Tuesday, June 19, 2007
stupid Weight Watchers tricks
Actually, I'm not talking about the scale, though as you can see from the graph, it's bouncing all over the place. I was not expecting a good weigh-in with the week I just had.
I'm just grouchy because my usual Weight Watchers leader was not there and our sub was a very nice woman who is a True Believer. I'm not sure how many of the people who read this blog are veteran Weight Watchers like me, but True Believers are chirpy little people who read the "Ten Little Weight Watchers" poem with enthusiasm and passion, and don't realize that if you've been in WW for more than a year, you've probably already heard it seven or eight times before. "Isn't that just the cutest thing?"
I've noticed a change in the program in the last couple of years. Meetings used to be more free-form. There was always a weekly topic, but leaders had a sheet of material on it and seemed to be free to use it however they wanted. Now there is a website with graphics for leaders to print out and paste onto flip charts, and there is much less room for members to talk about obstacles they faced during the week or share information and tips with each other.
I'm sure the point is to keep the meetings on track. I know my very first leader was more interested in telling us all about what was going on in her life and the lives of her kids than talking about program, but I find the cute cartoons on the flip charts reminiscent of kindergarten. I also don't find the kind of fill-in-the-blank participation this format encourages ("Always remember to drink your _______") to be particularly inspiring. Though the script keeps the meeting from being a completely irrelevant monologue by the leader -- "My son's wife said the funniest thing the other day" -- it also makes it harder for the good leaders to shine. Maybe if Weight Watchers started treating their leaders as professionals, and paying them that way, we could expect more consistent quality of instruction. Then they could let the leaders run the meetings themselves instead of reading through a premade curriculum. It's not surprising that they sometimes have a hard time finding good people if leaders' income depends on how many vile 2-POINT Bars they sell.
Today's topic was particularly strange and unhelpful. When I got there, I saw a bottle of water with a "Cure-All" label on it. I figured it was going to be all about the benefits of drinking our water. Not the most inspiring topic, but at least something that would make sense. Instead we got a weird little dissertation on three kinds of "Salt Water" that were the key to success: "Sweat," "Tears," and oddly enough, "The Sea." Each had a cute little smiley face to represent it. I don't think even with a spectacular leader this topic would have worked, but with this particular leader, it really was mystifying. I never did get a clear understanding of why The Sea was in there.
Weight Watchers is a hugely successful business, with almost $400 million of revenues in just the first quarter of this year. They have a team of scientists and other experts and even a magazine of their own. This would seem to give the organization the resources to design programming that is more sophisticated and targeted to an adult intelligence level. Someone in Corporate seems to have the idea that because we're overweight, and mostly women, that we are of subpar intellect and genuinely want cartoons and cute slogans and poems.
In reality, we all know that women who have weight issues are mostly intelligent, funny women with a sarcastic, rebellious streak. We want a down-to-earth leader that knows that no matter how many times you chant, "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change," you still have to eat less food to lose weight, and that it sucks sometimes. We need a leader who can agree with us that it sucks, but gently and firmly tell us we still are going to have to do it anyway. It would be a bonus if she could give us some realistic advice on how to do that.
"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