You can do it!!

For the third week in a row I’ve lost weight. Each time I’ve been shocked.  Shocked! I say. I don’t know why I’m losing weight. I’m less than a pound away from my first 5lb star. But I feel like I need to apologize every time I get on the scale. I didn’t join WW to lose weight. I joined because I started a book and I’d forgotten how the whole thing worked, what the meetings felt like, how people talked. I needed dialog.

I assumed I would gain or stay exactly the same when I signed up.  I’ve barely tracked points since the first week. When I do track points I don’t track the fats. I’ll track the bacon, but not the bacon grease I cook the eggs in. I don’t track the milk (whole fat of course) in my coffee. Hell, I don’t even track the coffee. I could say I haven’t eaten any sugar, or bread so that’s why I’m losing. But it was Pie Day last Friday for god’s sake and I partook fully (which made me kind of ill honestly), and I eat bread almost every day. I didn’t get much exercise last week either.

I think I actually want to stay the same when I get on the scale. That would make sense. I could link my behavior (and really isn’t that what it’s all about? That’s sarcasm, btw) to what happens on the the scale: I’m not doing the program so I’m not losing weight, or I’m not eating low carb, so I am not losing weight. But I am losing weight, so it makes NO SENSE.

I feel like I’m cheating. The women who come to meetings are struggling to stay on track, and if they don’t, they lose nothing, possibly gain. I’m not supposed to be losing weight, according to anybody’s theory. I’m assuming it will stop soon. But I’ve discovered I kind of like going to meetings.

When I’m at meetings, everything seems possible. WW meetings are really about self love, which is the #1 principal for the self help addict. They’re a self help addict’s dream. They talk about putting yourself first, asking for what you need and want, dreaming big. There’s constant encouragement from the leader and others who’ve lost weight, are losing weight. Basically the whole vibe of WW meetings is an infectious “You can do it!”

But there are still the drawbacks. The little sayings that dig deep and stay there. One of the women who got a star for losing another 5lbs, said “this isn’t a diet” which is WW’s tagline, “this is the way I’m going to eat for the rest of my life.”  Then she added, “I’ve realized, ‘Oh this is the way normal people eat.'”  People nodded. One, do people honestly believe that this is the way “normal” people eat? Normal people don’t measure every single morsel they put into their mouths. And two, in order to believe that this is a way of life, that this isn’t some temporary diet, you have to believe that you’re not normal.  There was also another round of “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.”

Feeling normal, feeling good because you’re thin is about two things: feeling fit and feeling acceptable. The feeling fit part I get. Although for me it’s not necessarily true that I feel more fit when I’m thinner. I’m smaller now than I was about 5 years ago when I was doing triathlons and biking a lot. I was definitely more fit then than I am now at a lower weight.

Second, a lot of the good feelings about being thin is really being desperate to fit in, being desperate to be “normal”, to be one of the accepted. But when I extend this thinking to other issues, I don’t like what I come up with. There are so many “normals” that I don’t fit, most of which I’ve tried to fit into. Most black women straighten their hair to fit in, to have “normal” hair. Strict timelines, large budgets and limited activity all devoted to trying to get “normal” hair.  Skin, teeth, eyes, boobs. What lengths will people go to seem normal? To be accepted? To feel good about themselves because they’re accepted, instead of just feeling good about themselves, period?

I’m not sure how this will end. I assumed I would go for a month or so and then stop, not losing any weight, but I think I’m going to be going to WW meetings for a while. I think it may be the best self help book ever.

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February 13, 2010. Tags: , , , . Weight Watchers Experiment. Leave a comment.

The Weight Watchers Experiment

I joined Weight Watchers last night. In my last post, which I just put up, I said that I was tired of dieting, and that I was just going to cut back on sugar and bread, carbs essentially. In the meantime I started trying to write writing a novel and one of the main characters is a life long dieter. I was trying to write dialogue for her weight watchers meeting and I realized I couldn’t. I didn’t remember what the meetings were like or what people talked about, the kinds of words and phrases they used, basically the atmosphere. I also couldn’t remember what it really felt like to be on this diet.

I hadn’t been to a Weight Watchers meeting in maybe 7 years. (I signed up online a few years ago, but that lasted for a month at the most. Well I paid for a month. The dieting part lasted days.) I’d decided not to diet (which to me was Weight Watchers; I hadn’t read Good Calories Bad Calories yet) because I always gained the weight back after a few years. I decided that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result was indeed insanity, and I needed to not be insane, at least on some level.

However. I need to write dialogue. I need to describe how this woman feels on this diet. How she’s been doing this for 20 years and she’s just in her early 30s. She doesn’t even know how not to think about it. What it’s like for her to go through her day doing this. The best way to do that is to go on the diet, go to the meetings, participate in the world actively as this constantly dieting woman (I probably shouldn’t write about a murderer). So last night I joined.

At first I felt a little dishonest. I felt like I was using them. And I am. I’m essentially easedropping on people who very earnestly lead and attend these meetings. They have remarkable stories about weight loss and weight gain, but more remarkable they have stories about themselves that are revealed in their struggles with weight.

I thought I would be able to maintain an objective distance, but I couldn’t. If you’ve been to a Weight Watchers meeting you know there’s a lot of applause. Maybe you know. I didn’t. I’d completely forgotten about that.  The meeting started with a little applause, the leader waking us up. I thought “oh dear”. I wanted to be jaded. I wanted to see these people as deluded about weight loss (“you do know that most of you aren’t going to ever get to goal and only 2% of you who do will keep the weight off”).  But by the end, when a woman reported that she’d lost 74 pounds and was about to finish up a running series that would total 88 miles over the past few months, my applause was spontaneous and genuine. The phrase “I never thought I would ever be able to ___”  fill in the blank is just inspiring no matter what your own goals are.

I also noticed that I’m really competitive. While I was sitting there, listening, watching, observing, I kept thinking “I have to do this. When I get on the scale I want to see results! I can lose more than anyone else! This totally makes sense, it will totally work,” I kept thinking. It’s like something clicked and I really really believed this was the way and I had to do it better than anyone else. I had to be successful at this.

The leaders parting words were “Dance as if nobody is watching. Eat as if everyone is.”  I almost gasped when I heard those words. Really? Eat as if everyone is watching me, judging me?  So I’m doing this so I don’t look bad to other people? I take other people’s judgments of me seriously and I let that influence choices in my life?  When I eat, I’m supposed to feel shame if I’m not eating so-called “healthy” food or if I’m eating “too much”? There are so many sad things about statement. The spell was broken.

January 21, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized, Weight Watchers Experiment. Leave a comment.