On January 6, 2009, I stepped into my first Weight Watchers meeting weighing a whopping 176 pounds. To be honest, I was expecting a LOT more- closer to 180-190 pounds. I may have been in the 190s prior to that. At the time, my home scale was either non-existent or non-functional, so I will never know for sure what kind of impact removing sodas and slurpees back in September 2008 had on my weight.
I did fairly well at staying on track up until about mid-June. That month consisted of TWO trips into NYC, my eighteenth Birthday celebrations, and more. In addition, my weight loss may have just naturally stalled. July consisted of a trip to Utah where I was faced with severe emotional eating, and when I came back to New Jersey, I was only home for a day before heading off to St. Louis. After a hectic summer, I started a new school and was unable to continue my meetings. I was around 152 pounds at my lowest, and after returning from St. Louis, I was up into the 160s.
Nearly a year after leaving Weight Watchers in 2009, I found myself walking into a meeting room once again in Tuscon, Arizona. This time, my weight had skyrocketed to 183.8 pounds. I went from being overweight to being obese in less than a year. Not only that, but in less than a year I went from skating on that line between overweight and a healthy weight to being obese.
Once again, I worked hard and lost the weight. I was
down to 152.6 pounds. Once again, I was skating on that same line. Only 2.6 pounds more and I could declare goal without a doctor’s note (though my personal goal was about 20-30 pounds lower than that). Unfortunately, that never happened because I hit that 31 pound lost mark around Thanksgiving. Knowing I wasn’t prepared to change to the new PointsPlus plan while tackling the holidays, I decided to take some time off and do things on my own.
I gained about 18 pounds in December, and while I tried to get into the swing of things with PointsPlus, I never did. By June, my weight was up to around 180 pounds once again.
If I were an outsider looking in, I would probably assume that someone who has been tracking and counting points for six months probably has a good handle on things, and I did. I thought I was forming good habits- especially the second time around when I was able to learn from my mistakes from my first go-around. But none of those habits seemed to stick, and now I’m sitting here fatter than ever.
To be honest, I’m not as heartbroken about being so close to goal and not reaching it as I am about not being able to maintain. I never saw myself as being one to track and count points or calories forever. I think I was always under the assumption that, over time, a healthy calorie-controlled diet would become second-nature. I would be able to indulge in high-calorie meals without going overboard, and without having to track. After all, I had been doing it fairly successfully for several months. I went into NYC, attended a wedding, and still dropped the weight without feeling deprived.
So, why didn’t I maintain my weight? How did I let the weight pile back on?
If it takes an average of 4 weeks to form a habit, then why didn’t my diet and exercise routine become habitual?
I cannot deal with the idea of counting calories for the rest of my life. I simply cannot. The variables and estimations when eating at non-chain restaurants stress me to no end, and I have never been a math/numbers girl anyway. At the same time, I do marginally better counting calories than I do following a diet restricted to a short list of foods like Paleo, South Beach, or a vegetarian diet. The only “food list” diet I may do well on is a diet that focuses on eating real, whole foods and eliminating certain chemicals- but I’m not sure I can be perfect on that one at the current moment, though I am leaning in that direction already- though even that can consist of quite a bit of junk food.
But look around at the diet programs out there and tell me how many of them don’t require you to either:
- Count calories, fat, carbs, fiber, protein, etc.
- Eat from an approved list of foods.
- Require you to severely restrict or eliminate all foods during certain periods (or all the time) [I would include Anorexia in this, by the way].
If you aren’t supposed to do something to lose weight if you are unable to do it for life, then, really, where does that leave me?