#2. Group Support isn't for Everybody
And about those meetings ...
If you're the average Cracked reader, I'm guessing you have an aversion to all things corny, like motivational speakers, team-building activities and getting gold star stickers for doing something good.
Maybe it's my fault for taking these kinds of well-intentioned "attaboys" as condescending insults, but what am I going to do? I can only work on one personality problem at a time.
At Weight Watchers meetings, you actually will get stickers for telling a success story, like how you resisted the temptation to eat a second piece of birthday cake. But the problem is, these people don't know me. Maybe it was a colossal struggle not to eat that cake. Maybe I hate cake. Maybe there was no cake and I'm just making it up to get attention. Either way I get a "Good job!" and a sticker.
Maybe the cake looked like this.
Considering you can get a reward for any old crap, if I actually did accomplish something hard and I get a sticker, it just seems like a mockery of my accomplishment. I'm not a total asshole so I say thanks and smile, but it makes me a little less impressed with myself if anything.
Do you remember these? Did they make you feel good? Did they ever make anyone feel good?
It's sort of the same thing with any encouragement you get from the group. They might mean well, but they weren't there. There's only so much solid info they have to congratulate you on. So it can come across as a bit insincere, or if they pry deeper, too nosy.
The problem is, this isn't AA. You haven't all had the same rock-bottom pits of hell experience where you were forced to face yourself at your worst; an experience that creates a common bond between strangers. You just eat too much. Maybe even not that much too much.
"I used to weigh 140 pounds. Now I weigh 135."
Anyway, that plus the quiz games and skits makes me feel like I'm in Sunday school again, which I did enjoy. When I was 10. Now that I'm thir- uh, 27, it just makes me cringe.
Especially in light of the fact that ...
#1. You Never Leave The Nest
As the old saying goes, if you teach a man to fish, you don't make any money off of selling him fish anymore. Weight Watchers isn't as blatant as Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig about it and actually teaches you some skills you can use on your own, but they still stand to lose money if you stop attending.
To keep you around, they point you toward those exact dismal statistics I quoted earlier, about how so few people manage to keep the weight off, and insist that you need group support to avoid falling into that trap. If group support kind of freaks you out, fortunately this kind of goes in one ear and out the other.
I mean, what if they make me hold someone's hand?
The other strategy they have is the Lifetime Members program. If someone reaches their goal weight and keeps it there for three weeks, they become a Lifetime Member and get to participate in meetings for free forever. While Weight Watchers doesn't get any membership money from that person, that person does get to shop the food selection every week, as well as stand before struggling members as a shining example of how "Weight Watchers works."
I see Weight Watchers as one of those animal rescues that rehabilitates orphaned condors. Those centers care for the birds' injuries and train them to fly and look for corpses or whatever, all for the purpose of eventually releasing them into the wild where they can do it on their own.
Teach a bird to find a corpse ...
Weight Watchers can help cure people of crazy ideas about portion size, train them in counting nutritional stats and then should get them ready to do it on their own, wherever they live their lives. Trying to keep the condors around forever is no good. It's kind of sad to keep a wild bird tied down like that, and besides, if they ever escape, they're fucked.
I think condors are a good analogy because they kind of look like someone who's lost too much weight.
This comes back to the main point: Society wants you to be fat, and the weight-loss industry is part of that system. So while restaurants and grocery stores want to sell you food, remember that exercise equipment manufacturers want you constantly buying new machines to replace the old ones that didn't make you thin, and weight-loss programs want you hanging around forever. That won't happen if you join for a couple of weeks, learn portion control, then spend the rest of their life a healthier and happier person. They lose money if you quickly defeat the problem -- they make the most when you stay in a win/lose cycle that keeps you buying their product until the day you die.
Which is not to say it can't work. I lost about 15 pounds over 12 weeks since I joined ... but I bailed on Weight Watchers after Week 3. That was as much as I could tolerate, but the key was that I didn't use that as a reason to stop watching what I ate. I took what they taught me and ran with it, and just getting in the habit of tracking calories in and calories out helped me think about the consequences of my decisions instead of making imaginary bargains with God every time I wanted a snack, or making excuses about exercise.
I might gain that weight back -- almost everyone does. But at least nobody's holding a sticker over my head about it.
How can you lose weight? Spend all your money on our book and you'll have no cash for food. Simple!
For more from Christina, check out 'Plus Sized' Clothes: Translating the Baffling Euphemisms and 5 Reasons Women Are As Shallow As Men (According to Science).