The Stacked Deck Strikes Again, or, another WW rant
In some cases, I bite my tongue bloody and then come online to post anonymously about it. Not a great thing, but an improvement over my usual.
The thing about dieting and the whole healthy lifestyle phenonemon is that it's intensely personal. There's a huge amount of faith involved, and any time you've got something that is more faith than science, it comes packaged with a lot of insecurities. For many people-- myself definitely included-- getting started on a program like this is a desperation move, and it's not cool to suggest to someone that the lifeline they're clinging to-- the one bit of hope that they can dig themselves out of this hole-- may be flawed and could break at any time. It's a tricky subject, to say the least.
I've got a friend on Weight Watchers who has just dropped her Points level, is hungry all the time, and has hit a plateau. I'm not going to say anything along these lines to her, not yet, because-- as my Hub puts it-- you've gotta let someone spin their wheels for a while before saying, "Here is a shovel, here is a bucket of gravel; these things might help." In the meantime, I'm posting here.
For the record, Weight Watchers is not bad. As far as diets go, it's the best of its kind, a species with a more evolved brain and opposable thumbs that is much smarter and more supportive than the pea-brained dinosaurs lumbering around in the same vicinity. Weight Watchers makes an effort to get you used to sensible portion sizes, they've got a lot of great tools for tracking your intake, you get a ton of support, you're kept accountable; all of these are good things. They keep making evolutionary gains, too, with their Core program stressing good foods for the main stuff you eat, and apparently a new effort to customize the FlexPoints system to take into account age and activity levels instead of only height and weight. They do try to talk a lot about activity and exercise. Again, all good things.
The point at which Weight Watchers falls short (and to my eyes starts looking like the orangatan dancing around in The Jungle Book, singing "I Wanna Be Like You" with a background mantra of "this is a lifestyle, this is a lifestyle") is the thing that limits its evolution: it is centered around eating less and registering less mass on the scale. No matter what else they change, these two things remain key, and that's where the deck is stacked against us. What we want, what we envision when we think of ourselves as thin, is a healthy, sleek body that doesn't jiggle, and a metabolism that can handle more than 1200-1500 calories a day of healthy food. What we get out of a diet-and-scale program is a smaller body, but a high body-fat percentage for the size, a tendency to be cold all the time, and a metabolism that will toss us back into gaining mode if we dare eat more than 1000 calories a day. It's frustrating, to say the least.
This is the thing that infuriates me, every time, about Weight Watchers. It's so earnest, and so sensible compared to other diet-and-scale programs, and it's such a supportive baby-step program, and dammit, I want so much for it to work. If you could take all the sensible, supportive, easy-to-digest parts of Weight Watchers and center it around exercise (muscle-building exercise in particular, not just cardio) supplemented by a sensible diet (with more stress on lean protein and good carbs and good fat, not just low-fat/high-fiber), in order to lower body-fat percentage, that would be so, so much better.
I realize that people don't want to exercise. I know. I do. And I know that Weight Watchers does try to encourage people to exercise. I also know that Weight Watchers is brilliant at getting people to incorporate new things into their lives, and that people will work the hardest on the things that Weight Watchers stresses the most. Currently, this means that people work the hardest on tracking their food and praying to the great god Weigh-In that they'll show a loss for the week-- two things that, while useful, can't give you long-term success alone. All I'm saying is to make it a tripod approach: build muscle, eat a sensible diet (like their Core system), and concentrate on body-fat-percentage as a measure of success, rather than pounds lost-- a weekly weigh-in would, of course, still be a nice way to keep accountability, but celebrate and give awards for BF% lowered, not pounds lost.
I know. Pipe dream. They're not going to change, and all I can really hope for is that people use WW as an introductory class and move on to more advanced stuff. Lots of people do that. It's the people that don't that I'm frustrated for, the ones who get stuck as a result of this stacked deck and think that it's all their fault and that they're just going to be fat forever. ARGH.