I have spent the last year focusing on losing weight and then maintaining my weight loss. From the time that I joined Weight Watchers (now called WW) I have lost 24 pounds. It hasn’t always been easy. Losing weight never is! But I have learned some key points along the way. Here is what I’ve learned spending a year on Weight Watchers.
First off, the old me: I was active. I have always loved hiking, swimming, and biking. I have even completed two half-ironmans (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13 miles), I have swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco, plus many other smaller events. But I always did these with extra weight hanging on. I thought I ate healthy overall. Yes, I enjoyed eating out and helping myself to what ever fancied my tastebuds at that point, but I really felt that my day-to-day was made up of good food choices.
Between my activity level and food choices, I felt that I was not ever going to lose the weight. I blamed my extra weight on my genetics and my metabolism. I do deal with hypothyroidism and take daily meds for my condition. So for me, that was that.
Then somewhat by accident, I joined WW last February. I say I joined by accident, because I really joined to help support a friend on her journey. I thought that maybe I would lose a few pounds, but never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could lose nearly 25 pounds! I hit my goal weight in September and achieved Lifetime Membership in November. I was able to maintain my weight loss all through the holidays! That was challenging, but as you can see – it was doable!
What I’ve Learned Spending A Year on Weight Watchers
It really is possible to lose weight! I say that because I spent the prior year tracking calories in My Fitness Pal, and after 12 months of calorie counting, I only lost four pounds. Again, I believed that due to my genetics and metabolism, I would never really loss the weight. But I did – so yes, it really is possible to lose weight.
Weight loss is about diet and not exercise. When I was training for my events and working out for 20 hours a week, I did lose some weight. But I was a solid 15 pounds heavier when I completed those major physical events than I am today. The training made me hungry, so I was eating more. I was never able to exercise the weight away.
Mind you, I am a huge advocate for physical activity! There are many benefits to being active and it helps me maintain my weight loss, but it never worked for me as a weight loss strategy.
There are going to be bumps in the road. Weight loss is not easy, and I find maintenance even harder. There are going to be parties, weddings, celebrations, vacations, travel, illness – tons of events that will get in the way of our best laid eating plans. That is simply called life. We have to roll with the punches and get back on track as quickly as possible. Sometimes we can plan for events and save points, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I have learned to enjoy, not beat myself up, and get right back on track. I have learned better habits, and as soon as I can get back to them, the better off I am.
Structure and routine are beneficial. I love to travel! As a teacher I have summers and various weeks during the school year off. I find the structure of my work week so much easier to deal with in terms of staying on plan than the unstructured time of vacation. As much as I love getting away and having time to play, It feels great to get back to my routines. I have my go-to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks that make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. I makes tracking points a breeze.
Healthy feels good! I just spent last week skiing in Aspen, Co. I spent two days downhill skiing, one day cross-country skiing, and one day exploring the neighborhoods and mountain roads. The last time I skied, I was 25 pounds heavier. It felt wonderful, absolutely wonderful to ski last week! The altitude did not get to me the way it has in the past, and I was able to fully enjoy all that I wanted to on this trip.
I have always been active, but last summer I really enjoyed being physical in a way that I have not in a long time. I water skied, biked, and hiked galore! Being healthy feels good!
Community is important. I have attended 44 weekly meetings in the past 52 weeks. If I am in town on Saturday morning I get to my meeting. One, I enjoy the camaraderie and two, it holds me accountable. As I said, I just got back from vacation and I knew that I had to get onto that scale to see the damage. (I gained 1.6 pounds!) Members share their experiences, wisdom, recipes, and struggles at the meetings. We help each other along our journey. Our meeting consists of newbies, years-long lifetime members, and everyone in between.
Plus, I have a circle of friends, both at work and socially, that are also WW members. This makes gatherings so much easier. We are all trying to make healthy food choices, and we share low point foods at parties. When the staff room at work is filled with donuts or bagels, we help each other stay away. All of this support from friends and my WW meetings is positive and non-judgmental. That is huge! We all get the struggles and we support each other without ever making anyone feel bad about themselves.
It is never ending work. Weight loss takes work, but so does the maintenance. In a way, I find maintenance to be harder than the weight loss. Trying to find the balance of the right amount of points is tricky. Simply put, the work never ends. I need to meal plan, shop, and prepare healthy and low-point meals. I need to track and go to meetings. I need to say no to old favorites. While no food is off limits, I do say no to some of my old favorites – such as bagels, cheese, and margaritas way more now than ever in the past.
I am very glad that I choose to head to the WW meeting last February with a friend. Unfortunately, what I’ve learned spending a year on Weight Watchers includes that it is never ending work. While the better-for-me habits come easier now than in the past, I have to remain ever mindful of my eating habits. The work though is heavily outweighed by the fact that healthy feels good!