Waging War Against Weight Watchers

Yup, I said it.  I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, and ’tis the season to say something about it out loud before people dive in whole hog, only to get their feelings hurt when they don’t get the results they were looking for.  To be fair, it’s not just Weight Watchers.  It’s all the “hype diets”.  Although, before I get to the bigger picture, I do have a bone to pick with Weight Watchers in particular.

A colleague of mine is dead set on losing weight, and a lot of it.  He’s really committed to changing his appearance.  Again.  He really wants to do it!  Again.  So much so, that he’s back on the ole wagon.  Again.  And he’s using Weight Watchers to do it!  For at least the dozenth time in the two years we’ve worked together.  Oh, have I tried!  “…it’s a lifestyle change that you’ll have to commit to, not a fad diet…” and “…balance your diet, eat clean foods, and move your body around a few times a week, that’s all you have to do…”.  But after Jennifer Hudson’s endorsement of Weight Watchers, he’s more gun-ho than ever to stay the course.  That is, stay the course with his daily microwave egg/cheese breakfast sandwich on white english muffin, some variety of a microwave salt-lick for lunch, sugar rush of whatever’s at arm’s length at the mid afternoon crave time, and I shudder to think what dinner consists of.  In fact, during the crave times, I’ve offered some of my nuts, or muesli, or figs.  But he declines (siting “points” restrictions),  and eats the leftover double chocolate chip cookie from the lunch room, because he’ll “just add it to [his] points for the day, and still come in under what he’s allowed”.  Allowed.  Nice.  One day he was going to burger night at a local dive, noting: “I ate very few points all day, so I could have a cheeseburger and 2 beers tonight!”  Should I have congratulated him?  I should also note that during his on-again, off-again relationship with Weight Watchers, I’ve haven’t seen whole grain number one, nor have I seen any semblance of a leafy green, outside the iceberg ones covered in caesar dressing.  Now, I know I have higher expectations for veggie consumption than the average bear, but come on!  That just hurts my feelings.

If I can try and be academic for a moment, the Weight Watchers dilemma is clear.  It simply doesn’t train the mind nor the body to make good choices with food.  Instead, it surrenders to the learned societal need for the limitless amounts of salt, sugar, grease, alcohol, processed foods, etc.  Eat all of it you want!  Just stay inside of the “points” we’ve allowed you, and you will lose weight.  PS. No avocado or nuts (seriously.  Also hurts my feelings!).  Admittedly, people do lose weight with the program.  My colleague has, a dozen times.  He’s also gained the weight back, and then some an equal amount of times.  I can’t imagine he’s alone.  And to broaden my thoughts here, this indeed applies to most fad diets.  It’s been proven time and time again, the ONLY sustainable, and reliable method to weight loss is to pay attention to our bodies, eat whole foods, and commit to a lifestyle change, void of all the pitfalls that many fad diets allow, promote and sell.

I don’t know, I think the Weight Watchers of our world should have a little more faith in the ability for people to change and learn new things in terms of diets.  Otherwise, it’s kind of an endless cycle, right?  Big business marketing tells us what to eat.  So we eat it.  We become addicted to it.  We crave it.  We get fat.  So then the fad dieteers (die-et-ears) create diets which emulate our bad habits and reinforce the legitimacy of them.  We lose weight, and quit the fad diet, but the fad dieteers aren’t worried because they know we’ll be back.  So what to do?

I guess I just wish people would eat more colorfully, that’s all.  Any soldiers want to join me?


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15 thoughts on “Waging War Against Weight Watchers

  1. Little Sis says:

    Hmmmm…. I’m with you in spirit, and if you’d chosen any other diet plan, I’d be with you 100%. Weight Watchers, however, was an instrumental step in my food journey. I learned a LOT about portion sizes and the points system actually DOES teach that whole grains and vegetables are better for you, but there is an assumption at the base of it that is, apparently, inappropriate for modern Americans. As I said, the point values SHOULD, for the person who’d rather eat MORE and feel more SATISFIED, lead the Weight Watcher to lean toward whole grains and vegetables, reduced animal fats and proteins, the whole deal really. BUT I don’t think Weight Watchers counted on the fact that people would be perfectly happy to skip lunch a couple of days in a row if it meant they could eat garbage. It is a flaw in the underlying assumptions… or I should say it is a flaw of commitment in the “dieter.” They really do stress changing your lifestyle over dieting. Look, I’m not a WW employee or anything and I hate the products they make readily available, but I think the fault lies with the dieter rather than the program, which can serve those who are serious very well. I DO hear you on the macro level. People make it so much harder, and more joyless than it is. It’s very sad, really.

    • jinji says:

      Little SIs! I love this comment. Mainly, because it has resulted in some renewed hope on some level for me. I like that the program IS in fact designed to encourage helpful life changes. From your comment, WW seems to be more progressive in health preservation and promotion than I gave it credit for. As with most things…the fault is with the operator, or in this case as you point out–the dieter. Let’s explore this more….

      • Little Sis says:

        Love to. I still have one of their big mama jama cookbooks around that has point values…. Must dig it out.

      • jinji says:

        “Point values”. Ok, I’m trying to be okay with numbers being assigned to food… curious what the recipes like, anyway!

      • Little Sis says:

        I’m totally with you on being anti-quantification, but the concreteness of it can be very helpful for people who don’t know where to begin. Like I said, I’m not a WW fanatic, I just think of the “diets” out there, it’s pretty responsible. And if someone follows the SPIRIT of it and really reads the materials and recipes, they’ll move in the right direction.

  2. Interesting post. I’m in agreement with the first commenter. The new program, in particular, does push you to eat more fruits and vegetables and understand that foods with fibre are better for you. I do think, too, that the dieter has to be as responsible as the program. If there isn’t a real meeting of minds, like your friend, the point of it will be wasted. Two to tango and all that. Rather than blame good diet programs, I would look to the way companies manufacture and advertise food. Many people don’t realize how little good nutrients are in many processed foods which are often advertised as “healthy.”

    • jinji says:

      foodrefashionista! I feel you. Thanks for reading and thanks so much for commenting! Check what I said to Little Sis. We’re going to dig into this a little deeper!

  3. Somer says:

    Woot Woot! Weight watchers has one redeeming thing, they recently introduced something called points plus – I read about it, and in a nutshell, weight watchers is still basic calorie counting, trying to be simplified (which anyone who has ever tried to eat 1200 calories on the S.A.D. will feel like they are STaRvInG). However, part of their points plus means, you can eat as many fruits and veggies (minus potato) on the plan as you like – and they all have a zero points value. I clearly think that people should just eat primarily vegetables and fruits – if they did, they wouldn’t have to worry about points or calories or any of the diet bandwagon garbage. People are always looking for a “magic” diet, when in reality, it is so simple, that once you cross over to a plant based diet, it’s hard not to view others who can’t see it as morons! I have to remind myself that I used to be a moron too, and that the way I can help people the most is to provide them with good information, if they are willing to listen!

    • jinji says:

      Thanks Somer! The more I think about it, the more I’m most frustrated with people who don’t see the value in putting the effort into just living clean and simple. Most will always just want that magic pill, secret antidote, and easy way to eat everything you’re currently eating, and still lose weight. But maybe the tides are changing a little bit. I’m going to dig into this more, and remove the WW label from it, and see what shakes out. Thanks for reading!!!

      • Somer says:

        I know what you mean. Most days I walk around feeling like I know a something that’s top secret or classified government information! It’s getting harder and harder for me to go into a grocery store and watch people load all sorts of crap into their carts. Even harder to watch when they are morbidly obese and buying chips, soda and TV dinners with nary a broccoli or tomato to be seen. I have totally had to work on my mind set to not be so judgmental. I have really tried instead to get involved on a grass roots level instead. Some people are going to eat garbage no matter what, and that’s their right. But others really don’t know better. It’s those people who we can help. Blogging, encouraging people to watch “Forks over Knives”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, or “Food Inc.”, sharing healthy recipes, bringing someone a whole foods meal are all ways we can contribute to the health of others. I find that if I take that approach, people are more willing to listen. Others around me see how healthy I have become and they want to know what I’m doing. Several of my friends and family members have become plant based just in the last couple months. Now they are reading books like “The China Study” or the “Omnivores Dilemma” and are really thinking about what they are feeding themselves or their families. It is fulfilling to watch and something that I feel like makes me feel more worthwhile as a human being.

      • jinji says:

        Absolutely!! If we look only at the big picture–morbid obesity, miseducation, intentional ignorance–it’s easy to become discouraged and tucked away in our little brocolli land. That may be AS unhealthy as the mistakes of those we are judging. But to take it to a grassroots level as you suggested above, working with youth and their parents when we can, that’s where true change and fulfillment takes place.

      • Somer says:

        Amen! Glad you watched “Forks Over Knives!”

      • jinji says:

        It was amazing! It’s always good to see such an educated and firm push in the right direction. Inspiring to see the relentlessness of the doctors and believers in what they are doing. Puts some rhyme and reason to why I live my life as I do, and why even bother trying to be an example for others. It will pay off in dividends down the road!

  4. Somer says:

    If you haven’t all ready read “The China Study” do it. It’s by Dr. Campbell in “Forks Over Knives” Dr. Esselstyn wrote a book called “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” that is great too. I buy my books on Amazon, read them and then do a lending library for those that are interested. People are amazed with what they learn.

    • jinji says:

      OOOO! Thanks for suggestion!! I am totally going to check it out. Let me know any other suggestions you have about food, cooking, health, etc…

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