My wife Meka has been on Weight Watchers for several months now and she has been doing very well. I would show her progress, but I have been asked not to post any “before” pictures of her. She had more weight to lose than I did, but I promised that when she got close to what I needed to lose, I would join Weight Watchers too.Well, she’s hit that point and so I accompanied her last week.
The Weight Watchers meetings in Belvidere are held at the Salvation Army. Right off the bat we had to stand in line to be weighed in. Next to us was a pile of baked goods on a table with a big note for families to take two bags each. I resisted the temptation (though some of the rolls looked pretty good… and we hadn’t eaten yet). I didn’t want to start Weight Watchers on the wrong foot and I figured having my fists full of yeasty rolls would probably not make the best first impression.
I paid my dues then confirmed that I am indeed overweight. However, I’m not as overweight as I thought. Weight Watchers recommends you start with a goal of losing 10% of your body weight and then go from there towards what you ultimately have to lose. In my case, once I lose the 10%, I’ll be pretty much where I need to be in my healthy weight range.
I went to Weight Watchers a few years ago with Meka and – frankly – it didn’t work for me. It seemed to be geared primarily for women who were obsessed with food. My problem is just the opposite. I don’t really think that much about the food I eat, so I tend to eat what is fast and cheap and convenient (i.e., stuff that is bad for me). I did like their points system. That – to me – seemed like something I could do rather than some diets; am I going to eat nothing but grapefruit for the rest of my life? I don’t think so.
The meeting kicked off with a discussion of “red light” foods. Red light foods are ones you can’t stop yourself from eating; you will eat all of it if you are not physically restrained from doing so. I couldn’t really think of anything like that. Even my favorite foods, like deep dish pizza, I can’t eat more than a couple of slices at a sitting. The facilitator kicked things off with double-stuffed Oreo cookies. Someone mentioned brownies. The crowd oohed. Another mentioned cheesecake. The audience aahed in commiseration. I mindlessly eat pretzels when I watch TV sometimes, so I said that.
It turned out that pretzels are a lot of people’s “green light” food; something that is safe or in portions that are easy to stick to. Oh well.
Despite that, the meeting was entertaining and went quickly. The woman leading it was also a client of Weight Watchers. She was tall and thin, but had apparently been fifty pounds heavier at one point (it said so on her nametag). The other newbies and I stayed after to go through the basics of the system: the points, drinking lots of water, drink milk, eat fruits and vegetables and exercise. I picked up a package that included a journal to track my food and a little slide rule that translates calories into points.
So far, I have managed to stay on track. The first couple of days weren’t too bad. I even had one day where I finished up and still had 12 points left for the day. That was enough for another whole meal! However, on Saturday, my growling stomach woke me up out of a sound sleep. This week, I’ve been aware when I haven’t eaten. It’s an odd feeling for me, being aware that I need to eat and then to sit down and really think about what I can and can’t eat based on how many points I have left for the day. However, I was buoyed by the fact that I lost over a pound in my first week.
My wife says I will continue to feel hungry for the next few weeks. After that, I will feel better with the points I have as I get used to eating less and eating better. That’s fine with me. However, I don’t want to lose this feeling of being aware of food. I think that’s the key to Weight Watchers.