On accountability, Weight Watchers, etc.
Many moons ago I got sick and tired of being overweight, but had zero tools to help myself. Because I didn’t really know of any other options, by default I signed up for the Weight Watchers online program. And it worked really, really well for me. I started eating more fruits and vegetables, I learned about portion size, and I lost about forty pounds. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’d be the substantially healthier person I am today if I hadn’t gotten the ball rolling with WW those (nearly) five years ago.
After a couple of years I’d stalled in my progress, and—having learned the basics of healthy eating—canceled my subscription and switched to one of the free calorie counting sites. Ideally I’d eat intuitively, but I don’t, and this continued to work for me. I didn’t lose more weight, but I gradually came to accept that: a) I actually was at a healthy weight despite what I thought, and b) maybe this was my body’s happy place, so I should stop trying to force something unnatural.
Since this summer, I’ve started struggling a lot more with overeating, which I’ve talked about a bit here. I’d hoped that post-holidays I’d reign it in, and I have, but completely inconsistently. On my “cheat” days (hatehatehate that phrase) I don’t track and as a result I go waaaaay overboard, and way beyond eating just what I want to. Stuffing myself because THIS IS THE DAY I CAN. No bueno. I’m around 7 pounds above where I usually sit comfortably, and please. No protests of, “But ermagerd that’s nothing!” Because on my small frame it is. And I know where I feel my best.
Balance. I need balance and accountability. That’s all. That’s what has always worked. I just need something to help me achieve it.
And WW is doing their January special, so I took the plunge and signed up for three months of the service. Because it worked so well for me before, right? And I started plugging in the food I had eaten or am planning to eat today, at least the bits I knew. Some of it was nutritionally void (lolol thanks, Girl Scout cookies), but the rest was sound: lemon kale and quinoa salad with tuna, cara cara orange, and burrito bowl with chicken, tomatoes, black beans, and brown rice planned for later. Probably more since I’m planning to be on the elliptical for an hour this afternoon and I’m not about to fuel inefficiently during this grueling training.
I never got around to plugging in the rest of my food (like a bit of cheese and avocado for dinner), because I was only 2 points away from meeting my daily allotment. And that was only 948 calories. Those 2 points would have me barely cracking 1000.
And I’m sorry, but no.
Because the flip side to my experience with WW, and the part that I oh so conveniently tend to forget, is that it pushed me toward at least semi-disordered eating. Making it a game to never use up my weekly or activity points, even if I was hungry. Trying not to fill the void with “free” veggies or fruits because that was cheating, somehow. And though I no longer have access to these food logs, I continued the pattern on Daily Spark, eating a crazy low number of calories. I think my average was around 1100, and that doesn’t account for what I expended during exercise. And yes, I was definitely at my lowest weight, but I absolutely was not at my healthiest.
And staring at that tracker, seeing those sad, piddling 2 points looking back at me, I felt the anxiety rising up from my belly and closing around my throat. I knew where this would lead. Yes, I would lose the weight, but I’d also lose so much more—the ability to enjoy social outings, the ability to enjoy dinners out with my husband, the ability to not goddamn obsess about what I eat.
For those of you on this plan, please don’t take this the wrong way. I know that if I’d planned ahead better and loaded my eats up with way more vegetables and lean protein, those 26 daily points would probably have been closer to a much more reasonable 1400 calories. Again, this program did a lot of positive things for me, and my current negative reaction is largely just because of my own shit. I’m a big proponent of Whatever the Fuck Works for You. This is just not it for me anymore. I just need to stick with MFP, stuff more fruits and veg down my gullet, and chill the fuck out with treats.
So an hour later, I canceled. And I got on the horn with a rep and they refunded my money. So, on the plus side, I have really positive things to say about their customer service.