August 29, 2012

Reflections, part two

My second week of Weight Watchers went better than the first, if only because almost everything I ate was at home instead of at restaurants. I missed the meeting yesterday - I had a very busy day, lots of errands to run - but will be heading to the center this morning to cancel my membership.

Weight Watchers is a great program for a lot of people. After a few weeks, though, it's abundantly clear to me that I am not one of them. It's a shame, because I wanted it to work out. Though honestly, I think what I wanted most of all was somewhere to go, a new group of folks to reach out to.

My Leader, Lisa, was fantastic, and if anyone in Chicago is thinking about Weight Watchers, I can't recommend her 4 p.m. Tuesday meetings on Clybourn (between Racine and Southport) enough. I talked with her a lot about weight loss, about running, about my struggle to find balance, and about the necessity for understanding nutrition in order to achieve successful sustainable weight loss.

The meetings, though, were not what I hoped or expected. I guess I thought it would be more support-based, and maybe if you stick it out long enough or have a particularly friendly group, you might find that kind of help in a meeting. But they're honestly more like lectures with some audience feedback and participation, not talking in terms of nutritional value or activity merit, but in Points, the currency of Weight Watchers. After the first talk about beverages, I was skeptical - the understanding of certain foods as better because they are zero Points instead of the reasoning why they are zero Points - but the second week's topic of sitting and activity levels really got to me.

In defense of the program, the talk may have been really fascinating and informative outside of Chicago. And Lisa *did* bring in a lot of interesting magazine and newspaper articles, though not much time was spent discussing their content. The focus instead was on the Active Link, a new tool for calculating Activity Points that is being tested in a few metropolitan markets, Chicago included. Everyone's questions revolved around the gadget, and not why "sitting disease" is a risk even for people who go to the gym often.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm asking too much. Perhaps someone walked away from the meeting with a good idea about how to make this a great week for his or herself. But sitting there, in front of a table covered in boxes of Active Link monitors and prepackaged Weight Watchers meals and snacks, I couldn't help but be reminded that Weight Watchers is, above all else, a for-profit corporation. Not that I'm radically anti-corporations - I'm sane, I promise - but the focus of the meeting seemed to be sales rather than education, and it irritated me. I paid to be in a meeting where I heard about something else I could buy. That isn't the plan for me.

As for a plan that *will* work? My next step is to investigate Overeaters Anonymous, since that sounds a bit more in-line with what I am hoping to get out of a meeting. (Is "Mike and Molly" still on? I watched about half of the first season and enjoyed the emotion and candor of the OA meeting scenes.) If that works, great. If not, back to the drawing board.

Something I've discussed with a few local folks is starting my own sort of meeting - an informal get-together of people of any size who are interested in discussing health, nutrition, fitness, etc. I actually discussed it yesterday with Lorelei while out for a walk, and she thought it was a great idea. If you can't find what you're looking for, create something. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.

What about you? I'm really interested in hearing reactions to last week's activity meeting topic from folks who aren't in Active Link test areas. And for both WW and non-WW folks: how do you balance activity and your daily tasks - for example, if you have a desk job, how do you assure that you aren't sitting for eight hours straight?