I lost a stone doing weight watchers years ago, and all I learned from my four months of paying to be weighed was to drink diet energy drinks instead of eating and how to binge on brie and then feel guilty about it for weeks. I had never binged in my life until I joined weight watchers! It taught me to fear food and blame it for everything I hated about my body.
And of course, I put that stone back on faster than I lost it.
I read today about Oprah buying shares in Weight Watchers, and how Weight Watchers is a brilliant business model because it does help people lose weight but doesn’t teach them how to actually be healthy. Inevitably they put all the weight back on and return to weight watchers, paying ridiculous money to not learn anything again.
So when people lose weight they praise weight watchers, but when they then put it all back on they blame themselves. Weight Watchers leaves the scene an innocent party and people all over the world develop a bad relationship with food, leading to all sorts of problems. A perfect money making business model, why didn’t I think of it?! (You can read all about this too in Slate magazine)
It wasn’t until I focused on being ‘healthy’, instead of ‘skinny’ that I started noticing changes in my body. These changes happened slowly, but were permanent. Because I changed my lifestyle instead of going on a diet, it meant that I started making healthy choices regularly and never felt deprived, which leads to bingeing. I never had to starve myself or kill myself with exercise. And this is what makes for long term change, and means you don’t suddenly put all the weight straight back on the minute you stop counting your calories or following the ‘rules’.
I made sure I did research, read books and learned what healthy food is. I changed my focus from what I look like to how I feel. I wanted to feel healthy and strong and full of energy and full of lovely food. The more healthy choices I made the more healthy food I craved, and that’s the big secret to being healthy! The more good food you eat, the more you craves it because you start to feel so great, I know that sounds mad cheesy but it’s the truth.
Knowing that I’m eating the things that are making my body healthy and strong and making it an armour of resistance against disease is the best feeling. And I get to eat all the foods that comfort me and make me feel full and like I can take on the world! (And as a huge plus it’s also nice to know that the food choices I make create a huge difference to the world by saving water, animals and reducing green house gases. Woop.)
Being able to stuff my face without one ounce of guilt is a nice feeling!
Now I try my best to eat whole foods that look exactly like they did when they were picked or dug up or harvested. My typical plate of food is made up of raw fruits and vegetables, steamed veg, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash), grains and beans. These are low calorie, nutrient dense foods which means I can eat tons of them, not gain weight and stay heathy, the dream!
When you adopt a healthy lifestyle you lose all the bad aspects of going on a ‘diet’ (the struggle, the weight gain, the guilt) and gain a life of being slim and feeling great and avoiding sickness and having clear skin and tons of energy and and AND…I could go on forever.
Obviously I still stuff my face with (vegan) cake and oreos sometimes, but it’s ok because I’m going to be healthy the majority of the time for the rest of my life, there’s no time limit which means I’m not messing up or failing, I’m just living life.
Don’t listen to Oprah (she’s right about so many other things, not this), instead listen to the bag of kale whispering to you from the supermarket shelve: “psst, eat me. This could be the beginning of something beautiful…”