Nutrition Non-existent

A lot of you don’t know this, but I got my start first losing weight on Weight Watchers. I need to preface this blog by letting current fans and supporters of WW know that I’m not bashing you or your decision to stay on the program, but I wanted to let the others know of my experience being on it for the 2 years that I did.

Let me paint the picture for you. December 2008 comes around and my then-boyfriend (now-husband) Chris and I are vacationing with my family on Maui, staying at our home there in Wailea. I’ve just come on break from fall semester of college, and I’m ready to celebrate the Christmas season… in the sun and sand! Things had been getting serious between us and we were already starting to talk marriage (and I was hoping for a spring engagement). Suddenly, I was starting to think of wedding dresses, a reception, seeing all of my family, my friends, and relatives from all over the country. I started thinking of a wedding being the current size I was (size 16) and hated the thought of it. This was going to be our wedding. I would keep these photos for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to have yet another set of pictures that I felt disgusted looking at.

The vacation ends, it’s the New Year, and Chris, my family, and I fly back to Utah to return back to the reality of jobs and school. During a mother-daughter conversation that week, I brought up the fact that Chris and I had been talking about getting married (my mom already knew. Mother’s intuition, right? Can’t get anything by her!) and how I wanted to look my absolute best. We talked about how we’d always wanted to lose the weight together and considered ways in which to do it. Along came Weight Watchers. On January 8th, we found ourselves at the front desk of a local public meeting-house, learning about the ins and outs of registering for Weight Watchers. We arrived in the middle of a meeting already in session, and I cautiously looked around the room, in hopes that I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew from high school or my neighborhood. I was surprised to learn one of my old high school teachers was attending meetings. We paid our sign up fee ($100 each to join, and set up a 16-week program at $9 a week. Pretty dang costly!), and removed our shoes and coats to go for our weigh-in.

I slowly stepped on that scale, keeping one eye closed and the other fixed directly on the screen. I was disgusted, embarrassed, and incredulous to what I saw: 207 pounds…?! This can’t possibly be correct! I would’ve sworn I was maybe in the high 180’s… not past the 200-pound mark. Geez! So this is what my years and years of poor diet and exercise habits had come to; my daily lunch of fried chicken fingers in honey mustard sauce, salty fresh fries, and baked goods we’re just ways to rectify my hungry appetite. They all had led me to an increasingly larger clothing size and a weight in the 200’s. The number practically slapped me in the face.

Gathering up my new Weight Watchers supplies (Weigh-in Card, POINTS Values book, and other items), my mom and I wandered past the shelves and shelves of WW-made baked goods and into the back of the meeting room. We found seats at the very last table. I asked her about her prognosis 260 pounds was her reply. Things weren’t looking too good, but we were desperate to find a way to finally drop this weight- and fast! We were waiting for our meeting to begin (the Newcomers meeting), which started around 8pm. More people began to shuffle in, register, weigh in, and join us around the tables. There were different shapes and sizes to be seen- the post-pregnancy mothers, looking to get back to pre-baby weight; the older married couples (brought here by the wife, I’m sure) looking to get healthy to be here to see their grandchildren grow; and us- mother and daughter, ready to finally face the truth and do something about it.

Our instructor, Connie, began our meeting and dove right into welcoming us all and telling us about her own success story. Connie had been a Weight Watchers member for about 25 years (losing 60 and keeping off 45 pounds) and has seen the program change and evolve as the years went on, from having food scales and weighing each morsel, to avoiding carbohydrates for fear of gaining fat. She assured us that this new POINTS plan had been the best and most scientifically-driven program WW has ever seen. She then started to break down how we could each figure out our own POINTS values for the day (how many we were alloted to eat), plugging in such factors as gender, height, current weight, and lifestyle. My number turned out to be 28. This seemed reasonable. I could eat whatever I wanted, as long as I stayed within those POINTS of mine. Connie also reminded us that we could earn “extra” POINTS to eat each day if we get out and get some exercise. For every 15 minutes, I’d earn another POINT of food. I also had the choice to “bank” those for a bigger loss on the scale the next week.

We then learned how to figure out the POINTS value of a food by plugging in the calories, fat content, and fiber content of the food, and we got this paper sliding-scale to carry around with us and help decifer our food choices each day. To help save time, WW put together a list of stand-by common foods and their POINTS values, listed together in a book that we each took home; things like vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy, with some holes to fill. We went home after the meeting let out, determined and excited to make this new way of eating work for us. Mom was a little worried how Dad might react to this new diet (understandably so. He’s the King of drive-throughs and all things creamed, basted, and fried).

Day 1 of the new diet begins, I roll out of bed a little alarmed that I can’t run to my favorite sugar-laden cereal (frosted mini-wheats, if you’re asking). My mom was up early that morning, stocking our fridge with new “approved” things for us to eat. There was Yoplait 100-calorie yogurt, FiberOne cereal, FiberOne bars, Weight Watcher 3-POINT muffins and 1-point vanilla cream cake minis, a few fruits and vegetables, and a freezer FULL of Weight Watcher frozen TV dinners. I pulled out a strawberry-flavored yogurt, a 100-calorie bagel and coated it in cream cheese, measuring out the amount for 2 points. I quickly ate my meal and still felt hungry. With much anticipation, we continued the day, tracking down our meals, making sure to “write before we bite.” Ingredients labels aside, I was just stoked at the thought of eating nothing but 28 vanilla cream cake minis each day AND still lose weight. WHAT A DEAL! I could have ANYTHING, provided it had enough fiber. My mom suddenly thought up ways to make unhealthy food allowed on program- add as much fiber as possible: pureed black beans to cake (yes, I’m gagging, too) and to brownies.

I sum up my feelings of hunger to the start of a new way of eating, and try to stay out of the kitchen. We make it back to our second-week weigh in and meeting and I’m thrilled to see I’ve lost 5.8 pounds in my first week. Woohoo! With a loss like that, I hope I can keep it up! The 60 pounds that I hope to lose will be off before I know it! My mom blows me away with her loss of 7.2 pounds.

Feeling high on life and hopeful about the future again, we find a spot on the front row this time and suck up the comraderie of the current member’s class. Connie spends the first 10 minutes, asking us to share details of our successes this week, both on scale and off. Someone would stand up, speak for a minute, and then we’d all clap and they’d recieve a gold-star sticker. These stickers were called “Bravo’s.” The rest of the hour passes with a pep-talk on saying “no” to second helpings and asking our families to support us in our goals. I think back to the last time I actually said “no” to a second helping…. Hmmmm… maybe never?

The months roll on, and with each 10 pounds I lose, I also lose a POINT to eat each day. Wedding dress shopping comes (after a Valentine’s Day engagement) and we’re preparing for our May wedding. Even with 30 pounds lost by this time, I am still a little upset that I was only able to fit into a 14. In my mind, I commit to being more strict with myself on this program. I will NOT fail. I WANT be that thin, beautiful bride.

May 31 arrives and Chris and I are married. I had lost 38 pounds by this point, and my wedding dress could’ve use a little tailoring in the waist and the shoulders. I choose to stand proud of where I was and put a smile on, though a felt pretty disheartened. My family and friends come through our wedding line and can’t stop congradulating my on both the wedding and the weight loss, marveling at the fact that my mom and I took on this challenge together. This makes me feel really great and I feel I don’t have to fake the happiness in our photos.

Flash forward to life as a newlywed. I’m struggling to find the balance between cooking meals for a hungry (and tall!) guy, all while staying in my safe allowance of (then) 24 POINTS a day. The weight loss has immensly slowed, and so I do my very best to keep a cool head and exercise more in the mornings before Beauty School. I pick up a few at-home DVDS from my local Walmart, called “Walk Away the Pounds” with Leslie. The next morning, I am up and ready to get my sweat on, pop in a DVD and get ready to “walk” 3 miles in our small living room. There isn’t much “walking” going on, since we start kicking ahead (I do my best to miss the flatscreen) and pumping our arms in the air. God, I hope my neighbors can’t see me. The walk DVDs help shake the scale up a bit and I’m down 3.2 that week. A new sense of confidence in myself and the program and I’m ready to hit my goal.

This rollercoaster of adding new exercise, losing, and then going back to small or no-loss was starting to get extremely frustrating. The negative energy I’d sometimes bring home from my weigh in and meetings would be let out in snide comments towards Chris. He didn’t understand how someone so normally bubbly and happy could’ve turned into such a (need I say it) Low Blood Sugar Bitch. We’d begin to argue for such small reasons and I remember crying a lot (over practically nothing). I was desperate to make it to my goal, and even began starting to workout 2 hours a day in hopes that’d help shake me out of this awful plateau.

Family meals were a nightmare during this time. I didn’t want to have to sit down with my family or his, being bombarded with cheesy mashed potatoes, steak, french fries, and white dinner rolls. Both my brothers and Chris’ younger brother found entertainment at teasing me about the POINTS in foods. Whenever I’d dish myself some salad or fruit (my stand-bys at this forced family functions), they’d snarkily comment, “Wait, Amy. How many POINTS are in that?” Instead of standing up for me, Chris was just trying to keep his giggling at a mum. (Looking back now, I don’t blame him one bit. And given the situation, I’d struggle to stiffle a laugh, as well.) Everyone else was trying to cope having someone over with a diet MUCH different that theirs. I made awful food choices in order to stay within my POINTS allowance. There were MANY times that I’d pick a 2-point ice cream bar as my dinner instead of “going over” for a 3-point chicken breast.

I continued with the madness until June 2010 (and I’d managed to gain 15 pounds of what I’d lost, no mattter how much I stuck to the program or exercised. I was exhausted mentally and physically. I was down to 21 points a day.), when I saw the P90X infomercial on the TV again. This was my 4th time seeing it and every time I had, my interest grew. I wasn’t sure that we could afford it at the time, but I wanted to inquire about it anyway. Around this same time, a woman named Monica Gray had added me as a friend on Facebook. We began communicating back and forth and I saw that she was good friends with Chalene Johnson, the creator of Turbo Jam (and now Turbo Fire, PiYo, Hip Hop Hustle, ChaLEAN Extreme, and the list goes on). Hey, cool! I had those Turbo Jam videos. I bought them off the infomercial back in Senior year of high school. I remember trying them out but being SO out of shape and discouraged, I quickly gave them up. Come to find out, Monica had actually STARRED in the TJ videos and was a “Coach” or independent disributor for Beachbody, creators of the best selling at-home workout programs (including P90X). She informed me that I could get the programs and a nutritional shake, called Shakeology, for WAY cheaper if I signed up as a Coach (which is equivalent to buying a Costco wholesale membership). I agreed, and on June 15th, I ordered my new workout program and Shakeology.

P90X came with a 12 different workout DVDs, a workout guide, a workout calendar, and a well-thought-out nutrition guide. I was happily surprised that with my current weight (158) that I’d get between 1,800-2,400 calories EACH DAY! A little terrifying, though, because it didn’t make sense to me that to lose weight, I’d need to eat more calories. I went through my old Weight Watchers book, tallied up my calories for a random day and found out that I was only eating 1,375 a day! No WONDER I was hungry! In the P90X nutrition guide, the emphasis is on clean (un-processed), nurtitious meals. The focus is getting the most nutrients for your “calorie-buck” instead of just “staying within the calorie guideline.” It focused so much more on health, instead. I was suddenly easily getting my 5 servings of veggies a day and 3 of fruit, fresh whole grains, and lots of lean protein. I had ENERGY during my workouts and actually looked forward to them.

I’d be lying if I told you the first week of P90X wasn’t absolute HELL. Pushups?! Me?! I could barely do 10 on my knees before collapsing on the ground. But I stuck with it. I remember waking up, sore every single day. Pretty soon, I could do my very first REAL pushups- on my toes. Those 10 grew and grew until now where I can do over 260 ON MY TOES during a workout. All it took was me to continually believe in myself and PUSH PLAY everyday. I started P90X flabby and still out of shape. I ended those 90 days stronger, leaner, and happier than I’d ever been in my whole life. I was finally self confident. I went from a size 12, and shrunk all the way down to a 6-8.

I now maintain my weight at 135 pounds and a size 4. I workout 5 days a week and eat 1,850 calories each day. P90X and Beachbody taught me what real fitness and real nutrition was all about. I was no longer using the diet crutch to lose weight. I could trust myself to feed my body the proper fuel that it so badly craved everyday with Shakeology. Now, all I want to do is study and learn more and more about everything nutrition and fitness-related. I’m in college to get my BA in Exercise Science and then I’ll be working towards my RD. I want people to have hope for their own futures and have the knowledge to make the proper choices. I’m so thankful that I took that first chance when I did. I’m so grateful that Monica came into my life (even through social media) when she did. If you’re wondering how you can start your own fitness transformation WITHOUT another disappointing diet, please just contact me and seek me out. I’m more than happy to help you like I am with my current customers. It all begins with a choice.

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6 thoughts on “Nutrition Non-existent

  1. Nice post. I had tried WW a few times myself, and wasn’t too happy with the fact that while I was losing weight, I wasn’t learning to nourish my body with the fuel it needed. So I quit and started reading a lot of nutrition sites. Sometimes, all a person needs to do is educate her or himself on what exactly is in every bite going in her or his mouth!

  2. Great wrap up of how Weight Watchers fails to deliver in the long run. It is a short term fix at best that needs to be repeated over and over. I wonder who that’s good for?! Good luck on your journey and thank you for taking time to reply to my post.

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