The Diet Mentality

16 March, 2011 Off By Renée

Disclaimer: This is not a happy post, but rather a bitter one. It’s something I realized, while I was on holiday in the States, that I am still completely brainwashed from following Weight Watchers for so long. I know the program does work for most people, and it even worked for me a long time ago when my circumstances were different. Quitting WW has not been the liberating experience that I thought it would be. It’s sort of like breaking up with someone you’ve had a relationship with for a long time; you know ultimately they are not right for you, but it’s incredibly painful and the thought of living without them really scares you. Ultimately you have to do the right thing and walk away. That doesn’t stop the pain but you generally learn something in the process. If you are following the program and you’ve had success, I am truly happy for you, however, that doesn’t mean I think you are exempt from what I believe.

As you all know, I’ve been on this weight loss thang for a long time now (ok, maybe you don’t know, but now I’m telling you). I have never, ever been on a “diet” per se, because I don’t believe in “diets”, but I have been a Weight Watcher on and off for a very long time (the first time I joined was in 1992). From my experience Weight Watcher members have always claimed that what they were doing was “changing lifestyle” or simply having a different “way of life” that we were not in fact dieting at all. “Dieting” meant a short-term solution to the problem – whether it be calorie-counting, South Beaching, Atkinsing, Low GI, Jenny Craig, you name it, those things are “diets” and therefore NOT sustainable for the long term. I mean who can live the rest of their life without bread or pasta, right?

Dieting meant something negative, it meant restricting yourself, punishing yourself almost, due to the fact that you were whatever version of Fatass that you believed yourself to be. Dieting could mean fasting, or going very low calorie, or even using pills to shed the unwanted lard from your body. Dieting was what you had to do to get into those jeans again, to go to that 20 year reunion, or to get naked in front of a member of the opposite (or hey for some people the same) sex again. Dieting was a means to an end but not, my friends, a “way of life”.

My experience as a Weight Watchers Member made me better than “those people” because this was the way I was going to live for the rest of my life and see how great it works? Totally sustainable! I was totally smug to you “dieters” out there.

So now I’ve quit Weight Watchers. And yet I am totally programmed, as if I am on a diet. How many points in this, what is a serving of that, which one is the better choice, how many pieces of fruit should I eat, ohmygod I had too much rice now I have to exercise for an hour to earn activity points.

Weight Watchers is ACTUALLY part of the diet mentality. Weigh-ins, measurements, food scales, control, loss of control, disappointment, unhappiness, holding back on “real life” until… until … until… I finally get to size X or weight Z.

I am still thinking of this shit every single day. That’s the diet mentality.If it WASN’T the diet mentality, I could have just quit Weight Watchers and moved on with my life, but my reality is totally opposite.

Every single day – did I eat too much? Ohmygod the scale went up again. Jeeze I haven’t moved enough today. I shouldn’t have had that (fill in the blank). I’m never going to be at my goal weight again. I’m so fat. I’m such a failure. I hate my body and it hates me.

You think that because you are “changing lifestyle” that you are NOT part of the diet mentality? You are. Until you truly accept you for who you are RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE you will be a part of it. You are a part of it every time you compare, every time you weigh your food, every time you add up calories, every time you calculate ProPoints (or PointsPlus), every time you restrict yourself, every challenge you join, every new idea (or old idea) you buy into. Weight Watchers is the Diet Mentality as well. I was wrong. I am sorry I was so smug to all of you Non Weight Watchers out there, I am totally programmed and even though I’ve let go of the rope I keep thinking this way.

I am certain many people out there could be offended by what I am saying now. I think many people still believe that Weight Watchers is truly different. You’ve had success, you may even be a lifetime member (well, hey, so am I), you worked hard for where you are at, surely I must still be doing something wrong, clearly I am not working the program properly and now clearly I’m looking for someone or something to blame. But no, I’m not. I have just come to realize that I bought into it. I believed in it. At the end of the day it didn’t work. What am I left with? The reminder of all the stuff I “learned”, all the tricks, all the tips I followed and am thousands of euros poorer because of my belief in a program that at the end of it all really didn’t care whether I stayed or quit.

I spent years counting, weighing, measuring. Some days were great, some days turned into weeks and months. Success was MINE! Some days sucked. Some days I couldn’t eat enough. Sometimes I just had too much. Some days I cared and some I didn’t. Some days I really believed I could do this forever. But honestly, who can count points forever? It sucks thinking about it, it sucks tracking it, it sucks when you do everything in your fricking power and the mechanical beast tells you that you actually suck and you are even heavier than you were last week. I spent years being pulled in by the charms to ultimately get a slap in my face when I wanted to walk away. “Go ahead. Walk away. We don’t need you anyway” Years of my life in this DIET MENTALITY. I thought it would be easy to just quit. Seems it’s actually going to be more difficult to step away than I had originally thought.