Earlier this week I was getting ready for my first day at work and I put on the only pair of slacks I have left from my old work wardrobe. They were way too loose on me. The last time I wore them was in late summer/early fall of 2009 when they were so snug that the zipper broke twice. I kept them as a measuring tool because I just knew Puerto Rico would make a difference in my weight loss.
I will admit that when I pictured my life in Puerto Rico I imagined filling my free time with frenzied workouts. It didn’t work out that way, I was active: took walks, danced a lot, sometimes even real workouts, but nothing frenzied.
I also imagined myself drastically cutting my calorie intake. That happened—I’m guessing—but not how I imagined. I ate everything; all the homemade Puerto Rican food that was put in front of me.
I was in Puerto Rico for almost a year, and now, it’s 2011, and the ill-fitting pants made me think—after years of trying so many different programs and obsessing over my weight—”what made last year different when I wasn’t even trying?”
As I was reflecting on this question, I caught an ad for Weight Watchers and had an epiphany.
See, I used to be slim (see picture). During the same year that picture was taken I made my first deal with the devil of Weight Watchers. Why devil? Because if you look at the picture, it is obvious that I did not need a weight loss program, yet they took my money anyway. They didn’t take a look at me and say, “We can’t accept you into our program; you are a healthy, fit woman.” They cashed my check.
That was 2002.
Years later, after many more attempts, and some short-lived ‘successes,’ at weight loss with Weight Watchers, I had gained A LOT of weight and gone up three sizes. I was at the heaviest I’d ever been in my life: Unhappy and worse yet, uncomfortable.
Now, I can’t fully blame WW, after all I went there willingly, so I must have had some mental issue with my weight, but Weight Watcher’s confirmation of my delusional belief that I was overweight completely threw me off-course. My weight became my obsession, when it had never been before. Prior to those years, I was slim, active and rarely obsessed about food. Weight Watcher’s counting and tracking of every bite I put into my mouth made me obsessive. It was a form of control in a life I wasn’t fully in control of most days. WW became my crutch.
It made sense; after all, in theory it is one of the programs out there that work, if you follow it. Logical! Right? Then again, don’t all programs work if you follow them?
I know some WW devotees are reading this and thinking, “It does work, it always works for me. In fact, I need to sign up again.” My question to them is, “Really? Is a program that you sign up for over and over again really successful?” It can’t be. If a program didn’t give you the tools to live a life free of constant thoughts about food and its relation to your body, then no, it is not successful. No program should graduate its members to lifetime memberships.
But I digress.
So again, I ask myself, “What made the difference?”
Perhaps it was the combination of a new environment and leaving the stresses of a demanding job. I had time to refocus my mental energy on life and doing things that made me happy, taking back control.
I didn’t notice the weight loss, it just sort of happened. As I said, no frenzied workouts, no counting calories. I rarely thought about food except when it was time to sit down and eat. I took walks, I kept house, I danced; in short: I lived. And in doing all of those things without giving them much thought, I broke my deal with the devil.