By Caroline Bujold
I can remember exactly the moment I decided to join a weight loss program. I was sitting at my desk working the day away and I was SO UNCOMFORTABLE!
Uncomfortable in my clothes, my “fat pants“ no less, uncomfortable in my own skin and feeling sorry for myself.
Right then and there I decided I needed to do something about my extra weight.
In my mind I had tried everything already.
Joined a gym after a full year of inactivity – Didn’t lose one pound. Seriously I went from working in front of my computer for extended periods of time and being a general sloth the rest of the time to exercising hard 2-3 times a week and the scale Did-Not-Move. I even went as far as hiring an expensive personal coach I saw twice a week at 7am, thank you very much. I had two goals going in: lose weight and reduce my lower back pain. Neither of them happened. I was getting stronger and liked my trainer enough, but neither of my goals was being met, not even close.
Later, I tracked the food I ate and the exercise I did in an app – Always blew past the daily calorie target. I didn’t know how to eat so I wouldn’t feel so hungry and stay within the limits.
I consulted with a nutritionist. I asked for a meal plan, sensing that food, not exercise was the problem. She reluctantly gave me general guidelines that, of course, I didn’t quite understand how to follow – needless to say that didn’t last very long.
I changed tactics; quit the gym and tried to find an activity I liked, something new. I registered for running classes. I’m not a runner, but I enjoyed the classes and the fact that running was getting me outdoors, 2-4 times a week, even in winter. In a year or so, I went from not running at all to finishing a 10k! And the weight? Well I felt stronger and more in shape for sure, but I lost only about 3 pounds during that whole process, which I gained back a few months after I stopped running due to an injury.
I’d like to also point out I have a husband who could eat crap food all day long and looks like a green onion … you know tall, skinny with curls on top! I’m quite the opposite, short, curvy with super straight hair, not that hair has anything to do with weight. I knew I couldn’t eat like him, but I was slowly realizing I didn’t know how I was supposed to eat.
In the past, when I’ve gained or lost weight, I never knew why. It just seemed to happen. Go to University – gain weight. Get my heart broken – lose weight. Get a job – gain weight. Get a different job (in the same effin building) lose weight, and on and on.
Obviously, I didn’t have control and that’s the part that bugged me the most. Why couldn’t I figure this out on my own?
I had been a super active kid and we didn’t eat crap food at home. Like seriously, there were no chips in the house, no chocolate and my mom allowed water with food and milk with dessert. No pop or juice, unless it was a special occasion, so it’s not like I had life long major bad eating habits.
I didn’t even have a ton to lose either or had any desire to look like a super model.
I just wanted to feel comfortable in my own body and stop feeling so damn unsexy.
I needed help; I needed a class on how to eat and a community. I certainly didn’t want a diet. If there is one thing about me is that when I’m hungry, I’m angry (sorry sweetie!). I wanted to learn the “value“ of food and what I, a 5’1’’ curvy person, was supposed to eat to feel healthy and satisfied.
So on that day that I was so damn uncomfortable in my fat pants, I had a choice to make: go buy some new clothes a size bigger (I had already done that once since I moved to Alberta), or try something else.
So I joined Weight Watchers.
What I wanted was a system to follow and tools to help me. I knew a few people who had success with the program and called them up to ask a few questions: how the program worked, would WW try to sell me their products, how difficult was it for them when they lost their weight, how difficult was it to keep it off, any tips they were willing to give me, etc.
I also went back to exercise that I enjoyed and on a specific routine. I know people that get motivated to exercise in their living room while watching TV. I can’t, I just can’t find any damn motivation to move my butt, once it’s on the couch. Something needs to pull me out of the house and since I work from home, it’s better for me anyway. So I went back to what I like: group exercise on a fixed schedule. I found awesome fun teachers and a training buddy for one of the 3 classes I take. It’s always easier to go when you know someone’s waiting for you there.
I struggled to lose the weight at times. I hit plateaus, but in the end, it took me 16 months to reach my goal of loosing 16 pounds. That must be a new record! Most people lose 0.5 to 2lbs per week. So my journey was slow and I got frustrated many times. I stopped looking at my weekly progress and stared looking at my monthly/ongoing progress; it was more encouraging.
I consulted with our leader a couple of times, adjusted my expectations, changed my goal weight by 4 pounds, to a more realistic and maintainable weight and persevered. I’m nothing if I’m not
I’m also good with systems. And that’s kind of the point I want to get at.
« Systems work, people … don’t mess with them and use them, fall back on them, go back to them, love your systems.»
There are many weight loss programs out there and I’m not preaching for WW specifically, although I would recommend it to anyone trying to lose weight. What I’m saying is regardless of what you’re trying to achieve in life, find a system you like and stick with it for a while.
It’s the same with being organized. Systems won’t eliminate chaos forever. But they will help you regain control after a period of chaos. That’s what I’m trying to give you with all my heart in everyone of my posts.
As I write these words, I’m not quite done with Weight Watchers. I’m in the maintenance phase and I’m 3 weeks down (out of 6), but it’s going well. After that, I’m done.
Does it mean I will never gain weight again? Probably not! Could I have lost faster if I had been stricter with myself? Oh definitely, but I would have probably been discouraged, miserable and given up before reaching my goal. Will I have to be conscientious of what I eat my whole life? Yup, most likely, I still have a sweet tooth and I like to eat out and have a glass of wine with friends.
The difference is now I have a system to fall back on and a community to go back to if I falter. Stick with me for your organizing systems.