With the New Year will come the traditional resolutions from many of you, and one of those that is a favorite one to make is to lose weight. Unfortunately, Jan. 1 isn’t a magic day that just changes our habits, thoughts and values. It has to be you, on any day of the year, that makes a conscious decision to get healthier and stick to it.
In 2007, I was obese. I stepped on a scale in front of 30 women at a Weight Watchers meeting and it read 196 pounds.
It was that public weigh-in that made me embarrassed. It wasn’t the doctor warning me a year earlier that at 29 I was pre-diabetic, and with all the health issues on both sides of my family, I was playing a risky game with my overall health.
My grandmother died of a heart attack at 50, my aunt of breast cancer at the same age, my uncle was diagnosed with diabetes in his 30s, and much of my family is overweight in general.
Still, despite the doctor’s stern warning, I kept working, going about my daily life, eating fast food, getting take out, and even though both my husband and I can cook, we were eating out up to three times a week.
Nearing 200 pounds, obesity had hit me hard, and the Body Mass Index estimated that at my height I should weight between 140 and 150 pounds.
I still hadn’t realized, or accepted, that there is no magic pill, no crash diet that after a month leaves you at your goal weight for life, and without hard work and commitment, losing weight for many of us is just something we need to do – eventually.
For me, it was that weigh-in with Weight Watchers. I was only there to visit that first meeting, but saw enough to know that $130 for a 10-week contract could be worth it.
In 10 weeks, I learned all the misconceptions I had about eating out, eating at home and how the ingredients in my food impacts my weight and overall health.
The Weight Watchers group, which included men and women from different backgrounds, met weekly, and having to be weighed in front of all of them was the accountability factor someone like me needed to succeed.
Unlike the scale sitting in the bathroom in the privacy of your own home, the weigh-in is different because it’s in the class, it’s with others struggling to do the same thing you are.
You know you have to step on the scale, and you are not only losing weight for yourself, but you are part of a group trying to reach the same goal. There is a sense of responsibility to do that.
In the first week, I lost 2.5 pounds. Eventually, it became 40 pounds.
By the time I ended the dieting, I had exchanged a lot of my bad habits for better ones. I now exchange full-fat sour cream with non-fat sour cream, regular breads, tortilla chips and pasta with whole wheat, and most of all, watching portion sizes with everything on my plate.
The positive aspect of Weight Watchers is that it provides a place for people who are serious about getting healthy each week to get together, become educated and support each other.
Now, here I am in 2011, and no longer paying to attend meetings every week, but still using what I learned to “maintain” my weight.
Once you are not technically dieting, it becomes even more difficult to stay on the straight and narrow path. The weight goes up, you realize it, get back to the better eating habits, drop the weight, and the cycle continues.
The good news is while I have gained some weight back, it’s minimal. I am happy that I spent more than a year on the program, and will continue to think about the basics of healthy eating to remain in the size 8 I wear, and will never get back to size 16.
While Weight Watchers may not be your answer, there are plenty of programs out there to consider.
Ultimately, the path to success starts with making an effort.