Weight Watchers’ Rebrand, My Views!

Weight Watchers’ Rebrand, My Views!

 

 

Many of my fellow anti-diet preachers are incensed by Weight Watchers’ recent rebrand.   

They see it as a cynical ploy to sell weight loss under cover!
In case you haven’t heard, the company has decided to remove the word ‘weight’ from it’s name. Moving forward they want to be known simply as WW.
Their reinvention is as a ‘health and wellness’ company. They claim that it’s ‘not all about the weight’.
And yet confusingly, they’ll still be selling weight loss?!

 

Those working against diet culture are up in arms because they believe that:

  • Weight Watchers and other weight loss companies are making their money by preying on the insecurities created by the ‘fat is bad’ rhetoric.
  • That diet culture and fat phobia are a major contributor to the increased incidence of eating disorders, including binge eating disorder.
  • That weight loss companies are perpetuating the lie that ‘slim is always healthier’.
  • That following someone else’s diet rules leads to an inability to tune into our own bodies’ hunger and fullness signals. And that diets also contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • That they are giving false hope that ‘thin’ is even achievable in the long term. (There is currently no proven weight loss system that delivers long term sustainable weight loss results. IMO if the $60 billion weight loss industry’s methods worked, surely the prevalence of ‘obesity’ in the world would not have tripled between 1975 and 2016?)

 

  • And that all of the above works against wellness, not for it!
 FYI  I agree with all of the above.

 

 

 

I do however think that Weight Watchers’ rebrand gives us hope for a future free from diet culture…..

The email I received from WW chief exec Mindy Grossman, (no idea why I’m still on their mailing list BTW) explains the change in their mission:

 

Today, people everywhere truly want to get healthy, yet all the data shows that we are actually getting unhealthier. That’s the wellness paradox that we at WW want to help solve.

 

 

It seems to me that what we have here, is a bit of an admission from Ms Grossman.  For years WW and all the other diet companies have been peddling weight loss and telling us it will make us healthier.
Yet here we have acknowledgement from WW at least, that this is not the case!  In fact it would seem that as the weight loss industry continues to grow, we are becoming unhealthier.  There’s the paradox, right there!

Unlike some though, I do NOT think that Weight Watchers is intentionally evil or corrupt.

 

Some might say that because I worked for them for 13 years, I’m biased.  I don’t believe I am.
It’s just that I’ve seen behind the scenes of the company (in the UK anyway) ……and most people who work for them are good people and believe that the company is doing good in the world.

After all we hear daily that being fat is bad and that losing weight is good.  The media tells us this, and so do medical professionals.

 

 

Weight Watchers has simply been attempting to solve the problem of fatness.  And yes, they do make money from their services.  But then so do the doctors and nurses who prescribe weight loss (for almost every ailment it seems).  So do the journalists who write never ending articles about the best diets, ‘healthiest’ food to eat, who has the ‘best’ body etc.

 

The truth as I see it is this – that we don’t know what we don’t know.

 

The folk who work at WW (as well as those who buy their services) still believe that weight loss is both desirable and doable.  How could they doubt it when their own doctors are telling them this is the case? I used to think the same! Didn’t we all at some point?
Weight Watchers worked for me once, when nothing else did. And that’s how it became my Holy Grail (even after I began to regain the weight and even after nearly 20 years of trying to get back to ‘goal’, I still wanted to believe that it might work again for me some day. Sound familiar?)

 

 

After I left the company to set up my own life coaching practice, I continued to sell weight loss.

 

At that time, I believed that if I could help my clients to love and respect their bodies, they would be motivated to treat them ‘right’ and would therefore lose weight.  I believed (just as WW now do) in a more holistic approach to wellbeing that included weight loss.
It was only as I researched more deeply into my subject that I began to truly understand the futility of pursuing weight loss.

I was shocked by the stats showing how unrealistic long-term weight loss maintenance is for the HUGE majority.

 

I don’t know why I was so shocked when I myself contribute to the statistic. I had also spent years watching the huge majority of my WW members struggle either to get to goal at all or if they did manage it, struggle to maintain it.
My comprehension of both the psychological and physical damage created in the pursuit of weight loss was a gradual process.
(If you want to make a start in understanding why you should move away from weight loss as a goal read Body Respect)
My own transition from selling weight loss, to becoming a born-again anti-diet preacher happened in stages. You could say I took baby steps to enlightenment!
(But goodness my life and health have changed SO MUCH for the better since I left diet culture behind!)

 

My opinion:

Whilst I don’t think WW are deliberately evil, I do believe they are very misguided.

 

I wonder though, could it be that they are on the path to enlightenment too?
Their rebrand seems to suggest so

 

 

It’s a shame that right now WW is still contributing to the problem, by continuing to sell weight loss.

They’d be SO much better equipped to REALLY help improve wellness if they took weight loss out of the equation.
Aside from the stats being stacked against permanent weight loss, most long term serial dieters know how distracting the scales can be when we are trying to be consistent in creating healthier habits.

 

Imagine

No more ‘fresh starts’ would mean ….no more ‘last suppers’.
No more weigh-ins would mean…… no more post weigh-in binges.
No feelings of dieting failure would mean…… no reason to throw the towel in on healthy behaviours…..ever!
There’s also a LOT of stress involved in not liking your body, and in feeling like a failure. And we all know how bad stress is for our health.
Imagine if we made health our goal instead of weight loss………………..

 

It seems to me that whilst Weight Watchers’ rebrand may indeed be a cynical ploy to entice new members into their sticky weight loss web (the point of branding is to attract custom after all), at least some progress has been made.

All we Body Positive, Health At Every Size, Intuitive Eating, Body Acceptance preachers should be glad that our anti-diet messages are being heard!
There is indeed a better, kinder, more effective way to wellness.
People are listening.
It’s seems like Weight Watchers is listening!
I predict 5 – 10 years from now WW will evolve in the same way my own work has evolved and they won’t be selling weight loss AT ALL.

 

But in the meantime, seriously?………do they realistically expect us to refer to them as Double-You, Double-You?
Aside from the irony, it just doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?!

3 Ways Serial Dieting Devastates Self-Esteem

3 Ways Serial Dieting Devastates Self-Esteem

3 Ways Serial Dieting Devastates Self-Esteem

 

 

Imagine this:

 

You hate your body. You hate that you are fat.

You look in the mirror and wish that you looked like the women in the magazines.

You wish you looked like Jo at work.

You wonder what people must think of you?

You decide (yet again) that you are going to lose weight.

You buy in lots of fruit and vegetables and crispbreads…..oh and a cauliflower to make some rice (??!!?)

You have a light breakfast, and a light lunch.

You still feel slightly hungry.

You feel virtuous.

You’ve been so ‘good’!

 

 

At 4 o’clock you are even hungrier and eat an apple……and a couple of cookies.

Now you feel awful.

Why did you eat the cookies?

You wish you had more willpower.

You hate that you just can’t seem to do this weight loss thing anymore.

You wonder what’s the matter with you?

How come she gets to eat cookies and still be slim?

How comes it’s you that’s lumbered with the fat body?

 

You hate your stupid body. You hate yourself.

You’ve ruined it all again.

You wonder why this happens every time.

What’s the point in even trying?

You’re such a failure.

You can’t get anything right.

You’re fat and ugly and a waste of space!

(Or words to that effect)

 

 

Maybe you don’t need to imagine?

Maybe you’ve lived this many times yourself? 

And maybe as a result of being a serial dieter, you have even  lower self-esteem than you might otherwise have had?   

Here are 3 reasons why this is the case for the majority:

 

 

1. As a serial dieter you have chosen to buy into the idea that your body is not good enough as it is. This makes you feel bad. It make you feel like there is something wrong with you.

It’s hardly surprising that so many of us feel this way given the disproportionate amount of visual images and messages out there, promoting the super slim ideal.  We have been conditioned to believe that super slim is the normal way for a body to be.

But is it?

In the UK, more than 50% of women are a size 16 plus.  So in reality, if you are a size 16 or above, you are in the majority.  Surely that means you are the norm?

(Please note: there is an alternative way to think about your body.  You could choose to think that your body is a good body and that it does it’s best for you. You could decide to accept it as it is and treat it well in lots of ways.  Just saying…..)

 

 

2.Being a serial dieter means that you are spending a lot of time thinking about your body (and your whole self) in a negative way.

Obviously not conducive to high self-esteem.

This can also lead to social anxiety; worrying about whether you’ll be the fattest person in the room. Worrying about what people will think.

Will they think you are greedy or lazy or stupid?  And maybe the bigger problem is that your own internal voice is telling you similar.

 

 We have to remember that the stuff we are telling ourselves, is simply not true.

 

We are definitely NOT stupid (My proof? 4 out of 5 of the Chasers in the UK general knowledge quiz show are in larger bodies. And they are super brainy!).

Most fat people I know are no ‘greedier’ than slim people- in fact if anything they have spent more of their lives restricting the amount of food they eat. This implies ‘not greedy’ in my book.

Studies show a link between dieting and binge eating disorder; it seems that it’s the act of dieting itself, which warps our relationship with food.

Anyway, I hope I’m beginning to convince you to be less negative about yourself? It’s not your fault.

 

 

3.There is no surer way to feel a failure than to repeatedly try to lose weight and repeatedly fail!  And there’s no surer way of lowering self-esteem, than feeling a failure!

And here’s the thing: the HUGE majority of people who do try to lose weight……fail!

Not because they are failures, but because the concept of dieting fails them.

Now I could go on to quote the statistics (95% of those who lose weight put it back on again within 5 years if not sooner), but do I really need to?

Look around you…..how many people do you know that have lost weight in the past, only to regain what they have lost?  It’s not that they haven’t tried, is it?  So listen folks- it’s NORMAL to regain the weight.  You are in the majority. You are NOT a failure.  Full stop. Period.

 

In conclusion – as far as self-esteem goes, being a serial dieter gives you yet another stick with which to beat yourself.
Maybe now would be a good time to  put the stick down?

 

 

Boost your self esteem and change your life for the better

I am running a 3 week online programme called Self-Esteem for Serial Dieters
It starts on June 24th 2018 and will be jam packed with ideas, techniques and support.
If you are ready to believe that you are more than good enough just as you are, then this programme is a no-brainer.
Click >>HERE<< for more info or to sign up.
(Offer-only £47 for the first 12 to sign up)

 

 

 

 

4 Reasons Serial Dieters are the WORST at Self-Care!

4 Reasons Serial Dieters are the WORST at Self-Care!

 

 

I have been a serial dieter for 40 years, and I didn’t even know self-care was an option until I hit my 50s.

 

It sounds ridiculous I know, because nowadays everyone’s talking about it.

In fact ‘self-care’ gets so much coverage, I’m terrified that people (especially the women I work with who are serial dieters too), will become desensitised to the phrase and overlook how important it really is.

 

And that MUST NOT happen!

 

The mere fact of being a woman, raises the likelihood of us putting everyone else’s needs ahead of our own.  But for those of us who have spent years invested in trying to shrink our bodies by restricting our food intake (AKA dieting), the chances of us prioritising our self-care needs are slim!  (Did you see what I did there?  Pun intended!)

 

There are  many reasons why it’s important to look after ourselves (nurturance I call it- you can find out why when you sign up for my FREE short online course>> Self-Nurturance for Serial Dieters, more details at the end of this blog).

 

We’ve all heard how useless it is to try and pour from an empty cup (or is it jug?), how we’ll perform better if we take care of ourselves, how it’s good for our health, how the people we care about will be happier for it, etc.

Life is also pretty damned short, so why shouldn’t we take the best possible care of ourselves and have as nice a life as possible?  For us, not just for ‘them’!   We are as deserving as everyone else – that’s the bottom line.

 

And yet we have spent years refusing to prioritise ourselves  Here are some ideas as to why.

 

 

4 reasons why serial dieters struggle more than most with self-care:

 

1. When someone mentions self-care, serial dieters automatically think they mean ‘eat healthy and exercise more’

We may occasionally come up with the idea of a nice, bubbly bath, or a new hairdo.  But beyond that, our ideas are limited. We have spent so many years desiring weight loss and thinking about how to lose weight, that our ‘go-to’ in terms of self-care often leans towards personal grooming and outward appearance. (And believe me, there is SO much more to it than that!)

 

2.Serial dieters postpone living life fully until they reach their ideal weight.

It’s a trap that so many of us fall into.  We think ‘I’ll book that holiday when I’ve lost all the weight’, ‘I’ll change jobs when I feel more confident (about my body)’, or ‘I’ll treat myself to some new clothes when I’m slim’.  In the same way we postpone our self-nurturance; we’re basically waiting for the day when we are slim enough to justify ‘rewarding’ ourselves with some proper self-care..

 

3. Serial dieters have a low sense of self-worth

Sadly the majority us often just don’t feel up to scratch. It’s difficult to feel good about yourself if you believe that your body isn’t good enough at the size it is.

It’s even harder to feel worthy when you have made multiple dieting ‘fresh starts’ which each time end in failure. (This is social proof to me that dieting does not work in the long term).  And then to be reminded of your ‘failure’ everytime you look at a magazine or on your social media feed- there are SO many images of super slim women everywhere, and SO much weight loss talk!

It’s hard to be motivated to take care of yourself, when your self-esteem has been eroded in this way.

 

4 Serial Dieters don’t believe they have time for self-nurturance

Well when your head is full of disatisfaction with your body, and is busy seeking out THE diet that will finally lead you to your goal weight

……when you are focused on calculating points, calories, nutrients at every eating opportunity, not to mention reading all the articles about which are NOW the right foods to eat, which is NOW the best way to exercise etc.

……when you are also extremely busy trying to be a really lovely human being, and pleasing others as much as possible (because you think you have to work harder at getting people to like you because you’re fat!), it’s going to be tough to believe that you have time to take care of yourself in a more holistic way.  Who’s got time for that, right?

 

But you know what?  A holistic approach to your self-care is going to bring you so much more peace and contentment than remaining stuck on the hamster wheel of yo-yo dieting ever will.  And it will bring you health benefits too.

 

If you’re a serial dieter who’d like to take your self-nurturance up several levels, then claim your spot on my FREE online mini course.  It starts on Monday 4th June 2018, lasts for 5 days and will move you from self-destruct to cup overflowing without you even having to leave the house.
You’ll have access to me in a private Facebook group for the whole week, and you’ll also get lifetime access to the course once the week is over (so you can revisit the content at your leisure).
Claim your free spot >>HERE<<
I cannot wait to help you to treat yourself better.

 

 

Why Slimming Clubs are GENIUS!

Why Slimming Clubs are GENIUS!

 

I didn’t join a slimming club until I was 31 years old.

 

(Well unless you count the time in my 20s when I joined with a friend, ate only cottage cheese for a week, lost 7lbs, was too embarrassed to stay for the talk because I was awarded ‘slimmer of the week’, and scuttled off giggling to buy some chips.)

 

Anyway I bit the bullet in my early 30s and joined again.

 

At the time I was at rock bottom regarding how I felt about my body and my size.

I was determined once and for all to do whatever it took to rid myself of my fat, and the shame, embarrassment and self hatred that came with it.

 

That first meeting though!

 

Oh my, it was excrutiating!  I was horrified at  being weighed by a stranger!   Mortified does not even cover how I felt at the number actually being written down!

After the weigh in, I thought I’d be able to slope off like I had that time in my 20s.  But the leader this time was much firmer and made me sit down for the ‘talk’!  All credit to her!  In doing so she got me in the habit of staying for the weekly meeting.

 

And what a revelation to discover that I  liked it!  I liked staying for the meeting talk!

For the first time in my life, I got to listen  to other people talk about how they struggled with food, and with how they felt about their bodies.

For the first time  ever I realised that I wasn’t the only one to feel intensely ashamed of my body.  I wasn’t the only one for whom the ‘eat less, move more’ philosophy seemed so much more difficult than it sounded.

 

The community element of slimming clubs is GENIUS!

 

I was hooked!

 

And this time round I ‘successfully’ lost weight.  (Don’t get too excited- my story is no different to anyone else’s.  Keeping the weight off proved to be it’s own challenge!  The ‘genius’ doesn’t extend quite that far.)

 

Now not only did I think I’d found the ‘answer’ to my weight loss prayers, but I LOVED the meeting environment too.

I’d found my kindred spirits!

Just like me, the other members too felt shame.  They too ate in secret.  They too binged.  They too lived in fear of other people judging them for their size.  They too cried when they looked in the mirror. They too pretended that it wasn’t them who had eaten their child’s Easter egg!!

 

I basked in the praise!

 

In the early days when I was ‘successful’, I felt like the star of the show.  I can honestly say I’ve never had so many compliments.

Everyone in the slimming club meeting was in awe of my transformation, my willpower, my commitment!  The praise, the compliments and attention made me feel great.  The shiny stickers I received for every 7lbs I lost, were addictive!

Honestly, it felt like the most amazing achievement of my life.

 

NO one praised me that much when I got my degree or my promotion or even after giving birth.

 

However once I started to struggle with maintaining the weight loss, the compliments dried up.  BUT I still had my community of fellow Weight Watchers.  And as I say I LOVED being part of that community!

 

We ‘got’ each other.

 

We encouraged each other when we ‘failed’ to stick to the plan.

We encouraged each other whether we lost weight that week or gained!

We talked openly about our relationship with food.

We could be honest about our emotional eating habits, and about our low self- esteem.

And often we were able to laugh at the ridiculousness of how we thought and how we behaved.

 

And this is the bit that slimming clubs have got absolutely right (BTW  I do know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea!)
BUT for the many women who rejoin slimming clubs time after time, the group support and sense of community make it feel like a safe, encouraging and nurturing  place to be- regardless of whether or not they manage to achieve their weight loss goals. (And the stats show that most do NOT achieve long term weight loss success.)

 

I myself felt so ‘at home’ that 7 years after joining, I managed to almost get to ‘goal’ again, just so I could become a slimming club leader myself.

 

I worked in this role for 13 years!!  Mostly because I loved the meetings and loved talking with the members.

 

The truth is I continued to subscribe to something that had stopped working for me many years previously because:

 

a)  It had worked for me once and

b)  I LOVED being part of the community.

 

Of course I know now, that for me and for most other slimming club members maintaining the weight loss is pretty much impossible.  And it’s not just slimming clubs that fail to deliver long term weight loss.  All diets fail. Our bodies’ weight regulation system in the end is the winner. It ensures that we regain weight lost to take us back to within the range of our set point weights.

 

But yet in spite of this lack of long term weight loss success, many members rejoin slimming clubs multiple times.
Is it partly that they feel safe in an environment where others understand them?  Where they don’t feel quite so alone? I believe so.
And crucially, historically there have been few other spaces for larger ladies to congregate and bond in this way.  Like I said- GENIUS right?

For me for many years the benefits of the community, outweighed the humiliation of being a slimming club leader who was unable to maintain her own weight loss.

But you know what?  Nowadays there are increasing numbers of online communities that offer similar support, but are there to help us escape diet culture. Now that’s what some might call progress!

If you’d like to be part of my NEW supportive community, which will help you leave diet culture behind, and if you’d like to learn to accept your body just as it is then please click the link to join my FREE private facebook group- Time To Heart Your body and Live Your Life

 

And let me know about your own experience of slimming clubs in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Where are all the LARGER gym bunnies hiding?

Where are all the LARGER gym bunnies hiding?

 

I recently joined my small council run local gym.  It’s a really nice, new space, very reasonably priced and includes a variety of classes as well as the gym room.

I thought I’d break myself in gently by going along to the Legs, Bums and Tums class.

Break myself in gently?? Not quite!

It seems that LBT classes nowadays are more like mini bootcamps! (Or maybe I wasn’t quite as fit as I thought!)  I ended up working muscles that I’d forgotten were even there!

For a full 3 days after the class I struggled to walk down the stairs normally!  I had to brace myself to gracelessly lurch onto the loo seat each time I wanted to pee!  And I was heard making obscene noises every time I turned over in bed at night!!  Oh yes, multiple muscles were truly awakened!

 

 

Anyway……..

 

It’s time for me to make my serious point.  Here it comes:

 

Even though I’m not the largest lady on the planet at a (stretchy) size 16, I might be the largest lady to attend my gym.

 

Whilst there were lots of different ages in the LBT class, there was a definite lack of larger gym bunnies to keep me company.

 

 

And I haven’t seen anyone of my size or larger in the gym room either.

This makes me feel a bit sad.

 

Not because I feel out of place (I’ve done a lot of work on my own body confidence in the last couple of years), but because I’m worried that the larger ladies in the world are potentially missing out.

 

 

I know the gym is not for everyone………

 

but I do think it offers a good opportunity to move your body and get some feel good endorphins, without having to worry about what the weather is doing.

I’ve been going to gyms for about 20 years now, so I guess I have got used to them.  But I do remember a time when I felt extremely resistant to the idea of them, or of doing any exercise other than walking.

 

I thought gyms were scary and full of slim, glamorous women in lycra and full make up.

 

And in those days, I was deeply ashamed about the size of my body and my lack of fitness.  It wasn’t just gyms I was scared of, I hated the thought of swimming (changing rooms- enough said!!), running was definitely a no-no, and personal trainers were for people more deserving than me!

 

I worried that whatever exercise I tried, I’d show myself up by going bright red and sweating.  That I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I worried about what to wear. (In the end my baggy t-shirt and leggings seem to work just fine!)

 

I wanted to become more active, but I felt too embarrassed and too fat.

 

I wonder if lots of larger ladies feel the same and that’s why there aren’t any in my gym?  (I have certainly had some of my clients tell me they feel too embarrassed to join a class, go swimming or do any kind of organised exercise- so I know it’s not just me.)

 

And that is IMO such a shame!

 

 

So for those who are letting lack of body confidence hold them back from being more active, here are some messages I want to share:

 

  • Life’s too short NOT to treat your body to a bit of movement and some extra endorphins!
  • Most gym members are just ordinary people, who are probably focused on how their own bodies are looking and feeling. They’re probably not thinking about you at all!
  • Anyway, isn’t it time to stop caring about what others think? If they are judging you, that says more about them than you.
  • Research shows that exercise improves body confidence, because you’ll be focused on what your body can DO rather than what it looks like.
  • Your body deserves to be allowed to do what it was designed to do- MOVE!

 

And if gyms are really not for you, there are lots of other ways of moving your body.  Just find something that feels like fun.  There’s nothing wrong at all with a nice walk!

Or if you’ve always fancied it, you could even invest in a personal trainer to support you in building your confidence. You’re worth it and so that amazing body of yours! 😊

For more hints and tips on how to become more accepting of you body, whilst wriggling free from diet culture sign up for my fortnightly newletter >>HERE.  I’d love to keep in touch.

 

 

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