The year was 2016. It was Christmastime, and I knew I had to change something about my life. That past July, I had gotten married and moved in with my husband. I was completely, for the first time in my life, 100% in control of my life and of what we ate. And yet, I had only gained weight since we got married. I thought I was doing an okay job of eating healthy, but obviously something wasn’t working.
This wasn’t the first time I’d had trouble with my weight; I’d struggled with it all of my life. Never feeling completely in control of it, I’d resigned myself to a life of struggling with food, emotional eating, and maintaining a healthy weight.
After seeing a ton of commercials for Weight Watchers and knowing some people who had tried it, I bought my membership at the end of 2016 and started the program on New Year’s Eve. It was nothing short of life-changing.
I’m a very data-driven person, and so “eating healthy” always seemed too nebulous to me – how was I supposed to know what “healthy enough” looked like? Somewhere, there had to be a sweet spot between only eating kale and living on pizza; I just didn’t know how to find it.
Weight Watchers, if you’re not familiar, assigns, every food a point value. You’re assigned a certain number of points per day based on your weight, gender, and height, and you can eat whatever you want as long as you keep within your allotted points. Lean meats, veggies, eggs, and fruit are “free.”
The WW point system was exactly the guidance I needed. It taught me what balance looked like; I could budget my points for a night out by eating healthier earlier in the day, and feel good about a few cocktails or dessert because I knew I had the points for them. It also taught me what healthy eating looked like. I hadn’t realized how many of the “healthy” foods I was eating were packed with hidden sugars and calories.
The point system opened my eyes to living a balanced lifestyle, and with it, I excelled. I lost 40 pounds within about a year and a half, and felt amazing.
Fast forward to earlier this year. I’d been yo-yoing between the same five pounds or so for months. I was hitting a bit of a plateau, which is normal, but was also struggling with waning motivation and a schedule which didn’t allow for eating perfectly-prepped meals at home every day like I was before.
In addition, I’d been struggling with some skin and stomach issues. A friend of mine recommended trying the Whole 30 to figure out if the causes of my healthy issues were dietary, and I hoped that the program would not only give me some answers but would kickstart my motivation to eat healthy.
Whole 30, for those of you blessed souls who have not yet tried it, is an elimination diet that eliminates just about anything that could cause your body to be unhappy, including sugar, grains, beans, dairy, soy, and alcohol. You go without them for 30 days, then slowly reintroduce them to figure out which, if any, are causing trouble.
I went without coffee, spent way too much money on Whole 30-approved sugarless bacon at Whole Foods, and stuck to the program (I quit a little early though because I was moving and also was tired of not eating beans). At the end of the program, I learned that I needed to avoid dairy completely, and that beans probably weren’t my best friend (sadness! I love beans!). But the biggest wake-up call of Whole 30 was eating real food.
Because of how Weight Watchers calculates points, it tends to be of benefit points-wise to eat fat-free, sugar-free foods. Fats like oils, nuts, and dried fruit have high point values, so when I was on Weight Watchers, I largely avoided them in favor of fat-free vinaigrettes and other low-cal snacks.
Whole 30 was a refreshing change. I was eating fresh fruits and veggies, lots of nuts, real fats, and meats I normally avoided on WW, like pork and beef.
After Whole 30, I tried to go back on Weight Watchers while incorporating some of what I learned from the program, but struggled with consistency and motivation yet again. I was tired of counting points and constantly stressing about staying within my points limit even though I was feeding my body with good stuff. I felt like the point system had become a burden, not a tool.
I made the hard decision a few weeks ago to quit Weight Watchers. While I’d always thought I’d be a lifetime member (many people are!), I’ve realized that WW isn’t a lifetime solution for me. I want to be able to eat like a normal person, without tracking everything all of the time. I want to have a healthy relationship with food where I think of it as fuel, not as added stress. Most of all, I don’t want to feel penalized for eating real, whole foods
That’s why I’ve decided to go Paleo, or rather, Paleo-ish. Paleo means something different depending on who you ask, but for me it means no grains, soy, dairy, beans, and limited added sugars.
I know that sounds terrible, but so far, I’m absolutely loving it. I’m eating food that tastes good, fueling my body well, and still losing weight. When I splurge one day, I don’t seem to have a problem getting up the next day and getting right back on track.
They say the best diet is the one you can stick to, and I think that’s absolutely right. After almost a two-year weight loss and health journey, I think I may have finally found my perfect fit.
Don’t get me wrong; I still love Weight Watchers. I feel that it’s an amazing tool for anyone who is struggling to lose weight or has no idea where to start, and I highly recommend it to anyone who asks me how I’ve lost weight. I just feel like it’s no longer the right tool for this next season of my life.
Anyone else Paleo? Or a Weight Watchers fan? Tell me about your experience.