Apparently I have been eating too much free food and somehow I’ve picked up 20 pounds too much for my size. In my opinion, Weight Watchers is by far the best lifestyle change (note I didn’t say “diet”) you can make to combat weight issues. I only have superficial knowledge of other weight loss plans out there, but here is Weight Watchers in a nutshell:
- Eat anything you want. Yes, you can have cheeseburgers for breakfast and donuts for lunch and dinner but it’s not recommended. Weight Watchers is based on the points system and those burgers and donuts will burn through your daily point total allowance in about three minutes. For a man my size (5″10′, 35 years old) I have a daily points allowance of 24 points. You can use these points any way you want. Once you hit 24 points during that day, you stop eating. If that’s too challenging for you, rest easy they thought of that. You also get 35 weekly points to use on any days that you go over your daily point total. Family barbeque where you struggle to discipline your eating? Not a problem. Have a couple beers (lite beers are only two points) or some chips and take those from your weekly reserve.
- Attend the weekly meetings. This is where you either a) strut your stuff in front of the crowd and get applause or cheers or b) put your tail between your legs and recognize that other normal people like you are having success with this thing – it can’t be that difficult. During my last meeting I announced that I had crossed the ten-pound-loss threshold and the crowd applaused for me. Granted I feel like Brad Pitt compared to some of these poor souls, but it still boosts your ego to get that applause. The major points of the 30-minute meeting are announcing new promotions to keep you motivated, hearing stories or anecdotes from the instructor, hearing other members announce their success, hearing other members mention tips and ideas and seeing other folks like you wanting to better their lives.
- Find some zero point foods and eat them. For me, this has been pretty easy. Nearly all vegetables are zero points and most fruits are one or two points. I make it a habit to have the recommended four to five servings of fruits and vegetables. Plus, there is something psychological about the brain thinking it is eating when in reality the body is consuming zero-point foods that have no affect on weight. The brain is trained to see food, activate the salivary glands, move the arms and hands to bring the food to the mouth, chew the food and digest it. This psychological motion is identical whether consuming a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of grape tomatoes and carrots. My success has been in “tricking” my mind into thinking it is still getting that chocolate cake when in reality it is getting plenty of healthy veggies.
- Exercise. Being an avid jogger, I used to be of this mindset. “Hey I just ran four miles, I can have two bowls of ice cream and a Snickers bar.” Um – WRONG! For a person of my size, running four miles is the equivalent of five points. That Snickers alone is six points! The ice cream is probably another ten points. You can see why it’s just easier to eat less than pig out after exercising. Exercise does a couple things for your body, none of which including letting you pig out. First, it slowly changes your metabolism over time. Eventually you could eat a Snickers and it would have no effect on your weight. Ever. That may take months or years of intense physical activity. Second, it gives you leeway on your daily point totals. Days that I allowed myself a little snack after dinner were also days that I jogged in the morning. Before bedtime I realized I still had four points left for day and realized that it was from the early-morning jogging.
- Learn the hunger scale. A large part of my problem was binging when I was starved. Weight Watchers has a hunger scale similar to this:
- Totally full
- Ate a little too much
- Pleasantly satisfied
- Will be hungry soon
- Completely famished
The idea was to always keep yourself around three or four. For me, that meant eating every two to three hours. Yes, it meant snacking at my desk throughout the day, but it prevents those level-five famished fire alarms for me where I could eat a row of Oreos (and have before).
- Stay away from red-light foods. A red-light food is one that you know you won’t stop when you eat just one. For me this includes pizza, cookies, cereal, some bread products and chocolate. Eventually I will have the discipline to eat these types of foods, but for now I am staying away from them like an alcoholic stays away from bars.
- Develop a plan for red-light situations. Red-light situations are the same concept as above, but limited to places instead of foods. For me, red-light situations include family picnics and barbeques, employer-purchased meals (“Hey, work is paying for it. I can eat as much as I want!”), and anywhere where I had a couple drinks and thus lowered my judgment and critical thinking. I make a mental plan before leaving the house. I fill up on water, zero-point foods and a game plan for how to stay away from the pizza table or the beer cooler.
The list above is just one man’s observations on how to have success with Weight Watchers. Your success will vary, but hopefully it will be as plentiful as my success has been.
Finally, here are some quotes I heard at one of our meetings that stood out:
- Nothing will ever taste as good thin feels.
- All that matters are the first couple bites. Beyond that it all tastes the same.
- If I am going to eat it, make sure it is worth it. Crappy chocolate is not worth it.
Good luck in your healthy living endeavors.