Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I don't fit

I don't fit in at Weight Watcher's. Last time I went to the local meeting, I realized I have a completely different focus from everyone else in the group. (At least, from everyone there who spoke up.) I really want to get fit while eating moderately. As far as I can tell, the focus for the rest of the gang is to diet, i.e. just get rid of these pounds as quickly as possible. Don't worry about exercising, don't worry about eating healthy food, just lose the weight NOW.

Covert Bailey makes a good point. "If someone told you the store was offering a sale of 10 pounds for 10 dollars, your first reaction would be '10 pounds of what?'" Likewise, I don't see why the emphasis is on getting rid of pounds regardless of how you do it. If you're not going to exercise while losing weight, then you're losing muscle as well as fat. If the emphasis were on losing a percentage of body fat, then I would be all in favor of this idea.

The local group has a lot of people who lose a lot of weight at the start. We're talking at least 5 pounds a week, every week. That is really not a radical amount for someone who's quite large. What bothers me is that the meetings start to feel like something out of The Biggest Loser competition:

A woman stands up and says "I lost 5 pounds this week!" Applause from the group.
Another woman stands up to say "And I lost 7 pounds this week!" More applause.
A third woman gets to her feet to proclaim "I lost 10 pounds this week!" Wild applause from the audience.
Then a smaller woman gets up and mumbles that she lost two pounds that week. The group claps perfunctorily a couple times.

It bugs me that -- probably unintentionally -- they end up comparing and judging people by the amount of weight lost. With people of different shapes, different physical conditions, and different starting places, how can you compare their progress at all? I always feel that getting fit or losing weight is a competition against yourself and no one else. But at these meetings, it feels like I'm competing against other people, or rather it feels as if they're competing against me. That makes no sense. It's not as if there were only one prize going to be handed out at the end -- we can all win.

Also, I have noticed a pattern. The women who come in and lose lots of weight right away seem to be doing so by stringent dieting, not by eating unprocessed foods and exercising. (I'm basing that on what the women themselves have been saying in the meetings.) The pattern seems to be that these women lose a lot of weight at the start. Then they stop mentioning how much weight they've lost. Then they stop showing up at the meetings. They don't come back.

One woman mentioned that she made it a goal to try to exercise for 15 minutes a day. "I don't actually do it," she said with a laugh. "But I do try. Sometimes." I don't know if the words on the page quite convey the tone in which this was said. I came away with the strong impression that no, she didn't really try. Or care. It was something she was 'supposed' to do, but there was no commitment to actually try.

Compared to this woman, I must come across as an exercise fanatic. On the other hand, I'm not fit enough to keep up with people who actually are in good shape. I don't 'fit' there either. I jog along at my slow pace, nodding at the people who pass me. If I were in better shape, being passed would be annoying. As it is, that's part of life and I accept it without a qualm. I just wish there were someone going my pace.

Okay, whine done.

Goal of the month: 30 days of throwing stuff back. Or out. I don't need all these possessions.
I especially don't need to save the diary from when I was 17. You cannot imagine the exquisite embarrassment that comes from reading such a document. And you never will, 'cause that sucker is now in a million tiny pieces. It's served its time. (Why does that sound like a prison sentence?) It was good to let it go.

Goal of the week: Out the door by 7:30. In the a.m., not the p.m. It can be done.
Yeah, maybe it can be done, though I'm starting to have serious doubts that it can be done by me. Luckily, I have friends (hey, don't look so surprised when I write that) who have kindly volunteered to nag me to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Which I'm going to do. No, really. I don't want them mad. You wouldn't like them when they're mad.
Exercise du jour: 200 squat challenge, week 3


One Crazy Penguin said...

"They don't come back."

I don't know why, but this line makes me laugh. I'm with you though. I'm not a big fan of the general attitude at weight watchers. I'd rather be fit and strong than just small.

C said...

This was exactly my problem with WW. That and I got a bit cocky. At the time I thought of myself as an athlete and my goal was to get fit while everyone else just wanted to be thin and barely exercised at all. I know it could have just been the dynamic of that group as I know Sun Runner was (and may still be) a WW goer and she loved it.

So you're not alone. I'm a misfit too. Maybe Santa will come get us off this island someday. Oh wait, I think I've confused myself here...

Kelly the Happy Texan said...

You are right about the meetings. I'd weigh in with a 1 pound loss and feel bad about it even though I exercised like crazy.

Trying to put the scale behind me as much as possible and focus on getting healthy.

It helps to have goals outside of the numbers:
run/walk a 5K
hike to a summit
fit in some cute jeans
bike 20 miles

You're doing great.

LaShaune said...

Thanks for this. I was contemplating joining WW since I can't seem to Eat Clean properly or follow a decent diet (damn that Taco Hell, great bottles of wine oh and did I mention the brisket I had for my birthday). Ok I'm hungry now...sorry...back to what I was saying.

But there will always be someone fitter than you and someone who looks up to you for the strides you are making. I, for one, look up to you. It's because of you I tried that 100 push-up challenge. I didn't make it past week 2 - but I tried.

So I'm with you on the path of being fit (although I would like the scale to say I'm 15lbs fitter).

Amanda said...

I know some Weight Watchers folks online (Kenz and Sheryl) who are really into exercise, but I can't speak for everyone's local area. I don't do WW myself... not much of a "joiner" out in the real world I guess :)

It's all about finding what works for you. You're determined. You'll make it.

Dr. J said...

I don't like WW because it doesn't teach healthy eating. Sorry Mary, pounds do matter and eating less is the best way to lose them. Of course as an exercise fanatic I love that you like to do that, and with less poundage, you will do it better!

Lee said...

Although I've never been to WW this is how I've imagined it to be.

I like this--> "It's not as if there were only one prize going to be handed out at the end -- we can all win."

I think I need to focus more on gaining strength and trying new ways to be fit rather than the numbers on the scale.

Great post!

azusmom said...

I hate WW! I did the program a couple of times and started slipping back into some bad habits, like exercising fanatically only in order to earn more points so I could eat more. I HATE the focus on pounds lost, and the way you are treated if you don't lose weight in a given week or (gasp!) gain half a pound during your period!!!!
And you're right, at least when I was there, there was NO emphasis on health. They hawked their own products; processed, sugar-laden stuff you could *only* get at meetings.
I also believe that exercise is best when it's done for its own sake, not to burn off any calories eaten.

Losing 100 said...

You totally have the right perspective! It's not about fitting into jeans the next size smaller, or being the smallest one in the room. It's about being the best YOU that you can be. Fit, Healthy, Stong. Keep up the good work.

Nitmos said...

The applauding reminded me of the Academy Awards when they go over the list of recently departed. The big stars get the huge applause...the writers and technicians get the perfunctory smattering of claps. I always think that's lame.

Cat said...

Well, poo on that group. It sounds like I don't need to join that group. I do enough grumbling about not losing weight as fast as I want, I don't need a whole room to critique! Be true to you, you are working on the whole you, not just the fat. That's much more important.


Amy said...

I lost 65 lbs with ww, but still had about 20 to go when I had to quit. I never posted the big big losses - my 65 lbs took 4 years. the first 40 came off quickly, but then I became a runner, and I got stronger & leaner, but not lighter.

My WW leader ACCUSED ME OF LYING about my food/exercise, because there was no way it should be taking me that long to lose weight.

I eventually went & had my lean body mass measured, and it turns out that I'm not actually overweight (or wasn't at the time), just really, really muscle-y!

The couple times I've gone back to give it a shot - different groups/leaders - I've run into the same situations; very Biggest Loser-like, and more emphasis on not-real foods instead of a diet of moderation + exercise.

Judith said...

I'm a WW failure. I've tried it a few times and dropped out each time because I just coulnd't stand it, the public weighing and the confessional thing. Plus I hated the emphasis on their overpriced products and the pressure on you to buy them.

Liz said...

I quit WW because I was losing tiny amounts of weight and not meeting my goals... and it wasn't for lack of trying because I was measuring foods and exercising. It frustrated me to hear people say they never exercised and ate crap foods and still lost lots of weight. I resolved that it just isn't for me.. especially when I gained a few pounds back and no one said anything to me about it or offered suggestions on how to reverse that and start on the losing track again. (After all, I was paying $40 a month for them to guide me in the weight loss journey and help me when I seemed to go astray...)

Merry said...

That's actually what tipped the balance for me, too. (No pun intended.) Whenever I had a bad week, people looked at me like I was not trying. I really thought that despite all the Biggest Loser stuff, I could get tips and support on dealing with the bad times, like when I was working 80 hours a week and still trying to keep losing weight. If I want criticism, I can supply that on my own, free of charge.

messymimi said...

Keep doing it your way.

Amy said...

I did ww online and even without the actual people to comment I felt like a psycho exerciser just doing my usual stuff. My exercise points were often 15-20 points a day and the helpful notes suggested I try to get at least 1 point a day to start with. It was not the program for me but I had to try it out to see and I did have a cocktail so if this don't make no sense that's probably why.

Shelley said...

Haven't done WW in over a decade, but wanted to chime in on the "not fitting in" thing when it comes to the athletes...sure I can run, but I can't run as fast as most of the people around me. When I'm by myself, I'm ok with my slow pace, but when I'm in a race and everyone is passing me, it does get frustrating. When will I be a Kenyan?!?

English Rider said...

Have you heard of "Curves"? I never joined but went in once and know success stories personally. They let you come in, at your convenience, and you spend 30 minutes going from one exercise type to another. A kind of circuit training. All shapes and sizes, all levels. Maybe this is more of a fit for you.

Shauna said...

Busted a gut laughing at Nitmos' comment about the WW applause being like the Dead People applause at WW. I know some people have managed to find the elusive non-nutter WW class but your experience seems to be the most common one! Totally agree with you :)

Anonymous said...

It always bothered me to see friends going through the whole dieting/pounds thing. If all you do is diet, any pounds you lose are going to come right back to you. While some talk about a lifestyle change, just eating less and being more active is NOT that much of a lifestyle change. You can still enjoy some fatting and unhealthy foods, just in moderation!