
- I would learn to eat differently. At its core, WW is all about portion control. Understanding what portions of which food to have is how one learns to lose weight. I thought it would be more sustainable.
- It wasn’t “cheating”. To me, surgery was cheating. It told the world that I couldn’t control myself, so I had to have something done TO me to make me not eat. I didn’t want that to be my message.
I do want to pause and say something about the diets and methods I mentioned above. All of them have success stories with them. If you tried and have used any of them, please do not see what I wrote here as a criticism of your choices. I believe everyone who approaches this kind of thing has to do so with their own best interests at heart, and be un-swayed by the opinions of others. I wish you well, and pray that you will have success. They just weren’t for me.
Obviously, the choice I made didn’t have sustainable results. I eventually turned back to my eating ways and regained the weight. This (among many other reasons), is why you see Jessica Simpson on Weight Watchers commercials and not me. But, that isn’t because Weight Watchers didn’t work. It is because I didn’t keep the lessons in my head and heart.
Will this time be different? I hope so. I really don’t want to be sitting at a family gathering in 10 years, wolfing down extra pizza slices while someone reminds me about that damn blog I used to write. Ultimately, the success or failure will rest on my shoulders.