Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Seriously? You went to Weight Watchers meetings?

It is true that, relatively speaking, not that many men go to Weight Watchers meetings (i.e., roughly 10%).  However, some of the most passionate meetings members I have ever met have been men.  Why is this?  

Let me try to answer this from my own personal perspective....

First off, my entry into Weight Watchers was via the internet in helping to build the WeightWatchers.com business.  I use one of the two internet products, Weight Watchers eTools (for people who go to meetings) ALL the time.  I track POINTS, I use the weight tracker, I use the recipe builder, etc.  I love it all.  

That said, I have only had success losing weight by also going to Weight Watchers meetings.  Certainly part of it is the tremendous amount of tips, tricks, concepts that I have learned over the years.  I could go on for days on dining out tips I have picked up in my meetings.  

The other very significant variable in my personal weight loss equation is the scale (hence the name of the blog).  

I suppose I am a pretty achievement-oriented person, and I am a big fan of praise and positive affirmation.  Said differently, I would rather get a good grade than a bad grade.  The idea of being able to get a score delivered to me by someone else keeps me highly motivated and focused.  Knowing that I have a weigh-in awaiting me on Wednesday at 11:30 AM keeps my game on throughout the week.  

During the six weeks in which I was trying to qualify for Lifetime Member status, I sweat bullets every time I got on the scale.  One might ask why I can't just weigh myself on a home scale and be done with it.  My answer is that this simply doesn't work for me.  I need to have someone else weigh me and then write the weight loss in my member book.  I thrive on the challenge and the praise, and I cannot stand the idea of backward process.  

The psychology of weight loss never ceases to fascinate me.  The scale is just one part of the behavior modification formula of Weight Watchers.  For me, it's a big one.  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dumb habits before Weight Watchers

Looking at my before picture has led me to ask the question:  what exactly was I doing to get myself to that state?  Thinking back, here is my list of egregious habits, bad choices, and horrific ignorance (from Chicago to Washington, D.C.)...
  • Ate chinese food twice per week (I really did think it was all healthy).  Kung Pao Chicken was a favorite as was Schezuan Beef.  And egg rolls (2 thank you very much)
  • Ate at Lou Mitchell's which served the most massive omelets I have ever seen
  • The obligatory Chicago stuffed pizza
  • Rocklands BBQ
  • Chicken salad sandwiches (this was a healthy choice)
  • Room service (burger, fries, quesadilla appetizer)
  • Burritos at the Austin Grill (outstanding fare)
I balanced it out by exercising 2 times in a week, once every 3-4 months.  

It was fun while it lasted, but I really don't miss that stuff all that much.  Every once-in-a-while, I will dive back into a nostalgic calorie train wreck.  I just don't do it every day for every meal.  

In the scientific world of weight management, the concept of having a splurge from time-to-time is referred to as "flexible restraint."  It actually works nicely, and I don't feel deprived vs. when I was enjoying "unbridled gluttony."  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Eating on the road: beware breakfast treats...

This past week, I participated in a series of Weight Watchers (work) meetings with our European and Australian teams.  The event was held at a conference center outside of London.  Wandering in for breakfast, I was presented with two banquet options:  a 6 sq ft assortment of pastry and one wee plate of fruit.  What's kind of scary about this, is that the facility operator knew it was a meeting full of Weight Watchers employees.  I'm not saying that this was a malicious and hurtful act, but...  

Summoning all of my new super powers, I resisted the pull of the scary carbohydrate tractor beam and opted for the fruit instead.  Frankly, the pastries looked a bit soggy and bland, so it wasn't all that much of a hardship.  

Note for the next offsite:  ask the facility operator not to bring in the pastries.  Nobody would notice their absence.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On becoming a Lifetime Member

I had been at a healthy weight throughout 2008, but in all my years at Weight Watchers I had never gone through the official process for becoming a lifetime member.
For those not familiar with it, Lifetime Membership is achieved when a member is able to stay within 2 lbs of their goal weight for six consecutive weigh-in's. My first step was to deter
mine my goal weight, which I determined in consultation with my leader, Liz (who rocks, BTW). Second, I weighed in within my goal weight range for six anxious weeks.

On March 17, 2009, I became a Lifetime Member, which entitles me to free attendance at meetings (as long as I stay at my goal weight). I have to say, it was a pretty big deal for me to finally have the official honor of joining this special group of people.

Note the attractive jewelry (it's a key chain with a charm) I acquired as my reward. It's not a pinky ring, so that's a plus.

As I reflect on this, I am pretty happy with the way my lifestyle has changed along the way. I eat healthy (mostly) and exercise lots. I feel better than I've ever felt, and I'm in the best shape and health of my life. Like so many other people, I am forever changed through Weight Watchers.

In the beginning

No weight loss story is complete without a before and after picture.  That's me in 1997 (don't be upset about the cat, she didn't mind).  And that's me posing as Tarzan in a black and white photo.  

Life as a Before...

I was a "big" guy.  Not incredibly big, as it helps to be tall, but big nonetheless.  It all happened pretty gradually.  I couldn't gain weight all through high school.  Then I went to college and gained 40 lbs in about 3 days.  Mind you, that weight was about 30 lbs less than what's in the "before" picture on the left.  In hindsight, I would attribute having more than one chin to the cumulative effect of a multitude of bad food choices (Chinese food isn't low calorie!  It has chicken in it.), beer and a sporadic (generous adjective here) exercise regimen.  

At the time, I was working for Pepsico.  I viewed product sampling as an important part of my role, even though it technically had nothing to do with my job.  

I don't know that I cared all that much about my weight.  However, in 1999, my doctor read me the riot act when I had my physical.  High cholesterol.  High blood pressure.  A lifetime of prescription medicine awaited.  And I had too many chins (my diagnosis, not hers).  

I was a male Weight Watchers member

I had an opportunity to leave PepsiCo, and take a job at the newly formed startup, WeightWatchers.com, Inc.  It was a great opportunity to help envision the Weight Watchers concept in an online environment.  When I accepted the job, the thought was in the back of my mind that I might be able to lose a few pounds in the process.  

In an effort to learn a little more about Weight Watchers, I started going to Weight Watchers meetings.  One of the few proud men in my meeting, I started diligently following the program.  I learned about a whole range of interesting and foreign foods like fruit and vegetables.  After about three months, I noticed that I had lost about 25 pounds.  My health improved measurably, and medicine was no longer necessary.  

I went up and down in weight a few times over the next 7 years, but in 2008, I decided to try to lose the weight permanently.