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I made a comment on my status a few days ago that I loathed WW and everything they stood for, and a few of you asked me to explain why. It's a bit long for a comment so I'm writing it here.


I was a member of Weight Watchers (WW) in 1999 for a grand total of three weeks. I had joined because my weight had gone up to 11 stone 2lbs (156lbs/75kg) and I wanted to come back down to approx 10 stone (140lbs). (I am 5ft6/1m66). My housemate was very keen on WW and had previously been a member so I looked up my local meeting and went along.

Something to explain first. Until I hit the age of about 27, I had never worried about my weight or my diet in my entire life. While my friends in college were weighing up whether to have one more biscuit or skip lunch, I was oblivious. I had a crappy diet, made up mostly of alcohol, chips, chocolate, coffee and heaps of sugary sweet things and not much else. But I just didn't put on a pound. Despite the mental illnes, body image was never a problem, I was actually very happy with my figure and felt no need to change it.

Then nature caught up with me in the form of advancing age. I started to put on weight, very slowly. So I went to WW.

WW was a revelation, but not in a good way. The group was absolutely jam packed with women (and one man) who appeared to spend all their time obsessing about what they had eaten or were going to eat. They used a lot of words with moral import such as "bad" or "naughty" or "guilty" to describe themselves or certain foods, and "good" and "saintly" for others. I know this is common among women but I had never participated in this type of "diet talk" before. Worst of all, they all hated their bodies with a passion and their motivation to lose weight was so they could stop hating themselves. The group leader, Wendy, was even worse. She loudly talked about how she decided to lose weight after a dickhead refused to sit next to her on the bus on the grounds that she was too ugly and fat. SHe explained that she deserved that, and that she wanted to thank that man for getting her to change her life, etc etc. It was appalling. I tried to argue with this logic pointing out that although I was a bit overweight and wanted to lose weight, I didn't look particularly bad in my "before" state, and that it was unhealthy to demonise this, but no-one was interested.

Secondly, Wendy seemed more focussed on shifting WW products than anything else. What WW does is allocate you a number of points per day. They give you a set of booklets telling you how many points are in each serving of various types of food. A point is roughly 50 calories, but you will get more of a healthy food and less of an unhealthy one for the same number of points. Low calorie vegetables are zero points, to encourage salads and tomato soup.

However Wendy and a lot of the group were more interested in continuing their previously unhealthy habits, but at a lower level of calories, by buying highly processed ready meals or cereal bars, rather than changing their habits.

FInally, the diet made me want to die. They had me on about 1000 cals a day, and I was eating healthily. I slept 16 hours a day, I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I managed to stick to the diet for 3 weeks, but after missing one too many taekwondo training sessions, I called it a day. Oh, and I lost no weight at all during that time.

Weight Watchers - starvation dieting, unhealthy messages, and no real attempt to change eating habits. Don't bother.

These days, I've done a number of diets, each one was very sensible. Even a deficit of 300 calories meant I was hungry all the time. I mean, having to use eating disordered tricks like filling up on weak tea and diet coke and eating slowly hungry. I thought of nothing else but what I'm going to eat. My work suffered, a bit. I was able to do this for months at a time because I am a very motivated and goal directed person. But I am never doing that again. Nothing is worth being hungry all day every day. Enough people on the planet are without my doing it on purpose.

Addendum: I've read somewhere that a number of recent studies have shown that the reason some adults are fat and others thin is due to appetite - some people get hungrier more, more often and eat more - and this makes them fatter more easily. Similarly ravenous hunger whenever they drop calories makes dieting difficult. I experienced something really weird when I was taking the respiridone - it wasn't just that IBS caused problems, my appetite changed. I ate less. DH could buy chocolate, and I didn't eat it - because I just didn't feel like any. I realised that for many people, this is their normal state. I finally understood how two blokes who worked with me could eat just one sandwich at lunchtime and not require anything further til dinner - whereas I had to have something else as well. I'm still eating less than I used to, as some of the appetite changes were permanent.

The problem is you can never debate this with anyone as they just assume you are lazy and looking for excuses. The thing is, I just cannot cope with being constantly hungry, and that is what eating any less than about 2500 calories a day does for me. There's no point in telling me, as WW do, to eat salad instead, because the salad does not satisfy the raging gut that demands to be fed.

I've had it up to here with being made to feel guilty every time I eat something. I found it hard today at work when I looked at myself in the full length mirror in the ladies but reminded myself that I am fat, and looking fat is not a big deal, does not mean I am unattractive, and does not automatically mean I look gross or hideous.

Date: 2011-03-16 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nakedfaery.livejournal.com

I think I just fell in love with you a bit after reading this! I am totally with you about WW and SW and all related gubbins.

Date: 2011-03-16 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cangetmad.livejournal.com
This is great, and rings lots of bells with me.

Date: 2011-03-16 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frightened.livejournal.com
I eat a lot, too. The whole "don't eat if you're not hungry" thing doesn't work for me, because I am often hungry. It doesn't take much missed food to make me dizzy, either. Plus having had an eating disorder the whole dieting business is something I'd rather ignore, so the whole thing where women bond over dieting and how much they hate themselves just makes me really angry.

I haven't weighed myself in about four or five years now. I'm really proud of that. Doctors tend to look at me funny when they ask about weight and I say I have no idea, and then they ask if I'd like to "just hop on the scale" and I say "no, not really."

Date: 2011-03-17 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nakedfaery.livejournal.com

I love that..."Not, not really." Awesome :-D

Date: 2011-03-17 08:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
Yup! Welcome to the sexist world of weghtloss :o/

Fwiw when I had to deal with everything back in the day, I got down from 16st to 11st where I have managed to reemain give or take a few pounds, ever since- no tricks, no unpleasant bending and no weight loss organisation............

Date: 2011-03-17 09:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] primitivepeople.livejournal.com
Whilst the basic principle behind Weight Watchers is sound - encouraging you to be aware of what's in food and to eat more of what's good for you - yeah, the diet industry as a whole is an evil, evil thing and I agree with a lot of what you've written. The whole guilt thing around food is appalling. I love food. Food should be enjoyed. Making it into something to obsess over and worry about is terrible. :(

Date: 2011-03-17 11:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cmcmck.livejournal.com
Absolutely!

And I think it's about time I added you to my flist- only our mutual friend here in common, but a number of interests :o)

Date: 2011-03-17 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] primitivepeople.livejournal.com
Cool. :) Always good to meet new people...

Date: 2011-03-17 04:57 pm (UTC)
ailbhe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ailbhe
having to use eating disordered tricks like filling up on weak tea

O hai, disordered eating is like poverty. Yay.

Date: 2011-03-17 10:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] actionreplay.livejournal.com
This is one of the main moral objections I have to dieting - even over and above the body hatred, the sublimation of energy that could be used for making one's life better, activism, or whatever into narcissism, and the pointlessness - that there are so many people out there who have to find ways to fill their stomachs so they can get a night's sleep or some relief from the constant, gnawing hunger, because they or their families are too poor for them to have enough actual food to eat. Replicating this, or encouraging people to replicate this, when one is an affluent well fed middle class Westerner, is obscene and just WRONG imho.
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