Friday, July 28, 2006

how I do Weight Watchers

Just like that silly commercial "How do you eat a Reese's," everyone who has been around people who do Weight Watchers long enough knows that there is the official plan and then there's what people really do. Hang around the Weight Watchers message boards for a while and you'll learn about all kinds of mythical plans like the Wendie Plan, the C.J. Plan, etc., that people have invented by "tweaking" the basic Points system. There are also always people looking for materials from some old Weight Watchers plan that brought them success in the past.

I'm no exception. I got to Lifetime using Winning Points, so I am now doing a modification of the Flex plan that is more similar to that plan but that still fits the rules of Flex. Every time that WW revamps their plan, they make some people happy and a whole lot of old-timers upset.

Overall, though, I try to avoid messing with the plan. I have found that it's easy to make an adjustment here, a tweak there, and end up turning it into the way that I would eat normally, on my own. If I eat the way that I would eat normally, on my own, I will weigh what I did normally, on my own.

I have been on and off WW several times in the last few years. After I made Lifetime, I started letting things slide and regained some weight. I joined and quit WW at least 5 or 6 times since then. One thing I have finally figured out is that you have to be willing to let yourself be a little bit hungry at first. One of the lies I hear die-hard Weight Watchers tell is, "I was never hungry." Sure, veggies are pretty unrestricted, so you can eat as many of them as you want, but snacking on a huge bag of baby carrots just leaves me bloated and unsatisfied.

For the first few weeks of the plan, I am hungry sometimes. Not ravenously hungry but a little bit hungry. If I am really going to have a problem, I will eat something, even if I don't really have the points for it, but mostly I try to let myself get used to that feeling of being just a little hungry and remind myself that, to paraphrase a friend, "hunger is not a terminal condition." Sometimes it is really hunger and sometimes it's just habit. I try to wait it out for a while to see if it will go away if I forget about it.

After that first few weeks, the hard part, I start to adjust to the smaller portions and the new way of eating and it's not so bad, unless something doesn't go according to plan. I almost took my husband's head off one night when he wanted to push dinner back a couple of hours, because I didn't have enough points for a snack and dinner and I was hungry. I also get into trouble if I don't plan out my meals or don't keep the pantry stocked with the foods I need. Or if I go out to dinner when I wasn't expecting it.

The funny thing is that sooner or later, as Vickie said in a recent post, my body rebels if I try to go back to the old way of eating. I found that out last night after I went to Tony Packo's (for the first time, even though I've been in the Toledo area for my whole life) and had a beer and a bunch of cheesy, greasy food. My body just can't take it anymore. I hated the feeling of my stomach being so full it felt stretched. At least it kept me from snacking later that night.

Those kind of controls can remind us of the right way to eat, if we listen to them. If not, just like those gastric bypass patients that learn how to eat through their discomfort, we stretch our stomachs back to the point where we started. This time around, I refuse to go back through the hell of the first weeks of WW. I learned my lesson.


  1. Now you have to tell me, what is the Wendie plan? Basically I'm surrendering. As I told my friend Ronda, cue up "Just As I Am" and I'll be rededicating myself just like people do at a Billy Graham revival.

    I agree with you seriously about all of this.

  2. The Wendie plan is from the old days of Winning Points when everyone had a points range -- say, 22-29 points a day -- and you could bank points. The theory of Wendie's is that you should vary your points more widely than most WW did at the time and have a couple of really low days and a couple of high-points days. The website says: "low/high/low/very high/very low/high/med. high" should be how you use your points. Now that there are Flex Points that you can use whenever you want, Wendie's is really just another way of using them.

    The CJ Plan is basically an extreme version of Wendie's where you actually have two pretty uncontrolled days, two days at the end of your points range, and some medium days. Most days you need to work out and earn a bunch of extra activity points. This one seems to be less popular than Wendie's and there is no way to do this and really follow the WW rules. It seems more like someone invented this plan by really blowing it on the weekend and spending all week making up for it -- and then found that they still lost weight.

    I think someone could do a folklore of Weight Watchers research project because, like I said, everyone has some weird way of doing WW that someone they know lost a whole bunch of weight on.

    Anyway, I am serious about the hunger thing. The first few weeks SUCK. Once my body adjusts, it's not so bad. But a lot of the times I rejoined, I never got to the place where my body adjusted because I don't like being hungry and would eat over my points all the time, not lose weight, and quit. The trick is to eat good stuff and spread your meals out so that you're a little bit hungry sometimes but not ravenous.

  3. As I have been cranking my points averages down I have noticed that feeling of 'hungry' coming up from time to time. I learned how to deal with that sensation using techniques in Geneen Roth's books. I have learned to just sit with it and it usually goes away after a while. Drinking a cup of tea or a glass of water helps too. If it comes back with a vengence I will just have my snack or meal a little earlier than planned.
    I also notice that I prefer to feel a bit hungry than full - fullness makes me feel heavier and I could swear when I look in the mirror, I look heavier too.
    I had a binge recently and I noticed that this makes me feel hungrier the next day - particularly if it has been a lot of high carb stuff. I'm not sure I understand why that happens only that it does and it sometimes gets so intense I feel nauseous.
    I am back in line now and I am sure my digestive tract appreciates not having to work so hard on my behalf.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07