Back in 2018 I wound up with multiple compacted nerves on the top of my left foot. The doctor I saw at that time basically told me I could either have surgery or lose weight. I’ve struggled with obesity my entire life…well, since adolescence at least, though I was always teased about being bigger than the other kids. So, losing weight sounded hard. However, as a single parent to a child with special needs, with no source of income of my own at the time, I knew trying to recover from surgery would be beyond challenging and more acutely painful. Losing weight became my goal . . . again.
That was about the time Weight Watchers rebranded to WW and updated their slogan and program to be more focused on overall wellness and not just losing weight: Wellness Wins. I joined and decided I was going to use it like an AA or NA meeting. I knew that with Binge Eating Disorder and my lifelong history of starting a weight loss program, sometimes a fad diet but often just lifestyle changes, I would lose weight but couldn’t sustain the changes on my own. I knew that I eat for way more reasons than simple, physical hunger. I needed support and accountability.
I was working on my mental health and parenting a child with special needs. I was not able to be employed due to those two things. I committed to 90 meetings in 90 days. I did it! I completed the 90 workshops in 90 days. I wound up losing about 30 lbs. Then finances were just too difficult and I hit my traumaversary season. I stopped attending workshops and let my WW membership go. Eventually the weight creeped back up.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving of 2019. My middle child, who was 27 at the time, was pregnant with baby #4. They and their partner, along with three littles, wound up houseless and had nowhere to go. So, they moved in with me. By the time COVID hit, they were on extended maternity leave due to some complications.
I started staying with a friend due to how overcrowded my apartment had become and how the sensory overload affected both me and my youngest child who is on the Autism Spectrum. My youngest grandchild was born in April, four days before I started a job which had me engaging with people who struggled with their mental health and couldn’t consistently follow COVID protocols. Since baby and parent were both so medically fragile, I continued to stay with my friend.
At her house were all the things: chips, cookies, candy, soda, and regular (almost daily) take out. I ballooned up to about 300 lbs. So, from the time I ended my WW journey in February of 2019 until I moved back into my apartment in November 2020, I gained close to 60 lbs.
Fast forward to February of this year. I started with a new Primary Care Provider and got a baseline physical. My diabetes had been left unchecked for so long that I was in danger and had already started experiencing neuropathy in my feet. The information about the diabetes and the status of my health, even though it scared me, it also triggered the Depression and the Binge Eating Disorder and I gained 12 lbs.
At the end of March I began a nutrition program which was very expensive and unsustainable behaviorally because of how rigorous, complex, and rigid it was. On April 1st I rejoined WW, with the knowledge that the other program would only last a month or two and that I would use it as a bridge until I could stabilize medically and use WW to support the ongoing healthy lifestyle and mindset changes I need to make the changes last as a complete remaking of how I live life in healthy and constructive ways.
WW isn’t just about weight loss. As one member I know puts it, “This is about taking care of my health through changing my lifestyle behaviors. The weight loss is a side effect.” Members support and encourage each other. They share successes and struggles. While scale victories are celebrated the NSVs (Non-Scale Victories) are celebrated as well and sometimes more than the weight loss. They focus on four pillars: Food, Activity, Sleep, and Mindset. For me, it’s about mindset.
I’ve participated in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for mood and symptom management for the cPTSD and the Bipolar. Everything WW teaches and focuses on about mindset and how they approach the lifestyle behavior changes reminds me of DBT. So much so that I call it DBT Lite. Attending virtual workshops daily and going in person to the studio once a week are what is keeping me grounded.
Finances are shifting again. It really looks like I’m not going to be able to continue attending WW if I have to pay for it. They have a Refer a Friend program where if I refer a friend who joins, we both get a free month.
The trouble is, I don’t have that many friends. So, I’m putting this out into the blogosphere. If you or someone you know is struggling with their health and their weight, and they don’t want a fad diet, but want to learn how and why to make long-lasting lifestyle changes, with the encouragement and support of others who know what it’s like, please consider WW.
Just like AA, WW works if you work it and it’s a day by day, moment by moment choice. If you or your loved ones check it and decide to join, please join using the link below. Doing so will help me to continue my journey with the support I need.
Great post, Lillian! I am also a WW member. I’ve lost close to 100 pounds and am still going. While the WW meetings don’t do much for me anymore, I am started attending OA meetings (on Zoom and face-to-face) and working the steps. I feel like WW is a very doable, healthy way to lose weight, and OA is giving me insight into my compulsive overeating to that I can free myself of the addiction. From one gal who struggles with food to another… wishing you the best of luck on your journey!
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