When I started Weight Watchers (yikes, has it been more than five years since I was a member?) I succeeded because I embraced every inch of the plan. I counted points, stayed within my limits, hoarded activity points and more. It worked — I dropped 40 pounds and kept it off…for a while.
But I failed in the long run because it just was not a sustainable way of life for me, nor was it a maintenance program that I could embrace. While Weight Watchers absolutely allows for you to eat all foods — even junk — I really focused in on what I thought I “should” eat, and it was a short list.
- very little fat
- no white sugar/flour
- lots of diet foods (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice meals)
- tiny portions
In theory, that’s an awesome way to live (the diet foods, not so much). But it’s not a very enjoyable experience.
From that 2010 post:
I knew every “free” food there was — from diet sodas to non-starchy vegetables; sugar-free gum to black coffee. I bought fat-free foods whenever possible, even when they tasted like cardboard and left my tummy grumbling. I tracked down the foods with extra fiber and doubled up the servings. I turned down EVERY celebratory food (cake, champagne) and often opted out of fun events because I knew I’d have a tough time being around the food.
At the time, I didn’t know that I was on the edge of disordered eating. I mean, I was on Weight Watchers. WEIGHT WATCHERS! One of the most successful weight loss programs ever created!
And truly, it wasn’t until I got to maintenance status and became a Lifetime member that it registered that something was out of sorts.
I turned down birthday cupcakes and pizza (“I’ll just have the salad with vinegar on the side”) and second glasses of wine. And with every polite “no,” I rejected more than calories. I honestly opted out of what makes life great.
In 2010, when I wrote my original Weight Watchers review, I was moving in the right direction — embracing real foods, stepping back from restrictive eating — but I was still not really healthy. I thought I was at the time, but it’s only now that I really embrace my relationship with food (mostly healthy, some not).
Know what cured me? Pregnancy. Because for 10+ weeks, the only things I could tolerate were hummus, egg salad (with extra mayo), saltines and sour candies. Seriously, that’s the list.
Now that the morning (and afternoon and evening) sickness is long gone, I’m left with its legacy — a more balanced way of eating. I try and make wise choices — most of the time. I eat real food — most of the time. I eat a cupcake but not cupcakes in one sitting. Pizza and mayonnaise are back in my diet because they make life worth living. But instead of five slices, I try and have two and enjoy every cheesy, drippy bite.
Because for me, life is better with mayonnaise.