Weight Watchers – yeah it works but boy howdy does it ever suck

August 19, 2014

weight

Same shirt – different stomach.

The day I hit my Weight Watchers goal I was handed a key chain.

What they said:  “Congratulations Hannah!  You look amazing!  Let this key chain serve as a reminder of all of the hard work and dedication it took to reach your goal!  Now we get to focus on the next part of your weight loss journey – maintenance.  And don’t be fooled – this part is a lot harder than it sounds.  See you next week!”

What I heard:  “Congratulations Hannah!  This is a magical key chain that allows you to eat as much of whatever you want and never ever have to worry about gaining a single pound again!  You’ve worked so hard that you deserve to go hog-ass wild for the rest of your life and always look as amazing as you do today!  Now go hit the drive-through and never come back, you little minx!”

For sixteen weeks I had starved and slaved and starved again, losing a total of twenty three pounds.  I was so hungry, but also terrified of slipping up.  The nights before my weigh-ins I had horrible nightmares that I was standing before a Chinese buffet shoving as much food as possible into my mouth.  I would wake up in a cold sweat and whisper, “Someday… someday.” to my starving, gurgling stomach.

The only way I was able to make it through those god forsaken days was promising myself that there would soon be an end to the misery; once I hit my goal I would once again fast food binge like the old days.

Stepping on the scale that glorious morning I teared up a little and the entire room erupted in clapping and cheering.  An old woman tried to carry me around on her shoulders.  Okay maybe it was just me clapping and cheering as I chased an old woman around the strip mall but it was still glorious.  I could finally eat again.

“Thanks for the magical key chain,”  I yelled over my shoulder as I skipped out the door.

Like an addict going straight from rehab to the crack house, after my final weigh-in I made a beeline for the nearest Taco Bell.  What was intended as a little indulgence, a reward for my weeks of food restriction and cardio, became a doorway to Mexican hell.

As you might imagine, sixteen weeks with minimal processed food meant that my stomach was super pissed when I dumped a butt load of D-grade meat and artificial queso dip on it.  Nearly everything was voided immediately.

Challenge accepted.

I’d like to say that the weight I’ve gained since my victory day crept on little by little.  A bacon cheeseburger here, half of a wedding cake there.  But no, it pretty much latched on the first week and doesn’t show any signs of leaving soon.  Last week the hangy down part of my stomach asked me if I wanted to get a cat together.

At first I convinced myself it was just water weight.

“Wow… I must really be PMS-ing,”  I have thought to myself every morning for two years as I struggle with my pants button.

“Geez, this meat must be really super tough,”  I murmur as I get out of breath slicing the salami for my hoagie.

But now, two years later, two years of trying every quick trick, gimmicky cleanses, wraps, online tracker apps, exposure shaming therapies in the book… I know what I have to do.

Last Wednesday was my first official weigh-in as a Weight Watchers return customer.

week 1

Here I stand… in the light of day…

Trust me… I would rather hit myself in the teeth with a hammer than go through this torture again.  The hunger.  Tracking every bite I take.  The sweat.  The Chinese food nightmares.

The one bright spot in all of this is that I truly do look forward to going to the meetings.  The ones I attend are on Tuesday mornings, when the only people with nothing better to do than go sit around and listen to other people talk about their weight are 85-year-old women.  And me.  And usually one 85-year-old man looking to play the odds.

I am the youngest person in there by about 50 years, and it is such a different scene than the monotony of the boring, everyday stay-at-home mom dynamics that I really find it interesting.  Honestly I don’t think that most of those women are even Weight Watchers members – I believe they think it’s a nice senior center that hands out free samples of honey mustard pretzels after a half hour of catching up on the latest grandkid gossip.

The group leader starts off by talking about whatever that week’s topic is – it can be anything from tips to packing a healthy lunch to what to do if you are at a party and suddenly find your self high as a kite and surrounded by spinach artichoke dip – when someone will interrupt her and pipe up, “Oh hey, I mean to ask you – I haven’t been able to figure out the computer thingy this week either,” and the room will suddenly erupt into a buzz of side conversations and nodding grey heads as everyone takes out their Nokia flip phones and compares technology notes.

So, if nothing else, I’ll get to see who of my little Weight Watchers buddies is still alive, and yell at the instructor that the magic key chain they gave me doesn’t work for shit.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

liz August 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

First – I wish you so much luck on this new weight loss journey.

… and I know you don’t know me…and heck, I don’t know you, really… but can I also suggest that you may want to try out something like My Fitness Pal? It has the same perks of the WW app (if you’re using that), except that it’s free… and more importantly – you learn REALLY what you are eating. It’s not a “points” game that someone made up.

I am not an expert… I’m not someone working for my fitness pal… I’m just an online blog reader that stumbled across your post.

I come from a long line of lifer WW members… aunts, cousins, my mom… and, I’ve had a few rounds of success with WW (I looked amazing in my wedding dress, if I do say so myself). I loved the app. I loved “knowing the game” of points.

But I never learned how to eat… not really.

Recently I was turned onto using My Fitness Pal (there are other apps I’m sure that are just as good!)… and you still get the online community aspect (you can “friend” your in real life friends and support each other there) – although no actual meetings. And it sounds like you really like the real life meetings… so I can’t say that it has that…

I don’t know what I’m saying… I’m not trying to be a troll or a downer or anything. I just hope that you are successful… and I hope you don’t get discouraged with the journey to being healthy, and understanding food, as you take this journey.

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Hannah August 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Okay, I’m about to tell you something that is going to sound dumb. I have used My Fitness Pal for over a year, and here’s why I like the WW app better. Because the WW app counts backwards, instead of foreword. Like, I have 26 points each day and I see as I creep closer to zero, vs. the MFP app that counts foreword to the 1,350 calories I have that day. I think my mind interprets that as “the sky is the limit” vs. “oh holy crap… what happens when we go into negative numbers???”

Also, I found that if I’m paying for something I’ll hold myself more accountable. There. Now you’ve had a little peek into the screwed up logic that goes on inside of my head.

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Denise August 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

I’m using my FitBit app to track calories…and yeah, the backward count keeps you grounded. Ooooo, I can only eat 500 calories for dinner, yikes!

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Angie Kimmel August 19, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The never ending fight = ugh!!! I fight this fight every single day – start out great with my protein shake for breakfast, then at about noon – “should I go out or should I just have another shake” – that is my inner fight for about another hour. I make my decision but by dinnertime, I get sucked into the abyss because I usually have no plan. Why do I not have a plan? because I am so busy working all day, I don’t get around to making a plan (or dinner!)! then the kids get home, craziness erupts and I go for the glass of wine, and that’s all she wrote. Next day at it again, with the promise to do better. Good luck, you look great regardless. I love your blog!! So freaking funny. I really should just pick out 7 crock pot recipes and get going.

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Hannah August 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I like to call it the, “2:00 suck.” I usually black out and wake up surrounded by Pringles. Then I hit the wine.

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Rita Templeton August 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I think you look fantastic. I’m jealous of your legs because mine look like tree trunks no matter how skinny I get. :(

I wish I could just eat anything, any time, in any quantity. That’s my dream. Seriously, my retirement plan is to eat myself to death.

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Hannah August 19, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Well, it takes one to know one.

And yeah, my legs have never been my big problem area. If you don’t count the fact that they look like I got caught in a hail storm while sunbathing. My disaster areas are more my arms and stomach, which didn’t look great before three kids and now looks… hangie.

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Julie August 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Your posts are hilarious, & I enjoy them SO MUCH, but I hope you are exaggerating about the hunger & torture. Although I haven’t personally tried WW, I know a lot of people have had great success w/ it, & I think it’s a good way to learn the basics of what foods are healthier & what to stay away from. As someone whose weight had yo-yo’d for YEARS, I tried all kinds of “diets” & deprived & starved myself. It wasn’t until I changed my attitude & looked at my future as a journey to “change my lifestyle” & not just “diet” that I have been able to keep the weight off (for years). The key is to eat whole foods & try to be mindful of eating healthy 80-90% of the time, but it you REALLY want that piece of cake, have a small piece & don’t beat yourself up over it – just go back to your good habits the next day. Eat small meals more frequently & DON’T starve yourself! Eat all the fruits & vegetables & lean meats you want! Adding exercise into the mix will help tremendously, as well, but if you don’t have the time, I definitely think diet makes more of an impact on reducing belly fat than exercise. HIIT routines only take 20-30 min., though, & provide GREAT results! The key is to find something you enjoy (walking, swimming, biking, tennis, etc.). I absolutely love Body Pump & yoga classes as well as walking, running, & biking, but that’s just me. Find what works for you so you can maintain it foreva! I’m not a fitness instructor or expert (I’m an accountant. :P); I can only tell you what has (finally!) worked for me. Best of luck!

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Hannah August 19, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Thank you for your concern and tips! I should have clarified that I am in no way starving myself. I’m following what most would consider a “normal amount of food to eat”. I have always had a large appetite, and I work out five days a week which exacerbates it. I usually justify eating a lot by the fact that I’ve worked out but end up eating about 5X the calories I burned. I also eat really really fast because, well, little kids.

I also just really, REALLY REALLY like Taco Bell.

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Natalie August 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Hannah, please PLEASE share how you’re managing to work out 5 days a week??? It’s my DREAM! (well, one of several – the others are less “productive”). I have 3 now (3rd is 8 weeks old), oldest is 3 and 10 months. I work outside the home, and haven’t managed a workout in months…. And, I have 40lbs extra since pre first pregnancy – so you’re actually doing AWESOME in my book with just 13lbs to go! Anyhoo (as you say), where do you get the motivation / energy / time to work out so much?? I promise I will *not* sabotage you with a tempting pack of pringles if you share ;)

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Hannah August 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Well, it’s semi-ugly. Mondays and Fridays I get up at 5:20 and do a workout with some of the other women in my neighborhood from 5:45am – 6:45am. Tuesdays I drop my eldest daughter at school and Dukes of Hazzard it to the gym for a kickboxing class; I put the other two in the child care there. Thursdays all three are in school for two hours so I do a long run in the morning, then either Saturday or Sunday I do another run.

I will tell you… I have NO idea how people who work full-time outside the home find time to work out. Maybe others commenting here can help with some tips. When I worked, my old office had a gym but after a couple of lunch breaks on the treadmill, my afternoon clients were holding their breath and asking me to crack the windows because even if I shower I continue to sweat for, like, three years.

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Kaly August 20, 2014 at 9:52 am

Oh how I loved my weight watchers meetings. Mine too were 95% elderly folks, and they would tell the same stories week to week. One lady was obsessed with microwave popcorn. Every time the leader would ask for any tips people had to beat afternoon snack cravings, you knew what was coming next, “Ya know, Suzie (leader’s name), I just love that microwave popcorn! It’s such a treat! I look forward to 2:00 every afternoon when I can watch my stories and eat my microwave popcorn! I recommend it!”

It was awesome. I had a working theory that she had a fling with Orville back in the day and never quite got past it. Did you every have anyone bring their kids to a meeting? That’s pure torture, right there. For everyone involved.

I weighed my goal weight exactly once. And it wasn’t even in a meeting. it was the day before the meeting, but I figured that was good enough and then proceeded to booze and eat like I was 11 again (well, not the boozing part).

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Hannah August 20, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Oh my god… I am laughing so hard at the microwave popcorn lady. I wish we could have even gotten so far as to talk about healthy snacks. We just talked about which cruise ships had the best waffles and non-slip shower floors.

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Denise August 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

I tried WW a while back and couldn’t stand the old folks meetings. They need to make a SAHM group somewhere…it’s hard to relate with the grandmother who’s big problem is that she needs to keep cookies around for the grandkids in case they drop by. And the fact that my group leader dropped 10 pounds to hit her goal weight in 1974 is not inspiration.

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