Filed under: Main
Last night I attended a special event in Manhattan for WeightWatchers members who at some point in their journey had reached their goal weight. Knowing some of these people, and having been a meeting leader for over a decade, I was aware that some of these “Lifetime” members felt their needs weren’t always being met. Yet I was really disappointed when one of the first people in the meeting to complain was a really wonderful woman that lost her weight attending one of my groups.
As I have done with this blog, in meetings I have sought to interject the perspective of weight management, rather than weight loss. My thinking is that most of us have gained and lost weight, but not many of us have been through the experience of losing and maintaing a healthier weight over a long period. Again and again I have tried to drive home the point that “it’s not about the scale” and “don’t do anything to lose weight that’s not a long-term behavior change.”
According to these folks, they feel “abandoned” and that the challenges they face are “unique” to their situation. Some said they felt inhibited talking in meetings about their maintenance experience either because it wasn’t invited or they felt it didn’t fit with the conversation. And many of them said that we need to have meetings exclusively for Lifetime members.
On the one hand, I heard what they were saying loud and clear. In my own meetings moving forward, I will double-check my own efforts to make the conversation open to all, and certainly to include the experience and the perspective of people who have reached a healthy goal. And as I have always done, I will emphasize that no matter what the scale might say on any given day, you are always a welcomed and needed part of the discussion.
But I also feel compelled to say this: there is no effortless way to be healthy.
Despite many admonitions to the contrary, most people during the losing part of their journey with WeightWatchers adopt diet-like behaviors. Very frequently a person will give up a favorite food or favorite restaurant. Many will also temporarily clear their schedules in order to make time for extra workouts at the gym. New, strange recipes will be concocted that don’t taste great but, hey, are low in calories. (Having done this in the past, I dubbed it the “mindset of scarcity.”)
But here’s the deal, short term behaviors with no thought of the future kind of suck for weight management. If we operate on the assumption that “I’m just doing this for now,” we’ll be like all those people who join the gym in January and then keep paying –but not going– for the rest of the year.
Listen, I get it. You might not want to always weigh and measure food, you might not feel like keeping an eating journal, you may get sick of how hard it is to always pay attention. You will experience setbacks and sometimes your efforts will not be rewarded.
Yet as we try out new strategies, it’s important to identify at least SOME we can stick with for the long run. For example, even when I was overeating this year and not managing my weight, I made sure to stay active, to drink plenty of water, to focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Most importantly, I kept going to meetings, where I got to hear lots of different people on many different parts of the journey.
And now that I’m back on track, I’m using the same weight “loss” methods that have always worked for me. Tracking my food, controlling my portions, and trying not to use food to solve emotional concerns.
You know, things that work. For a lifetime.