Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Fatwakening Part II: A Hedonist Buckles Down

Part I

My lifelong impression of Weight Watchers was this: it was for fat, middle-aged women who used nutritionally bankrupt products and "cheats" to yo yo diet forever.

But I started poking around and what I saw across the board was that WW taught people how to adjust their eating habits without turning to fad diets. That technique was proven to effectively lose weight and (most importantly) keep it off. My boss did it, a friend worked for the company and I decided to just try it and see what happened.

The first few weeks were a bit of a mind fuck. I realized just how horribly I'd been eating for... forever. And some foods I thought were "good" for me were insanely caloric and contributed to the whole mess that was my body. The main lesson WW teaches is that you can't have ALL of the food, ALL of the time. So if I wanted to get drinks with friends after work, I knew that I needed to have a smart lunch, then be very strict about how many drinks I sucked down.

It was hard. I felt like I wasn't able to go out and have as much fun as I wanted. I needed to plan everything ahead of time, like assembling healthy lunches and strategizing how many mischief I was allowed to get into on weekends. I wasn't a big drinker or anything, but just 2 drinks had enough WW points to fuck my entire week if I wasn't smart about it.

My fiancĂ© was so supportive, cooking better meals and being sensitive about how much I could eat and drink at restaurants. Friends initially couldn't really get why I wasn't up for going out and letting go, but soon enough it all became—if not effortless—easier.

A caveat: I still have some issues with Weight Watchers. They push foods that, while low in point value, still aren't that good for you (off the top of my head: frozen meals, diet soda and fat-free candy bar things). The app is an atrocity. And the workout section is a joke—there are point values for painting a fence but not for a spin class. I know it's because the program really doesn't rely on any active behavior, and that's another issue I have with it.

As we approached our trip to Europe, I felt like I was finally seeing results. People noticed that I was losing weight, and I had already dropped to a size that didn't keep me up at night. But no matter what I did, I still felt a little off after some meals. With some trial and error, I pulled a Goop and preliminarily self-diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, then went to a doctor for a scratch test to rule out any allergies.

It turns out I'm allergic to wheat.

Oh. That explained... a lot. And while some (like my doctor uncle) don't put much stock in scratch tests, it led me to completely eliminate wheat and stop throwing myself gluten partayyys to see how I reacted.

In an adverb: wonderfully. Not drinking beer or whiskey and avoiding all the best foods was Suck Fest City. But I certainly couldn't argue with the almost instantaneous improvement in my health and appearance. My skin suddenly lost most of its redness and I realized I wasn't tired and bloated nearly all the time. I stopped getting dizzy and haven't had a migraine since.

I wouldn't say that going gluten-free was THE key part of losing weight, because some of my biggest problem foods, like Thai food takeout, are naturally gluten-free. But knowing I couldn't sneak an entire box of Velveeta shells anymore (yikes) absolutely kept me on track.

SO. I didn't drop the weight overnight, and there were weeks at a time that I plateaued or even gained a few pounds. But after about 6 months of WW and keeping up with 3-5 Bar Method classes a week, I lost 40 pounds.

Let's see the goods:

Without naming specific numbers (because comparison is the thief of joy), I haven't weighed this little since high school.

I lost about:

  • 3 inches off my waist
  • 3 inches off my hips
  • 2 shirt sizes
  • 2-4 dress sizes (depending on the brand)
  • And my face, arms and legs are noticeably slimmer
Bar Method really tightens everything up, which was a contributor to the inches lost. When I go more than 2 days without a class, all my parts start loosening up like rebellious teenagers.


Call it "after"—for now.
It's not necessarily an impressive story. It wasn't 20 pounds in 2 weeks. I don't have any secret. When my fellow Bar Method girls complemented my new shape and asked what I was doing (SoulCycle? Juice Cleanse? Any tips??) I had to break the news: it was just good, old fashioned not being an asshole at meals. And it still takes daily work to make better choices (PS I had a huge, disgusting bowl of pad thai for lunch today, so).

If you offered me a pill that would make me skinny and stay that way with no work, I would IMMEDIATELY start eating like a slob again.

But! It's been over a year and I've pretty much maintained this weight. I am both proud and a little frustrated: while I can keep the weight off, I know I'll have to get strict again to lose more. And I do want to keep going.

So that's it! No words of wisdom. Just if you want to start losing weight, you can't eat Chipotle twice in one day, every day. Sorry.

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