Monsters and Mortals sit down to a Meal

Today, I'm passing along an article written by a very wise woman, who happens to be an incredibly inspiring Weight Watchers leader. If you didn't already know - Weight Watchers Leaders and receptionists are all people who've worked the program, achieved their goal weight and maintained it (it's called Lifetime). When you attend a WW meeting, you really are amongst peers - people who have been where you are, faced what you've faced, and have figured out how to make it work. It's a wonderfully balanced program when done correctly, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking to manage their weight and take charge of their dietary health.

Many thanks for allowing me to reprint this here!

Here’s What I Know.

Or, What I’ve learned in 4,018 days (11 years – 96,432 hours)

Tons. My weight loss knowledge is now encyclopedic in scope. The question is, do I apply that knowledge with the virtuosity it demands to remain at goal? Mostly, yes. Oftentimes, unwillingly.

It’s my anniversary. This week, April 1, 2009, marks my 11th completed year as an active participant in fixing my health. On that day, in 1998, I joined an At Work Weight Watchers meeting in Greenwich, Connecticut, and I haven’t been the same since. I’ve improved orders of magnitude over what I was when I walked into that conference room, coffee in hand, at 7:30 that Wednesday morning weighing in at a colossal 197 and some fraction of pounds.

You know what’s remarkable about the eleven years? That I probably still don’t have it 100% perfect. How do I know? Because last week I lost my mind in an Indian restaurant and I still don’t get it. Admittedly, I had an epiphany – salad covering the plate rather than the veritable vindaloo. Or the tantalizing chicken tikka. As soon as Anoop asked if I’d have more, I jumped at the chance to continue enjoying the sitar music playing in the background (I love Ravi) and eat along with the strums of his instrument.

Does it get easier? No. But you get better at it. I’ve gone from unconscious incompetence to 95% unconscious competence – most of this is second nature to me. Just like brushing my teeth, walking, and stirring my tea.

During the 65 weeks it took me to lose less than that in pounds, (including a 16 week plateau only 2 pounds – 32 ounces – one quart! from goal) tragedy struck and life got in the way, but I didn’t let any of it keep me from my appointed rounds of changing my own rounds, as they were. My mother was in a car accident that totalled the vehicle (she was fine – but needed stitches only to her left hand, miraculous-ly); I had foot surgery (Morton’s neuroma) making activity painful for a time, and very limiting; I changed jobs once on my own, and was also laid off in a separate incident. From April 1, 1998 when I joined, to July of 1999 when I hit goal, life most certainly did challenge my efforts to ditch the chins, thighs, and other fluffy anatomical parts that I couldn’t look at in the mirror. I joined one year after my father’s death – and if I stopped to think about all the things that could have prevented me from coming back (for the fourth time) I’d be about 900 pounds now.

In the years since reaching goal and becoming a Leader, I’ve changed jobs, been laid off (yes, again); I’ve had a major knee reconstruction (a procedure far worse than a replacement that long time members may remember having named my walker and partner for 3 months, Fred Astaire); I’ve been rehired, lost another job, and my mom died. My husband has been under or un-employed for part of this journey, had spine surgery--myriad reasons I could have regained my weight.

At no time in this 11 years did I allow anything to impede my progress. Not my weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight success. Jor-El is not inventing a new form of kryptonite to make weight loss easier – so I know there’s no magic pill. But I figure, for all of us, the worst part of life really is over. We’ve come through junior high, or middle school – or whatever your district calls it. Right? I mean, what is harder, crueler, or more angst ridden than seventh grade!?

I don’t know if those life changing head knocking aHA moments ever happen with the struggles of weight loss, whether permanent or fleeting. It’s been my experience as a Leader that we go in and out of consciousness apologizing for our varying degrees of competence and stick-to-itiveness. We waver between Unconsciousness incompetence – neither understanding or knowing how to do something, to the consciously incompetent – recognizing the shortcoming but not addressing it yet. And then ultimately arrive at conscious competence: understanding or knowing how to do something with concentration (and of course, doing it.)

I learned that you won’t wake up tomorrow morning with a new butt. I learned that change only happens when you’re willing to take action to make change.

I learned that if you wait, the hunger really does go away; and anything you cook yourself is not only more delicious, but more rewarding, and better for you. NO Matter What It Is. Including oatmeal. I also learned that emotional eating never makes it “feel better.” Not even in the short term.

I learned over time that I will not expire from lack of food if none is readily available between meals. I learned that if I play the game according to Hoyle that I’d get to goal, and stay at goal. WW’s rules are much better than mine – since my rules resulted in having to rejoin a pizzillion times. I learned that their choreography is a nicer dance and I really do dance like Elaine Benes.

I learned that you’re going to have to give up the idea that you’ll eventually be able to eat what you want, when you want it. I learned that because I watch closely my civilian friends, and none of them can do that. They have an automatic sensor that’s very reliable--they actually stop eating when they’re full, close to full, or not even near full. It’s akin to the sensor in the gas tank. All the gas caps say, “Do not top off.” We need that same label.

I’ve watched, coached, and cajoled many of you reach goal and attain your Lifetime status with us. I want to see more. I’ve learned from each and every one of you.

I’ve learned that you can’t hurry love – no, you just have to wait. And, you can’t hurry weight loss. You just have to wait. And work at it.


  1. This is such an excellent article. I've never heard it phrased "unconconcious competence," but that's exactly right. This sounds like one awesome Leader, and there's a reason she's kept it off. Thanks for posting this on the blog.


  2. YAY! Dirt is here!!
    Yeah, she's great - a wonderful example of why meetings work.


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