How I Lost 99 Pounds with Weight Watchers (Interview)
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
My name is Shawna and I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I have been on every diet under the sun from Atkins, elimination diets, diet pills, to even the cabbage soup diet. The problem was none of these were sustainable for me and the weight always came back.
Over the last few years, my weight slowly crept up more and more and I became the heaviest I had been and 300lbs wasn’t far away. I was almost 40, I was tired, unmotivated, and couldn’t keep up with my young children. I was not the woman my husband had married, and although he loved me no matter what, I was no longer loving myself.
For a year I had been on the sidelines watching a good friend of mine document her weightloss journey. She posted food that just looked amazing and not what you typically think you can eat on a diet. So after watching her for longer than I should, I decided enough was enough and I would take the plunge and sign up for Weight Watchers. My children needed a mom who could keep up with them, my husband needed a wife who could be here for the long haul and I needed to love myself again.
What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?
Working out has actually never been a problem for me. I love to workout, it was the eating I just couldn’t grasp. However, because I couldn’t get control of my eating, workouts would come and fade away. From day one of starting my recent health journey with food I decided exercise had to be a part of it as well.
I knew if I wanted working out to stick this time I would need to go with a program I enjoyed, so I came back to an old favorite of mine that I had done years prior when trying to lose weight and that was The Walk at Home series from Leslie Sansone. This program is an aerobic cardio program, but it does implement strength training with resistance bands, lightweights, and pilates-inspired movements. Her basic videos are set up as 15-minute miles, but you are doing much more than just walking in front of the screen. It involves HIIT training, side steps, kicks, knee lifts, squats, lunges, and much more.
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Since I am a mom and have young children I don’t always have extra time to do long workouts, but I made it a goal to get in at least 30 minutes of cardio 6 to 7 days a week and if I had extra time I would do more. I also made sure to implement the strength training workouts 2 to 3 days a week.
For the last 17 1/2 months, I have kept this schedule, but I now make sure on the weekends when I have more time I aim for doing 4 to 5-mile workouts. I started doing these workouts on youtube for free, but about 8 months ago I signed up for the app which has a monthly subscription.
Although we all know diet and what you eat is 80% of weight loss I am a firm believer in the power of exercise. It has helped keep me toned, motivated, and just a happier person. You don’t have to work out for hours and lift large weights, you just need to move, find a program you love, or even take a nice walk outside, you won’t regret it!
What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?
I currently follow the Weight Watchers Blue plan. When I started this journey in July 2019, Weight Watchers only had the freestyle plan, but in November 2019 they introduced 3 separate plans, Blue, Purple, and Green.
The Blue plan was basically the freestyle plan, so I went with that. With Weight Watchers you are given daily and weekly points. All food is assigned a point value however some food like vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins are assigned a zero point value on the Blue Plan.
I started the program with 33 points, but as I have lost weight I am now at 23 points a day. What I like about this program is no food is really off-limits, it’s just whether you want to fit it in your points or not. I have been able to change my relationship with food and realize that it is okay to eat the things I love, but focusing on portion control.
Typically, I build my meals around those zero point foods like vegetables, fruit, and lean protein and use my points to incorporate appropriate portions of dairy, carbs, sauces, and other indulgent food. Usually, I eat 3 meals, 2 snacks, and 1 dessert each day. I feel eating every few hours keeps me satisfied and helps me make better food choices. I don’t feel deprived on Weight Watchers and really do feel I have created a new lifestyle with food.
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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?
Losing weight is tough and there are moments still in my journey where I just want to eat all the things and lots of it. The key to losing weight and keeping it off is to create a lifestyle that is sustainable. You have to have patience with yourself and the process and have grace with yourself.
Often when we go on a diet we have this mentality of all or nothing. We focus too much on restriction and not enough on creating healthy habits. I realized the only way I was going to make this work was to focus on saying “no” to cravings more than saying “yes”, but to realize it was okay to say “yes” too.
That’s why I really liked Weight Watchers because they allow for this. However, even with this flexibility, it can still be overwhelming and burnout can happen to have to constantly track your food and such.
So about 6 months into the program where I could feel myself slipping I came up with a plan to make this stick. Six days a week I stick to just daily points, I drink a gallon of water a day, I don’t eat after 8 pm and I exercise.
On my weigh-in day, I “take the day off” and I don’t track, I eat what I want, and I will eat after 8 pm if I want to and it is the one night a week I drink alcohol. I call it my “Yes” day.
I don’t call it a “cheat day” or “slipping up” because food isn’t bad and should be enjoyed, it’s okay to indulge, you just don’t want to live there too long. Having this one day a week to be a little freer with food keeps me motivated the other 6 days. It has prevented burnout for me and created sustainability. Although not the complete Weight Watchers way it is my way and it works for me.
When did you start to notice progress?
Well right away you start to notice little things with progress like not feeling so tired or bloated, but what really was the first big thing that I felt was when my regular everyday clothes started to not fit. They were becoming loose and I needed the next size down. This however did not happen until about 30lbs lost.
I knew beforehand what I was doing was great and beneficial, but it was such a great feeling to go down a size and it was then too that people would comment and notice the change so that is always wonderful and motivating.
I am now down to a size 14 from a size 22 in pants and can now wear XL and L shirts when I used to wear 3x. Another great moment was when I could finally cross my legs properly. It sounds silly or trivial, but as a woman who could never do that comfortably, it was a huge motivation to continue.
Taking side by side photos is also very helpful and motivating. I never realized how much weight I just carried in my face before. I always encourage people on this weightloss journey to take photos all through the journey, they won’t regret it!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
I use the Weight Watchers app. I pay a monthly fee. Although they offer meetings that you can attend in addition to a price, I only use the app. I can track all my food and progress on this app. It’s awesome because it has so many useful tools. You can scan barcodes on foods to see point values, and it has a restaurant portion on the app that you can look up any food items at restaurants.
It also has great articles to help keep you motivated, and lots of recipes and workouts you can do. Plus they have a whole Connect section of the app where you can follow others on their journey, like Facebook but just for Weight Watchers. I also subscribe to the Walk at Home app for a monthly fee to get my workouts.
Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
They do say there is no magic pill to losing weight, but I would say drinking water comes close. I used to be so bad about drinking water, and always went for the soda or juice instead. Once I really started making sure I got enough water each day, I aim for a gallon a day, I saw great progress.
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
I also find a great deal of motivation on Instagram. There are so many people documenting their journey, sharing all the highs and lows and so many great recipes. I have found the best motivation there.
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
The hardest part of starting your weightloss journey is to just start. You don’t have to be 100% right off from the beginning, make small changes that will work for you. Maybe focus on just drinking more water, or incorporate some exercises a few days a week. Start with one meal a day being “healthy” and work from there. Whatever you do, make sure you do something sustainable.
Weight loss is such a personal journey, so many factors go into it like age, height, gender, medical conditions and just the amount of weight one has to lose. It’s so hard, but never compare your journey to someone else’s, you will only set yourself up for disappointment and failure.
In most cases, slow and steady weight loss is the most sustainable, and it’s not a race but a marathon. Have patience, give yourself grace, love yourself through every step of the process, and focus on creating those healthy habits and not just restrictions. You will find true success.
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