Diets don’t work, except when they do. This week marks my nine year anniversary of becoming a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. In 2002, I got fed up with being too overweight to enjoy hiking or biking hills anymore. So I joined Weight Watchers, lost 35 pounds and have kept my weight within the “healthy” BMI range since. Given only 6% of Weight Watchers members meet their goal weight and achieve lifetime status, and that only about 20% are within five pounds of their goal weight five years later, I’m pleased.
Why did I succeed where others failed? First, while I was quite capable of packing on the pounds, my parents raised me to eat real food instead of junk and encouraged physical activity. When I gained weight, I was eating far more than I should have for my activity level. Second, and more importantly, I made lifestyle changes afterward that set me up for success. Like joining Team in Training and completing my first triathlon, dating a hard-core cyclist (who I’ve since married) and joining a women’s bicycle racing team.
My everyday and social lives now revolve around physical activity, which frees me from the burden of counting Points Plus all the time. Because you can’t spend the rest of your life counting calories, or eating one meal a day or never eating ordinary food with friends and family. That’s not living.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to stay lean. We Americans live in a culture that’s created the perfect storm for obesity: inexpensive, high calorie processed foods, super-sized restaurant meals (not just at fast food places either), and the virtual elimination of ordinary, everyday physical activity, like walking or bicycling to school or work.
You’ve probably heard the statistics about how 30% of Americans are obese, but do you realize that just 20 years ago less than 15% were? That’s a horrifying increase. Watch this video to see how in any given year a significant number of states increase their percentage of obese residents.
For those who are curious about how I looked at my max weight, I did find a photo from that era. Photos are rare since I didn’t like how I looked. Or how it kept me from being active outdoors like I am today.
Has maintaining a weight you’re happy with been hard for you? Do diets work for you?