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witnessing my sister's discouraging diet

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

So my sister came to visit this weekend and it looked like on the surface she was doing well with her diet. I say diet though because now it seems like it's more of a diet than a lifestyle change. She's been following Weight Watchers for about 7 or 8 months and I haven't seen that much change. She had lost about 24 pounds before Christmas and gained 5 the week she spent visiting. She has now lost a total of 40 pounds and that's great. Her jeans are pretty lose and that's great. She's working out at the gym and that's great. The part that discourages me is how she eats. She's doing some kind of point system, but the types of foods and the quantities she eats is where I see her being doomed to fail and in the end I see her gaining all the weight back. Every time she comes to visit, instead of choosing a healthier meal like baked chicken, she chooses fried chicken strips. Instead of one scoop of ice cream, she piles 5 servings in her bowl at once...with chocolate syrup! She did both of these things during her Christmas visit and this past weekend. She said she hadn't had ice cream in several months, but 5 scoops! She mentioned her weight going up and down and even her plateaus.

If anyone reads this blog who knows anything about Weight Watchers, please reply with any positives or negatives about the diet. I knew a girl who lost 60 pounds on Jenny Craig and as soon as she got off the diet and stopped with all their pre-packaged foods and pills, she gained every pound back. I see this same thing happening to my sister. I'm worried that if she gains it back, she will be too discouraged to try again...with SP. I want to tell her about this great site, but I don't see her accepting anything I say about it right now. She's taking meds for depression, etc. and in a bad living situation that will last another 3 years at the very least. I'm sure once she's out of her home situation, she will have more success with a good lifestyle change, but I'm worried the bottom will fall out before then.

Thanks for reading this and I welcome any information on Weight Watchers. I looked up their site, but didn't see much detail and it doesn't seem nearly as welcoming and extensive as SP.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I've never been on WW, and don't really plan to. But my aunt is on it and has lost a lot weight (as in 100+). The thing I don't care for based on what I've observed is that it doesn't seem very whole-istic - as in looking at changing your entire lifestyle, not just your eating. She can eat as much junk food as she wants, as long as it says "fat free" or 'sugar free' no matter how many chemicals it has, or nutrients it doesn't have. She has tons of health problems unrelated to weight, as well as depression, that those foods do nothing to help.

    Being someone with depression myself, I know how helpful it can be to eat a balanced diet of whole foods and exercise regularly to 'keep my spirits up' i.e. fight off the dark times. I don't really know how the meetings work, but hopefully your sister is getting some support there. I liked one person's idea of sending her emails that might interest her. If she already talks about her depression with you, perhaps sending her some links about ways to fight it off using healthy habits would be a good way to start - not discouraging what she's doing, just suggesting she add to it.
    4059 days ago
    I belong to WW's right now, and had tried it in the past as well. I can say that it DOES work. I've lost weight in the past, and am losing again. My friend has lost over 80 pounds and has kept it off. There are several people in my meeting that have lost over 100 lbs and kept it off. The whole reason I failed in the past was not because WW's doesn't work; it was because I wasn't ready to make a lifestyle change and just wanted to eat junk and stuff my face! Now that my husband is doing it with me it is making all the difference in the world!

    The whole basis of WW's is you are given a points (calorie) limit based on your weight, height, sex, and activity level. I get 33 points per day because i'm heavier, shorter, female, and not active during the day at work. If I stay within my points range for the day, and make generally healthy choices, I find that I lose on average 2 lbs/week, which is healthy.

    Now, like some people mentioned, I could choose to eat all of my 33 points in one huge unhealthy meal and not eat anything the rest of the day. It's not "healthy", but I don't think its unrealistic to assume that people might want to do that once in awhile... and once in awhile isn't a bad thing... it's if you do it everyday that isn't good.

    Also, you get what are called flexpoints, which are 35 extra points each week that you can blow however you want. Some people like to have one big treat all at once, usually after weigh-in, and some like to split them up over the week and have 5 extra each day. Maybe your sister decided to blow her flexpoints on fried chicken and ice cream since it was Christmas, and she is within her rights to do that.

    As a side note, you do not have to eat WW's meals or any of their food if you don't want. It's not like Jenny Craig or NutriSystem where you HAVE to. WW's is very user-friendly and you can eat pretty much anywhere - you just have to make a good choice.

    And, you can also join WW's online, or you can go to meetings. I go to meetings as I have a great group that i've found, and they really inspire me. I also feel like I have a greater sense of accountability. However, some people like to just do it online. Maybe she is doing it one way and would benefit from the other.

    WW's strictly says they are not a diet, but a lifestyle change, so if your sister is treating WW's like a diet, then that is how she is choosing to do it. That's how I did it in the past - I just had to be ready to change my way of thinking. She could do the same thing with SP. And, WW's and SP aren't that different. You have a calorie limit, you track your foods, you try to make healthy choices.

    As with any weight loss plan, you have to change your way of thinking. All diets work if you work with them. And, if she's not committed to WW's, its unlikely that she will commit to anything else right now.

    That's my $.02... hopefully it helps! If you have more questions about WW's feel free to ask me.

    4059 days ago
  • PEGGO45
    While ww is a great program… the biggest downfall is the points system. You become obsessed with it sometimes. Also, you can even though they have good health guidelines emphasized pretty much fill up your day with junk food and still be “on Plan”. I took a lot of GOOD away from 2 different tries at WW, but I found the missing link when I joined sparkpeople… Individual feedback… on your choices…need more fiber… need more protein… always tweaking for the optimal mix… I find if I get plenty of fiber and plenty of protein there isn’t really caloric room for a bunch of junk food in there. I do actually think Spark is the perfect compliment to WW.. so you might want to spread the spark and suggest the WW team for her. I also think that’s a downfall of Jenny too… you are “given” nutritional requirements.. but you really don’t make the Lifestyle change… and once off the program you revert back to old ways… because you didn’t learn to make the choices. I hope this makes sense. I guess I should add that I never tried Jenny C, but I’ve seen people lose then gain it back within the same year. A lot of people that lose on WW do keep it off for a long time. emoticon slow & steady wins the race... emoticon
    4059 days ago
  • no profile photo LLAMA*OF*OLY
    I understand how hard it is to sit back & watch somebody eat so bad. My son's older brother & s-i-l eat horrible!!!

    My situation isn't quite the same, but....

    I worry myself sick over my grandson's diet. He is 2 1/2 & will not eat hardly anything when he is at my house....which is at least 2x a week... one of which is usually more than 24 hours! He survives on whole wheat toast, waffles, whole grain goldfish crackers & cereal, V-8 Fusion & milk while he is here. He hasn't eaten a fruit or vegetable at my house in 2 years!!!!

    My d-i-l tells me it is because he is so picky but the truth is he eats GARBAGE all the other days of the week!!!! Sunday I took him home at lunch time & she gave him a COOKIE & milk....w/o even offering him REAL food!!!

    Even when his parents are at my house he's not allowed to have a snack or juice until he eats at least a waffle or toast with PB on it....I only buy natural PB w/o sugar in it!!!

    At home he lives on juice (the HFCS junk!), junk food & fast food!!!

    I've tried to talk to them about it but it's always the same!!!....he's picky....he won't try that.....he refuses to eat so we give into whatever he will eat!!! I did flip out when they brought him over here with POP in his sippy cup about a year ago!!!! They don't do that anymore but I know they still give it to him at home because I've heard him ask for it!!!

    It's very frustrating because they are setting him up for a lifetime of bad eating & health problems!!!

    My almost 8 y/o son didn't even have juice until he was over 2 because he ate plenty of fruit & vegetables I never needed to 'supplement' his diet.

    I wish you luck in trying to help your sister make better choices. I will continue with my grandson even if I never get his parents to!
    Lisa emoticon
    4059 days ago
    I used to do WW and my mother still swears by WW. It's easy to follow and gives you lots of freedom to make your own choices. They encourage healthy eating and lifestyle changes, and don't abandon people once they've lost the weight. Instead, they offer free membership for life as long as you maintain. And they have in-person support meetings, which some people prefer over anonymous online chats. The program works if you work it, just like SP. I have found that I do better with the extra knowledge that SP provides, such as nutrition information and exercise tips, but it also takes more time than WW. My biggest concern with the WW plan is that you get a points range and then a "bonus" number of points. You can also eat any points you "earn" by exercising (which is discouraged by the plan). Some people enjoy that flexibility and use it wisely. I didn't, and found myself manipulating the plan so I could binge and not feel guilty. It took me a long time to learn that I wasn't getting anywhere if I was cutting calories just so I could eat my favorite unhealthy foods.

    By the way, WW is a paid subscription plan and web site, so you won't find much detail unless you pay for their services.

    I think the key is to find what works for you. SP isn't for everyone, nor is WW or Jenny Craig or any of the other plans out there. And nothing is going to work if you aren't ready to make the full lifestyle change. If your sister's idea of a treat is 5 scoops of ice cream, she's not ready. Just do your best to be healthy, and lead by example. Support her efforts, even if you don't agree with them. If she is in a bad situation right now, she needs your stability. Be patient with her as she learns and grows (or shrinks, as the case may be).
    4059 days ago
    I followed WW and lost 37# 8 years ago. I gained 17 back, but I've also been divorced, remarried, graduated 2 kids from HS. Had a baby and moved across the country-away from my family and friends. It's a good program..one of the better ones, but when I was doing WW I chose to use my points on things that weren't so healthy and skipped the more healthy choices. In time, I didn't eat my freggies hardly at all because I used those points for FF choices (like FF Pringles etc) which aren't good choices at all. I hope your sister sees that balance is the key in time.
    4059 days ago
    WW is suppose to be more like a lifestyle diet. Healthy foods are lower in points (as most healthy foods are lower in calories).

    Yes, you can eat what ever you want on WW, but you have to choose what you want closely. You could lose tons of weight and still eat unhealthy things as long as you are in your points range (or calorie range), but that is obviously not the right way to do it.
    WW encourages people to eat healthier, as you get more food for the same points.

    And as she loses weight, the amount of points she will have to 'spend' will decrease and she will have to be more choosy about what she 'spends' her points on.

    I think WW is one of the better diets (IMHO I think it helps to develop a healthy lifestyle)

    No, she shouldn't be eating 5 scoops of icecream. Every person should know that is not healthy.
    I hope she eventually sees that eating healthier options is the way to go.

    Unfortunately with WW, it does let you eat whatever you want.
    Just let her know your concerns.

    That's my 2 cents.
    4059 days ago
    i know a few girls who have been successful with WW. one is a coworker who lost like 40 pounds and has kept it off - she no longer uses the WW meals or any thing, but she's VERY active - she's a belly dance instructor & studio owner, they're constantly doing shows and she works out, too. Plus, she eats healthy on her own - she committed to a lifestyle change.

    Another girl i know lost about the same on WW. She has kept it off, but the minute she stopped the meals she stopped loosing. she's still pretty active, but no longer looses weight.

    Unfortunately i agree with you about your sister. it doesn't sound like she's committed to a lifestyle change, and maybe she thinks that WW is a "magical" solution. I personally can't afford something like WW plans, and their meals and for me, i know that i would gain the weight back as soon as i stopped buying their meals - it doesn't really teach you how to function without them very well.

    one thing is for sure: you need to be able to function w/o the diet plan, like WW, in order to keep the weight off. Learning how to eat healthy & work out and having support & a great knowledge base is, in my opinion, the only way to do so. But you also have to be committed to doing it - you have to REALLY want it.

    good luck... hopefully you'll get her to join SP soon.
    4059 days ago
    I can't give any feedback about weight watchers, but some advice on how to introduce her to SP. Instead of telling her about it, since you think she won't hear you, I would forward an email or two her way that you think would resonate with her.

    As far as her diet goes, I think the best way to get the message across is to lead by example. That's difficult, if you don't see her very often. Maybe you could share healthy recipes with her. Most people don't respond well to lecturing, but this soft touch could make a big impact.

    Good luck!
    4059 days ago
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