With a history of binge eating disorder, this is how Weight Watchers works for me and how I live a healthy lifestyle with freedom from food.
The first time I joined Weight Watchers I was in 4th grade. I can remember talking to my Mom one night as she was tucking me in and crying about how I didn’t look like the other girls. She was reassuring me that I was just fine, there was nothing wrong with me, but once I got it in my head that I was “fat”, there was no turning back. I’m sure I was more or less begging her to just fix the problem, like she did everything else, so she did the only thing she’d ever known to do. She took me with her to Weight Watchers.
I can remember the church I used to go to for my meetings. I attended Weight Watcher meetings at that church for years, starting in 4th grade and I went through college. I would go for a while, drop some weight, get comfortable, or not see the results I wanted and quit. I have NEVER reached goal. Ever. And, I’m 35 years old.
Years ago, when I came to terms with my binge eating disorder, I realized that the way I’d done the Weight Watchers program up until that point was extremely unhealthy and played a pretty large factor in my eating becoming disordered. I didn’t realize it wasn’t normal to leave a weigh in and eat so much food that I would feel physically ill. The next day I would wake up and restrict to make up for the massive binge I’d had the day before. Wasn’t everyone doing that? No, everyone wasn’t. That behavior got me into trouble and I ended up in therapy, unable to process my relationship with food. I used it like a drug, not as fuel for my body. I worked through those issues and today I am doing the Weight Watchers program again, but in a healthy way.
When I re-joined the program after therapy I told myself NO MORE CHEAT DAYS. A cheat day is only cheating myself. It’s not helping me reach my goal and all it was really doing was excusing binge behavior. Now, does this mean I never have a meal that isn’t tracked? No. I am human. Does this mean I’ve never had another binge? No. I will always consider myself in active recovery.
So, what do I mean by “cheat day”? My version of a cheat day is eating whatever you want, in whatever quantities you want, no matter if you are hungry or not simply because you have told yourself you don’t have to track. Cheat days for me were all day binges. It was bags of food. It was multiple restaurants. It was sneaking food so no one would see me eating and then going to dinner stuffed but ordering because I didn’t want them to know I’d already binged. It was more calories than I should have probably eaten in several days. It was so unhealthy, and it left me feeling miserable. I felt miserable about myself, I felt out of control and I assure you I never went to bed on those nights feeling great about the choices I’d made. It had little to do even with the number on the scale and more to do about the way my body physically felt eating so much food. That was my prison. I’d live for those cheat days and then beat myself up terribly afterwards.
So, how do I do it now? What does being a Weight Watchers member look like for someone who has binge eating disorder? I’d love to tell you.
- I never miss a meeting. I am not currently in therapy for binge eating, so my meeting IS my therapy. I open up about my struggles and everyone in the meeting knows about my past. I am not ashamed of it. I need them to help keep me accountable, and they do. The things we discuss in our meetings renews my focus each week and gives me the strength I need to get through another week of healthy choices and stay motivated towards a healthy lifestyle.
- No cheat days. I weigh in on Saturday mornings and everything is tracked on weigh in days. I use more weeklies on weigh in days usually. But, my food is tracked. For instance, this past weekend we traveled to a wedding and I went way over on my points… 77 points went in my tracker. BUT, it’s there. Am I in the negative this week? Yes. But did I wake up on Sunday morning and commit to a better day within my daily points? Yes. When I track even a high point day it keeps me in check. Because if I know I’m tracking it, I’m far less likely to binge on it, and that’s the goal… no more binges. No cheat days for me actually has very little to do with what I weigh, and more to do with preventing a binge.
- I incorporate foods I love into my plan. I share my journey on Instagram, and I’m a little different than some of the others because I don’t use it as my food diary to share what all of my meals are. First of all, for ME that wouldn’t put me in a healthy mindset. I’ve always been kinda weird with having people know my every bite, I feel like my food choices are personal and I don’t think I should have to share everything I eat. I will share favorites, or meals I enjoyed, but I won’t give you a daily run down of my food. I’m not ashamed of my food, but when if I started sharing every little bite I think I’d feel like I was living under a magnifying glass and my fear is that sneaking food would become habit again… once again, I’m protecting myself from my past habits that led me to binge eating disorder. What I can assure you if you were to see my tracker is that you will see these things in my tracker every week- ice cream, tacos and chips, and usually pizza. I love those foods and I will always include them in my plan because the Weight Watchers plan isn’t about deprivation. It’s about learning to eat the foods we love in moderation and choosing healthy options MOST of the time. What you will not see in my tracker is only chicken and veggies. Life is too damn short to eat like that every day in my opinion. If that’s what you eat and you love it, that’s awesome! You do you!
- Let go of perfection. There are days I don’t eat a single fruit or vegetable and I get nowhere near 8 glasses of water. It’s not an ideal day, but it happens, and I move on and try to do better the next day. My plan is not perfect. I have had ruts that tracking has been a challenge, or I feel hungry and want to eat over my points every day. What I remind myself is that as long as I don’t quit, I’m doing ok. I will get through the rough patch, I always do. If we try to live perfectly we will always disappoint ourselves. I give myself a lot of grace and thank God for second chances.
- Strong support group. I attend an amazing Weight Watchers meeting and I couldn’t live without that group, but I also have many others I turn to for support. My Mom is on Weight Watchers as well so I have her to talk about things with. I also love the Instagram community and have many people who have become friends simply because we share our journey’s with the world and have chosen to be vulnerable about it. On days that I am feeling uninspired or unmotivated, I hop on Instagram and find my motivation there. 90% of the time it can pull me out of the funk I’m in and at least get me through the next meal, or help me forgive myself for a day that didn’t go as I’d hoped.
- Owning my truth. Admitting to myself, and the world, that I have binge eating disorder has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. As my Weight Watchers Takeover went live I sat at my computer with shaking hands not knowing who all would see me, what they would think of me, or the backlash I could receive. Then the messages poured in, and God spoke to me and said, “Well done. I am using your pain for a purpose” I believe He is. I’ll continue to trust Him as I share my story, and as I’m honest with myself and others about my struggles, I’ll continue to find hope that all of this serves a greater purpose.
- Exercise. I am lucky that I have always enjoyed exercise so I’m going to say that right away. I have found that where I used to try to numb myself with food, I now try to use exercise as a way to escape whatever emotion I’m trying to avoid. This usually means just going out for a walk with my family, but I also find time to do Bar Method, run or walk outside on my own. Exercise releases endorphins that are considered “happy hormones”. Those endorphins do wonders for me and I know that if I’m in an awful mood the best thing I can do for myself and my family is to go workout. If you hate exercise find something that you enjoy doing to be active. If you hate running, don’t run! There are so many amazing ways to be active, don’t settle for one that you hate doing or you’ll never stick with it.
- The bad days don’t stay around forever. I have days, just like you, that turn into weeks or months of feeling unmotivated or I’m struggling more than I should be. The excitement has worn off, or I’m just tired of tracking or cooking or drinking water. Summer is a really hard time of year for me. The last two summers I have pretty much maintained my weight, and what I’ve realized is that’s ok. Because I know that that season will pass and my motivation will come back… as long as I DON’T QUIT. I don’t know who said it, but a long time ago someone said, “you can quit, you just can’t do it on a bad day. If you quit you have to do it on a good day.” No one is going to quit on a good day 🙂 If you are struggling right now… keep moving forward. That might mean you just need to focus on one meal to track, or just on drinking water, or getting enough sleep. Don’t feel like you have to have everything perfect, focus on ONE thing. Be proud of yourself when you do it, and slowly add on another healthy behavior. Before you know it you’ll be motivated and back on track and SO glad you didn’t give up on yourself.
When I walked through the doors of Weight Watchers in November of 2015 I told myself I couldn’t quit this time. I’ve quit every other time. This time my mind is healthier and my “why” is bigger than ever. It’s not about seeing a number on the scale or fitting into a certain size clothes… while all those things are great, they don’t motivate me every day to stay the course. I have three boys who are watching me. Two little boys I want to mimic a healthy lifestyle and have healthy relationships with food and a husband who has stood by me through it all and he deserves a wife who loves and honors herself so she can pour goodness to the family. Weight Watchers is the plan I choose, and I believe in it. If you have any questions let me know. I am just a member sharing my story. You can write your own story. You just have to take the first step.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Weight Watchers, I am a member who has offered my personal experience. I am in no way compensated for my opinions. To receive authentic information regarding the program please visit the Weight Watchers website or local center.