Monday, June 05, 2006

Weighing In: My Lunchtime Field Trip to a Weight Watchers Meeting

As some of you know, I’m a big proponent of the anti-diet movement. Weight Watchers, as flexible as the plan may be, still, in my mind, constitutes a diet. Before issuing my official stance on WW, however, I decided to attend a meeting.

A little bit of background: I was first introduced to WW through clients who’ve enrolled throughout the years. About five years ago, a client described her adherence to a WW food plan, as I listened intently:

“I get 24 points a day.”

“How many points are in a slice of pizza?” I asked, thinking of the smaller size slices typical of Domino’s, or Papa John’s, that I regularly enjoyed.


“Oh. . . So, what if you happen to have three slices of pizza for lunch?”

“That’s it.”

“You can’t eat the rest of the day?”

“Not technically.”

I began to think about the program’s restrictions and its tendency to promote alternate episodes of bingeing and fasting. Personally, I like to conceptualize what I eat as food, not points, and I can’t bear the possibility of restrictions. I’m the kind of person who, when visiting some friends in Ventura, CA and learning that there were no public bathrooms (I’m still perplexed!) immediately had to pee. Tell me not to eat, and you’d better clear the trajectory between the bag of Twizzlers and my mouth.

Nevertheless, I didn’t pursue a research degree for nothing, so it was only fair to gather some background data before I published my conclusions. This is how I ended up at a Manhattan WW meeting last week.

Just before noon, I entered the building and climbed the steps to the second floor, which opened to the meeting itself. The first thing I saw? The scales. (Cue the score to Jaws.) As those of you who know me are aware, I don’t believe in scales.

I completed a registration form and took my place on line. The card asked for my address. In anticipation of the upcoming, frequent mailings, I wondered, “What will the mailman think?” For the record, I’ve never before pondered the intricacies of my mail carrier’s mind. The form also inquired about any “disability” I might have that would require special consideration. I thought about the scales that lined the reception area. Yes, in fact, I have a condition that requires people to treat me with dignity and respect. It’s quite disabling. I also had to sign a waiver of damages, indicating that I would not hold WW responsible for any adverse health consequences. What, exactly, were they planning to do to me?

At the front of the line, I greeted the lady behind the counter, handed her my card, and stated that I was here to try out a meeting.

“$13, please.”

“Oh, I thought the first meeting was free.”

“No, it’s $13.”

“But, on the web site, it said the first meeting was free.”

“I’m not sure where you saw that.”

Probably on the specific web page entitled, “Visit a Weight Watchers Meeting for Free!” (See for yourself:

I scrounged through my bag for $13 and handed it to her, intent on not causing a scene, in a place where I’m already. . . out-of-place.

“How tall are you,” she asked.


“Ok, now, put down your bag, take off your shoes, and step on the scale.”

“Oh, I really don’t want to be weighed.” (part defiance, part personal philosophy)

“You have to be weighed. You don’t have to look, and I won’t tell you, but you have to be weighed in order to register.”

“Oh, you see, I don’t want to register. I just want to try out a meeting.”

She threw my $13 on the counter and said, “See me at the end if you’re interested in joining.”

Not off to such a good start.

I take a seat and survey the room. I notice a man from my gym. Terrific. What catches my attention is the preponderance of already-thin women. I wonder if they’re WW success stories, or if they’re just starting out, New York City’s take on “overweight.” Diaries, food planners, and boxes of Pretzel Thins, Smoothies, and Mini-Bars line the shelves that occupy the room’s perimeter. An older woman seated in front of me has a banana and a Diet Coke. (Lunch?) I later learn she’s been on the program for 40 years. 40 years?! I debate whether I’d rather go to WW or wander the desert for 40 years.

The meeting is facilitated by a woman I’ll call “Marilyn.” She’s 60-ish, and I believe she’s had work done on her face. Marilyn begins the discussion by focusing on “lapses,” when WW members fall off the wagon and eat in excess of their points. She mentions the tendency to overeat once you’ve already lapsed, rationalizing, “I’ll never be thin, anyway.” Her analysis is consistent with a cognitive therapy approach and focuses on the thought distortion known as “black-and-white” thinking. Nice work, Marilyn.

Marilyn continues by querying why a lapse occurs. People volunteer: stress, illness, missing meetings, attending dinner parties/special events. As solutions, members reiterate their commitment to plan their meals, come to meetings, and use their extra points. Marilyn also asks the group about their “last-straw incident,” the final push that brought them to WW (e.g., seeing themselves in a photo, doctor’s advice). She transitions to other ways people might handle their emotions, rather than reaching for food. Members offer: exercise, reading, talking to a friend. Here, Marilyn focuses on enhancing coping resources and self-soothing techniques. Not bad. Later on, she returns to the experience of emotions and, capturing the omnipresent legitimacy of what you feel, states, “You can’t take a feeling away from somebody.” That’s right.

Throughout the meeting, various members share their stories. Following one, Marilyn praises, “That’s a little bravo!” She hands out stickers as positive reinforcement. I suppose candy is out of the question. I don’t know what the stickers said. I didn’t get one.

It seems that in order to qualify for what’s called “lifetime membership,” you’re supposed to weigh below a certain amount. Marilyn points out that if there’s a bona fide reason you’re unable to attain this goal, “You can get a doctor’s note and Weight Watchers will accept that.” At one point, Marilyn notes, “Having a plan like this makes you feel happy.” I can understand secure, hopeful, in control, but I’m not sure I get “happy.”

Inadvertently, I learn a little bit about the food plan. It seems that, daily, you’re allowed two milks, two teaspoons of oil, five fruits, unlimited vegetables (mostly), a limited amount of grains and proteins at every meal, and “3-4 points a day for goodies.” I learn how to use “pointing” as a verb and that it has nothing to do with my index finger.

One woman reveals that following a meeting last week, she left and “immediately went out” and “was bad.” To me, there’s no such thing as “bad,” unless you’re hurting someone else, and it’s frustrating how commonly morality’s intertwined with food. I can, however, understand the need to rebel, particularly following a weigh-in (with consequent shame) and a discussion on restriction.

Marilyn closes the meeting by offering, “Think where you don’t want to be again and where you want to go.”

My answers arrive without pause (“here” and “home”), though, surprisingly, I’m not opposed to the program in its entirety. It seems to offer a bare bones approach to healthy eating, provides social support, incorporates a number of sound psychological principles, and is less restrictive than most diets I know. Still, it is a diet, forces (I believe) a fixation on counting and planning, and in its (even flexible) restrictions, can’t help but arouse rebellion—I’m not surprised when I hear how various members have yo-yoed as a result. Oh, and the scales? They really gotta go. . . .


PalmTreeChick said...

What? No public bathrooms in Ventura, CA?? I'm not going there unless I never drink another glass of water again. That's nuts.

And as much as I love/hate my scale, I'm not stepping on one in public. Thanks!

ps22 said...

Very diplomatic summary supplemented nicely by your wise opinion (not to mention, pretty funny). I see your point about the counting/planning. Bravo! You get a sticker!

Shaunta said...

I've made a commitment to myself to stop dieting. The hardest part is all the people trying to get me to do 'points'! I hear, "it isn't really dieting" a LOT. I'm still counting calories (trying to stay under 2000 a day), but I'm not restricting what I eat.

I want to stop weighing, and eventually not need to count calories. I'd love to see a post from you on how to break the scale habit. I hate having anything that I feel I 'have' to do.

p.s. I have a new

Teacher lady said...

I've done WW twice. Once during my master's program, when I had put on about 15 pounds (no one tells you that the "Freshman 15" can happen in grad school, too!). I lost 13.5 pounds, and then one day, when I read that a "serving" of baked tortilla chips was 15 chips, I lost it. I slowly ate my 15 chips. Then felt pissed off and rebellious. I had one more. Then one more chip. And then more and more and before I knew it, the bag was gone. Years later, after I had discovered the wisdom of Geneen Roth, I remember eating about 9 or 10 tortilla chips and putting the bag away because I felt full, and the chips weren't really tasting that good to me that day. I remembered that day with sadness. If only I had known it was about hunger and satiety. Not arbitrary numbers.

PalmTreeChick said...

A lesson on "breaking the scale habbit..."

I don't know anyone who might need that. HA!! That fits right in with my last post!

Good idea, Shaunta!

Haley-O said...

Have you noticed how many points the average person gets? I'm 5"1'--so, I would get 20 points per day! That's, like, 1000 calories--which is hardly healthy...and screams binge attack!

I learned this when I went to weight watchers--after friendly encouragement from family and friends (ahem hem)--to help me lose my pregnancy weight. I lost some weight, but I stopped because I saw what was happening: I was becoming obsessed with calories, fat and fiber, counting, exercise, points, the scale, all that.

As "flexible" as the diet plan's still a diet. In other words, it addresses the symptoms and not the causes of being overweight.

Thanks so much for this post, Doc. It was yet another enlightening read.... :)

PalmTreeChick said...

Haley-O is like the Queen o knowledge and wisdom.

drstaceyny said...

How to break the scale habit? Break the scale! Seriously, throw it away, give it away (to someone you don't like so much), send it to me, and I'll throw it off the roof of my 40-story high rise.

Shaunta--sounds like you're doing wonderfully. It is hard to counter everyone else's suggestions (as Haley-O knows), but it sounds like you really know what is working for you.

TL--great post (such a vivid image of you counting the 15 chips).

HO--20 points? That's fine, as long as you lie down on the couch and don't plan on moving for 24 hrs. Geez. Good for you for recognizing the beginnings of an obsession and getting out.

PTC--yes, no public bathrooms (not even in the Starbucks!) Interested to see how your scale-counting turned out. Geneen Roth(see her link on my page) talks abt the weighing ritual in one (or more) of her books. Think you'd enjoy reading it. . .

PalmTreeChick said...

How about I come throw it off your high-rise. Or better yet, off the Crystler building!!

Of course I'm talking about my old scale, not my pretty digital one I bought in the fall.

Oh, this is funny. I bought it and put it in my bathroom. About a week later my mom saw it and was like "when did you get a new scale?" I told her and she said "oh, you usually show me things when you buy them. How come you weigh yourself all the time?"

I was like "I don't." If she only knew how much I weigh myself.

(and yes, I still live with my parents. Trying to get out on my own.)

Haley-O said...

Doc, did you just call me a HO!? ;)

These initials were definitely a concern for me when I married into them...! I have fun with them, though!

drstaceyny said...

Haley-O--yes, I did, but in a very loving, supportive way.

PTC--it is my personal belief that scales cannot be "pretty."

P.S. Thanks, ps!

PalmTreeChick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PalmTreeChick said...

Yeah, I guess scales aren't "pretty" unless you see the number you want to see, which I have yet to see.

I read an article in the June issue of SELF I thought you might find interesting. It was about eating disorder treatments, and I can't think of the specific name of the treatment, but I thought it might be something that would interest you. I thought it was a strange method, but what do I know?

Jinniyah said...

My first post on my blog was a picture which I decided to entitle:
"It's not food. It's temptation, sin and penitence."

I just found your blog and you say
"To me, there’s no such thing as “bad,” unless you’re hurting someone else, and it’s frustrating how commonly morality’s intertwined with food."

You hit the nail on its head.
Although I agree with you, I simply can't think that way.

I've read all your posts and I will continue doing so.
I really do hope you turn this into a book. More people should start thinking this way.

Donna said...

Lucky me, I guess, I could have 33 points!

Weight Watchers helped me to lose 105 lbs. over 3-4 years. Now, I can't event think about doing it. I have learned the value of trusting myself, but I am guilty of denying myself too.

I did come to the realization that Weight Watchers is not for everyone. Despite being obese, I always kept highly active. I realized fairly quickly that 28 points wasn't going to fuel a 255 lbs. body to train for a triathlon (which I did). That kind of began my education in nutrition.

I learned that what mattered most was eating the right things, and the right balance. I still have trouble with denial, and then I pay the price by binging, but it's almost like once I start, I can't stop -- it becomes mindless eating.

I've been overweight most of my life. I've never let my weight stand in my way -- I always say, Fat doesn't make someone damaged goods, it just makes someone unhealthy.

I am pursuing gastric bypass surger (rny). I'm so very tired of of being stressed about what foods and how many points to eat. I swear if I exercised as much as I did contemplate how to spend my last 10 points of the day, I'd be skinny as a rail!

I have a 22 month old daughter. I don't want her to seem me consumed with this unhealthy obsession over foods. I want her to see me eat healthy and live fully. I want her to know food as fuel for her body, not as comfort.

Flowerchild said...

I just came across your site after visiting girladdicted.
I have joined WW more times than I can count and in all states of food mania. It has been the diet program that has made me the least food focused than others. But I am still FF.
I don't have a scale, I haven't had one for 25 years and I only go to the meetings every two weeks so I don't look at the numbers too often. It is the lesser of many evils out there.

fat-n-forty said...

I think you went in looking to find fault, and you found what you were looking for. I lost a lot of weight with WW and gained it all back when I stopped. For two years I was one of those skinny women in the meetings that everyone said "I can't believe she was ever fat!" I am now doing a modified version on my own, trying to relose the weight I gained when NOT dieting.

I would very much like to know you suggest I can lose 90 pounds without a diet or a scale.

By the way, I don't mean this post to sound snippy. I realize it does, but it isn't meant that way.

drstaceyny said...

fnf--that's actually an excellent question. True, I did go in with a belief (based on research) that diets don't work. The thing is, they do. . . until they don't. WW worked for you (as it does for countless others) until you stopped. I don't believe most ppl stop b/c they want to, but because they have to--there's a part of our psyches that can't stand restriction and if we feel like there are rules, we'll eventually rebel (either b/c of physical or psychological hunger or both). I'm not aware of any diet that allows ppl to lose large amounts of weight and keep it off (w/the exception of the 2% or so of folk that are able to do so). Lifestyle changes work, to some extent. If you're eating emotionally, then psychological approaches may be relevant. If I had to put my money on one method, I'd go with intuitive eating. . . .

Anizka said...

I started going to Weight Watchers when I was in Junior High. I'm 25 now and I've been signed-up for Weight Watchers at least half a dozen times or more. I've cried in Weight Watchers meetings; spent the meeting in the parking lot crying because I gained; and so on. I would get so completely frustrated with the whole program and being bulimic (I wasn't supposed to be there anyway) it was an additional challenge, as I became completely obsessed with the food to the point of taking a black magic marker and writing the points of everything in a box in my cabinets.

Finally I just stopped going. They sent me little postcards for a few weeks: "We Miss You! Come back!" I used to call it "Fat Club" but it really should've been called "Fat Cult." I would get especially disgusted with women who needed to lose about 5 lbs for vanity reasons.

Every meeting I went to, I would just set myself up for defeat and it would shape my outlook for the rest of the day and the week. Finally, it just wasn't worth the trouble.

Everyone else was getting bravo stickers, keychains, pins, and 10% badges except me. It was getting ridiculous when I was actually JEALOUS of those people. I prefer my positive reinforcement to come in the way my clothes fit, new clothes, or getting a manicure: things that make me feel beautiful and put together even if I've put on a pound or two. It's an ongoing struggle, but it's not worth semi-public humiliation and well-meaning elderly women behind the weigh-in station whispering their disappointment that you've gained and feigning enthusiasm when you've lost.

Positive reinforcement at Weight Watchers only came if you lost weight and for me, that was an unhealthy approach and obsession.

plain(s)feminist said...

I don't know if you'll see this, since I'm commenting on such an old post, but...

I had a really different experience with Weight Watchers. I should note that I have not owned a scale for at least ten years, and I am religiously anti-diet. But WW wasn't a diet for me (and the person who told you that if she used up her 24 points at lunchtime she couldn't eat anything else was dead wrong).

At it's worst, I will admit, it *sounds* like a diet. The people at the meetings will say things like "I was bad," it's true. However. At it's best, it's simply a way to focus on losing weight by eating more healthily. If I wanted to eat only processed foods, dairy, meat, bread, etc., then, yes, I'd be hungry and run out of points quickly. But I can eat all the cauliflower, carrots, green beans, broccoli, salad, etc. I want - they are zero points. Most fruit is 1 point per serving. Lean meats and fish are 1 point per ounce. So I found that I didn't get hungry on WW once I had adjusted from the foods I usually ate to eating more fruits and vegetables.

I still have issues with the marketing and the way the program is administered, both as a feminist and as someone who used to have an eating disorder. But the plan itself I've found helpful.

For what it's worth.

Oh - and in the Midwest, the people at the meetings are never skinny!

Name72 said...

"Results not typical".

This is what Weight Watchers says about themselves. They have to, because to do otherwise would constitute false advertising. They depend on members currently losing not making such distinctions when promoting the plan, but that is the reality of WW. For all the insistance that its a magic cure, the truth remains.

Results not typical.

Alyssa said...

I've joined WW 3 times. The first time, I lost 5 pounds then found out I was pregnant, so I stopped. The second time was after the birth of my second child, the third time was actually just about 8 months ago. I finally quit for good after reading a bunch of articles on IE. I finally realized that WW was putting me back into my old ways of thinking, when I was first bulimic then borderline anorexic. I discovered that I wanted to STOP obsessing about food, and WW had just the opposite effect on me. I was constantly calculating points, overexercising so I could earn more points, and eating junk I hadn't eaten in years because I was bingeing again.
BTW, The beaches in Ventura have public restrooms. Not the cleanest!

Eve said...

Obviously, any way of eating is not going to work if you do not do the mental work to help you stay healthy. I like WW, but I don't think the same thing will work with everyone. I did feel you missed some of the options for it. People can also do the Core program, which only uses Points for extra foods, and add points from their workouts if they need to eat more due to activity. There is a also a bottom limit of points that you never go below. Points are basically just a way of counting calories, but they are weighted to count higher depending on the amount of fat and a little lower depending on the amount of fiber. They also now tailor the amount of points based on your age, height, sex and daily activity level.

Anyway, I just wanted to add that in. I have had disordered eating in the past and made a deal with myself when I joined WW that I would not call any food bad and if I wanted a particular food I would eat. Those kind of decisions should be made for everyone - I had read Geneen Roth, too, which I really like a lot, but I also needed to learn a little more specifics about what volume to eat. Sounds funny to say, but it is true - I had no idea what a serving was or when I was full or hungry.

Alyssa said...

I think a lot of us have trouble with how much a serving is, with all the supersizing that has gone on the past couple of decades. I did try the Core Plan, as well, but realized WW just wasn't for me. I think you're absolutely right; nothing will work if you're not mentally prepared for it.

April said...

They want to weigh you because they don't let anyone do the program who isn't at least ten pounds over the bottom of "healthy" weight by those height weight tables. I tried to join when I was a bit overweight but not much, and they wouldn't let me join until they verified that I could in fact lose weight without becoming underweight.


Kate said...

Interesting blog and very funny :) I enjoyed it. I'm doing WW now and it's been hard but dang, im keepin on keepin on because I feel better already in week 2. Can anyone tell me how many points I'm supposed to be eating...I weigh 220 and I've been eating 27 but not sure if that's right or not.

Francesca said...

I live in Ventura, CA and there are plenty of public bathrooms in Ventura, especially on or at the beach. And the Starbucks (on Main Street)bathroom is open to the public - you just gotta get a key from the counterperson. There are public restrooms in the Pacific View Mall, all department and variety stores (Mervyn's, Kohl's Target, K-Mart) all grocery stores (Vons, Ralphs, Albertson's)and in most gas stations. Where were you that you couldn't find a bathroom to use??

Sheila said...

This is the first time I've seen your site and I also think that every woman has an eating disorder/body image issues.

I haven't read a lot of your posts but I'm curious? You say that you think that restricted eating leads to out of control eating. Do you think that restrictions in other areas lead to excess as well? Such as sex, finances, etc?

Shameless Honesty said...

I have been struggling with my eating disorder(s) since I was 5 years old. A friend of mine recently joined WW-she is not by any means overweight- and has been obsessing over food and calories, filling up on styrofome resembling snack products and complaining about how fat she is. She has also started binging at night, realizing that she has already ruined her day, so she can just start again tomorrow. It is just like your bathroom example. She was eating fine and maintaining a healthy weight without thinking about it, and now she eats ravenously like tomorrow will never come because she is on a program of restriction. Food is neither a reward or a punishment. It is a part of our daily world and that is why any sort of addiction is so incredibly hard to break. It is never really about looking better, it is an attempt to control our lives, our low self esteem, and the constant messages we receive from society and from eachother that says that we aren't good enough. It is so sad that we restrict ourselves by any means in order to combat the pressures that don't really matter.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I am 24 years old and I tried weight watchers at 20 I weighed 165 pounds and was 5'3. I had extremely unhealthy eating habits and not as active as i should have been. I can proudly say that I lost 35 lbs and have kept every ounce off (4 years). I no longer count my points but I have maintained a workout routine. I learned life changing information, I learned about healthier alternatives to the foods I was eating. I am much more aware of what I am putting in my mouth as apposed to just grabbing what I see. We have an epidemic of overweight people in this country that don't need diets they need the knowledge to maintain a healthier lifestyle. I don’t miss a meal and I love to cook. So despite what you may here about WW I think it's wonderful! You put in an effort you will see results!

VeggieGal said...

I just found your site and totally agree with your assessment, we all have eating issues. I have been through WW several times, here's the real kicker... The math they use, pretty much, a point = 50 calories. I'm 5'4" tall and get 20 points a day, yes, that's right, do the math. Of course, there are the 35 points you get to use during the week, but hello, it works because it is VERY low calorie.

Jamiinvegas said...

The Problem with WW , Jenny Craig etc.. in my opinion is 2 fold . 1. If you don't succeed there is something wrong with you and not the program. 2. They not only don't address but worsen the impurities that are trapped in the fat cells leading to weight problems ( with their highly processed food). I did WW , no luck , never Jenny Craig , and a bunch of others but the only thing that really got rid of the weight and made me actually feel better was nutritional cleansing.

Anonymous said...

i went to ww and lost 28 lbs then school started which takes all my time and energy i have missed 9 meeting will i have to pay for those 9 meeting i did not attend to return? i have since then gained 8 lbs back. i need someone to really encourage me. i have had so much tragedy in my family i stay depressed and eat with every depressing phone call. please help.

OBChead said...

I went to WW 15 years ago when it was offered to our hospital employees with a dues discount. The first meeting there were 72 of us. Week three we were down to 28. As the weeks went by we were down to 9, then 2. Yep, I was one of the two, and then finally the only one in the hospital. I lost 79lbs and a large part of my sanity. I know how many points I or anyone else in sight is eating. I never eat a thing without numbers, calories, fat, fiber, and protein running through my head. By the way my departmeent through me a party at the hospital for hanging in there and losing so much. The cake was huge!

francescafell said...

I went to WW and found it great until I got a bit down, had a few bad weeks and NO ONE asked why or offered any help. So depressing and humiliating.

Heather B said...

A nicely balanced post, especially given your blog's name. I lost 50 lbs with WW a couple of years ago and have varied within a 10-lb range above my lowest since then. So, I have mostly good feelings for WW. Still, I recognize that what made it work for me could make it bad for other folks.

I think the plan can be pursued more or less diet-like. Personally, I tried to use my points to design a healthful and whole-foods diet, staying away from the processed food they offered most of the time. The core plan ("simply filling" these days) pushes even further that direction, and approximates what I'm using to maintain, though I lost the weight with the flex plan.

I know the WW experience can vary *widely* depending on which leader and receptionist you get. The best are supportive, attentive, and able to help solve problems. The worst can suck all your self-esteem for the day or week with one raised eyebrow. I've experienced the gamut, but was lucky that my first experiences were so excellent. Sounds like you had one of the less-good receptionists, and one of the better leaders.

The woman who had been on WW for 40 years was probably (hopefully) a lifetime member. Being on maintenance with WW is more like having support for the continued lifestyle change (at least so far) and helps rein me in when I've had a few too many treats lately and the weight starts creeping up again. Then, I know to focus more on the "filling foods" for a while.

The sticker given out by the leader is a little star that says "Bravo" on it. They're silly, but I enjoy them.

Your paragraph about what "you're allowed" on the food plan is talking about the Good Health Guidelines. In reality, you're *supposed* to have *at least* 2 servings of milk, 5 fruits and veggies, etc. Having only been to one meeting, it's not surprising you didn't get the full info on that.

Golf_Girl78 said...

Funny! I too had the same "first meeting free" experience with a friend. The "leader" of the meeting had no idea what we were referring to (even with a printed copy of the WW advertisement for a free meeting). Needless to say, we didn't stay (as were were not welcomed). My beef with the WW diet (because it is a diet) is that you can basically eat whatever you want as long as you stay within your points. I know someone who "follows" WW and eats only junk, and once she reaches her maximum points, she doesn't eat the rest of the day.

I find that planning meals around the Canada's Food Guide (food pyramid in the US?) is an easy, healthy way to plan a balanced meal. And snacks in moderation are not going to kill you! I also agree with getting rid of the scale. When I was on my weight loss journey, I measured my bust/waist/hips and found it much more motivating than any scale!

Victoria said...

I love your philosophies, your appraisal of WW (which I, myself, have tried) and your writing style! If you're interested in a little anti-diet fun, please take a look at my blog:

Another Weight Watcher said...

I am on weight watchers at the moment and it is my third time with the program. I have read many of the posts here and both agree and disagree. The idea of the program is to make your points work for you. Meaning: use your points wisely and you can eat more and feel more satisfied. Protein and fiber-rich foods, fruits and vegetables. If you load up on sugar and carbs obviously you aren't using your points wisely. In that sense it isn't a diet, but rather a way to teach you how to eat healthy.

That said, I am struggling right now because I suffered from bulimia a few years back, and being back with weight watchers, after losing 50 pounds to date since Jan 2 this year, i am experiencing a recurrance of my old binge-purge habits. It is a way for me to control my weight loss. I am overwhelmed with guilt because I feel like I am not coming by losing the weight honestly. I am exercising and feel great, but then I have a few down-in-the-dumps days and want to give it all up. This has just began within the last couple weeks. I keep telling myself "don't go there", be sensible, etc etc.Any sound advice?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, i feel that with the prepared and packaged foods available today, and our disgustingly morphed perception of what a "serving is", everyone should be on some sort of a "diet".

To comment on part of the post:
“Oh. . . So, what if you happen to have three slices of pizza for lunch?”
NO ONE should be eating three pieces of pizza for any meal. On average, one (1) fast food/take-out pizza slice has 5 grams of fat and 300 calories (just a cheese slice)!!

We are bombarded with the super-sized, 72 oz and the biggie (and unfortunately, it is cheeper than what's good for you). And it's not just fast food: Dinner plates (your average, shopped at Target or Pier One for my dinner plates) have grown three inches in the past 30 years! (12 inches is the norm now, where it was 9". . . . Ever moved into an older home and realized your plates didn't fit in the cupboard??)

In a world where people think that three pieces of pizza, or a bowl of pasta, or a portion of meat at a restaurant is one (1) serving. . . Yes, everyone should be on a diet.

Next time you are at a larger chain restaurant (Olive Garden, PF Changs, Applebees and TGI Fridays I know all of these places have have them and will hesitantly bring them to you), ask to see the nutritional menu. See if you can't find the meal that boasts over 1,700 calories and 7o grams of fat . . . yikes.

MuC10 said...

WW is bad, and does cause eating disorders. It caused a riff betweend my girlfriend and I. She constantly asked for my approval and support for doing the program; but in the end caused her an eating disorder and ended our relationship. We both took on a "healthier lifestyle" together, but I on the other hand just exercised and watched the types of foods I ate. I am sorry for her situation, and I am most hurt that she blames me for WW and some of the ideals that it as a coporate money-maker upholds. Don't make drastic changes, just sutle ones that you know you can keep and build a healthier lifestyle one step at a time.

Dani S. said...

In response to the comment about gastric bypass surgery - "I don't want her to seem me consumed with this unhealthy obsession over foods. I want her to see me eat healthy and live fully. I want her to know food as fuel for her body, not as comfort."

I know it's probably 6 years after that comment was posted, but for other folks who come across this... I don't know if gastric bypass surgery will do that any more than Weight Watchers would, but I know neither of them are supposed to.

The only thing I've ever found that could fix my own obsession with food and my body, my comfort eating, and get me to a place where I could live healthily and eat fully, was the 12-step programs around food.

A lot of anorexics and bulimics go to Overeaters Anonymous (as well as all the compulsive overeaters), but I had trouble with that because I am both anorexic and a compulsive overeater, and I heard too much unexamined anorexic thinking in my local OA meetings. (People talking about losing the "fat in my brain" and generally associating fat with negative things all the time. Rein it in, buddies. I know people who have gotten a lot out of it tho.)

I got a LOT out of Anorexics And Bulimics Anonymous meetings, and I've seen a lot of good literature from Eating Disorders Anonymous too. ABA even has phone meetings and recorded speakers at

Working the 12-step program (which is free mind you, unlike Weight Watchers! or surgery either. and no scales thank goodness) relieved me of my obsession with food, and let me stop eating to try to fix my feelings. I started noticing that my body looked skinnier to me when I felt better about myself, and fatter when I was in fear or self-judgment.

Which taught me that I did not have an accurate view of my body. If I don't see the same body in the mirror from day to day or week to week, and I know nothing is actually changing that much that fast, how can I make decisions (like "no more food for me!" or "a gallon of ice cream for me!") that are based on how I think my body looks?

Now I can eat when I am hungry, and eat until I am full. I eat much healthier foods and I continue to educate myself about nutrition - and about new and tastier foods! Food is fun now, instead of a tool to self-flagellate or stuff my feelings with.

I was surprised that a search didn't turn up any results about those programs, so I thought I should share here. I actually found this post because a friend wanted to get me to do Weight Watchers with her, and I had read that it was the only working, scientific way to lose weight, and part of my brain had been saying "Never mind just eating healthy food and having a healthy relationship with your body! You gotta get rid of that pot belly! This will do it, and it'll be fun to do all that MATH!" Oh, that crazy anorexic obsession that just wants to count things and do math. So I googled "anorexic weight watchers" to see if I could get realistic feedback about whether this would trigger all my anorexic thinking - and what I realized was that my anorexic thinking was already trying to get into the driver's seat, or it would never even have come up! So now I'm moving on, back to loving my body and the food that goes into it.

nmr06212 said...

If you wanted to loose weight, why would you have 3 pieces of pizza in one meal? Surely one is enough with a side salad. I think you went into the meeting hoping to be disappointed, and then you were. And from what it sounds, the receptionist was just doing her job. Program doesn't work if you don't put the effort in.

Sorvea said...

Weight Watchers can be a double edged sword.... I go to them, I need to lose over 100 pounds, and accountability is a big thing with me... So I noticed after a week where I only lost one pound, I would work out too much, and eat, maybe at most... less then 500 calories a day for that week... I was so anemic, and shaky when I stepped on the scale.. but I lost 3 or 4 pounds that week! But I was so hungry, I considered buying an overpriced $6.99 box of those "Ultra-Sexy, velvet chewy Brownie-Bites" and devour all four servings.... Nope, I wait it out, then head to the Mac-Shack and get a Big Mac and and chocolate shake, and immediately regret it.... I did all that hard work, and blew it! Time to live off gum for the rest of the day, and oh yeah, better hit that Treadmill three times a day! Weight Watchers has a long standing history, but just be careful.