[a weight loss story]

*kathrynoh at nemesis dot com dot au*


Weight Watchers: Cult of Evil?

Okay, for starters I'm not all that anti-Weight Watchers but hey, it's a catchy title! I've just been thinking about this because sometimes I feel like I'm the lone non-WW in the sea of weight loss blogs, the sole counter of calories rather than points. I have joined WW a couple of times in the past and it did nothing for me. I think because I wasn't ready for it at the time - just joining means nothing, you have to follow the program as well. I know it works for some people, I see evidence of it on your blogs, but I thought today I'd go through my reasons for NOT joining Weight Watchers.

  1. It costs money. That's the biggie. When I started getting serious about losing weight, way back at the beginning of the year, my mum and sister both joined WW. Since I didn't have a cent to my name, I decided I'd lose weight on my own and I'd show them that I didn't need their fancy Weight Watchers memberships. I could lose weight with paying $16 a week to get weighed. And I did too!
  2. There seems to be this Weight Watchers mentality, which I'm sure none of you have because you are far too sensible. But I'm sure everyone knows someone who eats nothing at all before their weigh in so they are their lightest possible weight then leaves the meeting and goes home via the Macca's drive thru cos they don't have to worry for another week. Sure the occasional treat is good for you, but this seems to perpetuate a binge or starve mentality.
  3. You can't get weighed naked. Well, not at any of the meetings I went to. Maybe there are WW meetings out there were the members happily strip off and jump on the scales. Even so, I'd rather save my nudie weigh ins for the privacy of my own room.
  4. The people who join WW because they need to lose a couple of kilograms. Sure it can be hard, well so I've been told, but they still shit me. A friend of my mum's joined WW even though she was within her healthy weight range. I don't know how these things work with WW but that didn't seem right to me.
  5. I hate the meetings. That talking bit. It bugs me so much. I guess it depends where you are coming from but since I've been overweight all my life, I know more about weight loss than just about anyone, trust me. I don't need to be told what to do, I just need to do it. And I have a total aversion to anyone telling me stuff I already know.
  6. I feel like they are always trying to flog you stuff. Like the $16 you pay isn't enough, you have to buy the cookbooks and the other stuff as well.
  7. Just the whole "cultish" feel to it, like when you are sitting in the lunch room at work and they are all talking about points and other "secret" weight watchers things.
  8. Finally, and this is a big issue for me, I need to do this without feeling like I'm answerable to anyone but myself. I've mentioned this before, I think. It's like I have this thing where part of me needs approval but part of me needs to rebel. It has happened every time I've began a weight loss program in the past. I start off fine, and I lose weight so I get the praise and I'm happy. But then I think I can have just a little of this or a little of that and no one need know. And it works, for a while. I have it all - the approval and the rebellion. Then it stops working and I gain weight, or don't lose, so I lose the approval. Then I get hurt and mad and go into "I'll show you" mode. Because you know it really shows people when you have a monster binge. So that leads to more disapproval, then more binging, then me dropping out completely. The only way I can lose weight is to be responsible for myself, not to pass control over to a WW leader or a doctor or a personal trainer, because otherwise the weird-arsed mind games begin. WW works for some people but not people with my own particular brand of insanity.

Of course, there are some things I miss out on, like the support at the meetings, which I think would be good. I guess you can't have it all.

Time for my walk now. If anyone else out there isn't doing Weight Watchers, I'd love to hear from you.

I liked the title :)

I am one of those non - sensible people that does not eat or drink before her weigh in (I have to stop doing this)...I know it's silly, and I hope to weed it out by xmas. But I don't go to maccas after - but I do have lunch :)

There was a woman who joined up last week, and did not look like she was over the 5kg minimum at all - I mean usually you can sort of tell, but with this woman, she looked like a rake.

I use most of the points books etc I bought last time I went - even though now they have fiddled with the points a bit - I am not prepared to shell out of the updated versions.

It is expensive, but at the moment I don't trust myself to go it alone - plus I don't want to quit and then go back...this is my 3rd and final time at ww, if I leave or quit or give up this time, I am not going back.

It is a bit of a cult - and everyone seems to know someone that is in it. Oh, and I don't own scales - one: so I don't weigh myself every single day, and two: because i would cheat :(

Great post by the way, It will be interesting to see the feedback you get on it.

By Anonymous Lucinda, at 9:00 pm  

Hi Kathryn

I too am a good old fashioned calorie counter. I've been to WW before and I lost about 10lbs on it. I know it can work but so can most diets- if you just stick to them.

The reasons I choose to do it alone are very similar to you. I don't like feeling answerable to anyone and even more so- I don't like failing. If I put on a pound or two I am annoyed enough about it without having to appear contrite or sorry to a ww leader type person.

I do grudge paying the money and I would rather put that towards my gym membership and I can't always guarantee to make it at the same time to the same place each week.

I also cannot stand some of these people who go. I'm talking about these twee woman who have nothing to do but devote their time to losing a few pounds in order to get back into their twin set and pearls and manage to to do it successfully! You know- the kind that say, oh I can't possibly eat all that.

By Blogger Lainey, at 9:30 pm  

Great post Kathryn and some very valid comments.

I haven't joined WW, I have just been following the program. My best friend joined, and she got me the points guides, which I've been using, and I've been buying the magazine, which is actually a very good read. I didn't want to shell out $16 a week to get weighed - primarily because I couldn't afford it, and because it was Hobart I was worried I'd run into people I knew there (pride issue more than anything). I knew I could do it on my own if I really wanted to, and I prefer a nude weigh in too! Also,like you, one of my pet peeves is having to sit and listen to someone rabbit on about things I already know about(my high school English classes were VERY painful :b)

I do detest the way they try to flog their food products at meetings - as if we need more food! That was one of the main reasons my mother in law left - she worked as a recorder for about three different meetings in Hobart for years and years, and eventually threw in the towel because the "sell sell sell" was totally against what she believed the purpose of the company and the meetings was all about. A sign of the times, I guess.

Mary made an excellent suggestion on her blog a few months ago, recommending that if people join WW they should do it via the At Home program and start a blog for support and accountability, rather than go to the meetings, which I think is an excellent idea.

I'll be interested to see how other people respond to what you've written.

Looking forward to Monday!!

By Blogger Philippa, at 9:37 pm  

Kathryn, I'm with you all the "weigh" down the line on the anti-WW points, particularly with the defiant disorder part -- any hint that I've seduced someone else into the weight loss scheme and I have someone to rebel against, which I do. I have joined WW numerous times in the past, forked over my money and then realized that clutching the books they gave me dont' actually lead to any real weight loss. I lead to my own weight loss or I don't. I believe that it's a sensible program, but it's also a very obvious, sensible program -- eat portion controlled meals, exercise, think about what you're doing. Don't need it because if I can't lose weight without WW, I can't lose weight with it. The accountability of being weighed in is attractive and motivating to some people, but I always saw it as the enemy of my ability to break free of depending upon other people for actions which, as an adult, I very correctly have to perform myself.

By Blogger The Troescher Team, at 11:00 pm  

See? There are more of us out there than one might think...

I lost 10kg with WW 3-4yrs ago (87 - 77kg), but went off the scheme and it went all back on ++++. I think it was a bandaid solution - not eating also makes you lose weight, as long as you stick to it - and I didn't want to be "on an eating plan", albeit a flexible one, for the rest of my life.

The catch cry at the time was about no food being off limits, and while there is mention of needing to eat so many points from each food group, I found the focus to be more about simply sticking to points - even falling under if you wanted to lose more quickly.

A year ago I went in with my bf to his dr's appointment and the dr turned to me and said "heart disease, diabetes, the inability to fall pregnant - how do you feel about these conditions?" I was floored! I have been overweight for years and no dr had ever mentioned it. Doc asked me if I had tried to lose weight and when I said WW had worked he quickly cut me off and asked me to look in his full-length mirror and tell myself that. Where had this guy been all my life??! It made me realise that I need to overhaul my eating and exercise in a way that is not following any programme. i know WW tries to give you guidelines in which to do that, but I would just manipulate them to my "advantage". This really says more about me than WW, but I know I wasn't the only one doing it.

My aims now are to see food as fuel, not an indulgence, and my body as a machine that deserves the best fuel available. Emotional eating needs to go (in my experience WW didn't address that) and should be replaced with something positive. I need to recognise that being healthy is for life so the odd not-so-perfect choice is merely a stone in my Birkinstock; I stop, shake it out, and keep going.

Whatever tack each of us take, we need to make it work, really work, for us. The great thing about our online community is that you can borrow bits from other people and make your weight loss journey suit your individual needs.

By Blogger CaramelKitKat, at 11:48 pm  

Loved the blog. I'm down 18 pounds without WW, and by limiting bread, potatoes and pasta. And walking on the &*^% treadmill, which is my sworn enemy (though I'm trying to readjust my attitude).

WW was too infrequent for me. I like frequent support and I find I get it by reading a variety of weightloss blogs. So many of you out there are terrific writers. This way I get a daily fix, usually while I'm eating lunch, and it doesn't cost me anything.

By Blogger Haloranch, at 9:56 am  

Great post Kathryn and I think it is great that you address ideas and concerns you have, even knowing people follow the ww plan.

When I finally pulled my finger out and decided I was going to lose weight and get healthier my mind turned to the only non-pre-packaged meal way I knew how. WW points. I didn't join and whilst I have been crashing their meetings from time to time to buy myself some snacks and books, I have not shelled out a cent for the priveledge.

The internet has been a wealth of info for me, and the community of the blogs far outweighs any meetings I have been too in a previous experience (10 years ago). The anonymity of this place allows people to open up and talk about real issues rather than the stuff we only think people want to hear, which is what happens in a face to face situation.

If I were honest I would have to say that I don't know how to count calories. I would have to make a concerted effort to work that out. WW seemed like a tool that would work for me - and it has - but like you said I have done the work - noone else.

As always Kathryn, a great read.

By Blogger M, at 12:27 pm  

Hi there ive been reading your blog a bit, so i thought id commemt esspecially in regards to non WWers. I brought the at home kit last year it didnt do anything for me, because i worked out that food wasnt my problem exercise was. I am cals/points concious but ultimatly for me the 1/2 hour, 2 point bonus walk a day just didnt cut it.
please have a read at my blog ive just started its pretty lame but im new to it!!

Keep up the great work!!!! Good luck

By Blogger zigs, at 4:15 pm  

Hi Kathryn

I want to tell you, I love your blog. Everything you write is something I find myself relating to, and yet I havent commented in ages, sorry!!

I go to WW and I work as the weigher (which has been an eye-opener!). My weigh-in is in the evening, and I eat all day, but I tend to eat fairly similiar each weigh-in day (and most days during the week) and I try not to eat / drink after 2pm (just a cut off time I chose. I think that would just be silly to eat and drink close to weigh-in, it would not give me an accurate comparison each week) I dont binge after weigh-in, although I used to!

I hated paying $16 per week, but really needed to be accountable to someone each week, so I asked to work at ww (free meetings). I now feel strong enough to go it alone, and I will be in 3 weeks when I finish up working at ww (have been there 18 months)

My leader is lovely and we do not push any products or cookbooks, but I notice when we have other leaders fill in that they push the products.

Anyone can join if they have at least 5 kg to lose (so they need to be 5 kg heavier than the minimum weight for their height) I see some real tiny people join, and they think they are huge! Its crazy!!

A great post Kathryn!!

By Blogger lms, at 6:08 pm  

agree, agree, agree... you are so on the money here. especially the starving before weigh-in/macca's on the way home thing. i most loathed the smugness of the weigh-in staff... "Oh, you've GAINED! Tsk Tsk!". yet 90% of the time the weighers seem to have been there forever and never get any smaller. i am glad to be out of that cult.

hurrah for us calorie counters :)

By Anonymous dg, at 12:44 am  

I don't follow WW either, I just count calories on DC. While I do believe that groups such as WW provide great support and motivation, I couldn't get my head around the following;
1. The Points system. I'm one of those people that wants to know exactly what is in her food (in terms of fat, carbs, protein and calorie content). While I acknowledge counting Points simplifies matters, I just can't bring myself to say "Oh that's only two points" based on the calorific and saturated fat content. I need every morsel of info I can get (the librarian in me insists on knowing everything!!)

2. It is quite expensive. Diet Club is much cheaper, has a wealth of information and supportive forums to chat to other people.

3. I can't deal with public weigh ins. I'd much rather weigh myself in the comfort of my own bathroom, nude, first thing in the morning. I have an at home, one person support network to applaud me when I've lost and encourage me when I've gained.

That said, they are my only grievances against WW. I think any weight loss program that advocates the safe and sensible way to losing weight will always rate in my book.

By Blogger another sarah ..., at 4:25 pm  

Mmm, being a WW person I'd have to disagree with it being a "cult of evil" LOL :-) I just really needed help with losing weight. I tried doing it myself and I tried Lite 'n' Easy (lost weight but put it back on). They didn't work for me because I didn't actually learn anything. Whilst I have been doing WW, I have learnt so much about healthy eating/living and now cook!

The meetings can be daggy but I went to the ones in Newtown NSW and it was filled with some really cool people. I've made some great friends in the area now from lots of different "scenes" and I wouldn't have met these people otherwise. I feel like I'm part of the community now. They do talk about the products but I'd like to think I'm an intelligent, conscious consumer and will make up my own mind.

I just think of WW as a tool and I've paid for a good basic education in health which is so important to me now. I am really impressed with how much I have learnt over the months not only about eating better but also getting to know my own body.

I understand that it doesn't work for everybody though and I totally respect this. I think any program you can get your head around and it works for you is great!

By Blogger Mary, at 9:27 pm  



current weight:
76.6 kg

start weight:
110.1 kg

total loss:
33.5 kg

goal weight:
70 kgs



boobs: 100 cm

waist: 81 cm

hips: 109 cm

thighs: 50 cm


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