This is a subject that I’m really conflicted on. About three years ago, I decided to embark on my first ever diet (I’m not counting that brief time in my early teens where I supplemented snacking with a raging caffeine habit in the form of cups and cups of tea). I’m sure this would be surprising to a lot of women, particularly those who would identify them as lifetime plus-sizers like myself. Most women I know, of every size, have at least a few diets under their belts (so to speak) by the time they hit 30. Why didn’t I?
Every woman on my mum’s side of the family is plus sized, and I was always one of the slimmest. At 5’8’ and averaging a size 16 in my adult life, my body was pretty proportioned and I could carry the weight less visibly. I had never experienced people making negative comments about my weight (until the Angry Skinny Chick incident that I wrote about a couple of posts ago) and I certainly never had helpful female relatives breathing down my neck to lose a few pounds “because we’re just worried about your health, dear.”
But, after two pregnancies and two humungous babies, I was feeling out of shape in a way I never had before. All of my extra weight was resting around my stomach and I was really feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. So, when my sister in law mentioned that she had joined the online branch of Weight Watchers, I decided to give it a try as well.
It made me look at food in a way I never had before. The thought of measuring out portions and figuring out point values was almost like a game to me because I had never worried about what I was eating before. Despite being heavy, I had never encountered a problem with my cholesterol or blood pressure and I went religiously every year for my full physical with the doctor. I had never been shamed for taking an extra portion or ordering desert in a restaurant and had grown up in a house where tea and “something sweet” was pretty much compulsory.
So, I cut back on what I ate and the first week I lost four pounds. I was hooked. After the first week and a half I started exercising more. I was already belly dancing once a week but as the weight dropped off, I would break into a jog on my way to pick the kids up from school. I would put on loud tunes and dance around the kitchen. People starting complimenting me and I was praising the virtues of Weight Watchers.
Then, after losing 30 pounds, I started to backslide. I’m an emotional eater and I had a lot of stress in my life. My wonderful Grandma passed away and that was devastating. I soon began snacking at night, telling myself it was only a little bit and it wouldn’t matter, but soon the pounds started creeping on.
So, here I am with still 6 pounds of my original 30 gone but I am conflicted about going back on Weight Watchers. I know that most people regain the weight, just like I did, but the fact is that I’ll be 42 in a month and I want to feel healthier. I think that those people who are heavy and happy, who love their bodies at any size, are simply fantastic. But for me, part of loving myself is admitting that after a lifetime of being moderately overweight, I have health problems that come along with carrying the extra pounds. I have a chronic sore back, have gone through spurts with sore knees and achy hips, I have bunions, and am not as active as I would like to be.
I find myself trying to justify rejoining Weight Watchers since they have readjusted the way they calculate points. Every which way you turn, you can year Jennifer Hudson going on about how they are now encouraging health rather than weight loss. They want you to eat all the fruit and veggies you can with no point penalties and they no longer calculate food points by calories but by fat, protein, carbs and fibre. The focus is on food quality rather than quantity.
On the other hand, I know that health at all size activists like Golda Poretsky or Jill Nash would tsk tsk me for falling back into that diet mentality of deprivation and obsession. Sigh. What’s a chubby mummy to do?
Here’s what my thinking is right now and I will certainly share my success or failure, although I do suck at admitting I’m wrong (you’ve been warned). I’m going to give Weight Watchers another try but with a different frame of mind. I think I do need to be mindful of what I put in my mouth. I’m a terrible nibbler and I will make my portions much bigger than they need to be, especially at dinner when there’s usually enough kid drama and distraction going on to get me to overeat to the point where I feel uncomfortable afterwards. I need to be reminded that I can nibble on blueberries in the middle of the afternoon instead of having some kind of baked good. Will I let myself feel hungry? Hell no. But I will keep track of how much I’m exercising compared to how many times I choose to eat some kind of fatty or salty treat. I’m also keeping my scale firmly under my bedroom dresser collecting dust because that’s where it belongs.
Will it work? Who knows. Maybe I’ll become a point obsessed zombie with a shrine to Jennifer Hudson in the basement. Or maybe I’ll start to get healthier. We’ll have to wait and see.