Weight Loss Success Stories: I Lost Weight In 1979 With Weight Watchers And Kept It Off
I became a lifetime member of Weight Watchers on October 28, 1979. This means that I maintained a healthy weight for 30 years. In the 30 years since I reached lifetime status, I have never been more than 2 pounds over my goal weight, and I have 30 years of weigh-in books to prove it. (Lifetime members of Weight Watchers weigh in monthly.)
At the time I joined Weight Watchers (spring 1979), I could not imagine living the rest of my life without drinking a six-pack of regular cola every day, or eating a bag (not an individual serving bag; a large bag) of chips every day. By the time I got to lifetime, I changed my mind.
Actually, the first thing I did when I got to lifetime was bake a batch of brownies and eat it. That was a wake-up call: I realized then that if I was to keep the weight off, I could never, ever, go back to the way I ate before I joined Weight Watchers. So I stayed on the Weight Watchers maintenance plan for a year. That is how long it took me to learn the lifestyle changes necessary to stay at my ideal weight for the rest of my life.
When I first learned that most people who lose weight gain it back within a year (the numbers I see range from 60% to 98%), and that therefore I was one of the tiny fraction who didn’t regain the weight, I was astonished. Losing weight was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever done in my life. Why waste all that effort by gaining the weight back? I thought if I could do it, anyone could.
It wasn’t until about eight years ago that I began to realize that most people don’t take the same approach to weight loss as I did.
I discovered the difference between me and those who gain their weight back was that when I promised myself I would do anything to lose weight and keep it off, that I kept that promise. Others seem to take a different view: if they go to a restaurant, for instance, they think they’ll just go off the diet for that night. Or if they go to a wedding, they think they’ll just go off the diet for that event. I didn’t. If went to an event and there was nothing there to eat on program, then I didn’t eat. If a restaurant didn’t have anything to eat on program, I didn’t eat there. If (fictional) Aunt Ethel felt insulted that I didn’t eat the special dish she made just for me, then Aunt Ethel would just have to be insulted; I was not going off the program just to satisfy Aunt Ethel.
Also, others seem to think that they can partially follow the program and still have success. When Weight Watchers told me to write down every single thing I ate, I wrote down every single thing I ate. When Weight Watchers told me to weigh and measure every single thing I ate, I weighed and measured every single thing I ate. When Weight Watchers told me to eat so many fruits and vegetables (and breads and milks and proteins, etc.) every day, I ate that many…no more, no less. It never occurred to me to do anything else. (And it never entered my mind at the time that others might not be doing the same thing.)
By the time I had finished my self-imposed one year of maintenance, I had essentially been following the program for 2 years. The National Weight Control Registry reports that people who have been able to maintain their weight for 2 years after reaching their goal weight have the greatest chance of keeping it off permanently. That is what I found as well. After those 2 years, my attitude toward food had changed, my habits had changed, and my tastes had changed (that is, junk food did not appeal to me as much anymore). That is how I’ve been able to keep my weight off for 30 years, and that’s the reason I’m confident that I will be able to continue to keep it off.
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