Today I am writing about my experiences with three diet programs…..
The Weight Watchers mission is to “help people lose weight in a sustainable way by helping them adapt a healthier lifestyle and a healthier relationship with food and activity.” Members attend a weekly meeting to be weighed in and listen to a presentation about a nutritional topic. I joined this program five times over the course of seven years. I’d never thought about how often I re-joined before and I had to re-check in my head because it sounded like too many times! I joined firstly in about 2002, lost about 8kgs in 3 months and then stopped going. I put the weight I lost back on and was back even heavier a year later to do it again. I did this a third time after a similar weight loss. I re-joined each time as I didn’t want to use my old weigh in card with my lighter weight on it and I wanted to start fresh each time. When I moved to London in 2006, I joined over there too. It was fun to see how many pounds I had lost each week instead of how many kilograms! I was successful there too, losing about 6 kgs in 7 weeks. It slowly crept back on when I stopped going. So I went to another meeting and lost more weight. Guess what happened then? I stopped going and the weight came back on! Are you seeing a pattern yet? When I returned to Australia from London I piled on a lot of weight in a short period of time so I re-joined for the fifth time. This time I only went to meetings for about five weeks.
Now I know from experience that this program works! I lost weight when I followed it and it kept me on track and motivated. I learned a lot about food and portion sizes at the meetings and celebrated losses – even the small ones. I was inspired by those members who had reached their ‘goal weight’ and still attended meetings to check they were on track. So what were the negatives for me? Well firstly the counting of points was hard work. Every food has a ‘points’ value and in a day I had about 20 points to use. I had to add everything up as I went and sometimes would find I had eaten too many points at the end of the day when it was too late to change it. Another problem I faced was trying to get the most value from my points. I’d often have one point left at the end of the day and would open the fridge to see a Weight Watchers Chocolate Mousse (1 point) and an apple (1 point). You can guess which one I chose! I made unhealthy choices as I lost weight. Even though they promoted healthy choices, no food or drink was off limits so I would still fit in ‘bad’ food (and Pepsi Max) and eat less for other parts of the day. I’d even skip breakfast if I had a big night out planned. So you can see for me, this was not a good fit and my eating wasn’t balanced.
“The Tony Ferguson Weight Management Program is a flexible, 3 phase Program which offers the health benefits of a low GI diet while helping you to change your relationship with food.” On this program I drank a shake (‘powdered stuff’ in water) for breakfast and lunch, ate 2 pieces of fruit for snacks and ate a healthy dinner. I consistently lost 1 kilogram a week when I followed this and did it whenever I wanted to get fast results. I used this program on and off from 2008 to 2011. As with Weight Watchers, I’d often begin putting weight back on as soon as I stopped. It did not teach me how to incorporate healthy foods into my diet and didn’t make me feel good. At times I avoided going out for lunch and was often hungry. Since I took part, the program has improved and it does teach you how to go off the shakes, and incorporate healthy meals into your day. I only ever did it for a quick and easy solution, which of course was never going to set me up for long-term success!
I have had the most weight-loss success from this program. I bought the DVD package and it taught me the importance of protein and eating small, balanced meals throughout the day to speed up metabolism. I lost 20 kilograms following this over a year (see photos of this journey in my previous post). It promoted walking as the best form of exercise and provided a pedometer to track a target of 10,000 steps per day. This was the first program to actually teach me some things about the nutritional qualities of food. Although I lost a lot of weight, I did not follow this plan properly. I hadn’t eaten salads or vegetables my whole life and so was only eating eggs, meats, fruit and protein powder shakes and recipes the whole year. Although I was eating a high protein diet – I was consuming practically no carbs and absolutely no plants. As my BMI came down, so did my health. I was also still drinking 2 – 3 diet soft drinks a day at the expense of my water intake. I did e-mail BodyTrim and say I didn’t eat vegetables or salads and they replied promptly to tell me this was not healthy and they did not recommend me to follow the program without consuming these foods. I had my warnings but didn’t listen.
These are just three of the many weight loss methods I have tried. If I wrote about them all, they would form a 500 page book! The main point of sharing these experiences is to show that in my case (not every case) they only provided short-term results and they were not the best for me to successfully maintain on a long term basis. I just want to stress – these programs all promote healthy eating and aim to encourage everyone to reach a healthy weight and maintain it. I do not wish to discourage anyone from wanting to try one to kick start a weight-loss journey. These are just my own personal experiences and obviously there were other factors in my life that caused the weight to pile back on time and time again.
So why did I keep putting back on every kilogram I lost? It’s taken me a long time to find out. I will share it in an upcoming post.