Leave Weight Watchers Alone – The Sequel

Way back in December, we had another piece on Weight Watchers that I often think of when I consider my own relationship with food, my body, and yes, the dreaded Diet Industrial Complex.  My name is Luci Furious and I’m on Weight Watchers”¦ and I like it.  TW for some discussion of weight loss and relationship with food.

I often struggle to reconcile my desire to lose weight with my belief that weight loss is overrated and everyone would be better off if people stopped being judged for their weight.  All I know is that for me, Weight Watchers is the right choice to help me get my unhealthy relationship with food under control and to get back to a healthy weight for me.  Let me repeat myself here, FOR ME, Weight Watchers is the right choice.  And here is where I start to get annoyed.  Because no, Weight Watchers might not be the right choice for everyone.  Just like Jenny Craig wouldn’t be the right choice for me because I need to learn to make better food choices.  Being on Jenny Craig wouldn’t help me get to the core of my problem, but Weight Watchers does.

Meghan’s post in December was about Weight Watchers’ new program, which among a few changes, made fruits 0 points.  I struggled with the change at first because I had used Weight Watchers several years ago to lose 40 pounds and as a result I had the points for most foods memorized, and I could reasonably estimate the points of any new food.  But with the program shift I didn’t know the points off the top of my head, which meant I had to return to tracking my food online to see the new points.  In some ways this ended up being a bummer because high-carb foods (i.e. the foods I tend to eat the most of), and I would get annoyed that I was going over my points.  But then I would be like, wait! I can eat this apple for no points! Whereas before I might have chosen something that was equivalent or more points, because points are points, I am now often choosing something healthier.  Not always, because let’s be real, sometimes you just need Teddy Grahams. So that’s one area where I really like WW, and especially their new model.

I am all about people learning to have a healthier relationship with their own bodies and food, but sometimes I feel like the messages that are out there are on two extremes.  You have the Hollywood/model super-skinny/unrealistic for most people to obtain images of women that are out there.  We’re all familiar with that one.  And then on the other end of the spectrum are people who believe that no one should ever diet and everyone should just be happy with where they are.  So where does that leave someone like me?  I gained back the 40 pounds I had lost after I began to take a medication.  Once I stopped taking the medication, I found that I couldn’t lose weight as easily as I had in the past, and then I got discouraged leading to a downward spiral of further weight gain.  So where do I go for messages that are accepting of weight loss and the desire to lose weight, whether it be for vanity, health, or anything else, but at the same time doesn’t expect that people are going to be unobtainably thin?  Weight Watchers.  Of all the places I look for information about diets, weight loss, body image and everything else, Weight Watchers – the site, meetings, and message boards – consistently provide messages that are most consistent with my own personal beliefs.

Is Weight Watchers a perfect system? Of course not.  They rely pretty heavily on processed foods, purchasing a box of teeny WW snack cakes was one of the worst decisions I have ever made and I will go to my grave proclaiming that an avocado should be half as many points as it is.  But ultimately, for me, it’s done much more good than harm and I bristle every time I see Weight Watchers lumped in as part of the problem with the Diet Industry.  Maybe it is, but for me, it’s pretty much the only way I have any hope of getting to a healthier weight for me and getting my unhealthy relationship with food under control.

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Luci Furious

There are no bad times, only good stories.

43 thoughts on “Leave Weight Watchers Alone – The Sequel”

  1. I’ve never used weight watchers, but various aunts at various times have had great success with it, and in the end, I think my eating habits are based largely around the same principles as WW. That is I: Eat until I’m full, but try not to eat past when I’m full. Try to eat mostly healthy foods, but don’t restrict myself from “unhealthy” foods in moderation. Eat what I’m craving, but say no to what I’m not craving (i.e., I love cheetos and beer, so when I crave them, I have them; but my sweet tooth has mostly died, so I never eat sweets because somebody is passing around donuts, I only eat them when I REALLY want them.) This, combined with a newfound love of running, has almost completely gotten me over my body image issues. Not because I’ve lost weight (I haven’t) or pant sizes (I have, but not drastically.) But because it’s changed my focus from what my body looks like to how it feels and what it can does (and as a consequence, I am much happier with how it looks.) When I look in a mirror, even if I’m having a bloaty PMS day and have a moment of “ugh, belly roll” it’s always immediately followed by something like “Ooo, check out those big buff running calves that took my five miles today. NICE!”

    All of this is a very long-winded way of saying: I’m with you on this. I haven’t used weight watchers, but it’s always seemed like a reasonable approach to food, and especially weight loss, and I’m pretty sure I picked up a lot of my own eating habits from weight watchers just being around it a lot.

  2. I’m a WW success story. I mean, it’s pretty simple really, if you eat better and exercise you will lost weight.When I went to the gym religiously five days a week I did WW and I lost a lot of weight. I followed the point system to the letter and was pretty anal about it because I’m a perfectionist. I have to be honest and tell you that it didn’t make me happy though. No matter what size I am I always feel fat so I decided to stop, but I hope Luci has great results with it.

  3. I’ve never done WW, but I have recently started keeping closer track of what I eat with a diary, trying to get 5 fruits and veg in per day, and exercising more (which from what I understand isn’t *that* far off the principles of WW, right?). I’ve actually found that really helpful. I haven’t lost any weight that I can see, but I have more energy and I’m eating more mindfully, which is nice. Knowing that I’ll have to write it down makes me think hey, do I really need to break into the cheese in my fridge while I’m waiting for my post-gym egg to boil, or am I just eating because I’m impatient? I think I actually have a healthier relationship with food now than I did when I’d eat things mindlessly, stuff I didn’t even really enjoy, and then feel guilty about it afterwards. Now I just enjoy everything I eat and never feel badly about it afterwards.

    More importantly, where the diary has been really awesome has been in helping me increase my water intake and decrease my alcohol consumption. I used to have a G&T or two every night, but now I don’t anymore, just because it feels excessive when I have to write it down. I’m a pretty unapologetic boozer, but I can’t see any harm being done by cutting down.

    Oh, and I have a baby avocado almost every day. Damn the man. It makes my skin look great. Team avocado FTW!

  4. My mother lost a lot of weight on WW, and she’s kept it off. WW is one of the least offensive diet plans out there, but it still bugs me endlessly that one of their processed, empty calorie snack cakes is worth fewer points than an avocado. If they start taking the nutritional density of a food into account when calculating points, I’ll be really impressed.

  5. Luci, I want to thank you for this post, because today I finally mustered up the courage to sign up for WW. I had been mulling it over for MONTHS, and reading this post just finally made me think, “what the hell do I have to lose just trying it out?” I too have an unhealthy relationship with food and I think actively keeping track of what exactly I eat will help me eliminate the junky crap, and being a part of a supportive community will give me the encouragement I need to maintain healthy habits. Like you said, it’s not about a choice that works for everyone, but a choice that works best for YOU.

  6. WW is just counting calories masked as a “point system” and I just can’t see any good with obsessing about every single thing that goes in your mouth because to me the idea seems to be that WW is the lesser of two evils and not as bad as the rest but where is the good in it? People with healthy relationships to food don’t obsess over what they eat they eat what they want when they want and being restricted to buying one product from one manufacturer, pullease, how is that “freedom”? I just can’t buy into the whole lesser of two evils thinking. The whole idea of die-eting needs to be revamped, IMO.

    1. I don’t think it’s quite fair to diminish other people’s positive experiences with a program like WW just because you don’t see calorie-counting as a way of maintaining healthy eating. For some people, eating what they want when they want may be a healthy relationship with food. But for many other people it isn’t, because it leads to bingeing. Luci’s point in this article is that WW works well for her and many other people.

      1. Luci expressed her opinion about WW and I’m just expressing my own. It’s not about diminishing another person’s experience. I wish I could say that counting calories is healthy but I just don’t believe that. and as far as it “working”for certain people, if I could accept the idea that being thinner and less than is the goal and ultimately how we determine what “works” for people with eating disorders, okay I might have to say that WW works but it’s not true because that’s not how it works; die-eting is not how you treat an eating disorder.

        1. The thing is: I don’t have a healthy relationship with food. I need a system like WW, because “eating what I want when I want” isn’t something I can do right now. I would like to eventually be in a place where I could do that and I hope to use tools learned in WW as a base for that. But I also don’t see it as a diet, I see it as a means to help me learn healthier eating patterns. I feel like telling someone like me to just “eat what I want when I want” is akin to telling someone with anorexia to “just eat” or a person with depression to “just cheer up.” It’s not helpful and it doesn’t work.

          1. Luci, I’m not telling YOU that you should eat what you want when you want, I’m telling you that I believe when we have a healthy relationship with food we eat what we want when we want and we no long obsess over it. So we disagree and I’m okay with that. I hear you saying you don’t see WW as a diet but that’s what it is and I also hear you saying you’d like to get to a place where you can do that and I hope you get there too but disagree that WW helps you do that. The people on WW that I know who have had “success” with it, lose the weight when they are on it and only keep the weight off when they keep doing it but gain it back as soon as they stop.

            For Maggie below:

            I may be incorrect, and feel free to correct me, but are you saying people who diet to lose weight are suffering from eating disorders?

            No.

            1. I guess I think of dieting as more like either Atkins or South Beach where you eliminate entire food groups, or something ridiculous and unsustainable like a cabbage soup diet. Part of the reason I like WW is because I think it’s sustainable. NGL, sometimes it does feel like a diet, but overall I think it’s less restrictive than that. But I also don’t necessarily think that dieting to lose weight is bad, using any generally reasonable method, so I think we will always disagree on that.

              1. I hear you Luci, and I’m okay that you disagree with me. I view dieting pretty much the way it’s defined “Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight:” and so we disagree and that’s no biggie. I don’t require you to agree with me and I hope you don’t require me to agree with you. I think the intention behind the dieting is what determines whether it’s good or bad and only the person dieting knows for certain why they’re doing it. So if you changed what you were going to do based only on the fact that I disagreed with you that would be kind of crazy because obviously its your right to make decisions about your life, just like I have the right to do the same. We all do and I know we agree on that.

                1. I want to thank you and Luci for you each explaining your points of view in this thread right here. I know that I have some complicated issues with dieting, and seeing some of them hit here and in Luci’s (seriously awesome) post was helpful.

                  I don’t have much to add except “thanks for the thinking”.

          1. I wasn’t sure if that was for me or Kimora. But if it’s for me I definitely don’t think that people dieting to lose weight have eating disorders at all. I think some of them probably have some unhealthy relationships with food and eating. I think many people who diet to lose weight probably just want to lose weight and don’t have any disordered eating at all.

        2. I respect your right to your opinion, and I in no way was attempting to silence you. But my own opinion is that you seem to be conflating what is right for you with what is right for everyone else. The entire point of Luci’s article was that WW works for her goals to develop healthier eating habits, so for you to say it doesn’t work IS diminishing her experience, as well as the experiences of many others. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to personal health and fitness, and you can be healthy at many sizes. But for many people, particularly those like me who have difficulty controlling their eating habits, losing weight by developing healthier patterns of eating is a legitimate goal, and it shouldn’t be diminished because YOU don’t feel it works.

          1. Preach it, Kitty.

            That’s just so dismissive to so many people. Sure, just like with everything, dieting can be done to extremes, and there are many people out there counting calories that may not “need” to (according to society’s idea of what they should weigh/look like). But everyone is different and if WW works for some, makes them feel healthy and good about themselves, then it cannot be a bad thing. And I really take issue with implying dieting in general is a bad thing, or that counting calories is wrong. “eating whatever you want, whenever you want” does not work for many people for various reasons.

          2. I’m not speaking for anyone else I’m speaking for myself just like everyone else is. Luci is speaking for herself, you are speaking for yourself and none of us can ever really speak for anyone else, come on. She said she feels it will work for her and I say, IMO, from my experience, from what I’ve observed in my life and in the lives of other people who have did it in my presence that it doesn’t work period and it’s not any different than dieting. I commented more to speak to Luci’s statement here:

            I often struggle to reconcile my desire to lose weight with my belief that weight loss is overrated and everyone would be better off if people stopped being judged for their weight..

            1. I’m trying to understand where you’re coming from here. From your statement above that everyone should be able to eat what they want when they want, you sound like you’re very much in support of people making their own choices regarding food, weight, and health. But you turn around and continually insult Luci and her choices (and by association, the choices of many others) by telling her the choices she’s making (and that she says DO work, FOR HER) don’t work. She isn’t saying it WILL work, she’s saying it already HAS worked to help her develop healthy habits and this is what she HAS EXPERIENCED. You are directly contradicting her personal experiences and I see this as very dismissive, and rather contradictory to the freedom of choice it sounded like you were espousing above.

              1. OMG please lets agree to disagree! I expressed my opinion on whether WW works and I certainly have the right to express my opinion which I can only speak for myself and from the point of view of my experiences, which is different from what was expressed in the article what else is there is to say! The whole idea that I am being insulting simply because I disagree is subjective, and being told I didn’t express my opinion the “right” way . . . I’m not even going to speak on that.

        3. Counting calories is no different than keeping track of vitamin A, iron, sodium, or trans fats. It’s just the way we moralize the calorie intake that forces a change upon it. Being aware of what you put into your body is in no way disordered in itself.

    2. I don’t think you understand Weight Watchers. The whole point is that you’re NOT restricted to buying one food from one manufacturer. They do shill their own diet snack products and such, with the points there as a shortcut on the package, but the point of the system is not like Jenny Craig or whatever, where you buy your three meals a day for seven days a week and only eat that. It’s a guide to teach you how to balance the food choices you make every day. Yes, just like any diet or food plan it’s about calories/fat to some extent, but it’s also about stuff like fiber and protein, and more importantly, portion sizes. The whole point is to understand what this food is that you’re putting into your mouth, regardless of where it came from.

      I think your comment was incredibly rude. Luci laid out in the very first line what this post was going to be about. If you want to challenge Weight Watchers on its actual drawbacks, that’s fine. I find a lot of helpfulness in it (especially in understanding portion sizes), but the constant counting and writing things down makes me a little neurotic after a while and the group meetings make me really uncomfortable. But to attack WW for being something it’s not isn’t fair to the program itself. And to come into the comments with a “die-et” and “pullease” tone toward Luci for discussing how WW works FOR HER is really not cool.

      1. If it’s rude to disagree then I’m guilty. I’m not about to trip all over myself playing nice and agreeing to something that I don’t agree with. We’re all adults here. I hope this blog is not a place where only people who agree are allowed to reply. i was not attacking WW but I don’t agree with it period end of story. I keep seeing articles where people are all yessing each other to death and that may be the MO for others but that’s not my style. If I agree I agree if I don’t I don’t and I don’t say so on every article either. Also you cannot tell “tone” online.

        1. I notice from your reg date that you’re new around here. We definitely disagree with each other, but we try to be respectful when we do it. A good example of this would be FifthPensieve’s Sunday’s A’Comin’ post. Some readers objected to what they perceived to be proselytising, and everyone explained themselves in a way that was clear they were trying to be understanding of other people’s points of view. I’m not a mod and can’t tell you what to do or how to act, but since the beginning here at PM, we’ve all tried to be respectful of each other when we do have a problem.

          I’m not saying you have to agree with Weight Watchers or dieting. I am saying that there are lots of ways to talk about the shortcomings and failures of the program without resorting to sensationalistic language like “die-eting.” Check out this for an interesting take on WW that you might find more agreeable. Luci said from the very first paragraph of this post that WW is not for everyone and she acknowledges that it can be problematic for some people but that it works for her, and she wanted to talk a bit about that. If you want to take a broader discussion about what works or doesn’t work for you in terms of weight and body acceptance, that’s fine. But you should probably first educate yourself on the program you’re critiquing (it seemed from your first comment that you didn’t understand that WW isn’t a packaged food program like Jenny Craig) and lay it out in a way that’s not insulting to the author of the post or others reading it that it might have resonated with.

          Finally, while tone is difficult to detect on the internet, I’m pretty sure that “pullease” sends a clear signal that you’re disdainful of the topic at hand. Dieting may not be for you, but Luci was speaking about herself. There’s no need to write them off dismissively because you don’t have the same experiences.

          1. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I’m not sure why I’m being “ganged up on” and I certainly don’t like it but you can be certain that I’m not smug or being flippant, those feelings are coming from inside of you. If I’m flippant about anything it’s dieting period I don’t think I’m being rude just honest about my feelings on dieting and how I’ve seen WW “work” on people who struggle with food. I actually wish Luci the best of luck and hope she loses lots of weight and finds happiness in that. I bet if I just wrote that sentence people would have loved my comment but that’s not all I felt and I chose to express the rest of what I felt, which I don’t need permission or a stamp of approval to do so.

    3. TW: ED Discussion

      As someone recovering from an eating disorder who still needs a lot of help getting to a healthy weight for myself, WW provides enough of a disconnect between my calorie counting ED behaviors to allow me to explore foods while still changing my eating habits to less reliance on processed or fast foods & more lean proteins and fruits and veggies

      I just feel like there’s a lot more on the spectrum than calorie counting on one end & healthy relationship with food on the other & WW isn’t the lesser of two evils, but just another option

  7. I have to love WW. It has helped so many people I know.
    My grandmother used it and though she doesn’t actively participate now, she still practices the same dietary habits. She’s in her 70s and still incredibly fit.
    Two girls in my sorority went on WW together because they had eating disorders. One was approaching AN and another had full on AE. They learned how to have, maintain and love healthy bodies. So, I love it. I love them. I love how happy they are. (though I hate that the latter sister has already run a marathon and she’s 25 – it’s love-hate, totally okay)

    But me? I don’t know why I can’t get into it.
    Well there may be a reason. When you come home and say to your turtle, “Make me dinner, I’m too tired.” You know you’re not going to put any effort into good food and eat whatever a microwave can produce. Also. I hate grocery shopping. Wait. I hate remembering to go grocery shopping. That’s more like it. Gah.

  8. Out of all the ‘diets’ out there, I think WW does the one of the better jobs of teaching awareness and consciousness about food. It has worked well for people I know, and is certainly a damn sight better than the Atkins/South Beach nonsense.

    If it works for you, and you’re healthy and happy, great.

    1. Sorry to hate on Weight Watchers, but they’re really no better than any other diet. They have the same weight regain statistics as every other diet. In other words, between 85-95% of people gain back all the weight they lose (often adding on more) within 3 to 5 years. I’m one of those people, and I blamed myself for years until I learned what good company I was in.

      Weight Watchers needs to come clean on their statistics just like other diet companies should. Until “results not typical” becomes their slogan, I will continue to hate on them.

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