August 14, 2012


A few days before July's half marathon, I had a brilliant job interview. Totally nailed it. The woman, who would be my direct superior, said she was impressed, and though she would be on vacation for two weeks, she'd contact me when she got back to schedule a second interview with the president of the school. I used those two weeks to read as many books as I could from the library on adolescent psychology, since she said my one weakness with the position was that my experience was with university students, and this position would be working with middle- and high-school age kids.

The day she said she'd be back in the office, I waited by the phone. Nothing all day. I reached out to her the next morning, and received a very short response, saying she was still in the interview process and would contact me soon.

That was last Monday. I finally heard from her Thursday morning, and scheduled a second interview for that very afternoon. The president was equally impressed - in fact, he stopped me in the middle of one of my responses to let me know that for someone who's only spent two weeks in France, your French is ... remarkable. Dramatic pause and everything. I walked out the door that day, certain this job was in the bag. I had gone in there, gave them everything I had, and they seemed to love it.

They said I would receive a decision on Friday or Monday. Needless to say, my stressed-out neurotic self checked my e-mail approximately every two to three minutes all day Friday. Nothing, but not a big worry - maybe they were waiting to speak with some of my references.

But then Monday came and went. Same routine, checking and rechecking my e-mail. Same nothingness. Not even a rejection letter, which makes it all harder - I'd honestly rather hear first thing in the morning that I was rejected than wait all day for an acceptance that never comes.

Monday night, I binged. I hadn't eaten most of the day - stomach in a nervous knot - but I certainly made up for it once 5 p.m. hit. After a brief teary conversation with my siblings (my little brother, the eternal optimist, said to cheer up, that I am still a good person even if they don't hire me), I was torn about what to do. If I leave the apartment, I'll binge. If I stay home, I'll likely overeat, but the damage would be controlled.

Driven by a need to feel comforted, even if it was in an unhealthy way, I decided to leave.

In the morning, Matt held me as I cried. He said there was still a little hope - he'd once received a job offer long after the promised date - and he insisted I e-mail the woman, if only to get a definitive no/why not. I e-mailed her, applied for a half dozen jobs, and then went out. Matt had come home that morning with cans of soup (he's fighting a cold now, like I had when I first got back from California) and I went to the grocery store to exchange them for a different variety.

Instead of taking the bus, I walked. I figured, I have nothing else to do today, why not? I swapped the soups, then walked to a thrift store nearby to see if they had any of the vintage Pyrex I love (they didn't). And then, I remembered what else was near there: a French pastry shop. The anticipatory wave of excitement rushed over me, and I headed to the bank to transfer some money from my savings to my checking account - these lovely little French cookies are labor-intensive to make, and thus cost nearly $2 a piece.

After transferring the money and walking out the door of the bank, though, the feeling in my body changed. It hit me: if I binge right now, it isn't going to be enough. After two to three weeks of nearly daily binges, my tolerance level is elevated. I crave the numbness even more than the macarons, and at this point, it's going to take a lot to achieve that high.

I stood on the sidewalk, unable to move, and then, I heard my phone buzz. An e-mail. From the woman at the school.

... considered very seriously your application ... another candidate ... we may need someone showing more self-confidence ...

It floored me. I thought I had gone in there shining, close to flawless. She's not a native speaker, and given the context of the rest of the e-mail, I don't think "self-confidence" is the right word for what she's trying to say. But that doesn't mean it isn't true, and hearing it hit me like a ton of bricks.

My confidence is shot right now. This job would have been incredible, but instead, the search continues. I not only failed at my goal to run a marathon, but there's a monetary loss as well - equal to a month of groceries, or almost half a month's rent. And I'm now not only unable to say I've lost 150 pounds, but on the cusp of unable to say 140. My clothes are all feeling snug, since I got rid of anything bigger than a medium when I left California in an attempt to (a) save space in my suitcases and (b) prevent a regain.

I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. I just didn't think anyone else could notice.

Funny, though: I thought the same at rock bottom.

Feeling out of control is terrible. Slipping, falling, and unsure of how to get back on your feet - it's tough. And it's even more difficult when you're fiercely independent and want to be wholly responsible for everything you accomplish, good or bad.

There's nothing wrong, though, with needing a helping hand. It's not a failure. It says nothing about a lack of strength. In fact, it's the opposite. There's no weakness in asking for a life preserver instead of resisting help and drowning.

I didn't walk to the pastry shop. I walked in the other direction, and I stumbled upon a small storefront in a plaza I'd never seen before. I wandered in, asked a few questions, got a ton of answers, and then handed over my credit card.

I'll be hashing out some of my thoughts on Weight Watchers in a later post, either tomorrow or in a few days. I have more than my share of reservations. But I also know from the blogging community that if you stick to the plan, if you wholeheartedly commit to it, it works. I'm going to give this a fair and honest try for one month - there's no contract, so if it isn't right for me, I can move on to whatever my next option may be.

I lost 150 pounds without counting calories, without food tracking, without meetings. But that was then, and this is now. Right now, I need a plan with rules and structure. I need support, and to build up my offline community. I want my confidence back, and this is step one in my journey back to my happy, healthy self.

What about you? If you use Weight Watchers (or have in the past), what is/was your experience with the program? If anyone out there is very strongly anti-WW, I'd like to hear from you, too - explain your position a bit. (I'd be lying if I wasn't formerly in that camp, so this is a very interesting challenge for me.)


Jitterfish (WJW) said...

WW worked for me first time round, I only stopped going because I got pregnant and they won't allow you to do the program if you're preggers. For me it wasn't what they taught me (I knew everything really, as will you), but it was the accountability. Its why I'm working with a nutritionist now that I'm so close to goal, I need someone to help me and knowing I'm going to be standing on the scales in front of someone helps.

timothy said...

weight watchers is a brilliant concept and the support system is fabulous. it didnt work for me long term because i simply couldnt eat the way they wanted me to. too many fruits and grains those trigger binges for me. i'm the oddball though i've had tons of friends who are successful longterm and you will be too!

Justice said...

First I must say I always look forward to your posts. They always feel so honest and they help me to be honest with myself. I started WW 18 months ago I started at 195(I'm only 5'2"). It totally changed my life! I weigh 132 now. I still have more weight to lose but I need structure and the points program gives me that. I didn't do the full program due to cost, but I have heard very good things about the meetings and online service. I have tried SO many diets over the years and this is the only thing that has worked for me over the long term. I hope it will work for you also. It does work if you follow the "rules".

Justice said...

First I must say I always look forward to your posts. They always feel so honest and they help me to be honest with myself. I started WW 18 months ago I started at 195(I'm only 5'2"). It totally changed my life! I weigh 132 now. I still have more weight to lose but I need structure and the points program gives me that. I didn't do the full program due to cost, but I have heard very good things about the meetings and online service. I have tried SO many diets over the years and this is the only thing that has worked for me over the long term. I hope it will work for you also. It does work if you follow the "rules".

downsizers said...

Personally, I have lost my weight twice with WW and gained it back. I even lead a class or two. I feel like there are too many carbs which creates that craving, panic type of hunger for me. Fruit is unlimited now as I understand, there is allowance for bread, optional points can be used for carbs, and the a person can earn more points for activity which could be spent on carbs. You will also be following someone else's rules, not your own. My suggestion if you do try WW is watch the fruit and bread (berries, cantaloupe are low-carb friendly)and choose protein when you decide on optional points or activity points. Over all I am not a fan because of the reasons I mentioned.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

I was anti-counting calories too until I stopped losing weight. Then i realized all of the nibbling I did was adding up. MFP helped with the last 25 pounds. I have gained 5 pounds back and I know how you feel- even though it's not 75 pounds, I feel fat and flabby, in a slump. The accountability may be what you need. My gf just lost 25 pounds with WW. She loves the social aspect of it- makes friends everywhere she goes. It could be the jumpstart you need to build yourself back up. Have you spoken to Jen or Meredith about WW? They'd be a good support system.

Kami said...

I have used Weight Watchers online in past, before the new Points Plus system. It does work if you are fully committed to it. My problem with the plan is finding every little ingredient in something and logging it. Also, I used to "milk" the system by finding things that weren't really healthy but had enough fiber to drive the points value down. I never went to any meetings, so I can't tell you about that. Many of the people I work with have done WW and like it.

I've lost my weight just by eating healthier food in the right portions at the right time. I do like just snapping a picture and putting on my blog which is much easier than tracking. There are times I do think of rejoining and maybe trying a meeting.

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! said...

I've only tried WW online and I didn't have any success, but I also wasn't in the right head space. With the online program, the only person keeping you accountable is yourself and that was my issue. If I had the money, I was definitely give the WW meetings a shot. When I lost weight in the past, I was being weighed in by a "coach" (for lack of better words) every week and that held me very accountable because I didn't want to gain in front of them... so for that reason, I feel WW meetings would really help me. I currently count calories on myfitnesspal and I've been honest with myself and I truly want to lose weight, so it's been working slowly, but surely. I think it's a great idea to try it out for a month and see how it goes! Good luck :)

Denise said...

I'm so proud of you for trying something new instead of waiting for the old way to work again. Go, Mary, go!

Jen said...

I did it twice years ago. The problem with it is that I don't enjoy counting things. It makes me focus too much on food. I would think "how many points do I have left?". "If I eat this how many points will I have left?". "How many points do I need for dinner?" "How many points is this cookie?" I mean I just kept thinking like this ALL day long. I felt so obsessed with food that I finally quit. I've thought about trying it again because counting points is somewhat easier than cals. I've never been a huge calorie counter either. I've hit a plateau though and I've held my weight for over 8 months. Time to change something! Good luck. I can't wait to follow your progress.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

I lost 50 lbs doing the old WW plan a few years ago. I left thinking I could do it online or by doing spark people and through a series of injuries and other crap I have gained it back.

I'm having a hard time on the new points+ program and I think there are other hormonal issues as to why the weight is not moving as fast as it did before.

Well being back in the Chicago area you are also lucky to be able to purchase an ActivityLink which was tested at my WW location (I'm in Joliet) and everyone loves it. I'm still 3 weeks into and it is an eye opener.

Amy said...

Sometimes when things don't make any sense whatsoever it's because it really truly wasn't meant to be!

When I applied to work in the government a couple years ago I desperately wanted the job. I was miserable in my job and just wanted something different. I was sick of working at home and never seeing people or having a work social life...etc. etc.

When the job I wanted with the government opened up, it was literally MADE for me. I was perfect for it. I spent meticulous hours doing my application and even told my boss.

I made it through the first round of the applications and the next was getting selected for an interview. I was convinced (there were a ton of openings too).

Anyway, I obviously didn't get the job... and you know what I AM SO GLAD I DIDN'T. At the time I was heartbroken, confused and just plain frustrated.

I now know that would have been the worst thing ever, and my job transformed into something incredible and I know now it's because I was meant to be doing this.

In those moments that seem helpless, confusing and just like WHAT THE HELL.... it finally makes sense.

Just like I'm search how everything went down with the guy in Cali (I forget his name... Justin?) you were confused and hurt, and now you're back in Chicago with Matt!

You just have to trust and go with the flow sometimes and eventually it'll all make sense. I find that really letting go and staying positive in that place is where the magic really starts to happen, it's a sweet spot. I'm still learning to be patient in it, but you gotta trust!

Good luck :) Your perfect job is probably just around the corner! Stay positive!!

Kelly said...

So sorry about the job. Keep your chin up (easier said than done, though I know).

As for Weight Watchers, I loved it while I did it. I wish I could afford to do it again. I loved the accountability more than anything. I knew I'd have to step on that scale in front of that lady who was probably silently judging me on how well or poorly I did. At least that's what my mind told me. I say give it a go! Can't wait to see how you do!

Oh and thanks for the comment on my blog!! Glad I still have people rooting for me!

Meghan said...

Staying on track is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. You know that I have recently regained about 15 pounds. I was in a bad place a week ago for a few months. We have to pull ourselves out of it. Be proud that you want to work on yourself. You are taking a great step. You should feel great about taking the next step. WW works for a lot of people. I get too obsessed with points/counting and freak myself out. If you want it to work, it will. It's kinda like counting calories and you've done that some!

You can do this. You are my inspiration. When I get under 200lbs, you'll be one of the first people I tell!!

One day at a time, we can do this.

Adam said...

As I read this I checked my email and was turned down by my dream job. I can related and it's hard to put things into perspective, but just think about your talent and how close you were to breaking through. Let your disappointment push you towards greatness. Do what you were born to do and be who you were born to be. Stay strong and go get it!

"The ground is no place for a champion"


Arwenn said...

I would be willing to bet that the "showing more confidence" stuff is just code for "older" and perhaps more experienced in an administrative position. It says a lot about you that you got as far in the process as you did. Don't forget that it's not a matter of them rejecting you, they just hired someone else, probably with experience working in a school like that. It doesn't mean that you aren't qualified and it doesn't mean that you wouldn't have been terrific there, but for all you know they had another candidate who has worked that kind of job before and has a recorded history. It doesn't seem likely that a prestigious private school would take a chance on someone if they had the option of a tried-and-true.

It sucks but sometimes employers don't want someone young, female and unmarried because they fear those people are more likely to move and change jobs - even though that isn't true.

Sarah said...

I think WW is a great idea. The meetings will allow you a therapy of sorts, as you can discuss your issues of binging with others who are probably in the same boat.

It also gives you accountability, which is such a huge motivator. I guarantee I would not be losing weight right now if I were not accountable to my friends on MFP, my blog readers, and my doctor.

I'm really sorry about the job. :( Truly. From everything I read in your post(s), I thought you had it in the bag. Hopefully, there's something better/brighter out there for you. Maybe you can find a really cool job in translation until a teaching position opens up.

Maia said...

I'm so sorry that the job didn't work out, but it means that even as great as you thought it was, that it wasn't meant to be.

I've been contemplating Weight Watchers as well to help me shed my last 40+ pounds. I feel like if I were to spend money on a program, perhaps I will feel a sense of accountability.

Again, so sorry about the job. Something will turn up. They always do, and then you'll be happy this one didn't work out.

Bethie boops said...

I'm sorry to hear that your dream job didn't pan out. :(

I lost weight on WW before- following the old points system. It didn't work for me long term because 1. its too carb centric and at that time I had undiagnoised insulin resistance

2. there are too many ways to canoodle yourself points

3. at some point I got all points out. I was tired of tracking and remembering how many activity points I had etc.

I've had considerable success on because of the sense of community - and counting calories/carbs works for me.

But the only way you know something works for you or not, is to try it out! I hope this gives you the structure you need! :)

Caron said...

I credit Weight Watchers with not only helping me lose weight but teaching me to maintain. I've been told that I would have figured it out on my own. Nope, I had not done that in 54 years so why would I think that it would finally dawn on me that to maintain, I had to keep doing what I was doing while losing?

It's such a simple concept but hearing my leader say it out loud was live changing. Call me slow. :)

I have my disagreements with WW especially the free fruit thing. I also think they allow you too many points if you add in the 49 extra weekly points so I never, ever use them. They don't exist for me.

My best advice is that if you do not connect with the first leader, go to another meeting. Keep going to meetings until you find that leader that speaks to you and really helps you. It's not that you will hear anything new and earth shattering but you will hear things you've forgotten and tips that will help. You will celebrate with the people who are losing and making their goals. And they will celebrate with you as well.

One last thing about weigh ins. I hear people say that they can not stand the thought of weighing in with all those people. It is totally private and nobody judges. Each of those people working at the reception desk and at the scale are Weight Watcher members and they know all about the struggle.

Katie Foster said...

Not sure if you've seen this, but I wrote a blog post about my thoughts on Weight Watchers:

I think it's a great program for certain people, and I liked it to a point. Eventually, I realized that I like counting calories more, and I stopped counting points. But the post I wrote is a fair comparison between calorie counting and WW.

Bluezy said...

I had two women in the past who looked like models just HAD to tell me they were once fat like me and did it with WW. I think the support is the best part of it.

Amy S. Petrik said...

I love WW. I lost 60lbs on it. And really have always been using it long after I said I was off of it.

Mary @ said...

I'm sorry that you didn't get the job, but I'm sure there's another even more fantastic job waiting for you!

I've never tried WW, but I ran a similar style club for ladies at my church a few years ago and we really had good success. I think it's the social aspect that helps people to succeed - you've got support in place when you need it and that is really important for weight loss.

I hope things pick up for you! You've done amazingly well so far and are such an inspiration! When times get tough, remind yourself of what you've achieved thus far!

Mary :: A Merry Life said...

Man I'm so sorry you had that experience. Job hunting can be the worst and totally shake even the most confident people.

Weight Watchers is a brilliant idea! I think the support you get in the meetings is really helpful. Good luck!

dupster said...

I lost 175 lbs and hit my goal weight of 160 lbs. over 16 months ago. I lost more weight after I hit that magic goal weight getting down to 139 last Nov. Since then however I've put on 10-15 lbs. I've considered WW, Weight Loss Center , Jenny Craig, etc. anything to get me back on track even tho I'm still technically below my goal weight. I think it might be just what you need. Good luck!!

Simply Sara said...

So I did WW a few years ago, lost 50 pounds...(old WW plan) I basically googled everything and did it that way, it saves a ton of money. I ended up gaining it back, and now I am doing WW again, the weight is coming off soo much slower this go round, not sure why?! U am a firm believer in the program though!!!


Charlotte said...

Hi Mary,

I am a longtime reader but first-time leaving a comment. I used WW to lose about 20 pounds (from 191 to 171) - I am 5' 7". I have since lost an additional 12 pounds, as my relationship with food has stabilized and I now run about 15-25 miles a week, having completed three half marathons since last year.

There is no question that WW gave me the structure to lose that first 20 pounds and since I was pretty strict about keeping my diary, it helped me to identify my weaknesses with emotional or boredom eating. I think WW is great for people with significant weight to lose - my cousin joined in January and has lost 60 lbs of a total of about 80-90 lbs she needs to lose.

I kept my diet very clean while using WW and never gave into buying their pre-packaged snacks or yoghurts. Instead, I focussed on eating whole foods and cooked 70-80% of what I ate on a weekly basis. I saved my flex points for 3 glasses of wine and 2 treats a week - especially for when my BF and I would go out for dinner on Saturday night. It worked well for me to kick start my weight loss and set up some habits and eating structures that I still use now.

As many have identified here, WW is simply a tool and how you use it will mirror your relationship to food. You can support all kinds of bad habits (undereating, over excercising, bingeing etc) a still be compliant with your WW points. In my case, for example, I found at the beginning that I was saving all of my flex points for chocolate and wine, even though I was training for a half marathon and needed some of those extra points to fuel my long runs or cardio workouts. That behaviour was only encouraging me to use food as a reward or punishment.

In your case, I might suggest that you divide out your flex points into each day, rather than saving them up for a special occasion i.e. encouraging your predisposition to binge.

As I say, WW is a great tool but you will still need to do the work to heal your relationship with food - however, I am very positive that by walking away from the patisserie and into the WW office, you have made a powerful first step in this stage of your journey.

Good luck Mary and please email me if you want to chat further.

It does get better.

eshoots said...

Girl I can TOTALLY relate….I have been binging a bit lately and have gained abt 7 pounds ( I was down almost 85). I too feel uncomfortable in my skin right now and my pants are a little snug. Sure I can hide that, but I can't hide that shameful feeling. I've eaten awesome today and am gaining back some confidence that I CAN get over this binging streak. You CAN too!! Good luck with the weight watchers!!!!!!

marisol said...

I am so sorry that you didn't get the job. I know how that disappointment feels. After I was laid off, I had an interview with a great company that I would have loved to have worked for. Had three different in person interviews. I thought we clicked. They decided to go with another candidate. When i asked for feedback, she mentioned the reason why she chose someone else. I feel she misunderstood a comment I made and based her decision on that. I was crushed because I couldn't do anything else about it. Ever since then, I have second guessed myself in every interview after that.

You'll find the right one. I know that it doesn't seem like you will and perhaps it won't be the next job you have but you will get it. That's what I keep telling myself to remain sane.

Bariatric Blogger said...

As you know I've had success with weight watchers. For me I think it's more the accountability of the meetings that has kept me losing. I do track, and I love their etools. Lots of recipes and the recipe builder is a godsend! I do attempt to follow the good health guidelines they suggest, but most of the time I just try to eat healthy most of the time and limit the junk food.
I know there are WW's haters out there, but really, if you follow the system, it does work. (Previous half assed attempts at WW's I've had little success). So good luck! I'll be rooting for you!

michelle said...

i loved being on ww, especially for the meetings. i know i wouldn't have been nearly as successful with just the online option. i'm a nut about structure and keeping track of things so tracking comes easy to me. i'm not officially on the program, though i still follow it over a year later. i got too frustrated with the points+ program when it first started, and i was getting obsessive over my numbers. i need to take a step back at the time. most of the reason i haven't gone back is money. i still crave that support and camaraderie despite the setbacks i had last year

That Loud Redhead said...

Wow, what a well-written, inspiring post! I was reading along with bated breath, crushed when you didn't get the job, and heartened when I saw the picture of the Weight Watchers packet instead of a pastry.

This whole post was like a well-crafted drama, with what I just know will be a happy ending to come! :)

Best of luck to you, Mary...looking forward to following along with your story!