When I started this whole journey back in 2012, one of the things I knew needed to happen was a support group or tool to help me get my eating under control. Hunger is not a reliable gauge of how much I need to eat – I’m in a constant state of hunger, after all – so what I’ve got to be able to have is a way to keep it toned down enough that I can make smart decisions. I’d tried a handful of other systems (NutriSystem’s food is awful, by the way), but my wife is a big fan of Weight Watchers so I decided to give it a shot.
Shout out to the Weight Watchers marketing department here, by the way, for advertising targeted toward men. I’d always thought of Weight Watchers as primarily for women, and in some ways I still feel that stigma. But hiring Charles Barkley as a spokesman was a stroke of genius. Even his famous “Weight Watchers is a scam” gaffe did nothing but get the word out there that this program works, and men are not excluded. Brilliant and well done.
The reason I love it is a commonly cited reason – nothing is off limits. Weight Watchers assigns a certain number of points to everything you eat or drink, and they give you a limit on the number of points you can have in any given day, with a weekly “bonus” point budget that you can use for a cheat meal or any other reason. The key here is that they don’t at all restrict how you use those points – if you want to use your points eating chocolate cake and donuts, then knock yourself out.
What you learn very, very quickly is that the trick is to use your points to manage hunger. The amount of chocolate cake I can fit into my points budget is relatively small, and the problem with using the entire budget on things like that is that you are absolutely starving three hours later. Which is a problem, since you don’t have any points left to deal with that. But over time you learn that empty calories don’t fill you up, and you only need relatively small quantities of the nutrient dense, high point items that also have a tendency to not fill you up (things like nuts, meat, even dairy). You still need those, but in moderation. The low points (even free points) items – fruits and vegetables, mostly – are really the key to managing hunger.
Now, one of the things I didn’t realize when I first started with WW (though, in retrospect, it is obvious), is that when you start to lose weight the program takes points away from you each week. This makes for a bittersweet weigh-in day – “Yay! I lost weight! Boo! I don’t get to eat as much next week…” Last week, for instance, I went from a daily budget of 65 points down to 64 – which, by the way, is an enormous number for most people, because I’m so freaking big that I can eat an enormous amount of food and still lose weight.
Last time, I started with 65 points, and by the time I was done I was down to 54. Now – lets do some math. 11 points a day times 7 days is 77 points per week. On an original budget of 65 points, I was eating the equivalent of a whole day’s worth of food LESS than I was when I started. It is as though I said “Lets just skip food on Wednesdays,” but done in a much more sustainable way.
Going from nothing to Weight Watchers removed a considerable number of calories from my diet. Weight Watchers slowly but surely removed an awful lot more. And I still had 50 pounds (at least) to lose. And I was still living in a constant state of hunger.
No wonder I’m fat.
But, this is a process, not a goal. A journey, as it were, not a destination. And so, I’ll enjoy the 14 point breakfast you see up there and the 15-or-so point lunch that I’ve got planned for today, and I’ll lose this weight.
Its what we do.