December 06, 2003

the Weight Watchers worship thing

For a while, I was a Weight Watchers disciple. I bowed and scraped and gave offerings of carrot sticks and low fat muffins to the WW Goddess. I learned the language of worship: points and tracking, flex points and activity points and, well, points. I went religiously to meetings, thought carefully about what to wear at weigh-in and whether I’d peed beforehand and was careful to avoid salt the day before that. I walked through the supermarket, chanting “Nothing tastes as good as being thinner feels” like an idiot and when I was at a party, I took one cookie from a platter, feeling oh so virtuous and immediately running off to write it down in my journal. I raised my hand in the weekly meetings, full of suggestions and epiphanic moments from the week before. I smiled at my fellow attendees as one does in church, full of hearty well being and spirituality. I lost weight. I felt good.

I still feel good. But the Weight Watchers worship thing? Not happening so much anymore. Points are useful because they’re a distillation of calories, fat and fiber, which means I don’t have to do as much math. And I still believe in writing every bite down, not to mention every push-up. But both of those are just dieting commonsense. The meetings, the WW literature? Not doing it for me. So many trite sayings, so many painfully obvious statements, each treated like a passage from Dieter’s Revelations. Only you’re not supposed to say you’re on a diet because this is no diet, it's a lifestyle change. Which it is, and it should be, because god knows I feel better in my body than I have in years (maybe ever), I have more energy and more stamina and this is amazing and wonderful (except for the part where it completely sucks, but that’s another entry altogether), but really. Come on. This is a diet. They sit around talking about how to lose weight, how to avoid temptation, how to change recipes to make them low fat. They give you stars and magnets for each milestone. What kind of milestone? “I feel better about my body”? No, of course not. “I’ve lost ten percent of my body weight.” Yep. I agree that this should be celebrated, oh yes indeed. But to do that and then say it’s not a diet? Can you spell Disingenuous?

At the heart of losing and keeping the weight off – at least for me – is a complex stew of self-esteem and self-image issues mixed with determination to break bad habits, along with a new understanding of how to work my body. What fuels it, what stretches it, what makes it and therefore me happy. Also how not to sabotage myself and why I do and accepting that yes, sometimes I will but that’s part being human, after all. I feel like I’m figuring some of this out as I go along, but my compadres in this are mostly weight loss bloggers and real life friends, not the corporately conceived friendliness of the Weight Watcher’s meeting room.

And yet I will continue to go and most weeks I will stay beyond weigh-in. Not because I expect to glean pearls of wisdom from the glib presentation, but because I need to hear the voices of other people going through this too. I need to see their faces and, yes, their imperfect bodies and know they’re figuring this out as they go along just as I am.

I feel like Weight Watchers, with their prefab weekly topics, is predigested Chicken Soup for the Fat Person’s Soul and they’re often asking the wrong questions, but nevertheless the answers I need are sometimes the subtextual ones of “We’re here, aren’t we? We came back this week. We’re doing it, yes we are!”

Well, that and this week I learned that you can buy a high-cocoa-content low-fat low-sugar chocolate bar at Trader Joe’s for when those premenstrual Must Have Chocolate Now cravings hit.

Posted by Tamar at December 6, 2003 01:22 PM

I've been doing WW for a month now, and I'm already feeling the same way about the triteness of the sayings and the genius advice that really isn't genius so much as common sense. But, I continue to go, not only because the program works, but because in this race against fat that I'm in... it's nice to know there are others running along with me.

Posted by: Mare at December 6, 2003 05:36 PM

And you're not going to mention the name of the bar????

I started WW last week. Last week Tuesday, in fact, so I haven't had my first weigh-in yet. (I was inspired by you and Mo and Mary E. having had such success with it!)

I'm not much into the whole meeting thing either, but knowing there are a whole bunch of people out there doing the same thing is a big help.

(Last week's meeting was all the weirder given that the week before--the Tuesday before Thanksgiving--a member up and died at the meeting. Just like that. No warning. Last week's meeting was spent discussing everybody's emotions about it. I was like, maybe I should start another time...)

Posted by: Diane Patterson at December 8, 2003 09:23 AM

The woman couldn't remember the name of the chocolate bar, just said it was near the checkout stand. And oh my god, Diane, that WW meeting sounds surreal! Can you get to any other meeting times? I'd guess they're going to be discombobulated for a long time.


Oh, and I'm glad to hear you've joined up too. I do like the system overall, and the sense of cameraderie. Just not the icky sticky sweet sayings and such.

Posted by: Tamar at December 8, 2003 01:42 PM