That’s a photo of me and my WW Coach Julie. She has been with me for more than a year now and was with me the night I hit my “Lifetime” WW goal. Formerly Weight Watchers, WW is what got me going and what’s gotten me where I am right now.
Where I am is nearly 50 pounds lighter (give or take a tailgate or trip to New Orleans or Santa Fe!) and a whole lot healthier. I’m not here to brag, I’m just here to say “If I can do it, you can do it” and to answer questions I’ve repeatedly gotten.
I first did WW some 25 years after binging on bacon and baked potatoes while birthing our daughter and then again some time later. Both feel like ages and lifetimes ago, and in subsequent years I got bigger and bigger. I knew it and I felt it and yet in some way I didn’t care. That is, until my friend Anne (who is enviably thin and adorable) mentioned she was doing Weight Watchers when we got together with friends for the pre-Megzit royal wedding and before what WW calls my “why.” My why came in June of 2018 when, looking at photos of my daughter’s and my trip to Paris, I saw myself and thought, “You’re done Carla. You’re fat and time’s up.”
No one forced me to do it. No one suggested I do it. And no one walked me into a Weight Watchers meeting the very next day after cringing through those Parisian pics. I’ll never forget hearing energetic and inspiring leader Darlene tell us that for every 10 pounds you lose, you take 40 pounds of pressure off your knees. Amazing, right? That’s what I thought as I sat there with one knee that creaked. Think about it. How many people do you know who have had knee surgery or knee issues? Most are either long distance runners, on their feet all day due to their job, or are overweight. A small percentage is genetic and unavoidable, but I was determined I was not going to be a stiff old lady who can’t walk comfortably or climb stairs. In short and most importantly, I did it because I wanted to. And, like any 12-step program or self-improvement process, that has to be Step 1.
So step on that scale I did and from that day on I vowed I was going to lose weight and gain well-being. But, in a healthy way. No fad diet, no shakes or cutting only carbs. I basically ate almost whatever I wanted but in a controlled way and knowing it all had to fit within my daily allotted points, which are carefully and brilliantly calculated by WW. If I wanted my beloved queso one night I could have it, but I’d have to make amends somewhere else. Do I wish I could have queso, pizza, hamburgers, chips and dip, pimento cheese, and brownies every day? Heck yes! But, do I wish I was at my old weight. Heck no!
“Before and After WW” photos taken one year apart
I am by no means a health food nut now who does all her organic shopping at Whole Foods so let’s get that out there right now. But, I’m never really hungry and along the way I’ve learned to eat more balanced and more healthy. Seeing the results over time helped stick to the plan and it convinced my husband to jump on board and he’s also lost a substantial amount, as you can see from the photos above. Doing it together definitely helps but I stand firm that I would have done it alone had he not joined me. I was that determined.
I am now on what’s called “maintenance,” which basically means I eat to maintain my current weight. Yes, the holidays were hard but the beauty of WW is that you can jump right back on board and start anew. Do you have to eat healthy and light every single meal? No, focusing on healthy while still enjoying life and enjoying food is the goal. You also need to pay close attention to the difference between a celebration or splurge and just eating bad or making bad choices.
Keeping it off can be a struggle, as we all know. We reach that goal and then drop off. But, with WW I still weigh in and I still go to meetings, which have proven to make the difference in keeping the weight off and putting it all back on. Should I gain a pound or two, I will respond quickly and get right back on course as the sooner you respond to even a slight weight gain, the less likely you are to fall off the weight loss wagon. It also helps that my husband is still participating too.
WW is also big on “non-scale victories,” those little “yay” moments that have nothing to do with what you weigh. These might be compliments from others or the fact that I can now shop with friends and not feel self-conscious about the sizes I wear.
I will admit that compliments and some of the attention my weight loss has brought has been hard for me to take. I’ve never been one who likes attention and compliments have forever been a struggle for me. If someone tells me they like my outfit, my first reaction is to usually say something like I’ve had it forever or it was on sale. If you’ve noticed, I rarely include photos of myself on a blog (doing it this time is taking everything I’ve got) but I’ve learned to simply say “thank you” and with my weight loss I’ve learned to accept the praise and be proud of myself.
I do love that I feel lighter and healthier though, but what I love most is that I accomplished something. At my age, you really don’t accomplish a whole lot. I’ve raised a successful and respectful daughter. I’ve been married for more than 30 years. I’ve had the big jobs and done the big things. I’ve traveled the world. But what do I actually accomplish every day? Like big time accomplish, not simply cook a healthy dinner or write a thank you note? Not a whole lot, but now I feel accomplished and it’s a good feeling.
This whole journey also gave me a chance to put myself first, which I never do. It was time to take care of Carla, stop playing games, and get her mind and body right. I do take some pride in knowing that I didn’t lose weight because a doctor told me to. I lost weight simply because I wanted to. I put Carla first.
Carla has never been a lover of exercise I do love yoga, which I consider a mind and body exercise and do regularly. Now my plan is to add more cardio into my daily routine. You lose weight but you don’t lose flab, so I’ve been walking more and doing more weight bearing exercises. I’ll also squeeze in “random acts of fitness” that are fun and might inspire me to take on new challenges. I also drink water all day every day. I’m never without a water bottle.
I’ve learned, however, that your weight is 80 percent due to what you eat and only 20 percent of your activity. Yes, if you run 10 miles every day you can pretty much eat whatever you want but who among us does that? You need to reduce calories to lose weight and incorporate exercise to keep it down. If you consistently take in more calories than you need, much of them will get stored as fat. As my fit sister-in-law Susan has forever said, “you need to balance what you put in with what you take off.” And be honest with yourself. As healthy as I may have thought I was, I didn’t join WW because I’ve had too many fruit servings or too much salad dressing!
Funny thing is, I don’t see myself as a thin person. I still see the chubbier Carla, her back fat, and her non-boney knees. My girlfriend Barbara told me I need to get rid of all my “flowy” tops and as right as I know she is, it’s hard. I still don’t like anything clingy or tight and you’ll never see this girl in anything short or sexy. I may be thinner but I’m not any younger!
I have replaced many of those flowy tops with new ones, as I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe, and more than once. First it was summer clothes at the start of my weight loss journey, then it was fall and winter. And then guess what, I’d lost a whole lot more so it was back to more new spring and summer clothing and then fall and winter again. It’s been fun but it’s also been expensive. But, I’ve learned to buy only essentials and only things that, for lack of better words, mix and match. You could say it’s yet another non-scale victory.
I remember another friend of mine, Christie, saying on one of my annual college girls’ trips that “the best accessory is thin” and it’s stuck with me all these years. In a way, she was right. Still, we need to make sure we don’t become weight obsessed and venture into the dark world of too skinny, which is just as unhealthy and dangerous as too heavy. Pretty sure I never have to worry about becoming too skinny but it’s a warning to all of us.
I’ve learned this and so much else through WW including that what I put in my head is as important as what I put in my mouth. People (and some national weight loss company advertising) lament about having to count points and go to WW meetings but I gotta tell you, those meetings are so supportive and informative. And the “counting?” It’s all done on a fabulous app that not only counts your points, but can scan grocery items, share recipes and mindfulness, and hook you up with live WW coaches. It is amazing and it all made me realize that losing weight was way more important than eating what I maybe thought I wanted. It’s no longer about choosing something bad to eat but rather choosing to stay on goal.
We need to remind ourselves that food is fuel. It’s not supposed to be a therapist or entertainment. It doesn’t even always have to be amazing, which I’ve learned as I’ve tested new meal plans and recipes. Top Chef-worthy cooking has not invaded my kitchen (I don’t love to cook and have always said one of the first things I’d get if I won the lottery is a personal chef) and I’ve had to ask myself “what are you willing to give up?” Pasta and breads went away as did fast food and pizza. Things I couldn’t give up were my morning coffee creamer, although I now only do sugar free, and my evening wine. I also haven’t given up Tex-Mex totally but our weekly Sunday steak nights are no more. I still indulge however, but it’s never for long. It’s amazing how either full or guilty I feel after doing so and I’m usually pumped to get back on plan.
Another nice thing about WW is that you never have to be “that” person who can’t eat what someone is serving or something at a restaurant. Keto, paleo, vegan, Ideal Protein, Whole 30, shakes meal replacement, mailed prepped meals…all of those…just aren’t for me and for many aren’t sustainable anyway. I can eat anything a friend might serve at a dinner party without asking for special treatment or foods so sorry Marie Osmond, you can introduce all the new plans you want, but I’ll stick with mine.
That plan is to maybe lose a bit more but nothing too drastic. I don’t want to have to buy all new clothes yet again! I will keep eating right most of the time, keep doing yoga, and keep walking. It’s actually pretty simple right?
Yes and no. It does take hard work and it takes discipline. Nothing comes easy and you have to be patient as healthy weight loss takes time. Notice I said healthy weight loss. Yes there are plans out there that promise the moon, but chances are that weight loss universe will come crashing down once real life returns. It took me from June 2018 to November 2019 to hit my goal and eventually make Lifetime. I stumbled along the way and was near tears at some points, especially when I felt like I had legit plateaued. Coach Julie though, the pro and pal that she is, was there to set me straight and has been there for me every step of the way.
I step out today lighter and healthier and will end with this: We are all beautiful; we may just not be healthy. But, if true hunger is not the problem or the issue, food is probably not the answer.